The past few weeks have left many of us angry and frustrated. Here in Madison and around the world, activists and allies have raised their voices to protest the systemic racism and injustice facing Black people in the United States. As educators, we also recognize the discrimination experienced by students, families or teachers, within US and international school communities.
Diversity is not enough. WIDA is committed to an anti-racist approach to affirming the identity of all learners and social justice is one of our core values as an organization. We recognize that we need to not only promote diversity and inclusion but also strive for equity and challenge systemic discrimination in international school communities. We can’t remain silent; we need to ask ourselves hard questions:
To what extent are all students and educators welcome in international schools?
When we discuss ‘inclusive schools’ do we only consider linguistic or cultural identity?
Do international schools actively challenge systemic injustice or perpetuate inequity?
Good intentions are not enough. Twenty years ago, Parker Palmer reflected that “we teach who we are” and in today’s globalized and interconnected world, inquiring into one’s own identity and intersections is necessary for both empathy and equity in the classroom. As international teachers, we project our own preferences and biases onto our classroom. Each human shares the same fundamental traits, but Capper and Frattura (2015) observe that the choice whether to pay attention to particular dimensions of our identity - race, language, sexual orientation, nationality or gender - is actually a reflection of our own privilege. In fact, if we do not recognize how privilege operates, it’s likely we’ve been members of a dominant group and therefore recipients of unearned privilege.
Words are not enough. We need to act, and the choice is ours. Remaining silent and ignoring systemic inequity perpetuates practices that remain unchallenged, especially when these practices are ostensibly considered support. Christopher Emdin observes that “once educators recognize that they may be biased against forms of brilliance other than their own, they can finally begin to truly teach” (2017). An anti-racist stance begins with each of us recognizing and challenging our own implicit bias, and then taking deliberate action.
In this newsletter, in addition to our regular updates on new resources and research opportunities, you’ll read about how WIDA is taking action as an organization and resources and partnering with other organizations like AIELOC (Association of International Educators and Leaders of Color) to raise our voices and stand with our black and brown colleagues, here in Wisconsin and around the world.
We support AIELOC in asking, what if all international schools and leaders...
- consistently celebrated diversity, fostered equity, and supported inclusion?
- removed historical legacies and systemic barriers that have been created in the international education space?
- consistently committed to listening to and learning from diverse voices, experiences, and perspectives?
- created and participated in courageous conversations and spaces that encouraged dialogue and the exchange of ideas?
- spoke up now about racism and all forms of discrimination in international education and around the world?
- became aware of racial and cultural blind-spots by reading about, listening to, and collaborating with racially and ethnically diverse educators?
- focused on anti-racism work?
- challenged whiteness and white supremacy?
- were co-conspirators?
- actively amplified and mentored educators of all colors who come from all parts of the globe?
- said and believed #BlackLivesMatter?
Jon Nordmeyer, WIDA International Programs Director
*Quechua (indigenous language spoken in Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru): “until later”