Advocacy Race & Racism

“In Solidarity…” A call to action for educators, students, and families

I am so inspired by SFUSD educators. This email was shared with me via the principal, Caitlin Boyle, at Ruth Asawa School of the Arts, a visual and performing arts-focused high school in SFUSD, and is a great example of what allyship looks like. The letter and list of resources were compiled in partnership with Jyairrah Martin, a rising 12th grader and member of the school’s Black Student Union, and Brandon Brown, the school’s new Spoken Arts instructor and founder of School Yard Rap.

[If you live in San Francisco and would like to show your appreciation and support for Black SFUSD youth, please attend the march students are planning on June 11th, 2020 at 3 PM.]

Now is a time to educate ourselves, speak up, and take action. Please share their letter list of resources as a model for other educators and families.

[If you would like a PDF copy of this document including the resource list, click here.]

A Letter in Solidarity…

Dear Asawa SOTA Community,

In solidarity with the Black students, staff, artists, and caregivers in our community as well as those protesting on the front lines and in their lanes of expertise, we express sadness, urgency, and outrage at the continued violence perpetrated by white agents of power against Black men, women, and children in the United States.  We mourn and we rage with the families of those directly impacted by these recent acts of police and personal violence and rededicate our collective energies to ways this community can support, heal, restore, and empower Asawa SOTA students and families in ways that disrupt the cycle of systemic oppression and provide a new way forward for the next generation.  

A central piece of the work against white supremacy is the recognition and understanding that each individual in our system has a level of privilege and power, and those levels are not equal. To be transparent, as a white woman in America  –  I actively benefit from many unearned advantages due to the color of my skin that is not available to my colleagues of color. Our administration team encourages staff, students, and one another to lean in, learn our privilege, and use our power to lift up those who have been historically marginalized. 

As leaders of a diverse and dynamic community of individuals, artists, academics, educators, leaders, and activists, we seek to foster solidarity by identifying ways we can support all individuals in their growing understanding of racial injustice and its impacts on themselves, their families, our immediate community, and the broader world we live in.  Furthermore, we seek to identify ways to bring our community together within and across lines of distance to strengthen ourselves, our voices, and our art through meaningful engagement.  

Again, this work begins within each of us. We each have a personal responsibility to unlearn and learn and to act in service of our students, our children, our community, and ourselves. To that end, we are offering the resources and opportunities below to support all members of our community to engage in ways that are aligned with our diverse needs, interests, and capacities.  The list below is in no way comprehensive but it is designed with the hope that every member of our community will find an access point that speaks to them.  It is not our hope or expectation that everyone takes on everything, but that everyone commits to one thing in our collective struggle for a more just world.  And it is our hope that, in moving forward from this place, we can solicit input from all of you in continuing to create resources, platforms, and opportunities that reflect the diversity of our community and the complexity of the work ahead.

In Solidarity, 

Ruth Asawa SOTA Administration in collaboration with Robert Francoeur, Jyairrah Martin, and Brandon Brown

P.S. Our intention in sending this letter is ACTION, and it is merely performance if we all stop reading after the signature. Please find this message, and all resources below in an easy-to-reference format here. We will continue to add to this document as our work evolves, and we solicit resources from community members, staff, and students. 

Resources to Show Solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter Movement

Educate Yourself

“Ignorance aligned with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.”

-James Baldwin 

Identifying gaps within your own knowledge and filling those gaps with a more complicated and representative narrative is the only way you can begin to become an ally for truth and justice.  We cannot speak out against what we don’t yet understand. 

Learn more about the history of racial injustice in our country
Watch 13th on NetflixSelmaAmerican SonFreedom RidersThe Black Panthers: Vanguard of the RevolutionThe Black Power Mixtape, or The Hate U Give   Complicate your understanding of American history by engaging with the 1619 Project
Learn more about Black historyWatch Griot B’s videos teaching about Black contributions throughout history Explore the virtual collections at National Museum for African American History and Culture Explore the resources collected by BlackPast 
Learn more about the recent incidents of racial violence Review NPR’s collection of illuminating articles Review police data provided by the Citizens Police Data Project or this collection of infographics illustrating the history of police brutality in the U.S.  Read this brief overview or this longer explanation of police brutality in America
Learn more about the current discourse surrounding current eventsRead this overview of the politics regarding riots & looting Read this explanation of why we should cease our attention to looting
Learn key racial justice vocabularyReview this Glossary from Racial Equity Tools

Care for Yourself

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

-Audre Lorde

Identifying activities that restore your energy, heal the pain you and hurled at you, and preserve you to advocate another day is one of the most vital ways we will continue the struggle beyond moments of collective outrage and mobilization. 

Practice meditations that restore your internal wellbeingLoving Kindness Meditation -Loving Kindness meditation has been proven in scientific studies to increase a sense of personal well-being and increases empathy for others too. Fresh Air Interview, “The Lost Art of Breathing” – This interview by Terry Gross on “Fresh Air” is fascinating! She talks with author James Nestor about the importance of breathing in sleep, mental health, and other chronic illnesses.  He also gives some practical suggestions for improving breathing:
Attend affinity groups that bring you out of isolationComplete this Google Form to share your level of interest and availability with the SOTA admin team.  Opportunities will be made available based on your input. 
Commit to activities that preserve your personal wellnessRADICAL SELF CARE: 25 TIPS FOR BLACK PEOPLE Commit to 1-2 activities that promote overall family wellness
Engage in conversations with your familyParents – review these guidelines by for engaging in conversations with your children about recent events

Engage with Your Community

“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.”

-Coretta Scott King

Identifying grassroots movements led by People of Color that align with your values and strengthen your efforts through collectivism and solidarity is a significant way to build community, increase your impact, and fortify existing efforts. 

Participate in local protests Be sure to review safety guidelines before hitting the streets!Review SF Gate’s Overview of all recent & upcoming Bay Area protests Join The Movement For Black Lives Week of Action (June 1-6)
Volunteer with or donate to organizations that are and have been fighting for racial justiceLearn about opportunities to be involved in global actions facilitated by Black Lives MatterRaise awareness and support for the Trans Women of Color CollectiveSupport a wide range of ongoing actions sponsored by the NAACPDonate to:ACLUNAACPGeorge Floyd Memorial FundBlack Visions CollectiveReclaim the BlockCampaign ZeroUnicorn RiotThe Bay Area Anti-Repression Committee Bail FundThe Anti Police-Terror Project (Oakland)
Follow IG accounts that are spearheading the messageCritical Race Parenting & Education resources @theconsciouskidRachel Cargle @rachel.cargleLouiza Doran, @accordingtoweeze Myisha T. Hill, @myishathill @checkyourprivilegeIbram X. Kendi, @ibramxkMonique Melton, @moemotivateRachel Ricketts, @iamrachelrickettsRachel Rogers, @rachrodgersesqLayla Saad, @laylafsaad

Use Your Voice

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”  

—Martin Luther King, Jr

Identifying places where you can use your voice to insist upon meaningful changes to policies, practices, and institutions is an essential way that our urgency and efforts today will continue to have an impact tomorrow. 

h elected officialsReview this comprehensive guide for communicating with elected officials Call (612) 324-4499 to insist that officers are charged with the murder of George Floyd Call 502-735-1784 to demand justice for Breonna Taylor
Follow IG accounts that are spearheading the messageCritical Race Parenting & Education resources @theconsciouskidRachel Cargle @rachel.cargleLouiza Doran, @accordingtoweeze Myisha T. Hill, @myishathill @checkyourprivilegeIbram X. Kendi, @ibramxkMonique Melton, @moemotivateRachel Ricketts, @iamrachelrickettsRachel Rogers, @rachrodgersesqLayla Saad, @laylafsaad
Use social media as a platform Review this guide to social media activism Repost posts from the accounts above (and similar) to continue to spread the message.  Be sure to cite your sources! Strategically use hashtags to draw attention to messages that support the cause.  Be careful not to unintentionally dilute or silence messages by misusing key hashtags (like #blacklivesmatter) Post strategically so that your timeline is populated predominantly by messages that support your cause. 
Sign petitions that support racial justice actionSign Change.Org’s petition seeking justice for George Floyd Sign this petition to remove local prosecutors who failed to move forward in the case for justice for Ahmaud Arbery Sign this petition to demand that charges are filed in the death of Breonna Taylor

Find Your Lane

“I am only one, but still I am one.  I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.”

—Edward Everett Hale

Identifying 1-2 ways you can sustainably contribute to efforts to disrupt and dismantle systemic oppression in the United States is more powerful than identifying a single action you can take today.  Become a lifelong activist, ally, and advocate for racial justice.  

Learn about and create protest artRead a brief history of protest art  or this brief history of protest art to get inspired and see examples Listen to Rachel Cargle’s Revolution Playlist or a collection of Black musicians throughout history on Spotify Listen to Ava DuVernay discuss how art is activism Learn about the how and the why of Art Activism from The Center for Artistic Activism Read Dance Magazine’s tips for dancers who want to explore activism through movement Read this NYT article about protest art in the era of Trump
InternReview the Department of Justice’s internship opportunities Review Human Rights Internship opportunities Plan to participate in next summer’s ACLU’s National Advocacy Institute’s High School Program Enroll in UPenn’s Social Justice Research Academy summer program

Become a More Reliable Ally

“A true ally is just a person of privilege who decided that their comfort was not more important than [a person of color’s] liberation.”

-No White Saviors

Identifying ways you can continue to build your capacity, as a white person, to be an ally in the struggle for racial justice is a fundamental piece to the work that must be done in order to dismantle the oppressive systems that we have historically benefitted from.  Our allyship strengthens the pathway and preserves the warriors for the fight. 

Learn about the tenants of white allyship13 Guidelines for Being a Strong White Ally Invest in your self-education by exploring the definitions and resources provided by Review and engage with resources for white allies collected by the Dismantle Collective Learn about the distinction between intent and impact Practice responding to your impact when you get called out
Speak to Whiteness Check out this comprehensive set of scaffolds to help you build an antiracist approach in yourself and others Having a “Daring Discussion” with people in your life 
Start a White Ally book or discussion clubJoin Layla F Saad’s Me and White Supremacy Workbook Group Take a self-guided course in Race & Racial IdentityAntiracism, and/or Whiteness curated by the National Museum of African American History and Culture.  Course includes discussion prompts to engage in at home!
Learn more about the role of whiteness in perpetuating racial injusticeListen to Layla F Saad speak about her book Me and White Supremacy Learn more about white fragility and white privilege from Robin diAngelo Learn about implicit bias and how it impacts you from the Perception Institute or watch a quick & easy overview of implicit bias Learn about the history of whiteness by listening to the radio series Seeing White Learn about the ways white women’s tears have been weaponized throughout history

Educate the Youngest Generation

Read books that can help educate children about racism and protests for justiceSee this book list generated by the New York Times  Attend a Youtube read aloud of Something Happened in Our Town
Engage family members of all ages in conversations about race and racismReview this list of 100 race conscious things you can say to start the conversation with young people
Invest in resources that can support your white family in discussing racePurchase Education with an Apron’s White Families’ Guide for Talking About Racism

Additional Resources to Check Out:



Do you have any resources to share? Please drop them in the comments below…

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