It’s timely to highlight Street Academy at this moment, in which we’re all called to reflect on how deeply we’re truly living the values we claim, particularly the values of equity and justice, both on the individual level and as parts of our organizations and systems.
Last weekend, Director of School Partnerships Toshia Mears sent to our All-In Leadership Team an article titled Your Black Colleagues May Look OK - Chances Are They’re Not. I really needed to see this article. I wish I hadn’t needed it so badly, but I definitely did.
It helped me realize how frozen I get when faced with horrific examples of the centuries of dehumanization and structural racism against Black people in America. Reckoning with the truth of the unearned privilege I receive as a white man; acknowledging how disconnected I’ve been from what’s been in the hearts and minds of my Black colleagues forever, and so acutely since the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery; feeling stuck in my white shame, not knowing what to do or say; freezing up.
I recognize a pattern in me that has three steps:
- I am ignorant of and disconnected from the realities of racism and racialized brutality;
- I become aware - at least for a moment - of how ignorant and disconnected I am;
- I immediately go into a frozen, ashamed place.
Real change takes time and ongoing commitment. I don’t want to be heading back to the yoga class of white complacency W. Kamau Bell is talking about in a couple weeks. It’s easy to make statements or intentions for change and not follow through on them. So here are a few things I’m going to do in order to learn better and get stuck less:
1. Embed reminders into meeting spaces. Lindsey Fuller, Bay Area Regional Manager of Student Services at Aspire Public Schools, recently shared with me some prompts that their SEL team uses during the Equity Pause they hold in each of their meetings.
- Are we perpetuating any inequities?
- What additional voices need to be included (Margin to Center)?
- Do we need to more explicitly bring our Equity Belief Statements into the discussion?