It is one of my favorite days here on campus. As a member of the Diversity Leadership Council, I have enjoyed working with colleagues and students as we focus on our admission in advancing the notion of community inclusiveness. Both students and faculty members participated in delivering workshops.
Above I am discussing the importance of being an ally, and how the various dynamics of power often works against good people who elect to be bystanders.
We had Alex Myers as our keynote speaker. He is amazing. Alex noted this about himself on his webpage: Alex was raised as a girl (Alice) and left Maine to attend boarding school at Phillips Exeter Academy. At Exeter, Alex came out as transgender, returning his senior year as a man after attending for three years as a woman, and was the first transgender student in that Academy’s history. After Exeter, Alex earned his bachelor’s at Harvard University, studying Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, and living in the Dudley Co-op. Alex was also the first openly transgender student at Harvard and worked to change the University’s nondiscrimination clause to include gender identity.
Trump and others can hate, but my friends and I will keep fighting for the rights of all people to be treated with dignity, love, and respect. I am fortunate to be on a campus and with colleagues who share my values.
I spoke to a crowed at the end of our protest march in front of the Boston State House. I am feeling a desire by many to bring true change. But that will not be easy. This march/protest was aimed against policies on deportations and refugees and Muslims.
I am with Jackie here, she is my friend; I am her friend. She is my ally and I am her ally. We stand with others as friends. Let me be clear here: I love people. And because I love working-class people, I have decided I can no longer be a friend with those who support the legislation of hate. What does this mean? I will not travel with you nor visit your home. If you are against LGBTQ folks, female rights, undocumented friends, black, brown, and others, and if you support hate and American exceptionalism, I am not your friend and you are not my friend. This is not just a virtual notion; it is true for me day-to-day. If you believe you are “just” due to your faith — we are not friends. To be my friend means you are my ally, and thus are seeking to evolve by walking with me to denounce bigotry. I will work with you on the job. I am working class and have to pay the bills. I have no interest in your religion or church if your members are not allies. I will be nice and say hello – Mom and Dad raised me well. I will work beside you at work — but just know I cannot be your friend; if you are not my ally, we are not friends. If you are arguing about my realities and the realities of my friends and allies – we cannot be friends. We cannot break bread in my home or have a glass of wine.
I just got back from the People of Color Conference — and it was a needed gathering for me in the city of Atlanta. Being around like-minded folks (LGBTQ, black and brown and white allies) fills my soul as I navigate my days in a world operated by those who knowingly and unknowingly empower white supremacy. Packnett was the real deal. She spoke about independent schools who ignore matters of race, sexuality, and gender, thus are complicit in graduating white supremacist. And, allow a hostile campus environment. Have you looked at the demographic make up of your faculty? Are you supporting people of color? The folks I talk to say no. But we do look good on brochures. It is easy for straight white men to hire and support straight white men. There is no threat to their hegemony.
I also found time to join colleagues I do not see that often.
We were headed to the Civil and Human Rights Museum in Atlanta. I will write more on this later.
People of color, be they African American, Native American, Asian, Middle Eastern or whatever ethnic group, have spent years discovering their roots, developing a keen pride in their heritage, and accepting who they are. So don’t expect the current crop of prospective faculty to fit into your conservative profile. Many of them will not, and, frankly, I don’t think they should even try! Is that shocking? Is that unacceptable to you and your clientele? Then, perhaps, diversity is really not for you. If a turban or a dashiki pants suit offends, then so will diversity! Diversity by definition implies that the status quo will be upset.
The book Colors of Excellence is the leading authority on this topic. I have read it a number times. It is one that is always discussed at the annual People of Color Conference held by the National Association of Independent Schools. Moreover, it serves as a great comfort to many teachers of color with its countless anecdotes from other faculty members of color regarding their own experiences in independent schools. Regardless of what some might say, only those of a particular minority group can fully understand the social construction in existence that might or might not promote a level of comfort. I am looking forward to working with other teachers of color and addressing the continual challenges of diversity in the 21st century.
As we know, there are schools that say they value diversity — and there are schools that do. All too often many practice in talk but fail to act.
I have been asked via a number of emails what can I do as a white person? My advice is to engage in different communities. Most of the white people I know do not have much interaction with others outside the workspace. White people have privileges due to being white. If you teach at an independent school, college, university, or in a profession dominated by whites from top to bottom — your chances are few, thus you will have to try harder. It is cool to invite folks to your white church — but how about attending a black church. Better yet — invite them into your home. Have you done that? Make your home their home. Breaking bread in your home says a great deal. Often, black people struggle to afford college, have a job that does not allow them to pay their bills on time, and thus have to work a second job. We carry a historical past that plagues us in ways not so pronounced to white people. If you want to be a true ally, you must surround yourself with black people. And, you must understand our narratives. Do not tell us we are wrong. Do not tell us we misunderstood a situation. Just listen to us and support us.
In Ferguson, Baltimore, and L.A., riots occurred after a cop killed a black man. Folks are quick to tell me it is not about race. Yes it is about race. I think about my white boss (es) everyday; I think about my white colleagues as white everyday. Why? [Because they remind me that I am black] Are you doing that? White people with guilt say they do not see color. If you believe in God, please know he/she sees color; if you believe in God, you know she/he sought the beauty of diversity, though white people created race as a construct for systematic and categorical purposes. In each of the aforementioned communities (Ferguson, Baltimore, LA), segregation and black inequality played a major role. We are not an equal society. Years of Jim Crow cannot vanish because King gave a speech. White people hold power. For example: the white upper-class part of North Baton Rouge tried to succeed from the poorer black community of South Baton Rouge just two years ago. They viewed the black community as dangerous and having an economic impact on their way of life. Instead of reaching out with the power white people have — they sought to separate. Do your kids travel to the other part of town to play? Do you make it an effort to find ways to have your kids interact with blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, Jews, etc.? Are you will to break bread with folks in the hood? So, if you want to know what you can do, my advice is to do what you are not doing. Telling me you do not see race is your first mistake. That is just your privilege talking. Do something.