Racial Bias in Maine and US Schools

The Abbe Museum is pleased to announce this exciting new program, 
just added to our fall calendar:

Racial Bias in Maine and US Schools
Tuesday November 13, 6:30-8:30 PM
Abbe Museum Downtown

November is Native American Heritage Month and many of us will notice an increase in the number of Indian images we see around our communities, in our schools, and in the media.  Between Halloween and Thanksgiving, children and others often take inspiration from Native history, dress, and events to impersonate Native people and culture.  Through this public program we will examine the effects dressing in Native costume can have on children and our communities, how bias and stereotypes often dominate our perception of historic events, and the disturbingly high levels of racial bias in schools across Maine and the nation and how teachers, parents and, most importantly, students can reduce racial and ethnic bias.  

Join Raney Bench, Curator of Education, George Neptune, Museum Educator, and Steve Wessler, Civil Rights attorney, in a conversation about the impact bias and stereotypes can have on children and our communities.   Steve Wessler will explore the risk that racial and ethnic bias can cause emotional and physical harm to students and even escalate to serious violence, and will draw upon the lessons he has learned from his conflict resolution work in racially and religiously tense schools in Maine, Northern Ireland and elsewhere.  Steve currently works with schools, colleges, non-profit organizations, health care institutions, law enforcement agencies, employers, communities and others through education, training and advocacy.  He has presented and facilitated 100s of workshops, lectures, keynote addresses, and conflict resolution dialogues across the United States and in Canada, Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East.

Mr. Wessler, an attorney, developed and led the Civil Rights Unit in the Maine Office of the Attorney General from 1992 to 1999.  He is a graduate of Harvard College and Boston University School of Law. In 1999 he founded the Center for Preventing Hate and was its director for 12 years until it’s closing in fall 2011. He is the author of The Respectful School and a number of articles, reports, book chapters and other publications focusing on hate crimes and prevention.  He has received numerous awards for his human rights work.  Since 2000 he has taught university courses on hate crimes and bias as well as on school bullying and harassment.

This program is free and open to the public at the Abbe Museum downtown on Tuesday Nov. 13 6:30-8:30 PM.  For more information, call 288-3519.  Teachers will be given two contact hours for attending this program, as well as a new classroom activity.

Video: Watch Steve Wessler's 2011 TEDx talk.