A message from Stacie:

Dear Friends,

I am struggling with the events of yesterday. Like so many, I feel anger, shame, sadness, and confusion. But I also know I will never truly understand what Black and brown people must be going through as these horrific events unfold. Many of my white friends and colleagues have expressed shock. Most of my Black friends and colleagues have shared that these events were not shocking at all, and, in fact, are in line with how they have always experienced this country. Herein lie the many truths that need to be reckoned with. 

The dichotomy between how police treat white supremacist terrorists and how they treat BIPOC going about their days or engaged in protests could not be clearer; nor could the series of events that lead our country here.

I am grateful that, when the events were unfolding, I was in community with about 90 artists, educators, and staff as part of an organization-wide series of race equity trainings. I wondered, coming into the meeting, if we would move forward with the training as it was planned or not. Ti Coleman, co-facilitator of the training, said something to the effect of, “This country has been burning for a long time, and this is just a different fire.” Ti and their co-facilitator, Maryanne Fields, did what amazing teaching artists do: They held space for group processing while completing the objectives of the training. That represents the challenge teachers and teaching artists often face: Holding space for collective and individual traumas in the midst of the learning tasks.

I am thinking today of our young people and the adults who are stepping into spaces today to support our young people. I want to lift up something that Ronald McFadden, a school board member with City Schools and a BCPS music teacher, posted: “Teachers, take a moment and balance yourselves tonight. Tomorrow we are on the frontline. What is happening in our country should not be ignored. Our children are watching and they need us to guide them through the truth.” 

Our work at YA is to transform the lives and education of young people, and this is just as important today as it ever was. Our race equity work is and will grow stronger, deeper, and broader because that is the key to sustainably changing the reality we face. I look forward to continuing to work with this community – all of you and the students we work with – as we navigate the truth.

Let’s keep building together,