Doing the work: Mercer Island Anti-Racism Resources & Support

June 5, 2020 | by Erin Sirianni

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Mercer Island vigil in honor of George Floyd on June 3rd, 2020 | Photo courtesy Steven John Lewter

“In a racist society it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist.” – Angela Y. Davis

In the aftermath of George Floyd’s death and with protests and demonstrations occurring across the country in support of the Black Lives Matter movement – including on Mercer Island – it’s clear that there’s a lot of work to do in our communities toward combatting systemic racism.

Below, I’ve shared resources recommended to me by neighbors and community members who have already been doing this hard work in support of diversity, equity, and inclusion on Mercer Island – to help us all on this path forward.

This list includes local advocacy groups to consider joining; anti-racism books, articles, and websites to explore; organizations to consider for your donations toward racial justice and equity in the greater community; and supportive messages from local organizations and community leaders.

I welcome your input and any additions you may have to this list.


PTA Organizations and Advocacy Committees

For parents of school-aged children, a Parent Teacher Association (PTA) is a great place to get involved and help make your child’s school a better place to learn for all children. Mercer Island parents and volunteers have noted over the years that Mercer Island’s PTA organizations and leadership do not reflect the diversity of the community. More participation and feedback is needed to advocate for specific changes that will result in a greater diversity of voices (for example, not holding meetings during the daytime, which is a barrier to working parents; consciously creating spaces where new people can forge relationships without feeling left out amongst other community members who may have grown up on the island or may already be ingrained as a longer-term resident; and actively recruiting people into leadership roles that better match the diversity of our student bodies). Advocates believe that we can create change if more vocal white allies and people of color join in.

Mercer Island School District PTA organizations are listed below:

West Mercer Elementary –

Island Park Elementary –

Lakeridge Elementary –

Northwood Elementary –

Islander Middle School –

Mercer Island High School –

Additionally, parents of young children can join and participate in advocacy in early education through the Mercer Island Preschool Association, a local preschool PTA.

You might also consider joining or attending a meeting hosted by your school’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) committee or the Mercer Island School District’s Superintendent Equity Advisory Council.

Facebook Groups

One MI – Equity for MI: The Organizing Network for Equity on Mercer Island is a community committed to joy and equity for our children. Our mission: 1) Enhance positive identity for children of color; 2) Advance cultural competency in the Mercer Island community; 3) Drive community-level policy change for equity.  

Mercer Island Neighbors – #OneMercerIsland: While not an advocacy group, this Mercer Island Neighbors Facebook group creates a positive and welcoming space for the Mercer Island community to connect and converse, and is dedicated to “building the community up.”

Mercer Island High School Clubs for Students

There are a variety of student-initiated clubs that support diversity, equity, and inclusion at the Mercer Island High School. Here’s a complete list of current active clubs.

As a side note …

Mercer Island students recently circulated a letter to the school district demanding changes in curriculum to address systemic racism. The letter included a form in which supporters could share their names before the letter was to be submitted to the Mercer Island School District Superintendent, School Board members, and school principals.

Educational Resources

Anti-Racism Resources for Everyone

Educational Resources for Students and Families

Resources in this list have been recommended by the Mercer Island School District and IMS Counselors.

Talking with children about racial violence

Talking with children about race and COVID-19

Additional Resources

Where to Donate

This list with descriptions was shared at the Mercer Island Vigil for George Floyd.

The BLM Seattle Freedom Fund

We are initiating a bailout fund – the Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County Freedom Fund. In these trying times, we understand the urgent need to be in the streets and Black, Indigenous, and people of color are going to be disproportionately arrested and held on bail. Cash bail is an inhumane system built to unfairly limit the freedom of those without financial/class privilege. 

The funds collected through this fund will go to the immediate release of people protesting the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Manuel Ellis (May 2020).

Donate to the BLM Seattle Freedom Fund

ACLU Washington

We lock up too many people, for too long, often with little thought of the lasting impacts of incarceration. This isn’t justice. We must do better. Smart Justice advocates for alternatives that are fair, more effective, and less costly than incarceration. It replaces unnecessarily punitive measures with approaches that emphasize repairing the harms caused by crimes.

Donate to the ACLU of Washington

The Sentencing Project

As a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, individual donations provide vital support for The Sentencing Project. Founded in 1986, The Sentencing Project works for a fair and effective US criminal justice system by promoting reforms in sentencing policy, addressing unjust racial disparities and practices, and advocating for alternatives to incarceration. 

Donate to the Sentencing Project

Seattle and King County NAACP

The mission of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination. The vision of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is to ensure a society in which all individuals have equal rights and there is no racial hatred or racial discrimination.

Donate to the Seattle and King County NAACP

Recent Statements of Support

Mercer Island School District / Superintendent Donna Colosky

Dear MISD Families,

The events of this past week cannot be met with silence. The death of George Floyd that led to the protests across our nation cannot be ignored. If we let this week go by and do not take the time and opportunity to have direct and open conversations about race with our children, then that is a shame. It is not enough for white people to say “we are not racist.” That is too neutral and passive. It must be about being anti-racist. I want you all to know that the Mercer Island School District community continues to work every day to acknowledge this cycle of racism and hate and to guide our students to a better future for themselves.

Our District Fundamental (goal) 7 sets a clear path for us to “Foster and embrace diversity, inclusiveness and equity, with a focus on respect and acceptance of every student.” Our Superintendent Equity Advisory and the individual school equity teams are dedicated to this social emotional learning around empathy and compassion in order to make a difference for our students and community. Our Equity and Diversity policy commits our educational system to focusing on addressing issues around racial diversity as it remains a key issue in American society.

Teaching and learning will happen within cultural, political and social circumstances. As much as we want to deny it, we all have biases based on our life experiences. We must continue to navigate these differences to better understand each other and our worlds and advocate for a better, more equitable future. We must continue to build a school culture that is anti-racist and anti-hate. It is important that we recognize that racism is deeply and historically rooted in our nation and we must commit to actively work to change this. We need to help our children understand what is going on in the streets, on the news and on social media as a response to racially charged incidents by having much needed discussion around implicit bias and systemic racism. As parents, these can be difficult conversations to have with our children, but we must be brave and vulnerable. Justice and Anti-Racism start with conversations at home. Let’s teach our children love and appreciation of different skin colors, cultures, religions, and origins. Here is a resource that may support your family.

As we finish out the final days of this disrupted and challenging school year, we will continue to dedicate our work in support of our students during this crisis of the COVID pandemic and now more importantly, bravely working to be an anti-racist organization. To assist in the conversation, please know that our school counselors and MI YFS counselors are available to our students to listen and support. Every child and adult in our community should be safe, seen, valued and dignified. Let’s work together to make sure that all of our students have the support they need to be successful.

Stay safe and healthy.


Superintendent Donna Colosky

Mercer Island PTA Council

Black lives matter, unequivocally.

To our children and community:

Mercer Island PTA Council is committed to advocate for institutional and systemic changes that ensure equity, justice, respect, and inclusion of all children. MI PTA Council strives to be anti-racist. We welcome all voices – and seek to learn from our community.

Advocacy is a key pillar of MI PTA Council’s mission. We will work to influence Mercer Island School District and our greater political systems in identifying, acknowledging, and acting upon the challenges of marginalized communities. We are evaluating our organization and strategic priorities to prioritize diversity and inclusion. MI PTA Council will work harder to: ensure that all children have safe and supportive learning environments; eliminate all forms of violence to ensure the safety of students, staff, and communities; and advocate for the health, well-being, inclusion, and education of every child.

Stroum Jewish Community Center

An excerpt from “No Place For Hate” message

There is no place for racism or discrimination of any kind.

Jewish tradition teaches that the very first human was made from “yellow clay, white sand, black loam, and red soil” – a foundational understanding that we are all one human family.

As we are devastated by the recent atrocities of hate, racism, and violence which are at irreconcilable odds with this fundamental principle, the SJCC is committed to further promoting this understanding in pursuit of justice (tzedek) and respect (kavod). You will see these values at the core of recent and upcoming activities.

We stand against racism and injustice.
We stand for diversity and inclusion.
We stand with Black communities everywhere.


Mercer Island Chamber of Commerce

The Mercer Island Chamber of Commerce unequivocally supports diversity, inclusion and equity in our community. We stand for our most vulnerable members of our population, and we do not tolerate injustice or discrimination in any form. Let us unite in dignity and mutual respect for our friends and neighbors. We will work toward systemic change together.

We Love MI Campaign / Mercer Island Community Fund

WeLoveMI and The Mercer Island Community Fund stand together in support of the peaceful protests that we have seen this past week. As we have always valued “community,” so do we oppose racism and embrace equity, diversity and inclusion. We are all affected negatively when one part of our community is burdened by racism and violence.  Let us all share in reaching out to those most vulnerable in our community.

Mayor Benson Wong, City of Mercer Island

Statement shared on June 1st, 2020

This has been an emotional and difficult time for our region and the entire nation.  The treatment and tragic death of George Floyd has sadly reminded this country of the adverse impact that racism has had and continues to have on our country. From that death echoes the yearning by many for social justice for all.   

Our hearts go out to the family of George Floyd, to the community, to the families of those who were injured and killed over the weekend, and also to the business owners in Seattle, Bellevue, and other neighboring cities who saw their life’s work destroyed over the weekend. 

The City of Mercer Island has a long proud history of encouraging and promoting inclusion and religious and cultural diversity, not only within our community but well beyond our borders. As the first person of color to serve as Mayor of Mercer Island, I’m very aware and appreciative of this openness.

Your council and city government honor and respect the voices of every member of our community and also their first amendment right to express those beliefs peacefully. Coming together is a right we all cherish as we commit ourselves to the cause of justice. 

As an attorney myself, I strongly believe that the rule of law applies to all, including police officers. However, we condemn the lawless, senseless, and criminal looting and rioting that has resulted in the recent destruction of both private and public properties that has occurred across the country. 

These acts, which are causing neighboring cities to impose curfews to protect public safety and welfare, will simply not be tolerated here in Mercer Island, and we are prepared to respond. We are saddened that organized bad actors seek to divide our communities during a time when we should be coming together. They overshadow the real grievances that these protests seek to spotlight and address.

We all can honor Mr. Floyd and the members of our community who feel disenfranchised by peacefully committing ourselves to the cause of justice and working even harder to promote diversity and inclusion. I truly believe this.  

I join my fellow islanders in peacefully grieving, remembering, and honoring Mr. Floyd and those in our community who acutely feel pain and frustration over racial bias.

As your mayor, my role is to heal divides and bring people together. Let us use words and actions in a positive and constructive way as we work together towards healing these wounds. 

Don’t let silence be your words and action. We must all commit to the real message of hope and peace, not destruction and chaos.  

If you have additional information and resources to add to this guide, please contact us.