Border Crossers Advancing racial justice in schools 2016-08-21T01:00:01Z WordPress Border Crossers <![CDATA[Creating Racially Equitable Schools: A Border Crossers Fundraiser and Panel Discussion]]> 2015-05-21T04:07:43Z 2015-05-21T04:07:43Z bc2_banner


Date: Thursday, June 18, 2015

Time: 6:00-8:00 pm

Location: Brooklyn Heights Montessori School, 185 Court Street, Brooklyn NY 11201

Purchase tickets:

Join Border Crossers and a renowned panel of racial justice experts as we discuss the current state of racial equity in education and necessary steps to ensure racial justice in our schools.

Panelists Include:

    • Pedro Noguera: Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education and the Executive Director of the Metropolitan Center for Urban Education at New York University
      • Howard Stevenson: Constance Clayton Professor of Urban Education, Professor of Africana Studies, and former Chair of the Applied Psychology and Human Development Division in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania
      • Ali Michael: Director of K-12 Consulting and Professional Development at the Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education at the University of Pennsylvania, and the Director of the Race Institute for K-12 Educators
      • Joe Brewster: Harvard-trained psychiatrist, filmmaker, outreach producer and author. Director of “American Promise.”
      • Martha Haakmat: Head of School, Brooklyn Heights Montessori School, Brooklyn, NY
Topics to be explored include:
  • The state of racial inequity in educational outcomes for children
  • Policies that promote racial equity and inequity in education
  • Racial literacy, cultural competency and its connection to student achievement
  • Practices that promote positive racial identity development in children
  • Restorative justice practices in schools
  • The role of Whiteness in education
  • Creating racially equitable and inclusive classrooms


Event Schedule:

  • 6:00-8:00: Panel
  • 8:00-9:00: Networking Reception. Wine and hors d’oeuvres will be provided
Ticket Cost: $50 in advance or $60 at the door, which serves as a tax-deductible donation to Border Crossers. Your donation will support hundreds of educators across the country in creating racially equitable and just educational institutions for students.

For more information, email

Border Crossers <![CDATA[LIVE 12:30PM EST: Jaime-Jin Lewis Speaks with Gina Parker Collins of RIISE!]]> 2016-08-21T01:00:01Z 2014-04-28T11:00:03Z gina


When: Today, Monday, April 28, 2014 at 12:30-1:00PM EST

What: Live  Lunchtime Chat between Jaime-Jin Lewis of Border Crossers and Gina Parker Collins of RIISE

About: Jaime-Jin and Gina will speak about racial justice, education, and what’s so special about the Border Crossers’ Springtime Gala! You won’t want to miss this.


Follow along on Twitter: @bordercrossers @4RIISE #bcitstime

RIISE is a proud sponsor for the 2014 Border Crossers Springtime Gala!

Resources In Independent School Education was founded by Gina Parker Collins in 2009. RIISE is a lifestyle organization bridging the gaps between families of color and the culture of independent schools. We support the recruitment and well-balanced retention of  an independent school education with resources and research that are delivered through events and

digital/social media.

About the Gala:
The Springtime Gala is Border Crossers’ largest annual event, designed to celebrate a successful year and raise crucial funds

for the upcoming year of programs! This year the event will be held at the historic Housing Works Bookstore and feature musical guest Jacob SS and interactive design group, Collective Story. Tickets include hors d’oeuvres, open bar and raffle drawings as well!



Border Crossers <![CDATA[Border Crossers Honors NYCoRE with 2014 Community Partner Award]]> 2014-04-11T21:44:41Z 2014-04-11T21:35:54Z NYCoRE_website

Border Crossers is pleased to present New York Collective of Radical Educators (NYCoRE) with the 2014 Community Partner Award! NYCoRE is a leader of racial justice in New York City pubic schools and beyond! Join Border Crossers in honoring NYCoRE at the 2014 Springtime Gala on Thursday, May 8 at Housing Works Bookstore in New York City!


About NYCoRE:
New York Collective of Radical Educators (NYCoRE) is a group of current and former public school educators and their allies committed to fighting for social justice in our school system and society at large, by organizing and mobilizing teachers, developing curriculum, and working with community, parent, and student organizations. We are educators who believe that education is an integral part of social change and that we must work both inside and outside the classroom because the struggle for justice does not end when the school bell rings.

In presenting this award, Border Crossers honors the work of NYCoRE in creating a community of accountability and support for teachers and public schools around issues of racial justice. NYCoRE was selected based on their alignment with Border Crossers’ mission, the creativity and effectiveness of their programs (member meetings, ItAGs, Annual Conference, etc.) and the shared audience of teachers and public schools we hope to support together – now and for years to come!

About the Award:
The Border Crossers Awards were created in 2010 to honor the work of individuals and organizations working for racial justice in schools. Past recipients include Dr. Pedro Noguera, Dr. Sherrick Hughes, Dr. Jane Bolgatz, The Forum Project, RIISE, Dr. Eddie Moore Jr. and Zenaida Muslin. Border Crossers’ seeks to recognize leaders in the field as well as create a legacy of activists making change in our city.

About the Gala:
The Springtime Gala is Border Crossers’ largest annual event, designed to celebrate a successful year and raise crucial funds for the upcoming year of programs! This year the event will be held at the historic Housing Works Bookstore and feature musical guest Jacob SS and interactive design group, Collective Story. Tickets include hors d’oeuvres, open bar and raffle drawings as well!

Gala Facebook 4 web

For more information and to get tickets, visit:

Congratulations, NYCoRE!

Border Crossers <![CDATA[May the Spirit of Mandela Live On!]]> 2013-12-06T18:29:45Z 2013-12-06T18:29:45Z mandela

Today, we mourn the loss and celebrate the legacy of Nelson Mandela (Madiba). As we bring this conversation into the classroom, we must remember that Mandela’s life was more than just soundbites, but a struggle for justice against many who wished to deny it. This struggle for justice is not over and the lessons of Mandela’s life must live on in our teaching and activism.

Facing History has a great toolkit for Teaching the Life of Nelson Mandela.

Make sure you read Colorline’s piece, Mandela, The Unapologetic Radical, as well.

Feel free to email us to share your own resources with the Border Crossers community.

Border Crossers <![CDATA[In Response to HuffPo’s “For Whites (Like Me): On White Kids”: Border Crossers Resources and Action Steps]]> 2013-08-22T04:11:54Z 2013-08-21T17:38:29Z children

When Gina Parker Collins, founder of parent organization RIISE and recipient of the 2013 Border Crossers Community Partner Award, asked me to write a blog post for her audience on talking about race, I balked. “No, no,” she said. “My parents need to understand why it’s important to talk about race and how to do it.” I agreed to do it, and thus was born “5 Myths of Talking About Race With Your Child.”

You can read it here.

Based on the overwhelmingly positive response to that piece, I’ve had a lot of unexpected opportunities to speak with many individuals and parent groups about talking about race with their children. This experience has been extremely useful as in fielding the questions that have come up based on Jennifer Harvey’s piece on HuffPo last week titled, “For Whites (Like Me): On White Kids.” In his piece, Harvey deconstructs the colorblind myth with compelling research and anecdotal evidence. She clearly illustrates the importance of speaking concretely about race with white children.

Since then, I have been having conversations with many of the white parents in Border Crossers’ networks about what we can do with this gap in white parent education about how to talk to children about whiteness. In agreement with the study cited in Harvey’s piece about African-American parents speaking to their children about race at age 3, while white parents don’t do so until age 13, the parents I have been speaking to know they need tools for better understanding whiteness and taking action for racial justice as white parents – and there aren’t enough out there.

To this end, I would like to offer a “starter kit” few resources for parents (read: people) who are looking for next steps:

First, read:

1. The First R (Ausdale and Faegan, 2001)
2. Everyday Antiracism – compiled with teachers in mind, totally applicable to parenting (Pollock, ed., 2008)
3. Nurture Shock – particularly Ch 3, “Why White Parents Don’t Talk About Race” (Bronson and Merryman, 2009)
4. Courageous Conversations About Race – particularly Ch 10, “The Sixth Condition: Let’s Talk About Whiteness” (Singleton and Linton, 2006)
5. (daily)

Then, do:

1. Attend a Border Crossers workshop! Our next “Talking About Race with K-5” workshop is on September 21 and we always encourage parents to attend. Register here.
2. Attend an event by RIISE or The Independent School Diversity Network in New York.
3. Attend a racial justice training by The Applied Research Center, Crossroads Anti-Racism Organizing and Training or The People’s Institutes’ Undoing Racism.
4. Donate to Border Crossers’ racial justice work within the institution of education. For more information about how to maximize the impact of your gift, email

Finally, always:

1. Ask questions; position yourself as a lifelong learner.
2. Be ready to be honest with yourself. The deeper you dig, the most you will find out about yourself – the good, the bad and the ugly.
3. Find people who you trust, with whom to be accountable.
4. Leave room for grace. We’ve all inherited a messy system of racist institutions that permeate into almost every aspect of our identity as a nation. We must all pick up the pieces and work together to build a new system that is compassionate and just.

And if you’re still thinking about Trayvon Martin, as most of us are, an organization called Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ) has a great Justice for Trayvon Action Kit with additional resources.

This is not a comprehensive list, but a start. Please feel free to email me at to add your own resources!

Executive Director, Border Crossers

Border Crossers <![CDATA[Day 3: “There is not a one size solution because this isn’t a one size problem.”]]> 2013-10-28T16:17:41Z 2013-08-20T17:26:36Z Today’s session gave us a chance to reflect on the previous day’s work, dig a little deeper into the Anti-Bias Education (ABE) goals, explore guidelines for teachers doing this work, and how to work with families and co-workers.

What has been incredibly helpful for me is the reminder that ABAR work is not only for the people we work with, but it is also for us as educators. It seems easy to want to help change and shape the minds of young people so that they are more fair and interrupt the cycles of oppression, but what isn’t so easy is recognizing our own biases and how we’ve been socialized into a certain way of thinking and being. After all, we can’t ask the youth we’re working with to do what we’re not doing. This is for everyone!

As we went through the ABE goals, we also brainstormed activities that would help achieve each goal, which led us into guidelines for teachers and educators. While I won’t list them here, I do want to mention that this work really starts before you walk into the classroom, the rec room, or whatever space you are working in. We have to think critically about the environment we want to create, be thoughtful with the curriculum we bring in, know how to deal with the moments, and think about how our choices affects us all. Of course, this means more work for educators, especially when there is so much at stake and the demands are so high within education. But, that is not an excuse to do nothing. We strategized on ways to support each other and build relationship, taking that first (often scary) step, and keep a look out for opportunities to build a critical mass in our institutions, with the communities we work in, and in our own lives.

Like yesterday, I walked away filled to the brim with information, intense emotions, but overwhelming gratitude at being able to learn from Mary Pat, Anne and Louise. What a wonderful space to be in! Many, many thanks to them for traveling quite a distance to share their expertise, and I look forward to working with them again in the near future. Now, to prepare for what I’m sure will be a great Border Crossers workshop next week!

– J’nelle Chelune (Program Director, Border Crossers)

Border Crossers <![CDATA[Day 2: “Anti-bias work provides teachers a way to examine and transform their understanding of children’s lives and also do self-reflective work to more deeply understand their own lives.” Anti-Bias Education]]> 2013-10-28T16:17:42Z 2013-08-20T17:20:30Z It isn’t every day that you get the opportunity to learn from some of the most prolific voices in anti-bias early childhood education. Anne Stewart, Mary Pat Martin and Louise Derman-Sparks, a reputable and powerful trio of anti-bias educators, facilitated us through a great day exploring the foundations of their work, the development of identity and prejudice in small children and how racism and power dehumanizes us all.

Affectionately called “the elders”, the Anne, Mary Pat and Louise introduced themselves and shared their reasons for doing Anti-Bias Anti-Racism (ABAR) work. It seems as though they’ve been driven as early as birth, as Louise told us “I became an activist with my mother’s milk”.

After introductions, Mary Pat led us into a review of the analysis that is at the core of anti-bias and anti-racism work. In our small groups, we took a moment to discuss the importance of using this analysis when talking to children and youth. Next, Anne walked us through the matrix, a comprehensive way of understanding how racism not only takes power away from some of us and gives it to others, but how the giving and taking of power is damaging to all of us. While discussing the matrix, someone offered this response: “Our society is built on a paradigm of retribution and finding blame. Once we see the power context, it’s about restoration, about recreating.” Those words continue to ring true for me.

The afternoon was focused mainly on the cultural influences on child development, how prejudice and identity development and the relationship between personal and social identity.

Sitting with all of this, Jaime-Jin, Natania and I discussed how important it would be to incorporate this into our work with the group, and how it could help to focus responses to student’s questions. By the end of the day, I was saturated. I learned so much and had a lot to process, but it will only help me to grow in this work. And for that I am grateful.

– J’nelle Chelune (Program Director, Border Crossers)

Border Crossers <![CDATA[Day 1: Education vs. Schooling, The History of Education]]> 2013-10-28T16:17:42Z 2013-08-08T16:33:21Z

The first day of our participation in the ABAR training was powerful!

With wonderful facilitation from Jo Ann Mundy, Diane Rogers, and Joy Bailey, we engaged in a collective process with the 13 women in the room that was exciting, challenging, heartening, and hopeful. Beginning the day with a reflection on how intellect, emotion, and spirit are interwoven in our work as educators, we explored the notion of identity as a moving intersection of inner and outer forces that make us who we are. Grounded in a shared definition of racism, we then examined praxis as a cycle of transformation and went on to tackle dichotomous thinking and the ways in which our understandings of education and schooling can come together. On our path toward antiracist transformative education, we got real about the history of racism and resistance in U.S. schools as well as the impact of this history and appreciated the authenticity and honesty in the room.

Jaime-Jin, J’nelle, and I have been processing, debriefing, and brainstorming together as we consider the direct connections and applications of our experiences with ABAR to the work of Border Crossers.

We ended the day with a lovely dinner at Food Dance, along with the rest of the ABAR facilitation team, where we were particularly delighted to meet and talk more with Louise Derman-Sparks, who has paved the way for the work of Border Crossers through her activism and scholarship during the past 40 years. Hearing the stories, wisdom, and perspective of such a tremendous leader in the field of anti-bias early childhood education was truly an inspiration!

Feeling grateful,

Natania Kremer (Board Member, Border Crossers)

photo 1

Our ABAR Binders!

photo 2

Workshop library. Highlights: Mica Pollock, Beverly Daniel Tatum, Michelle Fine, Lisa Delpit, bell hooks, Gloria Ladson-Billings, Gary R. Howard, Paulo Freire, Parker J. Palmer, JLove Calderon.

photo 3

A (small slice of the) Wall of History.
photo 5

Dinner at Food Dance with the facilitation team: Natania Kremer (Border Crossers), Jaime-Jin Lewis (Border Crossers), Louise Derman-Sparks (Crossroads), Jo Ann Mundy (ERAC/CE), Anne Stewart (Crossroads), Ryan Bailey, Joy Bailey (Crossroads), J’nelle Chelune (Border Crossers), Mary Pat Martin (Crossroads), and Diane Rogers.

Border Crossers <![CDATA[We made it to Kalamazoo! #bcABAR]]> 2013-10-28T16:17:42Z 2013-08-07T12:35:42Z Good morning!

We made it safely to Kalamazoo, MI for this year’s Anti-Bias, Anti-Racism Education Organizing Workshop! Border Crossers is honored to bring a team of three folks – J’nelle Chelune (Program Director), Natania Kremer (Board Member) and myself – to participate in four days of the workshop and facilitate two days of training. This workshop is put on by ERAC/CE and in conjunction with Crossroads Anti-Racism Organizing and Training, and we are very excited to share techniques and strategies and learn from each other’s work.

Today, we will be covering sections on the purpose of education, explorations of race and structural racism and examine racism in the history of education in the United States. We can’t wait to share what we learn!

To support our work here, please consider contributing $10 or $20 today.

– Jaime-Jin Lewis (Executive Director, Border Crossers)

P.S. You can follow us on twitter at @bordercrossers, with hashtag #bcABAR


Up bright and early at LaGuardia!

Arrived at our hosts house! Jo Ann Mundy, Jaime-Jin, J’nelle and Natania — workshop facilitators.



Trip to the Co-op for groceries for the week!



J’nelle at the food co-op!



A lovely Kalamazoo afternoon!

Border Crossers <![CDATA[Join Jaime-Jin Lewis and Border Crossers at #HoodiesUp]]> 2016-08-18T14:16:46Z 2013-07-14T20:46:22Z parents-trayvon-martin-parents100

Dear Border Crossers family,

Today is a sad day. The devastating Zimmerman verdict – and the range of acrimonious words that have been exchanged around it – evidence the deep race problem we have in America. While this outcome does not come as a shock, it does serve as a cold reminder that our work is as needed as ever.

I’ve been holed up at my desk all morning, reading Jelani Cobb, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Aura Bogado, speaking with colleagues and friends, and cobbling together my own thoughts in a narrow TextEdit window. Much of what I read continues to devastate me. The sheer and

utter failure of this country to care and provide for black boys is one of the most pernicious expressions of structural racism in America today. We must continue relentlessly fight against this.

As the Executive Director of Border Crossers and a lead facilitator of our race workshops, I work daily on the complex issue of racism in the education system. In the past two years, I have had the opportunity to work with and learn from over 800 educators. And, I have to say: the attitudes of George Zimmerman – that Trayvon Martin as a black boy was “dangerous,” a “punk” and a “thug” – are, unfortunately, not unique to him or southern conservatives. They are not unique. I see these attitudes in the classrooms and hallways of the most progressive schools of New York City. This mentality has been handed down to us; it is in the very air we breathe. It is on our TVs, in our papers, in our institutions and communities. What’s even more dangerous, is that this prejudice is implicit, not recognizable by the person carrying it (also a crucial factor in the Zimmerman proceedings).

So what do we do with all this?

The reactions I’ve seen in the media also mirror the reactions that teachers have in Border Crossers’ workshops when confronted with hard situations about race: diverting the conversation, projecting their own assumptions, becoming defensive or getting discouraged and giving up. Again, this is not unique. These are the responses we have learned as a society. However, these are the actions that research proves perpetuate racial disparities. This is what Border Crossers’ seeks to counter. We believe that teachers, as institutional gatekeepers, need to be engaged in a significant shift of the mind and the heart, to do the work to unpack the consequences of each of their actions and inactions and find support for the long road in dismantling all systems of oppression. This is work for all of us, really. Failure to do so will only result in more tragedy.

Right now, my heart goes out to the family and friends of Trayvon Martin. May they find comfort in this troubling time.

If you are looking for a place to process your thoughts, grieve the loss of a young life, express outrage and/or connect with other folks organizing to educate and create change, I invite you to join me in Union Square today at 6pm for the #HoodiesUp For Trayvon Martin march. We will be meeting at Union Square East and East 15th Street. Email rally [at] border crossers [dot] org for more information or organizers’ phone numbers.

In solidarity,

Jaime-Jin Lewis
Executive Director
Border Crossers

Correction: This post originally put the hyphen in the incorrect place in Ta-Nehisi Coates’ name, which the author finds particularly appalling because her name constantly falls victim to the exact same oversight. Literally, the exact same oversight.