Talking about Race: How Do We Do This in Schools?

The elephant in the room has outgrown its space. Talking about race in a productive and structured environment is no longer a choice but a necessity. Walkthrough a school. Who’s being advantaged and disadvantaged? In this OpenRICE webinar, nationally-known panelists will discuss how to lead the discussion about race within schools with students, their families and educators. The discussion will extend to how educators should recognize and challenge their silent biases so that we create diversity, equity, and inclusion.



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About the Moderator & Panelists

Steve Amstutz
Steve Amstutz is the panel moderator for this controversial topic of race and racism in public schools. Steve served as teacher and principal in Houston public schools for 29 years. While at Lee High School (now Wisdom HS) he worked with his faculty to found Liberty High School, an innovative school for new immigrants. The school was designed to meet the unique needs of young adults – ages 17-25 – with culturally and linguistically appropriate instruction in day- and night-time classes, six days per week, 12 months a year. But Amstutz did not stop there. Steve teamed with teacher Monica Piquet-Rodriguez to co-found DiscoverU, to ensure that their low-income, immigrant, and racially diverse students were inspired and prepared to enroll and succeed in college. Today, DiscoverU sends hundreds of students to summer programs at premier colleges and universities across the country and internationally. Both of these innovative programs are thriving today in Houston, Texas. While a high school principal, Steve was fortunate to work with Tre Johnson and Anita Wadhwa, two of the panelists in this OpenRice Webinar. Anita and Tre have distinguished themselves along with panelist, Dr. Deirdre Williams, in working in to bring discussions and issues of race, diversity, equity, and inclusion into the education of our citizenry, students, and children.

Tre Johnson (
A writer focused on the connective tissue of who we are, how we live, what we consume and what it means through examining race, culture and politics, his work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Vox, The New York Times, Slate, Vanity Fair, The Grio, and The Washington Post. Tre has provided media commentary via appearances on CNN Tonight with Don Lemon; CBS Morning Show; PBS NewsHour; NPR’s Morning Edition and various podcasts. He is an alum of Pahara NextGen and the 2019 Jack Jones ‘Culture, Too’ Writing Fellowship. In addition to freelance writing, he is a career educator, working in the classroom, non-profits and school districts as a teacher and a leader. 


Anita Wadhwa
A native Houstonian, Anita Wadhwa is a classroom teacher and restorative justice coordinator at YES Prep Northbrook High School, and author of Restorative Justice in Urban Schools: Disrupting the School to Prison Pipeline and a contributor to the recently released anthology, Colorizing Restorative Justice. She is Co-Founder of Restorative Empowerment (or REY) and hires former students to train organizations in Houston in restorative practices. She owes everything to her parents, husband, and two lovely girls.

Read More from Anita Wadhwa in...

restorative-justiceRestorative Justice in Urban Schools - Disrupting the School-to-Prison Pipeline
Routledge Research in Educational Leadership

The school-to-prison pipeline is often the path for marginalized students, particularly black males, who are three times as likely to be suspended as White students. This volume provides an ethnographic portrait of how educators can implement restorative justice to build positive school cultures and address disciplinary problems in a more corrective and less punitive manner. Looking at the school-to-prison pipeline in a historical context, it analyzes current issues facing schools and communities and ways that restorative justice can improve behavior and academic achievement. By practicing a critical restorative justice, educators can reduce the domino effect between suspension and incarceration and foster a more inclusive school climate. 

Dr. Deirdre Williams
Dr. Williams is the Director of the School Reform Initiativesri_logo-e1487797721952 (, a non-profit organization promoting Equity in Education and providing professional development to educators nationally. Williams was awarded the only non-charter Texas STEM-designated academy in the Houston Independent School District after receiving accountability designations in mathematics and recognition for student growth. She serves on the board for the Urban STEM Initiative. Dr. Williams is a Civics Leadership Fellow with Leadership ISD, an organization that advances educational excellence and equity.




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