This week I am reflecting on conversations I have had about race and equity – based on several conversations, a courageous blog post by Bill Ferriter, and viewing the documentary Teach Us All – thanks to Roxann Sykes, Dan Gridley, Michael Parker West, Ryan Williams, and Jen Bell.
Let me start by saying –
- I am very passionate about this topic.
- I can’t understand why everyone isn’t.
- I know my passion can often blind me to others thoughts and alienate rather than engage.
Honestly, as a white woman/teacher, I have often struggled with my place in the discussion. I have never been discriminated against because of my color, I don’t have to have conversations with my kids about how to act if they are stopped by the police, and the doors of opportunity have been open to my family for generations.
With all that being said I believe, with all my heart, that the fight for social justice and equity needs all of us – most especially those with power and privilege – we can be silent no longer.
We need to move beyond the conversations.
We need action.
We need people standing up, especially those of us in areas of influence. We need to ask people of color – What do you want me to understand? What actions can I take?
The following quote from the Teach Us All documentary speaks to what I am trying to say.
“An injustice to one is an injustice to ALL.”
“Unity is the only plausible pathway to justice.”
If we DON’T do this how will our children ever learn to stand up against injustice? It has been 63 years since Brown vs. Board of Ed. Ask yourself, how far have we really come?
Why do the resources like PTA Funds/digital tools at my school pale in comparison to those in more affluent parts of the district? Why do I have to write grants for the resources my students need while in other schools funds are plentiful? Why don’t my colleagues in the more affluent, less diverse schools want to come and teach in my school?
Here is my challenge to Bill and all those teachers that attended the filming on Saturday –
What will you do now?
How will you move beyond the conversation and take action?
How will your students of color know you are with them?
Here is what I am doing – (I am writing about it to hold myself accountable).
At Washington, with Roxann, Dan, Julie, and Liz, we are leading a discussion with staff next Wednesday about the movie and our school-wide trip to the RACE Exhibit earlier this year at the NC Natural Science Museum. We will discuss beginning a book study with one of the following books: Everyday Anti-Racism, SchoolTalk, Waking Up White, Tears We Cannot Stop.
I am working with teachers and students at Vernon Malone College and Career Academy and at Washington GT Magnet Elementary on a podcasting project tentatively titled Community Voices – where students will be working together to interview community members in Southeast Raleigh about how segregation, civil rights, and gentrification, have personally affected them and their community- we hope to raise those marginalized voices and have this oral history project archived and shared through the NC Museum of History and the NC State Archives.
Your action may be as simple as speaking up to a colleague, sharing the Teach Us All documentary with someone, or an apology to students you’ve misjudged. Those small steps propel us all forward together.
How will you move from conversation to action?