ICS Community Equity Ally Academy Session #3 Recap

On Thursday, May 13, approximately 37 community members including parents, educators, School Board members, and Village Board members participated in the third Integrated Comprehensive Systems (ICS) Equity Ally Academy Workshop.  This meeting was the third of a four part series which will help support the work the District is doing with ICS.  The goals of the ICS Equity Ally Academy are to:
  1. Learn more about the Shorewood School District’s Equity work
  2. Learn how to support the district’s efforts-as an ally
  3. Learn how to advance equity in your community spaces (e.g., home, work, church, community)
During the third session, the group reflected on the power and reality of identity in our society. They also explored ways we can develop in our understanding of our identity and our relationship to people of identities that are different from our own.  Attendees reflected on how important it is to consider the ways identity and identity intersections can impact the experiences and opportunities of people.
Continuing this work will help community members recognize that differences in identity and diversity are an important strength in our community. This work will also help us collectively become more aware of the ways we perceive identity differences as we work toward sustaining a more equitable society and embrace the diversity that makes it unique. 
Below is some of the feedback participants provided, when answering "What resonated with you? What gave you pause?"
-Identity development is an ongoing process, but it is not the be all end all. The lifelong task of identity development
-What resonated for me was that actions that I do (example, poverty) such as donations, do not dismantle the systems. Hopefully, my actions are helping other organizations dismantle those systems. Trying to figure out how to devote the time to this work within the context of life.
-Identity evolves constantly. It is not fixed. And one doesn't necessarily question one's identity unless it is being challenged or threatened in some way.
-The fine line between pity and admiration when it comes to historically marginalized groups.
-Advocate versus Ally. Gestures of support for marginalized groups versus weaving ally work into every part of your life.
-It's all about relationships -- that one already has, that one works to build, that one initiates in order to learn more... that one nurtures and allows to grow.
-The tension point between privileged people needing time to learn and the urgency of marginalized groups being harmed. Leaders can't "fake" this work. They need to do the individual work if they want to truly make structural change in their spheres of influence.
-That is not the job of a person who is in the marginalized group to be responsible in educating individuals about their biases.
-We need to be comfortable with the idea that we might never be called allies and still do the work. This journey is not about the thanks or acknowledgement we might receive as individuals, but about making real, often small, changes in ourselves, our communities and our circles of influence.
-In order to understand, accept, and eventually become an ally of any marginalized community, from a point of privilege, one must suffer. The privileged individual must suffer through the uncomfortable feelings they harbor within themselves, and through the long periods of time. They must be able to work through the suffering they feel and the uncomfortableness they feel in asking questions, being around, and in understanding marginalized communities, because the marginalized person has suffered all of those feeling just for being who they are.
The final Equity Ally Academy meeting of this year will be held virtually on Thursday  June 10, 2021 from 6:00pm-8:30pm.
For more background information on the ICS for Equity partnership, visit the ICS for Equity webpage.