News & Views

DEI Task Force Reads Anti-Racism Book

DEI Task Force
Dear NCCS Parents & Guardians,

Thank you to the 30+ participants in our most recent DEI Community Meeting, where we discussed a follow-up to the virtual visit from Daryl Davis, musician and race relations expert, and the first half of Ibram X. Kendi’s “How To Be An Antiracist”. Here are some notes from the conversation, and some resources to explore:
To Consider:
  1. Word Cloud: In this word cloud, we capture participants’ feelings at the end of our conversation. There was a lot of open and courageous sharing, and our Task Force was encouraged by both the conversation and the feelings following it. 
  2. Survey: In this 3 question survey, we seek to understand what timing of these meetings work for families, and what else you would like to learn about
  3. Our Call To Action: we asked participants to commit to connecting with someone they do not know well, and someone who is different from oneself in terms of race, religion, political persuasion or socio-economic status. The goal is to connect to Kendi’s ideas and look out for the ways that anti racism can be identified and practiced through observation of systems at play, and practicing our listening using Davis’s ideas. We would love to hear how this goes for you at our next conversation on March 10 at 6pm.
Conversation Notes:
  1. Recap of the purpose of the DEI Task Force: supporting parent education, understanding and responding to needs of our families as related to diversity, equity and inclusion
  2. Summarizing main points of “How To Be an Antiracist”:
    1. Kendi uses his life story as the backdrop to the book, allowing the reader access to his own journey from racist to antiracist thinking.  
    2. One of the main themes is the importance of DEFINING TERMS in the journey to antiracism - “The on-going and never-ending journey to becoming an antiracist begins with defining terms so that we can describe our world and our places in it. Definitions anchor us in principles. If we don’t do the basic work of defining the kind of people we want to be in language that is stable and consistent, we can’t work toward stable and consistent goals. To be an antiracist is to set lucid definitions of racism/antiracism, racist/antiracist policies, racist/antiracist ideas, racist/antiracist people. To be racist is to constantly redefine racist in a way that exonerates one’s changing policies, ideas and personhood.”
      1. Racist: One who is supporting a racist policy through their actions or inaction or expressing a racist idea.
      2. Antiracist: One who is supporting an antiracist policy through their actions or expressing an antiracist idea.
      3. Racist Idea: any idea that suggests that one racial group is inferior or superior to another racial group in any way. Racist ideas argue that the inferiorities and superiorities of racial groups explain racial inequities in society.
      4. Antiracist Idea: any idea that suggests the racial groups are equals in all their apparent differences - there is nothing right or wrong with any racial group. Antiracist ideas argue that racist policies are the cause of racial inequities. 
    3. There is no such thing as a non-racist or race-neutral policy.
      1. Policy: written and unwritten laws, rules, procedures, processes, regulations, and guidelines that govern people. Every policy in every institution in every community in every nation is producing or sustaining either racial inequity or equity between racial groups.
      2. Racist Policy: any measure that produces or sustains racial inequity between racial groups.
      3. Antiracist Policy: any measure that produces or sustains racial equity between racial groups. 
    4. Kendi describes the ideas of DUELING CONSCIOUSNESS of assimilationist, segregationist and antiracist thinking. He says there is a way to get free from these dueling ideas and that to be antiracist is to emancipate oneself by conquering the assimilationist consciousness and segregationist consciousness.
      1. Assimilationist: One who is expressing the racist idea that a racial group is culturally or behaviorally inferior and is supporting cultural or behavioral enrichment programs to develop that racial group.
      2. Segregationist: One who is expressing the racist idea that a permanently inferior racial group can never be developed and is supporting policy that segregates away that racial group.
      3. Antiracist: One that is expressing the idea that racial groups are equals and none needs developing, and is supporting policy that reduces racial inequity. 

  3. Connecting Kendi and Davis - listening practice is what makes “unlearning” possible

  4. Discussion Questions: 
    1. “How does defining these terms advance the conversation?”
    2. Kendi writes, “The only way to undo racism is to constantly identify it and describe it—and then dismantle it.” Why does he believe we need to call out racism when we see it, even if it can be uncomfortable to identify?
Thank you again for your participation, and we look forward to engaging with you at our March 10 discussion, being held at 6 p.m. in the hopes of accommodating any schedules that have made joining us difficult so far. 

With regards,

Kojo Clarke (Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion)
Michelle Saldivar (Parent Association Vice President of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion)
Nuria Gavidia (Task Force Member)
Nicole Harder (Task Force Member)
Maija Judelson (Task Force Member)
Jen Kline (Task Force Member)
Sonya Mital (Task Force Member)
Andree Palmgren (Task Force Member)
Kathryn Sellschop (Task Force Member)
New Canaan Country School admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin and are afforded all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, age, sex, sexual orientation, national origin or ancestry, or disability in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, financial aid policies or any other school-administered programs.