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29th People of Color Conference

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29th People of Color Conference

Sponsored by The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) as part of their commitment to equity and justice in teaching and learning.

This will be my third year facilitating the White Affinity Group Sessions at this phenomenal conference.

The mission of the People of Color Conference (PoCC) is to provide a safe space for leadership, professional development, and networking for people of color and allies of all backgrounds in independent schools. It equips educational leaders with knowledge, skills, and experiences to improve and enhance the interracial, interethnic, and intercultural climate in their schools. It also focuses on academic, social-emotional, and workplace factors that impact equitable and just performance outcomes for students and adults alike. Programing attends to the fact that human beings are complex, with needs and concerns informed by multiple identities and intersections.

Unlike most independent school settings, the majority of the PoCC attendees and presenters are people of color. The wisdom and perspective of people of color tends to be a “minority” view in independent schools (and other businesses and organizations in the U.S.). The NAIS People of Color Conference offers attendees the empowering experience of an interactional space that more closely mirrors world racial and ethnic demography.

This year’s conference is in Atlanta, GA, a fitting location given the human and civil rights challenges we face today. This event is a call to action for schools in society, calling on educational leaders at all levels, from teachers to trustees, to work together to solve the challenges we face, recognizing that collaboration is fundamental to innovation. The conference invites critical thinking about the concerns of today. Working together magnifies the capacity to confront and eliminate the implicit and explicit structures that thwart the wellbeing and performance of all members of (independent) school communities and helps to ensure the relevance and success of people of color.

POCC is designed for people of color, relating to their roles in independent schools. The programming supports people of color as they pursue strategies for success and leadership. Its focus is on providing a sanctuary and networking opportunity for people of color and allies in independent schools as we build and sustain inclusive school communities.

This event is a distinct professional development experience in the national education landscape. It provides an opportunity for educational leaders to refocus their work and learning through an equity perspective. The conference includes general sessions with keynotes, dozens of practitioner-led workshops, extensive affinity group work, and dialogue sessions.

NAIS sponsors PoCC to support the complex dynamics of independent school life and culture and the varied roles people of color play and experience in these settings.

The first National Conference for Teachers and Administrators of Color in Independent Schools was in 1986 in Reston, VA with about 100 participants. 2016 will be the 29th PoCC conference with over 3600 participants.

Affinity Group Sessions

PoCC hosts affinity group sessions to provide an opportunity for sharing and exploring your life and experiences within safe and supportive spaces defined by membership in a specific racial or ethnic identity group. Affinity group sessions are designed to help conference participants engage in conversations that matter, share successes and challenges, celebrate identities and engage freely within a space defined and protected by and for those who share race and ethnicity in common. Unlike all other conference programming (which is open to all irrespective of race and ethnicity), affinity group space derives its meaning, integrity, and transformative power from participation by same-group members. NAIS recognizes nine identity statuses for affinity groups. NAIS recruits facilitators from each of these groups to support the process.

It is important to underscore that affinity groups are not places to go “to learn about others,” even when the “other” is a participant’s child, friend, or colleague. Each of us is welcome in the affinity group space that matches our self-identified race or ethnicity. Entering any other affinity group extinguishes the safety and trust that defines them.

The overarching vision for PoCC affinity group work includes

  • facilitating opportunities for affirming, nurturing, and celebrating lived experience of affinity group members

  • discussing issues related to racial/ethnic identity development in a safe environment where people who share that racial or ethnic identity can generate community, fellowship, and empowerment

  • modeling a structure that acknowledges the complexity of race and ethnicity by encouraging affinity groups to affirm, explore, and examine intersectionality (e.g. race and gender, race/ethnicity and sexual orientation), within each community.

Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC)

At the same time as POCC is SDLC, a multiracial, multicultural gathering of upper school student leaders (grades 9–12) from across the U.S. SDLC focuses on self-reflecting, forming allies, and building community.

 

***All of the text on this page is taken from the NAIS POCC website.

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Prayer for This Moment

My heart and body is shaky. This familiar place of tension. Work needs to get done. And yet the bigger questions call to be stronger. My heart is fluttering. Curiosity pounding my brain to “want to figure it out.” What seems clear to me is that there are many White people in this country who do not have any (??) close friends or family who they have meaningful conversations with about what it feels like to be a person of color in this country right now. That folks are not hearing the personal stories of how Muslim, Lantinx, Black, LGBTQ children are being effected right now… the fear they are feeling. The stress of the children because they feel they have a president that hates them and their people and now their classmates feel empowered to hate and discriminate against them as well. Fear that their families aren’t safe. The stress of parents trying to hide their own emotions as they assure their children that they will be safe.

I imagine that folks who think this time is just about politics don’t have relationships where they hear first hand stories about being victims of hate speech or hate violence. I believe in the good of human nature and I believe that if folks genuinely understood how real the threat that many Americans are feeling right now was… if people really got that, then they would be willing to stand up against the rhetoric that is promoting this hate.

I believe in the goodness of people and my body aches for us as a collective to transform like I used to watch the Incredible Hulk as a child… may the pressure of injustice, hate and violence be so strong that our actual cells and chemistry transform. May we be emboldened with such courage and bravery that the fierceness of our love and devotion to that which is sacred and life-giving has a collective power like we have never seen before. May we have access to the fullness of our spiritual powers, our emotional strength, our physical strength, our intellectual wisdom, and the power of our connected relationships. May we be as graceful as possible amongst the chaos and complexity. May the suffering, trauma and pain that we feel find moments of respite in our breath so that it does not interfere with our actions, so that we may act in ways that are driven by love and dedication to freedom, justice and the sacredness of life. May we experience healing and forgiveness. May we be clear about the journey we are on, even with the path is uncertain. May we be humble to the fact that clarity does not equal knowing… that it is not through our knowing that we will find the way, but through our reverent listening, centeredness and attunement to the moment and what is calling for our attention. May we have the humility to recognize when to step back, when to follow the leadership of others, when to act differently than we have in the past. May we be awake to when we are being called to step forward and to do so with humble grace and fierce courage. May we be committed in our relationships, using the power of our connections to walk with others, support one another, and grant us all access to the collective wisdom that is so much grater than our individual thinking and doing. May our hearts be filled with love, love, love. May we remember to smile and laugh… often. Inviting each other into moments of joy… even as we stay close to the real suffering that is present. May we be spiritual warriors, learning from indigenous relatives about what this actually looks like, how we move with the sacred, being humble as we step in ways that we’ve never stepped before, re-membering the wisdom that we all have access to.

May it be so… Ashe.

Thank you for reading, listening, praying with me. 

Excerpt: “At a time when specific groups of students are being targeted, we must ensure that those students specifically know that their schools welcome them and that they will be safe. We urge all education stakeholders, including district leaders, heads of schools, principals, teachers, parents and guardians, and other educators to take action immediately within their school communities to support all students, especially those who face bias incidents in their schools. These actions should specifically affirm the right of all students, regardless of race, color, national origin, immigration status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or religion to be educated in an environment free from fear, violence, and intimidation.”
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Standing Rock Update

Screen Shot 2016-12-01 at 6.29.56 PMA good overview of this historical moment, the situation at Standing Rock, getting into the specifics about the use of the pipeline itself, finances behind it, and other details about the Army Corps of Engineers and timelines. I hadn’t heard the phrase “deep north” yet… to parallel the “deep south” and the racism that is congruent in both places.

Article: The Beginning is Near: The Deep North, Evictions & Pipeline Deadlines

Pretty good reporting from CNN.

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Words of 2016: Xenophobia & Post-Truth

Xenophobia was just made the word for the year by dictionary.com. Understand its meaning if you don’t already and what it means for you (and your actions in 2017) that this is the word of 2016…

Oxford Dictionaries named “post-truth” as the word of the year for 2016, defined as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” In other words, truth is regarded as “less important.”

How will you help to regulate yourself in how you are swayed by emotional and personal belief information, when you choose to look at the facts and when you don’t? As the media is wrapped in this post-truth reality, us the consumers of media have to develop new approaches to information. One idea I wondered about is discovering specific journalists who are consistent in their use of true facts and following specific journalists. What ideas do you have?

Article on Oxford’s word of the year.

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What Will Motivate Us to See and Face the Truth

My biggest question… What will motivate more people to find the strength to see what is happening and grow the courage to resist the stripping of our freedoms and human rights? This is not hypothetical. This is happening now. Yale historian and Holocaust expert Timothy Snyder wrote recently:

 ”Americans are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience. Now is a good time to do so.” Snyder is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (which includes former Secretaries of State), and consults on political situations around the globe. He says, “Here are twenty lessons from the twentieth century, adapted to the circumstances of today.”

  1. Do not obey in advance
  2. Defend an institution
  3. Recall professional ethics
  4. When listening to politics, distinguish certain words
  5. Be calm when the unthinkable arrives
  6. Be kind to our language
  7. Stand out
  8. Believe in truth
  9. Investigate
  10. Practice corporeal politics
  11. Make eye contact and small talk
  12. Take responsibility for the face of the world
  13. Hinder the one-party state
  14. Give regularly to good causes, if you can
  15. Establish a private life
  16. Learn from others in other countries
  17. Watch otu for the paramilitaries
  18. Be reflective if you must be armed
  19. Be as courageous as you can
  20. Be a patriot

Click here to read the explanations of all 20 lessons.

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Learning About Fascism and Such

Screen Shot 2016-12-01 at 7.22.21 PMI commit to facing history and this present moment.

Here is a mix of quotes, all from articles posted at the bottom in my efforts to learn about fascism and Nixon era as relates to now.

Few Americans under the age of 50 have a grasp of fascism or the history of fascist movements in modern history. Hitler and the holocaust mesmerize the culture with horror, yet a fundamental understanding of fascist ideology is absent. The spread of fascism in the 1920s was significantly aided by the fact that liberals and mainstream conservatives failed to take it seriously. Instead, they accommodated and normalised it. Back in the 1930s, The New York Times assured its readers that Hitler’s anti-Semitism was all posture. Comfortable happiness is readily available in a fascist state.
This nation was founded as an opposite to an authoritarian monarch. We set up institutions like a free press and an independent court system to protect our fragile rights. We have survived through bloody spasms of a Civil War and a Civil Rights Movement to extend more of these rights to more of our citizens.
From the Nixon years, we know that a law-and-order president who lacks respect for the Constitution poses a critical threat to dissent. In 1969, Nixon’s vice president, Spiro Agnew, warned that TV stations broadcasting unfavorable stories could see their licenses revoked by their Federal Communications Commission or their corporate structures dismantled by the Justice Department. Now we are facing limitations on the freedom of our expression, freedom to protest, and even freedom of movement…
The national press is likely to be among the first institutional victims of Trumpism. There is no law that requires the presidential administration to hold daily briefings, none that guarantees media access to the White House. Journalism is difficult and sometimes impossible without access to information. Nixon did great damage (including the invasion of Cambodia, the killings at Jackson State and Kent State, the government infiltration and surveillance of dissenters), but the country survived. We must resist because the consequences of twenty-first century fascism are unimaginably horrific. Unlike Germany’s fascism of the 1930s, we possess today nuclear weapons, biological weapons, massive surveillance infrastructures, a gargantuan military industrial complex controlled by Dark Money, and a servile media. We have never had fascism on Earth in this context.
I believe there is a vast majority who wants to see this nation continue in tolerance and freedom. But it will require speaking. Engage in your civic government. Flood newsrooms or TV networks with your calls if you feel they are slipping into the normalization of extremism. Donate your time and money to causes that will fight to protect our liberties.
There was a flipside to the Nixon age: It produced some of the most enduring progressive organizing in the nation’s history. The Stonewall Rebellion in New York City erupted in June 1969, launching the modern-day LGBTQ movement. Less than a year later came the first Earth Day. Second-wave feminism gained traction throughout that period and produced victories like Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.
We are a great nation. We have survived deep challenges in our past. We can and will do so again. But we cannot be afraid to speak and act to ensure the future we want for our children and grandchildren. In order to become whole, as opposed to further divided, we must, and I mean must, create safe circles of connection and community with each other. Anyone who attempts to navigate the crisis on his/her own or just with “me and mine,” will not and cannot. If there is ever to be a majority national movement for social and economic justice, it needs to include whites who have suffered from deindustrialization, offshoring, the decline of unions, and the shrinking farm economy. At the same time, there is a lot of policy turf to defend—human rights, public education, the social safety net, the planet’s health—and those are areas where we need to redouble our grassroots efforts. We must squelch the impulse to pretend that things will be fine… moving too fast to normalize the news. And we must protect from harm those in our communities who are most vulnerable both to the Trump administration’s policies and to the violence and intimidation we’ve already seen.
Business as usual is completely over.
All of above is quotes from these articles:
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White Nationalism in 2016

It is important that we educate ourselves about the white nationalist groups that are politically active right now.

“Richard B. Spencer coined the term “alt-right” to describe the movement he leads. Spencer has said his dream is “a new society, an ethno-state that would be a gathering point for all Europeans,” and has called for “peaceful ethnic cleansing.”

“Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!”

That’s how Richard B. Spencer saluted more than 200 attendees on Saturday for the annual conference of the National Policy Institute, which describes itself as “an independent organization dedicated to the heritage, identity, and future of people of European descent in the United States, and around the world.”

Mr. Spencer defined the alt-right as a movement with white identity as its core idea. Mr. Spencer urged the group to start acting less like an underground organization and more like the establishment.

Mr. Trump’s election, Mr. Spencer said, was “the victory of will,” a phrase that echoed the title of the most famous Nazi-era propaganda film.”

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