Dear Harbor Families,
Last week, several Harbor teachers and I participated in an evening exploration with diversity and inclusion presenter Rosetta Lee. Ms. Lee, a renowned speaker on diversity, equity, and inclusion in schools, presented evidence to the educators in the room that illustrated the notion of implicit bias. Implicit bias refers to unconscious biases, shaped by stereotypes in society that are continually reinforced. They affect every one of us to a certain degree, even those who hold deeply rooted convictions about equity and inclusion.
I have engaged in diversity and inclusion work over the years through personal and professional experiences, articles, books, conferences, and conversations. My own journey has included becoming aware of and confronting my own biases, looking critically at the resources on the bookshelves in the schools where I have worked (and in my kids’ bedrooms), engaging in open conversations about diversity and inclusion issues with people of differing points of view, and thinking about ways to infuse the topics of identity and social justice into everyday curriculum.
On Thursday evening, Rosetta talked a lot of intentionality in relation to anti-bias work. She compared diversity and inclusion work with bathing oneself, and though it got a chuckle from the audience, it really resonated with me. Having an identity that for the most part comes with privilege, I have to be particularly purposeful as an individual to be thoughtful and reflective about the experiences I provide my own children and how I talk with them about race and ethnicity, gender and sexual identity, religion, ability, and socio-economic class. Like personal hygiene, it takes coming back again and again.
Rosetta presented research demonstrating that implicit biases are malleable. They can change over time, with intentionality. As parents and educators, we are tasked with a great responsibility to model and expect inclusivity and appreciation of differences, engage in anti-bias work, and help our children understand complex issues at a developmentally appropriate level as they learn to navigate them through early childhood, childhood, and into adolescence. Not to sound cliche, but it’s true that our children are the ones who can shape a more equitable and just society, and our world could really use them!
Harbor teachers have engaged in diversity and inclusion work over the years, and we will continue to “bathe ourselves” in the dialogue, critical thinking, and commitment that this important work requires. I hope that you will join us as we explore these issues in the coming months and years.
Head of School
The Harbor School