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Black Lives Matter and How it Intersects With Our Work

Dear MCAEL Community:

Since the end of May and the death of George Floyd, we at MCAEL have been thinking and talking about the protests that flow down the streets and sidewalks of many of our cities and towns, the long history of racism in our country, and how it intersects with our work. We also say the name of Finan Berhe, a black immigrant, killed by the police in Montgomery County in May. The dialogues have been robust, informative and heart-wrenching.

We recognize and honor the fact that addressing issues of systemic racism is a process; it is an action or series of actions, not a public soundbite moment. We have had internal thought and discussion within the context of our MCAEL values and work. We want to connect our words to actions that we have taken, or will be taking, and will be sustainable for MCAEL.

Coalition for a Connected Community:
MCAEL strengthens the community by advancing a coalition of organizations dedicated to enabling all Montgomery County residents to achieve their full potential by improving their English language skills.

MCAEL and the programs that provide ESOL classes serve black immigrants from Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America. These adult learners experience racial discrimination as they navigate our society and systems, in addition to the challenges and discrimination they experience as immigrants.

We know that the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement started with specific intentions around eliminating state sponsored violence against black people in communities. Additionally, the Black Lives Matter movement also rests on principles of working with allies and that all Black lives matter regardless of actual or perceived identity, including immigrant status. We support the intentions and principles of the BLM movement.

Commitment to Acting for Equity
MCAEL stands with the BLM movement as an ally as we continue our work. A healthy, vibrant community is one where all community members have the opportunity to fully participate, access community resources, and thrive. English language proficiency is an important building block for the well-being and security of individuals and families in Montgomery County. We will continue to build stronger lives in an inclusive community connected through equitable access to English language learning classes across the County.

We recognize that our organization and the individuals with whom we work are on unique personal journeys in terms of their learning and development, and we will continue to invest in equitable, quality education for everyone. In that vein over the past year, we have been taking a deeper dive into race equity and how we can do more to ensure that our work is addressing systemic racism, involving our constituents and furthering our mission— to strengthen the countywide adult English literacy network.

A brief timeline of our racial equity work:

  • April 2019 – Two staff and one board member participated in the Racial Equity Institute 2-day training sponsored by Leadership Montgomery;
  • 2019 – 2020 – Three staff participated in the inaugural cohort of Racial Equity Action Leadership, REAL (sponsored by Leadership Montgomery);
  • July 2020 – MCAEL drafted a race equity plan and presented to REAL leadership;
  • August – October 2020 (proposed)- Race Equity Action Plan to be further vetted with MCAEL Board, stakeholders and staff and implementation with collaboration within the coalition.

We continue to welcome conversation and input from you. And, we remain committed to doing our part to ensure that English classes for adult immigrants are available since it is a key component to a thriving, diverse community.

There are many challenges our communities face right now. Our democratic government and processes feel threatened and unstable, and the systemic racism in our country is more apparent than ever as the effects of inequities in all of our systems—health, employment, housing, and education, to name a few — are blatantly exposed.

As we all work to navigate the world changed by pandemic conditions, we are carrying a focus on equity through our work. Education for adults is crucial to their health and well-being and to our community as a whole. Thank you for your continued role in our joint success.

With gratitude,
Kathy Stevens
Executive Director

Date: 
Wednesday, July 29, 2020 - 14:11

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