Immaculate Heart High School & Middle School has organized a 54-member task force to ensure racial justice in all aspects of its educational program and outreach.
Formed in July, the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force is composed of IH parents, alumnae, staff, and Board of Trustee members. After meeting as an entire group, members have since split up into different subcommittees to evaluate ways to achieve and sustain racial equity in School Policies and Procedures, Student Life, Curriculum, Alumnae Relations, and Board of Trustee Engagement.
“Ultimately, the task force’s goal is to identify actionable steps based on each subcommittee’s recommendations,” Immaculate Heart President Maureen Diekmann explained.
“We want to break down any barriers to racial equity as we empower young women throughout Los Angeles with a quality education,” Ms. Diekmann continued, adding, “We are grateful for the support of our alumnae, parents, teachers, staff members and trustees who are part of this effort.”
Following the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis last spring, IH alumnae and students raised concerns about systemic racism and the need to eliminate it. Immaculate Heart administrators responded by reaching out to members of all its constituencies. Since June, the school has had conversations, both formal and informal, with students, parents, faculty and staff, as well as members of the IH alumnae community, to confront what needs to change in society and on the IH campus.
“We are so appreciative of the time, energy, and enthusiasm we felt from all of our constituent groups in our Listen to Learn Google Meets over the summer,” Ms. Diekmann said. “We met with students, parents, alumnae and employees and were continuously struck by each participant’s honesty, clarity, love, and concern for Immaculate Heart as an institution.”
Additionally, Immaculate Heart has since initiated other steps, including:
♥ An ongoing dialogue on racial inequality: The series “Documentaries and Dialogue” was so successful over the summer that the high school and middle school are trying to continue the Google Meet discussions in the new school year. After viewing selected documentaries that shed light on systemic racism, faculty and staff join with students for group discussions.
“Our students proposed this idea as an opportunity to learn and grow in our understanding of how we can better support Black lives and uphold anti-racist practices,” IHHS Principal Naemah Morris said.
Among the documentaries viewed and discussed were “The 13th,” “I Am Not Your Negro,” “LA ’92,” “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution” and “Stonewall Uprising.”
Recently the discussion group has expanded its viewing to a range of topics, including the documentaries “Flint’s Deadly Water Crisis,” “Dolores Huerta,” “The Reconstruction - America After the Civil War” and “Maya Angelou: Still I Rise.”
“We have been very impressed with all of our students’ participation at each of these meetings,” IHMS Principal Gina Finer said. “From 6th grade through 12th, our students have been astoundingly articulate and have made a tremendous effort to listen to each other’s responses and opinions. It is through this listening that we all learn to value each other’s experiences.”
♥ Required summer reading on racial injustice: Book selections for summer reading for all Immaculate Heart faculty and staff focused on racial injustice and white privilege. “As always, our faculty and staff took on this task with enthusiasm,” Finer said. “Although it was summer, they believed this to be important work for both their own education and that of their students. Many read several of the books and passed them around to others with notes and commentary.”
♥ The IH Faculty & Staff In-Service featured presentations by Dr. Stacie Ma, an IH alumna of the Class of 1982, and current IH parent Dr. Khalisha Jefferson as part of an Anti-Racism & Diversity Workshop that addressed summer reading books and what it means to be anti-racist.
♥ Safe Spaces: Both the high school and middle school are exploring additional ways, such as activity periods, where conversations about race can take place. “The administration is committed to ensuring students have safe spaces and the tools needed to engage in difficult but necessary conversations,” Morris said.