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Creating the Space to Talk About Race in Your School [downloadable]

Racial dynamics, disparities and divisions permeate our society, communities, schools and classrooms. Systemic racism is so deeply rooted in our history, culture and institutions that there’s no escaping it. Visible or not, its impacts are ever present.

Yet, discussions of racism are typically not part of school culture or curriculum and because racism is so complex and contentious, many of us are afraid to even broach the subject. Fears of opening a can of worms, stirring the pot and making a mistake, can be paralyzing. It often feels easier and safer to avoid the topic altogether.

Silence and inaction, though, reinforce the status quo. Avoidance speaks volumes—it communicates to students of color that racism doesn’t matter enough to warrant attention and, by omission, invalidates their experiences, perspectives, identities—and lives. White students, on the other hand, often see racism being accepted and normalized, without acknowledgement or accountability. And the lofty ideal of educational excellence and equity for all students, if it even exists at your school, may seem like a hollow commitment.

As educators, there are “teach-able moments,” opportunities to constructively and productively address race. Discussions in your classroom, the lunch room or even on the school bus can be a steppingstone to addressing race in your school community and school district. Creating the space to talk about race can open the way for some of the most powerful learning and change that you, your students, your colleagues, and your school will ever experience.

The tips in this downloadable guide, Creating the Space to Talk About Race in Your School, can help you make race conversations normal, constructive and successful. These skills are best learned through collective dialogue with others committed to addressing racial equity, as well as through lots of practice. When discussions of race and racism become normalized, the promise of equity can be realized.

Excerpted from Creating the Space to Talk About Race in Your School published by the National Education Association (NEA).  Download the PDF. Find more resources on the NEA EdJustice website. Discussion guides and other complementary resources are available to NEA members.

Source: National Education Association | Creating the Space to Talk About Race in Your School, http://neaedjustice.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Talk-About-Race-in-the-Classroom.pdf © 2017. National Education Association, in collaboration with Race Forward

CHC offers free community education sessions for educators. Join us to learn practical teaching strategies you can use in your classroom to help more kids reach their promise and potential. Educator sessions are led by experienced educator/clinician teams from Sand Hill School and CHC.

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