This is quite the week. A week of celebrating a whitewashed nationalistic history that erases Native genocide in the United States. A week that appropriates Native foodways as “American traditions.” A week that offers a transactional view of “gratitude” rooted in pity and isolation instead of true interconnectedness. A week that emphasizes consumption and false scarcity through Black Friday (which starts, confusingly, on Thursday or even before?) An urge to spend, an urge to numb, an urge to hoard. A week of continued grieving for our relatives in Gaza. A week of continuing to fight antisemitism, Islamophobia, anti-Blackness, ableism, and transphobia and transmisia.
And this is a week that extends into another week of shopping and of guilt-giving (and guilt provocation). As a 501c3 organization, we are both skeptical of Giving Tuesday and enmeshed within it.
Our approach to anti-racist education is one beyond heroes and holidays (remember our reflections on Black History Month?). In Eating the Other: Desire and Resistance, bell hooks critiques this extractive approach to multiculturalism: “The commodiﬁcation of Otherness has been so successful because it is offered as a new delight, more intense, more satisfying than normal ways of doing and feeling. Within commodity culture, ethnicity becomes spice, seasoning that can liven up the dull dish that is mainstream white culture.”
That said, we also know the power of building energy and awareness around an identity, community, or issue throughout an officially acknowledged month. It can also be a way to hold our communities accountable. How can we leverage these months for dialogue and action?
We offer questions and resources for further exploration and honoring of these months.
After voting at my local elementary school on Tuesday, I was walking to my car when there was a drive-by shooting in the area. The screams of children running to safety will forever live burned in my memories. My heart broke for them.
I wondered how teachers, students, administrators, and staff responded to the incident. How did they care for students and themselves? Did students have places to process? Did the adults have a place to process? Did they go back to business as usual?
As an adult, I read about the effects and impacts of trauma, and even I struggled to process what happened. I could not get back to my usual daily rhythm. If I was struggling, I could only imagine what those children were feeling….
Often, when we talk about gun violence and schools, we focus on school shooters. But what about the moments when students witness gun violence within their communities? Where is their refuge?
When schools lean into the toxic tropes that Black &...
How are you breathing today?
As we enter October, we are reflecting on the simultaneous reach of our liberation work (we have over 22K followers on instagram!) and on the limitations of our work (schools and individuals are “turning their priorities elsewhere”). This first truth actually fuels the second one. Many people, especially white school leaders, want to check a box, consume (palatable) anti-racist resources, and move on to “higher” priorities. Our use of parentheses and quotes should indicate our skepticism. True liberation and transformation comes from the root, not from appearances. True liberation and transformation requires shifts of deeply entrenched power dynamics.
Black and Brown people, especially Black and Brown women and femmes, have been working towards liberation across generations. We invoke Audre Lorde, in her “The Uses of Anger” keynote: “My response to racism is anger. I have lived with that...
We are absolutely thrilled to be in community with Raquel Reichard, an award-winning journalist, author, editor, producer, community-builder and key voice in Latina storytelling. Her book, Self-Care for Latinas, comes out in December 2023! Please pre-order now!
Who are you? Who is your community and how do they love you?
I’m an Orlando-based, Puerto Rican journalist, editor, producer, and author who tells stories about Latine culture, body politics, and music, exploring themes of bodily autonomy, colonialism, diasporic belonging, and wellness. I’m an aunt, a daughter, a sister, and a friend. My community exists physically, spiritually, and virtually, and it’s made up of family and friends who love, care, challenge, and enliven me by simply existing as their most genuine selves.
You have had an incredible career as a writer, creator, and producer. What has been your biggest learning or unlearning in the storytelling field?
There have been so many learnings...
Who are you? Who is your community and how do they love you?
I am a Nigerian designer, writer, and cultural worker whose work centers on the nurturing well-being of communities of color living in a racist society. My community consists of friends, family, my cat, writers, thinkers, creatives, and cultural workers.
They love me in a way that feels similar to how bell hooks described love - through a combination of care, trust, commitment, trust, knowledge, and responsibility.
Your forthcoming book is Racial Wellness. You frame your approach through the lens of racism as abuse. Why did you choose to write about healing from racial trauma when it comes to the dialogue on racism?
When we begin to reframe racism as abuse — it allows us to understand the ways in which...
Anti-Racism Isn’t Just What You Teach, but How You Teach It
Diversified book lists are a fraction of anti-racist teaching, not an accomplishment or destination. At The Institute, we are concerned with the official curriculum, and also the hidden and operational curricula of a school, classroom, or organization. Anti-racist education is about what we teach and who is on the walls, but it’s also about how we teach, how we engage with our students and their communities.
Professors Nancy Kang and Silvio Torres-Saillant write: “Racism, for example, operates as a pedagogy that informs the thoughts, feelings, and actions of whole societies, not just individuals.” If racism operates as a pedagogy, a way of teaching, so too must anti-racism. Anti-racism must operate as a pedagogy that is rooted in love and wholeness, not in deficits or low expectations or excuses.
Paolo Freire offers a liberating approach in his seminal Pedagogy of the Oppressed: ...
Urgency and perfectionism can make graduate school extremely difficult. We want to share some tips and frames that have helped our co-founder, Ashley Y Lipscomb, with input from other grad students and learning specialists. The world right now is not as loving as we dream it to be. We don’t have to do grad school (or anything) the way it has been designed to be. These are important reminders for “how to do life.”
At the Institute, we are fueled by an ethic of love: love for our students, love for our communities, and love for ourselves. It is love, rather than fear or control or indoctrination, which fuels our pedagogy. For more on our ethic of love, check out our previous blog post.
This blog post is addressing our imaginations and language and the material implications of our language. We acknowledge the very concrete impacts of imagination. As adrienne maree brown wrote in Emergent Strategy: “Imagination gives us borders, gives us superiority, gives us race as an indicator of ability. I often feel I am trapped inside someone else's capability. I often feel I am trapped inside someone' else's imagination, and I must engage my own imagination in order to break free.” While this may seem like a mere reflection on semantics, we know that words and ideology fuel culture and systems.
The false binary of love versus hate does not serve us. Language like “Stop Asian...
We are proud to talk with Kimberly Ramos, Program Coordinator at The Institute for Anti-Racist Education. Kim joined our community as a Create Freedom Artivist Fellow in 2021 and is now lead organizer facilitator! Kimberly Ramos is an abolitionist, artist, and anthropologist based in Oxnard, California. She is currently an undergraduate student at California State University Channel Islands and will be majoring in Anthropology.
Q: Who are you? Who is your community and how do they love you?
A: I am a daughter, scholar, lover, creator, and a proud Latina. I find community with fellow abolitionists, anthropologists and other first-generation students like myself. These communities remind me what love is by allowing me to be myself wholeheartedly, reminding me to slow down and enjoy every moment, and by standing with me during my good moments and by bad.
Q: What are your freedom dreams?
A: I dream of a world where love is not something that is thought to be a...