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Avoiding Racial Equity Detours

Students experiencing racism can’t wait for schools to move at their own pace and comfort level.

In schools committed to racial equity, educators who resist anti-racist measures should feel uneasy, isolated on the outskirts of their schools’ institutional cultures. I mean this literally. The educators least invested in racial equity should wonder whether they belong. Sadly, research shows the inverse tends to be true in many schools, even when leaders claim equity commitments. Often, the educators most adamant about racial equity are cast to the margins of institutional culture. They are the ones feeling isolated, wondering whether they belong (Kohli, 2018; Picower, 2011). Colleagues call them troublemakers for naming what others refuse to name. Some are shushed or encouraged to adopt a color-blind perspective by equity-skittish leaders. They are accused of being too “political” simply for pointing out conditions that harm families of color. Educators of color who raise these concerns tend to face even greater hostility, as Kohli (2018) documented through the narratives of racial-justice-oriented teachers of color. They often are labelled “militant” or “angry” for telling the racial equity truth. This is a failure of equity leadership.

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