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Leveraging Community Cultural Wealth Through Counterspaces and Counterstories: A Black Administrator’s Autoethnography

On January 20, 2017, our nation’s leadership changed hands from the first biracial president to a president whose campaign and actions further polarized the United States of America. A part of the story of the US political journey from President Barack Obama to President Donald Trump was the rise of racism as seen in the crude, racist stereotypes of Obama that showed up on signs at Tea Party rallies, and in the mainstreaming of the conspiracy that the country’s first bi-racial president was not born in the United States (Boghani, 2020). Donald Trump’s presidency opened a door for overt racism, causing harm to our nation’s foundation and contradicts the Pledge of Allegiance that proclaims, “liberty and justice for all.” In March 2020, major institutions, schools, and companies faced an unprecedented shutdown due to the COVID-19 virus that caused millions of deaths around the world. Schools were forced to close their doors and deliver virtual classes. The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic collided with a police violence epidemic during the first half of 2020 that illuminates longstanding and complex discrimination of Black Americans. Being at home, provided plenty of opportunity to watch what has now become known by many people of color, their allies, and some people in the media, as “televised modern-day lynchings” (Brown, 2020). In 2020 alone, several police-involved killings of Black people, like the tragic deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, dominated news cycles and social media while also inciting protests against police brutality and racism (Jennings, 2021). Businesses, hospitals, and schools responded to the racial tension by hiring someone to help create more inclusive environments. Using the methodology and epistemology of autoethnography, I provide a narrative account of the complexities, interpretations, and reflections on my role building the first office of equity, diversity and inclusion in a large, urban K-12 school district. I explain how I leverage counterspaces and counterstories to remain committed to this work through a Black woman community wealth (BWCW) theoretical lens. Reflection on these various experiences located narratives that are pertinent for everyone who wants to support an anti-racist environment.
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