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Raising Questions of Equity

by Steven Lee, Dir. of Equity and Inclusion

Consistent with Burke’s mission and values, it is important to help our students grapple with issues of equity and inclusion that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to into bold relief. Starting on May 4, we are offering weekly discussion groups on Google Meet for Grades 9-10, each centered on a different theme.

Students will gather in small, advisor-based groups and delve into the following questions and topics. These discussions are all optional, and students and parents were encouraged to decide together whether this was the right time for them to participate.

I. Economic Uncertainty and Food Insecurity:
 
The precipitous downturn in the US economy has resulted in many people being furloughed or laid off from their jobs. Even people who are fortunate enough to remain employed are experiencing heightened levels of financial anxiety.
 
 
Discussion Questions: Have you witnessed or experienced food scarcity and/or financial anxiety in your community (perhaps including your own family)? What does this look like and how does this make you feel?
 
II. COVID-19 and Racial Disparity
 
An equity issue that has become increasingly manifest is the racial disparity in reported coronavirus cases and deaths. As various journalists have noted, the pandemic has exposed the structural inequities in both our healthcare system and our society in general.
Discussion Questions: A similar racialized pattern of COVID-19 cases is currently playing out in the DC region. How does a knowledge of this make you feel? Can you imagine a different public health reality?
 
III. Anti-Asian Violence and Xenophobia
 
Many in the independent school world are familiar with the superficially positive stereotype of Asian Americans as a “model minority” (i.e. in comparison to other racial minority groups), but there is a rise of anti-Asian violence across the country and throughout the world as Professor Adrian De Leon of the University of Southern California illuminates in The Long History of US Racism against Asian Americans.
 
Federal Agencies Are Doing Little About Rise of Anti-Asian Hate

Discussion Questions: Why do you think xenophobia rises during times of crisis? What role (if any) do you think the government should play in addressing this phenomenon?

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Co-ed, progressive, college prep school in Washington, DC featuring a challenging curriculum in an inclusive environment for grades 6-12.