Striving to be Anti-racist

Banner by a Pond that states "Dana Hall: Founded in 1881"Last night was our fourth time gathering to Strive to Be Anti-racist. Dana Hall has prioritized this conversation because of the concerns shared with us throughout the last few months by students, teachers, alums, families, staff members, and friends of Dana Hall. The Black Lives Matter protests in response to the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and too many others, the @Blackat movement, a Boston Globe article and the petitions which followed — all emerging against the backdrop of the global COVID-19 pandemic — exposed the need to explicitly address racial inequity on our campus. This information was not new or surprising. Dana Hall recognized some growth edges as a learning community when the consulting firm Diversity Directions conducted a culture study on campus in 2018 and embedded their recommendations into our Vision 2025 strategic plan. But this past spring and summer made it clear that strategic growth towards equity and inclusion requires partnership between all stakeholders. It is not the responsibility of one person, one leader, one group of adults, or one club of students. Equity and inclusion must feel personal to every member of our community.

As more and more people reached out to ask how they could support these values and participate in this growth at Dana Hall, it became clear that we needed to do more to engage alums and parents in this work. This interest was simultaneously exciting, frustrating and overwhelming. Imposter syndrome and exhaustion took over as I tried to find my voice and vision in designing opportunities for families and alums to support equity and inclusion. Fortunately, I was surrounded by a community of adults seriously committed to this work.

Together with a few amazing colleagues, we launched the Community, Equity and Inclusion Parent and Alum Education Series: Striving to be Anti-racist. In these meetings, parents and alums from all over the world have come together in the name of justice. We chose the title Striving to be Anti-racist because at Dana Hall we are on a journey towards anti-racist thinking and action. This series is not a one time training or presentation, or a static stage of racial identity development. Striving to be Anti-racist communicates clearly that we have not arrived, we are not pretending to be something we are not, but we have a goal and will not quit until we reach it. The curriculum for Striving to be Anti-racist was initially developed by a group of faculty and staff members who come together as AWARE, an affinity group for White Anti-Racist Educators. We have since adapted the readings and questions so that all adults in the Dana Hall community may engage in the conversation because we know it is the work of multiracial coalitions for liberation that bring about effective change

Faculty, staff, students, families and alums have all shared that we are critical and vocal because we love Dana Hall and we want to see overdue changes and growth. We are striving to be anti-racist and the desired outcome is clear—Dana Hall students who are thriving and living their best lives. We have not arrived until every Dana Hall student is thriving. In the meantime we are striving. 

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About Erica Ramirez

Erica Ramirez is the Director of Community, Equity and Inclusion at Dana Hall. She joined the School in 2018.

4 Replies to “Striving to be Anti-racist”

  1. Erica, thank you for another “Striving” session on Zoom Feb 9. It was a thought-provoking, emotion-sharing, forward-looking session. I admire your own growth as you recognize “imposter syndrome and exhaustion,” which I suspect we have all felt. Thank you for beginning and expanding a journey toward necessary change with the goal of making DH a school where every student can thrive.

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