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EdChange.org: Avoiding Racial Equity Detours

Read Avoiding Racial Equity Detours by Paul Gorski, from EdChange.Org, April 2019.

Originally published in ASCD.org, Paul Gorski outlines four ways that K-12 schools avoid the tough work of identifying the actual underpinnings of racial inequities by implementing four well-established and surface-level responses. Rather than engage in meaningful change that might expose unintentional or intentional structural barriers, school may want to focus on issues of culture or force positive diversity interactions.

The disturbing reality is, in my 20 years of experience
working with schools and districts on matters of equity
and justice, I’ve found that most initiatives and strategies
that pass for “racial equity” efforts in schools pose less of
a threat to racism than to the possibility of racial justice.
Following Olsson’s (1997) accounting of the detours
white people follow to protect their privilege and avoid
the messy work of racial justice, I call these initiatives and
strategies equity detours.

Paul Gorski, EdChange.Org, April 2019

The four equity detours outlined were described as

  • Pacing-for-Privilege Detour
  • Poverty of Culture Detour
  • Deficit Ideology Detour
  • Celebrating Diversity Detour

The author asked high school students to talk about their expectations regarding a Diverse Friends lunch, where students of color and White students would share a lunch time with people they normally didn’t interact with. One of the young women, Pam, said that she believed the lunch was more for the benefit of the White students, who also self-isolated during lunch, than for the students from non-White backgrounds. I think

In some cases, students of color are used essentially as props for the
gentle diversity education of white students through activities like Diverse Friends Day. Requiring students of color to participate in these diversity spectacles while failing to attend adequately to inequity can be exploitive.

Paul Gorski, EdChange.Org, April 2019

I believe that higher education leaders will need to re-consider how and when to call upon students from majority backgrounds – whether they are White, identify as men, are able-bodied, and any other majority background – and ask them questions that go beyond the surface level approach to addressing racism and systems of oppression. While all students could be involved in the solutions, without specifically addressing the complicity of majority students in identifying their privileges and how other students don’t get to reap the benefits of an equitable education is just a detour from the real work that needs to be done.

Continue reading Avoiding Racial Equity Detours by Paul Gorski, from EdChange.Org, April 2019.

http://www.edchange.org/publications/Avoiding-Racial-Equity-Detours-Gorski.pdf


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Joseph Rios, EdD

I am Joseph Rios and I believe that leadership is an expression of our values
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