How to Help Fight Racism – FORJ

How to Help Fight Racism

Families Organizing For Racial Justice (FORJ)

June 2020

We are very encouraged to see the incredible interest in joining in the fight against systemic racism. So many efforts can use your help to reduce racism in Newton.  

By adding or deepening a racial equity lens in what organizations are doing, we will create a more equitable city where all Newton residents and visitors will feel a strong sense of belonging. An example of where your support would help is regarding METCO.  We have in the past asked for resident Newton families to advocate to the statehouse that determines METCO funding for our students.  Newton has the single largest busing program in the country – because we still do not house enough under-represented minorities in Newton, we continue to bus instead. In the past, we have had maybe 3-4 white Newton residents show up with us and Boston families at the statehouse. Sustained engagement on issues like this one would make a real difference.

Here are some groups that often come to FORJ wanting a racial equity lens.  Please get involved where you are interested!  As you try to advance work in organizations that are often majority-white, we assume that you – and all of us – will continue to educate yourself and interface with other racial justice organizations, including ours. Stay steeped in learning and listen to the voices of racially diverse leaders, and share and leverage those learnings.   

Housing:  Build more housing of all types to enable more diverse populations to be housed in Newton – work with Engine 6.  The FORJ liaison is Nanci Ginty at nanciginty@gmail.com

METCO:  Support the work that the METCO director and counselors do in NPS, increasing social/financial/and political support to these programs and families. For example, METCO is about to have a graduation in June and they need scholarship support. 

  • To support the 40 graduating seniors from both Newton North and Newton South as they move on to pursue their future dreams, consider contributing to The Newton METCO Community Scholarship Fund. https://www.gofundme.com/f/newtonmetcoscholar.  
  • Keep an eye out for a rescheduled METCO Lobby Day to advocate in support of the program at the Statehouse, https://metcoinc.org/get-involved/advocacy/
  • Or contact FORJ to get involved in attending Newton-Boston family programming, at contact@forjnewton.com

Human Rights Commission: The Human Rights Commission, by city ordinance, collects and reports incidents of hate, discrimination and has statutory authority to subpoena and conduct investigations. Making this process more effective would certainly be worth advocating for, as we have done and continue to do. Attend a public meeting of Newton’s Human Rights Commission and learn more here: http://www.newtonma.gov/gov/health/commissions/human_rights/default.asp.

Policing:  You may have seen in Mayor Fuller’s email her reference to the fact that “our Police leadership meets regularly with a group of parents who are leading vital conversations on how to combat racial bias.” This is a Black-led parent group, some of whose members are part of FORJ, and have been in an ongoing dialogue with the police for almost two years. We can ask them the ways in which they want allies to support their work. Recently, they proposed a four-pronged action plan that includes: Training, Tracking and Assessment, Transparency, and Hiring. Other Black parents are welcome to contact us to engage with this group (Email Karen at contact@forjnewton.com) and non-Black parents can aim to form an effective ally group perhaps through Newton supporters of BLM facebook or other convening options. 

Elect Black Candidates/Candidates of Color in Newton:  We have 3 current elected people of color on the School Committee; all 24 of our city councilors are white. Please help develop and support a pipeline of talent to remediate this! Longtime supporter of candidates of color throughout MA, Susan Davidoff, is happy to support/work with you on this goal: email suze4obama@gmail.com

Family EngagementNewton Public Schools: Join FORJ to join existing parent-led groups at our public schools to respond to particular experiences of students, engage with teachers and staff to escalate needs, and advocate to principals and superintendents on increasing events and communications that address equity issues. FORJ holds monthly meetings open to anyone in Newton during the school year, and each school group holds their own meetings and programs according to their own priorities.  We are also looking for volunteers who can lead city-wide working groups that can maintain consistent focus on particular topics, such as advocating diverse hiring, building out parent affinity groups, and partnering with librarians on diverse books.  Sign up on our website www.forjnewton.com to join our list and find out about future meetings. Questions? Email contact@forjnewton.com 

Younger kids: Story Starters and Books for Littles are two Newton programs/resources for engaging younger children. For Story Starters, email Ellie@story-starters.org

Newton Interfaith Clergy Association: Help deepen work for racial justice within and across our religious institutions. We have partnered often with Pastor Devlin Scott alongside other religious leaders. Address your note to Devlin when you email newtonclergy@gmail.com.

There are certainly other interest areas that could use support in Newton too.  We will keep broadening this list over time and welcome deeper partnerships with other organizations in our city.  There is also much national work to be done. Consider your own skills and networks and where you can have most impact. We need those in high-resource cities and states to commit to adopt other cities/states with the greatest inequity where you can: 

  • Back Black candidates for Congress, state and local office
  • Protect the Black vote and ensure safe, secure elections nationally
  • Improve healthcare access and economic inclusion 

Address your inquiry to Vineeta within FORJ through our email: contact@forjnewton.com to learn more about some of the best organizations nationally engaging across those dimensions.