Courageous Conversations about Race
Courageous Conversations about Race have been occrring in every school in PPS. At Lincoln, we this year began, as a staff and community, to really delve into work that would build our awareness and knowledge on how race, racism, and white supremacy are perpetuated in our country, city, and school. This process has been built with intention, and although it is challenging at times, it has offered space for our staff to begin to process and question their own racial bias and how this impacts their daily lives and work with our students and families. As a school community, we are committed to doing things differently and have a common understanding that change does not happen overnight; that there is no “quick fix”. Because we know this, we know that we must constantly be engaged in this work and be open to discomfort; we must be honest and open with ourselves and each other if we are going to begin to dismantle institutions that uphold racism and begin to create a more equitable school for our kids and our families.
To that end, Lincoln staff is pursuing the Courageous Conversations approach recommended by the Pacific Education Group (PEG) based in California. The author of the book Courageous Conversations About Race, Glenn Singleton, is working closely with PPS to lead our efforts in this area.
Lincoln Staff have discussed the following topics with these key concepts and vocabulary.
- Racial Autobiographies
- Racial Bias
- U.S. Racial Historical Timeline
- 3 Expressions of Racism: Personal, Cultural and Institutional
- Intent Vs Impact
- Decentering Whiteness
- Race: The color of one's skin and/or physical features
- Ethnicity: Where my people are from
- Nationality: Country of origin
- Culture: The characteristics of a particular group of people, defined by everything from language, religion, cuisine, social habits, music and arts.
- White Supremacy: The idea (ideology) that white people and the ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and actions of white people are superior to People of Color and their ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and actions.
- Oppression: The systematic subjugation of one social group by a more powerful social group for the social, political, and economic benefit of the more powerful social group.
- Racism: Racial prejudice + social and institutional power. A system of advantage based on race. A system of oppression based on race. A system designed to maintain white supremacy.
- Institutional Racism: The way in which the structures, systems, policies, and procedures of institutions in the U.S. are founded upon and then promote, reproduce, and perpetuate advantages for white people and the oppression of people of color
- Cultural Racism: Cultural norms lift up or empower white people and support policies and practices of institutions that promote or perpetuate white supremacy while disempowering and exploiting people of color.
These links are to articles the Lincoln staff has, or will be, reading and discussing:
- Between the World and Me By Ta-Nehisi Coates
- The New Jim Crow By Michelle Alexander
- A Case for Reparations By Ta-Nehisi Coates
- Will Racism Ever End? Will I Ever Stop Being a Nigger? By Kevin Powell
- The Racist History of Portland, the Whitest City in America By Alana Semuels
Parents and student are invited to join the LHS staff in a Courageous Conversation. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org more information.
The Four Agreements
Stay Engaged-- Listening for your partners’ benefit, not just for your benefit. Modeling the listening behaviors that you seek
Speak Your Truth -- Having the courage to share your experience/perspective and asking questions of your partners that will encourage them to share theirs.
Experience Discomfort-- Searching out experiences/perspectives different from your own. Having the courage to ask your partners to ask questions of you.
Expect/Accept Non-Closure-- Not looking to solve/answer all of the questions. Not looking for the solution/answer. Looking for a different question that will help us to find a different solution.
The Six Conditions
1.Focus on Personal, Local and Immediate
3.Normalize Social Construction & Multiple Perspectives
4.Monitor Agreements, Conditions and Establish Parameters
5.Use a “Working Definition” for Race
6.Examine the Presence and Role of “Whiteness”