Yesterday one of the guidance counselors sent out an email asking for nominations of a sophomore student to send to a leadership conference. This student was supposed to demonstrate leadership and contribute positively to the school community.
I thought about who to nominate. A student who immediately jumped to the front of my mind was a black male who fits the criteria and is an awesome person in general. He’s kind of quiet though, so I wasn’t sure whether to nominate him or not. I ended up not nominating anyone and decided to let other teachers make the nominations.
Today the guidance counselor sent out the list of nominated students. The black male mentioned above was on the list. I immediately thought, oh, good , I’ll vote for him.
Then I saw another name on the list, a white male, who I have in class this year. I didn’t think of him yesterday, but he is a great leader, and I am so thankful to have his positive influence in my classroom.
So, of course, the typical internal debate ensued. Do I vote for the black kid or the white kid? Does the black kid “need” my vote more? Is this an opportunity that he might not get elsewhere?
I went back and forth for quite awhile, and then started scanning other names on the list. Suddenly it occurred to me that perhaps I was having the wrong debate. I was so stuck on racial equity, but what about gender equity? How come I immediately focused on two males for a leadership conference?
I am regularly in disbelief (and sometimes in shock) about the lack of women in leadership positions, yet here I was debating between two male students to send to a leadership conference. Although I immediately considered racial inequity, I almost didn’t even acknowledge gender inequity. Weird. This made me wonder if I am somehow influenced by societal norms about men assuming leadership positions.
Once I came to this realization, I completely changed tactics. I recognized many female students on the list and quickly settled on one who I think is, and will continue to be, a great leader and positive role model.
She happens to be white, but I’m completely satisfied with my choice.