By Marissa Colston
The 28th Annual People of Color Conference (PoCC) and 22nd Annual Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC) was an energy filled and inspiring 3 days. Over 4,000 adults and students from independent schools across the country came to Tampa to learn, connect and rejuvenate their spirits around the theme of Art, Science, Soul and the Equity Imperative.
We were inspired by speakers like Gyasi Ross a Blackfoot Indian author, storyteller, lawyer and social justice activist. We learned about bias and how to retrain our brains to make unbiased decisions with Mahzarian Banaji. Banaji created the implicit bias test and recently wrote the book Blind Spot, Hidden Biases of Good People. We were amazed by the poet, Sarah Kay as her spoken word performance validated our myriad diverse life experiences.
All participants from Westtown had the chance to be among affinity spaces in our racial groups, an important goal of the conference, giving us a chance to recharge and reconnect with important parts of our identity. The PoCC and SDLC conferences begin and end together and on that final day we come together in racial-gender affinity groups. In these intergenerational groups we share our experiences, give advice and support one another through deep listening. This session is followed by a student led meeting in our school groups. As a school group we begin to plan how we will share our learnings with our community back home.
Attendees of this years conference were: (Students) Leo Petit, Asha Wiltshire, Sophie Xi, India Henderson, Gabe Anthony-Kemp and Auria Zhang. (Faculty) Marissa Colston, Stephanie Tucker, Joseph Daniels, Monica Ruiz-Melendez and Celeste Payne.