Educate All Students, Support Public Education

June 30, 2020

Becoming Effective Anti-Racist White Teachers (#4)

Filed under: Anti-racism,White teachers — millerlf @ 2:26 pm

 We white educators must listen to, learn from and respect the communities who send their children to our classrooms. Many of us white educators in urban settings grew up in cultures where “whiteness” is the norm. This demands transformation on our part – a life-long effort. Following are some quotes and questions for reflection that may be helpful in that process.

“We can unknowingly strive to be a racist. We can knowingly strive to be an antiracist. Like fighting an addiction, being an antiracist requires persistent self-awareness, constant self-criticism, and regular self-examination.” Ibram X. Kendi, How to be an Antiracist.

Educators should “…enact a revolutionary pedagogy of resistance that is profoundly anticolonial and anti-racist. This is education as a practice of freedom…and it means implementing practices that both challenge curricular and pedagogical biases that reinforce systems of domination like racism and sexism while simultaneously creating innovation ways to teach diverse groups of students.” Fania E. Davis, The Little Book of Race and Restorative Justice.

“Teachers entering the field of education must know this history–White supremacy and anti-immigrant hate–, acknowledge this history, and understand why it matters in the present-day context of education, white rage and dark suffering.” Bettina L. Love. We Want to Do More Than Survive.

“As teachers, we begin from the premise that schools and classrooms should be laboratories for a more just society than the one we live in. Unfortunately, too many schools are training grounds for boredom, alienation, and pessimism. Too many schools fail to confront the racial, class, and gender inequities woven into our social fabric. Teachers are often simultaneously perpetrators and victims, with little control over planning time, class size, or broader school policies—and much less over the unemployment, hopelessness, and other “savage inequalities” that help shape our children’s lives.” Editors of Rethinking Schools’ New Teacher Book.

Questions to ask ourselves as educators:

How do I ensure my curriculum is a “practice of freedom”, antiracist, engaging and liberating?

What are steps I can take to connect to the culture of my students, their families and guardians, and their communities?

In what ways can I work collaboratively to examine my work and its successes, but also to self-assess my thinking and practice to face my racial bias, mistakes and areas for improvement?

How can I intervene in any mistreatment of students I see?

From the belief that most educators want equity for their students, how can I work collaboratively to change the culture of my district?

Some white teachers and activists see themselves as the “most woke”. There is not room for arrogance in this work. How can I address this in my self-reflection and with others?

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