In this episode, Christopher Chatmon, Founder and CEO of Kingmakers of Oakland shares his personal experiences growing up in the education system, having his desk relegated to the coat closet, to finally being acknowledged and apologized to by a coach and teacher in 11th grade. Inspired to become a teacher to change the experience for young Black men in America, Christopher became a teacher and in this time recognized that history and world history curriculum and textbooks only acknowledged the stories and contributions of white men. So he had his students throw their textbooks out the window.

Now, it is Christopher’s hope and work that in all subjects, not just during Black history month, the stories and contributions of Africans, Indigenous groups, and all people are taught as part of the collective contributions to math, history, arts and sciences. In this podcast Chris will discuss one of the Many Ways to Many that Becky speaks about in the Skid Row School, the wedge and spread need to include cross sections of all stakeholders, from the superintendent to the principal, to the office staff, teachers, parents and students. He also discussed how centuries of a system cannot be undone in the typical 3 to 5 year time bound aims of most philanthropic work. So the measurement must change and the process needs to also be the product. Listen to how Kingmakers of Oakland aims to spread the work and how you can be involved in this episode!

Show Highlights:

  • Bringing those furthest away from opportunity into the center
  • Recognizing it is not about changing Black boys but changing the structure and conditions of the system
  • Recognizing the systemic oppression lens and racial equity lens so you can discern the conditions that perpetuate the advantage of some and disadvantage of others
  • The power of curriculum that is indigenous or less Euro-centric and the power of stories
  • Healing the fish while treating the toxic ecosystem
  • When you understand the history of public education, it was not created at that time for everyone, only certain people had access and the system reflects that still
  • Getting all of these stories accredited and meeting the learning objectives of math, English and all subjects and having the will to lift up these narratives
  • Knowing who you are and whose you are and the values and integrity to align yourself with
  • The idea of an actualized human being also about giving back
  • How Kingmakers of Oakland have achieved accreditation of courses in each state and co-constructs content and trains teachers
  • Drivers: Class and curriculum is necessary but not enough, need to look at funding formula and other factors and recruiting, training and retaining teachers of color
  • Getting out of the practice of deficit to practice of promise
  • The sweet spot is coming together as a learning network, not calling people out but calling people in
  • Wedge and spread – everyone is a leader, not just the superintendent and principal but every level to the office staff, parents, teachers, student, engaging all stakeholders
  • Innovations are accelerated through the power of relationships
  • If the culture is not healing, it will undermine and sabotage the policy, and everything else you have been working on. The cure is in the culture
  • Process is product. The systems work is legacy work and takes time
  • Centuries of harm cannot be done in the immediacy of a lot of philanthropic time constraints
  • Three to five year strategic plan is insufficient because it is legacy work and the long game
  • Preparing for progress and setbacks to keep up the fluidity and not feel defeated when the system self-corrects
  • When internal and external strategy aligns it is the wind beneath your wings


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