Some of you will know that I am currently studying towards a masters in Race Education. I’ve only had a few seminars and lectures so far but already I am starting to see many issues through a different lens. The old adage- you don’t know what you don’t know- is true, but we have a duty as educators to find out.
It is becoming much clearer why we as educators must first educate ourselves and then improve how we educate our children on issues of race and equity.
Certainly I am questioning my own part in racism- not because I have ever been overtly or actively racist in either thought or actions but because my silence in fact contributes to passive racism and is one of the reasons racism exists in our structures, policies and society today.
So what am I going to do about it?
I am no longer staying silent and I am no longer using the fact that I don’t know as an ‘excuse’ or as a reason for me not to have discussions and discourse. Not being racist is not enough – we have to be actively anti- racist.
I have accepted that I have white privilege whether I want it or not and I need to use that privilege to support my school, staff and pupils to be anti-racist and effective allies. I need to challenge where inequity exists and listen and validate the stories and life experiences of those who have suffered.
I also need others to support me- I don’t have all the answers but I want to find out what I can do to bring about change.
Where to start?
I am lucky in that I have a really passionate and supportive SLT who ‘get it’. Some have developed my own education around race and inequality and are taking an active role in developing areas of our curriculum and resources, as well as sharing their own personal stories with others. Others have shown a willingness and a commitment to learn and engage.
I have to start with educating my staff. They need to understand their role both as educators and change agents and how they can not only educate our pupils to be anti- racists but can positively impact on society as whole as a result.
One of the most important teaching I can do is to make sure that my pupils understand that they are all important, that they are all amazing humans regardless of colour, race, faith or gender and teach them to be resilient and confident individuals. If we can do this in Primary I feel sure that they will enter secondary school more equipped to challenge inequalities themselves and have the confidence to speak out.
It’s a start and surely that is the most important part, although the hardest part, of any journey- the decision to get going.
I am stopping the silence.