February 2022 Newsletter
curated by Shelly Tochluk
Author of Witnessing Whiteness and Living in the Tension
Member of AWARE-LA

Hello All – I hope this newsletter finds you well as we enter February, Black History Month. Wishing to honor Black women who inspire me, this edition highlights two essential voices that help move us forward. First, an OpEd from Kimberlé Crenshaw explains how the anti-CRT movement seeks to undermine the work of MLK Jr and the civil rights movement, in general. Second, Mariame Kaba is a powerhouse and I encourage you to spend some time listening to and reading her words.
Most essential this month is downloading and reading the recently published The Conflict Campaign report. Having only skimmed it so far myself, it is at the top of my reading list. I encourage you to read it as well.
King Was A Critical Race Theorist Before There Was A Name For It
If you missed the MLK Day OpEd written by Kimberlé Crenshaw, take time to read it now. It offers a broad view regarding the effort to dismantle progress toward racial justice. Take note of Crenshaw’s tactical approach and argument. You may want to replicate her flow in your conversations with family and community members.
REPORT: The Conflict Campaign
This is a detailed study looking at the coordinated effort to wage conflict in individual communities by using allegations of "Critical Race Theory." Read how this campaign has already affected 900 communities serving 35% of US schoolchildren so far. Even if you do not have school-aged kids or tend to dismiss the anti-CRT push, this study will help you understand the political force the right wing is successfully mobilizing to gain power throughout the US, both hyper-locally and nationally. Please read it and share it with your networks. Also, do not let the number of pages scare you off. The font is large and the pages read quickly.
Also impressive is this high schooler  sharing what she thinks of the focus on critical race theory:.
We Do This Until We Free Us, by Mariame Kaba
This is both an unsettling and inspiring book. It will help you understand the beautiful vision underlying the call to abolish the police and prisons. Please keep reading beyond the paragraphs or pages that confuse you or push your buttons. Listening to my inner voice and asking it to pause when I felt triggered is part of sitting in the necessary discomfort that precedes important learning. The inspiration and appreciation I felt as the book progressed was enormous, and I hope you are able to have a similar experience.

Read and listen: The veteran newsman and “CBS Sunday Morning” contributor explains how a seeming puff piece about “The Andy Griffith Show” turned into an unsettling snapshot of an angry America

I included this in the newsletter because there is a lot to learn by exploring where reality comes into conflict with fantasy. Important to consider is how to use this TV segment to open conversation as opposed to shut it down. Engaging with people about what it means to be nostalgic for an idealized past (what we think it was vs. the reality) is a core point. This is an important issue to consider as so many white Americans want “a return” to a sense of community that feels good. Who fits into that vision? What does it take for someone to fit in? These are important conversation starters.

This video is of historians Doris Kearns Goodwin and Jon Meacham discussing the historical significance of the events of January 6, 2021 during a conversation moderated by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden.  (I recommend listening from minute 15:50 to 51, and if that is too long, then minute 36 to 51.)
I include this here because historical perspective is important. When we realize our country has been here before it can help us to stay strong and focus on the path ahead. We are not “more divided than ever.” We have always experienced significant divisions. This conversation helps us recognize other points in US history where challenges were met and tough times were overcome.
For those with a staunch sense of antiracism, the early minutes may offer a few cringe worthy moments if you believe the historians gloss over the harm perpetuated by our nation’s early leaders. Yet, there are essential and relevant points made regarding what is happening today. And, if you take the time and stick with it until minute 36, it really takes off. This is where the conversation lays the context for what we are experiencing now, the historical parallels to the dangers and the hopeful possibilities. Listen to minute 51.
 AWARE’s monthly Sunday Dialogue (SD) occurs on the 3rd Sunday of every month, 3-5PM Pacific via the Zoom online platform.  We focus on connecting, sharing, and learning from one another. If you'd like to join us to receive monthly invitations, please subscribe here: Sunday Dialogues Interest List Sign Up
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Shelly Tochluk · 10 Chester Place · Los Angeles, CA 90007 · USA

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