On Nov. 9, United Way, a local non-profit, hosted Excelerate Success in Gonzaga’s Hemmingson Ballroom to discuss issues surrounding education equity in Spokane County.
Approximately three hundred people attended the event, including students, professors and community members. The event was comprised of a keynote speech, an education equity panel and a workshop.
“I came because I’m really committed to young people,” said Elaine Tyrie, a Spokane community member. “They’re our future. And when we exclude anyone it’s a great loss.”
Dr. DiAngelo, an Affiliate Faculty of Education at the University of Washington, delivered the keynote speech and facilitated the workshop. Her scholarship is in White Racial Identity and Race Relations and has written various books, including What Does It Mean to be White? Developing White Racial Literacy.
“If I do my job right during this talk, the white people in this room will be uncomfortable,” DiAngelo said.
She discussed racial disparities that exist across all institutions and how racism is a system, not an event. Dr. DiAngelo noted that after her talks many people ask “Now what do I do?” Her answer is educate yourself, care, and have cross-racial relationships.
She ended her speech by saying, “Niceness is not courageous.”
“I think that events like this are really important opportunities to know that we can always continue to learn and hear from perspectives that are often silenced,” said Morgan Smith, a senior. “Social change … cannot be achieved without first taking the time to listen to and try and understand the perspective of those directly effected by injustice.”
Dr. DiAngelo’s keynote speech was followed by an education equity panel, which was comprised of people involved in the education system throughout Spokane County.
They discussed the need for people of color to be in positions of power so they can be role models for Spokane’s youth and how the population one is serving is the expert on what they need. One of the main points the panel made was that it is not enough to learn, but must also taking learned knowledge and turning it into practice.
“My biggest takeaway is the ‘So what, now What?’ which means I’m going to continue to learn and own and act” said Tyrie.