Raise Your Racial Consciousness
White teachers can combat race-based traumas in schools by raising their racial consciousness. Start by recognizing the privilege attached to your race. Notice how it impacts your pedagogical and behavior management decisions. Read about the history of racism and start talking about race. Then, bring those conversations into your classroom.
As a teacher, you are in the perfect position to either perpetuate or disrupt race-based traumas in schools. This starts with your own anti-racist work and can translate into anti-racist instruction for your students. Keep reading to learn how an increased racial awareness can help disrupt race-based traumas in schools.
Many teachers claim to be colorblind, refusing to see color is a refusal to recognize how your own whiteness impacts how you see the world and your pedagogical decisions. Color blindness is easy to claim when you benefit from being part of the mainstream culture. What's counts as normal for society is also what counts as normal in your daily life. It's easy, from this space, to see race as "othered" and "different" because racialized others are marked as different by society. Whiteness is what's normal. So, a great first step is to start to see white as a race and to see yourself as cultured, with unique beliefs, values, and practices that stem directly from being part of the dominant culture.
Unpack your Invisible Knapsack
First, Alvarez et al. (2016) recommend that white teachers start by recognizing the privilege that comes with whiteness. Delve into your own race and how it impacts your worldview. You can start this by reading about white privilege. Read this short piece by Peggy McIntosh, written in 1990 titled “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” Then, start following your racial assumptions from their roots to their consequences to determine a) how to redirect them and b) how to prevent them from impacting your students.
Get comfortable Talking about Race
Next, bring these conversations up in your school to make yourself more comfortable talking about race. Most white people are uncomfortable talking about race, you need to change that feeling by getting used to it. It is inevitable that you’ll make some mistakes, but don’t give up and be aware enough to learn from those mistakes.
After you do some self-interrogation and begin discussing race with your colleagues, you should breach these topics with students. When we name race, we can begin to break it at its strongest points. Stay tuned for my next post all about teaching anti-racism in literacy classrooms.
Alvarez, A., Milner, H. R., Delale-O-Connor, L. (2016). Race, trauma, and education: What educators need to know. In T. Husband (Ed.) But I don't see color (pp. 27-40). Sense Publishers.
A seminal article by Peggy McIntosh, written in 1990 titled “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.”
Summary of Stages of Racial Identity Development
Janet Helms's Model of White Racial Identity Development
My name is Erin E. Silcox. I'm working on my Ph.D. in Literacy Education, focusing on the intersection of trauma and literacy. I want to deepen our base of knowledge about trauma-informed practices in schools and help teachers apply findings right now.