November 3, 2022

Avery Parents for Racial Equity

November 3, 2022

Meeting held over Zoom

Those present:  Libby Dowdall, Amanda Vader, Jen Patrick, Julia Maki, Molly Schroeder, Hannah Peterson, Allison Webster, Elisa Tomich.  

Cake walk and Fall Festival:  After Fall Festival this year, two Avery parents brought up the history of the cake walk and its link to slavery and oppression - something we must recognize and take action on. 

Here’s the history: The cakewalk (originally known as the prize walk) was performed by enslaved people for their plantation owners and the "winners" were awarded a cake. As time progressed, Whites began to use blackface and perform the cakewalk, which was oppressive and degrading. Later, Black people (in blackface) also began to perform the cakewalk dances, which is a reflection of internalized oppression (even though some websites claim it was an example of empowering Blacks to resist white supremacy). 

The equity group had discussed this years ago, but never recommended the school or Fall Festival organizers discontinue it. Amanda Vader reached out to Dr. Shawn Williamson (WGSD’s Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion). Her opinion is that a cake walk is not an appropriate event at our schools. We agreed. 


After discussing this with Amanda (fall festival co-chair) and Dr. Peterson, the equity group was strongly supportive of an effort to replace the cake walk with something else and help with communications efforts to inform our school community. 

We discussed how much communication is needed.. Amanda will be looping in the PTO via Ingrid, and will work with Amy Whisler (other fall festival co-chair) on developing a different game. We agreed that talking points are needed for fall as Fall Festival approaches, and a plan to inform parents. More on that to come. 

Winter Break Book Swap: 

The Equity group will be organizing a book swap/book fair leading up to Winter Break. It will take a different approach than book fairs. Kids and parents will drop off books they’re finished with. We will collect them for two weeks leading up to Winter Break. In the days before break starts, students will look for books (displayed on tables in the gym foyer) and take one or two to read over break. There will be no cost. Leftover books will be donated to classrooms, the library, or to a nonprofit. 

Libby will make images on Canva to promote the collection in the Pulse and on social media. 

Books will be collected over two weeks starting Monday, Nov. 28. 

The book swap will be held Dec. 12-17. 

Equity group evolving: Avery Parents for Racial Equity will be expanding its focus, and needs new leaders!

After much discussion, the group will be working to improve equity and inclusion beyond race at Avery. The group will also advocate for children and families who don’t have a group advocating for them, such as LGBTQ+ children and families, our lower income families, and others. Race will continue to be a focus of this group, but not the sole focus. 

Due to work commitments and the fact that her youngest will be at Hixson next year, Elisa announced that December will be her last meeting to lead. It’s time for a new leader or (preferably) co-leaders to take the help and lead this group as it expands its focus. 

Any one interested in this role should contact her at 

The group started looking ahead to spring – rebranding with an activity. 

The next meeting is tentatively set for Tuesday, Dec. 13 via zoom.