Anti-Racism in Education
People don’t make changes because things are wonderful.
- Jamaica Kincaid
Nothing changes if nothing changes.
- Chris Coe
The Ella Cline Shear School of Education commits to an anti-racist frame in all the work we do. According to Ibram Kendi, a race theory scholar:
“To be antiracist is to think nothing is behaviorally wrong or right – inferior or superior – with any of the racial groups. Whenever the antiracist sees individuals behaving positively or negatively, the antiracist sees exactly that: individuals behaving positively or negatively, not representatives of whole races. To be antiracist is to deracialize behavior, to remove the tattooed stereotype from every racialized body. Behavior is something humans do, not races do” (Kendi, 2019).
Our commitment comes with our repudiation of recent actions (e.g., the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and many more) as well as our awareness of 400 years of U.S. racism and oppression. Racial inequality is exemplified by the fact that Black Americans are 2.5 times more likely than Whites to be killed by police. These are just a few examples of the systemic racism that pervades our country and that will require us to commit to a long, hard fight for justice: We must be aware that small and/or cosmetic victories are not enough or even represent progress.
In addition, we acknowledge institutional and systemic racism in both PreK-12 schools and in post-secondary education. The SOE recognizes that not all students are given the same educational environments and opportunities, and commits to actively educating our teacher candidates in addressing those disparities through civic engagement as well as diverse practicum and course opportunities; for instance, the SOE will address the racial inequities in society and education throughout all of its coursework. The AACTE (American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education) Board of Directors has called on educators to embrace our responsibility as front-line workers to dismantle structural racism within the nation's education system; we propose to answer that call.
Given the foregoing, we commit to cultivating and maintaining a community that respects differences and promotes a sense of inclusion and belonging. We celebrate diversity of all identities and make it our goal to nurture equity and inclusion within and beyond the classroom. But while we work to create an environment where everyone feels included, individuals and organizations also have an obligation to identify and actively develop strategies to eliminate systemic racism in their environments and in our nation. We recognize this is a continuous conversation that needs to be grounded in and extended by ongoing education (including self-education; e.g., individuals having a greater understanding of U.S. history, since the lack of knowledge of Black History has resulted in ignorance among many regarding systemic racism), action (including advocacy), and listening (to our students, undergraduates & graduates, and the broader community).