Monday, August 28, 2017

5 Baby Steps for White Teachers Waking Up to Injustice


If you weren't already aware that racism is alive, well, and affecting our students daily in this country, then recent events may have cleared that up for you. While some white teachers may sadly dive more deeply into defensiveness and willful ignorance, I am hopeful that others will begin their journey towards waking up to injustice. No list of to-do's or books to read will dissolve centuries of racism or even our own white privilege, but here are a few baby steps to get you started:

1. Diversify your library. Representation matters. The United States is only 62% (non-Latinx) white, and public school students are even less white. So why do 78% of children's books feature only white characters?! That being said, there ARE many wonderful diverse books out there and it's important your kids have access to them. Check out this list from The Tutu Teacher for a good start.

2. Publicly declare that black lives matter. Yes, it should be obvious. But sadly, it's not. By publicly stating this IRL or online, you're standing up for what's right. Hopefully, you may also expand the views of people in your circles who many not understand what BLM is. You can grab a T-shirt or sticker here (proceeds go to the ACLU) and/or a Facebook cover photo here.

3. Seek out teachers of color. It is 100%, absolutely NOT POCs' job or obligation to educate white people. That being said, simply by expanding who you interact with at school and online, you can learn a lot. Click here to see some of my favorite teachers of color to follow on social media.

4. Be aware of your race in the classroom. For those of us who grew up in a predominantly white area, you might never really have thought about your own race much. Even if you teach students of color now, you may think of them as the "other" and yourself as the default. However, I assure you that your students are very much aware of the fact that you're white and see your interactions through that lens. I can't tell you exactly how this will affect your classroom or interactions with students, but for now, start with simply being aware of it. 

5. Read. There are so many books and articles about race and education. Most of them are not easy reads-- but this was never going to be easy. Here are a few books lists to get your started: 16 Books About Race That Every White Person Should Read, Social Justice Books Booklist for Education, and 10 Books I Wish My White Teachers Had Read.



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