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Where do we go from here?

Hello, all.

This is not your usual Awake58, because this is not a “usual” week. We have great content on the FAFSA, and other serious education issues facing your community colleges, on our website at EdNC.org. I am proud of our work, and I hope you will spend time with our content this week as you see fit.

But I’ve spent the last two days walking the streets of Raleigh. In that time I have met with protesters, helped small-business owners sweep up broken glass, joined an effort to produce public art on the side of plywood that has sprung up across town, and caught up with friends throughout the country. 

This is not a normal moment. If you are like me, you have received numerous messages noting these unprecedented times. And while that has been said so many times it feels like a cliché, it is all too accurate during this global pandemic.

100,000-plus dead.

Hundreds of thousands more are sick.

Millions have lost their jobs.

And as my colleague Mebane Rash wrote, “While under that collective stress, the whole world watched a white police officer kneel on a black man’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds.”

Our fundamental societal inequities have been laid bare in recent months.

The digital divide has rarely been more obvious, although many of your students were already struggling without Wi-Fi or laptops before. They just had a McDonalds or library to head towards that would give them a chance to connect to the internet.

Many of us in positions of privilege are now working from home, while low-wage workers are on the frontlines facing COVID-19.

Many of us can pay our bills, while many of our neighbors wonder whether they need to close their business for good, or whether they will have a job come Monday.

And as of last Monday, the collective consciousness of the country has been called to account yet again as another person of color died at the hands of a law enforcement officer who was charged to serve and protect their community. My heart goes out to the friends and family of George Floyd.

I do not know what it is to face racial discrimination and prejudice. 

My family does not know what it is to have faced the deep-rooted legacy of violence and hate for generations.  

But I do know what it is to have someone you love die violently, suddenly, and publicly. I do know the pain that comes from having to relive that trauma.  And I do know that we must do more to heal the wounded soul of a broken country.

In the spirit of listening, I would welcome the opportunity to listen to each of you this week. What is on your heart and mind? What can be done in our communities, our state, and our country to begin to heal the broken divide? What is your college doing to heal the divide? Has your college undertaken work that should be spotlighted, or do you have an idea? 

Reply to this email, text COLLEGE to 73224, or tweet us @Awake58NC. I am here to listen — and EdNC is here to document this moment, provide a space for conversation, and lift up your voice.

A few links to check out:

‘Without regard for human life’

Meet one of the student organizers behind the peaceful part of Raleigh’s protest, and hear his ‘righteous anger’

Perspective | White folks, here is a short list of what we can do

Nothing is normal right now, but Awake58 will resume a normal format soon. We hope this is the start, but not the end of our conversation. In the meantime, check out http://www.ednc.org for our latest content. Thank you for reading. And thank you for your service to our students, our state, and our shared future.

Yours,

Nation

Director of Growth, EdNC.org

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Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the director of growth for EducationNC.