Unmasking Racism in Education: The Power of DEI | The LP: EP 11

August 9, 2023

We live in a country where calls to address racism in education have been responded to with book bans, parent shaming, and instructional witch-hunts, and also where these calls have prompted institutions to invest in DEI, which stands for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Despite intentions, this isn’t always effective because it isn’t backed by another form of DEI: Deliberate, Earnest, and Inconvenient. Without the right mirrors, mindsets, and bold maneuvers, our structures and instruction in schools end up staying stay the same. It really does take a village to get this right. One village of experienced black women educators, Sharone Brinkley-Parker, Tracey L. Durant, Kendra V. Johnson, Kandice Taylor, Johari Toe, and Lisa Williams, came together to help other villagers and villages fight these injustices in their book Humanity Over Comfort: How You Confront Systemic Racism Head On. Join us as this band of sisters and I discuss the book and explore strategic, people-centered ways we can address system-fueled inequities in our schools.

Key Takeaways

  • The way this book was written models the way we cultivate equitable instruction. Collaborative brilliance and expertise, grounded in humility and honesty, can produce an experience that pushes the comfort and capacity of the learners.
  • In this era where DEI initiatives in education are starting to fade out our be fazed out, we have to ask: Where the conditions even set up for the work to take place? If not, what personal or professional harm was created as a result? And, what opportunities for equitable instruction were missed?
  • This work can lend to an honest analysis of power: the power we have, the power we don’t have, why we do or don’t have it, the power we have and exercise, the power we have but don’t exercise, can lead us into spaces of heart and mind, that can help us create new spaces of policy and practice for the classroom.
  • Conflict can cause chaos, or with intentionality, it can craft collaboration, the kind that can lead to a powerful change in how we deliver equitable instruction. Calibrating intentionality is hard, but if we place humanity over comfort, the way Drs. Parker, Durant, Williams, and Toe suggest, then I think we have a chance.

Humanity Over Comfort

About The Guests

Dr. Sharone Brinkley-Parker

Dr. Sharone Brinkley-Parker, a Baltimore native, has over 20 years of experience in education, focusing on leadership, curriculum, and equity in education. She has facilitated sessions at conferences like the Maryland Cultural Proficiency Conference, National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity, Maryland Multicultural Coalition Conference, and UnboundEd. Dr. Brinkley-Parker is a founding member of Greater Baltimore Health Improvement Initiative and Equity in Education Partners, working to dismantle structural and systemic racism and ensure access for multi-racial/multi-ethnic communities. Her passion for facilitating equity work drives her to make the invisible visible and champion for the voiceless.

Dr. Tracey L. Durant

Dr. Tracey Lynette Durant has over 20 years of experience in educational and non-profit fields, including specialist, director, executive director, program administrator, and learning assistance coordinator roles. She has led systemwide initiatives promoting equitable practices and structures for positive educational outcomes. Dr. Durant is a founding partner with Equity in Education Partners, an equity instructor with the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity, and a licensed consultant with the Standards for Excellence Institute. She has been recognized as a Millers-Coors/100 Black Men of America Ice Cold Leader, a Sojourner-Douglass College Distinguished Alum, and a CollegeBound Foundation Distinguished Alumni Award recipient. Dr. Durant is married to Bruce Jr. and the proud mother of Cheyenne and Bruce III.

Johari Toe

Ms. Johari Toe is a public school administrator with over 20 years of experience in education. She is dedicated to creating a purposeful, equitable, and engaging learning environment for all children. Toe has worked as a teacher, instructional coach, professional developer, Title I specialist, assistant principal, and principal in various Maryland school systems. She has invested in theory and practice of creating equitable work environments through professional development, discussing equity and education, and focusing on student groups.

Dr. Lisa Williams

Dr. Lisa Williams is a career educator with a diverse background, including teacher, mentor, university professor, and Title I director. She has presented on improving outcomes for marginalized student populations and has worked with the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE) and her independent company, EMCS. Dr. Williams has provided guidance on anti-racist organizational development, racial equity, gender equity in STEM, leading for equity, school transformation, and culturally responsive practices. She has also served as a subject matter expert with the U.S. Department of Education and is a board president for Restorative Response Baltimore. Dr. Williams has focused on systems transformation towards equitable access, creating certificate programs in educational equity and cultural proficiency with local Maryland Institutes for Higher Education. Her first book, When Treating All the Kids the Same Is the Real Problem, was published by Corwin in 2014.

About The LP: Literature in Practice

UnboundEd’s goal is to instill the GLEAM™ (Grade-Level, Engaging, Affirming, and Meaningful) instructional framework into classrooms across the nation with professional development, curated programs, and now with a brand new podcast series, The LP: Literature in Practice. Host Brandon White interviews the authors of today’s thought-provoking educational literature and connects the text to GLEAM.

About Brandon White

Brandon White is a former middle school ELA teacher and Restorative Practices educator for the Rochester City School District. He has worked for seven years as a servant leader intern and site coordinator for Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools Summer Literacy Programs in Rochester. He has also advocated for these practices through his participation in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Teacher Advisory Council and through providing professional development at BMGF-sponsored Elevate and Celebrate Effective Teaching and Teachers (ECET2) Conferences.