NOTE: The starting point for the rally has changed. We will now meet on the Fountain Plaza, about a half-block down Ellsworth from Veterans Plaza (916 Ellsworth Dr – Silver Spring, MD 20910; parking at Wayne or Ellsworth garage).
Apologies for the change; we do not want to disrupt an Ivorian cultural festival on Veterans Plaza tonight.
It has been almost two months since Rob’s life was taken. (You can read my blog post from June about Rob’s death here.) This week, the Howard County State’s Attorney declared the shooting justified. I do not agree. Rob was walking as he did every day. His walking through his own neighborhood was not a threat to anyone’s safety—except, as it turns out, his own.
I continue to feel sickened and angry and deeply sad that our neighbor will never again walk by our house on his daily walk around the neighborhood.
I am profoundly touched that I was asked to speak at the rally tomorrow, which starts at 6 pm at the Civic Center in downtown Silver Spring (details below). I will be holding the group in prayer, but I won’t be able to be there since I am leaving for the Express Fluency conference in Burlington, VT tomorrow afternoon.
If you will be in town, please attend. It is important.
See below for information about the rally and about recent developments from Silver Spring Justice, a group that has been formed in response to Rob’s death.
Since we last wrote to you, there have been two very important developments. First, the Howard County State’s Attorney deemed the shooting to be “justified.” We are dismayed at this ruling (you can read our statement here). Then, on Wednesday evening, the police released the bodycam videos of the incident.
The video shows a police officer stalking Robert White through the neighborhood based on the flimsy rationale that Mr. White’s hoodie was ripped. It’s a horrifying video of an innocent man being chased through his own neighborhood until he finally shoves at the officer and ends up shot 9 times. We strongly believe that the officer acted to escalate the situation rather than to engage in any de-escalation tactics. In fact, we can hear him tell the dispatcher that it could be a ‘suicide by cop’ situation… yet instead of calling in mental health specialists, he continues to relentlessly pursue Mr. White until he ultimately kills him. (You can watch the video here, but do be aware that it is violent and disturbing of course)
In response to these developments, we are holding a protest and candlelight vigil on Sunday. I hope you can join us:
**Added 8/5** NOTE: The starting point for the rally has changed. We will now meet on the Fountain Plaza, about a half-block down Ellsworth from Veterans Plaza (916 Ellsworth Dr – Silver Spring, MD 20910; parking at Wayne or Ellsworth garage).
Apologies for the change; we do not want to disrupt an Ivorian cultural festival on Veterans Plaza tonight.
Rally at 6, we will then march 1.4 miles along Wayne Avenue & Sligo Creek Parkway to Three Oaks Drive for a candlelight vigil
(we’ll have rides for those who can’t do the walk)
Join Mr. White’s family, community and faith leaders, activists, neighbors, and friends to demand accountability for Mr. White’s killing and demand change in how officers patrol communities.
Please bring a small piece of torn cloth to add a message to & wear a piece of torn clothing if you can. Route is accessible, ASL interpreting provided. Please let us know if we can help you participate with other accommodations.
16 out of the 22 girls in our Tutoring Program who took the high school entrance exam this year passed!!!! See more information about the launch of the program at the bottom of this blog by scrolling down – or here is a link to one of the early posts, which will help you orient yourself.
I cannot tell you how thrilled I am!
Global Giving is matching donations today. Please donate here by 11:59 pm.
More info here: And The Good News Keeps Coming… By JACQUELINE AUDIGE – CEO / Founder
Raissa’s determination is contagious
The good news is that you already made Raïssa and 20 other girls dreams in our tutoring program come true. By participating in our Bonus Day heretoday July 18, 2018, youupheld that truth to be self-evident. that every girl in rural communities in Cameroon and around the world is blessed with the unalienable rights to education and the pursuit of happiness.
You can express it even better today with your 50% match donation to AUMAZO, INC. All donations to our cause up to $500are matched until the funds run out. Do not miss out on this opportunity that starts at 9:00am sharp and ends at 11:59 pm today.
Bonus Day Gift
Your generosity will foster a stable future for Raïssa and the girls graduating from the tutoring program, the girls promoted into the second year, and the incoming girls into our tutoring program in Bankondji Cameroon during the next academic year 2018-19.
Raïssa’s Working Toward Her Dream
Raïssa is a 22 year-old single mother who joined our tutoring program last year. She showed up with her daughter when we opened the door for the peer-to-peer tutoring class sessions beginning in August 2017. When I asked her to tell us why she was showing up now with her baby, she said, “I am persevering on my dream of becoming a journalist.” She also mumbled while hugging her daughter “ I would like to give her a better shot in life.”
Sure enough! She is on her way to fulfilling that promise she made to her little girl. On Wednesday July 4, 2018, I had a conference call with her. She said: “I do not know how to thank Aumazo and all the supporters of the program. What can I give them that would be of significance to them other than my prayers? I can only pray and ask God to bless them more.” I asked her to tell me how she feels now that she passed the exam that seemed so far-fetched to her in August 2017.
She continued: “Frankly, words cannot express how I feel now. All I know is that I still want to pursue my dreams of becoming a journalist. I also want to stop the cycle of poverty and give the best life to my daughter. It starts with my achieving my great potentials and getting my education.” From the first day that she came to our tutoring program, Raïssa understood that patience and time would help her attain her goal.
Your Support Makes A Difference
Together, we have already turned her challenges and those of the other 20girls in the graduating class (second year) of the tutoring program into opportunities. Let’s persist in helping Raïssa strengthen her determination to realize her dream of becoming a journalist. During our discussion, she mentioned that without your financial support and the motivation she got from our teachers, she would never have made it this far.
Her unconditional love isn’t the only thing she can afford to give her daughter at present. Your unforgettable gift to our tutoring programhas already transformed Raïssa’sdream of education into reality.
Let’s Make Dreams Come True
Remember that we appreciate your passion for the peer-to-peer program. It is absolutely crucial to Aumazo accomplishing its important mission. Your continuous support will transform Raïssa into a journalist and allow other girls in the tutoring program in Bankondji to aspire to greatness and a better future.
Thank you for being an important part of Raïssa’s story.
Join indigenous and non-indigenous language teachers in learning how to teach with CI, July 23-26 in Tahlequah, OK.
Rachelle and I are honored to be collaborating with Wade Blevins and the Cherokee Nation to plan and lead this year’s IGNITE conference. We are THRILLED to have a group of highly able and deeply heart-centered trainers gathering this July: Bob Patrick, Betsy Paskvan, Haiyun Lu, Grant Boulanger, Steven Ordiano, Andrea Alford, Darcy Pippins, Laura Mannen, Sean Lawler, and Jason Bond (as well as Wade, Rachelle, and me).
Friends, I cannot tell you what a privilege it is to attend this conference. I have never experienced the depth of welcome and of cultural exchange in such a short period of time as I experienced last year. You’ll also learn a TON about teaching with CI. Join us. Register here! Registration closes 7/15.
A heartfelt shout-out goes to Tina Hargaden for believing in and supporting Wade last year to bring Comprehensible Input teaching to the Cherokee Nation—and for including us in that first conference. We will always be grateful. Thank you.
IGNITE 2018 Indigenous Gathering on Native Language Instructional Techniques for Educators IGNITE 2018
Unlocking the CI Beast Within:
Understanding and Embracing Comprehensible Input July 23-26 Heritage Elementary School 333 Southridge Rd, Tahlequah, OK 74464
I’ve just learned that a GoFundMe page has been created by SURJ (Standing Up for Racial Justice) to help Rob’s out-of-town family with funeral expenses: https://www.gofundme.com/robert-white-killed-by-police. Please donate.
His name was Rob. I didn’t know his full name until I read that he was dead.
We met about a year and a half ago, when I started working from home.
He was always walking.
He’d walk by my house in the mornings on his way back from the Giant, where I think he usually bought his breakfast. Sometimes he’d walk by my house later in the day coming back from the library, holding DVDs, and then I’d see him walking back a day or two later.
Sometimes I saw him at the YMCA or in downtown Silver Spring. Or at the library when I was tutoring or looking for a good book to read. He always walked. He was very purposeful, always heading to his destination—but he was always happy to smile and say hello. We’d talk about the weather, or about the movies he’d borrowed from the library, or we’d just wave and give a friendly nod.
One day I was walking to a friend’s house nearby and I saw him standing on his porch. I was so glad to see that he had somewhere to live. With all the walking he did at all times of day—which made me think he did not have a job or a comfortable place to go—and his somewhat disheveled appearance, I’d wondered if he were homeless. But he wasn’t. He lived in a solid brick house just across the park. I was truly delighted. The world suddenly seemed a slightly kinder place to me, a place where someone who spent his time walking rather than working in an office had good shelter. (see end for note about this)
On Monday, Rob was walking through some townhouses near a walking path down at the bottom of my neighborhood. It’s a great cut-through to get to the hiker-biker trail, and my kids, my husband, and I all use it when we go for a bike ride or take the dog for a long walk. It’s also the prettiest way to walk between our house and downtown Silver Spring. There’s a well-trodden path at the end of the neighborhood street that joins the townhouse community, and the two streets in the small group of townhouses are wide and clean and well kept. It’s a lovely walk.
On Monday, when Rob was walking through that very lovely area, the police arrived to investigate a “suspicious person.”
Rob was walking. Just as I do. Just as my husband does.
But Rob was “suspicious.” It won’t be a surprise to learn that my husband and I are white, and that Rob is black.
Rob reacted angrily when the officer tried to speak with him, and he attacked the officer, but he did not have a weapon. He was unarmed.
He is now dead.
I have heard reports that he was shot four times, or six times, or eight times. (The press release by police reports that the officer’s weapon was first “discharged,” and then that “the officer fired additional rounds.”)
When I opened up The Washington Post on Wednesday morning, I read theheadline: “Police say man killed by officer struck first.”*
What? This was the headline? Where was the extremely important fact that Rob was unarmed?
As I read the article that followed the headline, I observed my socialized mind trying to decide that this was all really okay and that the police were just trying to keep me safe. The suspicious person attacked the police officer; the police officer defended himself. Everything’s really okay. It’s a shame that the guy had to die, but order has been restored to the universe in some way.
This is what my mind keeps trying to do. It keeps trying to make this be okay, in part because this type of thing actually happens with great regularity. A black man is identified as suspicious. The police arrive. The “suspicious person” reacts with fear and anger to police. The police react with deadly force. These stories are in the paper daily.
But that thought pattern gets me nowhere because it isn’t okay. Order hasn’t been restored. Rob was my neighbor. We said hello to each other almost daily. My embodied being will not allow my socialized mind to fully take the lead and dismiss this. I feel sick to my stomach, my chest aches, my throat is tight, my mouth is dry, and it’s hard for me to breathe.
I am deeply uncomfortable. Thanks be to God for that! Because if change is to come, it’s going to require that we white people experience in our embodied beings that the status quo is not comfortable. The status quo is a frightening and dangerous set-up in which the dice are loaded against our friends and neighbors.
If you are a white person who wants to work on shifting your thinking, don’t put it off. White people who don’t understand the impact of race are dangerous. Being unaware does not make us innocent. We can never fully undo our socialization, but we can become aware of the scripts we are enacting each time we open our mouths to talk about racially-infused topics (which are legion in our society). Start reading. Some books that have had a huge impact on me are: Robin DiAngelo’s What Does It Mean to Be White; Ijeoma Oluo’s So You Want to Talk About Race; Debby Irving’s Waking Up White; and, of course, Ta-Nehisi Coates’ beautiful Between the World and Me. If you’d prefer to start with a video, I’d recommend Robin DiAngelo’s “Deconstructing White Privilege” —22 minutes on Youtube.
Robert Lawrence White—known as Robbie to those in the neighborhood who have known him longer than I have—grew up in that house across the park from me. Like me, he went to Montgomery Blair High School back when it was still on Wayne Ave.
My neighbor Joel told me that his kids grew up playing basketball in the park with Rob. Rob was a bit odd, but he was part of the extended family of the neighborhood, and he was loved. My neighbor Regina, whose son also grew up with Rob, told me that Rob was the son of Reverend Robert Lee White and Mrs. Marie White; Mrs. White died in 2003 and Rev. White passed away in November of 2016.
Since then, Rob has lived in the house alone. He lived in the house he grew up in, walked through his neighborhood and his town, and always took the time to smile back at those who smiled at him, or to give a wave in return.
I miss him each time I glance up the sidewalk to see who is coming and get ready to give Rob a wave. Just a few days ago, I was saying hello. Now, when I lie in savasana—corpse pose—at the end of a yoga class, I am haunted by how Rob’s final resting pose was on one of our neighborhood streets, his body ripped through with bullets.
*The headline has now been modified online to read “Police identify officer who fatally shot unarmed man during what they call ‘combative’ encounter.”
(added 6/16/18) A friend has pointed out to me that my assumption that Rob was homeless is likely a manifestation of negative attribution bias. I have conscious reasons I can point to for why I thought he might be homeless—but I cannot escape the reality that the implicit bias that made him first seem suspicious and then be gunned down is present in myself and in how I first saw him. I’m writing this note as a way of making transparent my own process, as it is clear to me that it is only by taking feedback and being transparent with others that we have any chance of making any shift.
Have you been wanting to learn French? Would you like to see a TPRS/CI class in action? Join us for a fun, engaging 6-week summer series – Mondays 10-11 am EDT (see below for dates). No homework or grammar exercises! Just fun that leads to actual acquisition! This might be the best professional development you’ve done all year.
Cost is $210 for all 6 classes; minimum # of students 6, maximum 15.
**SPECIAL DEAL FOR SUMMER** Sign up & pay in advance for as many classes as you will be available for and get the series discount of $35/class.
And, to sweeten the deal, YOU WILL ALSO GET ACCESS TO RECORDINGS OF ALL SIX CLASSES!!!
After you’ve registered, pay by Venmo, Google Pay, or Paypal friends & family using my email address firstname.lastname@example.org (please don’t use credit card as they take a hefty fee); or contact me to pay by check.