It was a busy week as I was fortunate to work with a few different organizations supporting their work around diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. With this, my volume of reading dipped a little bit. However, I did come across a post on LinkedIn from Dr. Sharla Horton-Williams that made me reflect a bit on the focus of the work that I have been fortunate to support with a number of educators from across the state of Massachusetts during the 2022-2023 school year. After leading a session titled The R Word: Skills and Strategies for Engaging in Healthy Dialogue About Race, Dr. Horton-Williams shared the following 3 big truths:
- We have race-specific outcomes in nearly every context of society.
- You can’t assign race-neutral solutions to race-specific problems.
- You can’t develop race-based solutions to race-specific problems without engaging in healthy dialogue about race.
Reading these truths reaffirmed the need to be explicit in this work, especially in times where there is growing fragility among many (white) people around terms like equity, SEL, and woke. It also reaffirmed the need to ensure that an accurate account of our country’s history is taught so that our students have a clear understanding of why there are disproportionate outcomes in every context of our society.
Beverly Daniel Tatum noted the following in Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?:
“Children can learn to question whether demeaning or derogatory depictions of others are stereotypes. When reading books or watching television, they can learn to ask who is doing what in the storyline and why, who is in the role of the leader and who is taking orders, who or what is the problem and who is solving it, and who has been left out of the story altogether.”
If we are committed to actualizing mission statements and equity statements that highlight the importance of ALL students feeling a sense of belonging and equal access and opportunities to thrive academically, then this is the work that is entailed.
Some other things I read this week that have me thinking
4 questions to ask when committing to equity and anti-racism in schools – This article by Newton North Principal Henry Turner and Lainie Rowell is another great resource for educators who are looking to actively commit to anti-racism work in their schools.
Culture wars: Why social-emotional learning is under attack in public schools – Vox – From the article: “Social-emotional learning has long been accepted as part of curriculums across the country, from pre-K through high school. It’s backed by a large body of research and decades of practice.” Two initial questions: Why is this suddenly a target? Who is most impacted by the removal of these supports in our schools?
Some things I heard/watched this week that have me thinking
Stand – This documentary about former NBA player Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf was a look back at how Abdul-Rauf was ostracized for exercising his right to free speech. It definitely has some parallels to the Colin Kaepernick story. It is very powerful to hear the insights of some of Abdul-Rauf’s former teammates and peers looking back at this 20 years later. I remembered Chris Jackson’s amazing play from March Madness back in the late 80’s at LSU, but was unaware of his NBA journey and how it came to such a controversial end. Definitely, a must-watch!
Some of My Best Friends Are Podcast – Why We Love and Hate Hollywood – summary from the website: Khalil and Ben go to the movies with the perfect partner: Jacqueline Stewart, the director and president of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. They talk about how movies shape our lives, and why representation matters… on the big screen and at awards shows (Oscars still so white).
Into America Podcast – UPDATE: Into Injustice for Breonna Taylor – This episode highlights the findings from the Justice Department’s investigation of the Louisville Police Department.