Friday Shares 12/16/22

One of the positives of being on sabbatical this year is having the time to do more reading, writing, listening, and reflecting on how we can ensure more inclusive school communities where ALL members feel welcome and have a sense of belonging. We cannot create these communities without talking about systemic inequities (i.e. systemic racism) and creating actions to dismantle these systemic inequities.

As part of this writing and reflective process, I want to share some of the great books, videos, podcast episodes, and social media posts I am finding that can benefit others who share the same commitment to this critical work.  As a white man who has been oblivious to instances of interpersonal racism, institutional racism and systemic racism for the majority of my life due to my implicit bias, I have perpetuated harm to BIPOC members of communities in which I have worked. Everything I share, is part of my Unlearning Journey to do better…

I am also posting my reflections on substack and am looking to do a bit more writing in that space, so if you are interested, check it out at patricklarkin.substack.com/.

Recommended listens

Dr. Sheldon Eakins Leading Equity podcast

This week – LE 274: An Approach to Anti-Racist Teaching and Leadership with Dr. Tracey Benson  – In this episode Dr. Eakins speaks with Dr. Tracey Benson, an educator, author, and consultant for schools looking to eliminate racial gaps and racial bias.  Dr. Benson is the co-author of Unconscious Bias in Schools, which I cannot recommend more highly.  At the beginning of the podcast, Dr. Benson explains how he sees Antiracism work and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) work as two very different things. “If you read a book and hope for the best or bring in (a speaker) and hope for the best under the guise of DEI, but never identify that structural racism or interpersonal racism is even at play then we depart from the philosophy that DEI has anything to do with addressing racism”

Two quotes from Unconscious Bias in Schools that resonate here are ‘We value truth over comfort” and “Don’t think that a few technical steps will eliminate the danger you pose to the kids you care about.” 

Pink Card 30 for 30 Podcast – The following is a brief summary from this series on the ESPN website – Pink Card follows three generations of Iranian women who risk their lives for the simple right to watch a soccer game. It will forever change how you view fandom and freedom. It may help a greater understanding of the Iranian Mens’ Soccer team’s decision to not sing their national anthem prior to their opening match of the World Cup.  

Recommended reads

Stop Punishing Poverty in Schools – Paul Gorski in ASCD

This article kicks off with a quote that hit home:

“Inclusion is a commodity. Belonging is, too. Many students are priced out of it at school.”  

Gorski goes on to identify a stop doing list of four ways we can help address the disadvantages faced by economically marginalized students:

  1. (Stop) Marking Students as Deficient

We can do this by asking the following questions:

“What are barriers, inequities, and biases people experiencing poverty face?” “How are we perpetuating them?” “What can we do differently to distribute access equitably?”

  1. (Stop) Treating Kids Equally, and Therefore, Inequitably

“Be alert to temptations to slide back to equality, to redefine fairness around that concept, when equity efforts raise the ire of families accustomed to enjoying the benefits of disparate access. In my experience, the most vehement advocates for “equality” tend to be people bent on sustaining their children’s advantage.”

  1. (Stop) Humiliating Children Through Everyday Practices

Find ways to raise money that don’t require students to compete over whose families and neighbors can afford the most chocolate bars or wrapping paper. If we’re going to host book fairs, let’s structure them around the joy of reading, not the sale of books and trinkets.

  1. Pricing Them Out of Learning

The key is not to pick one or two obvious instances of inequity and imagine our work is done when we’ve solved them. We can dig deeper, mapping out all the ways this sort of inequity operates so we can address its root causes and adopt more equitable policies and practices.

Gorski ends the article with an exercise in Mapping Costs for Learning, Joining, and Belonging at Your School. 

Decarceration Begins With School Discipline Reform – Anthony Conright – Learning for Justice – Fall 2022

This article from the fall issue of Learning for Justice talks about the importance of prioritizing trauma-informed and restorative practices over a punitive response. Conright highlights the following:

“Trauma-informed and restorative justice practices are among the beginning models of an equity process to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline. And while systemic change is essential, educators have an immediate responsibility to prioritize the mental health and well-being of students.”

Despite The Best Intentions

I mentioned this book in my last Friday Shares on 12/2/22 after hearing the interview with the authors John Diamond and Amanda Lewison the Teaching While White Podcast and the book definitely lived up to its expectations. This book would be a great book for school administrators to read as a leadership team, a whole staff, or a community-wide read. Riverview is a portrait of too many schools in this country. 

There are so many quotes that resonate Here are a couple:

“Disciplinary routines communicate key messages to students about who is and is not a full citizen in the school context.”

“White students report navigating the hallways freely and not having their intentions questioned, both unearned advantages of whiteness.” 

Reading The Bible From The Margins 

This recommendation from a friend intrigued me and emphasized the importance of considering the context of any book from the standpoint of who is doing the writing and what their identity and lived experiences have been. The author, Miguel A. De La Torre, notes the following in the book which was first published in 2002:

“I believe in the Bible and approach it with reverence, searching its pages for the grace of God needed to achieve liberating salvation from both individual and societal sins. Yet, I do not necessarily hold the same reverence for human interpretations, especially interpretations that arise from a privileged dominant culture that justifies a status quo that normalizes oppressive race, gender, and class structures.”

“Rather than confess the inequalities of society are due to racist social structures, religion (as well as other communal networks) provides psychological reassurance of legitimacy; in other words it confirms that the wealth, power and privilege amassed by the dominant culture are theirs by right.”

“Only interpretations that empower all elements of humanity, offering abundant life in the here-now, as opposed to just the here-after, are biblically sound.”

So You Want To Talk About Race

Ijeoma Oluo’s book from 2018 is one that I am revisiting. In chapter one, Is It Really About Race, Oluo highlights three simple guidelines to decide if something is about race:

  1. It is about race if a person of color thinks it is about race.
  2. It is about race if it disproportionately affects people of color.
  3. It is about race if it fits into a broader pattern of events that disproportionately or differently affect people of color.

From Chapter four, Why am I always being told to “check my privilege”?:

“Try to remember that the alternative to not being made aware of your privilege (no matter how it may sting) is your continued participation in the oppression of others.”

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