It's Bigger Than Charlottesville

imagejpeg_1.jpgThis past weekend, our country witnessed a white-supremacist, neo-nazi rally storm through Charlottesville VA, intimidating counter-protestors and the community at-large, beating people of color, and causing the death of three people.

Let us be clear: we should not be shocked that—in a country literally built with the blood, tears, and forced labor of a stolen people, a country that has, even after emancipation, striven in various ways to maintain the effects of slavery and centuries of racial exclusion through discriminatory institutional practices—white American terrorists work to enact their agenda upon us all. What these events should force us to do is to both reflect upon and act against the racist ideas and forces that have led us to this point.

As school workers, we have a moral obligation to confront these ideas, work with our students to navigate their lived reality, and give them the time and space in their classrooms to discuss our world.

As teachers in Philadelphia (67% of whom are white), it is incumbent upon all of us to do this difficult work: we know that our students and their families -- who are seventy-eight percent black and other people of color -- have suffered for generations from the systemic disinvestment in the public resources that, by law and morality, should be available to all. All educators have the responsibility to speak directly not only to overt manifestations of white supremacy but also to the insidious daily realities that white supremacy has produced and continues to maintain.

Along with the responsibility to speak about and acknowledge the truth about the continuing legacy of white supremacy, educators need to also engage in honest dialogue in the classroom around issues concerning the racialized exploitation that is the foundation of our society.

As a caucus with a crucial focus on racial justice, we have taken up this work through a week-long focus with our annual Black Lives Matter Week of Action, supporting the development of African-American History curriculum with the Philadelphia Black History Collaborative, and facilitating conversation around issues of racism and white supremacy through our summer book groups. We pledge to continue this work and to assist all our colleagues in taking up this critical effort. This work will not be comfortable or simple--nor should it be.

The daily reality of our compatriots of color who have lived with the horrifying results of centuries of a white supremacist system has not been comfortable or simple. It is our duty to work in coalition to combat these systemic forces, from the classroom to the community and beyond. Our students deserve to take an active role in this process, as they are moving through these flawed systems each day. Our best opportunity for creating a more equitable world lies in this work to be done with our colleagues, our students, their families, and our shared communities.  

Upcoming Events

Philly Is Charlottesville March and Rally

Sponsored by POWER (Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower, and Rebuild)

Wednesday, August 16th 7:00 60 9:00 PM

Spotting White Supremacy: Capacity Building for White Allies

Hosted by Philly Showing Up For Racial Justice

Thursday, August 17th,  6:30-8:30 PM, Friends Center

1501 Cherry St. Philadelphia, PA.

Caucus of Working Educators Summer Reading Series Celebration

Thursday, August 31st, 4-6:30pm

Maximum Level Lounge

5118 Sansom St, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19139

Seventy IV Seconds To Judgement: A Play by Kash Goins

In the next installment of his justice series, "Seventy IV Seconds... To Judgment," Kash Goins introduces us to a jury of 6 who have been deadlocked for over a week. In an attempt to uncover the truth buried in the facts as presented in the case, the youngest juror who is not much different than a central figure in the killing, offers a unique tactic.

After Charlottesville: Confronting White Supremacy in Ourselves,  Our Schools, and  Our City

Hosted by Teacher Action Group Philly

Wednesday, September 13th, 5:00-7:00PM, The U School

2000 N. 7th St. Philadelphia, PA


Relevant Resources

Caucus of Working Educators Racial Justice Statement:

 Philadelphia Black History Collaborative:

Seven Ways that Teachers Can Respond to the Evil of Charlottesville, Starting Now by Xian Franzinger Barrett

The first thing teachers should do when school starts is talk about hatred in America. Here’s help. from the Washington Post:

Equal Justice Initiative:

Zinn Education Project:

Facing History:

Teaching Tolerance:

UVa Graduate Coalition - Charlottesville Syllabus

Hashtags:  #CharlottesvilleCurriculum  #CharlottesvilleSyllabus