Last week, I had a consulting call with a potential client (a white teacher), who teaches in a predominantly white school/neighborhood and wants to engage in more meaningful anti-racist work this coming school year. But she isn’t sure how exactly to approach the work within her school. Quite frankly, she isn’t the first teacher who has expressed concern around this issue. Right now, we have many teachers in this predicament, trying to answer this question for the upcoming school year. In contrast, there are others who believe they are exempt from this work because there are no students of color in their classrooms and their white students are not impacted by racism.
So, what does non-performative anti-racist work look like in a school where the teaching staff, student body, and the surrounding neighborhood are predominantly white?
Although I have never taught in a predominantly white school, I did, however, attend a predominantly white high school, so this question definitely hits home. Rather than provide you with a prescriptive list of things to do, I’m going to draw from my own high school experience and challenge you to think critically about the following questions as you prepare to engage in anti-racist work this school year:
Please do not view these questions as a prescription to racism. Rather, look at them as opportunities for growth as your school embarks on its journey toward creating an anti-racist learning environment for teachers and students. This is far from a complete list, as there are so many more questions I could’ve posed. But this list should get your school off to a great start this school year.
Kwame Sarfo-Mensah is the founder of Identity Talk Consulting, LLC., an independent educational consulting firm that provides professional development and consulting services globally to educators who desire to enhance their instructional practices and reach their utmost potential in the classroom. He is the author of two books, "Shaping the Teacher Identity: 8 Lessons That Will Help Define the ...