By: Russell Cody
What can a White Man Learn at a White Privilege Conference? That there is REAL HOPE for the future!
Somewhat out of curiosity but with the expectation to learn something beyond what my self-education efforts have produced, I attended the White Privilege Conference in Charolotte, North Carolina in March of 2022. This was the 23rd White Privilege Conference held in the United States since 2000.
I attended several sessions on topics ranging from “Exploring the Roles of Christianity in Colonizing and White Supremacy” to “Troubled Waters: White Supremacy and their Prowess Acts on College Campuses”. All of the sessions I attended were interesting and informative. However, the one I found to be particularly uplifting was “A Peek Inside Anti Racism 101, a High School Elective”. Led by Dr. Lucretia Berry, PhD in Curriculum and Instruction from Iowa State University and founder of “Brownicity”. The workshop focused on a course she developed for High Schools entitled, “Anti Racism 101”. The course is described as follows:
“…to offer students an analytical framework for examining race and racism in the United States. Through the course content…students are equipped with historical, political, and social context for understanding race/ism and how it is sustained, and build a sound knowledge base that transcends popular discourse and uninformed opinions. With a practical understanding of contributing ideologies and interpersonal and systemic dynamics, students gain a broadened awareness of themselves, ‘others’, and of our interconnected society.”
Dr. Berry has been in her current position as Curriculum Specialist for Community School of Davidson (NC) since 2017. She was sought out by the school’s administration specifically to teach this course. She began teaching the course in 2018 as a high school elective worth 2 credit hours and meeting twice a week for the entire school year. The course has been taught for four years at the charter school. It was noteworthy to hear her tell that she needed to work with all of the high school level teaching staff for most of the previous school year to assure that they were 100% “on board” with the course. Dr. Berry advised that this was not an easy task but an essential one in order to be successful which it has been. This is a very highly sought after elective at the Community School.
As a charter school, The Community School of Davidson (NC) may have more leeway in setting curriculum than a typical public school.
The session, attended by a number of educators, including a charter school administrator from the western United States, was well received. So well received, in fact that the administrator wanted to know what steps would be required to get this course incorporated at his school “ASAP.” Many in the session wanted to know if there was a course they could take to learn how to teach “Anti Racism 101” in their schools.
Names of those interested in spreading this education program were taken with a promise from Dr. Berry and Brownicity to follow up. Hearing of the course and seeing the response among educators and administrators gave me great hope for the future. The news of the course and the response was beyond encouraging–especially if it spreads widely to other schools.