Note from Louise Bergerson, Birch Wathen Lenox: Race & White Educators

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In December of 2010, two administrators from Birch Wathen Lenox and I attended the People of Color Conference, held in Philadelphia, along with five of our upper school students. Several of us had attended many times before, so the contents of the three days of programing, as inspiring and uplifting as in earlier years, were not a surprise to us. That is until we came to the last day of the Conference. As the hours dwindled before our departure we were asked as white educators to consider our role in the development of diversity initiatives within our communities. This was indeed a new way of looking at our work.

Upon returning to New York, myself and several other educators endeavored to bring together a cohort of white diversity educators from independent schools around the city. Our goal was, and still is, to discuss how we might help one another while working to aid all of those in our school interested in issues of diversity regardless of background.  We continue to meet to this day.


In examining my attachment to this group from a personal perspective I continue to ask myself why is it important to me to have these kinds of conversations and how can I better understand race and racism as a white person? This is a big topic filled with emotions such as guilt, shame, and anger which are difficult to examine.  Further, there is no direct path to enlightenment and understanding involved in white racial identity development. It is a slow process with many detours and false starts, but the clearest message to me is the need to persevere.

Our group welcomes those who might be interested in pursuing this journey with us.  Please feel free to reach out to me if you wish to join us.  I can be emailed at lbergerson@gbwl.org.

 

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