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theschoolboards
02-23-2015, 08:53 PM
From N.Y. Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/22/nyregion/at-new-york-private-schools-challenging-white-privilege-from-the-inside.html) by Kyle Spencer:

On a recent morning, 20 or so high school students, most of them white, milled about the meetinghouse at Friends Seminary, a private school in Manhattan. They were trying to unload on their classmates slips of paper on which they had jotted down words related to the topic “Things I don’t want to be called.”

Several girls tried get to rid of “ditsy.” A sophomore in jeans and a gray hoodie who identifies as Asian-American was seeking to unload “minority.” And several white students, including a long-limbed girl in a checkered lumberjack shirt, wanted to get rid of “privileged.” Under the rules of the exercise, no other student was obligated to accept it.

“It’s just a very strong word to use,” the last girl said. “I don’t want to be identified with that just because my parents can afford things. I think it has a negative connotation.”

The workshop was part of a daylong speaker series known at Friends as the Day of Concern. Students gathered in small groups to discuss a variety of social justice issues and participate in workshops; there were also talks about gender and the environment. But the overarching theme of the day was identity, privilege and power. And it was part of a new wave of diversity efforts that some of the city’s most elite private schools are undertaking.

In the past, private school diversity initiatives were often focused on minority students, helping them adjust to the majority white culture they found themselves in, and sometimes exploring their backgrounds in annual assemblies and occasional weekend festivals. Now these same schools are asking white students and faculty members to examine their own race and to dig deeply into how their presence affects life for everyone in their school communities, with a special emphasis on the meaning and repercussions of what has come to be called white privilege.

The session at Friends Seminary, on East 16th Street, was led by Derrick Gay, a 39-year-old diversity consultant who has led similar programs at Collegiate School on the Upper West Side, Saint Ann’s in Brooklyn Heights and the Spence School on the Upper East Side.

Mr. Gay, who is black, says schools are increasingly drawn to conversations about privilege and race because they understand that “raising students to live in a bubble — a white bubble, a black bubble, a Latino bubble, whatever type of bubble you want to call it — is not to your benefit in a global society.”

read more>> (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/22/nyregion/at-new-york-private-schools-challenging-white-privilege-from-the-inside.html)