America to Me: Real Talk

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How does change start? With real talk.
But, we all need the courage to come to the table.

How does change start? With real talk.
But, we all need the courage to come to the table.

America to Me: Real Talk

 

 

"O, YES, I SAY IT PLAIN, AMERICA NEVER WAS AMERICA TO ME, AND YET I SWEAR THIS OATH, AMERICA WILL BE!"

- LANGSTON HUGHES
 
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Introduction

America to Me opens the doors to a high school outside of Chicago, where students and teachers struggle to navigate crucial issues of race, identity, belonging and inclusion. They’re starting important conversations that need to be had. Join them by using the tools on this site to get your classroom, school, family and friends talking about what's going on in your own community.

EPISODE GUIDES

Real Talk Leads to Real Action

The Real Talk guides offer ways to analyze, reflect and engage with each episode, helping viewers understand what inequitable systems and traditions look like and what structural change is. They weave together conversation starters, guided questions, activities, tools and strategies intended to ignite conversations that empower participants to take actions that disrupt everyday racism.

Episode Guide 1

Real Talk Leads to Real Action

The Real Talk guides offer ways to analyze, reflect and engage with each episode, helping viewers understand what inequitable systems and traditions look like and what structural change is. They weave together conversation starters, guided questions, activities, tools and strategies intended to ignite conversations that empower participants to take actions that disrupt everyday racism.

Episode by Episode Comprehensive Resource

An episode-by-episode comprehensive resource to foster awareness, conversation and change. 

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America to Me Organizer Guide

Talking About Race

Organizer Guide

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Episode One

Context Matters: The Permanence of Racism

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Episode Two

Living or Surviving: Whose Humanity is Valued? 

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Episode Three

Racialized Relationships in Families and Communities

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Episode Four

Agency Among Different Racial Groups

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Episode Five

Academic Expectations Based on Race

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Episode Six

Racial Identity Development

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Episode Seven

Whiteness

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Episode Eight

Code Switching: Managing Multiple Racial Identities

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Episode Nine

Racial Fatigue & Self-preservation

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Episode Ten

Collective Responsibility

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America to Me Guides: Complete Collection

How to Talk About Race

Reflecting on Langston Hughes’s prophetic poem, Let America Be America Again looks at the complexities of race, identity, culture, and privilege through the eyes of a diverse group of students. This guide is designed to help you use America to Me as a catalyst for group discussions about race, racism, and racial equity in schools today. If you’re here, it means you believe we can and should do better. Thank you for playing a role in expanding and deepening this crucial dialogue. We welcome you.

 

Start with either a trained facilitator or a group organizer (e.g. teacher, administrator, family member, student) who can moderate the discussion using this guide.

Schedule at least one hour for a group discussion, two hours if you’re watching the episode as a group.

Look for a safe, inclusive space that’s wheelchair accessible, near public transportation, and that has media capabilities if you want to watch the episode as a group, or set up a ZOOM.
 
Participants should watch at least one episode of America to Me before the discussion and be willing to follow the discussion guidelines.

Ideal group size: 10 people or fewer. If your class or group is larger, break into smaller groups for discussion.

Helpful handouts: Print-outs of the Langston Hughes poem Let America Be America Again and the discussion guidelines, paper and pens for the exercises.
 

ORGANIZER GUIDELINES

GROUP GUIDELINES

Your role is to organize the gathering, read through all of the materials, kick off the conversation with the guidelines, and ensure that everyone follows them. You have the same voice and authority as everyone else in the group. You are the group organizer, not the group leader. Be prepared. These are sensitive topics, so it’s crucial that you read this entire guide and the entire Episode Guide you’ll be covering, including the resources under EXPAND.

Stay aware of who is speaking and who is not. Ensure that no one dominates the conversation, and welcome (but don’t demand) input from quieter participants. If someone violates a guideline, respectfully remind them of it.

If your conversation becomes a fight, quiet the group and ask everyone to spend two minutes silently writing down what they’re feeling and thinking. Use your judgment to either move on to a different topic or share what everyone wrote.
Appreciate that everyone in the room has good intentions and also biases. Everyone is doing the best they can from their current state of awareness.

Speak for yourself (“I feel…” “I think…”), not on behalf of your identity (“we feel…” “we are…”) or other identities (“they think…” “they act like…”).

Listen to understand and not to respond. Take the time to process what you’ve heard.

Avoid negative judgments, language, and name calling. Be open to feeling uncomfortable - all growth comes with some discomfort.

Understand that groups of a single race can have multiple perspectives and even the most diverse groups will have missing perspectives.

Stay engaged. Take a moment if you feel frustrated or misunderstood, but don’t drop out.

Don’t dominate the conversation. Everyone gets a chance to speak and be heard.

Don’t expect resolution, complete agreement, or definite answers. This is a discussion, not a debate or a lesson.

 

 

Organizers: Set the stage for a good discussion by welcoming everyone and arranging your group so everyone can see each other, ideally in a circle.

 

STARTING THE DISCUSSION

EXPANDING THE DISCUSSION

WRAPPING UP THE DISCUSSION

Introduce yourself and your role. Hand out print-outs of the discussion guidelines and (if using) the poem by Langston Hughes.

Read aloud the discussion guidelines and monitor the conversation to ensure everyone follows them.

Have each person introduce themselves by name and self identify their race, ethnicity, and gender pronouns.

Read aloud the definition of “Race” as it pertains to this discussion:

Race is a social construct based on perceptions of a person’s skin color, hair texture and other physical characteristics. In the words of historian Nell Irvin Painter, “race is an idea, not a fact.” Race is different from a person’s nationality (e.g. Irish, Italian) and their ethnicity (e.g. Jewish, Latinx).
Use the America to Me Episode Guides to frame your discussion.

Read and familiarize yourself with the Langston Hughes poem, and ask everyone “What is America to you?”

Ask your group some of the Essential Questions About Race.

Pass out paper and pens. Ask everyone to put their anonymous questions about the series or other race-related topics in a box. Read them aloud for the group to discuss.

Introduce the Racial Autobiography and encourage participants to think about their first entry.
When your time is up or you feel the discussion has reached a natural stopping point, thank everyone for their time and contributions.

Invite everyone to continue watching the series, thinking about what they heard, and engaging in conversations about race and racial equity.

 

What is America to me?

Why do we need to talk about Race?

Why does Race matter?

Which person from the episode / series strikes a chord with you and why?

Who benefits from an environment of equity and inclusion?

In what ways is Oak Park and River Forest High School a microcosm of communities around America?

Where have you found resources that are inclusive of many racial backgrounds?
How are experiences around race different for white people and people of color?

Why is it important to understand the cycle of oppression with regard to race?

Where and when in society do you see that the color of your skin is valued?

Who should be at the table to create communities of Equity and Inclusion? And who should be at the table to ensure systemic change? Are they the same people?

From Glenn E. Singleton’s COURAGEOUS CONVERSATION™


Race is something that impacts all of our lives, whether we’re conscious of it all of the time or not. Reflecting on your own racial journey is important for understanding your identity, your relationship with others, and your positioning in the world.  An understanding of your personal journey with race can also lead to a heightening of your racial consciousness.


As you watch each episode of America to Me and engage with the Episode Guides, you’ll see prompts to add entries into your own racial autobiography.


As you complete your journal, please describe your experiences, thoughts, and feelings, and, be mindful of what comes up for you as you engage.


Remember, race is personal and professional. It includes positive and negative experiences. Race is many things. Do not limit yourself in what you choose to share.

STARTING YOUR RACIAL AUTOBIOGRAPHY

What was your earliest experience with race? What was your most recent experience with race? (These are called the “bookends” of your racial autobiography.)

LET AMERICA BE AMERICA AGAIN
by Langston Huges

READ




 
TIM WISE

READ




 
WHITE FRAGILTY AND THE RULES OF ENGAGEMENT
by Dr. Robin DiAngelo

READ

CRT AND THE BRAIN
by Zaretta Hammond

READ




 
COURAGEOUS CONVERSATIONS ABOUT RACE
from Glenn Singleton

READ




 
AFFIRMATION,SOLIDARITY,AND CRITIQUE:MOVING BEYOND TOLERANCE IN MULTICULTURAL EDUCATION
by Sonia Nieto

READ

EXAMINING CLASS AND RACE
by Paul Kivel

READ




 
LEANING FORWARD
The Professional Learning Association

READ




 
MULTICULTURALISM'S FIVE DIMENSIONS
by Dr. James A. Banks

READ




 
CODE SWITCH:RACE AND IDENTITY, REMIXED
at NPR

READ

AGENCY

The ability to feel empowered to take control of your own choices and actions, and advocate for yourself. Race can have a strong impact on a person’s agency.
 

BIAS

The belief that some people, races, ideas, etc., are valued more than others; a prejudice for or against something.
 

BIRACIAL

A person who self-identifies as having parents of two different races. Some individuals use the terms “biracial,” “multiracial,” and “mixed race” interchangeably.
 

CODE SWITCHING (REGARDING RACE)

When a person of color consciously or unconsciously changes their speech, behaviors, or other traits in order to conform to / fit in with Eurocentric society. Read NPR’s ”Five Reasons Why People Code-Switch.”

 

COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY (EDUCATION)

Teachers, administrators, families, and members of the community work together systemically to ensure higher quality instruction in all classrooms and better results for all students.

 

COLORBLINDNESS (RACIAL)

The idealistic notion that the solution to racial inequity is simply to treat people as equals, without regard to race, culture, or ethnicity. At best, this ideology naively ignores the complexities of systemic racism, whiteness, and the effects of centuries of racism and inequity. At worst, it is a form of racism and privilege. White people do not experience the disadvantage of racism and therefore can ignore racism, deny the negative experiences of people of color, and reject their cultural heritage and perspectives. Read Colorblind Ideology is a Form of Racism.

 

COLORISM

Prejudice and discrimination against individuals based on the darkness or lightness of their skin tone. This prejudice and  discrimination can come from within or outside of the racial group. See What’s Colorism? from Learning for Justice.

 

COMPETING VICTIMIZATION

Tactics used to remove responsibility for behaviors that are centered around white privilege.

 

DESEGREGATION

The ending of a federal policy of racial segregation in America’s schools and military. The focus of the Civil Rights Movement before Brown vs. the Board of Education. See BROWN V. BOARD: Timeline of School Integration in the U.S.

 

EQUITY

Equity is learning and working to understand people’s life experiences and how various structural and institutional practices have created barriers to all people living in a just, fair society. Equity prioritizes and focuses on the just and fair distribution of resources and access to eliminate barriers, so a person’s full humanity can be realized and recognized. Equity is not the same as equality. Equality is treating everyone the same and attempts to promote fairness. Things can only be fair if everyone begins at the same starting point.

 

EUROCENTRIC

Focusing on European culture and/or history to the exclusion of a wider view of the world; implicitly regarding European culture as the gold / default standard which American society should adhere to. One example is American classrooms, which teach European history, but rarely African history outside of the slave trade.

 

IMPLICIT BIAS (AKA SOCIAL COGNITION)

Unconscious judgments or prejudices formed through our upbringings and exposure to certain societal values, the media, etc. See POV’s “Implicit Bias: Peanut Butter, Jelly, and Racism.”

 

INSTITUTIONALIZED/SYSTEMIC RACISM

A systemic mistreatment that occurs when established laws, customs and practices create inequities solely due to an individual’s race.

 

INTEGRATION

More than just the act of desegregation, integration involves leveling barriers, creating equal opportunities regardless of race, and developing a culture that values diverse people and traditions, rather than merely allowing a racially marginalized group into the mainstream white culture.

 

INTERNALIZED OPPRESSION

A person who is victim to racism over a period of time who begins to believe that they are inferior and the problem. Eventually they will internalize these negative thoughts and exemplify the lies of inferiority and inadequacy. When they believe this, they have internalized the oppression. Read Yeah, But They’re White from Learning for Justice.

 

MULTIRACIAL

A person who self identifies as being a part of multiple racial groups. How a multiracial person self identifies may differ from how society or other racial groups perceive them. See Multiracial in America from the Pew Research Center.

 

RACE

Race is a social construct based on perceptions of a person’s skin color, hair texture and other physical characteristics. In the words of historian Nell Irvin Painter, ”race is an idea, not a fact.” Race is different from a person’s nationality (e.g. Italian, Irish) and their ethnicity (e.g. Jewish, Latinx).

 

RACIAL IDENTITY

A person’s identification with a particular race that shares common characteristics with that person. Multiracial individuals identify as being a part of multiple racial groups.

 

RACISM

A belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent  superiority of a particular race. A “racist” is a person who perpetuates these beliefs.


WHITE PRIVILEGE

Rights, immunities or social advantages afforded to those who are or are perceived to be racially white. White privilege is different than economic privilege. Read “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh.

 

WHITE SUPREMACY (AS IT RELATES TO RACE AND POWER)

A belief that the white race is inherently superior to other races and that white people should have power over people of other races.

 

WHITENESS

Whiteness is a social construct based on White cultural norms (habits, practices and ways of being). These norms are valued and privileged as the standard that all individuals and institutions are expected to embody. Whiteness as a “standard” is embedded in institutions and structures and is largely based on Eurocentric norms. Read “I Sometimes Don’t Want to Be White Either” on Huffington Post / Read “Whiteness and White Identity Development” from Culture and Youth Studies.

AMINA FOFANA

Amina is the Executive Campaign director of #StillNotEqual campaign for IntegrateNYC in efforts to raise awareness about school segregation and the fundamentals of an integrated educational system. She is the founder of the INYC Artivist committee teaching students the use of various mediums of art as a tool for activism and awareness.

ANDREA JOHNSON

Andrea Johnson is the Executive Director for the Courageous Conversation Global Foundation. She facilitates conversations about race, nationally, using the award-winning protocol for Courageous Conversation™.

APRIL CALLEN

April Callen is a writer, communications strategist, and cultural critic. She works closely with public and private organizations to ensure their communications not only raise awareness but address the root causes of inequity across race, gender, and economic opportunity. April is the strategy and outreach associate at the FrameWorks Institute, a communications think tank based in Washington, DC; and a strategist for the Shared Story Project at the Partnership for the Future of Learning.

DR. CHALA HOLLAND

Dr. Chala Holland is an educational leader with a passion for students, teaching, and learning. She has led multiple districts in efforts focused on improving and enhancing student achievement outcomes for all students and has led extensive efforts to address disparities in achievement. Through her academic and professional work, Chala continues to examine the relationship between leadership, organizational change, and issues of equity. Chala has a BA from Northwestern University, an MA from DePaul University, and an EdD from University of Illinois at Chicago. Chala is currently completing a PhD in Educational Policy Studies and hopes to bridge efforts between researchers, policy makers, and district administrators towards the elimination of disparities in student achievement.

JESSICA STOVALL

Since 2007, Jessica Stovall has taught English at Oak Park River and Forest High School in Oak Park, Illinois, where she has worked to interrupt systemic racial achievement disparities. A recipient of the 2014 Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching, Jessica spent a semester in Wellington, New Zealand, studying educational debts between white and indigenous Māori students. Since her return, Jessica has embarked on two projects – a comprehensive teacher professional development program and a workbook for teachers – both focused on eliminating the racial predictability of student achievement. She is a part time instructional coach and serves on the inaugural ASCD Global Education Advisory Board. Her work at OPRFHS is featured in Steve James’ 2018 documentary series, America to Me. Jessica will attend Stanford University this fall, pursuing her PhD in Race, Inequality, and Language in Education.

JOEL LAGUNA

Joel Laguna currently teaches 6th grade social studies at Thomas Starr King Middle School Film and Media Magnet in Los Angeles, CA. Joel is currently the Film and Media Magnet Lead teacher and chairs the school’s Gay - Straight Alliance and Film Student Council clubs.

LEE TEITEL

Lee Teitel teaches courses on integrated schools and leading and coaching for equity and diversity, leadership development, partnership and networking, and on understanding organizations and how to improve them. He is the faculty director of the newly launched Reimagining Integration: The Diverse and Equitable Schools Project at Harvard Graduate School of Education.

LORI WATSON

Dr. Lori A. Watson has 20+ years’ experience as a middle and high school Educator. She currently works with Pacific Educational Group, as an Equity Transformation Specialist, facilitating Courageous Conversations About Race nationally and soon internationally with adults and more recently with youth, through her S.O.A.R. (Students Organized for Anti-Racism) seminars and summits.

LORRAINE MARTINEZ-HANLEY

Lorraine Martinez-Hanley is on the faculty at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School as a Spanish Teacher and Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning Academy Translation Group Leader. Lorraine is a Principal Consultant with The Glasgow Group, a consortium of diversity educators who produce the National Diversity Practitioners Institute. Lorraine served as the lead curriculum writer for the America to Me: Real Talk discussion guides.

MAURICE BLACKMON

Maurice J. Blackmon is a six-year educator with the NYC Department of Education and Advocacy Coach with IntegrateNYC. His activist work began when he collaborated with students of color in a predominantly white school to organize its first Black Student Union. He feels that education is the process of broadening a person’s vantage point beyond the scope of their limited perspective, and is therefore a liberating act.

PRIYA VULCHI

Priya Vulchi co-founded CHOOSE in 10th grade with Winona Guo to equip us all with the tools we lack to both talk about race and act toward systemic change. Their latest publication—a racial literacy textbook and toolkit for educators called The Classroom Index—has been recognized by Princeton University’s Prize in Race Relations, featured in Teen Vogue, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Huffington Post, and called a “social innovation more necessary than the iPhone” by Princeton Professor Ruha Benjamin.

STACY SCOTT

As a psychologist and former superintendent of schools, Dr. Stacy L. Scott is a Senior Lecturer at Boston University’s Wheelock School of Education in the Education Leadership and Policy Studies Program. Dr. Scott brings unique perspective on equity and diversity in the leadership of schools and is the founder of several organizations including the Center for Understanding Equity and Global Sustainable as well as a co-founder of The Peace Institute.

WINONA GUO

Winona Guo co-founded CHOOSE in 10th grade with Priya Vulchi to equip us all with the tools we lack to both talk about race and act toward systemic change. Their latest publication—a racial literacy textbook and toolkit for educators called The Classroom Index—has been recognized by Princeton University’s Prize in Race Relations, featured in Teen Vogue, the Philadelphia Inquirer, & the Huffington Post, and called a “social innovation more necessary than the iPhone” by Princeton Professor Ruha Benjamin.

ARTHUR M. BLANK FAMILY FOUNDATION

BANK OF AMERICA

BOSTON SCHOOL FINDER

CHICAGO UNITED FOR EQUITY

CMS FOUNDATION

COMMUNITIES FOUNDATION OF TEXAS

DAMON J KEITH CENTER

DISRUPTIVE EQUITY EDUCATION PROJECT

DOBKIN FAMILY FOUNDATION

EASTERN MARKET
 

EDUCATE 78

EDUCATION FORWARD DC

GALE BREWER

GLASGOW GROUP

GREATER WASHINGTON COMMUNITY FOUNDATION

GROW A TEACHER

INTEGRATENYC

INTEL

KARTEMQUIN

MACARTHUR FOUNDATION
 

MUSEUM OF TOLERANCE

NATIONAL CENTER FOR CIVIL AND HUMAN RIGHTS

NATIONAL EQUITY PROJECT

NEW YORK APPLESEED

OAKLAND UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

REIMAGINING INTEGRATION

THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS

TRUTH,RACIAL HEALING AND TRANSFORMATION DALLAS

UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO SCHOOL OF SOCIAL SERVICE ADMINISTRATION

XFINITY
 

 

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America to Me in Action

America to Me and the Real Talk guide are being used by educators, students & communities in all 50 states, igniting conversations that lead to change. Only by creating spaces to talk about race can we construct more equitable learning environments that empower all students. Using storytelling to spread empathy and awareness we can help change the way school ecosystems address equity both inside and outside the classroom. Click on the case studies below to see America to Me: Real Talk in action. If you have been using America to Me in your community, email atm@particpant.com and tell us more!

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America to Me and the Real Talk guide are being used by educators, students & communities in all 50 states, igniting conversations that lead to change. Only by creating spaces to talk about race can we construct more equitable learning environments that empower all students. Using storytelling to spread empathy and awareness we can help change the way school ecosystems address equity both inside and outside the classroom. Click on the case studies below to see America to Me: Real Talk in action. If you have been using America to Me in your community, email atm@particpant.com and tell us more!

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Where to Watch

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FREE FOR EDUCATORS

Educators can access America to Me for free on Film Platform through 2021. Make sure to check out the Real Talk Guides.

Go here to sign up and use the conference code: ATM2020

 

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SOCIAL ASSETS

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Join the national conversation and host an #AmericaToMe watch group using the Real Talk guide. #americatome @Participant

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Lead the change you want to see. Host an #AmerciaToMe watch group using the Real Talk guide. #americatome @Participant

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Just saw #AmericaToMe. What an eye-opening look at education in America. I am going to host an #AmerciaToMe watch group using the Real Talk guide. You should too!

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“We now see deep inequities in the public school system everywhere we look. We are experiencing these racial divides in a more personal and painful way. This pain drives me forward to continue pushing my school community to prioritize racial consciousness in education.”

- Parent Advocate, New York City

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“Engaging with this series has made me believe that I can keep going as a teacher. It has been so validating while helping to acknowledge and name the challenges I’ve faced at my school.”

- High School Teacher, San Francisco

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“Without this I would have been blind to the negative bias on my campus and wouldn’t have stepped up to help stop it." 

- High School Student, Carlsbad

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America to Me is ripe for discussion and curated clips are a smart way to reduce the barrier to entry for people to participate and share their thoughts and interpretations.”

- Real Talk audience member

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“If we don’t have new perspectives, we’re going to recreate the same system with a new name.”

- Real Talk audience member

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“I have a clearer and more vivid picture of structural racism.”

- Real Talk audience member

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“I thought it was a great series that really sparked engaging conversation for all of my colleagues no matter where they are on their journeys. It was very relatable and well represented.”


- Watch Group audience member

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“It first reminded me what a difficult time high school is and then I learned about how much more difficult it is for black students.”

 

- Watch Group audience member

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“Because of this series, I continue to reflect on the systems of racism I have or do blindly participate in or unknowingly support, and will need to now be more intentional about the decisions I make that contribute to those systems.”


- Watch Group audience member

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“Lots of people reflected on their own high school experiences, naturally, or their kids current high school experiences. A larger reflection that really came out for me was that OPRF was just one spotlighted high school, but ALL of our communities and students are likely struggling to overcome so many similar stories and perspectives. Just a further proof point of how much systemic racism and inequity surrounds us all, and so many are still oblivious to that.”


- Watch Group audience member

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“The series makes me think about how I show up and behave, and what I need to change.”

- Watch Group audience member

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“The show allowed us to have more conversations about race, and the Real Talk questions allowed us to have more of a focus as we watched.”

- High School AVID Teacher

America to Me and Participant

 

 

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