Facing my own racism.

So I’m making my way through “The Skillful Teacher”, by Stephen Brookfield, and this week I read chapter 9 (among others), Teaching about Racism.  Oh dear.

Okay, here we go.  I’m white.  And I’ve long felt that my voice doesn’t have a place in the racism discussion because the white voice has been heard loudly and clearly for a very long time, and I think it’s time to shut up and listen.

Brookfield suggests that maybe that’s not such a great idea, and it’s just another way of perpetuating the idea that Whiteness is all powerful and a voice of colour could never be heard above a white voice.

My thoughts on this – yeah, that makes sense.  One thing I’ve realized over the last year is that my silence is at least partly coming from fear; fear of looking racist, fear of saying something hurtful, fear of getting into an awkward conversation.  But then I started, instead of just being silent, to ask questions instead.  When I read about people of colour being randomly stopped and carded on the streets of Toronto, I asked a friend of mine if that had ever happened to him.  Shocker, it had.  Multiple times.  I was enraged and embarrassed and disgusted and so very glad that I had asked.

“The danger is in speaking “to” rather than “with” our students…”  from When the White Teacher Talks About Race.

I think for now that is the best I can do in the classroom; recognize that my perspective is a privileged one, and try to rid myself of the fear that presents me from having a genuine human interest in all my students’ stories.  And talk with them about racism, never to them.

10 Ways Well Meaning White Teachers Bring Racism Into Our Schools

The Skillful Teacher

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