This post is part of a series for the National Association of Independent Schools and the People of Color Conference. Liza will be blogging throughout this week related to the conference.
"Get Out!” Nah, just kidding. Come on in!
Welcome to pre-conference day! Or, as many of us call it: The beginning of the best family reunion ever!
My friend Shanelle Robinson didn't disappoint, as she strolled in with her famous political t-shirts (this one was courtesy of Aunt Maxine "Reclaiming My Time").
Today, my colleagues Steven Tejada and Shanelle Robinson and I facilitated a session called: “Real World, Get Out! Using film as a springboard for discussions about race and racism" where we used Jordan Peele’s incredible film “Get Out!” as a metaphor for the lives of people of color in independent schools.
Steven, Shanelle and I all watched the film in our separate spaces: Steven is in D.C.; Shanelle is just outside New York City; and I’m about 20 minutes from Boston. Even in our three different worlds, we had similar reactions. We knew that the film wasn’t “horror” or even a “film” -- it was a documentary into the lives of people of color in independent schools.
For those following along, we focused on a few major symbols from the film: the sunken place, the silver spoon and hypnosis; Georgina; the camera flash, and cotton. Using each of these metaphors, we developed essential questions:
The Sunken Place: In what ways in your existence resistance?
Hypnosis: What aspects of independent school experiences render you immobile as a person of color?
Georgina: How have Black women, in particular, and people of color been discounted in the academy?
The camera flash: What does an awakening look like? What does an awakening do? What lenses do we see the world? Through what lenses do others see us?
Cotton: How do our historically oppressed identities serve as opportunities for challenging aspects of marginalization?
While the topic of the pre-conference was fun to explore, the best part of my experience was the the opportunity to hear how people experienced the film. What did it feel like to watch this film in predominantly Black/Brown spaces? What did it feel like to watch it in a predominantly White audience?
What do we hope people take away from our time together? We hope that folks got a chance to see how they were not alone -- even though they often feel in isolation -- in this work together. We wanted them to see that the sunken place was designed to make you feel small, invisible and helpless. But, that together, in the awakening, we are all each other’s camera flash.
How might you use this in your own schools?
- Host a screening (age matters here, folks!) and discussion
- Engage with colleagues about the film, using these symbols above and the essential questions
- Think about your own "imposter syndrome" and how it keeps you from moving forward -- then develop your action plan for how to grow!
- Check out this "Get Out" discussion guide from the Transform Culture Project
Peace and love,