Don’t Say Nothing | Teaching Tolerance – Diversity, Equity and Justice

“We may be uncomfortable talking about race, but we can no longer afford to be silent. We have chosen a profession, which—like parenting—requires that our comforts come second to those of children.”

Don’t Say Nothing | Teaching Tolerance – Diversity, Equity and Justice

 

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A call to action to my colleagues + the Black Lives Matter Fall 2016 Syllabus

Dear educators:

#BlackLivesMatter is the Civil Rights Movement of our time. What role are we playing [and I mean beyond posting or re-posting (re)traumatizing stories day after day on social media]? Is this not a time to stop business as usual and maybe replace our pre-planned curricula -at least in part- with a Black Lives Matter Syllabus? Whose permission or encouragement are we waiting for? Are we really “too busy” to rethink what we’re doing in our classrooms, really that stressed about material we “should” cover to prepare students for the next standardized test or college? What better way to prepare students than teach them how to respond to the world around us by modeling responsible citizenship?

Our students are listening, and our silence is deafening.

Why don’t we all fly Black Lives Matter flags at our schools? (UPDATE with better questions: What would it take for our schools to be able to fly the Black Lives Matter flag knowing we were doing the flag justice, that it was not just an empty symbol without any institutional support? What would have to happen at our schools first before we could put up that flag in good conscience?)

Please think about your universe of obligation, your spheres of influence, your locus of control and decide on some next steps you’re going to take starting on Monday.

Me? As a department chair, I am going to have a meeting about how we as the Human Development Department will be responding to recent events. And I am going to be having some awkward conversations, I am sure, following this post. I’m open and willing to be checked when I step on toes or cross some lines. Hell, I’m open and willing to put my job on the line for being “too aggressive,” perhaps, in challenging my community to self-reflect, re-evaluate, come face-to-face with white fragility -sore spots and blind spots and all-, and keep doing the work anyway.

There’s no opting out when fellow human beings literally can’t breathe.

I am not even calling anyone out right now; as I learned at Facing Race conference six years ago, and as I keep trying to teach my students, I am calling us all IN.

We can and must do better. Let’s figure out what that looks like, and then, for the love of humanity, let’s start doing it.

Thanks for reading.

tk
Here’s one selection from the Black Lives Matter Fall 2016 Syllabus. Enjoy.

 

 

 

Tinkering Spaces: How Equity Means More Than Access | MindShift | KQED News

Youth programs are looking to redefine maker spaces into more equitable environments by rethinking what’s valued and how facilitators interact with students.

Source: Tinkering Spaces: How Equity Means More Than Access | MindShift | KQED News

What Happens to Empathy Deferred? – Independent Ideas Blog

 

Pick of the week: What Happens to Empathy Deferred? – Independent Ideas Blog

 

Here’s an excerpt:

Today, developing reciprocal understanding, mutual respect, and empathy among diverse populations remains our greatest challenge. The need has perhaps never been more obvious. In the last two years alone, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Freddie Gray, to name just a few, have focused national attention on racial inequality and social injustice. We have heard “I Can’t Breathe” chants and seen “Black Lives Matter” signs and hashtags that raise awareness of and express dissatisfaction with the status quo. Independent schools claim to embrace missions that promise to lead the way — to create a healthier culture of cooperation and understanding. Consequently, independent schools must actively work to ensure that those missions aren’t empty abstractions.

What I have learned is that creating a culture of empathy requires a level playing field.  Young people need guidance from adults who understand them, who share their background and experiences. Understanding others is more likely to occur if people first understand themselves — if they understand who they are, what they think, and why they think it. White students in independent schools have the white mentors and role models they need in order to develop this sort of self-confidence and understanding — the base from which, with further guidance, they can become increasingly understanding of others. Black and Latino students in independent schools lack sufficient numbers of black and Latino mentors.