January 15

Meet The MacArthur Fellow Disrupting Racism In Art – Titus Kaphar – NPR Interview

As we approach Martin Luther King Day, and Black History Month, you may want to explore the works of Titus Kaphar.

Among his approaches, Kaphar takes familiar historical images and remakes them to confront the history of slavery and reveal the history of racism in The United States.

“If we are not honest about our past, then we cannot have a clear direction towards our future,” Kaphar says in an interview.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Behind the Myth of Benevolence” depicts a black woman behind a rumpled canvas containing a portrait of Thomas Jefferson.

 

January 7

White Fragility, by Robin Diangelo

At a recent workshop hosted by Volunteer Community Services and the Center for Safety and Change, an important new book was highlighted:

White Fragility, Why it is so hard for White People to talk about Racism, by Robin Diangelo.

Sociologist and antiracist educator Robin DiAngelo illuminates emotionally charged and defensive behavior that occurs when a white person’s perceived anti-racism is challenged.

“Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue.”   ~Beacon Press

Many important tools are provided to self reflect on our inevitable racism caused by being socialized in a society where there is a historical foundation of institutional racism.  Diangelo stresses the distinction between acts of discrimination and prejudice (overt intolerant events) and the societal structure of racism.

In this process, Diangelo implores the reader, particularly those of us that consider ourselves progressive, liberal and anti-racist, to recognize our continued role in racism, and to recognize that interrupting racism is life long work…that we are never “done.”

 

Important concepts that strongly impacted my thinking:

-Our actions: Intent vs Impact

– The Good/Bad Binary  (because racism is amoral, saying a white person is racist is a moral affront.)

-Working to consider ourselves in racial terms…the impact of being white

 

Diangelo encourages the reader to shift their thinking from if you are a racist, to how we engage in racism.

 

This short book (150 pages) is an important read!

 

October 15

Human Library – breaking stereotypes through honest conversation

The human library concept originated in 2000 in Copenhagen, Denmark, as part of a youth organization’s work to combat violence.

More recently, the San Diego Times reported on this idea being put to use in the San Diego Library.

Here’s how the human library worked: people signed up for 20-minute slots of time during which they could “check out” and have a casual conversation with a “human book,” a person with a particular life experience that is generally stereotyped. In addition to Spacek, the other human books on Saturday were “refugee,” “punk entrepreneur,” “rapper,” “disabled,” “journalist,” “dwarfism,” “blind,” “transgender,” “veteran,” “Muslim,” “graffiti artist” and “psychic.”

 

October 8

Happy Indigenous People’s Day

Old habits die hard, but ever so slowly, cities are beginning to acknowledge the true “discoverers” of America, the Native Indians.  Just as southern states continue to work on addressing the pain brought by honoring historical figures that caused so much suffering and racism, so too must all of us address the realities of Christopher Columbus.

We must continue to work on the racism that works at an institutional level.  Whether removing iconic monuments, renaming schools or renaming and refocusing our pride in holidays, we must continue to move forward.

For additional coverage on Indigenous People’s day, click here.

January 13

Courageous Conversations 2

I never cease to be amazed by the power of students to connect across all sorts of barriers, if they are just given the time and space.

Today 60 students, from ENL classes, VAASA, Student Council and World of Difference spent the morning together.  In getting to know each other, they discovered not only how much they didn’t know about each other, but also how much they have in common.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We continue our journey to open dialogue in respectful and meaningful ways….

November 11

Courageous Conversations

Today we welcomed back Simone Gamble to work with student leaders around the topic of Safe Spaces and Courageous Conversations.  Student leaders from VAASA, Student Council, Student Advisory Committee, the Gay Straight Alliance and World of Difference were invited to sign up for this 2 1/2 hour workshop.  52 students came together sharing experiences, concerns and ideas around the topic of diversity and specifically race relations at North.  Students had the opportunity to speak, question, and brainstorm.  They also role played different scenarios of things that have happened within the school, modeling how to be a good ally in those situations.  Most powerful, perhaps, was their verbalization of what they need/want in terms of support from their teachers, such as, continued focus on the creation of safe spaces.  They would also like to have more assemblies that are small and intimate like this one and open to all students.

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We continue our journey to open dialogue in respectful and meaningful ways….

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