Race Institute at TPS

by Cinda Edgerton, Primary Unit teacher

We gathered as a group on Thursday, and as a way to get a sense of who was in the room, we arranged ourselves in order of how close to TPS we were born and then shared a brief message about ourselves.  This was the start of a three-day Race Institute workshop hosted by TPS.

The intent of the workshop was to help us develop an understanding of our own racial identity. We were given much written information and used various exercises to develop and explore our own biases, assumptions, and insights.  A few notable examples were the following:

  • We used a "chalk talk" format to compare terms by writing our own thoughts on the terms and responding to the comments of others. For example, we compared "racial microaggression" with "collusion," "equity and justice" with "equality," "color blindness" with "racism," "white privilege" with "cultural appropriation," and "multiculturalism" with "anti-racism."
  • We gathered feelings we associated with being in the margins of society and compared them to feelings with being in mainstream, and then we discussed the ways those feelings manifest in behavior, and the assumptions that arise from those behaviors.
  • We heard from a panel of high school students from Friends Select School who spoke about their experiences as students of color in their school, and we had the valuable opportunity to hear their thoughts on ways that teachers could be allies to them.

We met in a variety of structures, sometimes whole group, sometimes small groups, and also in affinity groups. Over the course of the three days, we shared many stories. I appreciated the skill with which we were led by Toni Williamson and Sarah Halley, as we explored topics that were intensely personal, and sometimes painful.

I am very grateful to have participated in this work. I made new connections that I treasure, and I was so glad to have been in the company of Terry Maguire, Chantal Barr, Tim Jones, and Steve Bartholomew.  It's my hope that we will continue the difficult and crucial work we engaged in over the three days.