ONE Grandview launches website to generate discussion about inclusion, equity

Alan Froman
ThisWeek group

A community group that was launched in May 2020 to celebrate and promote diversity and inclusion in Grandview Heights Schools and the community at large has shifted its activities into higher gear.

ONE Grandview logo

ONE Grandview comprises parents and teachers and was formed in the wake of such incidents as George Floyd's death in Minnesota that sparked protests and discussion across the nation about racism.

"Several of us are raising children of color in Grandview Heights and Marble Cliff, and we were discussing how nice it would be to find little ways to celebrate diversity, especially as our kids grow older," said Heidi McAfee, a cofounder of ONE Grandview. "So we decided we could start a small group to assist the schools and community by planning ways to engage the community and educate at the same time."

"We like to see ourselves as like a Start Talking Grandview (a local group with a mission to engage the community in discussions about substance misuse), except for social justice," said Joanne Taylor, another cofounder.

The group's website, onegrandview.org, is up and running and, as it evolves, will be designed to serve as a resource for community members, especially parents and teachers who are considering ways to engage students in a discussion around the topics of diversity and inclusion, McAfee said.

"We want to make the website a one-stop shopping site for resources and information," she said.

The website includes a list of movies and TV shows, books, educators and podcasts providing racial learning opportunities and the results of a survey ONE Grandview conducted last fall of students, school staff and parents to gauge whether they believe inclusion and diversity are adequately encouraged and celebrated in Grandview schools.

Although Grandview is becoming a more diverse community, it remains largely homogeneous, McAfee said.

But ONE Grandview's focus extends beyond racism and promoting anti-racism, she said.

"We think it's important to have acceptance and tolerance for everyone, no matter their race, religion, sexual orientation or political viewpoint," she said.

"I think our goals are bigger than racism. Our mission statement includes broader language about diversity and inclusion," Kevin McCarthy said. "But there is no doubt that while the goal is to build a strong and inclusive community, we see racism as a barrier that calls for specific attention and action."

McCarthy is an English teacher at Grandview Heights High School, but he said he joined ONE Grandview as an individual and not as a representative of the school district.

As a teacher and a citizen, he said, he wanted to participate in ONE Grandview because "I want to see racial justice achieved – both globally and right here in Grandview – and we simply aren't there yet."

ONE Grandview drafted a resolution the Grandview school board adopted Feb. 10 that condemns racism and commits Grandview to being an anti-racist school district.

"We wrote and presented the resolution to the board. We thought it was necessary that our district take action on being inclusive and anti-racist," McAfee said. "This resolution is a roadmap to becoming more conscious of race and equity in our district and community."

While some of its members also are working with the city's initiative to declare 2021 a Year of Racial Justice Learning, "ONE Grandview is solely focusing on our schools – students, parents and faculty," she said.

"We all felt we could do better as a community to understand the racial and equity disparities in our community," McAfee said. "And we thought maybe we could start that conversation."

The board approved the resolution unanimously.

The measure "builds on the direction" in which the district has been heading, "but we all have more to go and more to learn," board member Eric Bode said prior to the board's vote. 

The resolution focuses on "some very practical things like recruitment, professional development, discipline that are very much at the core of what we are doing as a school district," he said.

"It's not just about not being racist, but (also) about being anti-racist," Bode said. "That's an important term for our society right now."

McAfee said although some people might be uncomfortable with the discussion ONE Grandview is trying to engage, especially addressing the issues with students and in school, she's unaware of any major pushback against the group and its work.

The March 10 school board meeting included a presentation about some of the initiatives already underway at Grandview schools, such as adding books donated by the Harper's Corner Foundation.

At Edison Intermediate/Larson Middle School, seventh-grade English Language Arts students selected one book to read from a list of books with themes regarding inclusion and equity and discussed the books in small book clubs. 

They also read the book "Stamped," which addresses the history of racism.

In another project, the students read a novel and supplemental texts focused on the concept of utopia and considered through assignments and discussion what characteristics would make an ideal society.

An initiative at Grandview Heights High School – the Bobcat Anti-Racism Collective – is student-driven.

The BARC was launched last summer to offer students a forum to discuss and learn about issues of racial equity, said McCarthy, who serves as co-advisor for the group with English teacher Bethany Black.

"Especially with the Black Lives Matter protests last summer, it's become very apparent that institutionalized racism still does exist," said senior Cassidy Ritchey, one of the students leading the BARC.

The group's main goal is to encourage students to reflect and discuss the issue, regardless of what their view might be, she said.

"We are a predominately white school, and getting an outside perspective may be difficult," Ritchey said.

The BARC will host the first of a planned series of movie nights April 8, she said. Students will be invited to attend and watch Spike Lee's comedy film "BlacKkKlansman" in the high school auditorium and engage in a discussion at the event and through social media.

Showing a movie that touches on issues relating to racism is an entertaining way to kickstart a conversation among students, Ritchey said.

The group also has applied for a grant from the Grandview Heights/Marble Cliff Education Foundation to sponsor a speaker series, she said.

Some students might not agree that institutionalized racism exists in the United States, Ritchey said, but the BARC has not heard any direct negative feedback.

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