Throughout June and July of 2020, interested members of the Literacy Consultants’ Coalition (LCC) met every two weeks to engage in a collaborative inquiry around how anti-bias, anti-racist practices intersect with, impact, and inform our work as literacy educators, consultants, and coaches. The catalysts for this inquiry were varied and included important and urgent considerations made visible through the unpaid labor of a number of our Black colleagues and colleagues of color; the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black, Indigenous, and people of color; the violent actions meant to harm, silence, and, in some cases, kill Black men and women at the hands of local and Federal law enforcement agents; the racist responses to this violent action; and the acknowledgement of the need to contextualize the white supremacist and patriarchial ideologies upon which the varied education systems within this nation are founded.
For each session, we identified an organization that engages in activism designed to support the lives of Indigenous, Black, and people of color that was “adopted” as one that participants should donate to as their “thanks” for the facilitation of that session. These organizations ranged from the Black Trans Advocacy Coalition to the Navajo and Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund to Woke Kindergarten, an innovative abolitionist and liberatory pedagogy created by educator Akiea “Ki” Gross.
Each session was designed around a variety of connected topics, which included: personal inquiries into our racial histories; an examination of white supremacist and partiarchial ideologies that both explicitly and invisibly shape school policies, practices, and interactions among teachers, students, families, administrators, and communities; and the racialized history of both US education policy in general and literacy practices, specifically.
Co-facilitators Shawna Coppola, Janet Zarchen, Kate Roberts, Maggie Beattie Roberts, Kathy Collins, and Kristi Mraz centered each session’s work around the knowledge they have gained through the ongoing and liberatory work of Jamila Lyiscott, Glenn E. Singleton, Dr. Kim Parker, Dr. Sonja Cherry-Paul, Dr. Nelson Flores, Tema Okun, Ijeoma Oluo, Dr. Catherine Prendergast, Dr. Gholdy Muhammad, Henry Lien, Tricia Ebarvia, and many, many others. Each week the co-facilitators offered mini virtual “drop-in” sessions meant to create a space for folks to process their learning, grapple with questions, and offer feedback. They also created a Google Form that participants could use to hold them and their work accountable.
It is the hope of the co-facilitators that this mini-inquiry served as a necessary and useful “jumping off point” for LCC participants to continue the exploration of the group’s overarching question through the development of mini-cohorts focused on additional inquiry around a variety of sub-topics that include unlearning whitewashed U.S. history, interrogating whiteness, disrupting language supremacy in school spaces, and more. The goal is to come together again as a large group periodically to share learning, ask questions, and gather in community with one another.
For more information or to join a small group, please contact us here and we will reply shortly.