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How Can I Help Dismantle Systemic Racism as an Educator?
posted by: Tamia | June 08, 2020, 12:55 PM   

Systemic racism has been a hot topic following the unnecessary and tragic deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. There have been a number of protests across the country calling for the dismantling of systemic racism and for police reform, including the defunding of police. Many students may not understand the full capacity or severity of everything that is happening, and it's important that you know how you can help as an educator.

 

1. Educate yourself on the movement

  • Before speaking to your students, educate yourself on systemic racism in the United States of America. Take time to explore the deep history of oppression in the African-American community that dates back to the early 17th Century. Many history books leave out poignant and detailed stories of African and African-American struggles, from slavery to present-day injustices. 
  • Do research on the Black Lives Matter campaign and why it was started. Make sure you know why statements such as "All Lives Matter" are hurtful and counterproductive.
  • Carefully explain to students what is going on right now in America and why it's happening. The topic of systemic racism and police brutality can be difficult for young children to truly understand.

2. Learn from those around you

  • While taking a look at history is important, there are many lessons to be learned from those around you. Talk to your Black friends, colleagues, family members, and others about their experiences. There are personal stories that you can learn from to gain knowledge about how others may feel.

3. Respectfully correct those around you

  • As an educator, you may experience discrimination in the workplace. Whether the racist dialogue comes from one of your students or a colleague, make sure you speak out and explain to someone why they are wrong. Educating those you care about on why something may be deemed racist or offensive is extremely important. Remember, you and your colleagues are teaching the leaders of tomorrow.

4. Advocate for yourself and colleagues in the workplace 

  • Should you experience discrimination yourself in the workplace, be sure to speak out and report any act of injustice to the resposible party. It's important to express how you feel so you can put your best foot forward in the classroom for your students.

5. Promote diversity and inclusion

  • Make sure your students understand the importance of diversity. It's vital that you have posters, toys, books, and other classroom materials that accurately represent those from all walks of life. Children are not born into racism, it is taught. It's important that your classroom feel like a safe space for ALL students.

6. Help calm fears

  • As an educator, you may experience miscommunication and misinformation between students in your classroom. The misinformation could possibly lead to questions and fears from your students. Be sure to let your students know what's appropriate and what is true. If a situation becomes out of your control, direct your students to someone who will be able to assist them, such as a counselor or reach out to a parent. 
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