Empathy Unchained Book and DEIA Conversation Deck coming in March

Pre-orders for the Empathy Unchained DEIA Conversation Deck and Empathy Unchained book available soon!

Don’t wait ‘til you’re perfect to change the world! Empathy Unchained: How imperfect beings can create a perfect world comes out in March. This is a self-help book that is not just about helping ourselves. It offers practical strategies and ideas to untether ourselves from our past hurts, dismantle systemic inequities, and follow our true norths in order to actualize our full potential to create a more humane world. The world is brimming with injustice, hate, conflict, despair, violence, greed, apathy, and other reactive beliefs and behaviors that do not serve the highest purpose of humankind. We create this world every day. Our thoughts legislate our behaviors, which ripple outward to influence others. We can be keepers of the status quo or we can be powerful agents of positive change.

In Empathy Unchained, I draw from my expertise as a researcher to document my own ten-year journey to resolve a backlog of 50 years of trauma—and also tell the stories of several everyday empathy heroes. While many self-help or spirituality books avoid mentioning race, poverty, or discrimination to avoid turning readers off, Empathy Unchained intentionally includes discussions about structural inequity and implicit bias in order to turn readers on. This is done both to amplify the voices of those who are under-heard and to help us become more empathetic toward those whose struggles are radically different than our own.

Dr. Fred Luskin, author of Forgive for Good and Director of Stanford Forgiveness Project, says about the book, “This book seeks to give the reader hope for having a better past, so they can live more fully in the present, as a more humane being. These life affirming goals are endlessly needed by human beings, generation after generation, and this book by Felicia Darling provides a roadmap now towards those ends. Felicia contributes the fruits of her work on her herself and her community. She shares her hard-earned wisdom with us in this helpful book. She shows herself to be an excellent guide to help us develop our unique path, to heal past hurts and grievances and become agents of positive change in the world.”

Start DEIA conversations to help your organization achieve goals around diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. with the Empathy Unchained DEIA Conversation Deck.

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Yucatec Maya and Math Assets (Spanish Article and Presentation)

Mariana Barragán Torres (UCLA) and Felicia Darling (SRJC) partnered together to publish their article in Spanish in January, 2021. It is about Felicia’s ethnographic study that explored the cultural assets related to mathematics in a Yucatec Maya village and how the results can inform education policy in México. The article, Estrategias comunitarias de resolución de problemas matemáticos en una comunidad maya en Yucatánis published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal by the Universidad Iberoamericana. Also, Mariana and Felicia were invited to present the paper in Spanish at an education policy conference run by the Universidad Iberoamericana on February 18 at 2:00pm (PT). To register for the 10-minute presentation, go here https://ibero.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJcqdeqvqDsqEtcalQeOlZSFPAcpWmST3Asb


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The Importance of Challenging Teacher’s Microaggressions

Larry Ferlazzo in Education Week asks me and others, “How should teachers respond when a colleague says or does something—knowingly or unknowingly—that is racist?”
The full article is here. My contribution is below:
Felicia Darling, Ph.D., says…
“Many of us who are not persons of color, who do not personally experience discrimination on a daily basis, have this tendency to think that racism occurs out there, away from us, in the media. We have this erroneous idea that racist acts are these dramatic or violent behaviors that are captured on video and posted on Instagram. However, racism is ubiquitous. It happens every day through small, almost invisible acts, in our classrooms, in our parent-teacher conferences, in our tenure-review meetings, and in our faculty meetings.
Also, racism does not just happen. We do it. In any given day, white colleagues interrupt colleagues of color during meetings; leaders take up the ideas of faculty of color less frequently than those of white faculty sitting at the table; teachers have lower expectations for students of color; students disproportionally use words like “aggressive” more frequently on teacher evaluations of Black women; and Black students are suspended more frequently than white students for the exact same behaviors.
We are the agents of racism. Therefore, the responsibility for disrupting systems of inequity falls directly on our shoulders. When a colleague says or does something racist, we have to speak up. While the specific thing we say or do does matter, what is most important is that we say or do something. If we do nothing, we are complicit in the racist act.
We cannot place the burden of speaking up onto people of color, either, given their precarious position in the existing power structure. White people are uniquely positioned to exert significant influence to disrupt the existing inequitable systems, and they must speak up. Here are some things that are better than doing nothing when encountering racist comments or acts among your colleagues. They are listed somewhat in order of increasing potency: Be loudly silent by frowning and glaring; tell the offending teacher privately that their speech or behavior is not OK and why; give the teacher anti-racist readings; publicly express your dismay about the comment or behavior in the moment or later; ask an administrator to provide a schoolwide training, submit a written complaint to your supervisor for repeated or egregious offenses; privately communicate empathy to those who might have been slighted by the remarks or acts; procure funding for a community of practice around equity to transform campus discourse and behavior; and solicit funding for ongoing equity education. Responding in more than one of the above ways is even more powerful.
The important thing to remember is that if we do nothing when someone acts in a racist manner, we are complicit in the act. Stopping racism is the responsibility of each and every one of us.”
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The Promise and Pitfalls of Eliminating Remedial Courses in Community Colleges

A new article that I wrote for NISOD ahead of my upcoming workshop series on how to facilitate inclusive, online instruction… “The Promise and Pitfalls of Eliminating Remedial Courses in Community Colleges,” Felicia Darling, Math Instructor at the Santa Rosa Junior College (CA), explores how colleges can reach and teach all incoming students. Here is the link  https://www.nisod.org/2020/08/24/nisod-papers-no-18/

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Make Cultural Assets Count in Community College Math: Lessons learned from piloting real-life math tasks in a Yucatec Maya School

“Obviously, it is not feasible for community college instructors to conduct ethnographic studies on their students every semester. Also, students’ cultural backgrounds vary widely within a class. However, drawing from my research and teaching experience, I piloted an activity in a community college math classroom that allowed students to solve problems that were culturally relevant to them. In a pre-statistics math class, the very first math class that many community college students take, I assigned the following task for homework:”

You can access the full article on the Teachers College Press Blog. This article was originally published as an Innovation Abstracts, Volume XLII, No. 25, July 9, 2020, by the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) at The University of Texas at Austin.


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Rejuvenating Guided Breathing, Body Scan, and Meditation led by Felicia Darling, PhD

Feel a wee bit stressed, low-energy, or anxious? This is a great way to rejuvenate and relax for an hour. First we will check in and land in the room. This will be followed by some relaxing, diaphragmatic breathing exercises. Then we will do a joyful body scan that I call, Little Points of Light Body Scan. One person remarked after the body scan, “I feel like the Milky Way.” Finally, we will do a comfortable optional sitting or lying meditation for 30 minutes, where we bring our attention back to our breath. Participants may pick up tools to help navigate stressful moments, since research shows that diaphragmatic breathing, somatic awareness, & mindfulness meditation help down-regulate the sympathetic nervous system. Here is the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgE4l6qSSgE


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