Waking Up White

By Brian Johnson, Diversity Coordinator

This week's Diversity In-service Workshop was a moving, brave, eye-opening, and darn right awesome experience! The workshop focused on processing our assigned summer reading book, Waking Up White by Debby Irving. The story relates Irving’s journey to embrace her white identity and her efforts to affect positive change in areas of diversity. Faculty and staff discussed the book in affinity groups based on race, so that individuals could process ideas and sections of the story with people who come from similar backgrounds and experiences. The affinity groups were followed by a whole-group discussion that went well over its intended time – but there were no regrets.  Hug, kisses, tears, and hand-holding closed the discussion, which was followed by an impromptu group singing of Stand by Me

It was truly a special moment.  This may sound a tad bit hokey, but it was much more than that.  Faculty members took chances by sharing thoughts, ideas, and stories that they might have previously kept to themselves.  People felt emboldened to stand up and speak their minds.  New tools and skills were acquired today that will help our educators in the classroom.  We know we have a huge responsibility to provide an equitable experience for ALL of our children, and today was yet another step in that direction!  Today’s session laid the foundation for next week’s workshop, in which we will focus on the idea that it is every teacher’s and administrator’s job to be a "diversity practitioner."