Looking in the mirror is not to be feared

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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I watched the first two episodes of America to Me and read several articles and comments claiming it would be divisive and enflame racial tensions. 

So what'd I miss?! 

So far I've seen a documentary that simply humanizes what the weight of scholarly research has long demonstrated with empirical data; that implicit bias is pervasive in even the most well-meaning schools and has real consequences. That should come as a surprise to no one anywhere. 

Full transparency: I am a 41-year-old, white, male, cis-heteronormative lawyer who does not suffer from white guilt. I am not marginalized and do not regret the condition of my birth. My extremely hard-working, non-college-educated parents gave me everything. They believe the American Dream boils down to fairness — treat people fairly. And fairness has become my ethos. 

While I am not responsible for the sins of my forebears, I am responsible for charting a better path forward. We all have a responsibility to lead meaningful, ethical lives that add to the good of humanity. With that comes the recognition that everyone deserves dignity; that maximizing individual liberty and equality of opportunity expands our own agency and the quality of participatory democracy. 

This film does not throw stones. It simply audits what we've done, so we can identify where we are, to determine where we need to go. It audits the efforts of a community that wants to do better. It's introspective; a conversation with ourselves. 

That is not something to be feared. It's to be embraced. No one has ever improved without looking in the mirror.

Brian Holt 

Oak Park 

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John Duffy  

Posted: September 4th, 2018 12:14 PM

Indeed looking into our institutional and individual racial mirrors is vital. Unpacking the structural injustices that impede racial justice and equity must be part of this examination--I am afraid that whites to often believe the system is fair, when our own OPRF research documents the opposite is happening too often. See the 2003 and 2011 self-studies which in words relates the inequities America to Me is bringing to life. I encourage you to join in supporting efforts underway at OPRF to ensure real fairness and equity, and to abandon the equality trap Jess Stovall poignantly teachers to her students in Episode 2. These structural changes involve curriculum reform, changes in the hiring and retention of teachers of color, continuing to implement and formally adopt a racial equity lens policy and tools, and Culture, Climate and Behavior supported changes around Restorative Justice practices. I encourage you to look at the current Strategic Plan, and the Blueprint Assessment of the culture of OPRF--both are on the BOE website. In the meantime, lets continue to learn from our students, their families and the many dedicated and talented teachers we meet in America to Me. John Duffy, Chairperson Committee for Equity and Excellence in Education

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