This below is a living document, and we plan to make updates as we continue to have conversations with our staff, board, and community and develop additional action items.


Dear WriteBoston community,

WriteBoston believes that Black Lives Matter, and we stand with our students, educators, and partner organizations fighting for racial justice and equality. We have been distressed by the widespread discrimination and violence against Black people that has occurred in our country in the past weeks, both in the form of police violence and other types of ongoing institutional oppression.

Additionally, we recognize that the intersection of Black and LGBTQ+ identities has created a unique landscape for Pride Month this year, and we acknowledge the impact of these events on the Black LGBTQ+ community specifically.

Our education system has been deeply shaped by systemic racism, resulting in far-reaching inequities in both opportunities and outcomes for Black students. WriteBoston’s work is guided by our conviction to create a more equitable and just education system that our students deserve. 

OUR BELIEFS

  • We believe that students should have a voice in our schools and communities, and be able to both express themselves and advocate for themselves using their voices.
  • We believe that writing is a tool for empowerment and change making.
  • We believe that for students to participate in the fight for justice, strong writing and communication skills are essential.
  • We believe all students should have access to safe spaces inside and outside school where they can confide in trusted adult mentors.
  • We believe that teachers can and should be agents of change for racial justice.
  • We believe that schools must confront the systemic racism that runs through them and honestly acknowledge how this affects and harms students.
  • We believe that all students should have access to extracurricular opportunities that reinforce their in-school learning, regardless of their school’s funding.
  • We believe that it is essential that students can be informed and critical consumers of mass media.

Students’ lives are deeply shaped by school, and schools have the opportunity and responsibility to act against the systemic racial inequities present in our society. We are committed to working with youth and teachers to enable this necessary and long-overdue transformation.

WriteBoston approaches this in two ways. We support young people directly in our youth journalism program, Teens in Print. We also work at the district, school, and classroom levels by offering instructional coaching and professional development to educators.

Through all of our programming, we seek to develop students’ writing skills to build a better future for our youth and our communities. We know that our society is enriched by a more diverse group of people taking part in conversations about inequality, justice, and change.

TEENS IN PRINT

Teens in Print is Boston’s citywide high school newspaper, with the goal of shepherding students through the writing, editing, and publishing processes. TiP has always directly discussed racial justice and other inequity issues in its programming because these are topics students often choose to write about.

Over the past decade, TiP has published countless articles about racism, police brutality, and the experiences of Black youth and other marginalized communities in Boston. Find a collection of TiP articles that address police brutality and racism here.

Along with fostering student writing, Teens in Print also works to expose students to diverse and thoughtful media content, and help them become intentional and informed consumers of news media. 

In order to correct the biases that exist in our media, it must be more representative of the community it serves. TiP is an example of what a diverse newsroom can look like, and it provides guidance and support to students who express interest in a media career after graduation.

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT FOR EDUCATORS

In our coaching and professional development, we support teachers to provide all students with rigorous grade level texts and instruction. Our literacy coaches push teachers to hold all students to high standards and train them with strategies for doing so. 

The professional development team encourages the use of materials authored by writers of color, and uses an anti-racist lens in our trainings and offerings, from the images we choose of people in our slides to the model texts and exemplars we share. 

OUR COMMITMENTS

We know that we have continued work to do to live up to our organizational mission and to our students, teachers, and partners. As a small organization with a majority-white staff and board leadership, we know that institutionalized biases are inevitable, and we must name and address inequities in our organization and programs. 

As of June 11, 2020, 27% of our full-time staff and service members are people of color, 18% of whom are Black. Our board is 38% people of color, 23% of whom are Black.

We will continue to build a board and staff of diverse backgrounds, voices, and identities. This work includes interrogating our recruitment practices, ensuring that our office is designed for inclusivity, and providing more leadership and development opportunities that make space for professionals of color to affect positive change.

In the short-term, our staff has met and discussed action items for the next three months: 

  • In our Teens in Print program, we will design a virtual recruitment strategy for the upcoming school year that is inclusive and intentional about engaging with students underrepresented in media, including Black students. It is important that we engage a representative group of young journalists, regardless of the barriers that online learning may create. 
  • The curriculum for TiP’s Summer Journalism Institute will include a unit dedicated specifically to investigating the impact of institutionalized racism on the city of Boston. 
  • In our Professional Development program, we will spend focused time researching and synthesizing anti-racist teaching and coaching resources that we can use to develop our skills and pass on to teachers. Additionally, we will create a coaching toolkit to identifying where our teachers are with anti-racist education, and to differentiate professional development and coaching.
  • Our professional development team is committed to acknowledging our own racial identity, place of privilege and implicit bias in our conversations with school staff.
  • Instructional coaches will consistently surface intentional choices related to anti-racist strategies in our professional development materials, similar to how we consistently name the rationale behind literacy strategies.
  • As we plan events and communications, we will foster conversation and learning opportunities that confront racial justice issues and elevate Black writers and thought-leaders.

In our board meeting later this month, we will discuss how to authentically center racial justice in our mission statement and daily work. Our racial justice work must be even more explicit and actionable going forward, internally and externally. We commit to continuing this conversation and updating you as more concrete decisions are made.

We encourage you to be intentional about reading the work of Black authors, and sharing and amplifying Black voices. Teens in Print will continue to publish and share writing by Black students on our social media, along with highlighting work from our community partners through the summer. 

We are each lifelong learners. For those of us who are white, and therefore hold power and privilege, we must engage as readers, writers, and learners to educate ourselves and act if we are to create a more equitable shared future.

In solidarity,

The WriteBoston staff