Equity & Diversity

Next Steps: Resources for the Public

The death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old unarmed Black man, who died on Memorial Day after a Minnesota police officer casually pinned him to the ground by placing his knee and the full weight of his body on Floyd’s neck for a tremendously long eight minutes and 46 seconds, has forever changed America. The blatantly racist events that unfolded in spring 2020 included the Central Park incident with Amy Cooper, the brutal killing of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, the killing of Tony McDade (a transgender man in Florida who was fatally shot by the police), and the murder of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky. by police executing a botched search warrant. These incidents have unleashed built-up frustration that the United States is ill-equipped to manage. 

The global pandemic, with a death rate that disproportionately affects people of color, is contributing to the rage seen in protests across our nation and world. This rage is not only due in part to the oppressive behavior of some police officers; it is a byproduct of the inequities, implicit bias and aggressions regularly endured by Black people in our institutions, including health care, education, housing, finance and criminal justice. For Black people, the continued acts of inequities, implicit bias and aggression on Black people are exhausting. Robin DiAngelo, a renowned equity and diversity expert states that racism is not always apparent and violent, like when police beat civil rights marchers in Selma, Ala. in 1965 — but the reality is that it is much more insidious and part of daily life. The recent monumental events  have forced the narrative to change in our nation because we can no longer turn a blind eye to the challenges we face in equity and inclusion. They are significant, with deep historical roots that have gone unaddressed for too long.

We are now at the point where many Black people no longer believe in our society’s social contract. This social contract has traditionally maintained that we have expectations of you as a member of this society to uphold the rules of law, and in doing this, you will benefit from the American experience and will be provided with societal protections. Over and over, this contract has not been upheld. And now what we see play out on the morning and evening news is hurt and anger seen in the eyes of the Black people protesting.

We are being asked about the next steps: what happens after the protests end? There are a lot of actions that need to take place, but there are two things everyone should be doing: collecting knowledge about the varied facets of racism,  and engaging in “daring discourse.” Discourse that is “daring” seeks to deepen understanding of information that is difficult to process because the subject matter is uncomfortable. The daring discourse needed at this moment includes conversations about race, racism and systemic racism. Conversations about race are generally filled with intense and powerful emotions because they present or reveal different perspectives. Engaging authentically in these two actions first requires educating yourself and engaging in personal reflection in order to grow your knowledge and understanding, remembering that no one racial or cultural group is monolithic, and viewpoints will range. As you gain knowledge and awareness, seek out opportunities to take action through daring discourse. Below you will find resources to support the work of building knowledge and awareness, and engaging in daring discourse about race.

The Department of Equity, Diversity and Opportunity is also taking action. Below you will find actionable responses from our department to some of the areas identified to be of high importance to the African-American community:

  • Multicultural Education:
    • Developed the Culturally Responsive Education Model as a lens for the Henrico Learner Profile. The Culturally Responsive Education Model incorporates cultural sensitivity and culturally responsive teaching practices as the center with the following instructional and programming spokes: knowledge construction, content integration, equity pedagogy, prejudice reduction (social justice) and school empowerment.
    • Created an Equity and Diversity Professional Learning Library for schools, with 30+ titles that align with components represented in the Culturally Responsive Education Model paradigm, or support implementation of the Henrico Learner Profile.
    • Sponsored ad-hoc training for all staff members on components of the Culturally Responsive Education Model and supported a federally funded study on the implementation of Culturally Responsive Teaching Practices using an action research framework in coordination with the Metropolitan Educational Research Consortium at VCU.
    • Promoted the “Windows and Mirrors” paradigm, which works to ensure that course literature is personally reflective or globally educational.
  • Cultural Sensitivity:
    • Crafted a multiyear professional development plan that includes required online training on cultural sensitivity for all full-time HCPS staff members.
    • Identified and trained staff members to provide unconscious-bias training in all schools and most non-school-related departments.
    • Redesigned our restorative practice training to include the inclusion of culturally responsive practices.
  • Daring Discourse:
    • Created the Equity Ambassadors program, a group of students at every high school that participates in divisionwide leadership training sessions that teach them how to effectively engage in equity work, as well as how to conduct “daring discourse” with their peers. Along with students, the staff sponsors of each Equity Ambassadors group is being trained to engage in daring discourse. The goal is for them to develop the skills necessary to facilitate discussions within their home schools, as well as support the facilitation of discussions in other school spaces.

We recognize that these actions are only first steps. We are continuing to expand our work by forming a task force of black HCPS staff members from throughout the school division, who will assist with the development of a plan that responds to the needs of black students and staff members.

RESOURCES

Podcasts:

  •  “Integrated Schools” is comprised of parents trying to change the conversation about school integration.
  • “Code Switch” investigates issues related to race and identity in the United States.
  • “Chicken And Jollof Rice Show” features the perspectives of four first-generation African Americans on current events, pop culture and what it’s like to live in America.
  • “Race Relations” is about race, and is honest, raw, funny and refreshingly real.
  • “RaceConvo.com: Everyday conversations on race for everyday people” is a group of people having conversations about race.

Books to spark conversations and provide conversations about race:

  • “Courageous Conversations About Race” (2nd edition) by Glenn E. Singleton.
  • “So You Want to Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo​.
  • “Blind Spot” by Banaji and Greenwald.
  • “Whistling Vivaldi” by Claude Steele.
  • “Teaching to Transgress” by bell hooks.
  • “Killing Rage: Ending Racism” by bell hooks.
  • “Teaching Race: How to Help Students Unmask and Challenge Racism” (1st edition) by Stephen D. Brookfield.
  • “Race Talk and the Conspiracy of Silence: Understanding and Facilitating Difficult Dialogues on Race” by Derald Wing Sue.

Other resources:

Monica Mann Headshot
Photo credit: Jay Paul

Message From Our Director, Dr. Monica Manns

Welcome! Since joining Henrico Schools in 2018 as the school division’s first director of equity and diversity, it has been my privilege to begin this journey.
 
The HCPS Department of Equity and Diversity aims to foster diversity and opportunity by understanding, identifying and helping eliminate biases, barriers and harmful power dynamics. In order for our students to learn, grow and fully contribute to society, they need paths without barriers. We believe an equitable, inclusive public education system is a cornerstone of our democratic society and that your local school system should serve as a pillar for our community. How do we achieve that? 
 

Equity

An equitable educational environment is about student empowerment, ensuring that all students have what they need to succeed in the classroom and beyond. This includes students from historically marginalized and fiscally under-resourced communities; students in special education programs, English-language learners and other students with diverse educational needs. 


Fairness

The Department of Equity and Diversity is particularly focused on the promotion of fairness. Fairness means ensuring that personal and social circumstances do not prevent students from achieving their academic potential.
 

Diversity and inclusivity

Inclusive education recognizes that students need cultural knowledge about themselves and others. More than ever before, students need to see themselves reflected in their learning environment, as well as appreciate someone else’s worldview. The ability to see the world from one’s own viewpoint and another’s at the same time allows us to perceive the world in three dimensions.

Opportunities

The Equity and Diversity Department is particularly focused on ensuring that our instruction provides opportunities for students to see the world in three dimensions. This strengthens our society, ensuring a cohesion which embraces the fundamental values of America. 


Our goal

HCPS’ goal is to produce citizens that have the skills needed to be college- and/or career-ready. We need to make sure they get the skills they’ll need in our current workforce. HCPS’ Equity and Diversity Department is particularly poised to support these efforts by championing programming that promotes cultural competency for both students and staff. Private-sector employers today truly understand the need for culturally competent employees. A vast and growing body of research has found an ever-increasing need for language and intercultural competence in virtually all professions. These reports all highlight the urgency to add these elements to one’s education.
 
Dr. Monica Manns 
Director, Department of Equity and Diversity 
 
“Be they urban, rural, large or small, homogenous or diverse, given the myriad of challenges facing schools in the America and around the world, simply assigning the same, cookie-cutter education solution is not only ineffective, it is a miscarriage of justice.”
– Mark A. Elgart., Ed. D.

“Profiles in Educational Equity” podcast episodes:

Equity and Diversity Advisory Committee

 Member Names and Subcommittees

Tonia Churchwell: Communications
April Johnson: Communications
Jerry Zhang: Communications
Joelle Young: Diversity
Paule “a” Houng Beke: Diversity
Sallie Havey: Diversity
Steve Burner: Diversity
Dvora Courtland: Diversity
Jose Florez: Diversity
Christina Tillery: Equity
Erika Carson: Equity
Jeanne McKeon: Equity
Randall Mangrum: Equity

Rebecca Field: Equity
Stephanie Williams: Equity
Tanika Lawson: Equity
Ali Akbor: Equity
Founkou Djoendia: One Henrico
Noora Ramadan: One Henrico
Amanda Schneck: One Henrico
Price Davis: One Henrico
Patricia Perry
Preston Phaup
Ronald Young
Zayin Roe

Have a concern or complaint?

Henrico County Public Schools is committed to nondiscrimination. If you are aware of an incident that does not support this commitment, please fill out our Equity and Diversity (Inclusivity) Concerns Form. School division staff members responsible for inquiries about nondiscrimination policies will respond.