I will never forget the #ctqchat that I had a year ago with some of the brightest thinking minds on the web at we discussed #Brownat60 on Twitter and the impact it has had on society.  And although I surely should have anticipated it, I forgot about the impact of regionalism in American society.  It was a stupid mistake, but not surprisingly, when I engaged in conversation with others who have different cultural norms, our base assumptions were much different.

Quite frankly, my Midwestern/Yankee bias showed up.  While pluralism and the dream that everyone can succeed because we fund education forms an uneasy visible line, that invisible achievement line is not talked about much. That is simply not the case everywhere in the nifty 50.  I was like a n00b at a Comicon conference as others spoke of systematic underfunding of public schools, two-tiered systems of private white schools and public black schools, graduation rates of less than 70%, and schools that could not offer chemistry or advanced algebra because they had no qualified teachers.

I was shocked and bothered by this conversation for months afterwards.  That was the night I was schooled by a Maven, Mrs. Renee Moore (@teachmoore), who told me it was less about achievement gaps and much more about opportunity gaps.  She was right.

On reflection, I have never been more grateful for the opportunity to be a #failure.

Here’s why:  Failing on understanding in an issue allows one to change up from what I THINK the answer is to what someone else who has LIVED the answer knows. It’s part of a growth mindset that allows me to adjust my own biases and look carefully for better solutions. In the months that followed, many of the voices in that conversation have intersected in my own life and have shown me the power of determination, grace, and choosing the right attitude.

This country absolutely has a fear problem when it comes to discussing race.  Remember, this chat took place before Mike Brown and the unrest at Ferguson, Eric Garner, and most recently, the #takeitdown movement after the Charleston nine were brutally murdered.  And we still are paralyzed by inaction and cultural bias.

How do you think we should work as an organization or as individuals to tackle that issue? Have the events of the past month provided opportunities to move the conversations forward?  I welcome your ideas.


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