We can do better

Dear Literacy Mentors and friends of East Side Learning Center,

This week, we find ourselves reflecting deeply on our mission, “to unlock each child’s potential through the foundation of reading.” The potential of black and brown children, and especially black boys, is continuously endangered by institutionalized racism and violence. Our children cannot meet their full potential if they cannot breathe.

We condemn the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police Officers. We proclaim Black Lives Matter. We stand in solidarity with protesters as they righteously demand an end to this fatal system, a system that chokes a child’s ability to learn.

Our work going forward is to look inward and examine how our practices uphold systematic and systemic racism. This is the commitment of our staff and Board as we do our work:

  • Be reflective of the community we serve and build equitable partnerships within those communities; and
  • Celebrate, honor and respect the richness of all races, ethnicities and cultures, ensuring that they are not predictors of student achievement and success.

Our actions must reflect our principles. We will be a part of the individual and collective work to learn, change, and act.

ESLC aims to collaborate with the community, our students and families, and you in this effort. Here are some actions our organization has been working on:

  • Revising recruiting and workplace practices to be more inclusive for persons from different cultures.
  • Including more persons of color among our staff, Literacy Mentors and Board of Directors, and listening when they speak up about microaggressions and inequities in how we do our work.
  • Creating space for families and communities to provide guidance on what they need for their children to succeed both in school and out of school.
  • Purchasing books for children that are representative of their diverse skin color, culture and heritage.
  • Providing equity training for tutors and community members. Watch our newsletters for invitations to join us. Below, please find a list of resources to support our Black and minority neighbors during this time of mourning and crisis and a link to our learning page to continue your journey of understanding how racism impacts all of us.
  • Purchasing food, services and supplies from local and minority-owned businesses in the neighborhoods where we serve.
  • Forming a Board Curriculum Committee that aims to work with the community to create tutoring materials that better meet the needs of diverse, urban children.

As we continue our work to deconstruct racism, we welcome your insights to add to this list. You can email me at chris.flippo@eslcmn.org. As a white person, I believe I have a particular responsibility to learn, to listen and uplift the lived experience of people of color. I personally encourage you to engage in your own anti-racism work, and ESLC aims to be a partner in this. ESLC’s Learn-From-Home Training resources this month could be a starting place.

We are listening. We can do better. We must do better for the sake of the children. Together we can be the change. I believe, “If we trust and dare, the world can and will be transformed” (Theresa Gerhardinger, Founder of the School Sisters of Notre Dame).

In closing, I am reminded of the statements of Minneapolis Public Schools’ North High School Principal Mauri Friestleben & Lucy Laney Elementary Principal Lisa Pawelak who urge us to, “say the names of black boys and men now … so that not one more black person’s legacy is a hashtag.”

Bless you,

Chris Flippo
Executive Director
East Side Learning Center

 

Take Action

Let us know how you’re doing.

Share your comments and vision for how ESLC can center racial equity in our work by commentbelow. Or if you choose, share your vision for how ESLC can center racial equity in our work (Email Chris at chris.flippo@eslcmn.org).

Watch ACLU MN's website 

They are updating their website with actions you can take from home.

Watch HandsOn Twin Cities’ website

They are compiling active volunteer opportunities and giving opportunities for recovery and rebuilding efforts.

Donate to Minnesota Freedom Fund or any Black-Led organization

The Minnesota Freedom Fund pays criminal bail and immigration bond for those who cannot afford to as they seek to end discriminatory, coercive, and oppressive jailing. For a list of black-led arts organizations, visit here.

Donate food and supplies

Food Donations and Pick Ups are happening daily at various locations across St. Paul and Minneapolis (including some of our schools) until grocery stores are rebuilt. If you have food, diapers or hygiene items to donate, please submit your information through ESLC's Mutual Aid Site and we will coordinate with sites taking donations at that time.

Learn

Visit this month's ESLC Learn-From-Home Library, we’ve decided to share resources the community is pointing us to in this time of deep grief and processing. Visit