How has race and intersectionality impacted your life?
"Having kids made me even more aware of my racial identity, because anything that was directed at me can also be directed at them."
If we're defining intersectionality, by the way in which our various identities interact and shape the way that we see the world, and how the world sees us, then I would say that my more hidden identity as a father, and my more public identity as a Asian male in a time of COVID-19, has definitely shaped the way that I am perceived and interact with the world. Walking around in public when the pandemic hit in March, I was always, more so than ever growing up, aware of my identity as someone who was Asian. Having kids made me even more aware of my racial identity, because anything that was directed at me can also be directed at them. I became hyper vigilant and aware and felt that enormous sense of stress. So that's something that I carry with me into my education space when I work with educators: thinking about, how might they be navigating the same issues that their students are facing on a variety of levels at this age?
Why is talking about race necessary in your work?
As the program director for Facing History and Ourselves Northern California regional office, my role is to help create learning spaces for educators to then build equitable and inclusive learning environments, whether that's in person or virtually now. I help teachers do the self-reflective work of looking at their own intersectional identities, as well as looking at structural components of the schools and communities that they work in, to see what are the barriers, and also the opportunities, for creating better learning environments, where all students, voices, identities, and community members are welcomed.
What was it like editing the lesson plans and seeing everybody's work?
Have these conversations in the classroom with their students purposefully, and not just accidentally, or as current events dictate.
As a curriculum reviewer, I loved seeing educators innovating and figuring out how to have these conversations in the classroom with their students purposefully, and not just accidentally, or as current events dictate. Each one of them was trying to structure their classes so that these conversations take place from the very beginning of the year and actually inform curricular choices. It was hopeful.
What would you like to tell any educator looking at your work right now?
Tell your students that you don't have to wait for the adults to try to figure it out for you.
Much of this work is led by youth. That's where change is going to come from. Tell your students that you don't have to wait for the adults to try to figure it out for you. Support them.
A huge thank you to Brian for reviewing the lesson plans!