ORTESOL stands with Black lives and the Black Lives Matter movement. We acknowledge the protests that are happening across the country and around the world in response to the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, in addition to the many police killings of Black community members that have come before. We are putting forth a renewed call to action against the racism and anti-Blackness that has rooted itself across our societal systems, particularly our system of education--pre-K through higher ed.
As TESOL and EL educators, we acknowledge our responsibility and ability to the following actions:
to meet the demands of this moment
to educate ourselves more deeply on racism in education and its effects on our students and teachers
to recognize the intersectionality of race, language acquisition, and English language education
to connect with other education professionals in clarifying our organizational attitudes and best practices
to advocate on administrative and governmental levels for our professions, our students and their families, and our communities.
Even as the school year comes to a close, we must maintain a growth mindset about becoming fervently anti-racist in order to adequately support our BIPOC students and teachers to begin to reform our educational systems. For many of us, this is a renewed commitment. Perhaps now we are taking the opportunity to move beyond one thematic unit or lesson and instead integrating social justice as a daily and fully comprehensive foundation of our teaching practices in order to eradicate inequities and abuses that exist throughout our communities and our classrooms. We must remember and acknowledge that language development and racial justice cannot be separated.
With this, we move forward and activate our privilege, declaring that ORTESOL is committed to anti-racist education and advocacy.
We encourage action over words, and have included five to consider:
LISTEN & FOLLOW. Now is the time to listen to Black voices and amplify their messages. Follow #BlackintheIvory on social media to hear about Black experiences in academia or The Conscious Kid to learn about “parenting and education through a Critical Race lens.” Read or listen to leaders Tamika Mallory (activist), Patrisse Cullors (co-founder Black Lives Matter), Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II (co-chair Poor People’s Campaign), Rodney Robinson (2019 National Teacher of the Year), Dena Simmons (Educator).
READ, LISTEN, & SHARE. Update your professional subscriptions to include publications such as Teaching Tolerance or Rethinking Schools. Form a virtual book club with fellow educators, administrators, or friends. Read books from the Coretta Scott King Book Award list with your students or family. Add podcasts to your playlist such as Seeing White, Teaching While White, or Code Switch.
ENGAGE. Host an open house with students, administrators, and community organizers to hear concerns, needs, and suggestions. What supports do your Black students, teachers, staff, and families need and expect right now and in the future?
ADVOCATE. As TESOL educators, our student population is often learning American history and civics, perhaps more in-depth than ourselves. It’s important to be informed and engaged in the political processes that directly impact our work. Contact your Oregon State Senator or Representative, mayor, school or district leaders to find out how they are making changes to policing, social service funding, and education policy. Share your personal stories with them and ask for specific changes. Encourage other members from your neighborhood and schools to do the same.
DONATE. Consider supporting an organization that speaks to your heart: Black Immigrant Collective, Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Black Lives Matter, Freedom to Thrive, National Bail Fund Network, Color of Change.