Fighting Racism with Visiting Author Dr. Sonja Cherry-Paul

In the Gateway Center, Dr. Sonja Cherry-Paul stood at attention in front of the audience, ready to give instruction. This past week, renowned author, speaker, curriculum developer, and facilitator, Dr. Cherry-Paul, hosted an educational event on understanding anti-racism. As an author and educator, she pulls from her practices in anti-racism pedagogy to ensure teachers are meeting their students needs in the educational system. Dr. Cherry-Paul is known to lead analytic development seminars with other educators, helping unpack racism and bias in the school system.

Throughout the seminar, budding educators and preservice teachers congregated, gleaning from the Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) -centered topics that Cherry-Paul spoke on. The crowd communed and talked amongst themselves, chatting about their students and classrooms. As Dr. Cherry-Paul began her lecture, she paused regularly to give the audience time to talk and build community.

Conversations of how they can better their own craft sprouted amongst the room. The presentation brought up healthy exercises that helped audience members understand the complexity of systemic racism in the educational industry. Through the presentation readings, the audience was challenged to become more privy to communal, collective practices that allow students to feel nurtured in the sanctity of the classroom.

While presenting, Dr. Cherry-Paul encouraged the audience to ask themselves what foundation they are rooted in. This inquisition exercise dares educators today to pull from their childhood memories and use the foundation of their upbringing as a tool to help advance the upcoming generation.

Conversations circled back to the community, leading the audience into more progressive, BIPOC centered ideas. Her words inspired the attendees and allowed them to open up their minds to more expansive thinking. Overall, the event provided a safe space for educators of the future to envision more culturally responsive classrooms.