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Being A Good Person

I finished reading an excellent book this weekend by Dr. Dolly Chugh entitled The Person You Mean to Be: How Good People Fight Bias. I know this book and its teachings will stay with me for a long time as it has challenged my thinking, and reframed the way I look at things. Specifically, the book is challenging me to be not just a ‘believer’ in equity, diversity, and inclusion, but an active ‘builder’ of these ideals.

Dr. Chugh, a social psychologist at the NYU Stern School of Business, opens her book with the following quotation from Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King: “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.”

Fighting bias is complex, particularly for those who may not have felt discrimination as directly as others. Confronting bias not only requires reflection and learning, but also courage and conviction to step outside one’s comfort zone. Only through action does one to grow beyond being a believer, to being a builder. Chugh’s book provides strategies and action supported by research that assists in being a builder.

Being a good person is hard. Chugh quotes Syndey J. Harris, an American Journalist who said, “The three hardest tasks in the world are neither physical feats nor intellectual achievements, but moral acts: to return love for hate, to include the excluded, and to say, “I was wrong.”

I have been reflecting on this quotation, as it reminds me of the vital work both home and school must commit to in order to ensure that our St. Clement’s School mission is fulfilled. The importance of guiding our girls to act morally is as important as guiding their intellectual achievements.

In reflecting on implicit bias, or the attitudes and / or stereotypes that affect our understandings, actions or decisions in ways that are unconscious, I see the impact that we- as parents and teachers- can have. How are we challenging our girls to reflect on their actions and their words, their assumptions and their experiences to broaden their understanding? What structures have we in place, stories have we told, and actions have we taken that might model bias, and as a result influence our girls’ perspectives?

Being a good person takes a lot of effort but I believe that effort is imperative as we work to ensure more inclusive and supportive communities.

I invite you to hear our last LINCWell Speaker of the year, Dr. Nilanjana Dasgupta, who will speak about implicit bias. On Tuesday, May 7, Dr. Dasgupta will be meeting with our students in the morning and our staff in the afternoon. In the evening Dr. Dasgupta will speak with our parents and broader community about implicit bias affecting women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM.) in the evening at 7:00 p.m. Consider joining us as we work toward being builders of a community characterized by equity, diversity and inclusion.

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