I am currently reading Coaching for Equity: Conversations That Change Practice by Elena Aguilar. Each chapter ends with a series of reflective questions for the reader to consider in our own equity and coaching journey, and I’ve decided to blog some of my reflections. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Chapter 3: How to Understand Race, Racism, and White Supremacy
I have spent the last 5 – 7 years diving into cultural proficiency work, learning more about myself and the white supremacy that has been the foundation of our nation and of the education system in our country. I’m so grateful that Aguilar spent so much time in this chapter going through history and definitions broadly and specifically about education.
Here is one of the reflective questions from the end of this chapter, which delved into the history of America, race, racism, and white supremacy.
At which points in this chapter did you experience cognitive dissonance?
The parts that gave me the most pause had to do with the power and use of language. There are many words that I have consciously eliminated from my vocabulary, as I’ve learned the history and the hurt these words contain. However, this chapter goes through many words that we need to rethink, some of which made me stop and consider how and when I’ve used them (i.e., at-risk, disadvantaged, ghetto, drop-outs, minority, frontlines, plan of attack, value-add, and dark).
This chapter really made me think about my own language, and when I have ignored or confronted this kind of language used by others. As an educational leader, it’s important to consider how to address problematic language when it occurs, because it will. We are not perfect and we will make mistakes. How we handle mistakes and address problems will define our equity work moving forward.
“It’s time we scrutinize and scrub our language of the violence of oppression. It’s time we begin using and teaching language of liberation.” ~ Elena Aguilar, page 96
The to do item at the end of this chapter is about continuing our own learning. As I looked over the Appendix full of additional resources, I was proud to see many books that I’ve read (many in the last few years). Here are a few that I’ve already read (the first 5) and a few that are on my to-be-read list:
- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- White Supremacy and Me by Layla Saad
- White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
- How to be an Antiracist and Stamped by Ibram X. Kendi
- New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
- We Want to do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom by Bettina Love
- Caste: The Origins of our Discontent by Isabel Wilkerson
What have you read that you would recommend to other educators? How has your language changed as you learn more about racism and white supremacy?
Coaching for Equity Reflections Series: