Race and Racism in Education

Conversations about race and racism in education are uncomfortable but necessary at any age. It is the responsibility of parents, administrators, educators, and students to teach and learn the truth about all cultures and their contributions to the world we all live in.  Parents are a child’s first teachers. First words, how to walk, and many other skills and life lessons are passed on to impressionable minds to create individuals who will make a positive impact on the world we live in. As children grow older, they begin to expand their knowledge of the world and develop the necessary college and career success skills in school settings with various educators. The latter instructs different curricula designed to provide academic content that determines what should be taught in the classroom. While this has been the pattern for decades, many courses of study fail to reveal the truth about people of color and their contributions to society.

For instance, we learn from history and science books that Neil Armstrong was the first person to walk on the moon. However, he did not get there by himself. It was not until Hidden Figures: The Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race was published and later made into a film that we discovered the real reason America was able to launch into space.  Knowing this, and many other hidden facts about race and racism in education raise questions of whether or not schools intentionally select curriculums that highlight people of color in false ways. Are schools opposed to de-colonizing their chosen courses?

On the other hand, if schools are receptive to changes in lessons, are teachers willing to boldly challenge or suppress their own views, stereotypes, and convictions to genuinely mold impressionable minds with well-crafted lessons and unbiased passion for executing such teachings? Are they willing to engage in open dialogue with students of color about race and racism in education?  Suppose we want to change the narrative of ignorance. In that case, the actions and mindsets of many who hold the education of this country’s future leaders in their hands must be open to having the uncomfortable conversations about race and racism in education.

As we continue the school year and plan lessons, it may help you and your students do a “race-check” before planning, during execution, and when the lesson is complete. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I have unconscious biases about my students’ abilities because of my preconceived notions of them?
  • Have I planned meaningful lessons that are relevant to my student’s culture?
  • Do I perceive/view my students based on the social norms of my race or theirs?
  • Do I teach students of color with an attitude of heroism?

These are a few questions teachers can and should ask themselves for personal and professional reflection each time they prepare to stand before their pupils. It is a privilege to enlighten those entrusted to educators worldwide, and that privilege should be honored with truthful information and pure hearts.

Liz Lampkin is a Lifestyle, Love, and relationship writer. Follow her on social media @Liz_Lampkin.

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