CREATING A JUST SOCIETY AT MIDDLE WAY

Anti-Racism at the Middle Way School

 

The Middle Way Anti-Racist Coalition is dedicated to supporting one another in becoming more actively anti-racist as individuals, families and community. 

We work in partnership with Middle Way School to create an actively anti-racist community in our school policy, hiring and staff development, curriculum and student culture. As parents we support one another in practicing anti-racist parenting and developing home cultures that actively discuss and dismantle racist beliefs and practices. Together we explore how dharma can support collective liberation as we learn, practice and grow together.

Our commitment is ongoing and reflects our desire to see Middle Way School flourish as a learning community dedicated to collective liberation and justice.

We invite you to join us for conversation, peer support, and to develop offerings for the larger school community.

HISTORY

The Middle Way School made a commitment to evolving in 2020 by hiring Amy Brown White to lead teachers and staff in anti-racist work, which included two six-hour professional development sessions and ad hoc meetings an administrative debriefings. 

In the first six-hour professional development we focused on the issues surrounding White Privilege (identification and awareness). We were able to define basic vocabulary and through exercises, small group work,  media, and sound down the foundation that will be built upon during the coming year. Some topics covered were: Implicit bias, White Privilege (our personal lives and how that effects or professional lives), microaggressions (interactions between POC and those who identify as White) seeking to avoid these when interacting in the classroom, and finally shifting our perspective to include personal change that inevitably will affect how we view POC. We were fortunate to hear from Richard de Heyl, a male who identifies as gay and Jewish, married to a Puerto Rican male who chose a transracial adoption of a Black male. He shared the perspective of a White man moving in Black spaces. We also heard from Kunsang Kelden who is a communications professional, Tibetan Culture Advocate and practicing Buddhist. She shared very specifically how Buddhism and Anti-Racism intersect.

Our second six-hour professional development centered exclusively on curriculum and infusing culture into our teaching. We discussed the importance of cross-cultural lesson plans and how they improve instruction and critical thinking. We reviewed this document and talked about how to move our lesson plans from an additive approach to an approach that is child centered. 

Each teacher came with wonderful lesson plans that connected Anti-Racism and the Buddhist concept of Impermanence, which they are already introducing in the classrooms (see resources). We were able to really pull apart and dig into the lessons in groups and Amy was able to spend time with every group of teachers.

ONGOING COMMITMENT

The Coalition continues to meet to assess present and future (short and long term) needs of the anti racism work within the MWS community. Current work is identifying the needs of the school- community, including fundraising, programing, support for and accountability in diversity accessibility to the school community both staff and student body. This includes 

  1. Working to establish a charter/mission and clarify both the role of the anti racism work, need and relationship to the school and larger buddhist practice and praxis. 
  2. Creating, identifying and developing methods of revenue support for the parent group’s anti racism, including funding for facilitation, educational programing and programs 
  3. Developing offerings to community around this work (including book/children’s book groups, somatic and mediation practice and development work) 
  4. Work to establish larger charter and goals for this work within the school, including scholarship support, database/library support, community work and structural support. 
  5. Set up and establish ongoing infrastructure systems of support, including google doc on resources, programming/meetings, ways of identifying ongoing needs and evolving the systems of support, accountability and transformation.

PARENT COMMUNITY

The Middle Way Anti-Racist Coalition is a parent led organization very that meets on a regular basis to help support becoming more actively anti-racist as individuals, families and a community. The group is very open engagement and exchange, it’s mission evolving in a process of co-creation, iteration and development.

JOIN US!

All are welcome to join this group at any time. We currently meet on Zoom every other Tuesday. To learn more, please contact parent liaison Matt Dilling at matt@litebriteneon.com.

RECOMMENDED READING FOR ADULTS
White Fragility
400 Souls (we have an audiobook club just starting—join us!)
My Grandmother’s Hands
Love & Rage
How to Be An Anti-Racist

RECOMMENDED READING FOR KIDS
View our list here

SAMPLE LESSON PLANS FROM MWS TEACHERS

As part of our anti-racist work at Middle Way, teachers were given an assignment to find the links between their content area + the Buddhist concept of impermanence + anti-racism. 

Kelly Peck looked at Alvin Ailey’s Revelations , and asked students to think about how we can tell a story through movement, and how that story changes over time. 

Rachel read My Hands Sing the Blues: Romare Bearden’s Childhood Journey by Jeanne Walker Harvey, and discussed Bearden’s mural. How do neighborhoods change and why?

Hannah’s Owls class thought about the ways in which people can be agents of change if there are conditions around them that are problematic.  They started by reading about Marley Dias, who started the #1000BlackGirlBooks initiative as a kid, after noticing that the main characters of the books she was being assigned at school did not reflect her identity or lived experience.  She introduced the class to the concept that books can provide us with both windows into the experiences of people who are different from us and mirrors that reflect and represent aspects of our own experiences. They talked about the importance of both being seen and seeing others.   

More to come!