• DEI Blog - May 2021

    Posted by Nina Grant on 5/21/2021

    DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) Blog

    May 2021

    by Nina Grant, SBPS Student Success Facilitator

    Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, celebrated each year in May, is intended to develop awareness of and celebrate the rich cultures and contributions of America’s fastest growing demographic group. This month is a way to acknowledge the triumphs and influence of Asian Americans in the United States and is a time for celebration and education. In 2021, this time for celebration falls in the midst of a worsening crisis of racism and violence against some of the nearly 20 million AAPIs living in the U.S. today. The escalating number of anti-Asian hate crimes has brought this often overlooked population to the forefront of the nation’s anti-racism movement. With the AAPI community experiencing an uptick of hate incidents in recent years, it is extremely  important for everyone to feel safe and supported in their identities in our community. Racism aside, Asian culture is rich and diverse and has helped to shape U.S. culture and industry in immeasurable ways, which is worth acknowledging and championing. Plus, cultural celebrations help foster camaraderie and build community. In solidarity with this community, we highlight some resources and tips to help learn about and celebrate the rich and diverse AAPI cultures, experiences, and contributions.

    1. Widen the lens on your spotlight

    Asian Heritage goes beyond Chinese or Japanese ancestry. Asian ancestry can stem from Taiwan, Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, the Philippines, Samoa, Fiji, Guam, or South Asian countries like India, Pakistan, and Bhutan, just to name a few. Community members may also be mixed-race, or hold multiple citizenships. Not to mention, folks from similar geographic backgrounds can have entirely different experiences and beliefs. There is no one definitive Asian experience, and it is important to celebrate the diversity of the community during AAPI Heritage month. One way to widen your lens is to take advantage of a special PBS collection of stories that explores the history, traditions and culture of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States.

    1. Pay homage to history while invoking modern culture

    Many Eastern cultures are thousands of years old and have deep, rich histories. However, society often over-emphasizes the ancient aspects of Asian culture. Asia is much more than its history. While the past is important, the community’s present and future are equally interesting and worth celebrating. Many Asian countries and individuals are at the forefront of innovation and progress, and current events deserve just as much attention as history. 

    1. Avoid stereotypes

    Like many groups, Asians have battled for generations to overcome stereotypes. Pop culture often misappropriates and Americanizes Asian culture, or spreads tropes. Perpetrators do not always mean harm. Human beings tend to gravitate towards the familiar. Leaning too heavily on the well-known aspects of Asian culture can reinforce the message that certain symbols are representative of the entire identity. You can use the month as an opportunity to explore and introduce new concepts. Asia is a huge continent with many cultures, and your AAPI Heritage Month should reflect this diversity.

    1. Aim for inclusion

    You do not have to be of Asian descent to enjoy Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The month is about giving members of the community due praise and attention, and acknowledging the contributions these individuals make to the society as a whole. Pride aside, the month calls for inclusion.

    While May is a time to shine a spotlight on the Asian community at large, you should not make those with an Asian identity feel singled out. While you can ask for volunteers to lead or help plan activities, you should not make those with an Asian identity feel obligated to participate or take on the responsibility of planning. This gesture may be well-meaning, yet can make them feel alienated. Expressions of culture are highly personal, and you should leave matters of identity up to their individual comfort level.

    And finally, as demands for diversity within our society grows, so does the call to acknowledge occasions like Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Observing the occasion is a way to express respect and appreciation to AAPI individuals, and to help them feel safe in their unique identities. Not to mention, cultural months provide opportunities to gather, get to know others across differences, and form a stronger sense of community with one another.

    In addition to AAPI Heritage Month, it is also Jewish American Heritage Month. For well over 360 years, Jews have profoundly contributed to America’s history, society, and culture – in the fields of science  and  medicine, academia and  the arts, sports and entertainment, business and  labor, civil rights and civic engagement, government and law, and military service. In 2006, then-President George W. Bush established May as Jewish American Heritage Month (JAHM) to honor the long history of Jewish Americans and the many contributions our community has made in the United States.  PBS offers this great resource to explore, learn, and celebrate American Jewish heritage that can be found here.

     Jewish American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month poster 2021

    This is the poster that was displayed on bulletin boards by Bearcats 4 Diversity at SHS in honor of AAPI and JAHM months.

    Please enjoy this month’s informational AAPI & JAHM Month Resources Document created by SBPS DEI Intern and Class of 2021 SHS student Michael Jones.

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  • DEI Blog - April 2021

    Posted by Nina Grant on 4/20/2021

    DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) Blog

    April 2021

    by Nina Grant, SBPS Student Success Facilitator

    "Autism Awareness and Acceptance Viewed from Different Points of View"

    On April 2, the world recognizes and celebrates the rights of individuals with autism. World Autism Awareness Day, established in 2008 by the United Nations, is an international observance to make us mindful of this complex, lifelong developmental disability, which typically appears in early childhood. Autism is a spectrum disorder, and traits and symptoms can vary wildly between individuals. The DSM V’s screening checklist includes delayed speech, deficits in nonverbal communication, social-emotional reciprocity, and “difficulties developing and maintaining relationships appropriate to developmental level”. Essentially, the criterion boils down to observed problems socializing and observable issues relating to others. The DSM also screens for repetitive motions, sensory issues, and a plethora of other symptoms that people on the spectrum may experience mildly, severely, or not at all. For example, one person on the spectrum may have only mild difficulty interacting with others but may experience severe sensory overload affecting their ability to be out and about in the world without assistance.

    There are various organizations like the Autism Society of America and Autism Speaks that seek to celebrate differences throughout April’s Autism Acceptance Month, a formal shift from Autism Awareness Month, announced in early March. The following quote by Christopher Banks, President & CEO, Autism Society of America provides some understanding about why the shift from awareness to acceptance is taking place. “While we will always work to spread awareness, words matter as we strive for autistic individuals to live fully in all areas of life. As we celebrate differences, we recognize that acceptance is what is needed to inspire inclusion and systems-wide changes to achieve full participation within society.” With autism identified as our country’s fastest-growing developmental disorder, affecting one in 54 children according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there’s increasing urgency for intervention and therapy to improve the lives of the over 5 million people diagnosed and living with autism.

    As I was working with students to develop ideas about what could be done within the school to promote Autism Acceptance, I discovered a wide range of thoughts, opinions and ideas that exist among our students and their families. While trying to support some students in their efforts, I realized that I may be causing other students to feel like I was not being supportive of them and their efforts. So in the interest of trying to ensure that everyone is included and supported in their efforts, I have done more research to try to expand what information is available to our students. While there is much more to learn about, here is some information that may be useful while gaining greater insights.  In addition to the two previously mentioned organizations, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network and the Autism Women’s Network are charities run by people with autism who advocate for themselves to be accepted in society.Others include the World Autism Organization and the Color of Autism Foundation

    With different organizations, of course different views exist. I have discovered that some will choose red rather than blue and instead of the puzzle piece, which to some, can imply people with autism don’t fit, some will wear a taupe ribbon. Others love the puzzle piece, as it can mean that you’re an important part of the larger picture. While we have students and families who are actively involved with supporting the “Autism Speaks” organization and love “Lighting it Up Blue”, we also have students who want others to know that there is controversy surrounding “Autism Speaks” and are advocating for Autism Acceptance and getting involved with other campaigns. Although only a few years old (as it began in 2015) “Red Instead” has quickly become popular for many people with autism on World Autism Awareness (Acceptance) Day as, unlike the puzzle piece logo or the multicolored puzzle piece colored ribbon, many state that red was chosen by the autistic community instead of charities representing people with autism. Another campaign that people with autism have initiated in addition to “Red Instead” is “Tone It Down Taupe.” Taupe is considered a non-offensive, non-obtrusive color to symbolize the toned-down sensory and emotional experiences of those lacking autism. In addition, the rainbow infinity sign symbolizes neurodiversity. Neurodiversity is the assertion that atypical (neurodivergent) neurological wiring is a normal human difference that is to be respected as any other human difference. You are invited to do your own research about these organizations, slogans, logos and colors!

    While there is some disagreement about these organizations, slogans, and colors and logos that exist and the best way for someone to show their support, I am proud that at SBPS we all do agree on one thing...our purpose.  We all are deeply committed to ensuring that our schools are inclusive, that equitable opportunities exist, and that our communities are welcoming to everyone...every child, every day!

    Students at Autism Awareness & Acceptance Diversity Table at SHS

    Photo of students at the Autism Awareness & Acceptance Diversity Display table at SHS

    In closing, please enjoy this Autism Acceptance resource document created by SHS senior and SBPS DEI intern, Michael Jones.

    Autism Acceptance Resources Document

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  • DEI Blog - March 2021

    Posted by Nina Grant on 3/25/2021

    DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) Blog

    March 2021

    by Nina Grant, SBPS Student Success Facilitator

    Every year the United States recognizes March as Women’s History Month, and here within the SBPS school district, we too have been engaged in activities to help learn more about the contributions of women and current related issues.  This month’s SHS Diversity Display was placed up on International Women’s Day (March 8) and highlights different women who are current or historical noteworthy figures. Different women have been highlighted each week for the display. In addition, a Women’s History fact is shared each day during announcements and short informational videos have been shared with CATS classes. There are also plans for a guest speaker to take place on March 30 & 31, 2021. We are honored to host Astrid Munn at SHS. Astrid is a 2005 SHS graduate and a managing attorney at Immigrant Legal Center in Omaha. Before going into law, she was a journalist specializing in American Indian topics.

    Astrid Munn Guest Speaker at SHS

    Some other possible things that can be done in honor of Women’s History Month include:

    1. Explore the history of women’s rights. 

    The theme of Women’s History Month 2021 is “Choose to Challenge,” acknowledging that while we’ve made significant progress to advance women’s rights, there’s still problems we need to challenge. If you don’t know the history of women’s rights, now is a perfect time to expand your knowledge.

    1. Become aware of issues women still face today.

    Although women have made progress, there are still areas where women face obstacles because of their gender. For example, women still earn less on average than men, carry the majority of household and childcare responsibilities, face workplace stigmas and double standards, and are under-represented in leadership, STEM careers, and politics. In addition there is hiring bias, harmful beauty standards, and the pink tax.  Learning about these issues is a great way to become more aware and more able to share this information with others who may also be interested. You may decide you want to participate in political advocacy. We know that even though women’s rights have come a long way, there’s still plenty of work to do to level the playing field and make sure women and girls have the opportunity to succeed. If you come across a topic that matters to you, you can write or call your representatives to voice your concerns.

    1. Post on social media to spread awareness of Women’s History Month.

    An easy way to celebrate is to share articles, infographics, inspiring quotes, videos, and other women-centric content on your social media. See https://www.internationalwomensday.com/theme for some great resources an ideas of what one can do to amplify the “Choose to Challenge” 2021 theme by getting involved with “choose to challenge” and calling out gender bias and inequity, seeking out and celebrating women's achievements, collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world. 

    1. Support a women’s nonprofit.

    If you really want to make a measurable difference this Women’s History Month, support a charity that works with women and girls in need. One that I am particularly fond of is Soroptimist / LiveYourDream.org. It is helping tens of thousands of women and girls across the globe achieve economic empowerment through education. And there is a local chapter here in Scottsbluff! You can see more information at https://www.scottsbluffsoroptimist.org/  

    But this is just one of many other great nonprofits, big and small, working to empower women and move the needle on gender equality. Any and all of them could use every little bit of help that you may be able to provide. When enough people pitch in, a pinch of generosity compounds into a mountain of progress! 

    1. Host an event to celebrate women.

    An event is a fun way to acknowledge Women’s History Month and to build solidarity with other women. You can even plan a virtual event to ensure that you are being safe in regards to COCID-19. Invite your friends (not just women, but allies too!). Make it positive and empowering! Here are some fun ideas to make the event special:

    • Watch movies directed by women and with female leads (you can decide in advance what to watch and then set up a Zoom conversation afterwards)
    • Chill to some feminist shows on Netflix (again, you can have a virtual meet up after you watch a show)
    • Play tunes by female artists (you can do this while having a virtual event)
    • Write positive affirmations on notes and hand them out (or send them to electronically)
    • Decorate your space with empowering quotes by women, or art by women like Frida Kahlo and Georgia O’Keefe (you can create a virtual gallery to share with others)
    • Have everyone write down resolutions to do more to support women (can be done by sharing a document with one another)
    • Have a mini ceremony and give out awards to each of your gal pals to celebrate their resilience, compassion, and accomplishments (can be done virtually)

     

    1. Support women-owned businesses.

    Women-owned businesses are on the rise, but women still represent the minority of business owners. March is a perfect time to show your solidarity with these tenacious leaders, entrepreneurs, and service providers. A great local organization to get involved with and meet other professional women is Panhandle Business & Professional Women. See https://www.panhandlebpw.org/ for more information.

    1. Write a thank you note to a woman that inspires you.

    A few simple words to acknowledge how another woman has inspired you can mean a lot to her. Maybe they are a role model for you, or a friend or family member who helped you through a tough time. Maybe you just admire certain qualities about them and do not usually take the time to say it. Carving out time to show gratitude is a meaningful gesture.

    1. Watch TED talks about and by women.

    TED is such an incredible learning resource. The TED website has a whole curated list of videos about and by women.

    1. Support women authors and artists.

    Give the creative women of the world some well-earned reading or listening time during this month. We have a few recommended women authors, and a playlist of empowering women musicians to enjoy at your leisure.

    1. Mentor a girl or fellow woman.

    There are tons of local and national programs where you can become a mentor for women and girls. Live Your Dream has the Dream It, Be It program as one example, but there’s also Girls Inc., YWCA, Ellevate, and more. A local mentor program (Teammates) that is not limited to girls, does offer opportunities to mentor students in the district. See https://www.sbps.net/domain/309 for more information. Being a mentor is a big commitment, but it’s also profoundly impactful.

    In addition to Women’s History Month for the whole month of March, we are also recognizing Deaf History Month that runs from March 13-April 15 at SBPS. This is a time when we can focus our attention on the abilities and skill sets that the Deaf community brings to our larger community. Effective interactions encourage teamwork, growth and inclusion. Some helpful information includes the following:

    • The more inclusive way to reference this group is to say “people who are deaf and hard of hearing” or “deaf” instead of “hearing impaired.” This resource is helpful.
    • When writing about the Deaf community, capitalize the term as it represents a cultural identity.
    • Ask Deaf people how they prefer to communicate (i.e. interpreter, writing, sign language) and seek out an appropriate accommodation.
    •  When working with an interpreter, it’s helpful to give time before a meeting for the interpreter and Deaf participant(s) to work through necessary logistics and set up.  
    • With the use of masks due to COVID-19, there are some “Best Practices for Wearing Masks When Communicating with Deaf and Hard of Hearing People” here: https://alda.org/best-practices-for-wearing-masks-when-communicating-with-deaf-and-hard-of-hearing-people/

     

    In closing, please enjoy this Women’s History Month and Deaf History Month resource document created by SHS senior and SBPS DEI intern, Michael Jones. 

    Women's & Deaf History Month Resources 2021

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  • DEI Blog - February 2021

    Posted by Nina Grant on 2/17/2021

    DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) Blog

    February 2021

    by Nina Grant, SBPS Student Success Facilitator

    This February marks the 45th anniversary of Black History Month, celebrating the many accomplishments and achievements of Black Americans. In 1915, historian Carter G. Woodson was saddened by the underrepresentation of Black Americans in university history classes, which often were relegated to only teaching about enslaved people. Along with Jesse E. Moorland, he founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, now known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). The organization was formed to motivate and promote the inclusion of Black Americans in historical textbooks and discussion.

    In 1926, Woodson and ASALH proposed the second week of February be declared Negro History Week, to coincide with the birthdates of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. The goal was to disseminate information about Black life, culture, and history to the world. Fifty years later, during the United States’ 1976 bicentennial, then-President Gerald Ford recognized Black History Month as a nationally celebrated event to be observed every February.

    This year, the Black History Month (BHM) 2021 theme is “Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity,” and it explores the African diaspora and Black families across the United States. In 2014, Ebony magazine and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation conducted the “Survey of the African American Family,” which included answers from a national sample of 1,005 African American respondents on issues related to income, housing, health care, relationships, race and education. A major education-related reveal was that Black parents/guardians saw “lack of parental involvement” as a major issue in the quality of their students’ education, along with funding disparities among school districts and quality of teachers.

    A 2017 academic paper “African American Parents and Effective Parent Involvement Programs” examines what effective parent involvement entails, particularly for the African American community. Research shows that individuals who experience acts of racial discrimination are more likely to experience lower self-esteem and higher rates of depression and behavior problems, which all affect academic achievement. The paper finds that the usual notions of parent involvement, such as volunteering in schools, do not resonate with many Black parents/guardians, who report wanting more meaningful involvement opportunities. The authors write that a successful African American parent involvement program should emphasize the positive role that Black racial identity brings to both parents and students and developing effective working relationships between parents, staff and community partners.

    At SBPS, we recognize that parent/family involvement plays a vital role in fostering student success, and have implemented parent/family advisory committees to work with parents. We welcome all parents/families to participate and value that involvement immensely. We also have some exciting BHM educational opportunities for our students within our schools throughout the month. Our SHS Bearcats 4 Diversity organization, has organized a BHM daily fact that is read each day during school announcements. Every Tuesday and Thursday after school, films are shown, to help learn about the history and contributions of African Americans through the magic of movies. Video clips to help learn about the rich history of Black Americans, both well-known achievers and hidden gems (lesser-known Black historical leaders) are being offered during CATS. Bearcats 4 Diversity wanted to make sure to not diminish the outstanding achievements of Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks or Maya Angelou, among others, but also wanted to help expand knowledge about other great Black trailblazers, such as Rebecca Lee Crumpler, the first Black female doctor in the United States; Ruby Bridges, the six-year-old who became the first Black student to attend William Frantz Elementary in Louisiana at the height of desegregation; Daniel H. “Chappie” James Jr., the first Black four-star general in the United States Air Force; and the Black 14 of the University of Wyoming, the fourteen Black football players and activists who were unfairly banished from the football team. For our younger students, at Westmoor, an impressive display featuring a Periodic Table of Black History complete with QR code’s that can be scanned to pull up biographies has been created. This is another fun and creative way for elementary students to honor and learn more about BHM.

    BHM activity at Westmoor

    BHM 2021 at Westmoor Elementary

    As we celebrate the accomplishments of not only historical leaders, but also current and contemporary Black leaders, like Kamala Harris, Amanda Gorman, and Raphael Warnock, I am proud to witness, firsthand, history in the making—as these leaders will, in time, be historical figures for future generations to laud. In closing, please enjoy this BHM resource document created by SHS senior and SBPS DEI intern, Michael Jones.

    BHM Resources

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  • DEI Blog - January 2021

    Posted by Nina Grant on 1/20/2021

    DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) Blog 

    January 2021 

    by Nina Grant, SBPS Student Success Facilitator

    MLK

    In honor of MLK Day 2021, students at Scottsbluff High School and Reconnect were asked to respond to the following questions:

    1. What does the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. mean to you?
    2. What dream do you have for our world?

    As our students took this opportunity to reflect upon the impact of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and their own dreams for our world, we are honored to share these thoughtful and visionary reflections. The following are some of their responses, in their own words, to these questions.

    What does the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. mean to you?

    • It means I know we can stand up with courage to confront the terrible treatment some people show each other. It means we can use words to find solutions instead of violence.
    • The legacy of Dr.Martin Luther King Kr. means to me is that someone showed us that if you have a dream and you want something done about it but not in a violent way, there is a way you can do it.
    • The legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is the celebration of the life and accomplishments Luther made while on Earth. It is a way of rejoicing the success of the Civil Rights Movement and the betterment of equality overall. To me, remembering and celebrating his life is important for us to move forward and improve our world.
    • It means that there was finally a person that could express their views with peace and bring a country together with his peaceful words that did not result in any violence but still made the world a better place and without violence he still made his voice heard and got what he wanted out of it.
    • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy represents a cataclysmic history of necessary resistance and resilience. His involvement on the Civil Rights Movement in the 60's was a world-changing presence that will be remembered forever. Through protests today, we demonstrate the progress that has been made thanks to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. However, we still have much to do as we fight for equality and a peaceful coexistence that he imagined in the United States and beyond.
    • That everybody has their own beliefs and dreams. Also that you can do the things you put your mind to...and believe in yourself.
    • The Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. means to me that no matter how bad the times may be, we always have the right to dream and that is something no one can take away from us. The first step to achieve any goal is to dream and Dr. King is a great example of that. I believe that in this country, we are not fully accepting people and to achieve that we have to be the first to grow up and protest responsibly and peacefully if we want to see change. If we are not peaceful no one is going to take us seriously. So I believe that no matter how long ago Dr. King lived, his practices and beliefs are still alive in many people and I believe that those actions are why he is one of the most remembered people ever.

    What Dream do you have for Our World?

    • My dream for our world is to make sure that everyone is viewed as an equal and gets an equal chance. Certain people already have a less chance of succeeding because of their race, gender, and etc. I want equality to happen.
    • I have a dream that the world will have peace
    • One day we will all be equal. No one will be treated with inequity no matter their gender identity, sexual orientation, race, or political party. We will be able to go anywhere in the world without being worried about our safety. We will begin to heal the planet from the years of damage we have put it through, working toward being a carbon neutral society. We will focus on the mental health of the criminals instead of their offences. Helping them out of situations and putting them through the therapy in care they need instead of locking them up and isolating them from society to just get worse. Health care would be available to anyone who needs at no charge and no one would have to choose between eating or medical care.
    • I dream that one day everyone will actually get to live equally. I dream that someday we won't have to protest anymore on marriage rights or Black Lives matter ect. I dream that one day everyone will be able to express themselves without getting any hate online or being judged for loving who they love. I dream that one day we can all work together so that humanity as a whole can work on the really important things like global warming and pollution without each other's views or actions getting in the way.
    • I have a dream that one day, everyone will be able to live as their true selves without having to live in fear regardless of how they look, who they are, or what they believe.
    • Viajar y aprender mas de las culturas del mundo.
    • The dream I have for our world is that we come together as a nation, and unify with peace. The world is a scary place...especially now. I dream of a future where there are no wars, no violence, but instead love and compassion within everyone. I dream of a future where everyone has a chance to live, and not suffer from economic problems.

    Even today, MLK’s leadership leaves a legacy that we can get inspiration from and aspire to. Our students, and their generation, will become the next leaders of this country and have the power to change our communities for the better. Based on these reflections, our students are ready to take on this challenge, stand up and prove that it only takes one to inspire others. Who knows, perhaps their leadership could lead to a day dedicated to them someday! Thank you to our SHS and Reconnect students for sharing their thoughts and dreams with us. I am truly inspired by them today and every day!

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  • DEI Blog - December 2020

    Posted by Nina Grant on 12/18/2020

    DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) Blog

    December 2020

    by Nina Grant, SBPS Student Success Facilitator

    For many people, December is a time for holidays and celebrations and in particular Christmas. I personally love Christmas and this time of year. I truly enjoy Christmas decorations and have been told by many that I tend to go overboard with it. I also have realized that there are ways I can try to be more inclusive and expand my own knowledge about other special days, traditions, and events beyond just Christmas. December is a time of year when several holidays occur, so below are some suggestions, which can help create a more inclusive environment during this holiday season.

    December Diverse Holidays

    Many holidays take place throughout the fall and winter. Since many holidays fall on different dates each year, it’s important to refer to interfaith calendars like the Anti-Defamation League’s (see https://www.adl.org/education/resources/tools-and-strategies/calendar-of-observances) or Diversity Best Practices’ diversity holidays page (see https://www.diversitybestpractices.com/diversity-holidays).

    Some holidays that may fall in or around December include:

    • The Eid al-Fitr, a celebration that marks the end of Ramadan in the Muslim faith. The Eid has shifting dates, and although it has fallen over the summer during recent years (will be in May 2021), it can fall much later in the calendar and is therefore a holiday to consider thinking about in December and even better to determine the dates for this year and make mention of it then.
    • Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights. This five-day celebration usually falls in October or November. In 2020, Diwali was November 12 and ended on October 16 (the main day of celebration was on November 14).
    • Bodhi Day, a Buddhist holiday celebrating Siddhartha Guatama’s (the Buddha’s) realization and presentation to his fellow seekers of the Four Noble Truths. Bodhi Day is traditionally celebrated on December 8th (the 8th day of the 12th lunar month).
    • Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights. This eight-day holiday can fall in late November, December, or occasionally early January. In 2020, Hanukkah starts at sundown on December 10th and ends at sundown on December 18th.
    • Christmas, a celebration of the birth of Jesus, the central figure of Christianity. Christmas is celebrated on December 25th by Christians who use the Gregorian calendar. Christians using the Julian calendar—many of whom are Eastern Orthodox Christians—celebrate Christmas on December 25th on the Julian calendar, which translates into January 7th on the Gregorian calendar.
    • Kwanzaa, a week-long secular holiday honoring African-American heritage. This holiday is observed from December 26th through January 1st each year by some African-Americans in the United States.
    • The Chinese New Year, a traditional Chinese holiday marking the end of winter that falls sometime during January or February (in 2021, it falls on February 12th). The Chinese New Year is an East and South East Asian celebration. In China it is known as the “Spring Festival” and marks the end of the winter season.
    • Yule, a Wiccan or Pagan celebration of the Winter Solstice, which takes place every year between December 20th and 23rd. Yule celebrates the rebirth of the sun, the beginning of the time when the days will become longer, and welcomes the bounty of spring.

     

    The December Diversity Checklist

    Be Curious, and Ask Respectful Questions: The holidays are an excellent time to raise awareness around religious diversity in your environment, so don’t be afraid to ask respectful questions of those around you. For instance, it is appropriate to ask a person what holiday greeting they prefer or if they have any holiday practices to be aware of, as long as the questions are respectful and come from a place of genuine curiosity and you show appreciation for them sharing of themselves. Finding out more about what they do during this time of year that is special can be an opportunity to learn about other traditions. Asking a question is one of the best ways to avoid misunderstandings and make sure that everyone feels included and respected during the holiday season. Realize that people celebrate a variety of holidays during this time of year, and some people choose to celebrate none. Be respectful of these differences by taking an interest in other people's traditions and making them feel welcome.

    Expand your Knowledge about other Holiday Celebrations: Carve out some time from online shopping or a holiday TV show to learn about other religious and cultural celebrations during this time. Watch a TV special about other celebrations, do a Google search on a holiday, or check out books at your local bookstore or library. Share your learning with others, and use it as a chance to expand the conversation at gatherings and at the dinner table. 

    Learn New Phrases: Learn about the different December holidays, their practices and significance. Honor the differences with appropriate greetings if possible. Going this extra step sends an important message that they are valued. Below, we’ve included some examples of appropriate greetings for you to refer to:

    • “Eid Mubarak,” the Arabic greeting meaning “blessed Eid.”
    • “Happy Diwali” or the Hindi greeting “Saal Mubarak,” which means “Happy New Year.”
    • “Happy Hanukkah”
    • “Merry Christmas”
    • “Habari Gani?” which is “What’s the news?” in Swahili, the language used for Kwanzaa greetings. The response will be the name of that day – “Nia” for example.
    • Numerous greetings are used to wish people well during the Chinese New Year, such as “Happy New Year.”
    •  If you aren’t sure what holiday another person celebrates, you can use a more general greeting such as “Happy holidays” or “Have a good year end.”

     

    Celebrate Inclusion: Planning holiday parties and celebrations can be stressful and difficult. If you are involved in the planning process, remember to make them as inclusive as possible, and reevaluate any long standing traditions. For instance, instead of hosting a “Secret Santa,” try offering a “Gift Grab Bag” instead. Do not stop what you are doing,  but rather try to add to it, and see if you can include additional fun activities from other diverse celebrations. And if your work environment chooses to put up holiday decorations, accompany those decorations with appropriate educational materials that address the significance of the holiday. It’s also a good idea to start new traditions, like acknowledging holidays that fall outside of December, sending fall or winter cards to others, or doing a charity project together.

    Finally, remember that not everyone celebrates holidays, and some observe holidays with cultural or family traditions rather than religious ones. According to Pew, about 23% of the U.S. population is unaffiliated, meaning they are agnostic, atheist, or “nothing in particular.” While many unaffiliated people celebrate Christmas and other holidays in a secular way, some may not celebrate at all. Additionally, some people who are religious, like Jehovah’s Witnesses, do not celebrate holidays. The key here is to be inclusive and expand on what is currently being highlighted, so as to encompass other diverse celebrations and special events.

    I would encourage you to continue developing a value for seeing things through other people’s eyes. Inclusion is about owning your history, your biases, and your human tendencies, and countering their negative effects with intentional behavior and mindsets. There is a saying that political correctness is about looking good, whereas inclusion is about being good, being that person that makes others feel comfortable and therefore brings out the best in them. When everyone feels like they count, they will be motivated to shine (and share with others, which bring about learning) and everybody wins.

    Considering the enormous diversity within and among traditions, you are always better off avoiding assumptions when it comes to the “holiday season” (and all year round!). Expanding the representation when it comes to holidays demonstrates that all voices, all cultures and beliefs are welcome and have a place here. I am proud that SBPS believes that divergent voices make for a better, more productive, beneficial learning environment. Celebrating diversity and inclusiveness is about using the holiday celebration time with those around us, our friends and family members, to build understanding and awareness of the traditions and beliefs of others. 

    At SHS, a December Diversity Display with a Trivia Quiz was offered to students to visit and learn about a diverse sampling of holidays and celebrations that were both secular and religious (see photo below). Several students have remarked how “cool” it was to have this educational display and how much they enjoyed being able to learn about other cultural celebrations. A few students shared how validating it was for them to see the holiday they celebrate at home, some for the very first time ever, intentionally included within their school setting. This is just one example of how we can expand our inclusive diversity efforts, especially during this time of year. I invite you to think of additional approaches and share them with us please, as we welcome your input as to how we can best create a more inclusive environment together, throughout the entire year. For additional ideas on how to expand inclusiveness within schools, please see...

    https://www.tolerance.org/magazine/favorite-holiday-poster-projects-arent-inclusive?utm_source=Teaching+Tolerance&utm_campaign=29fb68f844-Newsletter+12-15-2020&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_a8cea027c3-29fb68f844-83460159

     

    DECEMBER DIVERSITY DISPLAY at SHS

    December Diversity Display

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  • DEI Blog - November 2020

    Posted by Nina Grant on 11/18/2020

    DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) Blog

    November 2020

    By Nina Grant, SBPS Student Success Facilitator

    With November being Native American Heritage Month, I have been reflecting upon the contributions, culture and heritage of Indigenous Americans who deeply enrich the quality and character of our country. There is such wonderful diversity of American Indian and Alaska Native cultures and peoples that we can learn about, celebrate and honor. A little over a year ago, I had the great privilege of attending the unveiling of the Ponca Chief Standing Bear statue representing the state of Nebraska in our nation’s capital. It was a very special moment to be there in person for this historic event.

    This is a photo of me with my father (George Neubert, who served as a consultant to select the artist Ben Victor), at the Congressional Ceremony hosted by Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, commemorating the Dedication of the Ponca Chief Standing Bear of Nebraska statue in Statuary Hall, United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. on September 18, 2019.

    Nina Grant with her father at the event.

    Here is an article about that experience:

    https://starherald.com/features/lifestyle/honoring-chief-standing-bear-scottsbluff-woman-among-those-remembering-legacy/article_f27ce877-e0e6-5eb6-8c37-e9b89b3c57bf.html

    The bust of Chief Standing Bear by artist Ben Victor is currently on display in my office at Scottsbluff High School. I welcome you to stop by to see it in person if you are interested in doing so.

    Also, there is a wonderful documentary “Chief Standing Bear’s Journey to Statuary Hall” that can be viewed at https://fb.watch/1R3x30iJaT/

    I also highly recommend reading "I Am a Man": Chief Standing Bear's Journey for Justice by Joe Starita, which can be found at https://www.amazon.com/Am-Man-Standing-Journey-Justice/dp/0312606389

    The story of Chief Standing Bear is one that I hope every Nebraskan would be able to know about, as it is such an important part of our history. Let’s all take some time out this month to learn more about the important histories and contributions of Native American people and increase our awareness about the unique challenges that Indigenous people have faced both historically, and in the present. I encourage everyone to consider ways in which we can work together to address these challenges.

    I am also very pleased to share this Native American Heritage Month 2020 resources document. Special thanks to Josie Amoo, SHS Senior/Class of 2021, SBPS DEI Intern for creating this beautiful and informative document.

    Native American Heritage Month Resources

    A local virtual Community Event offered by WNCC that all are invited to particpate in, is the following:

    Watch the free documentary, "Unspoken America's Native American Boarding Schools," and then join in for a dialogue session featuring Scottsbluff Public Schools Home School Liaison, Theresa Stands, and Beverly Running Bear, a Lakota Language Instructor at Black Hills State University, both of whom have personal experiences with boarding schools.

    1.) Watch the documentary via this link https://www.pbs.org/video/unspoken-americas-native-american-boarding-schools-oobt1r/ or Google "PBS Unspoken America's Native American Boarding Schools."

    2.) After viewing the documentary join in for a live dialogue event to debrief the film with the featured guests on Thursday, Nov. 19 from 7-8 PM via Zoom - https://wncc.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJEqf-urrTojHd0qLrBCJKd1XtS5hQP40LR

     

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  • DEI Blog - September 2020

    Posted by Nina Grant on 9/15/2020

    DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) Blog

    September 2020

    By Nina Grant, SBPS Student Success Facilitator

    For this first blog focused on Diversity Equity and Inclusion, I am honored to begin by sharing with you some information about my role within SBPS and the exciting work of the district, and share some information about Hispanic Heritage Month 2020.

    My position is new this year, and I am serving as the Student Success Facilitator as a part of the School Climate Transformation Grant, under the leadership of Jamie Batterman and Wendy Kemling.

    Some of my efforts include:

    • Assisting with a new BMS program focused on supporting students to improve school connectedness and academic and behavioral success and teaching Diversity, Equity and Inclusion curriculum designed for middle school students
    • Serving as the contact person and facilitator of the SBPS Diversity Team (comprised of SBPS staff and community members)
    • Supporting with the creation and help develop student “Diversity” organizations at SHS and BMS
    • Providing leadership in the areas of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion at SBPS

    Overall, the goal is to ensure that every student feels a strong sense of connectedness to school. We are committed to creating a safe, caring, and mutually respectful environment within our school district community so that all students, families, and staff feel welcomed, valued, and supported.

    With Hispanic Heritage Month 2020 (Sept 15-October 15) upon us, I find myself more introspective than ever. It seems to be more vital than ever, at this time to spotlight many of the positive contributions of the nation’s Latinx/Hispanic community. Local and national traditions, especially those that bolster cultural understanding and embrace our community’s, our state’s, and our country’s diversity, can play larger, more meaningful roles this year if we all take time to honor the people and history behind them. Please don’t miss the chance to go above and beyond the celebratory aspect of this month and the usually festive atmosphere to find ways to truly connect with others in the community who might also be feeling a bit more introspective these days.

    Some local events and opportunities include:

    • 14th Annual Hispanic Heritage Month State Commemoration Essay Contest 

    The Nebraska Latino American Commission invites the youth of Nebraska to participate in the 14th Annual Hispanic Heritage Month State Commemoration Essay Contest “Hispanic/Latinos Creating Opportunities in Nebraska” Essays are due on September 20, 2020. See https://kneb.com/regional-news/2020-hispanic-heritage-month-essay-contest// for more information.

    • Annual Community Fiesta Event at the Guadalupe Center in honor of Sept. 15

    Sunday, Oct. 4 at 2 PM at the Guadalupe Center. A take-out dinner will be provided along with music. However, due to social distancing, the event will look significantly different than in the past. There will be some traditional music, but likely no traditional dance performances or activities. Tickets can be purchased at the door or at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Church starting on Sept 14. Call 308-632-2845 for more information or questions.

    WNCC (Western Nebraska Community College) HHM Events – (open to the public)

    • Conchas on the Lawn (Front area of WNCC Main Building, 1601 E. 27th Street) – Sept. 21 from 10-1 PM – Join us for a taste of Mexican sweet bread and get small flyers with the upcoming events.
    • Central American Dinner in the WNCC Pioneer Dining Hall – Sept. 21 from 5-6:30 PM - Dinner will consist of Tamales, Chili Rellenos, Taquitos, Anafres, Fish Tacos and Gallo Pinto
    • Aprillera Workshop on the Scottsbluff campus in the Pit Area (WNCC Main Building, 1601 E. 27th Street) – Sept. 24 from 9-12 PM - The Arpilleras work shop will be one event in a series of events to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. Arpilleras were a Chilean art form used by everyday people to raise awareness about social justice issues during a time in Chile’s history when the government would not allow freedom of speech. This activity will teach attendees about an aspect of history that they may not normally get exposed to while celebrating an aspect of Hispanic Heritage. Attendees will be encouraged to create their own Arpilleras and think about how they can use this art form to raise awareness about social justice issues that impact them today.
    • Latinx Identity Panel in the WNCC Pioneer Hall (Toadstool) Conference Room – Sept. 24 from 7-8 PM - A group of panelists with a variety of Latinx identities will discuss what their Latinx identity means to them and their community. All students are encouraged to attend and learn more about Latinx identity.
    • Zumba Session on the front lawn (Scottsbluff Campus) – Sept. 24 from 12-1 PM – Join us for a socially distanced Latin dance-inspired workout on the front lawn! Zumba uses dance techniques and rhythms derived from traditional Latin dances.

    Some virtual events include:

    • Viva México (Sept. 16) This free festival hosted by the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center in Austin, Texas returns in a completely virtual format and will be streamed via YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and VivaMexico2020.net. Roen Salinas, founder of the Aztlan Dance Company, will lead the way as the master of ceremonies. Count on the beloved music and dance performances that have made this a popular festival throughout the years, and be on the lookout for the debut of new festivities. Go to VivaMexico2020.net for the detailed schedule of events.
    • Central American Cultura and Centroamericanto Fest (Sept. 19) Although many in across the United States of America focus on Mexican culture during Hispanic Heritage Month, let’s not forget that several Latin American countries also celebrate their independence days in September. Hispanic Heritage Month began more than 30 years ago, when President Ronald Reagan expanded the nation’s Hispanic Heritage Week. Kicking off the month long celebration in mid-September was especially significant because Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua all share Sept. 15 as their Independence Day. The people of Chile celebrate theirs on Sept. 18.

    Make sure to check out Guatelink, the virtual festival celebrating Guatemalan and Mayan culture and take advantage of opportunities to learn about Central American traditions. Updates will be posted on https://spark.adobe.com/page/h304OwtGLSdkE/

    Celebrating Central American music has been one of Salvadoran singer-songwriter Mauricio Callejas’ missions since founding the annual Centroamericanto Fest. Over the years, the festival, on Sept. 19, has showcased many influential artists from the Central American region. Featured artists for the free streaming event include Pen Cayetano of Belize, whose blend of traditional Garifuna music and modern rock has given the Belizean Garifuna community a global platform. Be sure also to check out Mai-Elka Prado of Panama, who founded the Afro-Latino Festival of New York. Prado has collaborated with many high-profile artists, including Colombian superstars Bomba Estéreo. To RSVP for FREE LIVE STREAMING and see the full lineup, visit http://cacfest.com/

    Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CCHI) Hispanic Heritage Month Events

    You can obtain FREE General Admission which Includes access to all virtual HHM sessions at https://www.chcihhm.org/home

    The CHCI 2020 Leadership Conference is being held Sept 14-18, 2020!
    Shortly after the Conference comes the The 43rd Annual Awards Gala on Sept. 21, 2020.

    La Historia Uncovered

    Join this weekly series of thought-provoking conversations led by bestselling author Julissa Arce with guest authors & journalists that will inspire us and strengthen our knowledge of the deep roots and history of our community in the United States. These discussions will uncover the lesser-known history of the Latinx community in America.  See https://weallgrowlatina.com/lahistoriauncovered to register for FREE.

    The series includes:

    1. Julissa Arce and Dr. Paul Ortiz, September 15, 2020 - 5pm PT/8pm ET
    2. Julissa Arce and Ed Morales, September 22, 2020 - 5pm PT/8pm ET
    3. Julissa Arce and Laura E. Gómez, September 30, 2020 - 5pm PT/8pm ET
    4. Julissa Arce, Julia Barajas and Maylei Blackwell, October 6, 2020 - 5pm PT/8pm ET

    On-line Articles with HHM resources:

    Written by Jackie Guzman, Extension Educator -The Learning Child, UNL Panhandle Research & Extension Center

    https://learningchildblog.com/2015/09/30/childrens-books-for-hispanic-heritage-month/

    https://learningchildblog.com/2015/10/27/day-of-the-dead-celebration/

    I hope these resources will encourage you to take some dedicated time to thoughtfully honor, celebrate, and thank prominent Latinx Americans for their many contributions to the country and culture of the United States of America. But this year, in the midst of a global pandemic and recent events and actions that have made many Latinx people feel targeted and unsafe, Hispanic Heritage Month 2020 takes on a whole new meaning.

    Given that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted Latinx and Black communities, taking the time to recognize how the country has been made better by the work, dedication, and love of Latinx people is to pay homage to not only influential Latinx lives, but the countless Latinx lives lost to racism, hatred, and a public health crisis. We must build up one another and our community up too. Let's move forward together! 

    In closing, I would like to share with you this website with key facts and data that may be of interest:

    https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/09/10/key-facts-about-u-s-latinos-for-national-hispanic-heritage-month/

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