Business as Usual, in Unusual Times…

Before COVID-19 indefinitely put many plans on hold, I had the honor of participating in several professional development opportunities related to Comprise DEI’s mission.

At the National Association of Independent Schools Annual Conference, I witnessed some of the important diversity, equity, and inclusion ideas and strategies being implemented in school settings.

Some of these ideas and strategies included:

  • Cutting-edge ways of creating brave spaces to consider complex and complicated topics for conversation
  • The advancement of school community engagement with racism, gender, and sexuality
  • How to challenge normative narratives on privilege and bias
  • How to be an effective equity and inclusion leader for the 21st Century.

Additionally, I had the recent and fortunate opportunity to hear three different master-speakers share their insights, stories, and expertise:

  • Poet and professor, Dr. Javier Ávila
  • Activist and writer, Kevin Powell
  • Esteemed author and academic, Dr. Robin DiAngelo
Both Dr. Ávila and Mr. Powell spoke beyond the communities of schools, to wider society.  Drawing from their recent literary works, The Trouble with My Name by Dr. Ávila and The Education of Kevin Powell: A Boy’s Journey into Manhood by Kevin Powell, their words galvanized the group of educators and community members in attendance.  Their words and experiences, as well as their calls to action, amplified the currency of this work. 
Due to social distancing and suggested quarantining of workshop attendees, Dr. DiAngelo was forced to speak to her audience virtually.  However, her message, from her nationally-renowned treatise, White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, even from a distance, was resounding. She was able to speak with expertise about race and privilege, combined with another call to action to make these issues priorities.

It was encouraging to see educators continue to promote the importance and value of DEI work, but the truth is independent schools nationwide have been associated with this work for a long time. In this time of social distancing and isolation, I have no doubt independent schools will find creative and nuanced ways to continue these efforts.

DEI work is vital: not just for educators, but for everyone. This work translates broadly to individuals, businesses, and organizations beyond the education sphere, and it is in these isolated spaces, due to this unusual moment, that fresh and inventive approaches to DEI engagement must develop and flourish. It should be business as usual! Please find time to do this! I will be using this blog to share my experience and provide resources. I hope this meets you feeling fortunate and in good health!