EP2: The Power of Belonging with Dr. Rodney Glasgow

A group in deep thought during the Accelerator in 2019.

“School is the absolute savior of my life. It changed the whole trajectory of who I would have been. Growing up in the 90s to teenage parents in the ghettos of Baltimore, school changed my survival rate. That’s absolutely the truth.”

Dr. Rodney Glasgow is a product of a childhood in a culturally diverse community on the north east side of Baltimore. He’s also a product of independent and Ivy League schools. He brings deep understanding to the experience of Black students in the United States.

We talk about a topic that’s near and dear to both our hearts: diversity, equity and inclusion. What I love about this conversation is that Rodney extends the reach of our liberation work out to a place of belonging. He speaks to the trauma Black students experience when they are included but still don’t belong; when they are excluded and erased even by teachers who love and care for them.

And today, in 2020, there is a reckoning happening in our schools. Students are publicly calling out their administrators and educators as sources of harm.

Then, Rodney brings us beyond belonging to ownership, something that cannot happen until educators understand and teach the United States’ true history to our students: that the very people fleeing persecution to form a more perfect union were the same who created and perpetuated persecution and trauma from the day they arrived. According to Rodney, we are facing a pandemic of many manifestations, “Americanism.”

“We are now who we have always been and that’s what we need to be teaching students. And then look at moments [in our history] when we took major leaps to not be that.”


Rodney and I talked about:

  • His childhood in a multigenerational, multicultural, LGBTQ+-friendly apartment building on the northeast side of Baltimore
  • How children easily adapt to difference by listening and watching
  • Rodney’s experience coming out as a gay man in the 90s
  • The role of education in Rodney’s life and how hiding his intelligence resulted from generational educational trauma
  • How education in the US is a vehicle to propel Black kids to success yet results in ongoing trauma
  • How our country, with its fixation on individualism, is not clear if LIFE even matters
  • What it will take for Black folks to be whole again
  • Going beyond diversity to belonging, and beyond belonging to ownership

About Rodney Glasgow

Rodney Glasgow is a speaker, facilitator, trainer and activist in the areas of diversity, equity, and social justice.  He has over 20 years of experience in progressive education as an educator, trainer, and administrator for students and faculty in grades kindergarten through post-graduate. Rodney is devoted to understanding and transforming student and faculty experiences by facilitating conversations and conflict resolution to achieve not only equity, but belonging.

He is one of the founding members and now Chair of the National Association of Independent School’s annual Student Diversity Leadership Conference, a 20 year-old training ground drawing over 1500 high school students nationwide.  Rodney recently launched the National Diversity Practitioners Institute, a summer intensive for diversity practitioners. Rodney is also President of The Glasgow Group, a consortium of dynamic, innovative consultants. 

Dr. Glasgow is currently the Head of School at Sandy Spring Friends School in Sandy Springs Maryland and the Founder of the Student Diversity Leadership Conference of the National Association of Independent Schools.

Rodney graduated from Gilman School, an independent school in his hometown of Baltimore. He is a graduate of Harvard University with a joint degree in Afro-American Studies and Psychology, holds a Master of Arts in Organization and Leadership from Columbia University, and a doctorate from George Washington University. 

Rodney is a featured writer in the book Diversity in Independent Schools, and wrote the prologue for the recently released One Teacher in Ten in the New Millennium:  LGBT Educators Speak Out About What’s Gotten Better…And What Hasn’t.

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