How can we as teacher try to combat systemic racism in our daily lives and classrooms?
As a teacher, we are at the forefront of shaping students and communities to combat systemic racism. How we do this requires careful consideration.
One way we can combat this relates to Nick's part of Seminar 6. I was reminded of educators' role in the foster care system in Canada. Teachers are a frequent face for students to see every day, so we gain insight into students ' lives, including families and lifestyle. If students come to school without a lunch or with a bruise, however, teachers may want to jump to conclusions about the child's parents/guardians in order to protect him/her. But now knowing more about the foster care system, this may not be the best approach as the issues that are within families have systemic and historical causes:
“This is very much reminiscent of residential school systems where children are being scooped up from their homes, taken away from their families and we will pay the price for this for generations to come" (The Guardian, Nov 2017)
Data and documentation are critical for teachers to keep to accurately make judgements and reports about students' home life. This hopefully will prevent Indigenous children from being taken away from their families, an example of systemic racism.
Additionally, within my daily life it is important to call out other White people on their racist beliefs and remarks. The beliefs that are reinforced by privileged and powerful people in society are the common norms that last the longest. I think this would take a lot of courage, but would create a huge change in a fairly small way.
The Guardian. (Nov 2017). Ratio of indigenous children in Canada welfare system is 'humanitarian crisis'. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/nov/04/indigenous-children-canada-welfare-system-humanitarian-crisis
How can we encourage students to look critically at the structures in the world around them?
I think beyond looking at structures in students' world within subjects such as Social Studies and Health, teachers should highlight current events, such as the Colton Boushie/Gerald Stanley case.
In regards to the court cases discussed in Seminar 6, the Leader Post stated:
"Whether some or all of the offences were racially motivated or not — each instance turning on unique and nuanced facts and law far more detailed than the above summaries, and perceptions and mindset that reach deeper than court transcripts — they unequivocally became racially charged. And the effects linger in distrust and suspicion within and between communities and peoples, the pressure left to build toward the next time" (Leader Post, Feb 2018)
As the above quote mentions, there are attitudes and beliefs that go deeper than what is said in the court system. Within a classroom, the profound and thought provoking discussions that could come from current events may be lasting memories for students. This can provide encouragement for students to look critically at the structures in our society without forcing a certain belief or standpoint on them. As well, teachers can highlight the lenses in which students see through not as something to be ashamed of, but simply something to be aware of.
Leader Post. (Feb 2018). Court of Contention: A look back at crimes that divided a province. Retrieved from https://leaderpost.com/news/crime/court-of-contention-a-look-back-at-crimes-that-divided-a-province