Home Minnesota Educator Educators of color gather for change at EMAC Summit

Educators of color gather for change at EMAC Summit

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One hundred educators of color came together in mid-February at the Heritage Center in Brooklyn Park to learn about the past, present and future of educators and students of color. Educators discussed the change needed to provide an equitable public education system for all students.

The second annual Education Minnesota Ethnic Minority Affairs Committee Summit included conversations on dismantling white supremacy in education, supporting education support professionals, decolonizing mental health, centering students’ multilingual identities in learning spaces, fostering inclusivity for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) union members and more. National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers guests joined to give keynote speeches and lead many breakout sessions, including AFT Secretary-Treasurer Fedrick Ingram.

Speakers highlighted the needs of educators and students of color in Minnesota. As the student population becomes more diverse, they said the state needs to strongly support educators of color who reflect the identity and learning needs of the student body. Though Minnesota excels in educational outcomes for students, students of color have faced some of the worst educational disparities in the nation for decades. Minnesota can do more for its students of color, the speakers said, and that starts with hearing, organizing and supporting educators of color.

Ligaya Domingo, keynote speaker and racial justice and education director for SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, said: “A big part of change is actually centering the voices of impacted people of color, and bringing people together to speak about their experience. This is an incredible space. I think it’s amazing that the union has put resources into a convening like this. Things like this will help people have the energy to keep going, to bring them out of the isolation in their classrooms and into a collective experience. People are telling me about their experiences, some of them being the only educator of color in their buildings, and how they want to just give up – but being able to connect with people in this space is what’s keeping them going. I think it’s well worth the investment and resources to be able to have people connect on their experiences. People get so in their silo about the thing that they’re doing every day, and so, to be able to pop out of that in a reflective space and see ‘oh, I’m not the only one who’s feeling this or experiencing this’ is powerful.”

Hosting the summit required the work of many educators, including members Kimberly Colbert and Cassandra Sheppard, educators of color who led breakout sessions, and educators of color who serve on EMAC, not to mention the hard-working staff of color who support all of them.

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