As a third grader, Matt Bailey attended school on a New Mexico Navajo reservation where his father was hired to develop curriculum. As a result of his family’s move, Matt felt the isolation of being an English-speaking, “blond-haired little white kid.” Later, as a college student, Matt reached out to others of different backgrounds; in fact, his best friend’s family was from India. After college, Matt donned a Kevlar vest to work at an inner city Florida middle school as a truant officer where he later taught social studies. He saw the effects of racism and poverty first hand, as one of the few professional whites in his school and neighborhood. As a father, Matt was eager to introduce his own sons to a multi-cultured world and moved his family to London. When they returned to Indiana, Matt took a position working in local government and felt the impact of racism once again, as residents made assumptions about his policies based on his skin color and not on his background and beliefs. Currently, Matt Bailey continues his work in bringing people of diversity together at Ball State University where he connects faculty and students with community service opportunities that are mutually enriching.
Barbara Miller is a veteran English teacher who has taught in three very different high schools in East Central Indiana. In each of her classrooms, she has seen racism. Often that racism has been directed toward local people of color but at other times it has been directed toward anyone who simply is different. One of Barb’s goals as an educator is to provide her students with authentic experiences that foster relationships between students of varied backgrounds. Barb has created many opportunities for students to interact with people who are different, including working with teachers in Japan, India and Peru. Through that work, she has seen that when personal experiences are shared, prejudices often dissolve. Barb looks forward this summer to participating in a National Endowment for the Humanities summer teacher workshop learning about the ancestral Pueblo people and their modern Hopi descendants.
This story originally appeared in Facing Racism in Muncie, a publication of The Facing Project that was organized by R.A.C.E. Muncie in Muncie, Indiana.