Preparing Ourselves Spiritually and Mentally for Revolutionary Social Change
November 15, 2020
Webinar MasterSheri Bishop
Preparing Ourselves Spiritually and Mentally for Revolutionary Social Change
We are living in another revolutionary situation. The 1960’s civil rights movement was a struggle to eliminate segregation and establish equal rights under the law. Our current social justice movements aim to gain universal equity and accountability. This will require conscious change in thought processes and paradigms which limit thinking and action. This webinar will address how to prepare spiritually and mentally to view all aspects of the Montessori experience through an Anti-racist, Anti-bias (ABAR) lens. ABAR work is not a curriculum, but a journey that begins with the preparation of the guiding adult. This groundwork will in turn impact the preparation of the environment, relationships with children and families, and the larger community.
Sheri’s Answers To The Questions That Were Not Addressed In The Chat
Question: J. Dickerson – with a country divided — is it better to change minds or live by example. Which is more impactful?
Answer: S. Bishop– I don’t think anyone’s mind is ever changed by mere words. White America seems to be driven by evidence…data. This is particularly true regarding racism and white supremacy. “…Millions of white Americans who were previously inclined to dismiss systemic racism as a myth, the racial wealth gap as a product of Black cultural pathology, and discriminatory policing as a matter of a few bad apples” changed their minds only after they witnessed George Floyd murdered on national television.
I also believe, at this point, that White Americans want change, yet they also want to make sure that whatever changes are implemented, are favorable in their personal lives. As Americans, generally have no concept of “obontato”, which means “I exist because YOU exist” or “ubuntu”, “I am because WE are.” I think many in White America want racial equity as long as “I don’t have to make major changes in my comfortable life to achieve it.” I hope I am wrong.
Therefore, if I had to choose one approach based on your question, I would say “live by example”. Talk is very cheap. Walking the walk takes courage. To model the behaviors that lead to human rights and social justice changes is so much more difficult than pontification and debating with people.
One can describe in a million words the sweetness of honey, yet if one is only a hearer of the description, and still not one that has experienced the reality of its sweetness, it is very difficult to understand. If the one describing the beauty and sweetness of honey, the one that has experienced the simple natural pleasure of it, would simply share one drop of the honey on the tongue of his/her friend, no other words would be needed. The friend would be enlightened.
It would be a 50/50 chance that the friend may desire to experience the joy of the sweetness again, and again, or reject it as distasteful. I’d would want a 50% chance rather than a 0-49% chance.
Question: Connie Black – How do you see reparations happening?
Answer: S. Bishop: I think that reparations should be offered to the descendants of Africans that were enslaved in America. I think it would be up to a very diverse, well-educated group of scholars, anthropologists, historians, etc., to determine who would qualify to receive it.
The free labor of my descendants started in this nation in 1619 and the last slaves were technically emancipated in 1865. If a new generation started every 20 years, that was 12 generations of slavery. If one considers that reconstruction lasted about 10 years and Jim Crow lasted another 100 years until 1963, that is 344 years or 17 generations of oppression and virtually free and/or devalued labor we gave to this country. Beyond that, the legacy of inequities and injustice that still are so evident in this country today must be considered.
Our labor fueled the early economy of this nation. Our labor is the reason why great physical structures, academic institutions and fortune 500 companies exist today. What do I think reparations should look like? I believe there should be a certain amount of financial compensation awarded to each descendant, and that “cafeteria-style” benefit options should be available to individuals based on personal need. Descendants could determine what option, or mix of options, up to a financial max, would best “repair” their life situation. Just off the top of my head, options could include…
- Opportunity to receive stocks in companies that significantly benefited and became “Fortune 500” companies on the backs of the enslaved. There are many.
- Student loan forgiveness for undergrad and advanced degreed level students
- Significant financial support to people if they choose to represent in STEM, Medicine, etc., and other under-represented careers
- Financial support of BIPOC individuals that study to become public and alternative method educators
- Free community college and/or post high school vocational training
- Facilitating access to union sponsored apprenticeships
- Financial support of HBCU institutions
- Funding for the establishment and ownership of independent schools that address the needs of Black children
- Revitalize the “GI-Bill” type program to facilitate home ownership
Address and rectify “redlining” practices
- Implement legislation and agencies that will slow gentrification and displacement of Black/Brown people from their communities and that will support fair house rental prices
- Restore voting rights to those accused of non-violent crimes and have served their sentences
- Review the convictions and sentences of those serving prison terms for non-violent crimes and offer rehabilitation and re-entry services vs. probation services
- Revamp the bail system and release those that are serving months and years because they simple can’t make bond
- Medical and mental health premium support
- Economic support: low or no-interest loans for establishing a business
I could go on because the disparities are far-reaching. In my mind, economic value can be attached to many areas and a person would be able to choose the desired support based on quality of life needs. For instance, I would choose student loan forgiveness and a subsidy for healthcare benefits.
My impression is that White America is very adverse to giving cash pay-outs to American descendant of Africans, even though cash has been given to other oppressed groups. In my view, judgement, White patriarchal values, and stereotypes are coming into play regarding how cash would be used by Black people.
After watching the social, emotional and academic growth of her sons during their Montessori Children’s House experiences, Sheri Bishop decided that the Montessori approach was the best way to educate her sons beyond primary school. Both of her children attended Montessori schools during most of their school careers. Though Sheri enjoyed being a pediatric healthcare provider for many years, she was so impressed with the Montessori philosophy that it prompted her to seek training as a Montessori guide and change the trajectory of her career.
Sheri has 8 years of classroom experience as a Lower Elementary guide, holds an AMI 6-12 diploma from the Montessori Institute of Atlanta, a Masters in Montessori Elementary Education from Loyola University in Baltimore, MD, and will soon complete requirements for an AMI 3-6 diploma from the Montessori Institute of North Texas.
While working, Sheri was increasingly exposed to, and engaged in the internal workings of Montessori schools and organizations. She recognized that the values of justice, equality and peace so inherent in the scope of the expected Montessori movement, are often times not manifested in Montessori practices and policies in these spaces. She found that families that are in lower socio-economic groups and who are Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) are significantly underrepresented in beautiful, thriving Montessori communities. She involved herself in the Montessori for Social Justice (MSJ) organization. This ignited her fervor for anti-bias, anti-racist, and social justice work with Montessorians. In 2017 she was elected to be one of the founding members of the original MSJ Board of Directors and served until 2019. Sheri reveals that her ABAR work is fueled by her significant desire to be a servant leader with a warrior spirit who is driven by a large and necessary purpose.
Sheri has presented numerous and various workshops for teacher in-service trainings and regional and national conferences including MSJ, the AMI Elementary Alumni Association, Montessori Institute of North Texas (MINT), MINT, Australia, and Montessori Northwest. Since the pandemic, she has adapted offerings to suit an online presentation format. Sheri currently is contracted by the Montessori Institute of North Texas as an ABAR Advisor and by Norfolk Montessori School in Norfolk, VA as a consultant and advisor.
All funds raised will support the work of the Black Montessori Education Fund (BMEF). Donate Today: