In a department meeting a few weeks ago, Christine Smith the Head of the Library Department shared her emotional reaction to the recent events, regarding race that has played out in the past few weeks in regards to the strain relationship between African Americans and the police here in America. She then challenged us to do more to contribute to the Black Lives Matter Movement. She challenged us to think about what we are doing now and how we can take our work as librarians a step further. How can we be a part of the solution? How can we keep the momentum of the movement consistent within our profession?
She challenged us to do more to contribute to the Black Lives Matter Movement. ... How can we be a part of the solution?If you browse our library collection we have created an extremely diverse book collection. That diversity spreads across divisions. As librarians we have challenged ourselves to take our work a step further. In addition to having books on diversity, equity, inclusion and anti racist work, we want to make bold steps to get members of the community to read these books. It is not enough to simply have these books on the shelves, we need to create opportunities for members of the community to read these stories, engage in conversations and do the work of tearing down systems of racism.
It is not enough to simply have these books on the shelvesWe decided to launch a new initiative to highlight books, movies, documentaries and podcasts that furthered our learning and gave us deeper understanding of our own bias and doing the work to uncover those biases. It is our hope that we can be a part of the facilitation that empowers members of the Wheeler Community to become interactive with media that enhances their understanding of race relations and begin the work of becoming allies, accomplices and antiracist. Below you will find the book, the documentary and the podcast that changed my perspectives and how I approach this important work.
Can We Talk About Race?: and other conversations in an era of school resegregation by Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph.D
An all school summer reading title for the 2016-2017 school year. Dr. Tatum highlights the need for African American students to see themselves reflected in classroom curriculum, expose racist and bias behavior of educators for the success of all students, and lastly she shares a personal story between her and her white friend and how they got to a place where they could talk about race. This book challenged me and encouraged me to have difficult and at times scary conversations with my colleagues. It encouraged me to read and educate myself about the factors that could be prohibiting students of color from being successful in the classroom. After reading this book I knew I had a responsibility to do the work to ensure, when students of color were in my space they saw themselves reflected.
This book challenged me and encouraged me to have difficult and at times scary conversations with my colleagues.Time: The Kalief Browder Story
This documentary brings light to the many injustices that African Americans experience within the criminal justice system. This documentary exposes the harsh punishments placed on African Americans, regardless of age. Kalief Browder, who was a high school student was accused of stealing a back pack. He was held with $3,000 bail, which his family was unable to pay. As a result he was brought to Rikers Island Jail in New York, where he was placed in solitary confinement for the majority of his time served there. This documentary not only exposed an issue of racism in the justice system, but we also see a lack of socioeconomic awareness and no regard for the mental health of an African American teen. This documentary changed the way I redirect students, always assessing my bias to make sure I am not being harsh on students of color. I work hard to ensure that expectations and consequences are, developmentally appropriate and culturally appropriate. This work is ongoing for me and important for me to continually engage in, for the success of all my students.
Teaching Tolerance- Teaching Hard American History: American Slavery Podcast
I love this podcast. I highly recommend this for all classroom teachers. Our American history is hard. However, we have a responsibility to tell our students the truth even when it makes us uncomfortable. Our students hold the future and we want to make sure history does not repeat. We must teach them to embrace diversity, equity, inclusion and advocacy.