Hope is a Discipline | Community Building and Resources during COVID-19


To my Raise Your Hand Family, 

Our collective consciousness must think we are in a dream. The transition to physical distancing seems straight out of a science fiction novel and conceptualizing a problem this large and complex has been hard for all of us to grapple with. Nationally, we are witnessing what happens when we build systems that don’t center folks most at risk. Locally, many of us are struggling to determine our own agency to control something that seems to change every hour. Families across Chicago and Illinois are adjusting to new realities, which presents ever-increasing challenges by the day. 

While these are all truths, it’s vital to hold onto another truth: when people love one another and work together, we have the power to transform our imagination into a society that is able to overcome anything. It’s the reason I have fallen in love with this city and state - after everything rotten that seems to happen - people build, organize, and win. 

During these challenging moments, I often return to the wisdom of Mariame Kaba, a prison abolitionist and freedom fighter. She believes that “hope is a discipline”. Hope is something that can be practiced as a habit. If we believe that we are leaders of our own transformation and change, we practice that every day to build the future that works for all of us. 

And when I can calm my own anxiety and quell the barrage of news, I can see that people all around us are practicing hope. People across this city are stepping up to show care and love for one another. While we are practicing physical distancing, we are also practicing interdependence; the belief that our success is tied to other folks’ successes. We will overcome this together. 

Every day I have spoken to parents who are practicing hope. And they are still practicing hope after almost a full week with their new coworkers

Parents are practicing hope by modeling calm and building routines into the day. 

Parents are practicing hope by reaching out to each other and seeing how they can provide mutual aid. 

Parents are practicing hope by recognizing and letting go of the weight of being perfect and having answers to everything all the time. 

To my parents, you’re doing a great job. Pace yourself. Be kind to yourself. Your kiddos are resilient (because you’ve raised them). 

Raise Your Hand is practicing hope in a few different ways. We see ourselves during this time as an entity with capital, connections, and resources - we want to leverage that in whatever way possible that helps people. Much of our current programming is postponed as we are spending the majority of our time addressing those most affected by the pandemic. We want to practice hope in the form of connection and building community. 

Information & Connection

  • We are in consistent communication with organizations across the city on what their families’ needs are. We are working with different departments in CPS to make sure we are getting important information out quickly. We have also been in touch with city and county officials on how they are addressing the more urgent needs of our families. If there are organizations or groups that we should be reaching out to, please let us know. 
  • We update our COVID-19 webpage multiple times a day and share relevant information on our Facebook group, Facebook page, and Twitter

Building Community 

  • Special Education Community Circle 
    • When: Starting this Monday, March 23, 1-2:30 PM via Zoom 
    • Purpose: 
      • With the challenges of caring for and managing expectations and learning options for our kids with special needs during this extended school closure, we want to invite you to a standing conference call where Sp.Ed parents can build community with one another, share best practices and brainstorm ways to problem solve and connect during this unprecedented time of physical distancing. 
    • Register in advance for this meeting here: Sp.Ed Parents Community
    • After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
  • Local School Council Member Solidarity Call
    • When: Thursday, March 26, 6:00-7:30 PM via Zoom
    • Purpose: 
      • We want to leverage existing leadership structures in schools to check in on how folks are doing. We want to create community and share resources for LSC support. This will include best practices, resources and tips to strengthen school community support amid physical distancing and remote learning. 
    • Register in advance for this meeting here.
    • After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

If there are other strategies or groups you think RYH should be engaging with, let us know.  

There is much work that we have to do. Please find time as parents, organizers, and leaders to take care of yourself, your bodies, and your mind. 

My email is jianan@ilraiseyourhand.org and my number is 617-838-1420. We are here. 

This too shall pass. 

Jianan Shi

Executive Director

Raise Your Hand for Illinois Public Education


Image by Monica Trinidad

Monica Trinidad is a movement artist and organizer. You can support her and her work by going to: http://www.monicatrinidad.com/