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: “No pedagogy which is truly liberating can remain distant from the oppressed by treating them as unfortunates and by presenting for their emulation models from among the oppressors. The oppressed must be their own example in the struggle for their redemption.” Saviorship and tokenization will never be anti-racist.
Some questions for reflection: