Black Meridian Students and Alumni Denounce White Equity Consultant

Black Meridian Students and Alumni Denounce White Equity Consultant

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Teanna Barrett started this petition to Meridian World School Administration and

Meridian World School (MWS) Administration, E-Board and DEI Committee,

On November 25th, Meridian's DEI Committee was notified that Paul Gorski and the Equity Literacy Institute were hired as the equity consultant for MWS. There are little to no student and alumni participants in the DEI Committee so the larger student body was not made aware of this appointment until the beginning of 2021.  

Upon learning that the lead consultant is a white man, many Black students and alumni were upset with this decision for several reasons that include the following:

  1. The Meridian Alumni Open Letter (that was directly sent to administration) demanded that Meridian's DEI consultant should "be a person of color who is sufficiently trained to address equity in K-12 schools."
  2. The first racial-affinity club established at Meridian was the Black Student Union because Black students needed to specifically create a safe and honest space for themselves. In addition, the Meridian Alumni Collective (MAC) was started and continues to be led by Black women and other alumni who have experienced severe marginalization at MWS. The treatment of Black and other marginalized communities at MWS is the central problem so we must be centered in any conversation, action, and training related to equity at Meridian. 
  3. A majority-white faculty can be robustly challenged, taught, and trained solely by another white person who generally shares the same racialized position and experiences.
  4. It is not racist or bigoted for Black students to condemn the appointment of a white equity consultant. Black students are a small population who are disproportionately harmed by inequitable conditions at Meridian, we don't have the power or privilege to assert oppressive and systematic dominance. We need intentional, expert, and external support because we cannot wait for Meridian administration to understand the harm they have caused!

Given the reasonings above and the pushback individuals have received after voicing their concerns, this petition demands the following from the DEI Committee and the Executive Board:

  • Appoint and sufficiently pay a Black (or BIPOC) Equity consultant specifically for student support and outreach
  • Facilitate a student-led, recorded, and publicly available meeting with current Equity consultant, DEI coordinator, Executive Board, and all relevant "stakeholders" (such as the DEI Steering Committee)
  • Establish and actively support a DEI subcommittee for and led by BIPOC students at Meridian
  • Create and publish reports about the progress and actions of the DEI Committee to the equity page of the Meridian website

Although we are disturbingly connected by the various degrees of trauma experienced at this institution, as Black students, alumni, and community members, we do not think, speak, and act the same. Meridian cannot only listen to a respectable spokesperson and dismiss honest feedback from other Black MWS community members because it is challenging. If MWS has now decided that it truly cares about its "Black community," ACT LIKE IT! (written by Teanna Barrett)

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