Working on Strategies to Expand Racial and Ethnic Literacy on Campus and Beyond

By Philip McAdoo, Director of Equity, Justice, and Community

Sidwell Friends School and community welcomed Howard C. Stevenson, PhD from the University of Pennsylvania on Wednesday, November 18. Stevenson discussed the research from his book, Promoting Racial Literacy in Schools: Differences That Make a Difference, and shared strategies to expand racial and ethnic literacy of the student, faculty, staff, and parent community.

Racial and ethnic conflict was presented as an operational framework and highlighted as a way to recognize our strengths and knowledge in some areas and acknowledge our gaps in other areas. Stevenson noted that managing racial issues and conflicts is a matter of competence, not character. He added, “We tend to think of people as good or bad, as racist or non-racist, and I think those are personality judgments that don’t do well with understanding how people cope with racial conflict or racial support.” Stevenson encouraged Sidwell Friends to continue to build an equity, justice, and community (EJC) structure that honors differences and fosters competence in navigating diversity conflicts. Karen O’Neill (P ’23, ’25) reflected, “I was intrigued with the premise that the person to change is yourself. This is always hard to do, especially when you are working to help kids do this as well. It gave me pause, and it is something that I want think more about.”

This event was part of our commitment to embrace challenges and move toward the resolution of conflict by creating engagement for EJC that can be supported by Quaker values that live in the soul of the community.

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