Black History Month Enrichment Speaker and Town Hall Follow-Up
Dr. Jamila Lyiscott returned to the Bishop’s campus to speak on Monday, Feb. 4 at an assembly of students in grades eight – twelve and facilitated separate grade level workshops for sixth and seventh grade students and their advisors. She also met with smaller groups throughout class periods during the day, a format similar to her 2016 visit to campus.
In addition to her acclaimed 2014 TED Talk, she has hosted workshops around the world on the role of language and literacy in identity. The themes and perspectives she shared and questions she posed on the topics of race and justice come from her life experience, work and research over the last 10-15 years.
Acknowledging that these kinds of community conversations are difficult, she encouraged the community to recognize that “each and every person in the room is going to come to the conversation in different ways and that’s OK.” She encouraged students and adults to “lean in to the discomfort of these conversations; otherwise, we’ll never have them.” She shared that as a college professor, she has seen many students come to campus and for the first time they are dealing with these complex issues and conversations. Without practice, people are less ready and able to engage in a productive manner. Opening the conversation now offers another facet of college preparation, allowing one to learn how to be “responsible about who we are in the world.”
On Friday, Feb. 8, upper school student leaders facilitated a town hall follow up discussion. Director of Diversity and Community Life David Thompson noted, “She delivered a message not comfortable for everyone to hear, but let people know they were supported and heard. We spent the rest of the day talking about it; when we came back to school on Tuesday, people were still talking about it.”
Friday’s town hall offered students to further discuss and explore concepts such as intersectionality, intent vs. impact, the role of language and power, and how to take these conversations further. Students shared what they agreed or disagreed with and why, asked questions for clarification and understanding, and acknowledged the limitations of time, logistics and human imperfections. In accepting the nature of non-closure—this isn’t a conversation that we’ll have once and all will be wrapped up and tidily or quickly resolved—students expressed an appreciation for the opportunity to learn and grow and a willingness to keep the conversation alive.
The Bishop’s School is an independent, coeducational college-preparatory day school for students in grades six through twelve who live throughout San Diego County. Founded in 1909, the School is affiliated with the Episcopal church.