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Building Our Own Table: Roberto Germán
Meet the founder of Multicultural Classroom
Now that the word is out about this interview series, sometimes interesting people turn up in my inbox. Roberto Germán was one of those, and I was immediately interested in his work as a multicultural educator. I hope you will be, too. Please meet Roberto …
Roberto, tell me briefly about your background prior to founding Multicultural Classroom.
Prior to my current life as an edupreneur, I served in public, private and charter schools for over 15 years as an administrator, classroom teacher and basketball coach in Massachusetts and Texas.
Give me the elevator pitch for Multicultural Classroom.
We offer anti racist and anti biased research-based strategies for educators and organizations by telling the truth through teaching, training, and creating. Our goal is to reach as many as possible to see their impact and maximize their work toward social justice.
And in more detail?
Multicultural Classroom offers anti bias and anti-racist professional development through workshops, speaking engagements, our blog and the Our Classroom podcast.
We provide our services to students, teachers, schools, nonprofits, and other organization/companies. We help participants understand the intersection of race, bias, education and society.
Everything we produce at Multicultural Classroom is based on making a social impact, telling the truth, and maintaining integrity. These values have kept us grounded and guided.
What inequity were you trying to redress/address, and why is this important?
Black, Brown, Indigenous, and other communities of color as well as marginalized groups have answers for how to bring our divided nation back together. While there has been a concerted effort to misinform, censor, and manipulate information echoing historic traumas, we’ve been here before. Our current polarization and division across identity markers is making conversations about these historic traumas close to impossible. There is wisdom in our communities’ practices that have led to our endurance and pose answers for how we move forward.
Biased narratives have led to discrimination and systemic injustice, but one way to combat this is through counter narratives; through the telling of truth. Truth-telling is a form of resistance and it’s an answer for today’s problems.
Telling the truth is a long-standing practice of our communities and how we’ve endured. Our work at Multicultural Classroom is focused on truth telling from the voices of marginalized communities, like our own. Over the years, we have been working with schools on this very task: help them to design innovative ways to center and celebrate truth in order to stand up to biased narratives. They have spurred amazing change in their schools and in the lives of their students.
We believe this same change can be achieved across a spectrum of spaces, using education theory. Our society is indeed a multicultural classroom. Through training, planning sessions, workshops, networking opportunities, and skill-building activities we equip participants with tools to innovate and advocate for their community.
How’s it going? What has the response been?
It's been quite a learning curve to go from a school-based educator to an entrepreneur in the realm of education. Nonetheless, I've never been afraid of a good challenge and I enjoy learning new things.
Overall, things are going well. Multicultural Classroom is growing and the people we serve have shared feedback regarding the impact our work and the content we create via publications, the Our Classroom podcast, and the various social media platforms we use.
Given some of the policies and resistance in Florida, it's been challenging to make greater inroads here where I reside. As a result, much of the in-person work for Multicultural Classroom brings Lorena Germán (Academic Director) and I all across the country.
What’s next? Any goals you're hoping to achieve?
We have a few exciting initiatives that we are currently working on. First, the BILT (Blue Ink Literacy Time) Workshops. The acronym, BILT, is a play on the word ‘built’ because we believe that while the times are difficult and talking about anti racism is risky, we were built for such a time as this: to be in community, to practice a humane stance, and engage with one another in ways that are founded in love. Through these workshops we are creating space for communities to experience freedom, despite the legislation and the censorship of tough conversations. In short, the workshops foster writing, relationship, healing, and expression among intergenerational participants with poetry at its heart.
Second, we are working on community building in order to meet the needs of educators wanting to strategize for inclusivity in safe spaces. This will be achieved through online community groups via our website, using the Kajabi platform.
Third, we are creating more content for educators to use in schools, and expanding to homeschooling parents. This content is focused on amplifying the voices and stories of Black, Indigenous and other People of Color, while also addressing issues that impact our communities.
In relation to racism, what is your vision for the future?
I desire for my children and other children to grow up in a country that is more united across our differences, including racial/ethnic differences. The work to change mindsets and dismantle systems in ongoing. Nonetheless, I plan to lead by example with the hope that my efforts, just like those of my ancestors, will inspire others to be bold and courageous in walking in peace, power and love while telling the truth.
Is there anything I haven't asked you that you'd like to add?
My debut book, Blue Ink Tears: A Collection of Poems, was the #1 New Release on Amazon Black American Poetry and Hispanic American Poetry. The book was recently featured on Amazon's Billboard in Times Square as part of Amazon's efforts to celebrate Black History Month. In addition, the book was a featured title in their “Amplifying Black storytellers and stories” list.
Since 7th grade, poetry has been an outlet for me. It has helped me navigate all of who I am and what I feel. In college, as I looked across all the pages and all the tears shed in blue ink, I realized I had a book in his hands; a compilation of all my secrets and wonderings. Blue Ink Tears is for those that understand what it is to live the beautiful struggle, and to offer insight to those that don’t.
In this three-part bilingual poetry collection, I tell stories about love, relationships, race, identity, and more. Written over the span of 20 years, you’ll hear from teen Roberto all the way to me as an adult.
Thanks, Roberto. Folx, I’m inspired by Roberto’s approach. Please feel free to connect with him on the Multicultural Classroom website, LinkedIn page and Instagram profile and, of course, check out his book!
© Sharon Hurley Hall, 2023. All Rights Reserved.