This episode is an educator call to action. Given the current global protests we are seeing around the need to reform race relations and eradicate structural racism in our societies, for us as educators the most effective way to do this arguably begins with how we select our teachers and leaders in our schools and universities.
This week’s guest is Lawrence Alexander, the Director of Equity and Inclusion at Carney Sandoe & Associates - the largest educational consulting and staffing firm in the US. He facilitates in-house training on best practices around implicit bias and equitable decision making, and is responsible for finding leaders who commit to equity and inclusion in their work in education. He also develops educational opportunities for school partners and closely monitors trends and changes in the profession.
Lawrence spent a decade as a college counselor in both public and independent schools. He served as the Director of Equity and Inclusion at The White Mountain School and has established himself as an industry leader through his work in with East Woods School (NY), Brown University, the Association of Independent Schools in New England (AISNE), and CS&A. Lawrence also serves on the editorial board for Insight Into Diversity magazine.
Initially I wanted to understand how Lawrence was balancing the increased interest and demand for his work with the very real challenges he faces as a person of colour working in education in America. Having worked largely in international education settings, it might be easy to imagine that diversity and inclusion is a given, however as Lawrence eloquently put it, we all have a tendency to microwave our global understanding by parochial experiences, which in “diverse” education settings, may make us feel like we know more people than we do authentically.
The danger of a single story is as relevant to any minority or under-represented group - however in life, education, the criminal justice system, the workplace: the odds are stacked against black people. As educators who must continue to innovate to prepare students for the challenges that lay ahead, checking & acknowledging privilege and practising allyship is important work that all of us must do, no matter our histories, gender, skin colour or politics.
I thank Lawrence for his extensive, excellent reading list that brought to light many issues that I too, am ignorant of. It doesn’t matter how diverse your own background is: there’s always more to be learned, and many many other voices to hear from.
Anti-Racist Resources mentioned in the episode:
Rachel Engel's Open Letter to the International School Community
Tony Jack - The Privileged Poor
Michael Eric Dyson - Tears We Cannot Stop
Austin Channing Brown: I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World for Whiteness
Robin DiAngelo - White Fragility
Glenn Singleton - Courageous Conversations about Race
Debby Irving: Waking up White
Kimberlé Crenshaw - The Urgency of Intersectionality TED talk
Dr Dena Simmons - How Students of Color Confront Impostor Syndrome TED talk
Ali Michael - How Can I Have a Positive Racial Identity? I'm White! TED talk
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: The Danger of a Single Story
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