On June 18, 2020, Delaware County Literacy Council (DCLC) released a public statement, Black Lives Matter to DCLC, which made clear that many of DCLC's adult students "have had their opportunities, their safety, and their health undercut by systemic racism." The statement included specific actions DCLC has committed to taking to address systemic racism and its effects.
To make sure DCLC lives up to this commitment, members of DCLC's staff formed a "Systemic Racism Learning Group." The group meets monthly to study systemic racism and to coordinate the steps DCLC is taking in response to racial inequities that affect our organization, our students, and our community.
According to Duane Belgrave, Sr., an instructor at DCLC involved in putting together the Learning Group, "This is an opportunity to be explicit, intentional, and transparent in how we want to address systemic racism and empower our students."
To learn more about the effects of systemic racism, the Learning Group has invited community speakers to give virtual presentations on topics from mass incarceration to white fragility. Within the Learning Group, smaller "actionable goal" groups meet to plan DCLC's action steps.
For example, one actionable-goal group has identified curricular resources on systemic racism that can be used by DCLC teachers and tutors. Teachers are currently incorporating some of these resources in project-based lessons on redlining, racism within federal institutions, "sundown towns," and similar topics. A training on these resources will be offered to DCLC teachers and tutors in the months ahead.
Other projects by actionable-goal groups include creating community partnerships, organizing presentations to help DCLC students navigate societal systems, and holding an essay contest to allow DCLC students to express themselves on the topic of racial justice.
With these measures, the DCLC staff is attempting to make long-term changes within the organization.
As Duane Belgrave, Sr., explains, “We are realizing that systemic racism is so deep. This is a lifelong endeavor. We work on systemic racism today because we care about creating a better future.”