John Nash: From the University Council for Educational Administration, I'm John Nash. This is Cafe UCEA.
What is the role of faculty and programs in addressing anti-Blackness in leadership preparation? Dr. Terry Watson, from the City College of New York's School of Education, convenes a panel to address this question, stay tuned.
So Terri it's great to see you. I was thinking about the conversation I had, oh, last month with Mónica Byrne Jimenez, the executive director of UCEA, and she and I were talking about Sean Harper's presidential address at AERA. And I, I think it was entitled "We share responsibility," and Mónica was talking about how the talk really was trying to inspire researchers and educators to think about the individual and collective responsibility for complex problems that we have out there, especially social problems, educational problems, social justice.
And this conversation we were having was right on the cusp of the one-year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd. And we thought, how might we have conversations across UCEA that could help us carry this forward. And you came in the conversation, we started talking with you and you had this great idea to bring together some folks to have launch -- relaunch our cafes with the question, thinking about anti-Black racism and where leaders might--leader preparation might consider this.
Talk to us a little bit about that.
Terri Watson: Right. So the, I think because the death of George Floyd really in many ways sparked this global movement, like we've always known that Black lives matter, but seeing the lack of it, that the anti-Blackness in the, in the execution of George Floyd and watching it, you know, the, the visceral reaction we had to that for me as a person, as a, as a Black woman, as an educator, as an educational leader, it made me think about my own practices and things that happen in school buildings and classrooms that we see everyday that is anti-Black and inherently bad, not just for Black children, but for all children.
And I thought about, you know, like, what does it mean to me in my life? And hence the question that I had with some colleagues kind of came up in the question to be clear, was "What is the role of faculty and programs and addressing anti-Blackness and leadership preparation? Meaning, you know, as a, as a Black person in, and the folks I thought about to have this conversation with are all Black scholars, but their work really highlights Black people in Black life and Black excellence.
So I wondered what is it that we, when I say we, I thought not just we as the academy, but we specifically as Black people. You know, what is our role? And so often I know that, you know, race work is a heavy lift. You know, racism is a four letter word. It seems now, you know, they're, they, they want to ban CRT.
And many people don't even understand the, the meaningfulness behind this this paradigm, which helps us unpack and see Blackness, but it's not just anti-Blackness is anti humanity. And, and so for me, the depth of George Floyd was not just the loss of a life, but it was the lack of regard for, for this Black person, because we know that, you know, unfortunately if that was was anyone, if that, if that was a George Floyd was a white dog, literally a dog, and I'm not comparing him to a dog, but in another life, I know that those folks who stood by watching it, it would've never happened.
And it's something powerful and bearing witness because we have to ask ourselves. What is our role in that, even for those who watched it, you know, days later or hours later, or even minutes later, we still just witnessed something barbaric, that's not just, anti-Black again, it's anti humanity. And then we have to ask ourselves, what are we going to do about it?
And so that's the question that, you know, I was left with. And that's what led to the conversation that you are about to listen into.
John Nash: And it's a very powerful question because we as scholars and as, leaders of leader preparation, we, we get in the mix of our work. And I think we sometimes forget that there's a portion of this in which we may actually have some responsibility that we could be thinking through how a leader preparation could be different for all of the students that we teach in those students that they teach.
Terri Watson: Agreed. And I'm hoping that this conversation you know, it makes people pause and wonder and ask themselves, you know, what is their role in this? Because our silence in many ways is our consent. And we can't sit idly by were, there is no side of neutrality. Neutrality is the side of the oppressor.
John Nash: Yeah. So as we walk into the conversation -- and I had a chance to listen to an advance and it's heartfelt and honest, and also four friends really talking about this, introduce us to who you're going to be chatting with.
Terri Watson: Sure. So you have a Dr. Shannon Waite and Dr. Waite is incoming faculty at Howard university.
And then we have Kofi Lomotey, my dear friend and also my mentor. And he is a distinguished professor and endowed chair, I believe at Western Carolina University. And of course we have the great Rich Milner, another mentor and friend and dear colleague. And he's also an endowed chair, I believe at Vanderbilt University.
And again, when having this conversation, I just thought about people who I know and know well enough that we can talk honestly about, you know, anti-Blackness and, and our role as not just Black folks, but because we're all in educational leadership preparation program.
John Nash: Well, thanks so much. And let's let's not keep folks waiting. We'll let people jump into this and hear this conversation. So yeah. Thank you so much, Dr. Terry Watson.
Terri Watson: Thank you for having me on, I appreciate you and Mónica giving me this opportunity to just kind of think out loud with, with some good friends about, you know, the work that we do. So I hope you enjoy it and thanks in advance for listening.
Terri Watson: Good afternoon, Dr. Waite, Dr. Lomotey, and Dr. Milner. I want to thank you once again for joining me for the restart of the cafe series. That's part of the UCEA organization. And the cafe series in short is simply a bunch of informal conversations where scholars are invited to talk about their work. And the central question that I kind of crafted with you In mind in particular is as follows.
"What is the role of faculty and programs and addressing anti-Blackness in leadership preparation?" I know that Drs. Lomotey, and Milner, you have a new and exciting book out. I know that Dr. Waite is a up and coming scholar, and we are reading your book. We're excited about it. And we really want to talk about how can we as quote unquote, "the academy," as, as Black folks, as leaders, as parents, as concerned citizens, how can we address anti-Blackness in the work that we do?
Kofi Lomotey: Let me first thank you for this invitation to be here with you today. And for proposing in this, I think critically important question. I would say that there are three areas that we need to focus on in terms of preparation for school leaders, the first is diversity. The second is skills and third is knowledge.
And I'll expand on those briefly. When I talk about having a diverse faculty, I'm not just talking about racial diversity, which of course is a challenge in many institutions that has yet to be addressed, but I'm also talking about diversity in terms of the content of the curriculum. The experiences of different groups of people, including people of African descent need to be included in a diverse curriculum.
The second area I've talked about is skill. And here I'm talking about pedagogy, the ability to teach effectively to understand where in which students learn regardless of their level. And then the third is, is knowledge. And here I'm talking about cultural competence, knowledge about the learner.
And the second thing I'm talking about is, is, is knowledge about the content and curriculum. And this, this ties in very closely with much of the work that Rich Miller, deals with where he speaks in terms of the importance of, on the K-12 level, the importance of pedagogy, culture, and content, understanding the importance of all three of those things.
And I would argue my training is in K-12, but of course I've done a lot of work in higher education. And I think that there's a, there's a consistency there in terms of the importance of each of these components when we're dealing with students, even when we're talking about preparation program for people in educational leadership.
Terri Watson: Great. Thank you, Dr. Miller, what say you? How can we address anti-Blackness in the work that we do, particularly in leadership programs and preparation programs around the country.
Rich Milner: Well, like Kofi, I would start by just thanking you again for the invitation. I'm very honored to be with you, and Shannon, and of course my mentor and dear friend on Kofi Lomotey.
You know, I think it's so important. I think when we, when we think about faculty, we often are you know, we moved to the abstract so quickly, right? We, we find ourselves in spaces where you know, we are heavily drawn in theory or we, we want to, to nuance it all and all that's really, really important. Right. But I think when we talk about anti-Blackness for our liberal minded folk, I'm gonna say brothers and sisters in this work whether they're, you know, Black, brown white, yellow, or otherwise. I think we sometimes miss this notion that the individual work that is necessary to do what Kofi's talking about really requires like this deep self journey, this self work. And so sometimes the folks who are the most quote unquote liberal are the people who are quote unquote, the wokest can actually be the most harmful in the broad agenda towards towards transformation. Right? And so understanding how individuals, you know, we, we typically talk about racism when we talk about anti-Blackness we talk about the systems and the structures that are in place, and that is so true and so important. Right? But understanding how individuals make systems, right? These systems are manifest through the bodies and the histories of individuals and folks. And so, you know, to get to your point here, you know, this idea that so many of our white colleagues sit in meetings, they sit in curriculum meetings, they are administrators, they they have decision-making power, and they may not be doing all they can do to name disrupt and advance agendas that that are pro -- if you're, if you're, if you're anti, you know, really understanding what's your approach. And so, and part of that pro work, I think is really the self journey around understanding the ways in which individuals are complicit, albeit unknowingly in the maintenance of these systems systems that we operate in and through.
So I'll stop there, but I, I really do think that part of the work of getting to anti work is really understanding what your pro and and really for the wokest is among us, you know, especially to our colleagues who continue to allow these systems to perpetuate themselves. You know, I say that, you know, that you're not being pro Black, you're not being pro equity, if you are not speaking out against, and if you're not using the power that you have as an individual to change systems.
Terri Watson: Yeah. I think that's so important. Rich. I know. So often we always blame the system. Not understanding that the system is made up of parts and we are part and parcel to the system. So it would, like you said, what are we doing against? Like, if you're anti-Black okay. That's cool. Like, we understand that, you know, but what do you, what do you believe in? And how do you espouse that? And more importantly, what does it look like in play? Because people will say automatically, you know, oh, I'm not racist. Okay, cool. So if you're not racist and what are you? Because we were raised people and we understand how society and we systems are, are functioned and why they are structured the way they are.
With that said, I want to bounce it over to Dr. Waite, Dr. Waite, welcome. And thank you for joining.
Shannon Waite: Thank you. So I want to acknowledge that something's going on with my internet. So every now and then, like y'all freeze and I'm presuming as me. Cause when I come back in y'all are talking. So with that said, please forgive any delays.
And I just want to also thank you because honestly, I don't know if you caught me, but I'm sitting here writing. That's why you see a pen in my hand because like that's -- to have the ability to be in this space and being in community with two -- with these three -- brilliant scholars is amazing to an up and coming scholars like myself.
I, you know, appreciate your work. I have cited y'all's, work. And I recognize that as I, you know, advance in what we in the system of academe as I am because of the three of you sitting in this room and so many other people. And so thank you all. I don't know that I have too much more because Dr. Milner and Dr. Lomotey done said everything. Honestly, where I insert the conversation is as a practitioner, because I come from K through 12. As many as I know you do Dr. Watson and many others in the academy, do my, you know, I talk with my students first and foremost about understanding who they are, because I tell them you lead who you are, not these theories that are espoused to you, not what you read about. Not saying, you know, Pozner you lead who you are, right? And so if between the hours of eight to four, you are an administrator and the hours of 4:01 to 7:59, you are a bigot and a racist that's who you are. And even if you try to it form like you are, you embrace, you love everybody. You are colorblind, you don't see race.
It doesn't matter if you're Black, white, or green, the racism will transcend to your leadership and it'll show up in the decisions that you make. It will show up in the policies that you have, it will show up in your school and the culture. And so, so often I think I happen to think of ed leadership as the last stop.
So,part of the reason why I teach the way I do and as aggressively as I do in trying to really get my students to understand that they need to know who they are in order to know how to lead, regardless of whatever theory you were taught -- is because I understand that anyone can have racist ideology, right?
Particularly if you grew up in U.S. or any of its colonies in K-12, and you didn't have a counter to that, you can look like me. Right? And to Dr. Milner's point, you can look like me, espouse that you're pro Black and continue to sustain, maintain, and weaponize white supremacist policies that actually hurt children and families who are looking to be served.
So for me, the work that we do in ed leadership is a moral imperative. And, right now in the country, we are at its highest heights. It's not even, you know, an option. It's, it's a mandate.
Terri Watson: RIght. So, I have a question. And I'm thinking about this because obviously we're all Black folk and Rich, you spoke about this. These liberal folks woke folks, conscious folks, Black folks who espoused to be doing the work, but they still use the master's tools. What can we, what can, and should we be doing differently to not replicate and support the very systems that we are a part of? Because we're all obviously faculty members at institutions of higher learning, and even our very institutions are deeply steeped in racism and anti-Black practices.
So how do we shore ourselves so that we are not doing what they do? What can we do differently? And I want to start back to you Kofi, like w what, what can we do better or differently?
Kofi Lomotey: We have to start on the personal level by doing, studying. Because we can't talk about what other people are doing wrong. If we don't have an understanding of what's best for our people. So it's a study, it's to study and to understand our people, to understand the relationship between our people and other people in the world. And I can, I can say more about that, but the other piece of this, and Rich I think began to touch on this, the other piece of this is self reflection. Asking questions, like for example, am I prepared for the fallout from my efforts or our efforts to disrupt the system?
Because that's what we're talking about. We're talking about disrupting the system. That's not working for our people. It's not working for a lot of people, but the present context is our people. We need to self reflect and ask about our own positionality. And what is the significance is. About our own identity and what this, what the significance is. How do I feel about the content? And I'm being asked to teach, how do I feel about the students? Do I love the students? Do I want to commit the time to do what's necessary to bring about substantive change?
These are, these are questions that we all have to ask as educators. Particularly when we're talking again about disrupting the system. Because if we're not talking about disrupting a system, then as somebody already suggested, we're talking about contributing to the status quo and we see that happening on a daily basis.
And it, and it doesn't matter whether we're at a predominantly white institution or an HBCU, the challenges exist in both environments. On our campuses, we have many of the same challenges simply because most people who were teaching at HBCUs have been trained by people who are teaching at predominantly white institutions.
And if they've been trained by somebody who's teaching at HBCU, that person has been trained by somebody teach at a predominantly white institution. So, ultimately you get back to predominantly white institution. I'm not, I'm not critiquing our institutions uniquely, but there's a there's enough criticism to go around in terms of the fundamental changes that we need to make and they need to be made on the personal level first. Not by critiquing or analyzing what somebody else is doing, but by looking at our own selves, in terms of our own understanding of our circumstances and our own understanding of how we feel personally about our responsibility to disrupt the educational system as it's currently constructed.
Rich Milner: Oh yeah, sure. I think the the sort of fundamental question you're getting at here really is around knowledge and how do we construct knowledge? How do we come to know a epistemologically? And I think as Kofi said, like when we think about the Genesis of ideas and how we come to know what we know, I think we, we build, you know, I don't think it's building new tools for the sake of building new tools, as much as it is, like recognizing what tools, you know, how tools can be useful to get us to a place where we know, we come to know in ways that we may not have come to know otherwise. And so that means, you know, I think Felicia Mensah who's at Columbia. One of the things I observed her do on Twitter was she pulled photos of all of her the people on her syllabus, on her syllabi.
And, and that, that, that was, that was like, you know, it was one of those moments. I was like, this is powerful. Right. And so, I did the exact same thing. Right. And, and so the question is, I know we can sometimes get it wrong, but like, how are you reading who those people are? Like, so are they, are they read as all men, are they men as read as all white men? Are you, are you reading Black women? Are you're reading Black queer women? Are you, are you reading indigenous people from indigenous communities? Are you, you know, and I think those questions are fundamental because even when we learn from it, our knowledge base is constructed through sometimes white logic, right? White logic -- white lies as as we've come to come to sort of understand like this, This question around understanding that my worldview in this Black body, right, allows me to bring a perspective that at least allows me to nuance, to disrupt, to interpret things in ways that, you know, someone outside of this body just can't.
So, just fundamentally, when that, when you talk about building knowledge in leadership programs, like I think as Kofi said, the first step is like, who are you? Who is on your syllabus? Right? And why have you. Those people, you know, on a, on the syllabus, Beverly Gordon, put it this way.
You know, she said it is difficult to critique the world and work to change it when the world works for you. So all of these leadership theories, all of these, these practices that likely have some usefulness, right. Have to be critiqued. They have to be advanced, right. Because the world is not working for too many of our, of our communities and too many, too many folks who look like us on this call.
Terri Watson: Okay. Dr. Waite, what do you think? Thank you, Dr. Miller.
Shannon Waite: Again, ditto, ditto. I think that one of the most powerful things that both Drs. Lomotey and Milner have spoken about is really understanding and assessing whether or not you're built for this Right? If you say that you are actively anti-racist and I always put active in front of anti-racist, because I think that's important.
Someone can call themselves anti-racist but what are you doing? Right? Like to your point, I mean, not everybody has the benefit of a Dr. Terry Watson to make sure that 80 to 95 percent-ish of their syllabi are people of color. Our women are in the LGB or from the LGBTQ plus -- queer, Black, and brown indigenous. Right? And Latinx folk. I've had that benefit. Right? And I think that really being clear. Crystal clear that there will be consequences for your active anti racist and acknowledging anti-Blackness. Right? Like I, you know Dr. Watson, you know me well, and you know that when I was on the search circuit this year it was based off of the article that we just did and not JSL special issue.
And mine was on disrupting this consciousness and confronting anti-Blackness and educational leadership preparation programs. That looks like something I can tell you what it looks like. I can tell you the actual action steps that I took, you could read about it, right? So, for some folk who are saying that they're anti-racist what does that mean?
And are you prepared for the fallout? Like I, you know, you know, Dr. Watson, I've had several kumbaya sessions with y'all like between you, Yolie, Mark, Judy you know, y'all are the people that I call, like, I'm scared because I feel like I have to say this and you always tell me that I'm supposed to say what it is I'm supposed to say. Like, if I'm not, if I am not, if I'm not speaking my truth on behalf of the people that I purport to represent, then who exactly am I representing? Right? And I think that it's really important for folks who say that this is the work that they're about to actually be about it, to be clear that this could cost you something.
And are you prepared for that?
Terri Watson: Right. Thank you. I know Cornell West.. I'm sorry, Kofi?
Kofi Lomotey: I was just going to add one thing that if in fact it costs you, then you're probably at a place where you don't want to be anyway. 25 or 30 years ago. A lot of what scholars are saying now, you just could not say, and you could not do the kind of research that many people are doing now.ng on Black principals before:
So he wants to do some observations of some third graders and a white colleague told them you can't study Black boys without studying in comparison to white boys, because you can't, you can't attribute anything that you observed to the fact that they're Black, if you don't compare them to white boys.
So, I reminded my colleague that anthropologists for over a hundred years have been going all over the world into small communities and studying groups and writing books about it and getting awards. And they wouldn't compare them to anybody, right? Because anthropology was not even a part of education at that time. And qualitative research was movement within education. All we were doing was, was studies of white men and making generalizations to white women and black people and brown people and yellow people. So again, the tide has changed somewhat so that you can comfortably study your own people in most places.
But if you go to, you know, again, getting back to this situation in terms of being gone, being, going out to search for a position, if you are not comfortable, if you're not able to speak your own truth, when you're interviewing, then you really don't want to be there.
Terri Watson: Right? And so much of this work is about knowing who you are, right? What you care about, what you value. Cornell West said you can't lead the people. If you don't love the people. And in all of your work, I've noticed a deep love and commitment for black people, and you literally wear your heart on your sleeve, and Kofi. And in particular, I know that you have held endowed and distinguished professorships at several institutions. How have you managed to flourish in times where. You know, now you can say Black lives matter and not raise an eyebrow, but you've been doing this for a minute now. How have you managed to, to keep your agenda the same, to keep the love transparent and real and yet do good work? Like it's all, it's -- you are your work.
Like I know what you're going to talk about. And I look for that and respect that and it feeds me. So my question, I guess, is what feeds you, because you're both in PWIs, you both have been successful, but how do you keep the love going?
Rich Milner: Yeah, I'll start there. That's okay. You know what, I've come to understand. And I really learned this lesson from Gloria Ladson-Billings and that is my work often aligns with my job, but sometimes it doesn't and I think that's a hard place for people, especially earlier career scholars, to understand. In other words, they're asked if I want to continue to get my paycheck, like there are things I have to do, like go to a whole bunch of meetings that I don't necessarily think I should have to go to. Like, I mean, there are aspects of the work of the aspects of the job that you have to do. Right? But I am very clear about what my work is, right? I'm very clear about my work is.
And so you know, when I, when I decided to move to University of Pittsburgh, for instance, people, no one thought I was going to leave Vanderbilt to go to the University of Pittsburgh. And I said, watch me, All you're going to stay is exhaust when my car leaves this parking lot, right? So the, you know, is this, this idea that my work is far more important than the parameters, or the walls of an institution or a job.
And I have a choice, right? There are times when I want to stay, I will stick with the nonsense of the job that I don't necessarily want to do. And then there are times where, you know, I might say, this is not what I want to do anymore. And, and, and, but being clear about my work.
And I think sometimes what happens is like, I'm not going to be on the, I love black people wagon this week. I love black people unapologetically all day, everyday, all day, like, that's just, that's just, it just is what it is. Right. And people know, I love black people when I'm picking up my kids, my children, and in the, in the school line, they know I love black people in the, in the grocery store, in the supermarket.
You know, it's just who I am. That's my work. That's who I am. And it's what but then also understanding, like, I'm gonna love black people in these institutions as well, but I also have to understand that my loving black people doesn't mean that the people that I work with, even sometimes the black people I work with aren't going to love black people the way I work with them, the way I love them. So, and that's a hard, so, so just be very clear that your work and your job will, there will be some overlap, but then there will be some aspects of the job that sometimes leave you you know, wanting or desiring desiring more, designing something interesting, something different.
So it what's the take away, Rich? In short the takeaway is be very clear about what your work is and do the work, whether you're doing the work in the institution where you work, but do the work wherever you are, right.
Terri Watson: Is always the work. Your work is the work. Gotcha. Kofi was say you, how have you sustained yourself, sir?
Kofi Lomotey: I think, I think R ich is the nail on the head is the alignment of thw work with your job. When I, when I went to undergraduate school, I became interested in the education of black children because I was involved in tutorial programs in the larger community. And then as a junior, I started an independent African-centered school on campus.
And that became my mission to educate young black children. When I went to graduate school, I started another independent African school and people, people would always say to me, people who knew me prior to going to graduate school, how are you going to stay? How are you going to keep your head on straight being at Stanford?
You know, no black faculty in the college, in the School of Education at the time, the only black student in the cohort that I was in the way I did it. I will take my classes. And as soon as the class was over, I'd head across the bridge to Palo Alto to the independent school that I had started because I knew that I was going to Stanford not to get a Stanford degree primarily, but to do better what I was trying to do with black children, if in fact that was possible to do better, what I was trying to do with black children.
And so since that time, I've taught on every level from preschool to professional school. And I maintain a commitment to black students and an inquisitiveness that drives me to try to figure out how to better educate black children. And in my own particular area I do it in terms of educational administration specifically, what is the role of the principal, or what is the role of a university or college president -- understanding that their role, there are many roles.
There's a role for the school counselor. There's a role for the vice-president for student affairs. There's obviously the most significant role of a teacher, but you can have a culturally responsive educational experience for students if you don't have cultural, responsive leaders. And so they all intertwined and, and that's, that's what I that's, that's what drives me.
Just an understanding that we've got to do a better job with black children. If it helps other children, that's good. But my objective is to improve the circumstances for black children.
Terri Watson: And I think knowing that makes me clear with, with who you are. It, it helps me align myself to, you know, my values and my belief in black people, but it's easy to love and believe in black people and children in particular, when we are black people and our children are black.
So to, to love, you is to love me. So I got to love us, but how do we work with our colleagues who may not love us the way we do or love us in the right ways, or even work with those black folks whose love is sometimes harmful and toxic? What can we do about that? I want to start with you for that, Rich.
Shannon Waite: Can I just say one thing I just wanted to, I just really wanted to thank both of you for not just your comments, but honestly for your work and for all of your colleagues that make it possible for those of us who are coming behind. Right? Cause it's because of you that we are now able to say things like I'm an actively anti-racist scholar. Right. And it's because of the work that you put in and it's because of the good work that you put in. So thank you.
Rich Milner: I really appreciate that, Shannon, and that means a lot. And I would just say I owe so much to Kofi Lomotey, right? Like you know, you're speaking about me in the same you know, context as Kofi and I, I would just say I don't, I don't know if that's -- I'll take it, but I don't think that's a, that's necessarily a fair, you know, for Kofi, which I think goes back to your first question to like for Kofi and so many others who saw in me, you know and poured into me and filled my cup when it needed to be filled, corrected me when I needed to be corrected sometimes, but, but also, you know celebrating me when I needed to be celebrated. And I think, I think sometimes -- and that's one of the things I admire deeply about you know, Kofi and Kofi's generation of scholars. Like, I observed, you know -- Kofi was at Stanford when nobody else was -- I observed the way they get down for each other. It's just a, it's a really encouraging to follow. And I have certainly tried to pick up in some of the transferrable some of the transferrable features, you know I don't know if it was just Tony Morrison or but it's this notion that, you know, love and like are kin, but they ain't necessarily synonymous.
Right. And and so. You know, it's this idea here that, I don't know. I don't know if white people can, can ever love us the way we love us. Right. I don't know. I don't know. I don't know if they can ever have the kind of love for for our children that we have. Right. And it doesn't mean that they don't work towards it. Right? It doesn't mean that they don't pursue it, but I think it's a very difficult thing to get to, because it is this constant -- you know, you're grappling with and working through all of these discourses. Right? So? The, you know, it's social media and it's used to whatever the latest stat is.
Right? And so I think it, I think it makes it, I think it can make it very difficult. Right. I also think that I don't even know. For people who don't want to love our children. Like, I don't even know if I'm in the business of trying to make them want to. Right? But I, but I, but I do think, I don't even know if I, you know -- but I do, but I do want them to do their job. Do right by them.
Right. Like do so. So like, if you don't like my child, even if you don't love much know, right. I expect you to, to teach them, I expect you to lead them. I expect you to do whatever it is you have said that your, your job and your, and, and your, your job, you know, happens to be. And so I think for me, the work is you have to build the tools to be able to provide the kind of support that I'm going to call humane. That I'm going to call emanicipatory and I'm going to call a space of, of mental and psychological safety. Right? Those, those are the things that -- and, and if you're co-creating, you're co-constructing that kind of place for my children or for my child. That, that, that to me is going to have to be sufficient enough because I'm not in the business of trying to make you love someone who you've inherently grown to hate. I don't know if I have enough time to do that. Right?
Terri Watson: Yeah, I've been studying Harlem's mothers. So this whole theory of mother work, because there's so much that I know that as a black woman, that I would do for not only my children, but your children too, because I see my children in their eyes. And so what I'm, what I'm developing is like these, these concepts, these tools to help teachers just model it, like use this, do that, like fake it until you make it because like, you're right. I don't think we're any different from the billet for my kid, but I know that I will and I'll do it for a kid that maybe it looks like my kid. And to be fair, I don't know if I have that capacity for white people and their children. You know, I have to give myself a pause and say, to be honest, I mean, I liked you and I care deeply about you and I'm willing to do my job to the best of my ability.
And maybe that's all we can ask because love is such a radical and transformational word that I don't know -- if you're going to be honest not everybody can go. Not everybody go and do what I'm going to do, but I know I'm going to do it, and I know why I'm going to do it because of who I am and what was poured into me.
And even the roles of mentoring and even the bonds that we share. When I knew I could call you to hop on this call, like you all were sure bets, I didn't even have to call around you. You were my top three. Now in another capacity, I don't know if I had three white folks. I know I could call on to know that they would come, you know, in 72 hours and show up and work out the time and logistics like that's love.
And it's hard to fake that when people, and I'd rather, they don't fake it with me, let's keep it real, you know, and we can be pleasant and cordial and maybe that's what schools have to be. And maybe we can go elsewhere for the love, because I think we have to address anti-blackness in schools and we have to give future teachers and school leaders, the tools to be as effective with both an "e" and an "a": effective and affective as we possibly can, but know that we have to do work in our community to make sure that the kids are okay, that our children are growing and thriving. We have to do a little more because we have more on the line. Like that's my baby, like for real. So what do you think Kofi? And I'm coming to you, Shannon, cause I know you're going to take it home, but I want to see what Kofi has to say about that.
Kofi, is it Itoo radical? Am I asking too much of folks or too little?
Kofi Lomotey: I think I'd go back to what rich said. In terms of the fact that some people it's not worth it to try to deal with, with, with, with changing them, but let me go back even further to, to I guess the accolades that Rich was sharing about me. I suspect y'all are one or two people that stand on my shoulders, but my shoulders are not on the ground. I'm on somebody else's shoulders, too -- colleagues and mentors and wo-mentors, recalling the Gloria and Joyce and I were in graduate school together. Can you imagine being in graduate school with Gloria and Joyce?d one other colleague came in:
You know, I talked earlier about diversity and skill and knowledge. We selected people who, if they didn't have those skills already, we thought they were open to possessing those qualities. And so we've been doing professional development and that we don't call it that, but that's what we do. We, we selected a diverse factulty. We have, we have eight faculty members in our program. Three of them are African-American. Two of them are LBGTQQ, I say QQ. Five Europeans and three African. And how do we do this? We do it by taking them to professional meetings and sending them, or suggesting that they go to certain sessions. We do it by team teaching with them and letting them observe what we do. We do it in our summer. We have a summer retreat where we spend a couple of days together and just talk about this whole issue of social justice.
Social justice is embedded in our program from the time we advertise opportunities to be in our program until the time students finish their culminating project, every aspect of the program has social justice embedded in it. And people who were not talking the language when they first became members of our faculty are now talking the language and walking the walk.e reengineered our program in:
And so the, we don't have to ask the provost or someone, or ask the chancelor or someone because they already know what we're trying to do. So we don't have that much. We don't have that much of a challenge in that regard, but I guess the bottom line of my, my point is that we have to start small and then move beyond.
And there other programs, certainly within North Carolina that are borrowing from the kinds of things that we're doing at Western Carolina University.
Terri Watson: Great. Thank you, Shannon. What say you? Take us home.
Shannon Waite: I'm supposed to? Of the three of us I'm supposed to take y'all home?
So, I will say that I really appreciate what Dr. Milner started off with. Right. Which was I don't know whether or not I want to spend that energy and trying to convert people to love children that they don't love. Right? If if I'm around you and your energy ain't right? You can't cook me a meal. I'm good. I don't want it.
So when it comes to my kids that I actually gave birth to? So, since this us like, to your point not only how do I not have an expectation that you are going to love my child or like my child, I, low key, I'm going to be doing the background work to make sure that my kid comes out with what they need, regardless of whether or not you decide you're going to teach them, because I'm going to make sure that you teach my child.
I mean, I am in Harlem right now and I'm in New York city. And, what? In 41, 51 minutes, I'm going to be getting on a school board meeting and here in New York city, where I sit as one of the mayoral appointees, you would be -- it would astonish you. Well, not you Dr. Lamotey because you clearly know what it is, right? But Dr. Milner, it would astonish you the number of people who get on these calls in our meetings -- because now everything's virtual -- and talk about how they're for social justice and equity and demand inequity from the school board, demand inequity from the school board, demand that we approve contracts for things that are rooted and not only a segregationist, but an actively white supremacist agenda of segregating kids based on zip code and resources.
And so to, to the question, the only white folks that I have ever seen, who I would argue, do love black children are the ones who have black children and know their children are black. Right? So them? I have seen, right. I mean, I, I always go back, you know, see when we joke about how someone says, oh, I have a black friend. And I said, well, I have a white aunt, right. It was my white aunt who, when I was like eight years old visiting another aunt, we got on an elevator and I remember, you know, bright eyed, right. What does that bright-eyed? And bushy-tailed thinking to myself, oh, let me make space. Right. And this white man got on the elevator and stood on the polar opposite side, right? And when he got off, my auntie was like, oh baby, you could have squeezed yourself into the elevator. He didn't want to be on here with black people. Right? But she understood that because she had been married to a black man who was my uncle and she had three black kids. And so I think that, in addition to, I think, I think that it all goes -- we'll end where we started, which is with reflection and with introspection, because unless you're willing to really be uncomfortable, right? You will have to be comfortable being uncomfortable and do the introspective work required. And I'm not talking about reflexivity just for the act of saying that you're reflective. I'm talking about...
Terri Watson: [Crosstalk] We can't read Ibram's book on how to be anti-racist?
Shannon Waite: And then, and then, and so once you're, once you're done with it, then you're done? So no, no you can't because it will require some active anti-racist right? Like you have to one triangulate data. So yeah. You read his book. Have you read, like you're walking around, talking about CRT, have you read "Towards a Critical Race Theory of Education?" Do you know that it came out of critical legal studies? Do you know for the similar legal theorists of the theory? Do You understand its connection and application? Do you recognize that when you talk about CRT and education, you're talking about a theoretical construct, right? You're not, you're not going into your 12th grade classrooms talking about CRT to babies, right?
You're using the lens to help guide the work. Sorry. Y'all. And to really do the work that needs to be done to liberate children, because that's what this is all about. So, that's how I'll close Dr. Watson. I think that if we can communicate to educators, if we can communicate and it starts as Dr. Lomotey said, if I am showing up in an ed leadership classroom, I have to first understand where I sit -- with Dr. Miller, where you said you have to understand what you're pro. I am very clear that I am unapologetically black. I am unapologetic about confronting anti-Blackness and that I am unapologetic and my commitment to the liberation of Black, brown, indigenous Latin X, Asian, Pacific Islander native. Right? If other people get the benefit I'm down for that too. Right? And the reason why I'm unapologetic about it is because other people don't apologize. We are the only people who are asked to apologize for our loyalty to ourselves. That in and of itself is insanity. And so as the facilitator, right, because I don't view my position or my, my being the professor in the classroom as like pour out, pour in, like, let me get your cup.
I'm supposed to be there to facilitate the discussion, to co-construct the knowledge and for us to really develop what it is and help you do your own sense making around where you land as an educator. Right? And so if I don't understand that, that's my role, how am I supposed to expect in 7 weeks or 15 that you know, what your role is and being actively anti-racist?
So I think that the work, and like, the conversation is talking about how we do this. I think the work really starts with an administration's understanding that they have to do it so that spaces can create what Dr. Lomotey is creating down at his institution. And that goes beyond the endowed professorship. Right? So Dr. Milner can do his work, right? The way he needs to do it with the resources to actively create. I'm sorry?
Terri Watson: He's endowed as well.
Shannon Waite: No, did I not say that? I'm sorry.
But institutions, I have to make the commitment and they have to understand that it's not about hiring up and coming or a Black person and putting them in and then that's it, let's check this off of the compliance related box. It doesn't make sense for you to hire a Dr. Kofi Lomotey, or Dr. Richard Milner, or Dr. Terri N. Watson to make them a mouthpiece. Because number one, you're not going to be. See, I know you. Like sis, like you're about this life and about the work. And I understand that you are, as well as my two esteemed...well, y'all not really, my mentors are really Terri's mentors...
Terri Watson: But yeah, we are all friends,
Shannon Waite: I will close by saying that it takes a commitment on behalf of the people who are supposed to be doing the work and the people who hire us to empower us to do the work.
Terri Watson: Right. That is awesome. Which is why I knew you take us home. So in answer to the question, I guess, to wrap it up, what is the role of faculty and programs and addressing anti-blackness and leader preparation? I think the first place to start is within ourselves to understand what we're against and what we're for, who we are and what we believe in, and to make sure that, as Audrey Lord said, the personal becomes political because it is political, it does matter who we are and what we say and what we do.
And I think we can change the world. And I want to thank you for your time this afternoon and your efforts on not just behalf of Black people, but on behalf of all of us, I think the world needs this. I think the world, you know, we're in a bad place right now, but I think schools have at first and the best place to start, if we're to be who we say we are.
So I want to thank you once again for joining us. Is there anything you'd like to say for the good of the clause I know of for the cause rather I know I have extended, my time is 5:17. I'm looking at the clock then I miss anything. You want to add? Anything you want to add?
Shannon Waite: for having us?
Rich Milner: I would just it was just say what an honor to meet you Dr. Waite, and I mean, just so insightful, I look forward to following your work and your career and, you know, special shout out to Dr. Watson for all you do. I see you out there. I know you're working on behalf of us and I just, I'm very, very grateful to you.
And then of course, to Kofi Lomotey who is, you know, my brother, my friend and mentor always honored to be in your midst. So,
Terri Watson: yes, Dr. Lomotey you have the final word.Kofi Lomotey: Back in:
Thank you very much for this opportunity.
Terri Watson: That is it. Mic drop. Thank you all, be well, and I hope to see you in the near future. .
John Nash: Thanks for listening. If you liked what you heard today, please share the podcast or tell a friend about it. Cafe UCEA is produced by the University Council for Educational Administration at Michigan State University. This episode was produced by Mónica Byrne Jimenez, Terri Watson and John Nash. See you next time.