Monday, October 10, 2016

Why does equity progress seem so far away?

This past weekend, the news has been dominated by the #TrumpTapes scandal - Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's conversation in 2005 with TV personality Billy Bush that objectified women and normalized sexual assault. I had to stop reading the subsequent #notokay Twitter thread (started by @kellyoxford) because it was just so depressing to hear all of the stories of women being raped, groped, grabbed, and molested.

I thought we had made progress. I thought we were making progress. After all, my school board's revamped vision statement has equity as one of the three focus areas (in addition to achievement and well-being) ... and yet ...

I was around two separate conversations last week, one at school and one elsewhere, where the views expressed didn't sit well with my own interpretations of equity. The first was around Black Lives Matter. One of the speakers expressed disgust for the movement and tag line. The person also made reference to NFL player Colin Kaepernick's decision to kneel during the American national anthem and suggested that he should be fired. The second was a complaint about the racially diverse casting in the upcoming Spiderman movie. I heard someone say (and I'm paraphrasing here) that it looks like Peter Parker is the only white guy at his school.

I wasn't involved directly in either of these talks but during the first one, I intervened. I mentioned in what I hope was a positive tone that I had seen a useful comic online that explained the rationale behind Black Lives Matter vs. All Lives Matter. (The comic is below - thanks to and @krisstraub)

As for the second conversation, I didn't even bother to put my $0.02 cents in, although I should have spoken up and this graph would have be useful to explain why it's not such a terrible idea to have more representation in film. More such infographics can be found at 

I'm wondering if I should have said more, or if this was simply a point of view and I was too quick to judge. Were the statements I heard offensive, ignorant, or just opinions? Can you be critical of an event like the summer's Black Lives Matter sit-in at the Toronto Pride parade without being racist or sexist or homophobic? Sometimes I even wonder whether speaking up actually makes a difference - does it change people's minds or hearts? Famous people and regular citizens have decried Trump's offensive words but it doesn't seem to impact the man or his devout followers. I didn't think the Trump scandal could be possibly be excused, yet I saw a Twitter post that compared Trump to a Biblical hero, "flawed but redeemed". Pardon me?

Where does this place educators when we could (or in my opinion, should) be referencing these sort of current events in our classrooms? For instance, I really like this explanation of the kneeling phenomenon - does mentioning it open up a can of worms or possibilities? I liked this tweet as a reminder to myself:

I follow @EduColorMVMT and I'm influenced by folks like Rusul AlRubail in Toronto and Karen Murray in the TDSB. My junior division library inquiry theme focuses on privilege. I want to be an ally, as described in this article by Priyanka Jhalani, but I fret that what I'm doing or saying doesn't make enough of a difference, or that I'm even interpreting things incorrectly. (This comic is credited as coming from but I initially found it at

What kind of an ally is unsure if something said is "wrong"? Why did I speak up at the first example but not the second? I debated about getting someone like Rusul to pre-read my post, but then I remembered that it is not up to people of color, or sexual minorities, or those in an oppressed group to do the teaching for the privileged. Maybe the reason why equity progress seems so far away is because I am not speaking up enough, or loudly enough, or often enough,

1 comment:

  1. I love this post Diana, and your bravery and willingness to speak out on issues of equity and social justice in education. I do believe that speaking out on these issues can make a difference. Even if it empowers one person to speak out, or do something actionable then that's makes it worth it. Let's keep the conversation going!