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Newsworthy

What I’m Learning About Allyship
by Meredith Storrs, Lower School Parent and Assistant Director of Communications

My family chose Brentwood because it was an imperfect school. 

I knew just enough about equity and inclusion at that time to understand that independent schools can be difficult to navigate for a number of marginalized groups. As a white parent eager to change cultures and systems that have harmed my friends of color, finding a school where we could participate in this work was high on our priority list. Inspired by our own cultural values, we felt drawn to Brentwood because it seemed eager for more parents like us. We knew it could be hard work to join a school that was progressing and not perfect, but we were woke and ready to make a difference.

Or maybe we were getting ready? Or still kind of half-drowsy in our efforts to wake up? Or overconfident in our capacity, at the starting line with one shoe off and another untied. In any case, my journey with equity and inclusion has involved a good deal of tripping up and occasionally landing flat on my face.

Engagement with diversity, equity, and inclusion requires courageous humility—the ability to look carefully at myself and, without belittling or shaming, recognize how much still needs to change. To do this well, I know that I need mentors to lead the way. 

That’s why I appreciated the webinar our DEI team offered with Dr. Lori Cohen last month. (Watch it here.) In this presentation, Dr. Cohen guided us through several reflective activities to explore our own identity markers. She challenged us not to rush to action items, but instead to continue coming back to personal understanding, especially as our identity and cultural perspectives shift over time. Acknowledging that everyone on the call is coming from a different point in their education on allyship, Dr. Cohen took time to clarify terminology, while also inviting the kind of deep introspection that continues to be valuable no matter how long you have participated in equity and inclusion spaces. Then, from this place of reflection, she invited us to consider and commit to a personal next step.

I don’t think about allyship in vague moralistic terms anymore. Instead of faceless groups of “them,” the conversation is personal—it’s my kids’ friends, members of my church community, and my colleagues at work. I enjoy the complexity of how each person houses identities that overlap and swirl together. And even though I haven’t lost some of that wild-eyed optimism, continuing to pursue these educational opportunities equips me both as a parent and a person to invest in change-making in a (hopefully) more useful way.

If you are looking for a personal next step, consider joining our Parent Allyship group. To be added to an email distribution list for ongoing resources and opportunities, contact equityandinclusion@bwscampus.com.

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