In 2015, I spent a large amount of time devoted to learning more about equity and inclusion. My work at the Multicultural Teaching Institute in Weston, MA and the National Diversity Directors Institute in Potomac, Maryland transformed me and lit a fire within. I truly am committed to making the school experience of my students a more equitable experience, but man, is it hard sometimes! It’s hard for me and it’s hard for others.
Despite my dedication and knowledge, I make mistakes. I don’t always realize when I am creating disadvantages or inflicting bias. I don’t like when people question my beliefs or behaviors. I struggle with my own privilege and often still don’t see when I am advantaged. I get frustrated with other adults who don’t see the importance of these issues or cannot admit they may have a role. In doing so, I may sometimes put them off instead of turning them on. I worry.
The one thing I have taken away through all I have read, listened to, and communicated is how much this is a journey for me and everyone else. And what I have to remind myself is though the destination may be the same, how we travel and the roads we take are very different.
I need to accept that I do not know everything yet and that I will learn more. I must remember that I may know more than others and be inspired by small growth. I have to acknowledge that this journey is one of the most difficult I will face as an educator, that failure is inevitable, and forgiveness is sacred.
All these things take courage, which is why they are so difficult. It takes courage to admit we may be prejudiced. It takes courage to admit that we are in fact biased. It takes courage to admit that not all students share the same experience and we may have a role in that. It takes courage to look deep inside ourselves and admit we may have done things wrong in the past. It takes courages to acknowledge that even when we try our best, we can still fail. It takes courage to admit we’re flawed.
But it also takes courage to not give up, to keep fighting when people are fighting you, to be willing to learn more, to be uncomfortable, to feel alone in the fight, to find solace in others, to admit you don’t know everything. To ask for help.
This year, 2016, my intention is to be courageous. Are you with me?