Robinson Lecturer Oluo Speaks on Race and Racism in America

A COVID diagnosis did not stop Parker’s 5th Annual D’Rita and Robbie Robinson Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Speaker Ijeoma Oluo from sharing her time and message with the Parker community on Monday.

Oluo spent time with the community discussing topics covered in her book, So You Want to Talk About Race. She was convinced and inspired to write this book based on questions she received regularly through social media and other platforms and after talking to people about what issues they face when talking about race. Thus, this “guidebook” was released to critical acclaim before finding itself on The New York Times bestseller list.

To start the day, Oluo virtually attended a Morning Ex to speak with Parker’s Middle and Upper School students. Juniors Hanna Bilgin and Audrey Hunter and seniors Gray Joseph and Akeem Griffin volunteered to lead a discussion with Oluo and prepared questions and engaged with her in a spirited and nuanced discussion for the gathered audience—available for viewing below. Next, members of the Parker community, and all others who were interested, attended the 5th Annual D’Rita and Robbie Robinson Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging lecture that night.

During her time spent with Parker, Oluo spoke at length about the current status of race and racism in America based on her upbringing and lived experiences. She discussed her belief that America is built on a system of practices that are inherently, systemically and institutionally racist, and only when we perform the very necessary actions of confronting and acknowledging this divide can we move forward. Oluo then shared advice for listeners on ways to discuss these differences that can facilitate change. Following the nighttime lecture, Assistant Principal Priyanka Rupani led those in attendance through an insightful discussion with Oluo.

Parker is very grateful and honored that Oluo spent time with the community. Her thoughtful and approachable method will surely resonate with the faculty and larger community. Parker encourages everyone to listen to her engaging back and forth with students at Morning Ex.

Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.