William P Jackson - Camp Equity


William P Jackson

Founder and Executive Director
Village of Wisdom

Camp Equity Camp 101 Instructor, Fall 2020

Will grew up in the Atlanta Metro area of Georgia, which is a unique environment for Black youth in that, as a place with many neighborhoods of middle-to-upper-middle-class Black families living together, there was an abundance of models of Black people achieving financial success in a wide variety of fields. His parents also contributed significantly to the number of positive racial affirmations he received, by regularly reminding him of the great contributions of Black scientists. As a child, he planned to become a scientist himself. His environment largely sheltered him from the negative messages and stereotype threat that impact so many Black children and when negative messages did come his way, they had nowhere to take hold inside of him, because his parents and his environment had provided him with so many positive racial affirmations. This was the genesis of a lot of his work with Village of Wisdom (VOW). In college, he restarted his university’s chapter of the National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers. But after graduating with a chemistry degree, he decided to forgo a PhD and instead became a middle school teacher, to reach young students of color who might never make it to him if he took a position as a professor. After teaching for four years, he became frustrated, realizing that despite his students’ high-test scores, they were not ready to navigate the world outside of his classroom. In search of a solution, he left teaching to learn more about how Black students could be better equipped to navigate a racially biased system. In graduate school, he learned all about the cognitive processes behind learning, but found the research seldom discussed how these were impacted by socio-cultural realities. Searching for interventions that help students to cope and navigate racial bias explicitly, he found evidence that demonstrated that the more racially affirmed Black children were, the more resilient they were to the negative effects of racial bias.

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