Dear Together Friends and Family,
My author self has been at a loss over these past two weeks – though I did find a few personal words to share over here and here. The magnitude of systemic racism that has been present for hundreds of years is overwhelming. Like many of you, I am outraged and saddened by the continued assault on Black and Brown men and women, and the current state of our government only makes matter worse. I know so many of you share my anger and grief and so much more. And I simply haven’t said enough.
So, this White woman took a minute to re-read some books and purchase some more, listen to Black education leaders I am privileged to know, and consider The Together Group’s overall relationship to equity work. I’ve since scrapped the June monthly note I had planned to send, and this newsletter is indeed an intentional departure away from our typical Together content. There are many, many offerings and resources already floating around on the Internet, and I trust you can find those on your own. Here, I’m choosing to amplify voices of Black leaders who have impacted my own thinking.
- Scaffolded resources for anti-bias/anti-racist education for White people (hat tip to Adrienne Favors where I saw this first and credit to original authors)
- Ify Ofer Walker’s post about what it feels like to work right now (her post on Mom’s School of Excellence was a huge hit a few months back, too.)
- Aisha Crumbine’s words that have helped me better reach out to Black friends, saying things like “I don’t know what to say or how to say it, but I want you to know that I’m thinking about you.”
- Dynasti Hunt’s excellent post on Six Questions to Stop Asking Your Black Friends Right Now. Dynasti keeps publishing excellent slides that I have re-read multiple times and applied to my Together Trainings.
- Jubilee Mosley’s shared video on how explain systemic racism to young children (this was excellent for my own first and fourth graders)
- Michelle Molitor and The Equity Lab’s take on schooling and mental health, with a focus on the need to devalue compliance and assimilation
For those people who are interested in concrete actions and self-accountability, I’ve found these resources incredibly helpful.
- Justice in June “workout” plan. This Google doc is a goldmine of resources and HOW to engage in them. It is not branded with an author or organization, but THANK YOU to the author(s).
- 21 Day Equity Challenge shared by my friend Sara Cotner who credits Eddie Moore, Jr.
- Girl Trek’s 21 Days of Walking Black History Book Camp led by T. Morgan Dixon and her team
As many of you are also digging deeper into your own personal reflections on privilege, so am I. My upbringing in an almost entirely White section of the country (rural Maine, town of 400 people) meant that – in spite of my parents’ best efforts – my privilege allowed me to not examine issues of race until college and my time in the classroom with predominantly Black students. It is not lost on me that I was able to build this business over the past 15 years because of my skin color. And as a first-generation college graduate who benefited from Pell Grants and additional financial aid, I can quite honestly say that I wouldn’t have been able to launch The Together Group without White men who brokered introductions that I would not have received myself. I’m aware that my connections to book publishers, school districts, and more were made easier by the color of my skin.
What I think I have never explicitly named – and that the Together Team and I seek to do better at – is articulate and act upon our belief that Togetherness connects to equity work. Our participant groups are most often over half Black and Brown educators and mission-driven leaders and teachers. Let’s get REALLY candid – while many people have participated by choice, others have been forced to attend because they were required by a manager. Our belief is that Togetherness should connect to equity work, not undermine it. ‘Productivity culture’ gone wrong hurts Black and Brown people – disproportionately – in the workplace. We haven’t done enough to confront this or change it. To this end, we commit to:
- Stating our beliefs to schools and districts that there is NO one right way to proceed on the Togetherness journey. We don’t believe in policing productivity or creating a single organizational system you must use and are micromanaged upon.
- Pushing our clients to ensure there are not White-dominated norms around goals, timelines and calendars. Let’s set the goals and be clear there are multiple ways to get there.
- Ensuring our trainings are welcoming, inclusive, and appreciative of Black and Brown leaders and teachers’ approaches to their own work.
There is so much work ahead. My personal commitments as the founder, author, and CEO of The Together Group include:
- Continuing to ensure our examples, videos, and anecdotes highlight Black and Brown educators and nonprofit leaders
- Hiring a professional services team (accounting, bookkeeping, web development, and so on) that is at least 50% People of Color (it is, but we can still do better)
- Investing in even more Together Trainers of Color – for when we can travel again!
- Amplifying multiple ways to support and coach others on shared definitions of Togetherness and highlighting Black and Brown voices on our blog, social media and promotional materials
- Pro bono contributions to organizations that support Black and Brown students on their college journeys (my current obsession after spending time with a student focus group in February)
If it helps you to share (zero pressure), I’d really like to hear from you about other ways The Together Group can model and promote anti-racism and overall, just do better. Please write me here.