52 Weeks of Anti-Racist Action (#52weeksofantiracistaction)
One year. It has been such a positive experience for me to focus on becoming more anti-racist this year. In many ways it was the perfect year. Teaching online gave me time to reflect on how to be culturally responsive every day with all my students; being quarantined at home gave me more time for reading and listening and paying attention to the racist and anti-racist events happening around the world; being alone much of the time gave me a chance to reflect on my own thoughts and experiences and failures in the areas of racism and anti-racism. Thanks to those who have come along with me on this journey, and especially to those who have joined me on it, given me an idea, shared a podcast or article, drank coffee with me at a BIPOC-owned business, etc. The idea of sharing this journey on Facebook came from Dana Spindler Cavin. Thanks Dana! I hope it has landed as intended, as a way to hold myself accountable and share resources for becoming more anti-racist. It was not meant to be performative and I hope it didn’t appear that way. If it did, my apologies. I will still be posting things I think are important to share, but it probably won’t be every week. I will be out here however, trying to learn, grow, lead and love in as anti-racist a way as I can. I hope you will too.
Week 52: Our racial justice group’s assembly presentation is being shown during Community Time at school this week. I was hoping to be able to share it here, but as it includes student names, I can’t. It was pretty cool to see how it all came together and I feel hopeful that this generation will do better than mine did at making progress towards racial justice.
Week 50: Worked with students in our racial justice group to plan an assembly in June to educate our school about racial justice. This is going to include singing on Zoom - singing! - something I haven’t done publicly (is Zoom considered “public?”) since high school.
Week 49: Donated to the Equal Justice Initiative in honor of the birthday of my friend Christy who has taught me a lot about how to be anti-racist and more inclusive through the example she sets in how she lives and in her posts here on the Facebook.
Week 48: Started to plan a lesson for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. For the first time I am trying to include students in the planning. I have always meant to do this for Black History Month, Native American Heritage Month, Pride Month, etc., but never “had the time,” so I am finally trying to walk the walk. So far, “crickets” from the students, but I will persist.
Week 47: Modified some curriculum this week to make it more culturally responsive and less biased. It’s very satisfying to “un-whitewash” something.
Week 45: Welcomed back one of my favorite podcasts, “Still Processing,” on which two NY Times culture writers (Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris) offer their perspective on many aspects of American culture. Always interesting and intelligent, they often share a perspective I might not hear elsewhere and that challenges me to expand my thinking.
Week 44: Binged “Insecure” starring the amazing Issa Rae. Instantly went to the top of my COVID-19 Top 5 binges (Ted Lasso, CB Strike, Schitt’s Creek, and Grey’s Anatomy are the other four). Funny, heart-breaking, well-written, well-acted show that was also educational for this white woman. Spoiler alert: My heart is still aching for Issa and Lawrence. Can’t wait for season 5!
Week 43: Donated to the political campaign of Marcus Flowers. He is running against Marjorie Taylor Greene.
Week 42: Attended my racial justice group meeting this week and listened while teachers and students of color shared their experiences of living through the past two weeks and all the weeks and years before that.
Week 40: Two excellent podcast episodes (#3 and #4) from Scene on Radio’s series on Men with co-hosts Celeste Headlee and John Biewen. They do such a great job of exploring race and feminism at the same time. I learned something new about the Montgomery Bus Boycott and they speak eloquently about why we must listen to Black women as we try and change our world. Highly recommend.
Week 38: Listened to an episode of the podcast “This is Love,” about Shirley and Bernard Kinsey who met and fell in love while protesting to integrate movie theaters in Tallahassee. After their son was born they wanted him to know about his history, so they began collecting art, historical documents and artifacts about the Black experience in America, amassing a collection which eventually travelled to museums all over the country. They have also written a book (with their son), documenting the collection, “The Kinsey Collection: Shared Treasures of Bernard and Shirley Kinsey,” which is available on their website (http://www.thekinseycollection.com/shop-2/), and which I am excited to receive in the mail soon!
37: Listened to three episodes of the podcast Reply All on issues of
race. Sharing this felt a bit problematic when this Friday two of the
producers of the show (one a regular host and one a host of the series
on race) stepped down because they actively blocked unionization efforts
at Gimlet, efforts which were being led by people of color. A good
example of, “If you spot it, you got it” (Oprah Winfrey), I guess and
also a good reminder to me that I, as a white person, must always be
willing to interrogate my actions and motivations.
Week 36: Started reading “We Were Eight Years in Power” by Ta-Nehisi Coates, a series of essays about the Obama years.
Week 35: In honor of Black History Month, my running group is supporting local Black-owned businesses on our runs. Last weekend we ended our run at Black Coffee Northwest. The coffee and pastries were delicious and due to “dine-in” restrictions, they have turned the eating area into a venue for artists of color to display their work. I met two fabulous young artists you might want to check out: @gfaulks and @easleytribe, both on Instagram. This weekend Poindexter Coffee - with thanks to Mouse for the idea!
Week 34: Joined my school’s newly-forming racial justice group for staff and students. Excited to start working with others to make our school community a more just and equitable place for all.
Week 33: Recorded a (possibly? potentially?) inspirational video to be shared with students at the MLK Jr Day assembly this past week. I talked about this project and asked them to take some action against systemic racism.
Week 32: Finished the “Seeing White” series of the podcast Scene on Radio. It ended with the host sharing two basic premises that he believes need to be embraced if we are to make headway against systemic racism: 1) Race was constructed by white people 2) It was constructed for the express purpose of justifying exploitation of those who were deemed “non-white.”
Week 25: This week, in honor of the Thanksgiving holiday, I read some Thanksgiving perspective pieces written by Native Americans. This is one of my favorites for its combination of truth-telling and hope.
Week 24: This week I supported a young activist who is petitioning our future VP to pave the way for people of color to tell their stories about the racism they have experienced in this country. Also listened to a podcast about racism in the classroom and reflected on my own.
Week 20: VOTED
Week 18: This week I spoke up twice in ways that felt scary about racism and white privilege in front of “audiences” I wasn’t sure would welcome the message.
17: Like many, I was disheartened at the outcome in the case of the
police who killed Breonna Taylor, so I took action as requested by
groups I follow (Black Lives Matter, Color of Change). What gives me
hope is the hope of the leaders of these groups. They have just begun to
fight. I stand with them.
Week 16: Spent time on the site posted below, examining the phases of racism and my own place on it. I found it really enlightening and am sharing it as my action this week. I believe in the power of heightened self-awareness to lead to action and change.
Week 15: Post a bit late, but action completed. Attended another session of PD which included Race & Equity training. Planned a lesson for my 7th graders based around this TED Talk for our storytelling unit: https://www.ted.com/talk/chimamanda_ngozi_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story?fbclid=IwAR259441D5PqiJ6gTEaa2LQSO7nV5Tva4mjZ3T7CtDTNUUqdYRptyucrzw4
Week 13: It’s been a busy week. I attended a teacher training on race and equity, listened to multiple podcasts featuring/about Kamala Harris, and made a donation to fight voter suppression by our government. Here’s a link to a great episode of NPRs Code Switch about varying opinions of Kamala Harris among Black Democrats and the political power of Black women in the Party.
Week 12: This week I attended a seminar for teachers on how to make our grading practices more equitable. My anti-racist action step this week is to make changes to my grading policy to make it more equitable.
Week 11: This week my anti-racist action was to continue to binge Grey’s Anatomy, which has been my go-to show since the pandemic began. This may, at first, seem lame and self-serving, but Grey’s Anatomy is a great example of representation in action. The show consistently features actors of all races, creeds, social and economic backgrounds, gender identities, sexual orientations, size, ability, etc. It routinely features actors who do not meet traditional “Hollywood” beauty and attractiveness standards (to be fair, it also features many actors who do). It gives these actors central roles and meaty plot lines rather than just bit parts. It deals often and directly with important and timely issues like police brutality towards and murder of black and brown people, implicit bias and sexual harassment in the workplace and the harmful outcomes that result, dismissive attitudes towards women and people of color in the medical community, etc. It is a show I am proud to support with my time and entertainment dollars. We wield more power than we realize with these two commodities, our time and our money. Using them to support businesses that advance our stated ideals can be a powerful step toward a different world.
Week 10: Listened to the first three episodes of the (controversial) podcast Nice White Parents this week. I have to admit I saw myself as an elementary school parent in the well-meaning - but unthinking - parents in episode one. Oof. I have been feeling lately that there isn’t quite enough action in my weekly action. Educating oneself is important, but change requires ACTION. This week I am committing to fill out parent surveys from my sons’ schools not just with what’s best for them in mind, but to educate myself before filling them out about what is best for students who may not have the advantages and privilege my sons have and to use my “vote” to advocate for those decisions.