Racial Justice Initiative Resources

The resources below are provided by content experts, community organizers, and leaders who are working in the field to change the way race determines outcomes.

Email the office about any faulty links.

Systemic Racism

Systemic racism has existed for centuries and has been perpetuated and cemented through the generations. What has happened? Where are we now and how did we get here? What do we even mean when we say systemic racism? The resources below focus on the last few decades: how policies, practices, and traditions have led to the systemic racism we see in the United States, how Jews have participated in the systems, and why we are compelled to think about the future differently.

Glossary of terms

Questions for Reflection:

  1. In the 1940s + 1950s many Jews (through initiatives like the GI Bill and a post-WWII decline in anti-Semitism) began to benefit from white privilege. What privileges did your family accumulate at this time (did they buy houses, get a job through a family member, go to college for the first time, send their child to a Jewish school, etc)?
  2. What decisions have you made or are you currently making that will continue these privileges with you and/or your family (what schools have you chosen for your kids, what neighborhood did you choose to live in, what career path did you choose, how did you get your first job)?

Suggested Reading:
‘White Supremacy’ Once Meant David Duke and the Klan. Now It Refers to Much More by Michael Powell, New York Times, Oct 7, 2020
DETOUR‐SPOTTING for white anti‐racists by joan olsson, 1997
White Jews – Wake Up. We’re Part of the Problem by Matt Fieldman, eJewishPhilanthropy, June 21, 2020
What if the Jews Had Never Left Germany? by Shira Telushkin, The Jewish Forward, June 9, 2020
White Picket Fence Podcast, Episode #2 “American Dream” with host Julie Kohler, November 25, 2020

Systemic Racism in the Justice System

In 1865 the last enslaved Africans learned that they were considered free by the United States government. In 2021, there are more Black men in prison than there were enslaved Black men in 1863. Discover how policing, our (in)justice system, and prisons have replicated the patterns of enslavement and lead to the systematic disenfranchisement of Black families, communities, and neighborhoods.

Take the Care Not Cops (Pledge not to call the police on our young people)
We, The Motherhood (DC-based organization)
Harriett’s Wildest Dream (DC-based organization)
100 Women 100 Days (Event on March 12 at 12:00 pm)
6Ds Until She’s Free (Video)
Alternatives to Calling the Police: Washington DC (Resource Guide)
Through The W.I.R.E.: My Search for Redemption by Lashonia Thompson-El (Book)
13th (Documentary on Netflix)
Time Zone – A Multimedia Project About Lashonia Thompson-El (Video)
Yes We Mean Literally Abolish The Police (Article)
Olam Hadash: Towards a Jewish Theology of Abolition (Sermon)
The New Jim Crow (Book)
Crack: Cocaine, Corruption, and Conspiracy (Documentary on Netflix)
Snowfall (TV series on FX, also on Hulu)

Systemic Racism in Education

Why do schools exist? Do we expect them to prepare our young people for their careers, or to mold them into the adult human beings we want them to be? Are schools pillars of democracy, community/social service centers, or a socialization tool? We all have different answers to these essential questions and expect our public schools to do so much for our society. Explore how this lack of clarity disproportionately impacts students of color, puts additional responsibilities on their families and support networks, and interrupts their path and success in higher education.

How you can support efforts to get Black youth the educational experience they need:

Go back to your alma mater and start a conversation using the following prompts:

  • What are the recruitment numbers? More importantly, what is the multicultural graduation rate?
  • What is the pell admittance rate? (There are ‘engines of inequity’ colleges where less than 5% of students on campus are Pell eligible – it means these institutions are giving financial aid but they are not supporting the most economically disadvantaged students to attend)
  • Does your alma mater have a bridge program that supports students who are first generation college students, etc?
  • How is the Hillel on campus building relationships with other organizations on campus and advocating for racial equity

Once you’ve gotten the answer to these questions, organize your alumni friends and community to change the status quo!

If you have students in a school with a Parent Teachers Association, ask the following questions:

  • Is the diversity of your school reflected in the PTA? Why or why not?
  • How is the money the PTA raises being spent? Who has voice there?
  • Does your PTA have an explicit racial justice or equity statement?

Amplify Empower DC’s call for $60 million in the budget to repair neglected public housing units
Back to School Bash (Washington Post article)
Letter urging Sec. Cardona to prioritize teacher diversity
Extracurricular Classes (HillRag article)

Other articles and resources:
Separate & Unequal: How Higher Education Reinforces the Intergenerational Reproduction of White Racial Privilege (Georgetown University Executive Summary)
The Real College Admissions Scandal (Inequality.org article)
Unequal Opportunity: Race and Education (The Brookings Institution article)
Black and Latino Students Shut Out of Advanced Coursework Opportunities (The Education Trust article)
‘Losing A Generation’: Fall College Enrollment Plummets For 1st-Year Students (NPR)
It’s Time to Worry About College Enrollment Declines Among Black Students (Center for American Progress)
The Neglected College Race Gap: Racial Disparities Among College Completers (Center for American Progress)
College Results – Graduation Rates Information
K-12 Disparity Facts and Statistics (UNCF article)
U.S. Census Bureau Educational Attainment Data
Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Groups 2018 (National Center for Educational Statistics)
Racial Gap

Systemic Racism in Maternal Health

Washington DC is home to a decades long maternal and infant mortality crisis that disproportionately impacts Black women. There are currently no maternity wards east of the Anacostia River, and about half of Black women in DC do not get prenatal care until their second or third trimester. Nationally, Black women are three to four times more likely to die in pregnancy than white women. Explore the role systemic racism and divestment play in creating tragic consequences for Black families in reproductive health experiences, pregnancy and birth journeys.

For information on abortion and activism opportunities focused on abortion access:
All* Above All

Jews for Abortion Access

For information, allyship, and activism opportunities focused on Black maternal health nationally:
Black Mamas Matter (pay special attention to the toolkit)
National Birth Equity Collaborative
Instagram: @theblackobgynproject 
Why America’s Black Mothers and Babies Are In A Life or Death Crisis
Killing the Black Body by Dorothy Roberts
Evidence Based Birth Podcast (episodes 174, 161, 156, 148)
Institute for Healing and Justice in Medicine
Twitter: Black Maternal Health Caucus

To learn more about the experiences of Black women in the birth process:
Podcast: Birthright 
Instagram: @iamksealsallers founder of @theirthapp/irthapp.com

To learn more about local and federal legislation:
DC councilmember’s fight to reduce maternal mortality is personal
Councilmember Henderson introduces first bill to increase access to maternal health resources
Black Maternal Momnibus Act of 2021
DC Council refuses to raise funding cap for United Medical Center

To learn more about the organizations that our panelists serve in:
Mary’s Center
Mamatoto Village

The Economics of Being Black

Changing demographics, gentrification and displacement are affecting black residents in DC.  View the resources below to learn how the affordable housing crisis and displacement are impacting people in their everyday lives, about the economic well-being and barriers to wealth for black residents, and the solutions that are being discussed and implemented.

To learn more about local housing policy and news:

To learn more about current and historical impacts of housing and economic policy on Black Residents:

To learn more about supporting Black owned businesses:


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