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On October 14, SSALA, the School Speaker Alliance of Los Angeles, presented Dr. Allison Briscoe-Smith on “How to Talk with Your Tweens and Teens about Race and Bias.” Dr. Briscoe-Smith is a clinical psychologist and the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the Wright Institute and a nationally-recognized expert on childhood trauma. Her presentation and Q&A offered practical suggestions for how to talk as a family about these potentially difficult topics. She urged parents to really listen to their children and to create a family Mission Statement together. Once articulated, these values can then become the foundation for future conversations and actions.
Viewpoint is a founding member of SSALA, the School Speaker Alliance of Los Angeles, a consortium of 12 Los Angeles-area independent schools whose purpose is “to provide engaging and enlightening speakers to the broader Los Angeles independent school parent community.”
Susan Kresnicka P’19, P ’21, Chair of the SSALA Advisory Board, shared Viewpoint’s history with SSALA and why she believes Dr. Briscoe-Smith’s presentation was such a success:
“Our Head of School Mark McKee had seen the success of the Bay Area's parallel program, Common Ground Speaker Series, when he served as Head of School at St. Matthew's Episcopal Day School and encouraged Viewpoint to join at SSALA's inception in 2017. As Viewpoint's VSSA Parent Ed volunteer at that time, I made the initial outreach and quickly joined SSALA's Speaker Selection Committee.
In the first three years, I was active in a variety of ways, holding Speaker Committee meetings on Viewpoint's campus, including arranging for Jonathan Haidt to speak in October 2018, after the publication of his book The Coddling of the American Mind. In July, SSALA's original Advisory Board leaders approached me about serving as Chair of the Advisory Board, and I eagerly agreed to the three-year commitment.
Dr. Allison Briscoe-Smith's presentation discussing 'How to Talk with Your Tweens and Teens about Race and Bias' was our first virtual event, and the most attended in SSALA's history. I suspect the event generated such strong interest for a few different reasons. At a practical level, the online format made it so easy to attend, but there are lots of online lectures these days. Mostly, I think the topic felt deeply, personally relevant to many parents. Even parents who consider themselves highly attuned to issues of race, bias, and inequality could understandably want additional insights given the complexity and intensity of our current cultural conditions.”