Dalton’s 2007 Strategic Plan called for the Trustees Community Life & Diversity Committee to create a city-wide conference aimed at creating an inclusive independent school community. The inaugural conference, Creating a Generation of Inclusive Thinkers and Community Leaders, was held in 2011. Subsequent conferences focused on, School Transitions: The K-8 Experience, Shaping and Sustaining Safe Schools for LGBTQ Members, Socioeconomics, Race • Privilege • Community Building.
Our keynote speaker was Professor Tricia Rose ’80, Director and Professor of African Studies at Brown University. She is a pioneer in the discipline of intersectionality. Professor Rose lectures, engages in conversation and presents seminars and workshops on issues ranging from race, culture and music in America, as well as structural inequality, gender, and sexuality to name a few. Professor Rose asked us each to take a pledge before sending us off to work in our constituent groups, and this set the tone for the day:
I __________ am not personally responsible for racism, classism, sexism, or homophobia, or in fact any other vast form of structural oppression; even though I very likely benefit personally from some aspect of it.
Therefore, I should not feel guilty. I might feel sadness, empathy, or outrage, but guilt won’t change anything for the better, and besides it focuses only on me and my experiences.
I did not choose the body, the sexual orientation, race, or class position in which I came into this world. What I can choose is how I want to behave, and whether or not I want to meaningfully contribute to creating a just society for all in light of what I am learning.
I can determine how I want to live in this world no matter my various group identities, and what kinds of alliances I want to make.
What I do from this day forward in light of all that I’ve learned defines who I am, and for this I am responsible.
As in years past, the presentation by the students attending the Conference was the most moving. Middle and high school students presented thought-provoking testimonials and vignettes about their experiences in school and made concrete recommendations for moving forward.
We extend our thanks to the over 60 Dalton volunteers who made the day possible, including conference committee chair Casper Caldarola '77; the dedicated conference planning committee Michele Barakett, Kathy Chan, Amy Hikida, Roxanne Hsu Feldman, Will Fisher, Dominica Jones-Samuels, Natalie Sanchez and Monique Vogelsang; the incredible facilitators, note takers and student volunteers. In addition, we would also like to thank the Stavros Niarchos Foundation for their support of the Conference.
Story submitted by: Casper Caldarola '77, Conference Committee Chair