Let's Talk about Race and Media

Photo by Rawpixel Ltd/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by Rawpixel Ltd/iStock / Getty Images

This is a VERY important topic and #scchat is diving in. Let me be honest, as a woman who identifies as white, and experiences her fair share of white privilege, I'm not entirely comfortable with this topic - which is one of the reasons why I'm supporting that we have this conversation. The #scchat community has been an encouraging and learning-focused one and I believe that we can and need to hear all perspectives, especially those of our colleagues of color.

As a school counselor my students were often my best teachers when it came to understanding the experiences of minorities and people of color. They just put things out there, forced the issues, and when I embraced what they had to share, I always learned and was more reflective as a practitioner. These days, many of my graduate students, friends and colleagues serve as my teachers and I'm more comfortable now challenging my own discomfort.  But this is never-ending work, at least for me, and I hope for others. And the work is at multiple levels if we are to deeply understand individual students' experiences, support friends, colleagues, communities and families, and challenge the systemic oppression and white privilege that is all around us.

Technology, for all the potential it has for good, fuels the topic of race at lightening speed to anyone with internet access, and often not in positive ways. Facebook was alive and well when I was ending my time as a practitioner but the political, in-your-face intensity of social media didn't exist as it does now. Helping students make sense of what they encounter online is hard enough but how do we help them handle the intensity of events like the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown or Sandra Bland, or the unjust treatment of Malala Yousafzai and Ahmed Mohamed.

I'm grateful to Alicia Oglesby, school counselor and founder of School Counselors of Color (@schcounsofcolor) who will be moderating the chat on Tuesday, 11/3 at 8pm ET. I'd also like to thank featured guests Dr. Malik Henfield (@drhenfield) and Dr. Stuart Chen-Hayes, (@schenhayes), both counselor educators, and another school counselor, Adrianne Robertson (@ms_robertson84) for joining in the conversation. We'll all be part of #scchat and invite you to join in.

In thinking about this #scchat, I experienced a source of unplanned inspiration at a conference I attended in Philly in October. The keynote speaker was Lee Mun Wah who is an internationally renowned Chinese American documentary filmmaker, author, poet, Asian folkteller, educator, community therapist and master diversity trainer. I reached out to him for an interview and was overwhelmed by his generosity in helping us all to think about how to go about this work we need to do. His video is long but he shares some very meaningful and practical ideas, and I think you'll find it very much worth your time.