The Bridgeway View

Editor Cory Storch, CEO

Submitted by Marques Morris, Bridgeway Quality Improvement Specialist

Although Bridgeway is not necessarily a classroom setting, we can be seen as teachers in the mental health field.  We educate our person served population in many aspects of life, which include vocational, physical wellness, social skills and community relations.  While working within Bridgeway we may encounter persons served, colleagues, and vendors/employees from outside agencies who may use inappropriate language, racial slurs and cultural stereotypes.  How we proceed and utilize teachable moments whenever these unfortunate situations arise, is imperative.  As an organization, we want to offer any resources available for all persons served and staff to manage racially charged issues. 

First and foremost, I just want to point out that as an educator working in any school system it is your duty to not only teach, but to also set a moral example for each and every one of your students. 

A couple of weeks ago, a close friend of mine sent me an alarming cell phone video of his daughter’s high school teacher during a virtual English class.  In this video, the teacher is reading aloud excerpts from the book Mississippi Trial, 1955; which is a detailed description of Emmett Till’s murder and trial. 

Within this book, the word “nigger” is used loosely and quite often.  The English teacher took it upon herself to read specific excerpts that utilized the word “nigger” multiple times.  Now in my opinion, her judgement was appalling given this situation.  Neither the high school’s administrators nor the Board of Education took responsibility for the incident. Instead, a detailed response was provided almost excusing the teacher’s actions.  It was expressed that the book was an approved novel for the English curriculum and the students were given a syllabus.

As an African-American male, husband and father, situations like the example I am sharing here make it difficult to just move throughout your everyday life and ignore what is going on this country.  I can’t help but feel that if this example was an African American teacher using a racially derogatory term while reading excerpts out loud in a classroom setting, it most certainly would have resulted in a suspension or termination. 

Now, obviously our history cannot be erased, so we are fully aware that slavery and violent racism took place in our country, and it is important for our young students to be educated on these events.  My issue given this scenario, is what didn’t take place.

What didn’t take place is the English teacher most certainly should have given this much more thought prior to reading the book aloud in class, especially given the climate of our country at this time.  Secondly, she obviously could have just substituted the term “N word” instead; while reading the excerpts.  Lastly, parents were not notified of the controversial book beforehand.

I’m sure many parents would have had an issue with it.

We have to do better, make better decisions, and use better judgement when it comes to education.  Our young innovators, are the future of this country, and this is where change should begin, and not continue this perpetual cycle … which is what I wish would’ve happened…

From an African American perspective,

~ Marques J. Morris~ 

February 1st, 2021

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Dear Friends,  

Last Wednesday, the country witnessed an acutely distressing episode of violent domestic terrorism at our US Capitol, the citadel of American democracy, the people’s house. It continues to deepen the national trauma brought about by the pandemic, presenting yet another stressor in already turbulent times.  

The repulsive images of confederate flags and a noose on the West Lawn add another layer of intense emotional response and source of anxiety for most Americans. Clearly, there is so much work to be done to bridge the racial divide.  

The Congressional leaders were undeterred in their resolve to carry out their lawful duties that day, despite being surrounded by chaos and the potential threat of physical harm.  

Amid this turbulent atmosphere, Bridgeway staff continue to inspire hope in the people we serve, and each other, that the future will be better, easier, calmer than the recent past. The work continues. We draw upon the spirit of the US Congressmen and Congresswomen, who showed us this past week what sheer resilience looks like.
So it is at Bridgeway.  

Cory Storch
President & CEO

January 12th, 2021

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