What does it mean being comfortable in an uncomfortable situation? It means when you intentionally place yourself in situations of discomfort, in an effort to increase your comfort range. Embracing situations of speaking about unconscious biases we face each day and how to have authentic conversations regarding biases toward racism. It starts by having a “Brave” community in which individuals feel comfortable in an uncomfortable situation. Knowing no one is being judged or labeled a racist for trying to understand how words and body expressions impact our lives each day. The main question to answer is, how do we start and/or create the “Brave” community where everyone feels comfortable being uncomfortable. It starts with colleagues who know they are safe and will not be scrutinized for speaking about their biases and how these biases impact other people. I have been part of creating these communities in schools, communities, and higher education classes by helping individuals feel safe in their environment as well as helping them see how their words have impacted others, maybe unintentionally or intentionally; thus, creating a “Brave” community interwoven into the DNA fabric of what we do each day. This is only a start to a deeper conversation of how we can displace biases, no matter if unconscious (illicit) or explicit.
One of the aspects I have noticed during my 26-year career, is the increasing focus on what’s next for students after high school, in other words their destination. Questions like, What do you want to be when you grow up? Where are you going after high school? Although these questions are not bad questions, I do wonder if we put too much pressure on students to have it figured out. With students facing so much pressure from school as well as dealing with the evolving landscape of matriculation to adulthood, have we determined how these pressure points are impacting the student’s social-emotional wellbeing? What are we doing to have systems in place to address the pressure students are feeling regarding the question of “What’s Next”? Are we creating systems that are interwoven into the fabric of our schools and curriculum to address this need? This is the question I continue to ask myself as well as my colleagues each day. Why? To find a solution on relieving the student’s pressure valve so they can function on what they can control as well as dealing with the social emotional draws, which impact their daily lives. Until the next time, be safe, healthy, and well!