Social Justice in the Classroom with Dr. Kevin Chapman and Dr. Chelsea Mitchell (5/12/21)

Episode Thumbnail
00:00
00:00
This is a podcast episode titled, Social Justice in the Classroom with Dr. Kevin Chapman and Dr. Chelsea Mitchell (5/12/21). The summary for this episode is: <p>Dr. Kevin Chapman and Dr. Chelsea Mitchell, Psy.D are going to discuss the importance of social justice in the classroom and the impact educators have on their students. </p><p><br></p><p><br></p><p><strong>Dr. Kevin Chapman </strong></p><p>Dr. Kevin Chapman is a diplomate certified by the Academy of Cognitive and Behavioral Therapies. His specialties include cognitive behavioral therapy including exposure for panic disorder, agoraphobia, specific phobias, and social anxiety disorders.</p><p><br></p><p><strong>Dr. Chelsea Mitchell </strong></p><p>Dr. Chelsea Mitchell, Psy.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist providing evidence-based mental health services for children, adolescents, and families. She has a particular interest in treating children and adolescents with mood and anxiety disorders as well as those who have experienced trauma.</p><p><br></p><p><strong>Quotes:</strong></p><p>“Leaning in to distress is the key to emotional regulation. Leaning in to emotions is the key to navigating them. Leaning in to any sort of situation that’s uncomfortable teaches us that we can tolerate the distress associated with strong emotions, and most of the time in this context we’re talking about having hard conversations.”</p><p><br></p><p>“Selective inattention is when we don’t know what to say, and we pretend that we don’t hear it, and then eventually just feeds out of our awareness.”</p><p><br></p><p>“It’s not going to be easy, but as we mentioned before we don’t want to be in that smog. We want to actively move towards making change.”</p>

Alyssa: Hi everyone who's joining, we're starting to let people in so we're going to take a couple of minutes just so everyone can get ready. We're very excited to have everyone. We have almost 500 people that are supposed to be coming. So just for some housekeeping, and I'll repeat these as people come in, I want to remind you that this will be a recorded event, and the recording will be sent to all the registrants afterwards, and if you have any questions please put them in the Q& A box, you can find that in the toolbar along the bottom of your screen. If we have time we'll get to them at the end. Also, closed captioning is available by clicking on the Live Transcript button in your toolbar. I see people trickling in, thank you for joining us. I see Maryland, yes, feel free to let us know where you're coming from. Arizona. Peru. Canada, wow. I love that. I love seeing where everybody is coming from, especially from near and far. Tennessee. Maine. Hi, Dr. Chapman.

Dr. Kevin Chapman: Hey. Sorry about that, technical crosstalk.

Alyssa: No worries. No worries. I know. Technology, always when we need it seems to be fleeting. We're just letting people trickle in.

Dr. Kevin Chapman: Okay.

Alyssa: But we'll get started in just a moment, I'll introduce you to everyone. Everyone is just kind of shouting out where they're coming from. We've got people from Peru, Argentina, Nebraska, Iowa, San Francisco.

Dr. Kevin Chapman: Wow, that's good.

Alyssa: Yeah, definitely. All right, I'll probably wait just one more minute and then we'll get started. Thank you so much everyone for coming, we're very excited to have you. All right, well, I'm going to get started, I know some of you have been waiting a little bit, thank you for bearing with us. So hi everyone, welcome to today's webinar, Social Justice in the Classroom. I'm here today with Dr. Kevin Chapman, the Founder and Director of the Kentucky Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders. Dr. Chapman is a diplomate and certified by the Academy of Cognitive and Behavioral Therapies, his specialties include cognitive behavioral therapy including exposure for panic disorder agoraphobia, specific phobias, and social anxiety disorders. Dr. Chapman also specializes in exposure and response prevention for OCD and prolonged exposure for PTSD. We're also joined by his wonderful colleague, Dr. Chelsea Mitchell. Dr. Chelsea Mitchell is a licensed clinical psychologist providing evidence- based mental health services fro children, adolescents, and families. She specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy, trauma- focused cognitive behavioral therapy, and transdiagnostic treatment utilizing developmentally appropriate evidence- based intervention within a multi- cultural lens. Her specialty areas includes social anxiety, separation anxiety, generalized anxiety, phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder, and post- traumatic stress disorder. Before we get I'm just going to repeat the housekeeping. I just want to remind everyone that this is going to be a recorded event, and you will receive the recording once it concludes, all registrants will receive the recording. Please submit any questions that you have in the Q& A box that's in your toolbar along the bottom of your screen, and if we have time, we'll try to get to those questions at the end. Also, if closed captioning is something that you need, it is available by clicking on the Live Transcript button in your toolbar. So without further ado, Dr. Chapman, Dr. Mitchell, please take it away.

Dr. Kevin Chapman: All righty. Well, thank you, Alyssa, we appreciate being invited to do this. This is something that we're very passionate about, and we're among friends here, and we all are learning together. I always love doing things for Amplify, and I know Chelsea's excited to do this as well. I just want to be clear that as we begin, ultimately in the past many of the things we've done, as psychologists we carry a lot of different roles, and put on a lot of different hats so we can navigate a lot of different situations by training just because, of course psychology applies to most things. So with that being said though, in the past with Amplify we've had a focus more so on race- based stress and trauma, and obviously that's not mutually exclusive from this topic, which we talked about in terms of social justice in the classroom. But I will say that I am starting to weigh a bit from what I've done in the past in that regard though the concepts will definitely overlap substantially, but I think that all the educators and such on the call will find much of what we discuss helpful. I think some of it will be hard, but I think some of it also was extremely necessary and piercing because we're all on this for the same reason, as we have a heart to help people. I just want us to just be eager to hear what we have to say as we learn together and navigate sometimes some uncomfortable waters that, again, those of us on the call are the people who are wanting to do it. Ultimately we want to be ambassadors in that regard. We're going to get started. I'm going to share my screen, and I think Dr. Mitchell is going to start us off by saying something related to the first slide that we share, so let me share our screen. Hopefully we don't have a glitch in the matrix from this. Let's see. All right, I think we're good. Let's see. All right, so hopefully this won't be an issue. I don't think it will be, but my Mac has just been bugging out you all so bear with me with that. Hopefully this will work, but it looks like we're actually sharing the screen, we're just waiting for the presentation inaudible to start. All right, looks like we're good to go. All right, so as we talked about already the topic is pretty simple in terms of the title, but it's definitely not a simple topic. What we want to talk largely about in this case is social justice in the classroom, especially with a focus on educators, and what we can do to help our classrooms and so on and so forth so let's jump into that. All right, Dr. Mitchell, I'm going to give it over to you and then we'll jump in.

Dr. Chelsea Mitchell: Okay. So one of the things to think about Dr. Chapman already alluded to earlier was the difficulty of hearing some of the information today, and just speaking from a white person's perspective, when I started having these conversations and learning this information it was hard to hear. One of the questions that I had just in my own head was how is it possible that I am this well- educated person, and I didn't know what these things were, and how I was contributing to it in some way. So if we ask ourselves this question we can go in two different directions, we can completely check out and say, " If I don't know then I don't have to feel bad about it," or we can completely lean in and sit with the discomfort, and learn something. On that note, Dr. Chapman's going to start us off talking about some of the fundamentals to better understand this topic more, and then I'll follow through at the end with the applications as a white accomplice.

Dr. Kevin Chapman: All right, I appreciate that. Dr. Mitchell. So with that being said we want to make this really basic and simple so that we can understand it. I'm not going to hit us with a bunch of empirical stuff, we could do that, but who wants to see that, right? We want to be more practical and talk about what is it that we can actually do, and use the science of psychology to help us navigate that. I think this is a very coaching concept that we nee to think about. There's a lot of different terms that Dr. Mitchell and I are going to use throughout this presentation just so that you can see the semantics matter, the words we use matter, and one of which would be this idea that we've had this catchy term of being, well, we need allies, we need these white allies to help BIPOC populations, people of color and such to navigate these uncomfortable situations that we've had to navigate in our country and abroad, and we talked about having white allies. Well, think that if we pay attention and look at the media and see the injustices that had been conducted for decades now in this country, I think it's important for us to look at this from a different lens at this point, and going from what we call an ally to an accomplice. That's a very important distinction because oftentimes we talk about social justice from an ally perspective, but what our students in the classroom need, what we need to do as educators is think more about how can we go from just understanding and knowing, and hearing about, and sometimes sitting about idly and seeing things take place in the classroom, from actually being in an accomplice. Just to be fair, let's talk about what that is briefly. When we define accomplice, accomplice is literally defined as a person who knowingly helps another commit a crime or a wrongdoing. I'm going to say that again, a person who knowingly helps another commit a crime or wrongdoing. When we think about an accomplice we're not thinking about committing a crime per se or a wrongdoing per se. If we flip those words here's what we're talking about when we say an accomplice, we're talking about someone who is a person who knowingly is helping another in goodness and in good deeds, straight up that the source would say that. So rather than a crime or a wrongdoing we're talking about coming alongside someone, especially a BIPOC in this context of social justice, and engaging knowingly, not unintentionally, but being very proactive, and deliberate in helping our students of color in particular with goodness or good deeds. So that's what I mean when we say accomplice. In that regard, this is a fact, that BIPOC students need educators as accomplices, and there's a plethora of reasons why that's the case, but it's not just being an ally and saying, " Oh, if you need an ear then I'll listen to you." It's not just that, it's literally locking elbows with our students and saying, " What all can we do to change this process together?" It's not just saying, " That I'm going to be your ally," and say, " That's wrong, you shouldn't say this in a classroom in that example," it's literally saying, " I need you as an accomplice. I need you to not standby idly, and I need to know that you can be trusted." As we know, and this is another workshop, but ultimately historically in this country BIPOC individuals, we've had a history associated with distrust of various people who are non- Hispanic, whites, and others because of mistreatment in education system, mistreatment in the medical profession, and we have what we call healthy paranoia for a reason. Ultimately, the biggest accomplices that we would be able to need and utilize more than anything in this country right now would be educators. Educators have the background necessary, they have the heart necessary, they have the diligence necessary, they have the wherewithal necessary, and I think that you all that are on this call really are... there's low- hanging fruit with what you can provide with our students of color in particular. So with that being said, in order to be an accomplice on the other hand, as Dr. Mitchell alluded to earlier, you must be aware of subtle, and I do mean subtle forms of what we call white immunity. Here's another term that Dr. Mitchell and I have discussed recently, that we recently heard that I think is powerful, because we throw around the term white privilege oftentimes, and I think Dr. Mitchell will elaborate on that to some degree. But ultimately, this term white immunity implies something a little bit different, and it's easier to stomach to think about this idea of, " I'm immune to racism. I'm immune to suspicion. I'm immune to things that happen to my brothers and sisters of color," right? White immunity is also known as what we call psychological blindness, but we like the term white immunity because it implies this idea that, " I'm immune by default to certain things that BIPOC individuals aren't." So we're going to go with the term white immunity, but also use that term interchangeably with things like psychological blindness, but we got to be aware if we're going to be an accomplice, if this is something we want to be to help our students, we must be aware of these subtle forms of white immunity. That's often times a hard conversation to have, but it's necessary like Dr. Mitchell alluded to, we can check out or we can do what we can teach in therapy, and that is lean in. Leaning in to distress is the key to emotional regulation. Leaning in to emotions is the key to navigating them. Leaning in to any sort of situation that's uncomfortable teaches us that we can tolerate the distress associated with strong emotions, and most of the time in this context we're talking about having hard conversations. So with that being said, I want to introduce us to a couple concepts, one of which many of us haven't heard of, but again, that's just the whole point of this webinar, is just really introducing us to some content that I think that might be helpful in a classroom, and outside of the classroom as well, but this idea of white immunity. There's one strategy that many people, non- people of color, non- Hispanic white folks in the country for instance, that we've been essentially socialized to see, and it's this idea of what we call universalizing. Universalizing. I'm going to give you an example, an actual quote that summarizes the idea of universalizing, and this is a way that we engage in, again this notion of white immunity, the psychological blindness, whatever term you prefer, but this is something that is really damaging, and that can be really hurtful, and this is something that is very subtle that I want us to pay attention to so watch this quote. Here is an example, " I don't see racism." I can stop someone right there. " I don't see racism," that's a problem, " and even if it does exist people of all walks of life have to accept the hardships that go along with life, even if that means having to deal with difficult people who judge you on some quality. I deal with the student's experience with racism the same way I deal with anyone who might run into problems, simply because she is a human." Doesn't that sound super patriotic- sounding? " Simply because she's a human," that sounds well- intentioned but there's a lot of problems with that logic, right? The main problem with that logic is that if you don't see racism then you're not seeing anything happening in our country. It's discounting the experience of people that has occurred for centuries in our country. Racism happens whether or not we want to accept it or not, and it can oftentimes be subtle and covert. This sort of statement, which I've unfortunately heard many times from very well- intentioned people that I know personally is very damaging. This is what we call the universalizing strategy, and it's certainly discounting the experience of not only our BIPOC students, but our colleagues as well, so that's one example. A second example, I see this one too unfortunately often, is what we call the reversal of power strategy. The reversal of power strategy. So that's describing equal or even sometimes more power to people who are at the lower rungs of the social hierarchy than those of the higher rungs. It's essentially ascribing more power, which essentially is a way for me to have an illusion of control to say, " Well, see, no, I'm not racist because, you see," let me give you some examples, " my boss is Hispanic. My boss is Latino, Latina. So because of that, see, I can't be racist." Oh, really? Right? Here's one that I've heard students say, " Black basketball players, they dominate the NBA and they make way more money than us, so see they have the same opportunity." " My dad has black friends," I love that one, so that gives you a pass. Here's one that I've heard, and my daughters have heard this before and this is bananas, but it's a true statement. Dr. Mitchell, we didn't talk about this inaudible appreciate that, but it's like my daughter told me at one point people say this way too frequently, " My black friend gave me a pass to say the N word," or they'll ask for one. In other words it's like, " Since we listen to all those hiphop, and since hiphop culture has permeated the culture, surely it's okay since rappers say it." It's this idea that I somehow get a pass because of one of my friends, or one of my homeboys can say it, therefore they said it's okay. These are all examples of this idea of the reversal of power strategy, these are problematic. Now, the thing about these strategies when we think about this concept of white immunity is that these are typically implicit. Much of what we learn culturally, especially as people of color in particular is implied in culturation, it's this thing that we're not really saying it explicitly, but it's just something you learn through modeling and observation, which is a very powerful way of learning. Other examples of that is that it's implicit, the portrayal of black folks and other people of color in the media historically, that would imply that these things are true. This is where stereotypes come from, like in the African- American community funny, not funny, funny, but one of the things we joke about amongst ourselves is that when you see black folks on a horror movie you know we're going to die in the credits. So it's this idea that that's funny, not funny, funny, but it's true, there are some truth to that. It's this idea that we have this ancillary roles so therefore, or these stereotypical roles so therefore. Another example historically that's been a problem is this idea of normalizing discursive practices that equate race with the marginalized group like, " Oh, well, you're just playing the race card. You're being sensitive. That doesn't count. They didn't follow you in that store because you were black. They didn't you pull over on I- 65, it was because of the car you drove, it wasn't because you were African- American." So this idea that you're being sensitive and playing the race card gives me a sense of comfort to be able to normalize these discursive practices, of course unless it's overt, and I think that that's a significant point. The focus of an inordinate attention either on the achievement of whites, and to the condoned discursive practices that essentially disapprove or put white folks in a position where it's an overt form of racism, it's like saying... the subtext is saying, " Well, that's different when you're overtly having a rebel flag on your truck," which I often see where I live by the way. It's different when someone storms The Capitol and does X, Y, and Z, or it's different when someone is saying the N word on the national media, that's a different practice so therefore that's not the same thing, when in reality covert forms of racism, empirically from a research standpoint, have been equally damaging than overt forms of racism. So we have to really think about that, and think that through. Why do these practices, especially at the institutional level, why do they continue in American society? Well, there's these two- thronged process, and number one is that... number one, individuals learn to diminish, appropriate, or cast as negative or inferior the perspectives or worldviews of marginalized groups. I think that that's one of those things that is a human problem, where when we don't understand something we cling to our previously held beliefs despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. That's a significant problem, is that if we don't understand it we pass it off as bizarre. It's kind of the normalcy bias, inaudible that we see it, it must be good, if we don't it must be bad. So therefore if we don't understand it we tend to appropriate it or say, " Well, that's bizarre," or, " You're playing the race card because I don't get it, and that's not what we do." Number two, we establish as a standard" credible superior or innocent," at times, of course, the perspectives and worldviews of the majority group. It's again the normalcy bias, " Well, since this has always been this way in the United States therefore you should just blend in. We shouldn't make room for you, accept it and just deal with it because the majority of people on our country accepted it for half century so therefore." This is a very dangerous process, and ultimately it's very important for us to recognize that these will perpetuate these stereotypes, and it definitely is not something that an accomplice would do. I'll pause there, and then I'm going to turn it over to Dr. Mitchell at this point.

Dr. Chelsea Mitchell: Obviously everything Dr. Chapman said is problematic, and can lead to this slide here, where I had screenshotted these to him on the days they occurred to say, " Hey, can you believe this? This is happening right now." So why accomplices are necessary, these are the consequence of it, Texas student disciplined over a slave trade over Snapchat, Wisconsin teacher is suspended after asking students how they would punish slaves, these things are happening even in 2021. After seeing the headlines you may wonder why was nothing done, how does it even go that far, and that's what we're going to talk about today. There could be two different things happening, there could be conversations happening outside the teacher's awareness, or there could be conversations that the teacher didn't have with other staff about why that was inappropriate assignment, or there could be this other thing called selective inattention. Selective inattention is when we don't know what to say, and we pretend that we don't hear it, and then eventually just feeds out of our awareness. I would say, especially earlier on, I would know at times where I'd say like, " Oh, you can't say that," like one of those moments, but the the followup never really happened because it always felt like it was too loaded of a topic. How do we even know how to address that? So that's going to be my primary piece within this talk is, how do we address those conversations, and then how do we be more mindful about bringing those conversations before you even need to address them. One of the things to think about when you see white silence is a racist smog in some ways, where there is this pervasive norm in our socialization right now with being silent when things come up, and we're passing it down to generations. Many of us are raised in families where we were being taught equality, where there would be statements that everything should be equal. Well, we never actually said explicitly what that equality actually was, and what happens then is everyone should be equal, so children end up having this color blind approach where... or this attitude rather where they establish that everyone is equal. So in that case when marginalized groups or BIPOC individuals are on the news for whatever reason, or things are happening for whatever reason, we see that as more of like a choice alone because everyone's equal, there has never been a disadvantage. What's unfortunate about that is the system really isn't broken, it was just originally set- up to not be in other people's favor in that sense. When we take a color blind approach, the difficulty with that is we're in this situation where we're seeing color but we're not supposed to see color, and it's okay to see color, and we'll go through that as the presentation goes on as well. It happens as early as six months old, where children are actually seeing differences, so if we don't talk about this issue right now, if we don't talk about the racism or talk about how there's a pejorative sense now with skin color, then we're never going to actually make a difference because you can't fix something that you aren't aware of and that we don't openly talk about. This slide shows you the progression of making the assumption that kids will just figure it out as they go throughout life, that they're not going to be inundated with the same thing that we're inundated with as adults, and that's just untrue. I love this quote that kids are not color blind so don't be color silent. It can seem really harsh, but it's really important because I think... It was a long time before I actually knew that you could say someone had brown skin before I realized that it wasn't being said in a bad way. I'll go through a joke later on that I think speaks to that, that irony out there. So when we're in an uncomfortable situation we tend to give a hush approach when someone talks about color, when someone talks about ability levels, body shapes, why do they have brown skin? Why is their skin dirty? Why do their eyes look weird? Why do they speak weird? Usually our response is just like, " Shh, we don't talk about it. No, no, no, we don't talk about it." We hush it, which then in turn sends the message of, " You're not supposed to talk about those things at all, and it's bad to talk about them." Therefore, everything just kind of goes into the radar, that color blind approach, we're not supposed to see color. In actuality, you can say those things and the answers are actually really simple. We tend to overthink, we tend to identify everything about that person except for the one thing that we can just say, is the color of their skin. When we're watching a basketball, if there is only one African- American player we'll do everything around before saying African- American player because we're so afraid of saying anything related to race. What we want to teach kids is that it's okay to see color, there's nothing wrong with that. We actually want to humanize it, so the answers are simple. One thing for example, is just if someone asks about the color of someone's skin, " Well, they just have more melanin than we do, and that's why their skin is dirty, they're actually," not dirty, " that's why their skin is brown. They're actually not dirty, they're just as clean as you are. Their skin is the same as yours is, it's just a different color, and there are many different colors of skin." So a simple answer like that can address it and give the child information, and then it can encourage a nice conversation. But if we don't address it kids are going to make up whatever thing they're going to make up, where I know... Gosh, I forgot her name, Beverly, Beverly Daniel Tatum has talked about how one of her kids came home and said, " Johnny over here told me my skin was brown because I drank chocolate milk." It's like, " Whoa, hold on. No, let me give you some information there." If we don't know the answer then we can simply say, " That's a good question, let's look it up together. Let's go to the library and find a book about it." The big thing we want is to actually encourage a discussion. Part two, is that about we don't we want to wait for them to bring it up. If we start having these conversations earlier, if we start exposing kids to differences earlier then you're not going to have those awkward conversations where a kid is inaudible out in the middle of a class, or as a parent when your kid in a grocery store is pointing and making loud comments. If you have these conversations earlier then there's not going to be a big difference, they're just going to automatically see it, and it's not going to be in a pejorative way. The other piece to think about is a positive sense of diversity. So talking about this earlier one, but in addition to that talking about all these other amazing things related to diversity, so incorporating people that are scientists that are non- white, or doctors that are non- white. I still remember the moment when my two- year old pointed to the TV when we're watching a movie, and it was an African- American teacher and she goes, " Is that a doctor?" Because she knows Doc McStuffins, and I remember it too, I didn't know African- American women could be doctors because I never had any perception out there. The only thing we had was family matters, and that was about the extent of it, where culture just wasn't diverse on TV, so now I see it as young as two, where kids are starting to see differences. It's not going to be like that in every case, and as an educator you know that things are going to be said, that feelings are going to be hurt, and there's going to be what I call Ouch Moments, where they're going to make statements. So as an educator the first thing is to address the feelings, and to always say how that's unfair, and that's not okay, but the part two is to fight the prejudice, like what Dr. Chapman said, being an accomplice. If there is kids on the playground and they say, " You can't play with me because you don't have princess hair like in Disney movies," well, then the next reading time you're going to read about a princess in Africa who has natural hair so you can see there are different types of princesses out there. There's a part two that's always really important of addressing, and then how to be a good friend, but then how can we incorporate more knowledge out there so we can really humanize, but then also educate. Then Beverly Tatum, Daniel Tatum, also had a really good conversation that she talks about in a lot of her talks about the moment her son asked her in a grocery store what's slavery, it's like, " Well, how do you even answer that question in the middle of a grocery store?" But she did it in such an eloquent way which shows that we can have hard conversations even if it's about really hard topics. Goodness gracious, today you can just Google anything and you can find a book for it, so there's ways to have these conversations, and you don't have to avoid the topics of them. As I mentioned a lot of times before, outside of historical events like slavery or the Holocaust, we need to start humanizing BIPOCs, what that means is helping children realize that we all have parents, and we all have brothers, and we all have sisters, and we don't look the same, but we all have feelings. Exposing differences within books. For example my two- year old watching Doc McStuffins, it's humanizing that experience so when she sees someone she's going to have a different perception than this really pejorative sense of African- Americans only being the thugs on movies, or as Dr. Chapman alluded to, in the credits. There is something about intentionally bringing these conversations in the beginning, not just within historical context, but within just normal everyday life, and talking about how they can be doctors, they can be scientists, and there's this intentionally that comes with it. The last thing I'll talk on, and I'm rushing through a little bit just because I want to have time for questions. As I've alluded to before, Beverly Daniel Tatum is an amazing resource, she's a really cool psychologist that talks a lot about how to have hard conversations with kids. She calls it the Three F Method when we're in a situation where it's a family member, or it's a student, or it's a colleague, and they're making these comments and you're like, " Whoa, that's not okay." Then what? So instead of just thinking in our head, " Oh, that's not okay. I can't talk about that. I'm just going to smile and then leave," we need to start being an accomplice and actually making a statement. The three pieces she talks about are the felt, found, and feel. This is an example that I have on the slide about Johnny at dinner, and making a racist comment, and how do you have that conversation. The felt piece, like I felt that those jokes were funny, and that they didn't hurt anyone, so this can be applied to anything if we want to talk about the N word. I thought that that was okay to say because it was said in rap songs, but I found that they reinforce these stereotypes, and my kids or my students, or my friends have so many ways that they can be exposed to many negative attitudes about people that they don't know. So now the third part is the feel piece, now I feel it's important for me to speak out and talk about it, and how I don't appreciate that those jokes are said here, so I don't want them to be said when you're around me, and leaving it at that. It's a hard conversation, it's not going to be easy, but as we mentioned before we don't want to be in that smog. We want to actively move towards making change. The last one is just literature how to navigate with really young children. The American Psychological Association, the books on the inaudible, Ouch! Moments, and Something Happened In Our Town are written by psychologists who really drive home how to hard conversations, and actually have a discussion in the back of the book about how to talk with kids. I think the Ouch! Moments is just for... I think anything whether it's abilities, socioeconomic status, race, they talk about those as Ouch Moments. Then Something Happened In Our Town is about neighborhood shootings and racial injustice, and that goes as young as four. Then We're Different, We're The Same is your youngest kids and great for language, that's the one I use for my two- year old all the time, where it's a simple way of saying, " Yup, there's different colors of skin, but they are all the same, they still cover our bodies, and they still protect us from the sun." So those are the three big resources I would say, for really children, in how to have the conversation. I think that's it. All right, Kevin?

Dr. Kevin Chapman: Yeah, you're right, Chelsea, that was good, and by the way I think that Chelsea does such a phenomenal job with her... I want to brag on her with her daughters, because her oldest daughter who's two calls me Uncle Kevin, if that tells you anything about how she deems me. I'm just saying you can teach this stuff at a very early age, and that's the way that I inaudible, so when I look at her and the job she's doing as a psychologist and a mom, it just gives me hope that this is something that's definitely a possibility for our colleagues, and our family members, it's just a matter of taking the time to be an accomplice and do the work. All right, at this stage we can open it up for questions. We want to leave time for people to have questions. I think we did a good job of stopping at a really good point, so Alyssa, like I said I'll turn it over to you and we can go from there.

Alyssa: Yeah. Yes, thank you so much. I just want to say thank you to both of you. I love this topic as a former educator, I'm a former middle school educator, and this is just very important things that we need to talk about, but so far we only have one question. So as we said, we do have time so please feel free to put them in the Q&A, it's at the bottom in your toolbar, but the question that came in, and I thought it was a pretty good question, and it's very timely. The question is, " What is the impact of the Vice President of the United States' recent statement that America is not a racist society to our students of color, how do we discuss this with them?"

Dr. Kevin Chapman: We can go at a number of different ways with that. Chelsea, how about you start with that, then I'll dovetail what you say? How about that?

Dr. Chelsea Mitchell: Okay. I'm having a little bit of a choking fit right now, but I'll try. Time to check my water. I think... Step one, as just a psychologist is to get their impression of that statement and how it applies to them, and what they think of it. So my first piece always is, " What are your thoughts? How do you interpret this? What do you think about it?" Just like any historical, not historical, but any big event when it comes to school shootings, or a death by a police officer, asking them, " What have you learned thus far?" Asking the why before is going to be your biggest piece, and then part two is to validate, to validate that it's hard to hear, and that maybe that's one person's perspective, but you can also have these other perspectives. Then what you can do moving out here to be an accomplice, to make some change, so I think there is a three- part, to question, to validate, and then just because this is one statement, what can you do in regard to it. You want to add anything?

Dr. Kevin Chapman: That's good. I think that... I guess the one thing I will say that's a great question, I do agree with Chelsea in that regard. I think that what I would add is that as a psychologist I would be really cautious to accept such blanket statements regardless of who says it, just because we got to not discount the experience of people who've experienced racism on a pretty regular basis. I could care less who says anything, when it comes to something like that I think it's very important that... again, we're freethinkers, and our experiences are dictated by a lot of different things, so ultimately I think that saying that despite where a message comes from, like if you have experiences that are contrary to that those are real. Ultimately everyone has their opinion about various things, and I think we're respectful toward that, but ultimately I wouldn't discount the experience that many of us had despite someone that we deem is credible saying it. I think that's the whole mark of having a country where we do have free speech and free thought, is being able to navigate those situations despite who the credible source maybe, and to realize that they're not always correct about everything, particularly when it relates to the experience of other people that they're not. I think that that's critical.

Alyssa: Thank you, those are great points. I have another one, it says, " Can you speak a little bit about how to approach these conversations as students enter adolescence?"

Dr. Chelsea Mitchell: You want me to start? It's so much easier when we're in person. So in adolescence you get this beautiful thing with critical thinking and the brain development, and they're going to be thinking a lot more than young children are, so I foster that, but I foster that with boundaries too. You want to be able to have that education, so if it's in the classroom then my thought is that you're going to have some pretty strict boundaries, like the Three F's that Beverly Daniel Tatum discussed, where if you're going to have these conversations, I want to have these boundaries around it before we actually have it to be respectful of each other, but to also speak the truth out there as well. I don't want to connect respect with ignoring the racism that actually is happening. I just want to highlight that piece, when I say respect you can respect another person's opinion, but it also doesn't mean that these things aren't happening. So with adolescence that's my take, is to really see how it's impacting them on a deeper level, and there is so much research out there to just see how much racism, or just seeing things in the news has impacted students and their grades, and their efficacy in school. There's a lot out there to say and to validate that that stuff is going on. I think I'm answering the question, but I also inaudible. What do you think?

Dr. Kevin Chapman: I agree with that, and I think that what I'd add to what Chelsea is saying is this idea that, come on, you all, many of us are parents on this call, right? Our adolescents are a whole lot smarter than we give them credit. We want to use the term woke, we can go there, but they're way more savvier than we think, they pay attention to a whole lot of things going on that absolutely is contrary to what we've often thought of. In many ways, they know many of the things we're saying anyway so it's a matter of us being educated, and having honest conversations about these things with our adolescents. I have teenage daughters and I assure you that they know a whole lot of things I didn't know they knew, so rather than discount that, we have conversations about it. I practice what I preach in that regard, so I would just add that part because they're smarter than we give them credit for.

Alyssa: Thank you. I like this one because it's kind of switching gears. We have a question on, " Sow where do we begin with the staff, in particular if your staff tends to be mostly white females of various age groups? Where do these conversations begin with staff members?"

Dr. Kevin Chapman: I'm going to do ... I wanted to pass this to Chelsea again, but she did the last two first so I'll start, so again, I got you. I got you. So I guess my thought is a lot of, Alyssa, what we're saying right now on this webinar, and that is educating ourselves corporately, and individually about these concepts. I think the first step is acknowledging that it exists. Again, BIPOC folks in particular, it's not, and I'll say we, it's not that we're like wanting people to walk around feeling guilty and such, it's not that, it's that we just want folks to acknowledge that we had these experiences and they're real. So starting with stuff happens, let's acknowledge that it happens, point A, if we can't get beyond that, there's not a lot of hope for folks, if we're being honest. I think starting there is essential, and once we do that I think the kind of programming, which I think Amplify does a very good job of, honestly inaudible Amplify, but I think that having the sort of programming as a requirement is essential with our staff, not just an option, but something that you have to attend, and to at least expose yourself to. From an individual standpoint I think that we can't force that obviously, but I think ultimately providing programming like this on a regular basis is key, because we're talking about educating ourselves about things that we honestly don't know an awful lot.

Alyssa: Great. So I have a question here about how to tackle these conversations in terms of the curriculum or the content. The example that was given, and I'm kind of paraphrasing this inaudible, but for example a novel that is very often touched, especially in this group, usually middle school, is Of Mice And Men, and there are certain terminology that would be deemed hurtful, especially being that it's racial terminology. So some teachers are just avoiding these curriculum or these items, and so what is the advice for having these discussions about these words that are being used, with the goal being avoiding of just not doing them?

Dr. Chelsea Mitchell: I think there is a fine line there where you don't want to just cancel everything. There are definitely certain things around like, " Yeah, we have to re- evaluate," but I think there's other moments where we can take it as a really big learning piece, where you can have a conversation about sexism that's in the book and put it into assignment to say, " Hey, this book was written during this time, and these were the held beliefs." Let's have an assignment about critical thinking, and being able to bring that to light, and then what we would do from there. I don't think we can erase all those pieces, I think we can take it and learn from it, and to understand that lens at that time, that's what they thought, but how would that lens look different now? How would it look like without a sexism? How would it look like without racism? I still think it's possible, but you just want to have that conversation. Beverly Daniel Tatum does a great job talking about that as well. When she was reading with her son she had that conversation to say, " Hey, I just want to let you know what I'm seeing right here, this is called sexism, have you heard of that before?" Her son said, " No," and she goes, " Well, this is when men are given more opportunities than women, and I don't think it's okay. I just felt like I really wanted you to know that." Then later her son goes, " Hey, that thing you mentioned, I think it's happening again," and she goes, " Yeah. Yeah, it is." It doesn't mean you have to stop reading the books, I think you just have to bring to light and have that conversation, because avoiding it can sometimes be a white silence in some ways, if that makes sense.

Alyssa: Yeah, that was a great point. I have a question here about when it comes to discipline. I think, obviously as educators discipline tends to be something that comes up a lot, and so the worry is, " How do we promote equitable discipline in the classroom?" It might be a tough question. We got some good ones in here.

Dr. Chelsea Mitchell: I guess... Is it asking should you punish if someone's making a remark? Is that what crosstalk?

Alyssa: I think... I think, and forgive me for the person who wrote it if I'm misinterpreting, I think it's more so of how do you... obviously you can't not discipline, but how do they keep in mind maybe certain traumas that are leading to the behavior that might need to be, or whatever the behavior or something, while being sensitive to where that might be stemming from.

Dr. Chelsea Mitchell: So like disciplining someone of a person of color?

Alyssa: Yeah.

Dr. Chelsea Mitchell: Oh, okay. Well, I think, I mean, my big take is education for the teachers, of just understanding systemic racism and how that plays into it, because the function of the behavior is going to be really important. If the function is because I'm so anxious right now I can't focus because I'm just thinking about George Floyd in my head, well, then I'm not going to tell them to discipline them, I'm going to say, " They need something else right now." It really depends on the function of the behavior, and that's why it would help teachers to get more curious, and then also to reach out to services. Now, granted that's probably limited in the school system, but to reach out to be able to figure out what actually is going on. I try to avoid a punitive approach, and try to give them some good validation and understanding, and give them tools to manage instead of disciplining right off the bat.

Alyssa: That's a great point as well. I think we might have time for one more, now they're all popping in, sorry if I don't get to your question. Okay, this is a good one, I think, to end on because we haven't really talked about this. So what advice do you have for responding to parents who may have some issues with the conversations about social justice, and those related topics in the classroom?

Dr. Kevin Chapman: How to respond to parents who have a crosstalk-

Alyssa: Yes.

Dr. Kevin Chapman: With the topic themselves?

Alyssa: Yeah, it says, " Responding to parents who may have complaints or concerns about the conversations related to race and social justice in the classroom."

Dr. Kevin Chapman: Okay, great question, Alyssa. I think you know it's a loaded one for this-

Alyssa: Yes.

Dr. Kevin Chapman: Type of webinar, but hey, we're family so it is what it is. I guess my thought is that that's a tipping point. I think that that's an opportunity for us as opposed to a reason to be contentious with a parent for you to draw a proverbial line in the sand and say, " Look, this is our stance. This is where we are as an institution. This is where we are in my classroom, and this is what we promote, and I understand and respectfully disagree that you might have a different perspective, but this is what our school stand on, and our principal stands on it. Our institution stands on it, and that's just the bottom line." I think that that's an opportunity for us as educators to draw a line in the sand. I think educators know, heck, better than we do, at least as much as we do, you're not going to please everybody, so you're going to have parents salty at you. We know this, right? I think at the end of the day you're just going to have to literally have grit and say, " That this is one of those things, from a value standpoint, that I have to draw a line in the sand, and if they want to cross it then that's on them."

Dr. Chelsea Mitchell: I would just add that it's even more important for white providers or educators to really stand up because it's more powerful to hear it from me than it is from Dr. Chapman at times. That's just to be transparent where it's easier for me to communicate this, and to really stand firm than someone who's not white. So even as uncomfortable as it is you're going to get so much more of an impact to really actually stand firm. Sometimes we also think it's going to go worse than it actually does, so sometimes it could actually lead to a moment where someone says, " Oh, wow, I never thought about that, I'm glad that you are doing it."

Dr. Kevin Chapman: Alyssa, one last thing I'd say if it's okay, is that-

Alyssa: Yeah.

Dr. Kevin Chapman: In sum this is why I snatched up Dr. Mitchell to join this with me, is for that same reason. We've presented a million times together, but I think that this is one of the reason I wanted her to be involved, because I think hearing some of these concepts from her has a different impact than coming from just me. So hopefully that was appropriate for everybody who was on here, and hopefully they agree, but that's precisely why we did this together.

Alyssa: Yeah, I agree. I think it was very powerful. Well, we are at time, once again I want to thank Dr. Chapman, and Dr. Mitchell for joining us for this event. You will all receive the recording, and if you have any colleagues who registered but they couldn't come they should receive it as well, but thank you so much, and hopefully we'll have future conversations on these important topics.

Dr. Kevin Chapman: Thank you, Alyssa, you take care. Good to see you.

Alyssa: You as well.

DESCRIPTION

Dr. Kevin Chapman and Dr. Chelsea Mitchell, Psy.D are going to discuss the importance of social justice in the classroom and the impact educators have on their students.



Dr. Kevin Chapman

Dr. Kevin Chapman is a diplomate certified by the Academy of Cognitive and Behavioral Therapies. His specialties include cognitive behavioral therapy including exposure for panic disorder, agoraphobia, specific phobias, and social anxiety disorders.


Dr. Chelsea Mitchell

Dr. Chelsea Mitchell, Psy.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist providing evidence-based mental health services for children, adolescents, and families. She has a particular interest in treating children and adolescents with mood and anxiety disorders as well as those who have experienced trauma.


Quotes:

“Leaning in to distress is the key to emotional regulation. Leaning in to emotions is the key to navigating them. Leaning in to any sort of situation that’s uncomfortable teaches us that we can tolerate the distress associated with strong emotions, and most of the time in this context we’re talking about having hard conversations.”


“Selective inattention is when we don’t know what to say, and we pretend that we don’t hear it, and then eventually just feeds out of our awareness.”


“It’s not going to be easy, but as we mentioned before we don’t want to be in that smog. We want to actively move towards making change.”