I can’t breathe.
Last month the AACRAO Black Caucus hosted its first town hall -- "I Can’t Breathe" -- in response to the recent tragic killings of Black men. Though the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd have made headlines and prompted nationwide protests, the are only the latest iterations of centuries of injustice against black, indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC), most of which went unpublicized and unpunished.
Brainchild of Roslyn Perry, chair of the AACRAO Black Caucus, this event addressed the weariness of the Black community and the reality that we are not safe in the country that we call home.
The Caucus challenged those in attendance to ask: how can we, a national association of educational professionals, use our collective strength to help bring more attention to this issue and set a strategy for improving race relations through meaningful action on a local, regional and national level?
What resources and support mechanisms can we share with one another as we strive to help our fellow members heal and educate those who want to provide support but are not sure where to start?
"You must continue to fight," exhorted Adrianne Keller McDay, AACRAO past president. "You must continue to be vocal. And you must continue to engage one another. You must be honest. You must be open."
Accept the challenge
Over the course of the coming weeks and months, AACRAO will give members opportunities to learn, express themselves, become allies and accomplices. We will move the needle.
1. Understand the language. "An ally will mostly engage in activism by standing with an individual or group in a marginalized community. An accomplice will focus more on dismantling the structures that oppress that individual or group—and such work will be directed by the stakeholders in the marginalized group." Read more here and here.
2. Commit to concrete work. Identify BIPOC-led justice-focused organizations and determine how you can precipitate change. Learn more.
3. Dismantle the myths that lead to passivity and inaction. For example, know that you will make mistakes. Perfection is not expected, and it can paralyze you. Investigate here.
4. Explore AACRAO's Black Lives Matter resource page.