Dear LRA Family and Friends,
In the original statement regarding the recent gun violence in our universities and communities, we realized that language was used that was interpreted as offensive or not sensitive to all our membership. While we intended to be inclusive, we recognize that the phrasing used did not achieve this end. We apologize for this error. Please read the amended statement below.
Once again, we are jolted and immensely saddened by the recent series of tragic deaths on our university campuses and communities in North Carolina, Virginia, Idaho, and Colorado, and we earnestly wish for whatever comforts from whatever source that can be offered to the grieving families for the loss of their loved ones.
Most unfortunately, these are only a few of the 602 deaths this year due to mass shootings already recorded by the Gun Violence Archive in which every category where data is compiled has increased dramatically since 2014 https://www.gunviolencearchive.org. This rampant escalation of violence in our country which has occurred not only in schools, but in all the places where we live, work and play raises perplexing questions about our safety as well as to the reasons for this rising tsunami of death and loss where some deeply troubled individuals intentionally take the lives of members of diverse races, ethnicities, the LGBTQIA+ communities, genders, and religious affiliations. Given LRA’s mission to study language and literacy in its many manifestations, we also strongly condemn abusive and vituperative language which dehumanizes other human beings and makes them the target for these hateful violent acts.
As a body of caring professionals, engaged daily with children and their families, teachers, school officials at every level, and other literacy stakeholders, we struggle to think of viable, practical solutions which may provide some curb to the anxieties and fears many feel just in coming to school every day. But we are not powerless.
LRA has already reached out to AERA to join them in their call for “the establishment of a federal blue-ribbon commission or high-level task force that would bring together experts from relevant scientific and professional fields, including education research, mental health, criminal justice, and others, to develop short- and long-term actionable steps.” AERA President Rich Milner has assured me that as they move forward LRA will be a partner in this effort.
Further, members of your LRA Board of Directors have also put forth recommendations that LRA can take to further study this pressing issue. For example, commissioning a report on gun violence, similar to our reports on dyslexia and racial violence, which can be disseminated as a public document as well as to schools and educational organizations “seeking to use literacies and languaging to prevent gun violence, identifying the potential for gun violence, and for helping those affected by gun violence to heal.”
There is one more thing that each of us can do as well if you will indulge me in a literary reference. Tolkien, speaking through the wizard Gandalf, writes “Saruman [another wizard] believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I have found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay… simple acts of kindness and love.”
“Simple acts of kindness and love by ordinary folk”—just like us—directed toward everyone we are around. Who knows what collective power this may generate in the universe.
I am happy to serve as a contact for those of you interested in exploring how LRA might contribute to productive conversations and solutions in addressing this issue. Please feel free to contact me firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts and suggestions as to how we can move forward.
With appreciation for all of you,
And on behalf of the Literacy Research Association Board of Directors