I am a listener.
I am a learner.
I am a disrupter.
> “She just let me work it out on the plane.”
> “When you see something that works really well, it highlights for you that the thing you tried to convince yourself was okay, was not okay.”
> “I can do whatever I want to do.”
> “What do you mean ‘everything is not for me?’ Do you mean that this make-up kit is made for white girls and therefore I should not put it on my face?”
> “There was something about the way they had been taught and socialized that made it okay for them to publicly struggle because they knew that it was safe. I had never been in an environment like that, at least not one that I consciously understood that I was in and that that was the point and the value.”
> “I wanted to go to a school with all black folks, and all black women.”
> “People just need to know more people, people need to have more stories.”
> “I am black. I am a disrupter.”
> “We continue to pretend that race does not matter. We continue to pretend that class does not matter.”
> “People have a lot of conversations in their homes they don’t feel comfortable having outside of their homes. And guess what? You at your kitchen table with your family – ya’ll aren’t going to solve it by yourselves. You got to talk to other people. And those conversations are going to be hard."
> “I want to tell them to turn their phones off. We hired a photographer!"
Jennifer Francis is the Vice Provost for Relay Graduate School of Education. She grew up in Chicago, went to boarding school in Vermont, Scripps college in California and spent a life-changing semester at Spelman College in Atlanta, GA. With a doctoral degree from USC, Dr. Jennifer Francis talks to us on the eve of her second wedding. And when this woman talks, she doesn’t stay on the surface of anything. She is deep, she is proud, she has big reasons for interrupting and bigger visions to disrupt in a way that fuels necessary, hard, important and uncomfortable conversations. She is frank. She is fierce. She is glorious.
For over 15 years Jennifer has been working in public education in partnership with communities and teachers, to try to change the experiences of students and teachers in public education. Currently, Jennifer is the Vice Provost of Campus Affairs at the Relay Graduate School of Education where she works across all 18 campuses to ensure that graduate students have an academically rigorous and positive graduate school experience. As Vice... [more…]
> Why her father’s death ignited the breakup of her marriage
> What it is like planning a second wedding
> Why Jennifer thinks “elders in the village” are so important
> How counseling was part of her preparation for her second marriage
> How she fostered bravery in her students
> What are elements of a great teacher
> How ‘Getting over herself’ helped her turn the corner in high school
> How her teacher showed herself and her story in books
> The lie that teachers tell their students
> The difference between an interruption of racism and a disruption of racist systems
Major Conversation Highlights:
> The signs she wished she had taken more seriously in her first marriage
> What grief looked like for her on the day she found out her father died
> How her friends were divided into two camps about her decision to divorce
> What it means to make a marriage work
> What it was like being black at a mostly white boarding school in Vermont
> Her first racialized experience
> How her teacher Harry Bauld helped her be more brave
> How high tea changed her life
> Her experience at Spellman college
> What does hard work look like regarding race relations in America
> When she felt the most proud as a black woman
Jennifer’s Favorite Books:
> The Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward
From Jennifer: Read this if you ever grew up in a place, left for school or work, only to return to life altering changes. Some of these changes you witnessed through other people and or heard about, and some you were a part of. What does it mean to leave in service of returning? And what happens while you are gone?
> Pushout by Monique W. Warris
From Jennifer: Read this if you want to understand public schools and children more. Specifically the varying expectations that happen for black girls versus other children.
> The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
From Jennifer: Read this if you want to understand the historic, systemic, and present issues of race and class in our nation.