Stevenson Coaching Letter #39

Sorry, I know it’s late, I hope you’re asleep!

I was watching Fox News at the gym this morning, and the Eagles’ coach was being interviewed about the team’s disinvitation from the White House.  I was very interested in what the coach had to say about this, but unfortunately I did not have my notebook easily to hand so I have to paraphrase what he said: I understand there are issues, a purpose, behind what the players are doing, but I see it as their taking the opportunity to put up the middle finger.  I awaited eagerly his next words: at what were they making this gesture?  But alas, no explication was forthcoming.  Perhaps he meant that the players were taking a strong stance against racism, oppression, and all forms of prejudice in our society?  I could be wrong.

Nevertheless, I was inspired to write about what we all can do to take a strong stance against racism and all forms of prejudice in our society.  (And at the same time to make sure that you know that the Center will be hosting its annual Equity Institute again this October—flyer attached.  We get rave reviews, you should come!  Space is limited, register early! )

The first thing we should do is to talk about these issues, but I would like to advise strongly against an open-ended conversation.  Unless you are a highly practiced facilitator, there are too many places where this could go off the rails, and a highly practiced facilitator knows better than to even try.  More on that another time.

So let’s start by taking a look at some of the resources that are available, around which you might scaffold a conversation.

This video from the New Yorker really got me.  One of the markers of white privilege is that we just don’t see racial nuance the way we should, and this shines a very bright light on that ineptitude.

I really like this essay from the New York Times Magazine on the concept of entitlement—and how the meaning varies depending on who you are.

The news recently has offered multiple examples of how casual, unthinking, and damaging many acts of racism are—perpetrated by people who would not identify as racist, I’m sure, and therefore harder-hitting because harder for regular white folk to claim that they would never find themselves in that position.  From the New York Times, the Starbucks episode here and here; the college tour fiasco; and from the Courant, the dorm debacle.

Then there is the fantastic Franchesca Ramsey and her video series, Decoded.  I haven’t read her new book yet, but it’s on my list.

Oh, and the TED talks… I’ll have to get back to you on those.

Before I was captivated by the interview this morning, I had written a follow-up to the last Coaching Letter, about the pitfalls of a “sense of urgency”.  What I wrote will have to wait.  But this missive isn’t a bad follow-up either: if the achievement gaps and inequities in our system don’t scream urgency, I don’t know what does.  But it is also an issue whereby people frequently feel beaten up by data, blamed, misunderstood or not heard.  Having the skills to have conversations that rally people behind a grand idea and generate allies in a righteous cause is a goal worth pursuing.

I would love to continue this conversation with you.  Keep in touch.  Best, Isobel

Leading for Equitable Classrooms 2018

Isobel Stevenson PhD PCC
Program Coordinator
Connecticut Center for School Change
151 New Park Avenue
Hartford, CT 06106
Office: 860.586.2340

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2018-10-04T17:20:34-04:00