At the end of September, I, Misty Blue, had the exciting opportunity to attend the 4th International Conference presented by the Center for Culturally Responsive Evaluation and Assessment. This was my first time at this conference, but the theme this year seemed especially relevant to me: “Evidence Matters: Culturally Responsive Evaluation and Assessment Translating to Action and Impact in Challenging Times.” Early on a presenter emphasized the power of listening while disputing the “loud sounds of ignorance,” and the conversations between audience and presenters that echoed throughout the conference wove similar narratives of effectively communicating data to disparate, possibly pejorative audiences.

Many of the presentations were relevant to my work and in line with my values. Dr. Ernest House’s on Evaluation and the Framing of Race was especially powerful, especially because I had never interrogated the issue of race construction from the lens of whiteness. Hearing his personal story around this was captivating, and learning that the friendships and kinship we form throughout our lives, help to educate us all about the racial divides and social hierarchies that we all live in. I have been in very few academic and/or professional spaces that held the position that personal relationships are important. Usually academic and professional spaces only value the largest platform or the most powerful people.

But within this meritocracy that we live in, messages that were delivered at CREA were a breath of fresh air. It was encouraging to hear that connecting with those around me and having authentic conversations while holding people I care about accountable can be an effective part of the movement. It does not all have to be large, grand resistance.   While I agree that is important, it is not feasible for me to enter the movement from that point. As a mother, most of my energy goes into caring for and protecting the next generation. Instilling her with knowledge about our current system while giving her space to imagine what a more just world would look like. Can there be many entry points into the movement? And as an evaluator working towards social justice, can storytelling and data synthesis be mine?

Read more from Misty about why she works at Rainbow Research!