Community-wide Diversity Day Examines Systemic Racism with Producer André Robert Lee

On Monday, January 21, in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Choate students, faculty, and staff participated in this year's Diversity Day program. Director of Equity and Inclusion, Dr. Keith Hinderlie, opened the discussion with a reminder of the importance of MLK Day as a time to not only reflect on Dr. King's work, but of the work that lies ahead of us today.

This year's program welcomed André Robert Lee, producer of the documentary I'm Not Racist...Am I? The documentary follows 12 teens from New York City as they navigate questions about race and privilege through a series of workshops and discussions with their friends, their families, and each other. The film is just one part of a larger initiative called Deconstructing Race, developed by The Calhoun School in New York, N.Y., that encourages conversations about structural systemic racism.

The film was shown in three different viewings for faculty and staff, third and fourth formers, and fifth and sixth formers. Each was followed by a 30-minute Q&A, led by Lee. Conversations ranged from examining the power that lies within the discussion of race – even when those conversations are uncomfortable or difficult – to asking critical questions about how to turn conversations into actions. Students discussed the need for new methods of teaching the history of racism, so as to examine and deconstruct what came before in order to build something new.

Participants and Lee discussed the role each of us hold in speaking up, coupled with the importance of self-care when involved in these difficult conversations.

Following the Q&A, students attended a selection of student-led workshops and activities that were designed to dig deeper into specific topics concerning race, bias, privilege, and more.