Equity & Inclusion Consultant Delivers Symposium Keynote


Photo courtesy of the Brimmer and May School.

Edan Zinn, Outgoing Editor-in-Chief

The 16th Annual Bissel Grogan Humanities Symposium kicked off last Tuesday with a keynote address by new Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Consultant Lawrence Alexander, titled “Everyday Activism: From Talk to Walk.”

The symposium, which is centered around the school-wide theme of “Living Our Core Values and Building an Equitable Community,” is being held as a speaker series over Zoom. Alexander, who is the Director of Equity & Inclusion at Carney, Sandoe & Associates, first joined the community in the fall to consult the School on its anti-bias and DEI efforts.

Director of Equity & Inclusion Jessica Christian praised Alexander’s speech in a bulletin message, calling it “poignant, inspiring, and exactly right for where we are as a community and a country.”

The School received overall positive feedback for the event, and Christian says she feels lucky to be working with Alexander in the School’s DEI efforts this year.

“His direct approach to critical topics—racism, white supremacy, LGBTQIA rights, democracy, responsibility—captured our audience and was an excellent way to begin what promises to be a wonderful speaker series,” Christian said, reflecting on Alexander’s address.

Upper School Head Joshua Neudel commented on the address on his Twitter page, offering a question to followers: “what little steps can you [take] to make a difference?”

Neudel quoted Alexander, tweeting that “finding a vaccine doesn’t cure racism.” In his speech, Alexander noted the racial disparities in the U.S. that have grown as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The march toward equity is not a zero-sum gain. It isn’t black [versus] white. It’s everyone versus racism,” Neudel said.

In his weekly bulletin message, Neudel encouraged parents to talk to students about the questions Alexander posed in his keynote and brainstorm tangible ways to make a difference.

“Not all change needs to solve a global or national problem. The small things that we do in our daily interactions can have a huge impact. As Aesop wrote, ‘No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted,’” Neudel said.

Next in the speaker series is visual artist Raùl the Third, who will deliver “Community as Inspiration: How to Create Artwork that Reflects our Diverse Communities” on January 28.

Editor’s Note: For an archived livestream of Alexander’s address, click here. All upcoming keynote addresses will be held on the recurring Zoom link here.