Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Racism in Education - Study Up

I've been prepping myself for a class I am taking next week through my school district. I teach for a medium sized district; a district with only one high school and one middle school. We are a sister district to the more urban and large school where my kids attend - the difference of 4 highschools with double the population per school and many many more students of color. But things are changing in my district and our little-ness is starting to erode. With change comes new challenges, and we are feeling the challenge of dealing with a more diverse student population; both for class and race.

The district I teach in has a hugely homogeneous staff. All of our school principals and vp's are white. In our high school there is one teacher of color. Support staff? Almost all white. We recently hired a diversity director who is a great guy, qualified, and a black man. I fear for his success, as it must be incredibly difficult to be the sole voice for kids of color in our district. He's got a helluva job.

This is a lot of detail to say that our district is hosting a seminar for teachers taught by a UW-Milwaukee professor titled, "Racism in Education." I wish we had a reading list. None so far. But that doesn't stop me from tirelessly working on the issue at hand. I'm super lucky that Blueberry's fairy godmother is a professor herself, a former director of diversity at one of the professional schools at UW-Madison, and a sociologist, anthropologist, and soon to be licensed social worker. Do you think I can learn something from her? *grin* So, she's been sliding some reading my way, tossing a few links my direction, and suggesting some future texts for my consideration. In addition, the summer has provided us with some super time to enjoy each other's company in the presence of adorable Blueberry while we talk and share stories about 'the raising of him." Her theoretical expertise, my on the ground experience = hopefulness.

Did I mention Songbird is working for Boys and Girls Club this summer. She's running the local art and drama program for them. It's kicking her butt and she's loving it. Throw her daily experience into the mix of discussion we've got it goin' on here! Whoo hoo! Seriously, we are talking up a storm around here. I love it.

Here are some recent reads/watches:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pAljja0vi2M (interesting set of videos on privilege)
Anything and everything by Beverly Daniel Tatum. You don't know her work? Try this for an excellent introduction to her point of view: http://www.pbs.org/race/000_About/002_04-background-03-04.htm
Then, read "Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together In The Cafeteria?"
By the way, the entire PBS series: "Race - The Power of Illusion" is worth excavating. I use this website to teach a unit on race in my cultural anthropology class that I teach to freshman. It's tough work to get first year students to understand how race has NO biological basis - but this site helps. Some of the clips are awesome. I especially love "Island of RedHeads" which explains human diversity in a super fun way.
Anti-Racist Parent is a daily practice, and Racialiscious has been provoking lately.

That's all for now...more later :-)

1 comment:

Liz said...

Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria is next on my reading list, right now I'm in the middle of The First R (had to put it down for awhile, it made me depressed...). I will check out the PBS series, you are the second person who has recommended it lately - thanks!