Letter from our

Executive

Director

Querida comunidad,

Thank you for your continued support of LatinxEd! It is especially meaningful to us as we all navigate this crucial time in the world. Today, I write to you about a special leadership transition in our organization. Before sharing the news with you, I want to share how my journey has led me to this point.

Two years ago, Ricky and I took a leap of faith and…

…co-founded LatinxEd – an educational equity non-profit organization. With LatinxEd, we wanted to carry on the decade-long legacy of education advocacy for the Latinx community in Siler City, Sanford, and surrounding areas in North Carolina. Since then, our organization has become a collective effort that challenges the field of education to recognize, honor, and serve the diverse needs of our Latinx immigrant families.

As a Southern Latina – born in Peru, raised in the South…

I’ve had a complex relationship with education. For my immigrant mother and abuelita, education has always been important. Intent on breaking generational cycles of poverty, they believed education was key to my family’s survival. So, they made heartbreaking sacrifices – including being separated from their loved ones and homes – to ensure their children had access to quality education.

As a product of their sacrifices, I stood on their shoulders to reach educational success. Their vision for mobilization pushed me all the way to Harvard where I became the first person in my family to receive a graduate degree.

Upon first glance at my degrees, many people might romanticize the mountain top I was able to reach. And it is true that I was relieved and proud to be my ancestors’ wildest dreams. Yet, I felt the pains of my own survival through an education system that did not honor nor recognize the wealth I had within me because of who I am and where I come from.

LatinxEd has become a source of healing for me.

 

It’s an opportunity to reimagine and redesign what equitable, inclusive learning environments and experiences could look like for Southern Latinx families and, ultimately, all families of color in the US South.

We need to recognize that it’s not ok that our families are navigating an educational system that reinforces racist, deficit-based messages about who they are and where they come from. It’s not ok that the current educational pipelines make it near impossible for our students to be taught by bilingual and bicultural educators. And it’s not ok that so many of our families are locked out of post-secondary educational opportunities due to policies designed to prevent access to higher education.

So, how do we tackle the lack of investment in bicultural leadership in our schools?

How do we reject mindsets rooted in fear and doubt that perpetuate the neglect of our families of color? How do we ensure access to quality, holistic education that protects our youth and families’ potential?

LatinxEd is our platform to turn these questions into restorative practices. It is also a love letter to Southern Latinx folks who advocate for dignity, justice, and healing for communities of color. It’s a call to action to cultivate thriving schools where racial-ethnic equity is at the front and center.

We must invest in bicultural leadership across all ages.

We must reject mindsets and beliefs rooted in scarcity, fear, and doubt. We must practice accountability and collective care to counteract the damage of white supremacy and xenophobia. We must use our talents and wisdom to turn our ancestors’ wildest dreams into action. And we must do this while preserving the wellness of ourselves and our community.

At LatinxEd, we know that we must constantly re-evaluate how we implement our talents and wisdom to further our progress as an organization. It’s because of this re-evaluation that Ricky and I have changed our roles as Co-Executive Directors to sustain ourselves and our work. On this journey towards liberation, I am honored to continue the work of leading and growing with our comunidad as the sole Executive Director of LatinxEd. As Ricky acclimates to his historic leadership role in our state legislature, he will further our vision of culturally sustaining education systems by serving as our Director of Advancement.

Together – we’ll continue using our gifts and resources to expand educational equity and opportunity for Latinx immigrant families in North Carolina. We designed LatinxEd to be a space where our community can belong, grow, and turn dreams into action. We invite you to join our movement with so many other dreamers, movers, and shakers who are deeply committed to our shared vision and mission.

Thank you for trusting in our collective greatness, and may we ground and uplift each other in the journey and growth yet to come.

Con mucho mucho amor,
Elaine

The majority of us at LatinxEd know what it’s like to grow up in the South as Latinx immigrants or children of immigrants and first generation college students.

Elaine Townsend Utin