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.
It’s the last day of PoCC. And, each year, my heart is both full of love and heavy with sadness.
PoCC is special. It is an opportunity to be among so many people of color who are here for a common cause -- to lift each other up through our shared work in education. I am always so grateful for the opportunity to be in community with others in a way that feels so foreign when I’m home..
Throughout my time at the conference, I catch myself thinking:
- What would it mean if every professional who worked at the school was actionable in their commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion?
- What would it be like for me to walk into a room and not worry if I was going to be microaggressed?
- What would it feel like if I could know that people who worked with me all believed that diversity, equity and inclusion mattered?
- What could we achieve if everyone at our schools committed to the belief that Black Minds Mattered and that people of color's voices were centered?
I hope that we do not wait for another PoCC conference to feel good again. It truly takes the effort of lots of folks -- not just the ones returning from this conference -- to change our systems. How do we do this? Here are a few "do now" steps as you leave PoCC:
- Write/type the answer to this question: "Now that PoCC is over, what big questions do you still have?" and then create your list of who to talk to, reach out to, or network with to get those answers. Don't lose your momentum - stay activated and motivated for change.
- After you make that list, then identify the areas in which you can influence change, regardless of your positional power. Change up some of the books you have available in your classroom. Change up how you talk, participate, or engage in faculty/staff meetings (for some, that means listening more/talking more/ or making sure that if a person of color says something, they get credit for it!). Partner with your Diversity and Inclusion Office. Talk and listen to people of color.
- Find your people, especially if you are interested in growing in leadership. If those folks aren't at your school, reach out to those folks from other schools and set up a Skype or Hangout date. Be proximate to different communities.
- Contact strangers - one of my favorite things that happens post-conference is when people reach out to me (which you can do via my "contact Liza" form here!). Look up sessions you couldn't attend, Google the email of that person, and reach out. Also be kind - some of us experience that same racial/cultural taxation of constantly being "the one" to educate others. So, be mindful of time and engagement.
- Get a post-PoCC group together. Before your plane lands, find a common date for you and your colleagues to share out what you've learned at PoCC. Even if you are the only ones in the room, still hold the meeting. This helps others who didn't attend get a sense of what PoCC is about, and it also means you are extending the learning edges for them, too. Include some of your learning in your family newsletter that you send home.
- Start working on your program proposal for PoCC 2018! Before I leave, I have titles and sessions already mapped out. Make sure you submit proposals, team up with folks from other schools, and share opportunities for critical race conversations.
- Get working on your reading list. Did you go to a session and realize, "Wow, I know nothing about this topic?" Then, start your reading list. Each year, i focus my reading on authors from different racial/ethnic identities and do a deep dive. It's been one of the best things I have ever done.
Wishing you safe travels back to your homes, and looking forward to seeing you all next year at PoCC 2018!
Peace and power,