Monday, June 24, 2019

Working against a white supremacist culture

The list below helps us to work against a narrow White supremacist culture towards a more inclusive
culture. Attributes of a White supremacist culture are found by clicking the link to this article.
The list below shows ways that we can work against a narrow White supremacist culture using these
key actions:

  • Appreciation
  • Embracing and learning from mistakes
  • Deal w/problems right away w/good process
  • Start with the positives
  • Encourage people to solve their problems, support them
  • Reasonable and realistic work plans
  • Good work takes time
  • Make time as a team to discuss what respect for diversity and inclusion looks like at school
  • Decide on the processes you will use for problem solving with colleagues
  • Know that abuse will happen, and when it does, it's time to act
  • Be aware of and deconstruct defensiveness
  • Establish process and quality goals that reflect how you want to do the work
  • Establish value statements - what do we value?
  • Emphasize and model that there are many ways to successfully learn & study
  • Together we do better
  • Understand the roles of others in the organization, observe, listen and learn from them
  • Use continuum think, don't oversimplify
  • Assume everyone has a valid point of view and world view and work to understand that
  • Avoid making important decisions under pressure
  • Give people breathing room; don't create or expect tight protocols for sharing important issues
  • Use seven generation thinking/acting
  • Use a broader lens for cost assessment including morale, credibility, use of resources
  • Welcome review and critique
  • Sit with discomfort
  • Deepen your understanding of racism and oppression

An online colleague sent me an article related to working against a white supremacist culture.

I took a close look at the notes from this article and made a list to help me incorporate the ideas into the teaching/learning culture. With regard to inclusion of all cultures and fair use of power in the school setting, I believe that we can better what we do overall in the following ways:
  • Make sure that we are finding ways to communicate well with all families, students, and staff that work with us and our students.
  • Make sure that we are taking problems seriously, even small problems, and working as a broader team to solve those problems.
  • Listening closely to the goals and objectives of the people we work with including families, students, colleagues, administrators, and community members, and finding win-win ways to synthesize those objectives into a strong teaching/learning program. 
As I read through the notes, the following points spoke to me. 
  • “Don’t let perfect get in the way of good”; beware of perfectionism
  • Express appreciation, acknowledge what’s right about an organization, group, effort
  • Strengths based teaching/leadership; acknowledge strengths before dissecting/analyzing challenges.
  • Go hard on the problem, not the people - see mistakes for what they are, stepping stones to success.
  • Make the time to reflect, dissect, and learn from mistakes as a community
  • Work as a team with honesty and respect for one another to better what we can do.
  • Think long term, make time to analyze and improve efforts.
  • Use democratic process for decision making.
  • Don’t sacrifice allies for quick, visible results--take the time needed to work in inclusive ways that build community.
  • Be reasonable about what’s expected--match funding, time realistically with efforts and objectives.
  • Revisit organizational structure to make sure that everyone has the power and support they need to do their jobs well.
  • Invite critique and open dialogue about all initiatives, efforts.
  • Set protocols related to having an open mind, good process, and fair analysis when it comes to new ideas and initiatives
  • Find ways to eliminate defensiveness and replace it with acceptance, open minds, good process, and respect with regard to new ideas, initiatives, honest analysis, and efforts to improve.
  • Don’t let a focus on quantity overtake a focus on quality; value quality of relationships, democratic process, and ability to constructively deal with conflict.
  • Embrace emotion and feelings.
  • Communication is more than words; take note of the many ways ideas, response, and experiences are communicated in your organization.
  • Value more than the ability to communicate in writing, take note of the many ways that people demonstrate and use a variety good skills such as relationship building in an organization.
  • Understand and embrace the fact that there are many paths to doing good work, not just one. Understand and embrace multiple positive paths and ways of looking at and acting in similar situations.
  • Be explicit and inclusive with decision making processes; and be open to related questions and ideas.
  • Make time to listen to others; hear their point of view, and work together to synthesize ideas, objectives, goals.
  • Use continuum think rather than either/or think.
  • See the details and complexity of issues; listen to what all members of a team have to say.
As I think of all these points and the article in general, it seems that the more we can truly regard every individual we work alongside with as a valuable, essential, and worthy member of the team, someone we can learn from and with, and an essential individual in our collective efforts to teach well, the better we will be able to deconstruct detrimental white supremacist attitudes and behaviors of the past.

Related links and resources: