Tell us about your work to achieve racial equity in education.
On an interpersonal level, a lot of my research revolves around the triggers and coping responses to racial/racism stress of students, their parents and educators. When thinking about policy, I investigate racially disparate disciplinary practices, or the “school to prison pipeline.” I feel that these interpersonal manifestations and responses to racism are supported by disciplinary policies that negatively impact the educational experiences of children of color.
Why did you join the Color of Education collaborative?
I appreciated that the Color of Education was action-oriented. It wasn’t just about informing educators and policymakers that educational disparities exist, but that these disparities did not HAVE to exist, and created opportunities to work toward solutions.
Who influenced or mentored you in this work?
The foundation of my work rests with my family’s involvement with youth sports and development. These lifelong experiences piqued my interest in understanding resiliency as a systems issue, rather than the responsibility of children, and solidified my commitment to equity. I have wonderful mentors-especially Dr. Howard Stevenson. He guided my training in racial literacy (and more), and modeled how to apply research findings and theory to address the needs and experiences of children, educators, families and policymakers.
What advice would you give someone wanting to become involved in efforts to address racial inequities in education?
My advice would be to not be intimidated by the enduring nature of these inequities. We need to learn from success as well as missteps to improve outcomes. I also urge people to seek out and collaborate with other change agents in your communities and schools.
Please share a favorite quote, article or book.
In the Collected Poems of Audre Lorde, I find so many kernels of wisdom that I carry with me and often share with others. My favorite quote is from her New Year’s Day poem that is part of that volume, “…I am deliberate and afraid of nothing.” (p. 71) This quote captures my bearing on fighting inequities.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I enjoy traveling. Whether it is seeing new people or old friends, I enjoy creating opportunities for memorable moments.
If you could change something tomorrow for the children of NC, what would that be?
A big question! I would love for educators at all ranks to have high racial literacy, and to have the confidence and resources to institute anti-racist curriculum and reinforce policies that support positive educational experiences for all children. That’s actually two things, but I don’t think you can have one without the other.