Moving Beyond Awareness

Trailblazing the Way to Systemic Transformation

Awareness days, weeks, and months can be a mixed bag. On the one hand, they focus our collective attention on important stories, issues, and events that would otherwise be squeezed out or made silent. The dominant culture has an oppressive grip on the abundant truths of our lives. To know hope, we need to see accurate reflections of who we are and who we can be. The trap, however, is that when awareness days fail to address the root causes of hate and harm that we need to effect real change, they become a setup for performative allyship and activism. Herein lies the tension.

Let's look no further than February, Black American History Month, to bring this tension to the surface. Awareness events that organizations and systems participate in often result in a superficial engagement with history, elevating only a couple of iconic leaders or significant events, which fails to explore the depth and breadth of influential figures beyond a select few. Our community's beautifully complex history and some of the most formative social changes that we all benefit from today are directly the result of Black artists, creators, makers, innovators, advocates, activists, and leaders.

We must see the relentless erasure of Black history and culture, including the stories of queer and trans Black individuals, for what it is: a deliberate tactic to hinder justice.

Not only do hidden stories bury the fullness of experiences and identities, but they also keep us from connecting.

Today, I want you to know about and support the Education Justice Coalition (EdJ), a trailblazing coalition that Outright is fortunate to be a core member of. Here's a bit more about our friends at EdJ:

EdJ’s Vision:

We envision collective liberation for all people and a state in which Indigenous, Black, People of Color, Disability, Immigrant and LGBTQIA+ peoples can thrive in a culture of belonging that is free of bias, discrimination, and oppression.

EdJ’s Mission:

To promote justice for all students in the Vermont education system through organizing, building community power, and developing and promoting Ethnic studies, Disability studies, Native American Studies, and LGBTQIA+ curriculum and pedagogy.

EdJ is at the forefront of transforming educational paradigms. By championing systemic reform, among various strategies, EJ advocates for advancements toward education that are both culturally aware and responsive to community needs. They seek to weave in the viewpoints of communities historically marginalized by pervasive racism, ableism, and cis heteronormativity. Realizing this vision means eradicating the risk of any narrative being overlooked, guaranteeing recognition and appreciation for every story. In doing so, all people, including LGBTQ+ and allied youth, will experience our present-day reality with greater truth and authenticity, thereby paving the way for a future defined by liberation.

Given our current political and social climate, it will take all of us and an array of strategies and tactics to build the world we know we need.

I'm not advocating for the elimination of basic awareness days, weeks, and months. But alone, they will not sustain systemic transformation.

I want us to have a higher vision of what's possible and to support organizations, coalitions, and groups that are reaching for that higher vision.

When I think of the future state of our education system through the lens of work happening with EdJ, Outright, and LGBTQ+ and allied youth, I see a day where our stories are everywhere. I see a day where the very structures we need to rely upon to create an inner sense of safety are made accessible to all. And only then will we all know belonging and connection.

That's the future I want for young humans in my life. You?

Donate Today to Camp Outright!

There's a $25,000 match when you donate during Pride month!

Ensure that LGBTQ+ youth have access to summer camp designed just for them. 

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