How are you breathing today?
As we enter October, we are reflecting on the simultaneous reach of our liberation work (we have over 22K followers on instagram!) and on the limitations of our work (schools and individuals are “turning their priorities elsewhere”). This first truth actually fuels the second one. Many people, especially white school leaders, want to check a box, consume (palatable) anti-racist resources, and move on to “higher” priorities. Our use of parentheses and quotes should indicate our skepticism. True liberation and transformation comes from the root, not from appearances. True liberation and transformation requires shifts of deeply entrenched power dynamics.
Black and Brown people, especially Black and Brown women and femmes, have been working towards liberation across generations. We invoke Audre Lorde, in her “The Uses of Anger” keynote: “My response to racism is anger. I have lived with that anger, ignoring it, feeding upon it, learning to use it before it laid my visions to waste, for most of my life. Once I did it in silence, afraid of the weight. My fear of anger taught me nothing. Your fear of that anger will teach you nothing, also…Anger is loaded with information and energy.” We are mindful of the energy that anger expends, and hopeful for its creative potential.
Black Girl in Maine wrote a clear and damning post on her Patreon entitled “When things become unpopular or, The anti-racism death spiral”
"How can we say we are anti-racists, when we perpetuate inequity within our own community? How can we be anti-racists if we allow white-bodied people to prosper above the Black and brown people—especially women—who are often the foot soldiers in this work? What does it say about our commitment to anti-racism when a historian is given unfettered access to funds to create a center that in three years has produced little in the way of deliverables? Why do we still value the anti-racists who produce books over those who use social media platforms when we know that valuing the “officially published” word is very much a trait of white supremacy culture. "
Next week is Indigenous People’s Day, another moment of temporary solidarity and re-shares. But how are we authentically incorporating decolonization into our practices? Are we understanding the history and reality of the Native peoples’ land that we are on? How do we move beyond land acknowledgement and into authentic relationships? If we name a tribe, for example, without having actual tribal voices present in decision making, our acknowledgment is hollow.
October is Bullying Prevention Month. While interpersonal violence is something we work to eliminate, we know that systems need to be transformed in order to truly heal. This month is also LGBTQ+ History Month. If you haven’t yet watched our Creating Loving & Affirming Schools for LGBTQIA+ Students Panel, we encourage you to download it and the accompanying resource guide here.
In Summer 2020, many people joined us, eager to move beyond the bare minimum of anti-racist work. Welcome. And. If you have lagged or drifted away, we invite you back. We know that racial justice and liberation is a lifetime journey, and we want to be working and celebrating with you as we build more loving schools and communities. So, come back. And keep growing in community with us.