Personal Growth Plan for Dr. Brett H. Cook-Snell

Note: This page is the result of an assignment I completed for my current degree. It is rather lengthy, but I have included it as an accountability option.

As an educator and antiracist activist, I am committed to continued and lifelong learning for the purposes of deconstructing systemic racism in today’s global cultural climate. As part of that commitment, I am pursuing a second Master of Arts degree in the Humanities with an emphasis in cultural studies and social justice to strengthen my credentialling and speak with authority into systemic racism. I am currently enrolled in a library sciences course on Culturally Responsive Librarianship. One assignment in the course is to develop a personal growth plan for continued learning and action based upon course materials and self-assessment tools completed at the beginning of the course. For transparency and accountability, I have decided to publish the findings on my professional blog, Let’s talk about race (Cook-Snell, 2022). I invite comments and discussion on that blog to speak into my personal growth plan based upon these findings as identified below.

Implicit Bias (Harvard University, 2011)

In summer 2021, I took the implicit bias self-assessment for race. Results indicated that I had a slight automatic preference for European Americans over African Americans. I took this same test about 5 years ago with the same result. During that time, I have become a trained facilitator navigating discussions on white fragility, antiracism, read too many books on the topic to list, and am pursuing more education in the field to fight racism at the systemic level. I would have liked my results to reflect no automatic preference after this time and based upon the inner work I have done. However, the results indicated differently. Giving an honest answer and self-awareness, these results were probably accurate in that I have to work daily to be aware of the biases built within white culture as seen through a white lens.

In summer 2022: I retook the same assessment as part of a graduate class I teach to model the practice for those I teach. I shared those results for my students for transparency. My results indicated “No automatic preference between Black people and White people”. Notice this is a change from what my results were last year and five years prior. However, these results have also raised questions on the reliability and validity of these types of tests. Have I changed or am I now more used to taking the test? Do I place more emphasis on the test now that it shows me moving in the direction I want to move? What would have happened if it showed me moving the opposite direction?

Apart from the results, this assessment made me consider other marginalized and minoritized populations and the history of their past from their perspective versus that of white colonialism.

Goal

My goal is to learn more about native populations of North America.

Action Items

To work towards that goal, I have identified the following action items:

  • Locate resources (print and media, scholarly and public) to learn about native populations of North America
  • Visit local areas of importance to native populations within the greater Hampton Roads area of Virginia
  • Create an annotated bibliography of references of readings and resources
  • Journal my personal experiences when visiting sites of importance

Challenges

As with learning about any culture other than the European culture from which I descend, and despite my 1.7% sub-Saharan African and .3% Middle Eastern genetic ancestry, the challenge is always to be aware of my white-skinned, privileged lens and implicit biases, and to interpret materials while attempting to minimize my own lens.

Evaluation

I currently work with a Black co-facilitator in our work on Sacred Conversations to End Racism (SC2ER) (United Church of Christ, 2022) who is also doing similar work. This individual is far beyond me in her work in knowledge of native populations of North America. She will hold me accountable to completing the work. The artifacts produced as stated in my action items will serve as an evaluation and monitoring of my goal completion. A second accountability method will be publishing these artifacts on my professional blog (Cook-Snell, 2022).

Diversity Awareness Profile (DAP) (Stinson, 2007)

On the DAP I scored 141, which would qualify me as a fighter. The results were not surprising because I am an activist in fighting systemic racism. The results did make me aware that I tend to shy away from direct discussion with my colleagues on issues of racism and am extremely vocal when in settings working with people I do not know. I need to improve my bold and courageous conversations within my direct relationships.

Goal

My goal is to become confident in having these conversations and to listen from the perspective with whom I have these conversations in order to meet them where they are at in their journey.

Action Items

To work towards that goal, I have identified the following action items:

  • Using the artifacts specified in the action items as identified in the Implicit Bias (Harvard University, 2011), have conversations with colleagues and which are specific to native populations of North America.
  • Use the above conversations as an in-road to discuss systemic racism in a bold and inclusive style.
  • Journal my personal experiences and insights from these conversations and strengthen areas where I need to improve, including being non-confrontational and having data to back up my assertions.

Challenges

The biggest challenge will be understanding the perspective with those I interact, respecting their boundaries, and refrain from attempting to enforce my own beliefs upon them.

Evaluation

The journaling produced as stated in my action items will serve as an evaluation tool as I move towards my goal. A second accountability method will be publishing the artifacts on my professional blog (Cook-Snell, 2022).

Equity and Diversity Quiz (EdChange & Gorski, 2017)

I answered 4 out of the 10 self-assessment items correctly. These items were fact-based and presented current statistics and actions as they relate to equity and diversity awareness. My results were not surprising. And truthfully, I used intuitive guessing at 3 of those 4.

What my takeaway from this equity and diversity quiz is equally my takeaway from reading Stamped (Reynolds, 2020) and that is I’m more aware and knowledgeable of historical events and facts than I am starting with the decade of my birth in the 60s. Both the results of the equity and diversity quiz indicate to me my personal growth plan needs to include development of an awareness of the events and history that have occurred within my lifetime if I am to have bold and courageous conversations.

Goal

My goal is to learn about the events and history that have occurred within my lifetime and the lifetime of my parents.

Action Items

To work towards that goal, I have identified the following action items:

  • Create a timeline of major political, social, and historical events of marginalized and minoritized populations omitted from the history I was taught and that have occurred within the lifetime of my parents to understand their perspective with which I was raised
  • Create a timeline of major political, social, and historical events of marginalized and minoritized populations omitted from the history I was taught and that have occurred within my lifetime
  • Reflect and journal on how these events have impacted my world views, help uncover hidden biases, and my participation in systemic racism and oppression

Challenges

The same challenges identified in the actions I will take for my goal in the implicit bias test (Harvard, 2011) apply with this goal; i.e., be aware of my white-skinned, privileged lens and implicit biases, and to interpret materials while attempting to minimize my own lens.

Evaluation

The journaling produced as stated in my action items will serve as an evaluation tool as I work towards meeting my goal. As with the others, a second accountability method will be publishing the artifacts on my professional blog (Cook-Snell, 2022).

Summary

I commit to journaling my progress monthly. Antiracist work is never completed in today’s current global cultural climate. As a white-skinned individual who sees through a white lens, learning will be a lifelong process. More importantly, active application of learning is required if we are to move forward towards deconstructing systemic racism. Publishing this development plan on my blog and journaling my progress is only one way in moving towards action. It is passive and not action. Stay tuned as I learn along the journey and apply the knowledge and skills along the way.

References

Cook-Snell, B. H. (2022). Let’s talk about race [Blog].

EdChange & Gorski, P. C. (2017). Equity and diversity quiz. http://www.EdChange.org

Harvard University. (2011). Project implicit. https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/index.jsp

Reynolds, J. (2020). Stamped: Racism, antiracism, and you [Adapted from Ibram X. Kendi (2016) Stamped from the beginning: The definitive history of racist ideas in America]. Little, Brown and Company.

Stinson, K. M. (2007). Diversity awareness profile (DAP) (2nd ed.). John Wiley & Sons. [Note: This reference list entry is assumed to be the correct reference for the DAP as there was not enough information on the instrument to locate the reference].

United Church of Christ. (2022). Sacred conversations to end racism. https://www.ucc.org/what-we-do/justice-local-church-ministries/justice/faithful-action-ministries/racial-justice/sacred_conversations_to_end_racism_fall_institute_2021/

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