Sunday, February 11, 2018

What Are You Reading?

In recent weeks, Montpelier Public Schools have received a substantial amount of media attention regarding flying a Black Lives Matter flag on our campus. It was covered by many media outlets across the political spectrum. Yesterday Vermont Lieutenant Governor David Zuckerman shared the graphic below:

The entire post and explanation for this graphic is fascinating and I encourage you to read it.

It is interesting to note that MPS was covered by organizations all over this graphic during the past several weeks, leading to different reactions and messages being sent to us. When we spoke to the media, we stayed on message with our talking points and if need be, pivoted back to the reason the Board directed us to fly a Black Lives Matters flag in the first place: honoring the experience of our Black students in Montpelier Public Schools. This is a response to our collective recognition that we need to be a more inclusive community.

In a handful of the conversations that I had either via e-mail or on the phone with people who disagreed with our decision, I was able to explain the rationale for flying a Black Lives Matter flag. In each of those conversations, the individuals expressed some level of disgust at what our Black students were experiencing in our school. While some still maintained that flying the flag was a mistake, none argued that what was happening in our schools was appropriate. In fact, one woman did say to me, "Well that wasn't reported in the article I read..."

It is my firm belief that we will make a difference when we discuss implicit bias and privilege, if we have real conversations with people. Rarely is that going to happen through the media. A story may spark someone to reach out and find out more. And that's where we can have an impact, one relationship at a time.

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