In through the out door
Growing up near Paisley Park, the kids I grew up with all had a unique familiarity with Prince. Everyone in my hometown has stories to tell about their connection to the artist formerly known as Prince. Myself included. Despite this, I never really listened to Prince’s lyrics the way I have recently. I was caused to listen to the lyrics of Raspberry Beret with a new lens and I realized I never really thought much about the lyrics of this song. Sometimes just a few lines of music can cause you to reflect.
Last fall the large suburban high school I serve in endured a racial graffiti incident. It disrupted our community and caused turmoil which many can’t or choose not to understand. Upon receiving report of the hate speech written on our bathroom stall, it was already being shared on social media. Within hours it was viral. It felt like walking in through the out door.
For whatever reason the image I create in my head of someone going in through the out-door, is of a person spinning around, seemingly bewildered and looking for a focal point. So much of the investigation of the incident and other discipline issues in November were like when you walk in through the out door. As Prince also sings: “He told me several times that he didn’t like my kind” and we spun around and around again. Students shared traumatic stories of injustice, parents worried about their students’ safety and our staff intervened on personal levels with kids daily.
Our superintendent called the investigation into the incident as “one of the most comprehensive and exhaustive investigations Maple Grove Senior High staff has ever conducted.” Throughout the school year we confronted racism and held strong to ensuring a safe and welcoming environment. Our focal point was clear: we worked exhaustively to restore our school climate and we have really just begun.
While our response has not been perfect, I will forever feel a sense of accomplishment for our response. I am proud of how we empowered student voice, strengthened our staff development of racial awareness and engaged with our families. We have so much more work to do. For me, racial justice educational leadership didn’t start November 9, 2016 but for our school it was a day that transformed our school climate and we will never be the same. Today and every day I stand with courage to fulfill my calling to be a part of the change even when it feels like I’ve walked in through the out door.