When something blows my mind, I believe in sharing it.
You are welcome.
I received an email from my kid’s school superintendent today- no, not a personal one but I am sure it will take no time until he knows them by name. We get these emails rather frequently and whilst I mostly skim the 15+ paragraphs to find what is applicable to me, today, I found a few sections worth highlighting. The community in which we live is mainly white, middle and upper class and little diversity in the major categories. I am a progressive, BLM supporting lesbian mother and I admit that I struggled with the notion of not having diversity so visible in my new community. Because it meant I would have to consciously act, or not, to expose my family and myself to it. The selfish part of me thinks “that will be so much extra work” which is then smacked down by the “get out of your privilege and do the damn work” part of me. Which is where I currently sit, to ease your mind (Tim).
So today, in the email from the superintendent, he discussed the “Community Reads” program they started a few years ago to encourage the entire community (not just the students) to read books over the summer to help them expand their viewpoints and understanding of different cultures and racial inequalities they will face once they graduate and participate in the world. I had no idea such an initiative existed but it gave me goosebumps to know that the school was intentionally creating such opportunities because they recognized it as critical to the development of our kids. Directly from his email:
“ All of our students will be asked to be competitive workers in a society that assumes an ability to work in a diverse world. However, our students do not live in a multicultural setting in their daily educational environments. This requires an increased focus from us to help prepare our students and to best educate all of our students.” I was BLOWN AWAY by this unexpected surprise and also excited to read the books.
This summer’s book recommendations are:
- “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism” by Robin DiAngelo, Michael Eric Dyson (a MUST read- I learned a lot and will re-read again).
2. “Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do (Issues of Our Time)” by Claude Steele
3. Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man” by Emmanuel Acho.
Taking it one step further- the school district provides any and all of these books to any interested student or parent FOR FREE. Talk about putting their money where their mouth is. And then the NEXT section of the email was a request that parent’s talk with their kids about being respectful of all races and cultures different from their own, as they have noticed an uptick in comments and behaviors reflecting the opposite. The SUP explained how they were handling it within the school walls and also respectfully reminded the parents that it is their role to further the conversation at home. Another unexpected surprise- the school district was not going to let things go far without calling out everyone’s role in mitigating it. Another goosebump moment for me and also a relief and pride in the school district that we chose to send our children.
This got me thinking about unexpected surprises and their ability to fill you with joy, hope, excitement and renewal. This is what I experienced today, and I did my best to pay it forward to everyone I encountered afterward. I know this is not my typical blog post, but perhaps it has been an unexpected surprise to you to learn of some books worth reading OR maybe it sparked an idea in you for how to engage your local school district in working to promote diversity, acceptance and inclusion. Whatever the result, thank you for reading this far.
Now go change your world.