On January 25, 2021, RCDS employees, trustees, and several alumni, joined by thousands of educators across New York State, participated in a webinar hosted by NYSAIS, the New York State Association of Independent Schools, featuring Professor Ibram X. Kendi, author of the critically acclaimed How to Be an Antiracist. During the session, Professor Kendi responded to questions formulated by members of the NYSAIS community to highlight “the places in our schools where racism and power thrive” and “to help us see how we can become antiracist schools.” After the webinar, members of the DEI team hosted a special session for RCDS employees as a space to debrief, process, and build on the momentum of Dr. Kendi's talk. Important themes emerged, including the following:
- Every individual brings to anti-racism work different experiences and comfort levels
- Institutions have the ability to be racist or antiracist
- Racism is not about individuals as much as it is about systems and institutions
- Affinity spaces are critically important.
There was also dedicated time for attendees to share their personal reflections and contribute their perspectives to the larger discussion. In breakout rooms, participants chose to discuss how to be an antiracist school, how to weave Black History Month into curriculum, or how identity plays a role in pedagogy. The success of the debrief has led to the creation of monthly DEI Chats for employees, which offer regular opportunities for adults in our community to explore DEI in greater depth and in community with one another. All employees are welcome.