MFEE To Kick Off Second Round of ‘America to Me: Real Talk Montclair’ on Sept. 30

Montclair, NJ – Following up on the success of the spring session of America to Me: Real Talk Montclair, the Montclair Fund for Educational Excellence (MFEE) will begin a second round of the program on Wednesday, September 30th, with a special Zoom event from 6:30pm to 9pm. The program is open to all members of the community and features Dr. R. L’Heureux Lewis-McCoy, NYU professor and the author of Inequality in the Promised Land: Race, Resources and Suburban Schooling.

Dr. Lewis’s scholarship focuses on issues of race and equity in predominantly-white communities. He will talk with Montclair High School students who helped organize the Student Unity Walk to discuss their experiences and their advocacy for changes to the Montclair school district, including increased hiring of BIPOC teachers, integrated learning spaces, and a less Eurocentric curriculum.

The event on September 30th will set the stage for the next three-month Real Talk Montclair Watch Group process. The process uses the America to Me docu-series as a springboard for deepening racial literacy and to spark individual and collective action to disrupt racism. The films examine racial inequities in a Chicago suburban high school that looks and feels a lot like Montclair High.

Watch Group participants engage in deep personal reflections around race and a broader understanding of systemic racial injustice using the films and other resources, like the podcast Nice White Parents, as common texts, and make connections to events in Montclair and the nation. At the September 30th event, Dr. Bree Picower and Dr. Tanya, Maloney, Montclair State University professors who co-created the curriculum and who train the Watch Group Leaders, will present an overview of the Watch Group process, and an invitation to sign-up to participate as a leader or member.

More than 500 people have participated in America to Me: Real Talk Montclair events since the program launched on March 1st, and Watch Group participants report positive reactions especially in the wake of racial justice activism.

One member commented, “It was an amazing eye-opening experience…I would have otherwise stayed on the superficial path thinking ‘I’m not a racist, I don’t say bad things or do bad things.’And I wouldn’t have taken that next step…I started from a desire of wanting to talk to my community members and it became this greater thing of racial education.”

Another noted, “Had it not been for this watch group, I probably would never have read [certain books and articles], or watched the documentary, or if I had watched, I would not have…considered the broader issues…I knew the facts before. I heard the statistics. I saw the egregious acts of violence against black people in America. I could state how terrible it all was. I could, I thought, empathize. But today, I feel very differently. I feel embarrassed. I feel angry. And I feel like I have to work toward change.”

Watch Group leaders go through a four-week, custom-designed training led by Drs. Picower and Maloney. Watch Groups launch in October, meet 3-5 times, and conclude by mid-December. To date, over 30 people have signed up to become Watch Group leaders this fall, and 70 people have asked to be matched with a Watch Group when they begin in mid-October.

Those interested in the September 30th event can register at http://bit.ly/a2m0930. To learn more about becoming a Watch Group leader, co-leader, or member, visit mfee.org. For more information you may also call 973-699-3599 or email info@mfee.org.

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