In early July, I attended a week-long educators workshop offered by the National Museum of African American History & Culture. (With daily access to the museum’s collections before it opened to the public!)
There were more than 30 attendees and five master teachers, with 2-3 guest speakers a day. We unpacked many topics, from the dehumanization of the African American slaves to self-reflection of what is Whiteness in the 21st century America and how as educators we must examine and incorporate true history and social justices into our curriculum.
After a particularly impactful day, with one of my New York City Independent School colleagues, Erica Corbin Rodriguez leading the workshop, I went back to the hotel and texted with a friend who was a former student and also a fellow-teacher at Dalton. He is a 24 year old white male and I have his permission to post our conversation here: I’m the white text with blue background and he’s black text with gray background.
As the 2017-18 school year starts tomorrow for all our students, I am constantly reminding myself that it is my responsibility to keep social justices front and center in my curriculum and my interaction with students. This one former student is not a unique or singular case: he is one of many responsible, compassionate, and self-reflective white men and women that we hope to “unleash into the society” and make the world a more just and loving place. And just as he said, he is responsible to undo racism, more so than any person of color. He and many others will need constant dialogue and guidance — let’s work side by side to achieve our common goal: equality for all.