Dual Language Teachers, Administrators, and District Leaders:
The protests and activism resulting from the murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 have changed life AND education forever. Denying and/or ignoring that systemic racism is embedded into every part of our lives, including schooling, would be destructive to the goals of dual language programming.
To engage in anti-bias and anti-racism work (ABAR), we must be willing to make ourselves, our students, and their families fully participatory in the sociocultural competence journey. We must understand that as part of our dual language education, we will all continue to learn to see the similarities and differences in one another. But, more importantly, we will see our differences as opportunities to connect rather than obstacles to overcome.
When owning ABAR work, all stakeholders must be willing to align with the ideology that sociocultural competence work cannot exist without critical consciousness. That is, that our duty is to actively dismantle the very systems of oppression that lay foundations of privilege for some, but not for others. This is difficult, on-going, and unending personal growth.
As we continue to work on ensuring that sociocultural competence and critical consciousness are the foundation of all that we do in dual language, it is imperative that we have ABAR tools that will guide our efforts. I offer one tool: the four reflection questions, used since my days as a dual language principal.
The four reflection questions came about because I was struggling to find a way to quickly assess situations as someone was trying to oppress me. Additionally, I understood, that I too, was capable of being culturally destructive and/or of oppressing others. The acknowledgement that I was fully imperfect, both as oppressor and the person being targeted with oppression, led to the development of this reflection tool as a means to engage in this arduous work. Critical self-reflection is key.
Question One: Who am I?
If as participants in dual language education, our duty is to be inclusive of others, then all reflection must start with the self. Through testimonio work, alongside our co-workers, students, and families, we can begin to figure out where we came from and what impact that family journey has had on my present state of being.
Question Two: Who am I not?
As we all engage in intrapersonal conversations with self, and as we better get to know who we are, it is also important for each of us in dual language to see the intersection of our limitations and aspirations. We must seek without fear, the person we want to become. What will I not stand for? What person do I refuse to be?
Question Three: What do I believe in?
Although our sociocultural competence and critical consciousness work will never be completed, our goal is, at points in our lives, to be solid in our beliefs in terms of privilege, bias, and, more importantly, in service to others. Question three allows students, educators, and families to engage in ABAR work that is grounded in the collaborative and with a focus on equity for all.
Question Four: What do I need to do as I serve others?
In a split second, each of us is, at some point, required to make decisions as others target us or as we target others. If, as part of striving to achieve the three goals of dual language, each of us is routinely critically self-reflective, then, the decision-making process becomes clear. And, it will not matter how small or critical the situation is, we will be better equipped to tackle the event by grounding our actions in the work of sociocultural competence and critical consciousness.
Again, thank you for your service to emergent multilingual students and their families. Your work is important and inspiring!
You friend in service,