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Standing Beside You

By Yvette Cuenco
Standing Beside You

The murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd have left a hole in a year already dented with uncertainty as we ride the wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve thought deeply about the rage, sadness, and fear felt by my colleagues, friends, students, and loved ones who identify as Black People of Color.

While I empathize and share their feelings, I am also fully aware of my privilege as a non-Black POC. As a Filipino American, I have experienced racism and prejudice, but I can still enjoy everyday things like going for a jog, sleeping in my own bed, or writing a check without fearing for my own personal safety.

As an international school counselor, I am constantly encouraging my students to explore how privilege, race, racism, and international mindedness shape their identity and the ways in which they connect with others.

The work doesn’t just stop with the kids. It is time for international schools and international education organizations to turn inwards and examine their intent with diversity, equity, and inclusion. I will continue to amplify my voice with the growing number of international educators who feel the same. For my Black colleagues, friends, students, and loved ones: I am here standing right beside you... not in front or behind... but side by side.

Yvette Cuenco is a Filipino American international middle school counselor in the UAE.

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