My name is Charles Doolittle and I am currently working as a Policy Advisor at the U.S. Department of Education. Before my current role, I taught in Milwaukee Public Schools and then in Miami-Dade County Public Schools, exclusively and humbly in under-served communities.
My difficult decision to leave the classroom was driven by a number of things, one of which was the murder of Trayvon Martin. The middle school I taught at was a feeder into Trayvon’s high school. This hit close to home for my students and me, literally. The devastating effects on my kids led me to pursue a position where hopefully I could contribute to change on a more systemic level.
Before that tragedy and since then, like many of you, I have witnessed the institutionalized racism that continues to oppress our students, colleagues, friends, loved ones, and fellow human beings. The most recent manifestation of this injustice has taken place in my home-state of Missouri. The grand jury’s decision not to indict Darren Wilson this past week was simultaneously deeply saddening, illogical (really, I hope everyone takes the time to read and analyze the transcript ) and yet frankly unsurprising.
I have to remind myself that this is not about Trayvon or Michael, at least not solely. Every 28 hours a person of color is killed by a police officer, security guard, or self-appointed vigilante in the United States. Further, while police brutality and death is undeniably horrendous, overt and covert racism manifest in a plethora of ways that continue to denigrate individuals and communities of color. If we as a nation are to truly rebuild this broken system, it will take sustained dialogue and action.
White allies have a unique role to play and yet often times white people remain silent, or engage in an ineffective or inappropriate manner. Please join me Saturday, December 6th, from 11:00-1:00 at Teach For America’s 7th floor office located at 1805 7th Street NW, Washington, DC 20001 (RSVP). This space will be used for a convening of white allies to discuss our role in addressing the systemic racism and injustice that repeatedly leads to the oppression of minority groups and individuals. This will be the first of ongoing, frequent meetings towards action.
While this action-oriented discussion will include reaction to the decision of the grand jury not to indict Darren Wilson, it is primarily about initiating sustained dialogue and tangible steps to contribute to the rebuilding of our broken system. Also, this is part of an effort to create and develop a larger organization; more on that to come.
During the conversation we’ll discuss:
- What is an ally?
- What is the role of white allies in the fight to correct systemic racism and injustice?
- How can we begin to organize and take action?
11:00-11:30……..Meet and Greet
11:30-12:30……..Program and Discussion
To be clear, this event will be led by an alumnus but is NOT exclusive to Teach For America alumni or corps members. Please feel encouraged to forward this message and/or bring other white allies along.
If you’re interested in attending, please RSVP by Friday, December 5th at 5 PM.