It’s getting better all the time!
It’s getting better all of the time at Bricolage. We have come so far, and have a long way to go in service of our mission of advancing equity by creating innovators. This is true for our academic performance: we have much to be proud of and we still have progress to make. It is also true for our work in service of racial and educational equity. As 2017 comes to a close, I would like to share with you our progress and look ahead at our future efforts to advance equity at Bricolage.
At the end of last school year, Bricolage staff members formed a Diversity Equity and Inclusion committee. Together, we identified outcomes to work toward during this 2017 – 2018 school year. We are working with families to define terms like diversity, equity and inclusion, preparing to establish an adult learning library in front of the school’s main office, and are developing system-wide policies and practices that will make our community a more equitable place. In September, we provided racial equity training for parents, a program we plan to provide regularly in the future. This semester, we conducted an internal diversity audit of our classroom libraries with the help of family volunteers.
And all of this is just the beginning.
We know that we have to work actively to make progress toward greater equity, just as we know that our work will likely never cease. In this spirit, I look to the metaphors of an asymptote and an airport conveyor belt.
First, the asymptote.
Do you remember what an asymptote is from high school math? It is a line that a curve approaches, and forever gets closer to, but never crosses. It never gets there, but is always getting closer. I think to do work of racial equity, we all must be able to manage this non-closure. There won’t be some ‘promised land’ where we as a community can look back and say, “well we solved that problem! What’s next?” No. The work of advancing equity is ongoing, forever work. We are hundreds of years into the muck of race, racism and fallacy of comparative human value. It’s still going to be around long after we are gone. But Bricolage can be – is – a part of the progress towards a more equitable community and greater liberty and opportunity for everyone.
We’re still learning as a school and as an organization. We know we would like to have more ethnic and racial diversity on our team at all levels (staff, leadership and governance). Just as much, we are learning that staff racial equity practices and training need to be on going. We must actively, and continuously make the choice to confront the inequities that surround us and work to upend them.
This brings me to the conveyor belt.
Dr. Beverly Tatum, 9th President of Spelman College, says, in her book, “Why Are All of the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?”:
“I sometimes visualize the ongoing cycle of racism as a moving walkway at the airport. Active racist behavior is equivalent to walking fast on the conveyor belt. The person engaged in active racist behavior has identified with the ideology of our White supremacist system and is moving with it. Passive racist behavior is equivalent to standing still on the walkway. No overt effort is being made, but the conveyor belt moves the bystanders along to the same destination as those who are actively walking. But unless they are walking actively in the opposite direction at a speed faster than the conveyor belt – unless they are actively anti-racist – they will find themselves carried along with the others.” - Dr. Beverly Tatum
Diversity is not a proxy for equity. Bricolage is not equitable because it is ethnically, racially or socio-economically diverse. We’ve got to work at it. All of us do. Everyday. And we fail at it regularly. But as we are reminded from the innovation part of our mission, failure is a type of progress. We benefit from failure as it gets us closer to success.
Families from a variety of backgrounds, identities and cultures make up our vibrant community. Throughout our school community, we try to build a culture of belonging for all people so everyone can feel a sense of ownership and share in equitable outcomes.
We’ve made initial progress, but we still have a long way to go.
Please join us for this exciting and important human journey!