A Letter to the Cultivating Critical Readers Community

The past few months in this country have been heartbreaking and infuriating. Sadly, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd are just a few names among many. Countless Black, Indigenous, and other people of color have faced similar encounters. These events are being punctuated by the more than 200 accounts of police brutality against protesters in the aftermath of these murders. I may not have the right words, but I do know that I cannot be silent while these events are allowed to transpire. I have been more outspoken on social media, but I feel the need to make a statement here about my plans, as a white woman, to listen, learn, and work toward racial justice.

“In a racist society it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist.”

Angela Davis

As a content creator that serves you and your students, I vow to take my responsibility as a white co-conspirator in dismantling systemic racism seriously. I also understand that as I learn and put in the work, I will make mistakes. I will listen when those mistakes are pointed out and work to learn from them.

Actions that I have taken, am taking, and will continue to take in the future to become a better educator and human:

I am not sharing these to get a pat on the back. Quite the opposite. The fact that I have not acted on these steps in the past is shameful. I am sharing these as a promise to you to do better. As the voice and creator behind Cultivating Critical Readers, I have chosen to share many personal actions in addition to those that the business will take because the resources and ideas shared here are a reflection of who I am as an educator and person.

In efforts to listen and learn:

• I have joined other educators in a book study of White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo, PhD. I plan to continue seeking out knowledge from further reading when this is complete.

• I am listening to and learning from the BIPOC voices that I follow on social media. Some of the people that I have learned the most from include, but are not limited to:

@thetututeacher, @readlikearockstar, @apron-education, @rachrodgersesq, @ifpensilscouldtalk, and @elementaryedventure on Instagram,

Jacqueline Woodson (@JackieWoodson), Dwayne Reed (@TeachMrReed), Nikki Grimes (@nikkigrimes9), Be A King (@BerniceKing), The Brown Bookshelf (@brownbookshelf), and Jason Reynolds (@JasonReynolds83) on Twitter,

and LeVar Burton on Facebook.

• I listened to the profound messages from authors and speakers during the KIDLIT Community Rally for Black Lives. (It’s still available here if you missed it.)

In efforts to act:

• I joined more than 60,000 in the peaceful Black Lives Matter Justice 4 George Floyd March in Houston.

• I am emailing and calling local city council members to delay the city council’s budget vote to give more time for citizens to voice their opinions on this matter.

• I will email and call our mayor and police department to demand changes be made to their policy on body worn cameras.

• I plan to email and call my US and state representatives and senators in support of coming legislation. Although, I still have more to learn on this before those communications can take place.

• I remain committed to standing up and speaking out against racist posts and comments from friends, colleagues, and family. I believe it is vital that we hold each other accountable and have those uncomfortable conversations.

• I am committed to diversifying the children’s literature I recommend and use in reading lessons and activities.

• I will continue to amplify the voices of those in the BIPOC community on social media platforms.

There is still much to do.

These will not be my only efforts. Rather, they are my first steps. Working to dismantle systemic racism is a long-term commitment that requires consistent effort and growth. I am ready to listen, learn, and put in the work. I hope you join me (if you haven’t already begun).

Quote - "What is the line that has to be crossed for you to declare, 'NOT ONE MORE LIFE LOST!'?" - Samantha Berger

A Note to Anyone Wanting to Respond with ALL LIVES MATTER:

The statement Black Lives Matter does not mean that any other life doesn’t matter. It is not an either/or proclamation. When there is a crisis, we rally around the particular group that is hurting. Saying Black Lives Matter does not diminish the value placed on your life.

For example, when Hurricane Harvey hit Houston and the surrounding areas in 2017, thousands of social media posts, bumper stickers, and shirts went out with the words “Houston Strong” and “Texas Strong.” There weren’t cries from people in other cities or states saying, “What about my city? It’s been hit by a hurricane in the past, too! ALL CITIES ARE STRONG!” New Orleans, who was devastated by Hurricane Katrina didn’t combat us and say, “New Orleans Strong!” Instead, a caravan that called themselves “The Cajun Navy” heading to Texas from Louisiana to help us out.

When the Las Vegas shooting happened people from all over changed their social media profiles to add “stand with Vegas.” We didn’t see people saying, “It should be stand with ALL CITIES!” That’s because we join together to support those in need.

Right now, it needs to be BLACK LIVES MATTER. Period. Please join me in supporting the community that is hurting.

A Note About Comments

While I support and encourage discussion that leads to growth and change, I will not allow any comments that are dismissive or racist.

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