Where are you on your journey in understanding systemic racism? with Hedreich & Barbara (Reflection #6)

By Barbara Bray

Join Barbara Bray in conversations with awesome educators, leaders, and influencers as they talk about their passion and purpose for planting seeds for change. Each podcast has a link to a related blog post with more information and resources.

Sometimes, a conversation is way more than a conversation. Several of those conversations I had with Hedreich Nichols empowered us to explore the different needs that black and white educators have when discussing how to create more equitable schools and communities. We talked about what systemic racism means for different people and how the problem can be approached from varying perspectives. We started writing this document together in a Google doc and want you to know that this is a “work-in-progress.” We will be updating it with a reflection and feedback from you. Here is the PDF version of this post (6/18/20). 
The pandemic and tragic deaths of George Floyd, Rashard Brooks, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and so many other black lives have exposed the inequities that have always been there. Now, along with exposing more police violence against people of color, current racist policies, and the long history of racial injustice, we cannot be silent anymore. Silence means being complicit. The protests are worldwide and people of all segments of society are coming together to demand that we act systemically to end hate, racism, violent police actions, and senseless murders. 
Identifying where you are on the journey to understand systemic racism and discrimination depends on your own racial identity, the environment you grew up in, and the environment in which you now live and interact. 
Racial Identity Models
The White Racial Identity Model (Helms) lists 6 stages in this document on Racial Equity Tools is a Compilation of Racial Identity Models:

1. Contact
taking a non-racist position and do not understand the position of their own privilege

2. Disintegration
feeling guilt and shame and wanting to channel those feelings in a positive way

3. Reintegration
believing that they may deserve their white privilege and are superior

4. Pseudo-Independence
expecting people of color to confront and uncover racism for them

5. Immersion/Emersion
attempting to connect to their own white identity and to be anti-racist

6. Autonomy
has a positive connection to their white racial identity while pursuing social justice

Depending on which self-identified stage white people find themselves in, they may respond differently in uncomfortable situations. People at any stage may benefit from support to build confidence in responding to students, colleagues, family, and friends when talking about racism and discrimination. The main thing is that we are all learning. We may say or do something wrong. It took a long time to get to this point so it will take some time to get things right. We will make mistakes and be uncomfortable along the way so we hope you have grace and are kind to each other during your journey. 
Four Situations to Consider
We thought we’d start with four situations teachers or anyone might be in when feeling uncomfortable or not sure what to say or do when discussing racism.

Unaware or no interaction
Living or teaching in a diverse setting