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Resources for Equity and Race Conversations

Resources for Equity and Race Conversations

starting a conversation

We know it can be challenging to support students and each other through complex topics. At El Dorado, the foundation of our school culture are our shared values: Safety, Respect, and Responsibility. We believe we can best support our community by providing resources that can increase awareness and provide support for having hard conversations. Together, we can build a community centered in principles of equity and humanity that extends beyond our school's physical boundaries.

Unfortunately, most people can identify ways in which our society has been unjust in its treatment of others. While each person may experience obstacles or insults differently, we must be accountable to a society in which some individuals feel consistently targeted, excluded, or unsafe.

At El Dorado and throughout Mt. Diablo Unified, we are dedicated to developing students who are global citizens who can engage in complex thoughts and communicate effectively. (MDUSD Graduate Profile in English y en español) MDUSD's School Board passed a resolution "Condemning Violence, Racism, and Injustice and Reaffirming Equity and Humanity as Central Guiding Principles" in addition to updating Board Policy on Equity.

We hope that the resources on this page will be helpful to you and your family as you discuss current events and support your student in processing the complex feelings they may experience. We want to be part of long-term impact. If you have suggestions of how we can better support our students and community, please email VP O'Malley (

Sharing Resources

We are thinking of you, Toro Family, and we want to help our community process questions, feelings, and information around us. Each day, there are examples of harm, hate, and fear. Each day, there are new reports of individuals using their words and actions to make a difference!

During a regular school year, we would gather together at our school. With the continuing concerns of COVID-19 and the summer break, we cannot come together as a community in-person. For now, we will provide resources that will allow us to reflect, to talk,and to listen. Wellness Wednesdays will continue through the summer if you want to join us there!

don't be silent

In her article "Don't Say Nothing," Jamilah Pitts notes, "Students pay attention to everything we say and do. They particularly pay attention to our silence." Originally published in Fall 2016, her recommendations for teachers are also relevant for parents and community members.

As adults, it can be difficult to start a conversation. We don't have to wait until we have all the "right answers." As Ms. Pitts notes, our youth come "with ideas, hearts, passions, mindsets and understandings about their own humanity. They have been students of the news and their families’ stories and experiences without you; they don’t necessarily need you to understand certain aspects of the world." Now is a time to talk with our youth.

"Don't Say Nothing" was originally published in Teaching Tolerance Issue 54 in Fall 2016. Teaching Tolerance is a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center with a mission to help teachers and schools to educate youth to be active participants in a diverse democracy.

Helping Kids Process Experiences

Research has shown that kids develop concepts of sorting people as early as 3 years old. Here is a brief video with an introduction to discussing race with kids. One of the recommendations is to help young people have a conversation of substance by asking them what the notice.

Pretty Good published "Your Kids Aren't Too Young to Talk About Race: Resource Roundup". This list includes links to podcasts, articles, books for children, and even toys.

Common Sense Media hosted a panel discussion entitled "Helping Kids Process Violence, Trauma, and Race in a World of Nonstop News" on June 2, 2020. The video recording is posted to YouTube where closed captions and translation features are available.

The panel includes doctors and authors discussing ways to discuss race and current news items in an age-appropriate way. One recommendation is to start a conversation by asking what your child is thinking in order to start with their understanding and feelings; some people may be feeling intense anger or fear while others may report not feeling anything right now. They recommended to revisit the conversation again in the future to check how they are feeling over time. The panelists provide strategies for important conversations, for identifying feelings and working through them, and for mindful exposure to violent content. Together, we can talk through what we're seeing, how we're feeling, and what we can do.

Being Anti-Racist

"In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist." --Angela Y. Davis

Talking about racial injustices and unearned privileges can be uncomfortable. The National Museum of African American History & Culture provides a helpful introduction to this idea of being anti-racist as well as resources for talking about race. (Here is an article with an overview of resources available on NMAAHC's website.)

In the article "Being Anti-Racist" , there are examples of racism and implicit bias. There are sentence frames for how to have a conversation to address something may have been racist (instead of anti-racist). The article has embedded videos and links to additional resources. 

If you want to learn more, check out this spreadsheet of anti-racist resources.

Getting Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

Talking about race can be an uncomfortable experience. Even when we have good intentions, we can impact others in ways that we cannot always anticipate. It can be difficult to be present in a conversation about ways we have hurt another person (deliberately or accidentally), yet that moment of being present and listening can be powerful.

In the book So You Want to Talk about Race by Ijeoma Oluo, she describes being hit on the arm while walking down the street as a metaphor for experiencing racism (p.19-20). If people keep punching you in the arm, you will start to react to that experience. She writes,

You don't know who will be punching you, and you don't know why. You are hurt and wary and weary. You are trying to protect yourself, but you can't get off this street. Then imagine somebody walks by, maybe gesticulating wildly in interesting conversation, and they punch you in the arm on accident. Now imagine that this is the last straw, that this is where you scream. That person may not have meant to punch you in the arm, but the issue for you is still the fact that people keep punching you in the arm.

In order to make our school and community as safe space for all students and families, we need to figure out how we can talk about the ways it feels like we're being punched in the arm. Again, even when we have good intentions or if we were not aware of the impact, how can we grow in our willingness to listen to the impact we have had in order to learn from that interaction. Can we learn from each other and build a stronger community?

As Ijeoma Oluo writes, "We have a real problem of racial inequity and injustice in our society, and we cannot wish it away. We have to tackle this problem with real action, and we will not know what needs to be done if we are not willing to talk about it. So let's all get a little uncomfortable. if my mom and I can do it, so can you."

Together, we can be safe, respectful and responsible. Let's figure out how to make this part of the Toro Way every day.

Diverse Books

Books create opportunities.

In 1988, Emily Style introduced the idea of books as a window to see the world or a mirror to reflect the reader's life. In 1990, Rudine Sims Bishop expanded the idea to include books as sliding glass doors that allow a reader to enter into another world.

Diverse books make it possible for more types of stories to be told and for more readers to have a "mirror" experience. The more we learn about others, the more we learn about ourselves.

Words Matter

We use figurative language regularly, and sometimes those phrases bring some unintended baggage. In general, it is best to put the person first and be mindful of your word choice. Sometimes new habits feel uncomfortable, but that doesn't mean the change is bad.

In the spirit of raising our awareness of impact on others, here are some phrases that may communicate more (or different) than you mean to say.

  • "Whip 'em into shape" Avoid the physical threat (and the link to punishment of enslaved persons) by saying, "Increase success" or "get our team in order".
  • "Work out the kinks" While folks who grew up with telephone cords may picture a tangle that needs to be fixed, "kinky" is a term that can be used to reference textured hair. Consider saying, "organize the chaos" or "identify solutions" as an alternative.
  • "Turn a blind eye" or "Turn a deaf ear" Both these phrases reference actual conditions some people have as if they were optional. Try saying, "choose to ignore" or "turn back on" as alternatives.
  • "That's so gay" While the term "gay" has origins of meaning "happy", some people use this phrase to mean something is bad. Try just saying, "That's not my style" or "That's ridiculous". 
  • "Ghetto" This term refers to the forced segregation of Jewish people under Nazi occupation. More recently, the term has negative associations with urban communities impacted by unfair housing practices, such as red-lining. Try avoiding stereotypes or broad generalizations.