How are you so comfortable talking about race and equity issues?

I am facilitating a monthly book discussion with a team at work where we read and discuss a chapter of Coaching for Equity by Elena Aguilar. This is a small but mighty team who works very well together and we have built up trusting relationships. One of my colleagues asked me this question during our last discussion, “How are you so comfortable talking about race and equity issues”? When she first asked, I gave a brief answer about how I had a professor in my doctoral program start my cultural proficiency journey, and how I have tried to be aware of my personal bubble and ensure it isn’t all the same kind of voices (meaning, I have friends and family members with diverse identity markers).

When I went home that night, I really reflected on this question and my own learning journey. Most people who know me know that I don’t enjoy talking about myself non-stop, but I can write and reflect in much longer “discussions”! I decided to look back over my blog, where I have captured much of this journey, to outline what I have done over the last 8 years to be a better ally, a better advocate, a social justice leader, and a better citizen of this global society. I think it is important to be open and honest about this work, and for those who are just beginning their own DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) journey, to see what work others have done. I share this not as a roadmap, but a reflection.

Coaching for Equity book cover

  *   In January of 2014 I wrote a blog post about the books I was reading at that time, including those for my cultural proficiency class with Dr. Cheryl Ward
     *   The Art of Coaching by Elena Aguilar
     *   Cultural Proficiency: A Manual for School Leaders by Randall B. Lindsey, Kikanza Nuri Robins, & Raymond D. Terrell
     *   Culturally Proficient Leadership: The Personal Journey Begins Within by Terrell & Lindsey
  *   In March of 2014 I was actually deep into that class and reflected about my learning here. In this post I outlined 5 steps I believed educators needed to take in their own equity journey.
  *   In 2016, when I was reading The Art of Coaching Teams by Elena Aguilar, I was inspired to blog about my core values, one of which was equity.  I blogged about this multiple times:
     *   Core Values
     *   Revisiting Core values
     *   What are your core values?

  *   In November 2016, after the presidential elections, I wrote about how I was taking action, much of which was related to my equity journey.
  *   In January of 2017 I went to DC for the Women’s March, and wrote about Marching for Equity. I have attended multiple marches and protest in my own personal life, each of which is an education unto itself!
  *   In 2020, when I read Coaching for Equity the first time, I blogged a reflection about each chapter.  This is post #13, which has links to all the posts in the series.
  *   In summer of 2020 I joined a San Diego group called SURJ- Showing Up for Racial Justice. This group was created for white people, by white people, to teach us how to be allies for BIPOC communities.

* I have second-hand experience with both a young adult and an adult going through a transition, and have learned alongside friends and family members about gender identities.

* I have attended many PRIDE parades and festivals with friends and LGBTQIA allies.

* I have had conversations with friends and colleagues about my own biases and the institutional biases within our educational system.

Core Values activity

There are many ways to expand your own bubble, to ensure you are hearing voice difference from your own. This can happen through friends and family, through books and media, and by traveling outside of said bubble. Everyone who reads my blog also knows that I am an avid reader. While I love escaping into fun fiction, I have made a conscious effort to read nonfiction that continues to educate me on social justice issues, written by authors from a variety of identity markers to expand my perspectives. Below are a just a few of those titles as a reference:

     *   Raising Ryland– Hillary Whittington
     *   Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
     *   The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
     *   Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
     *   The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride
     *   Becoming by Michelle Obama (audiobook)
     *   For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood… and the Rest of Y’all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education by Christopher Emdin
     *   Culturally Responsive Teaching & The Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor Among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students by Zaretta Hammond
     *   The Truths We Hold: An American Journey by Kamala Harris [audiobook]How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
     *   I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
     *   Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds
     *   Me and White Supremacy: How to Recognise Your Privilege, Combat Racism and Change the World by Layla Saad
     *   White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism by Robin DiAngelo
     *   So You Want to Talk about Race by Ijeoma Oluo
     *   Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent by Isabel Wilkerson
     *   Leading While Female: A Culturally Proficient Response for Gender Equity by Trudy T. Arriaga, Stacie L. Stanley and Delores B. Lindsey
     *   The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee
     *   Start Here, Start Now: A Guide to Antibias and Antiracist Work in Your School Community by Liz Kleinrock
     *   You are Your Best Thing: Vulnerability, Shame Resilience, and the Black Experience edited by Tarana Burke and Brene Brown
     *   Miseducated: A Memoir by Brandon P. Fleming
     *   Raising Our Hands: How White Women Can Stop Avoiding Hard Conversations, Start Accepting Responsibility, and Find Our Place on the New Frontlines by Jenna Arnold
     *   Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist by Judith Heumann with Kristen Joiner
     *   Call Us What We Carry by Amanda Gorman

What has your own DEI journey looked like? Where have you lingered for deeper learning? Who are your teachers and mentors on the path? Where do you seek out new information and different perspectives? How are you learning to have necessary and important conversations? To me, this work matters for each and every human we interact with every day, in and out of schools. I practice this work on behalf of my family, my friends, my colleagues, our students, and our global community.

About Amy's Reflections

Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services in Southern CA, taking time to reflect on leadership and learning
This entry was posted in Reflection and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to How are you so comfortable talking about race and equity issues?

  1. Andree Grey says:

    I love how the coaching conversation with your team caused you to reflect back on “how you got here”! It is a testament to your commitment to self learning and unlearning.

    Andrée Grey, Ed.D.

    From: Reflections on Leadership and Learning
    Reply-To: Reflections on Leadership and Learning
    Date: Tuesday, February 22, 2022 at 10:00 AM
    To: Andree Grey
    Subject: [New post] How are you so comfortable talking about race and equity issues?

    Do you know this person? Were you expecting this email, any links or attachments? Does the content make sense? If suspicious, do not click links, open attachments, or provide credentials. Don’t delete it. Report it by forwarding to!

    Amy’s Reflections posted: ” I am facilitating a monthly book discussion with a team at work where we read and discuss a chapter of Coaching for Equity by Elena Aguilar. This is a small but mighty team who works very well together and we have built up trusting relationships. One of “

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