On behalf of the Anti-Racism, Equity and Justice (AREJ) steering committee you are invited to the first of our scheduled series of lunchtime discussions for 2021, which will be held on Monday, February 22nd from Noon to 1pm via zoom.
The topic for this discussion will be “The Impact of White Supremacy on our Local Education Systems and Families”, focusing on the K-12 education system.
To inform our discussion we are providing two resources that explore the topic from different viewpoints. A podcast where you will hear the stories and work of two Black women fighting against racism in the Arlington Central School District:
(Interview #1 begins at 00:24, Interview #2 begins at 27:38)
And, the story of how a group of Poughkeepsie parents repeatedly and successfully sued New York State to split off from the Poughkeepsie City School District and form their own, separate district – Spackenkill Union Free School District.
“The Politics of School Districting: A case study in Upstate New York by Sue Books, Educational Foundations, v20 n3-4 p15-33 Sum-Fall 2006″
Even if you don’t have time to fully ingest these resources prior to our meeting we still welcome everyone to be part of the discussion.
Online Book Read
Deep Denial: The Persistence of White Supremacy in United States History and Life by David Billings.
As part of Black History month, the Kingston Chapter of ENJAN is hosting a timely discussion with anti-racist author David Billings about his book Deep Denial on Thursday, February 11th 7-9 PM.
Register here for the event. Your registration fee of $22.00 includes a copy of David’s book Deep Denial. All proceeds from the book sales will go to support the making of the film documentary Hallowed Ground, a story about the forgotten Pine Street African Burial Ground for enslaved people in Kingston. With your registration receipt you can pick up your copy of the book at:
- Rough Draft Bar and Books, 82 John St, Kingston (Open M-F 8-6pm, Sat. 9-6pm Sun. 9-4pm) Closed 1/19-25, or,
- Tilda’s Kitchen, 630 Broadway, Kingston (Open Wed-Fri, 9-5; Sat-Sun 10-6pm).
David Billings is a life-long activist, educator, and organizer in the anti-racist movement and a key trainer, since 1985, in the Undoing Racism Workshops offered by the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond. His book combines personal stories from his life, beginning with his white, working-class boyhood in Mississippi and Arkansas to his experience of both the promise and decline of the Civil Rights movement and brings these lessons to his teaching and organizing.
“With Zero Representation, You can See the Racism”
Racism within the Arlington School District has come into light throughout the past few years. Firstly, the Center for Strategic Solutions at NYU Metro Center was hired by Arlington for the past several years to facilitate their District-wide equity initiative. After discovering Arlington’s racist tendencies and resistance to equity, NYU withdrew from the relationship. Arlington’s Board of Education shut down communication and transparency, while teachers and staff have been retaliated against for speaking out against racism. The black deputy superintendent was scapegoated, silenced, and terminated. Natalie states that she and her colleagues cannot be complicit in the maintenance of racism against the children and community members of Arlington. Remaining silent means being complicit with white supremacy, which is thriving in Arlington’s administration.
The Arlington School District has been neglecting the calls for drastic changes within their institution to combat the blatant racism that has been plaguing the district for years. With a refusal to acknowledge the issues and take accountability for what is occurring within the walls of their schools, many parents, teachers, and other individuals of color are coming together to uplift their voices and be heard. Throughout this podcast, you will hear the stories and work of two Black women fighting against racism in the district. The first is a mother of three children who all attend school in Arlington. She is currently working on memorializing the stories of parents who have been harmed by racism, ensuring that they are heard and forcing Arlington to listen. The second woman is a former teacher from a school within the district. She offers a unique perspective, sharing her experiences with racism at the administrative level, during daily life at the school, and with the overall neglect from the school district. Emma Klein, Vassar College.
Interviews and editing done by VC student in CLCS 121. Transcript by Curtis Dozier.
Interview #1 begins at 00:24.
Interview #2 begins at 27:38.
The Politics of School Districting: A case study in Upstate New York
by Sue Books, Educational Foundations, v20 n3-4 p15-33 Sum-Fall 2006
To the now-expansive literature on the causes and consequences of segregation in schooling and of inequality in educational opportunity in the United States, the author would like to add a call for more attention to the politics of school districting–that is, to how and why districts are created, in the service of whose interests, and with what consequences for students. Towards that end, this article reconstructs the solidification of a school district in upstate New York, the Spackenkill Union Free Schools, a six-mile-wide district in the town of Poughkeepsie. In a battle with the New York State Education Department in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Spackenkill schools succeeded in avoiding consolidation with their poorer, larger, and far more diverse neighboring district, the Poughkeepsie City Schools. (The town of Poughkeepsie includes both the city of Poughkeepsie and the community known as Spackenkill.) In this article, she recounts the story of Spackenkill’s pursuit of “independence,” as reconstructed from newspaper articles written at the time, school board minutes, and personal conversations with the president of the Spackenkill Board of Education and a Poughkeepsie resident who lived through the struggle. She then offers an analysis of the ideals and interests that shaped the district’s conflict with the State Education Department. Finally, she comments on the significance of this small chapter of social history for reformers still working towards desegregation and more equal educational opportunity.
Council of Elders: A virtual roundtable by Hold The Line Hudson Valley is a roundtable discussion with movement elders from the Hudson Valley on activism, solidarity and the political divide on Saturday, January 30, 2021 from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM. Register for free on eventbrite.
Join movement elders from the Hudson Valley for a conversation about the present moment, and stories and wisdom from the past. How do we ground ourselves in the new year? How do we build coalitions in solidarity with others across political divides while staying accountable to ourselves and all people most directly impacted by systemic oppression?
The council includes leaders from local African Roots Libraries, ENJAN, and the NAACP, Restorative Justice practitioners and long-time activists and organizers in Labor, Environmental Justice, LGBTQIA Rights, Antiracism and Civil Rights movements.
Moderated by Tracy Givens-Hunter, the elders include: Maude Bruce, Paul Bermanzohn, Sally Bermanzohn, Otia Lee, Denise Oliver-Velez, Sandra Oxford, Rob Pinto, Loriman Rhodell, Cheryl Schneider, and Odell Winfield.