SOMSD BOE ELECTIONS -REPORT CARD PROJECT 2018

Letter to the candidates:
October 3,,2018
Dear Candidate,

I am writing on behalf of the local grassroots group “SOMA JUSTICE”, in collaboration with Parents in Partnership for Respect and Equity (P.A.R.E.S).
Last year we began this process of gathering written responses to questions focused on equity and inclusion. Identifiers were removed from the candidates responses and read and scored by local volunteers. Those candidates that gave answers most aligned with our mission were identified as ‘high scorers’ on race and equity. The feedback was disseminated in the form of a report card. The report card was shared via social media and local news outlets as a tool to assist the local community in the decision making process.

We appreciate the numerous panels and public events being offered for the public to glean an understanding of your platform; however not all of our members are able to attend such events. Ultimately we are aiming to evaluate how candidates plan to address race and inequality most effectively in our district.

We are asking for your written response to questions shared in the attached document. In addition to a yes or no answer, we are giving you the opportunity to share your thoughts, ideas, and experiences. Once we have collected responses, they will be anonymously reviewed and evaluated by educational researchers not affiliated with the South Orange/Maplewood community. We will share results in an easily accessible report card. To review the report card from last year and understand the process please click here

I, Dr. Jane Bleasdale, am acting as the liaison to the groups engaged in this process. As an engaged scholar, academic researcher and practitioner, I am professionally immersed in the work of equity and inclusion and am acting as an independent (volunteer) consultant to the group. I am also a community member and parent of two students in the district. I see your work as fundamental to the success of all of our kids and thank you for being willing to serve.
Please find the questions attached, please take time to read and respond and email your repose to me by October 12.

If you have any questions about the process, or the work we are engaged in, please do not hesitate to contact me directly. Thank you for being willing to participate in the important process as a candidate of the Board of Education of South Orange Maplewood School District (SOMA).

If you have any questions or would like further information please contact me directly,

Best wishes and THANK YOU again for being willing to serve !

Jane E.Bleasdale PhD

QUESTIONS

Questions for BOE candidates from the social justice group: Addressing Race and Inequality in SOMA .Please submit typed answers on this document before October 12 !

1. Do you believe the district’s access and equity policy introduced in 2016 goes far enough in addressing the issues of inequity in our district (particularly in regards to vulnerable populations, i.e., POC, queer, special needs, immigrant, second-language learners, etc)?What are the benefits of the plan ? What are the highest priority areas still needing improvement ?
2.What are your thoughts and/or plans to move SOMSD forward in dismantling the segregation and racial achievement gap that exist in our schools ? ( i.e. teacher education, policy review etc)
3. Do you think that SOMSD should take steps to address the racially disproportionate discipline of students in regards to suspensions and expulsions, and the disproportionate number of students of color placed in special education? If yes, please explain how.
4.What are the most important safety and security issues facing the district ?How do you believe SOMSD schools can be a safe environment for ALL students ?Do you support the placement of School Resource Officers in SOMSD schools?
5. Do you support the redistricting component of the capital improvement plan ? What do you see as the potential strengths and weaknesses of the plan ?

Please note there is a clarification for question 5.

Do you support the redistricting component of the capital improvement plan ? What do you see as the potential strengths and weaknesses of the plan ?

The Superintendent referred to this part of the plan as reconfiguration not redistricting.

Do you support the reconfiguration component of the capital improvement plan approved by the BOE ? What do you see as the potential strengths and weakness of the capital improvement plan ?

Information on the plan can be found here SOMSD CAPITAL PLAN

If you are an incumbent please explain how you have worked to address racism and inequality in SOMSD during your previous tenure.

ReZoning Public Schools: A neighbors guide to (civil) discourse

This is a preliminary attempt at a parent/neighbors guide to positively supporting the rezoning of SOMSD – how to talk to those who are reluctant to change.
I welcome your feedback !
June 17, 2018

Dear Allies and Concerned Community Members,

I am a parent, and educator and an educational researcher . I have followed the district’s struggles with inequity since 2013. And I truly believe that the rezoning proposed is a significant step in the right direction – moving forward to desegregate our schools is long overdue.

So here are some talking points – for those of you who are allies and want to know where to begin, how to share the ideas with neighbors and friends in positive ways. Hope it helps !

Q: Why is SOMSD rezoning ?
A: In a NUTSHELL to address the inequalities in our schools – mostly the racial inequities.

Q: Why is rezoning essential for racial equity ?
A: Because of the income inequalities in our hyper racialized society not everyone can afford to live in certain areas of our town. Housing inequity goes all the way back to the slavery, home ownership was something white folks have passed down from generation to generation – POC, specifically those of African descent have not had the same benefits.
Federal and state laws have been passed to balance these inequities but they will take decades to impact the inequities.This is called the Fair Housing Act for more information follow this link FHA

Q: Why do we need to desegregate the schools ?
A: All students regardless of their socio economic background deserve a fair and equal education – that is the basis of Public education. Socio economics are impacted by race and so when white and privileged students often receive more resources in their schools. Because students of color, specifically Black and Latinx students, recent immigrants and those who are English Language Learners deserve the same educational experience as others.

Q: But how will this impact my (white) kids?
A: Look your kids already have a gazillion benefits – this will, as it happens , have a positive impact on them. BTW have you ever thought about white privilege and the seen and unseen ways you and your kids benefit from it ?To learn more about White Privilege read this article – which was one of the first on the topic ‘Unpacking the Invisible KnapSack’. By Peggy McIntosh Peggy McIntosh

Q: Do you really believe that ? We had a Black President, we live in a post racial society!
A: No we don’t.
For an overview of racism and white privilege here is a 101 article Racism and White Privilege

Q: OK so racism exists but can I really solve it ?
A: The only way racism will end is if we all work to end it ….
Racism exists everywhere, it is in the air we breathe. Beverly Daniel-Tatum – renowned author, educator and national expert (spoke at the Coalition on Race twice) describes the work against this as travelling up a down escalator. For more information and some excellent reads go to Dr.Daniel Tatum’s website. Dr.Daniel-Tatum

Q: I did not know the purpose of public education is not so that our kids can do better than others. The common good, that sounds like some liberal BS –
A: The purpose of education is the ‘common good’ – when we are not supporting the common good and only meeting the needs of certain students we are violating the very purpose of public schools. NC Board of Education has embraced this ideal – linked here NCBOE

Q: But how do I benefit from the common good ?
A:This article from 1983 explains the benefits for the US market ( may appeal to the pro capitalists) PublicSchoolandthecommongood

Q: I just think this is some socialist BS – I have worked hard to get where I am ….
A:You’re probably not a fan of Huffpost, but let me tell you about an article I read that explains it really well. This Huff Post Article offers a really good summary of common good HUFFPOST
Also noone worked harder than those who were enslaved and built the very infrastructure of this country – and that’s the basis of the inequity….This article explains the evolution of education and the ‘gross inequalities ‘ in a really succinct way. Lots of links articles cited edweekarticle

Q: Maybe I Will just send my kids to private school!
A: That’s your choice but the value of good public education is something we all benefit from …Purpose Of publiced

Q: I don’t believe what I do really impacts all of this
A: Well it does, and so does the ideas and decisions of your neighbours , family and friends. Our system is not working, some schools have more resources US history shows that desegregation and integration is essential LOC

Q: But it isn’t an issue at my kids school …
A: But it is, it just isn’t an issue for your kid – yet. We have not achieved integration. School segregation is not a myth – and we suffer as a result of it.Integration. Do you really want your kid to be successful at the expense of other kids ?
As desegregation happened in the cities – it was once again done on the’ back of ‘ POC. That is white students were not bussed to ‘black schools’ but black students were bussed to white schools, which were hostile and unwelcoming places. When this was ruled unconstitutional white folks began what we call ‘white flight’ they fled to the suburbs ….Desegregation

Q: This is why we moved here – for the good schools
A: Me too – but I want good schools for everyone, not just my kids !
This NY times articles focus on why desegregation should be on the top of the agenda for public school reform School Reform

Q: I just don’t see how this will benefit my kid
A: It will trust me ( it always does)‘How desegregation changed us’ is an article from Teachers College about desegregation positively impacts everyon TV article

Q: I don’t want my kids test scores to go down…
A: They won’t – most of the standardised tests are culturally biased and so white kids will always do better in them anyway ..but the achievement gp won’t affect your kid. And integration will benefit everyone.The achievement gap more appropriate called the opportunity gap exists in society and in our school district. This article explains the achievement gap and societies lack of concern around it ( by society read white folks) Achievement Gap

Q: I’ve heard about that ,I just assumed it was because kids didn’t have you know, two parents, a stable home life.
A: We can get into that topic another day = that’s a myth that is ut out there look at these statistics…we all suffer if we keep things the same way.National Center for Statistics – all the date you need on this topic NCES The Racial Achievement Gap – and its impact on the US Atlantic

Q: What causes the achievement gap ?
A:It’s not always the socio economic, or the parental homelife – there are many reasons why it exists …..and the solutions include integrated schools and shared resources National Education Association

Q: But we have the best teachers in the district …
A: Says who ? according to what ? Define best ? Listen to what the teachers are saying …Causes of and solutions to the achievement gap National Study of teachers Solutions

Q:teachers are humans too we can’t expect them to solve all the worlds issues
A: No we can’t but we can work with them to provide better opportunities for all of our kids, do you know the HUGE impact teachers have on student success ?ANother issue that impacts student success is teacher bias, The Harvard Implicit Bias research is well documented – and the impact this has on education is explained here Implicit Bias

Q: But what about my kids getting ahead in the world – won’t their chances be negatively impacted by this . after all we bought a house on _____ street so they could go to ________ school.
A: Just because you bought your house there does not mean you have the right to the local school ….that is not written into our laws as a town, state or nation. What is written is that everyone has the right to a free and equal education and that just is not happening right now in SOMSD. This is what zoning means, this is why we need to do it ,
Overview of zoning practices explained here Zoning

Q: I chose the school …
A: then you chose a racist segregated community – and we need to move past it School boundaries cause segregation Boundaries

Q: But my kids …
A: Look you probably dislike NPR as well but humor me, your kids will be fine…NPR story on how segregation benefits whites and harms POC NPR

Q: It seems’ like an impossible undertaking ….
A: Other districts have done this and we need to as well ……Desegregated By Intent

IN CONCLUSION …. here is the article you were probably hoping for when you came to this page,,,If so if you are still reading …benefits or HERE or HERE

Looking forward to doing this work with you !

Unfortunately the hyper links do not work here so please click on this LINK

Jane E.Bleasdale PhD
http://www.janebleasdale.com
email:bleasdale.erc@gmail.com

J² CAMBODIA 2018

 

This Spring I am traveling to Cambodia with a team from the University of San Francisco-School of Education. I am taking my son Justin ( hence J²)

Follow us here for daily updates

Twitter: @janeyb70
.Saturday/Sunday/Monday TRAVEL

We flew to Tokyo/Japan from San Francisco.The flight took fourteen hours. Then we flew to Bangkok/Thailand which took 6 hours. Then we stayed at the hotel called the Centerra which was a very fancy hotel. There was fifty five floors in the whole entire Hotel. They had a pool and a bar on the roof. We went to a restaurant inside of the mall right next to the hotel that had some really interesting food. One of the unique foods were ox tongues. Thailand people are really friendly they bow and smile when they greet you and to say thank you – or you are welcome. We asked how to say thank you Krub Khun Ka. For breakfast I had an omelette on fried rice for lunch ( I slept through breakfast)
When we walked through the city I noticed there is alot if ‘unity’ in Bangkok – unlike America every sign has the information in at least 5 languages, Thai, Japanese, CHinese , English and Spanish. A Lot of people speak English – because the country was ruled by England as a colony.
We stayed at the hotel for two nights and then had a really early flight to CAMBODIA

Then we took a flight to Cambodia/Siem Reap. We went to a hotel called Lotus Blanc. They had a pool and when we walked outside the first thing I saw was a man Knocking off coconuts on the trees.

Tuesday
Then we took a flight to Cambodia/Siem Reap. We are staying at a hotel called Lotus Blanc. They have a pool and when we walked outside the first thing I saw was a man Knocking off coconuts from the trees – when we arrived at the hotel they served us with Lemongrass tea – in glasses ( not teacups). Everyone at the hotel is Khmer – that means they are Cambodian. THey ALL speak English, some not very well but they want to speak to us all the time to ractive their English.

Cambodia was a French colony – so the hotel is in a French colonial style – when we went to the pool we saw people from all over the world. Italy, Germany, Spain, China, Japan. Lots of people work here doing menial ( jobs that are not paid well and now what I would want to do )A Lot of the hotels are decorative and rich – but where people live is very different. A Lot of Cambodians are very poor – there are some wealthy Cambodians but they do not share their wealth.
The main transportation here is Tuck tuck, and motor bikes. THe traffic is CRAZY people cut each other off, drive really close to each other .A Tuck Tuck is a carriage being pulled by a motorbike. Sitting in the tuk tuk we can almost touch the people driving by on motorbikes .

The climate

The weather here is topic and hot it is monsoon season so it has rained every day- at the hotel there are several ponds with fish in them – there is a HUGE fish that looks like a ….It is humid but different from New Jersey –

The city of Siem Reap

Siem Reap is really busy, there are lots of street markets, sidewalk stores, it is not what I expected. The roads are concrete – not a lot of dirt roads. There are alot of American companies – Starbucks, McDOnald’s, Burger King, Pepsi and Coke is everywhere. They also have lot of things you won’t find in many places – like the fruit. Dragon fruit and coconuts are being sold at the side of the street.
The food stores and street vendors have food just ganingin the oen – ducks, snakes,
On the menu last night there was stuffed frog – I just had beef !

The buildings almost all have flat roofs and they are very low – this is because of the rains, during the monsoon season it can rain for three months.

Sunday May 27 – update
So, blogging takes more than we realized – we have been so busy we have not had the energy to write in the evening and not having cellular service (we chose to go low tech) means the hotel room is our only internet. Anyway, enough excuses.

We did two school visits the main purpose of our time in Cambodia – we went to Xavier Jesuit School – the Jesuits have started this school in an area left devastated by the killing field. The school is so unique in so many ways and there is a lot we can learn from them…. As a community based project the local community is welcome at the school day and night, children play on the grounds, adults can come to the language classes in the evenings ad earn alongside their kids, when the site is finished there will be space for 12o students to live on campus.
Supported by International volunteers the school is staffed mainly Cambodians – Khmer folks who live locally – as well as teaching all day they are learning English – because the school is dual immersion.

Justin visited the school with us and sent hours playing football with the other kids, speaking and learning some Khmer and engaging the eager hosts with their English. Kids as young as 5 were able to say hi and introduce themselves to us.

At this Jesuit school, there are no lockers or locked spaces —- there is a true sense of community. Justin noticed right away that students were happy – that they could leave their belongings anywhere and that kids of all ages were playing together.

The auditorium doubles as a gym, community meeting space and performing arts space. There is an art room and a music room – the only school in the province (State) that has fine and performing arts! In the afternoons, the 8th grade work on their project – a garden for vegetables and fruit. It was great to see kids joyfully tilling the land, working as a team and enjoying the environment.

It was an introduction for the partnership we hope to build between USF and the schools here – we have much to learn!
Xavier Jesuit School Cambodia

BOE CANDIDATES – SOMSD 2017

BOEHighScorersThe Board of Education for the South Orange Maplewood School District has 8 candidates vying for 3 positions. We recently consulted on a process to evaluate participants commitment to equity and racial inequality. Here are the details:

SOMA Justice: Addressing Race and Inequality provided 9 questions to each candidate on addressing the issues of inequity in our district (particularly in regards to vulnerable populations, i.e., POC, queer, special needs, immigrant, second-language learners, etc)

Representatives of  P.A.R.E.S.  and SOMA Justice were asked to ‘grade’ the answers

based on the group’s values and expectations for BOE representatives.

UPDATED INFORMATION ON THE PROCESS

STATEMENT FROM DR.J.BLEASDALE (VOLUNTEER CONSULTANT)

Over the summer when the BOE candidates were announcing their intention to run, the group SOMA JUSTICE: Addressing Race and Inequality began discussing how they could learn more about the candidates’ focus on equity issues and decide which candidates had the most equitable forum.The group was looking for new and innovative ways to engage the process.

An idea that was shared was to have a report card style evaluation similar to one seen in political elections. The group leaders engaged membership on ways to gather data and move forward.

The group was looking for new and innovative ways to engage the process -Knowing that many organisations host panels, locals offer coffee houses, park picnics and even cocktail parties to give their candidates of choice a forum to meet the community-  SOMA JUSTICE wanted a further reach – to really focus on the topics concerning to their membership.The idea for the report card was suggested using focused questions. Group member and educational researcher and consultant Jane Bleasdale volunteered to facilitate the process in collaboration with the group leadership.

Members of SOMA JUSTICE who also work with SEPAC ( Special Education Parents Advisory Committee) knew the execs of SEPAC had been successful in recent years in soliciting and sharing written responses from the candidates and decided to use a similar model. Unlike SEPAC however, this group went a step further – they gathered  participants answers and shared them with group representatives who then graded candidate responses using the groups priorities as a guideline.

Several local groups were invited  by the leadership of SOMA JUSTICE to participate in the process :

  • Parents in Partnership for Respect and Equality (PARES),
  • Community Coalition on Race,
  • Black Parents’ Workshop,
  • SOMA Action,
  • MAPSO Freedom School.

Once the questions were formulated ( with input from many invited voices) and the process was decided two groups withdrew. ( BPW and Mapso Freedom School).

The candidates were then invited to participate and given 10 days to respond.

Once we received the answers we removed ALL identifiers. The objective questions were shared via a document where candidates were simply identified by letter.

The narratives were also stripped of identifiers . This was done by two qualified educational researchers with experience in the field. ( Not Dr. White or Dr.Bleasdale but other researchers volunteering their time – people not connected to the district).

The answers were shared ‘blindly’ with  representatives from the remaining groups

  • Parents in Partnership for Respect and Equality (PARES),
  • Community Coalition on Race,
  • SOMA Action,
  • SOMA Justice

Ultimately the answers were evaluated from representatives of TWO of the original SIX groups. – P.A.R.E.S and SOMA JUSTICE

The scores were collated and tallied using a simple mean average  according to best practices in educational research.. No one person is responsible for the final numbers

This is the original invitation shared with BOE candidates:

September 27, 2017

Dear Candidate,

I am writing on behalf of the local grassroots group “SOMA JUSTICE”, in collaboration with Parents in Partnership for Respect and Equality (PARES), Community Coalition on Race, Black Parents’ Workshop, SOMA Action, and MAPSO Freedom School. We invite you to share your thoughts, experiences and ideas as a candidate in the specific area of justice and inequality.

We appreciate the numerous panels and public events being offered for the public to glean an understanding of your platform; however not all of our members are able to attend such events. Ultimately we are aiming to evaluate how candidates plan to address race and inequality most effectively in our district.

We are asking for your written response to questions shared in the attached document. In addition to a yes or no answer, we are giving you the opportunity to share your thoughts, ideas, and experiences. Once we have collected responses, they will be anonymously submitted to a representative member group to be read and rated; any identifiers will be removed to ensure fairness. We will share results in an easily accessible guide. SOMA Justice (and possibly other allied groups) will be making our BOE endorsement based on this survey.

I, Dr. Jane Bleasdale, am acting as the liaison to the groups engaged in this process. As an engaged scholar, academic researcher and practitioner, I am professionally immersed in the work of equity and inclusion and am acting as an independent (volunteer) consultant to the group. I am also a community member and parent of two students in the district. I see your work as fundamental to the success of all of our kids and thank you for being willing to serve.

In order to be included, please submit your answers to me via email no later than October 8, 2017 to bleasdale.erc@gmail.com.

If you have any questions about the process, or the work we are engaged in, please do not hesitate to contact me directly. Thank you for being willing to participate in the important process as a candidate of the Board of Education of South Orange Maplewood School District (SOMA).

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Jane E. Bleasdale, Ph.D.

Bleasdale Educational Research and Consulting gathered the responses and collated the data independently.The questions and candidates answers, in full, can be read here. Candidates answers

The process for gathering and analyzing the data can be read here SOMSD BOE PROCESS

Questions:

Questions for BOE candidates from the social justice group: Addressing Race and Inequality in SOMA

  1.     Do you believe the district’s access and equity policy introduced in 2016 goes far enough in addressing the issues of inequity in our district (particularly in regards to vulnerable populations, i.e., POC, queer, special needs, immigrant, second-language learners, etc)? Yes or No

Please clarify your answer.

  1.              Do you have a specific plan to move the SOMSD forward in dismantling the segregation and racial achievement gap that exist in our schools ? Yes or No

Please clarify your answer (in addressing both segregation and the racial achievement gap)

  1.              Do you support a vision for a new approach to professional development including a holistic, culturally-informed, comprehensive, systematic and sustained equitable practices?  Yes or No

Please clarify your answer.

  1.              Do you think that SOMSD should take steps to address the racially disproportionate discipline of students in regards to suspensions and expulsions, and the disproportionate number of students of color placed in special education? Yes or No

Please clarify your answer.

  1.              Have you had any training or professional development on addressing racism and inequality in education ? Yes or No

Please clarify your answer.

  1.              Do you support the placement of School Resource Officers in SOMSD schools.Yes or No

Please clarify your answer.

  1.              Are you open to the creation of a small, special/private fund that will ensure that all students get access to the same lunch and forgiveness for small fees that hamper the receipt of a high school diploma?Yes or No

Please clarify your answer.

  1.              Given the aging infrastructure of buildings across the school district plus the requirement for dedicated capital expense funds which may be limited for repair and renovation; do you believe the district should seek funding with corporations and other private organizations ? Yes or No.

Please clarify your answer.

  1.              What are your two top priorities if elected ?
  2.           If you are an incumbent please explain how you have worked to address race and inequality in SOMSD during your previous tenure.

Scores  – (received from three independent evaluators representatives of SOMA JUSTICE & P.A.R.E.S)

  • Incumbent candidates were asked two additional questions and grades aveaged in their final score
CANDIDATES
TOTAL(200)
A*
SMITH
B
MAZZOCCHI,A
C*
BAKER.E
D
BAKER,R
E
CUTTLE
F
GEORGE
Evaluator 1
%
118 (+5)
59
59*
136
68
171(+8)
85.5
85*
157
78.5
156
78
126
63
Evaluator 2
%
126(+5)
63
62*
135
67.5
185
92.5
92*
152
76
146
73
126
63
Evaluator 3
%
112(+4)
56
55*
129
64.5
168(+9)
84
84*
146
73
147
73.5
140
70
Mean % 59 67 87 76 75 65

White Privilege – Understanding and Dismantling

White Privilege – Understanding and Dismantling

 

Over 20 Years ago Peggy McIntosh (among others) coined the phrase ‘white privilege’ in her brilliant paper Unpacking the Cultural Knapsack https nationalseedproject.org

 

Since then, and in no small part because of the presidential election ‘white privilege, white fragility and white tears’ have become part of our vernacular. Recently many marginalized groups, particularly people of non-Christian faiths and people of color have voiced their frustration that White America has finally woken up. Beyond the conversations and tensions around affirmative action and symbolic moments like Black History Month – few of us have really engaged on a deep level the institutional racism that exists in our homes, places worship, schools and businesses. Diversity is not a marketing tool; it is an anti segregation action that has to move past clichés and bumper stickers.

Understanding that dismantling privilege is a difficult and challenging process that involves self-examination, brutal honesty, personal acceptance and a good dose of humility-it  is no easy thing. Living with oppression, racism and injustice is so much harder.

 

My understanding of my own privilege is evolving, as a British white, woman I have benefited from privilege on many occasions. I meet people almost on a daily basis who LOVE my accent, and others who experience prejudice because of theirs. So, given my background, my research and my work as an educator and advocate I am speaking up and stepping out – working with students, commentates, organizations and businesses on this long journey to dismantle privilege. Please join me.

Five Ways to be Personally More Inclsuive

I have been doing a lot of listening and observing in a different context since I began my new role as an associate professor at a university – the differences between the high school and university environment would be no surprise to anyone. But the similarities may come as a shock, or at least raise an eyebrow. It’s still a place of tolerance and not inclusion.

So my work is spreading to the university level as well – as I look back on my experiences in K – 12 classrooms over the past twenty years, as a parent of two younger teens who has observed school from the other side and in this new situation – I believe there many areas of reflection and then action – schools, families, corporations, religious communities.

 

Reflect on this ….

  1. Normal does not exist, it never has – we should stop talking (thinking) about our community in terms of the ‘regular, normal, average’ member. (Read: Who do you see as normal, regular, average – are others below/above, ab normal?)
  2. Our own bias, learned as we travelled through life can be UNlearned, but it cannot and should not be ignored.( read, when I see a black male with a hoodie walking towards me what do I think or feel)
  3. Most people, educated or not, American or not, immigrant or not – most not all, defer to a heteo normative, white, secular mindset and vocabulary when they meet people for the first time (Read: listen to the questions you ask or are asked when you meet someone for the first time, what do you do? What does your husband do?).
  4. We don’t like to see people alone and when we do we feel sorry for them assume they are lonely – but we reluctant to include them because we assume their singleness denotes a personality defect. (People on their own sitting in a cafe, at a bar, walking the beach)
  5. We as a society, or as individuals are obsessed and I mean OBSESSED with our phones. To the point of being intolerant of human beings around us (read people on the bus reading your phone stop bumping into me, or walking into me on the sidewalk, in am meeting put your phone down and look at your colleagues)

And now I (not so humbly) offer my reflections on ACTION….

  1. Talk about this with your kids, students, coworkers, friends, family. What does it mean to be ‘normal, regular’ average or different’? Try taking those words OUT of your vocabulary altogether.
  2. Take the implicit bias test online (everyone has a bias. just  need to admit it) https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html Work every day to address your own bias.
  3. Avoid making assumptions about everyone you meet – (marital status, race, socio economic background, political affiliation). When you feel yourself doing it, pull back assume the exact opposite – trick your brain!
  4. Envy people who are alone, or at least admire them, maybe it’s their choice, maybe they are a self-aware introvert, maybe they just need some peace and quiet.
  5. Put down your phone people, myself included. Engage the other people in your immediate surroundings, eye contact goes a long way to acceptance.

 

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