Systemic racism will not be undone with a summer of protest and installing a new president. Intention created slavery, Jim Crow, mass incarceration and the iconic Black hood. Intention is required to dismantle and repair what supremacy still breaks.
Ethnic Studies in K-12 Education
There is a growing national movement to teach ethnic studies in K-12 schools. In the broadest sense, ethnic studies covers community identity, history, and culture. Students learn to look at the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, language, and economic class, as well as systemic oppression and community activism. Some states have standards for required ethnic studies courses. Other states have banned such courses.
Given that almost half of voters in the 2020 election chose a candidate who deals in false narratives about race and ethnicity, it’s crucial that ethnic studies becomes a priority in K-12 education. Research shows that ethnic studies courses improve attendance and graduation rates, as well as state test scores and GPAs. Plus, students are increasingly calling for their schools to offer ethnic studies courses.
How It Affects You
Now is a great time to review the status of ethnic studies at your K-12 school, college, or university. Make the case for requiring ethnic studies courses if they aren’t already required. In the workplace, given that most employees have likely never taken an ethnic studies course, consider how you can incorporate ethnic studies into your diversity and inclusion programming.
Rethinking American Museums
Between COVID-19 and the national reckoning over race, some American museums are radically rethinking their approach to curation and their role in the community. The new movement calls for building trust, understanding, and connection with visitors, and using those connections to provide context for, rather than censor, controversial artwork. The vision is to transform museums from “impassive establishments” to community centers that encourage visitors to share their lived experiences.
This movement goes beyond the traditional approach of diversifying museum boards to directly engaging the community in the museum’s approach and purpose. It aligns with a culturally responsive framework, where practitioners “honor the cultural context” of a project by engaging with “needed, shared life experience and understandings.” We hope more museums, and other institutions, adopt this approach.
How It Affects You
Schools and workplaces can take inspiration from some of the most innovative museums across the country. Consider how these actions relate to the work you do:
- The Oakland Museum asks visitors questions like “Did you see yourself or your story reflected here?” and “Did you see other people’s stories and gain a new understanding?”
- The Mississippi Museum of Art has hired interpretation specialists, established cross-team collaboration, and created new advisory councils and online panels so community members have a say in what will be exhibited.
- The Mississippi Museum of Art has also started hiring staff with community-organizing and creative-placemaking experience rather than traditional curatorial or art-history experience.
Rebuilding Trust in Healthcare during COVID-19
The Black Coalition Against COVID-19, a group of Black doctors and nurses, published a letter on how to best protect the Black community during COVID-19. The coalition encourages Black people to get vaccinated once a safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19 is available. The coalition adds that healthcare professionals must do more to earn the trust of the Black community.
According to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, only 17 percent of Black people say they would definitely get vaccinated against COVID-19. Scientific distrust ranks as one of the top reasons for avoiding the vaccine. This distrust has a historical precedent. For example, the Tuskegee Syphilis Study conducted between 1932 and 1972 specifically targeted the Black community. Currently, Black people continue to experience biased treatment from healthcare professionals.
The feelings of distrust and biased treatment Black people experience when receiving healthcare are examples of how racism continues to impact Black lives. Just as the Black Coalition Against COVID-19 urges all healthcare professionals to “do more” to earn the trust of the Black community, it is up to all of us to do more to be anti-racist.
How It Affects You
Anti-racist efforts are crucial for building trust, particularly within institutions and industries with a history of racism. The Black Coalition Against COVID-19 writes, “Respect for our Black bodies and our Black lives must be a core value for those who are working to find the vaccine for this virus that has already taken so many of our loved ones.” Scholars, teachers, and workplace leaders can uphold this value by committing to anti-racist academic and workplace practices.