By Timothy Holmes, Guest Contributor
I ask for anyone to look at any relationship that exists between at least two parties. One example could be a partnership between two companies working together to maximize their profits, while also meeting the needs of their customers. It could also include players participating in a team sport, working together to accomplish the same goal. Of course, one can not forget the relationship between two individuals who love and care for each other.
All of these examples, and others, require something that is valued and important: TRUST. Each partnership or group must have trust to ensure a positive and fruitful relationship.
Trust is a sacred bond that must be earned, created, and cherished. Trust takes time. Trust requires patience. One has to ask if this bond, trust, is so valuable, then why is it scarce? It is particularly so between our schools and the communities that they serve, specifically ones in African-American communities.
Where did this disconnect between families and school-leaders originate from?
In the article titled, “Trust in Participatory Action Community-Engaged Partnerships: Relationships and Historic Trauma Matter,” the authors break down and discuss their findings on why there is a lack of trust between school-based researchers and the community.
The writers say distrust from the community is a result of trauma from years and years of being marginalized and not seen as equal to those of the “majority” or “dominant” race. In addition, the participants from the research often times feel empty, or cheated due to the fact that many of the findings and conclusions made by the researchers are rarely shared with the community. The individuals who are subjects in this study would like to receive feedback from the research and would like an explanation of possible steps to further empower themselves.
If trust between two parties is to work, it must be a “two-way street.” In other words, this bond must be beneficial for both parties. Partner organizations, teammates, and/or individuals must have a common goal for the good of both parties.
It is shocking and upsetting that researchers would come into a community, use the people and their resources for their gain, and essentially leave the families stranded and empty without much of any type of feedback or conclusion that can be used or shared. This is just one of many reasons the community has reason to be upset and distrust individuals or groups who conduct research for their own personal or professional gain.
Anyone who wants to become engaged with the community should reach out and get to know the individuals with whom they are working. They should take the time to truly know the subjects and state their intentions. Also, don’t forget to follow-through and report back the findings to the community about the research. It is important to keep that open line of communication with those who took part in the research. Let them know that their participation and contributions were welcomed during this particular project.
Lastly, we as leaders, school personnel, researchers, and partners have the responsibility and duty to be upfront and transparent with the information that we share and distribute to all those involved. I can not emphasize how much researchers and school leaders must gain trust of the community to build a respectable relationship.
The biggest thing that I have learned in the past few weeks is that our communities have wonderful people with countless skills and talents. Our families are an asset to everything that makes a school and community great. We need to continue to value them as resources and welcome their thoughts, opinions, and strengths to encourage more community-engaged research projects and opportunities.
Timothy Holmes is an Educational Leadership Master of Arts student in the IU School of Education at IUPUI.