Thanks to grants from the PTSA and the school, Clarkstown North has been fortunate enough to be able to send 15 staff members to the Undoing Racism Workshop this year.
The support for attending this workshop is clear evidence of the commitment on the part of the school to ensure that we all remain aware of the infinite ways in which oppression is embedded into our daily interactions and institutions. It is only through this continued effort that we can begin to address systematic racism and the inequities that it manifests.
I consider myself to be open-minded and empathetic, but this workshop challenged me in unexpected ways. It allowed me to truly consider the perspective of individuals from all races. It also taught me a lot about the history of our country and the systems that have been put into place that have added to the oppression of minorities in our society. As a teacher, I feel more confident in discussing issues surrounding race in the classroom.
-Ms. Dunn, Art Teacher
It allowed me to reflect on my power as a teacher and the importance of each student that walks into my room. As educators we are told we can change the life of one child and that is enough. This conference helps us realize the magnitude of education and one life is not enough. We should strive for more.
– Mrs. Macias, Social Studies Teacher
What struck me about the Undoing Racism workshop was its message of unity. It argued that the construct of “whiteness,” NOT the people who identify as white, is what stops us from knowing ourselves to be one big human family. It identified the cost of “whiteness” in such a way that I became motivated to dismantle the institutions that have kept racism in place over many years. I feel newly empowered by the realization that I am a gate-keeper, and that institutions cannot oppress anyone if gate-keepers own their power to change those institutions.
-Mrs. Phalen, English Teacher
Hearing the profound disturbing experiences from people of color during the conference made racism “real” for me and touched my heart whereas before it was easy to intellectualize racism-now I can “feel” the knowing of this tragedy and have been transformed into a conscious rejector of racism.
-Cathy Smith, Math Teacher
The personal stories were very moving and some were heart-breaking.
-Keri Nitto, School Guidance Counselor
‘We must recognize our role in perpetuating white privilege in order to undo racism. This workshop was full of information & exercises presented honestly & sensitively in order to bring this concept home. I’m sold & will utilize what I’ve learned to continue to bring this idea to the fore in my daily work.’
Sue Gold, Student Assistance Counselor
This comprehensive workshop was truly an awakening to the infinite micro-aggressions that people of color live on a daily basis. It has increased my awareness and sensitivity to not only people of color, but all minority groups. I have also truly benefited from being a part of a cohort that has been trained and now has a common experience and vocabulary as our foundation as we continue to strive for an environment that provides equity for all. Additionally, I am now a part of a larger network of community members that are working towards a common goal.
“Sesame Street” has always based its characters and content on extensive research. They regularly bring in educators and child psychologists. In the case of Julia, they also worked with autism organizations to decide which characteristics she should have and how best to normalize autism for all children.
It’s tricky because autism is not one thing, because it is different for every single person who has autism. There is an expression that goes, “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism,” says writer Christine Ferraro.
And of course every Muppet needs a puppeteer. But not every puppeteer has the connection Stacey Gordon does to the role. Gordon is the mother of a son with autism.
Stacey Gordon: Had my son’s friends been exposed to his behaviors through something that they had seen on TV before they experienced them in the classroom, they might not have been frightened. They might not have been worried when he cried. They would have known that he plays in a different way and that that’s OK.
The odds of having a set of biracial twins with different skin colors is around one in 350 to one in 400, and the odds that any pair of twins will have different skin colors is one in 500. In the U.S. — as of 2013 — twins accounted for around three out of 100 births. [AUTHOR’S NOTE: As pointed out by many readers, “race” itself is an artificial construct that has no basis in science. While visual markers may tell us something about our ancestry, the genes that determine our appearance are just .01 percent of our total genetic makeup.]
Back in 2015, the internet was all abuzz over Lucy and Maria Aylmer, a lovely pair of biracial twins from across the pond in the U.K. They say no one believes they’re sisters, and we can certainly see why. Their dad Vince is white and their mom Donna is black. But instead of looking like a blend of both races — as many mixed race children do — Lucy has fair skin and cinnamon hair while Maria has a café au lait complexion and abundant black curls.
In an opinion piece last weekend, author Moises Valasquez- Manoff reports back on studies that highlight the heightened awareness, observational skills and creativity inherant in non-homogenous groups.
Of additional note on the topic is photographer Martin Schoeller. In 2013 his series The Changing Face of America was featured in National Geographic. This series of photographs explores the visual power of mixed race individuals and highlights a comparison of self-identification with Census check boxes.
When I started thinking about my concentration, I wanted to explore the concept of transition. The transitions between genders that transgender young people experience are thought of as ugly and something that should not be seen.
Often, transgender celebrities will go into a period of hiding after they announce their new identity while they undergo whatever medical changes they need to look how they want, and then reenter society looking completely different. This process keeps the transitional period out of the public eye, and makes people with ambiguous gender presentation seem unnatural. I believe that this is not the best was to handle transgender people in the public eye, since it makes encounters between cisgender and transgender people more uncomfortable and prevents understanding. I decided to paint transgender young people to try to document this stage in their lives, and my show is a celebration of these in-between people.
I decided to ask people to send me pictures they took of themselves for me to paint. I asked them to choose a picture that they felt confident in, and to explain all the reasons why they felt confident in that picture. In addition, I asked everyone for a list of the ways they identify themselves. I found their answers surprising, because people interpreted the prompt differently.
My goal for this list was to help humanize the people in my paintings, so that my audience could get to know them better and imagine them as complex people rather than just strangers.
To further emphasize this spectrum (and transition) concept, I decided to arrange the pieces (in my exhibit) on a scale from feminine expression to masculine expression.