Most of us feel that if we’re against racism, then doesn’t that mean I’m anti-racist? Racism has been defined in a number of different ways and there are multiple definitions of it, as the idea of race keeps changing over time. Most people think racists are those who wear white hoods. The idea of racism is often limited to individual malicious acts against a race. One thing, we don’t consider is the thoughts and prejudices that we have in our minds, (which are usually unseen and unspoken) which may affect and govern the way we treat some people and not others.
I liken having racism to being a vegetable in a simmering stew. How can we not have the effects of racism, in our minds, when we have lived in a racist society our whole lives? Sadly, we’ve all been marinating in it, and most children are completely conditioned and raised to believe ideas about what skin colours means as early as 5 years old. Evidence has also shown that recent newcomers to our land are also completely schooled in our Canadian racism within a few shorts months, just from being a part of our society. Without the framework to understand it, or the skills to challenge it and name it, people just take it for granted, that this is just the way it is. This is called “common sense” racism.
Anti-racism is about naming racism, and understanding the strategies that are in place to maintain it and keep it going. Antiracism is about interrupting it, so it doesn’t reproduce itself. It’s important to note, that although, we haven’t created the conditions or the strategies that we were raised with, surrounded with in our schools, exposed to out in society, or in the media, the fact remains, that most of us haven’t been able to upack those ideas that we have. Anti-racism is about providing those skills to unpack what is often “taken for granted” this is just hte way it is, common sense racism.
We are all inheritors of western logic which is often racist, sexist and classist in nature. As inheritors of this logic, it’s our responsibility to challenge it whenever and wherever we can. A good place to start is by listening.. What can members of the non-dominant society contribute to our understandings? Perhaps they are experiencing something that we are not able to see, and perhaps their stories can provide insight into that experience. Working in solidarity with oppressed groups, we must take the stance to listen closely. Although we haven’t created the conditions of racism, we have the responsibility to interrupt it. From this point forward, we can help where we are going. It is our responsibility to decolonize ourselves to understand our own positionings in the society we live in today. As one of the greatest thinkers in the world has pronounced, “If we have the privilege to know, then we have the responsibility to act.” -Albert Einstein
Anti-racism and Critical Race Theory help us to make sense of our society and why some are making it and some aren’t. It can provide clear direction, which will lead to positive outcomes in the “how-to” department of how to create, operate and maintain an anti-racist classroom and school. Evidence shows that children and families in the non-dominant groups thrive in anti-racist classrooms and environments. It’s also extremely empowering for youth of the dominant group to experience anti-racism, because they feel like they can change things for the betterment of everyone. Engagement levels in education soar for all students when anti-racism is a part of school culture.
Dr. Verna St. Denis at the University of Saskatchewan in the Department of Education Foundations, in the City of Saskatoon teaches anti-racism classes at the Master’s Degree Level and Dr. Carol Schick also teaches anti-racism classes at the University of Regina.
I currently make these presentations to schools and classes upon request. Be sure to book me. It’s also in the curriculum outcomes to include teaching around white privilege in high school.
____________________________________________________________________________________Upcoming anti-racism PD______________________
If you wish to attend an anti-racism conference in Saskatoon, here’s the link. $50 for teachers and $10 for students. Very reasonable! I do have some money in my PD budget to share with LSKY students and teachers, so by all means, give me a call or email if you’re interested in attending and need a little financial help.
SAFE CONFERENCE -Saskatoon, SK Canada
Keynote: ErinMarie Konsmo
ErinMarie Konsmo -Michif/Half-breed/Nehiyaw stencil/justice artist from Manitou Sakhahigan. Media Arts Justice & Projects Coordinator- Native Youth Sexual Health Network her artwork focuses on self-determination over our bodies as Indigenous Peoples.
Space is limited so please register early.
Film: Two Worlds Colliding by Tasha Hubbard
Thursday, Oct, 22, 7:00pm, Roxy Theatre 320 20th St. West
Free admission for conference participants and community members
Two Worlds Colliding explores the critical events and aftermath of what became known as the starlight tours, an example of on-going colonial relationships in Saskatchewan.
Questions/discussion from 8pm-9pm.
“The Earth is the mother of all people and all people should have equal rights upon it.” Chief Joseph