By Chloe Starczewski, Staff Writer
// Racial bias in the educational system may not be apparent to the untrained eye, yet it is still greatly prevalent and prohibits many marginalized students from getting the education they need. To help combat implicit racial issues in the classroom, Doctor Lori Watson, an Equity Transformation Specialist, held a seminar called Courageous Conversations on April 22, at 6 pm in the Acalanes library. The seminar engaged parents and community members in a bold and realistic discussion about what can be done to be aware of and actively combat racial bias.
Doctor Watson has led many other similar programs and worked as a teacher and presenter for 4 years. Her experience as a high school and middle school assistant principal has helped her to fight the prejudice against students of color.
During the seminar, Watson introduced many tools such as a conversational compass and guidelines to nurture a productive discussion. These tools are a part of Watson’s protocol focused on leading a positive dialogue about current racial issues.
Along with introducing this protocol, the seminar also encouraged the attendees to move around and participate in activities that allowed them to discover other people’s point of views.
As a part of the Pacific Educational Group, a consulting firm committed to forging racial equity, Watson advocates for racial justice in the educational system to better support and enhance the learning for students of color. The group was founded 25 years ago and has brought the Courageous Conversation program to schools all over the country.
The group also holds diversity summits, previously holding one for the Acalanes School District in 2016 where students from several schools met together to engage in conversations about race and bias.
As Acalanes exists in a white majority community, it is especially important that the community’s parents and teachers have tools under their belt to combat their bias whether it is intentional or not.
As one of the few young people to attend the seminar, Acalanes junior Patrick Feigen learned a lot about how racism applies to our community as a whole.
“It made a lot of good points and was actually really eye-opening,” Feigen said.
For Feigen, the seminar forced him to reevaluate his role in fighting racial bias.
“A big theme of our society is just ‘Yeah, we voted for Obama, we’re against racism,’ but a lot of people don’t actively try to fight racism,” Feigen said.