[Blackstudies-l] [radcaucus] Fwd: NCTE Statement Affirming #BlackLivesMatter;

Maria Lima lima at geneseo.edu
Fri Sep 11 09:58:00 EDT 2015

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Richard Ohmann <richardohmann at earthlink.net>
Date: Fri, Sep 11, 2015 at 9:48 AM
Subject: [radcaucus] Fwd: NCTE Statement Affirming #BlackLivesMatter;
To: radcaucus <radcaucus at googlegroups.com>

Hello, all:

The steering committee wants to see if MLA (via its president or the
Executive Council) will take some action in support of Black Lives Matter.
I’m forwarding by way of example a statement that the National Council of
Teachers of English solicited from its Black Caucus, and is commending to
its members.  The steering committee proposes that if there are no serious
objections, RC member David Palumbo distribute the statement to the MLA
Executive Council (of which he’s a member), and ask it to consider doing
something analogous at its October meeting.

What do you think?  Please respond to the whole list by Friday, Sept. 18.
Discussion, analysis, debate, alternative ideas, and so on are  welcome.


>>> Dear Richard Ohmann,
>>> The following statement, invited by the NCTE presidential team and
>>> authored by the NCTE/CCCC Black Caucus
>>> <http://echo4.bluehornet.com/ct/69150047:31167472409:m:1:2040432110:131C0B4077C9F543E0609B601FF150A0:r>,
>>> calls on all English, English language arts, and literacy teachers "to
>>> transform our world and raise awareness of the crisis of racial injustice."
>>> It affirms that "as an organization, we are committed to providing English
>>> educators with the tools, training, and support needed to build a more
>>> equitable system better able to serve the unique needs to all youth." As
>>> you begin the school year, please consider this eloquent statement as you,
>>> too, work for equity in your classroom, institution, state, and country.
>>> Sincerely,
>>> The NCTE Presidential Team
>>> Kathy Short, Doug Hesse, Susan Houser, Ernest Morrell
>>> ------------------------------
>>> NCTE Statement Affirming #BlackLivesMatterSeptember 2015Invited by the
>>> NCTE Presidential Team
>>> and Authored by the NCTE/CCCC Black Caucus
>>> At this pivotal moment, between a space of hopeful resistance and
>>> fragile defiance, the dilemmas of race and racism in the United States have
>>> become so copious that to ignore them would be to render NCTE voiceless and
>>> bequeath it to those great chasms of silence through which racial
>>> injustices endure. The recent incidents of racial injustice
>>> <http://echo4.bluehornet.com/ct/69150048:31167472409:m:1:2040432110:131C0B4077C9F543E0609B601FF150A0:r>
>>>  in our country -- from Charleston to Cincinnati to a tiny jail cell in
>>> Texas -- require that we speak up. Each moment of despair, of another
>>> mother's or father's eyes swollen from carrying the weight of heavy tears,
>>> of another daughter or son swept into the dark abyss of senseless violence,
>>> bears witness to our country's deep and abiding struggle to uproot the
>>> crippling manifestations of racism brutally inflicted upon Black bodies.
>>> We will not render ourselves voiceless, nor can we tolerate the fictions
>>> of colorblindness and post-racialism any longer. Though the election of
>>> President Obama raised the hopes and expectations of many that our
>>> country's legacy of racial apartheid, of devaluing the Black body, had
>>> ended, we know that systems of racial inequity persist. From Watts in
>>> 1965
>>> <http://echo4.bluehornet.com/ct/69150049:31167472409:m:1:2040432110:131C0B4077C9F543E0609B601FF150A0:r>
>>>  to Ferguson
>>> <http://echo4.bluehornet.com/ct/69150050:31167472409:m:1:2040432110:131C0B4077C9F543E0609B601FF150A0:r>
>>>  50 years later, uprisings across our nation evince the resilience of
>>> American racial oppression. Redlining
>>> <http://echo4.bluehornet.com/ct/69150051:31167472409:m:1:2040432110:131C0B4077C9F543E0609B601FF150A0:r>
>>>  has become redistricting, leaving patterns of segregation from 1954
>>> intact in 2015. In the wake of Baltimore, Ferguson, Cleveland, New York
>>> City, Charleston, and elsewhere, a devastating portrait of two Americas has
>>> emerged.
>>> The picture of US racism begins with our children (though it does not
>>> end with them). While they comprise 18 percent of the preschool population,
>>> Black children represent over 50 percent of all out-of-preschool
>>> suspensions
>>> <http://echo4.bluehornet.com/ct/69150052:31167472409:m:1:2040432110:131C0B4077C9F543E0609B601FF150A0:r>.
>>> A recent analysis
>>> <http://echo4.bluehornet.com/ct/69150053:31167472409:m:1:2040432110:131C0B4077C9F543E0609B601FF150A0:r>
>>>  by researchers at Villanova University concluded that in addition to
>>> racial bias, Black girls face colorism: darker skin tone significantly
>>> raised Black girls' odds of being put out of school. To this point, we now
>>> know that Black girls are six times more likely to be suspended
>>> <http://echo4.bluehornet.com/ct/69150054:31167472409:m:1:2040432110:131C0B4077C9F543E0609B601FF150A0:r>
>>>  than White girls, just as Black boys are imprisoned at six times the
>>> rate
>>> <http://echo4.bluehornet.com/ct/69150055:31167472409:m:1:2040432110:131C0B4077C9F543E0609B601FF150A0:r>
>>>  of their White counterparts. Moreover, Black children are18 times more
>>> likely to be sentenced
>>> <http://echo4.bluehornet.com/ct/69150056:31167472409:m:1:2040432110:131C0B4077C9F543E0609B601FF150A0:r>
>>>  as adults than White children, and make up nearly 60 percent of
>>> children in prison
>>> <http://echo4.bluehornet.com/ct/69150056:31167472409:m:1:2040432110:131C0B4077C9F543E0609B601FF150A0:r>.
>>> While we could cite hundreds of comparable statistics, the evidence is
>>> unambiguous -- racial inequities in the US prevail from the cradle to the
>>> grave.
>>> Most recently, the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Rekia Boyd, Christian
>>> Taylor, Kayla Moore, Samuel DuBose, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Aiyana Jones,
>>> Freddie Gray, Duanna Johnson, Michael Brown, Tarika Wilson -- we say their
>>> names -- coupled with heroic acts of digital and physical activism (see
>>> Bree Newsome, DeRay Mckesson, Alicia Garza, Shaun King, among many others)
>>> give us both reminders and maps of the great toil set before us. Though
>>> much of the work will concern stopping the bleeding, another layer of
>>> effort will involve healing the wounds. Michelle Alexander's book *The
>>> New Jim Crow
>>> <http://echo4.bluehornet.com/ct/69150057:31167472409:m:1:2040432110:131C0B4077C9F543E0609B601FF150A0:r>,*
>>>  which raises awareness of the crisis of mass incarceration, and Bryan
>>> Stevenson's dramatic and heartrending account in *Just Mercy*
>>> <http://echo4.bluehornet.com/ct/69150058:31167472409:m:1:2040432110:131C0B4077C9F543E0609B601FF150A0:r>
>>>  of justice transformed into redemption highlight the road ahead. From
>>> police brutality to new-century policies of disfranchisement, both books
>>> proclaim that blood has been spilled in the US. We are only now beginning
>>> to understand both the causes and the cures.
>>> In the struggle to stop the bleeding -- that is, in the fight against
>>> racial injustice -- we have long believed that English classrooms could
>>> offer triage. However, too often the void of safety and the disruption of
>>> dignity in these classrooms can mark them as sites furthering racialized
>>> oppressions. Ta-Nehisi Coates, in his 2015 book *Between the World and
>>> Me
>>> <http://echo4.bluehornet.com/ct/69150059:31167472409:m:1:2040432110:131C0B4077C9F543E0609B601FF150A0:r>,*
>>>  has condemned classrooms and schools alike as public sites of
>>> disillusionment where Black bodies withstand the thrashings of ideological
>>> lynchings. The momentum of racial oppression rooted in classrooms, what
>>> Coates would consider as torturous, must be reversed if we are to seize any
>>> chance of achieving racial justice. Michael Brown's mother, Lesley
>>> McSpadden, knew this when one of her first statements about the death of
>>> her son involved his education -- or the lack thereof -- and how difficult
>>> it was.
>>> In this light, we call upon English educators to use classrooms to help
>>> as opposed to harm, to transform our world and raise awareness of the
>>> crisis of racial injustice. We call upon English education researchers to
>>> commit time to studying and disrupting narratives of racism rendered
>>> complexly in the substance of our profession. As an organization, we are
>>> committed to providing English educators with the tools, training, and
>>> support needed to build a more equitable system better able to serve the
>>> unique needs of all youth. In addition to the revolution on the ground, we
>>> seek a parallel revolution in curricula, instructional models and
>>> practices, assessment approaches, and other facets of education that would
>>> lead to a future free from the barriers of prejudice, stereotyping,
>>> discrimination, and bias. At the same time, we must pursue meaningful
>>> opportunities for all stakeholders to build their capacities for higher
>>> cognition, deeper compassion, elevated empathies, and greater acceptance.
>>> Such work exists beyond self-conscious, oscillating identities and the
>>> whims of political penchants that too often define educational spaces. The
>>> new space that we seek is intentional, locating itself in a paradigm of
>>> moral accountability as opposed to anonymity. It is a space of formless
>>> potential, traced by and tracing the possibilities of other narratives, of
>>> outside narratives, narrations of begetting justice, and finally, an
>>> emerging image of who we might become together. This new educational space
>>> must provide an assault against the negative and contradictory effects of
>>> abstraction. It must move beyond the surface concerns of test scores and
>>> teacher ratings into a strange new place of feeling—a place that must make
>>> us think of inimitable and breathtaking things such as the hopeful
>>> possibilities of a world that renders racial oppression obsolete.
>>> Recognition of structures of racial hatred sits at the center of our
>>> conviction as an organization. This statement seeks to affirm what should
>>> be obvious: Black lives matter. As an educational organization committed to
>>> equity and educational justice, promoting literacy and human life, we take
>>> seriously our obligation to ensure racial justice. Therefore we remain
>>> resolute in our mission to use and produce knowledge that is essential to
>>> eliminating racism in the US and beyond.
>>> *Additional Readings & Resources:*
>>> 1. Making Black Lives Matter in Classrooms: The Power of Teachers to
>>> Change the World
>>> <http://echo4.bluehornet.com/ct/69150060:31167472409:m:1:2040432110:131C0B4077C9F543E0609B601FF150A0:r>
>>>  by David E. Kirkland
>>> 2. Black Students' Lives Matter: Building the School-to-Justice Pipeline
>>> <http://echo4.bluehornet.com/ct/69150061:31167472409:m:1:2040432110:131C0B4077C9F543E0609B601FF150A0:r>
>>>  by the Editors of Rethinking Schools
>>> 3. From Civil Rights to Black Lives Matter: Lessons for the Classroom
>>> <http://echo4.bluehornet.com/ct/69150062:31167472409:m:1:2040432110:131C0B4077C9F543E0609B601FF150A0:r>,
>>> a course offered by the Center for Experiential Learning and Diversity,
>>> University of Washington
>>> 4. Teaching about Race and Rights
>>> <http://echo4.bluehornet.com/ct/69150063:31167472409:m:1:2040432110:131C0B4077C9F543E0609B601FF150A0:r>
>>>  by Beth Fertig
>>> 5. How the #FergusonSyllabus Can Help Teachers Talk about Race and
>>> Rights on the First Day of School
>>> <http://echo4.bluehornet.com/ct/69150064:31167472409:m:1:2040432110:131C0B4077C9F543E0609B601FF150A0:r>
>>>  by Liz Pleasant
>>> 6. What Educators Can Take from #BlackLivesMatter
>>> <http://echo4.bluehornet.com/ct/69150065:31167472409:m:1:2040432110:131C0B4077C9F543E0609B601FF150A0:r>
>>>  by Ryan Williams-Virden
>>> 7. Educators Can Ease Racial Trauma Experienced by Students
>>> <http://echo4.bluehornet.com/ct/69150066:31167472409:m:1:2040432110:131C0B4077C9F543E0609B601FF150A0:r>
>>>  by Will Morris
>>> 8. Teaching "Black Lives Matter"
>>> <http://echo4.bluehornet.com/ct/69150067:31167472409:m:1:2040432110:131C0B4077C9F543E0609B601FF150A0:r>
>>>  by Kathy Ishizuka
>>> 9. Teaching While White
>>> <http://echo4.bluehornet.com/ct/69150068:31167472409:m:1:2040432110:131C0B4077C9F543E0609B601FF150A0:r>
>>>  by Molly Tansey
>>> 10. Not Just Us? Using Classrooms to Get (White) People to Talk about
>>> Race
>>> <http://echo4.bluehornet.com/ct/69150069:31167472409:m:1:2040432110:131C0B4077C9F543E0609B601FF150A0:r>
>>>  by David E. Kirkland
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