LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. — From implicit bias training to new curriculum in schools: Efforts are underway in Lancaster County to educate people on black community issues.
"In 2021, we should not still be surprised to see people of color in powerful positions, and our kids really need to see that and so they have something to aspire to," said Dr. Damaris Rau, superintendent for the School District of Lancaster.
The district is pioneering the way for education on social justice.
"I think we're the only school district going to this extent in terms of examining itself," said Dr. Rau.
Dr. Rau says 2020 highlighted a need for new curriculum. In fact, students requested it. The district responded and introduced two new courses, Ethnic Studies and African American Literature, for the high school students.
"Both of those classes are maxed out," responded Dr. Rau when asked about interest.
Now, 140 school facilitators are also being trained on culturally responsive curriculum.
"Just how do you greet students? What does your classroom look like? Do you celebrate all cultures in your classroom? That's just one of the things teachers can do to be responsive to our students," explained Dr. Rau.
In addition, Dr. Rau says faculty and staff are receiving implicit bias training. Implicit bias occurs unconsciously when stereotypes influence automatic brain processing. Unconscious racial stereotypes are a main example of implicit bias. If a person has an automatic preference for one race over another without being aware of the preference, that is an implicit bias.
Outside of the classroom, the YWCA of Lancaster is educating people during Black History Month with free, Black Power Boot Camps. The boot camps highlight black history and important black figures.
"The resiliency you have being black, especially during a time like this during the pandemic," explained Jasmyne King, the director of the Center for Racial and Gender Equity.
The goal is also to inspire Black people.
"We're here to stay and just also raising the voices of generations to come to say, 'we will exist forever more,'" explained King.
Beyond opening people's eyes this month, King says she hopes people take steps to support people of color.
"There are other ways to walk as an anti racist and an ally. Figure out how you can support those missions, those activities," said King.
YWCA Lancaster is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.