Twenty-four years ago, I began my journey in independent school. Throughout this time, I listened. I heard many voices from all walks of life but particularly from students of color, graduates of color and faculty members of color. The numbers of these individuals may be small in comparison to the larger demographic of the community at Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs), but the narratives are all similar. Nonetheless, I listened.
As I listened, I was forced to learn. This learning came at me like a ton of bricks. I learned that it is considered a privilege to attend these PWIs. I learned that a part of your diverse identity must be compartmentalized in a way that is unfair, hurtful and glaring. I learned that if you do not compartmentalize this diverse identity, you are labeled a rebel, a nuisance or just ignored. I learned that there is a burden to being a person of color at a PWI. I learned that at first sight, there may not always be someone that looks like you, represents you and supports you to the fullest at these PWIs.
I learned that People of Color, we are strong, resilient and determined. I learned that we will find strength and safety in the few that we call friends and family. I learned that there are allies that are wonderful people that mean well. I learned that the journey may be tough, but the end result can be rewarding. I learned to communicate emotions of joy and sorrow to others. I learned to continue to dream and aspire for greatness.
After listening, then learning, I now lead. I want to lead all students. I want to also lead those under represented students that feel that they do not have a voice or representation. I want to lead in a way that is inclusive, welcoming and loving. I want to lead with empathy, understanding and compassion.
Most importantly, I want to listen, learn and lead in a way to be a better educator, coach, friend, husband, and father.
How is it that you listen, learn and lead?