Antiracisms - schoolandsociety2014

Racisms and Antiracisms
What I want to do today
Suggest a different way of thinking about
Present a typology for analyzing racisms and
developing antiracisms.
Link this to everyday teaching practices, with
specific examples of what you can do.
Do all of this before the next class.
An Apology and General Comment
I am a historian
I started as a math/physics person
So I tend to pick on math/science teaching in my examples.
What I am talking about applies to teaching in all areas:
So I can talk at great length about obscure things
Use historical examples: esp. re Chinese in Canada
We all teach the same students
Racism can be expressed in Physics as much as in PE
What and how we teach shapes how racism is experienced.
Although I am talking about racisms, much of what I am
saying also applies to sexism, ableism and homophobia.
The Old Way
Racism is seen as prejudice
 Due to ignorance/errors in thinking
 Irrational fear of strangers
 Seen as individual
 Seen as about “bad” people.
The New Way
Racisms are
Exclusions that involve racialization
 Exclusions that are organized, i.e.,
made by people
 Exclusions that have significant
negative consequences for the
EXAMPLE 1: Name-Calling
You are teaching your class and you
hear a student call someone a racist
 What do you do?
 Take a minute to discuss this
Name-Calling as Prejudice
“Don’t let that hurt you.”
 Focus on Offender
 Try to get him/her to change his/her
 Seen as individual/family problem
Name-Calling as Exclusion
This is an act of violence
1) Stop it
2) Support/comfort the victim
3) Deal with effects which go beyond the
immediate parties, i.e., tip of the iceberg, set
of larger issues
4) Ask yourself: Do I exclude these effects from
my understanding?
What Research Shows
E.G., Manju Varma-Joshi, Cynthia J. Baker and Connie
Tanaka, “Names Will Never Hurt Me,” Harvard
Educational Review, Summer 2004: 175-208.
In New Brunswick
Racist exclusion starts with Name Calling
Inadequate response from teachers and administrators
Escalates to disengagement in school
Pattern of lack of school success for African Canadian
and First Nations students.
Challenging Racist Name Calling
Ms. Sorg
EXAMPLE 2: Taken-for-granted
Categories in Official Curricula
Too many First Nations, Inuit and
Métis students, and students of colour
disengage from school
 Formal curriculum is about racialized
 Even curriculum in use is often Eurocentric
E.g.: Gr. 8 History Curriculum
Big Idea: “Not all Canadians enjoyed the same rights and privileges in the
new nation”
.A1.2 assess the impact that differences in legal status and in the
distribution of rights and privileges had on various groups and individuals in
Canada between 1850 and 1890 (e.g., with reference to land ownership in
Prince Edward Island, …, restrictions on Chinese immigration, the rights and
legal status of “status Indians” on reserves, the privileged lifestyle of
industrialists in contrast to the lives of workers in their factories, discrimination
facing African Canadians)
A1.3 analyse some of the actions taken by various groups and/or
individuals in Canada between 1850 and 1890 to improve their lives (e.g.,
lifestyle changes among Métis facing increasing agricultural settlement in the
West; alliances among First Nations during negotiations with the federal
government . . .
So What’s Wrong?
Apparently inclusive,
 But the language used creates the idea
that there are First Nations people and
then there are Canadians?
 It fails to capture First Nations
experiences in Canada?
 Curriculum does not teach about 99.5%
of the world and its peoples
First Nations, Inuit and Métis People
Neutral language “lifestyle changes” for people of the
By 1890, the people of the plains had
1) suppressed by military force
2) forced to take treaty
3) placed on reserves and not allowed to leave
4) deliberately starved by the federal government
In Queensland, Aus., they talk about European
“invasion” and “genocide”. In Ontario, we talk about
“lifestyle changes.”
So What?
If racism is prejudice,
This is no big deal.
If racism is exclusion,
This is racism.
If we understand this as exclusion,
Then we can create inclusions
Example 3: Who Hangs Out with
At lunch, all the Snaidanacs, sit
 Is this a problem?
If Racism in Prejudice
Are others prejudiced against Snaidanacs? Or are
Snaidanacs prejudiced?
But if they are not, it is not
By then, you know those Snaidanacs. They are so
Or maybe we need to better understand Snaidanac
culture and what leads them to sit together?
If Racism in Exclusion
This is a prima facie example of exclusion that
needs to be checked out.
All things being equal, people should mix it up.
There is no natural attraction of Snaidanacs for
If this is happening in the lunch room, it is happening
elsewhere in the school.
What Research Shows
Carl James, “Negotiating School: Marginalized
Students’ Participation in Their Education Process,”
Race, Racialization and Antiracism in Canada and
Beyond, 17-36
GTA School. Highly Inclusive. Apparently
Marginalized students occupy the hallways
Teachers, especially women teachers, intimidated
Staff do not ask why this is the only place in the
school that the students feel welcome.
Understanding racisms as exclusions
draws attention to processes of
creating inclusions.
 It also means that racism is NOT
about intentions
 Rather racism is about effects
A note about INTENTIONS
Racism is not about good people and bad people.
Good people can do racist things and bad people
can do antiracist ones.
People experience racism differently because of
how it locates them socially
Racism in the head
Racism in the world
5 Myths about Racism in Canada
There is no racism in Canada!
Only bad people are racist.
Racism is about individuals.
Difference causes racism.
Children/young people are innocent
of racism.
Different Racisms
Each with its own history
Each often takes different forms
Each has different effects
One may be more important in a particular
Racisms have no fixed essence
The signification of real or imagined difference
based on phenotype or alleged cultural
Always relational, one group is racialized in
relation to another
Always absolute, i.e., in one group or the other.
A Great Resource for Understanding
American Anthropological Association, Race:
Are we so different? Project,
 Racism signifies difference, difference does not
cause racism.
An Example
“John is the Black guy in the corner”
Always a racialization: It signifies Blackness.
Blackness is constituted in relation to another
unnamed category, whiteness.
However, although a racialization it is not
necessarily racist.
Exclusions organized around racializations
They are purposive.
Exclusions can be institutional, symbolic, discursive,
economic, territorial, political or even from life
If someone excluded, someone else included.
They are matter of fact: Excluded or not
The Black Guy in the Corner
“John is the Black Guy in the Corner” starts to
become racist if it creates or enacts an exclusion.
The corner is the only place “Black guys” are allows
to be.
John is the only person in the corner. (Why is
everything else that he is not being signified?)
You know that John does not consider himself
“Black” in which case you are imposing a meaning
on him and excluding his
Racisms have significant (“nontrivial”) negative consequences for
the excluded.
The Black Guy on the Corner
The final proof is
Ask John
You need to at least engage with his meanings
You need to understand how he sees your statement
N.B., to pretend that you do no see John’s Blackness
can be racist.
Another Example: Who said this?
“Chinese eccentricities, Chinese immorality, Asiatic
principles” are “abhorrent to the Aryan race and Aryan
“[The] Aryan races will not wholesomely amalgamate
with the Africans or the Asiatics.” and that “the cross of
those races, like the cross of the dog and the fox, is not
successful; it cannot be, and never will be.”
If the Chinese are allowed in Canada, “We would have
a mongrel race ... [and] the Aryan character of the
future of British America should be destroyed.”
This Man
Sir John A. MacDonald
During Debate of the 1885 Electoral Franchise Act
Took the right to vote away from anyone who was
“a person of Mongolian or Chinese race”
Fixing the idea of so-called “Chinese” as not
Chinese Canadians only get the right to vote in
Status First Nations in 1960.
What was Sir John doing?
By disenfranchising Chinese and First Nations, he
was organizing racialization into an exclusion that
had direct negative consequences on the excluded.
Between 1885 and 1960, every community in
Canada had two classes of citizen:
those who could vote and those who couldn’t
because of their “race”.
The term for such a political system is “white
Consequences for Chinese Canadians
62 years denied right to vote
 Made Immigration Head Tax and
Exclusion possible
 Profound Gender Imbalance until the
1986 Census
 Continue to be seen as “alien” in
Can Asians be Canadian?
Consequences Still Lived by People in
 - Lives of the
Summing Up
Racisms are organized racialized
exclusions that have negative
consequences for the racialized and
Exclusions are the heart of racism
They are matter of fact, one is either included or
one is not.
Exclusion is about the effects of our actions not
about our intentions.
Thinking of racisms as exclusions opens up multiple
How to Put this into Operation:
Each condition for racism, becomes a
condition for antiracism.
 If there are racisms, there are antiracisms,
 If racisms involve racialization, exclusion
and consequences, antiracisms challenge
racializations, create inclusion and
mitigate consequences.
Condition one: Antiracisms
Antiracism is anything that opposes a
 Just as racisms have no essential form,
so do antiracisms
 Just as there are different racisms,
there are different antiracisms.
Implications: Antiracisms
No one antiracist strategy or
intervention can address all racisms
 Even if one racism has been
challenged (e.g., antisemitism), it does
not mean that others have (e.g.,
1) No one technique or set of
techniques can address all racisms or
all of their forms
2) Strategies dealing with racisms
require constant reassessment
Condition Two: Challenging
Racialized Binaries
Antiracisms affirm that people live between
and across essentialized boundaries
Antiracisms challenge the idea that race is
Antiracisms look for ways of affirming
difference without essentializing it.
Implications: Challenging Binaries
It is not about replacing bad
representations with good ones, it is
about making them uninhabitable.
 Admit/name racist injuries without
reimposing racist categories.
 Recognize racializing acts and disrupt
them. (E.G., do all Snaidanacs really hate
Talk about “racialized black” or
racialized white” or “people who are
subject to racist oppression”. Don’t talk
about “Blacks,” “Whites”, etc.
Beware hidden racializations, e.g.,
“Canadians” in contrast to “Asians” or
Schools (cont.)
3) Challenge
racializing statements, i.e.,
those that suggest that all members
of a group have the same
characteristics, instead suggest,
“many,” “most,” “the one’s I know.”
4) Teach your students to do this too
Condition Three: Organizing
Deracialized Inclusions
Antiracisms do not pretend that differences do
not exist, or treat everyone equally (as
opposed to equitably).
Antiracisms make privilege uncomfortable
Antiracims are about politics, about organizing
against racist exclusions
Antiracisms understand which bodies are
placed where and how, whether in institutional,
spatial or cultural spaces.
Implications: Organizing Inclusions
Be aware of how racialized bodies
are located.
 Create inclusive approaches
 Find and expand antiracist spaces
What does this mean in schools?
Be aware of what racialized bodies
show up where and how they move
around in the spaces of the school.
This includes physical and cultural
spaces. (E.G., are intramural sports
or pick up teams segregated?).
Schools (cont.)
3. If all the bodies in a space (e.g., the staff
room) are the racialized the same way, then
ask why there are no others there.
4. Diversify and extend curricular materials.
(This takes time, sharing and help, you
cannot do it all yourself all at once.)
Schools (Cont.)
5. Document
how racialized bodies are
located in the physical and symbolic
spaces of the school. Use this to educate.
6. Organize politically through your
friends, your associations, specialists
organizations and through antiracist
Condition Four: Mitigating
All antiracisms begin with the resistance of
the racialized and excluded
 They continue with taking the selfrepresentations of the excluded seriously.
 We need to listen for the silences, discover
and engage excluded knowledges
 The focus of antiracism must always primarily
be on the excluded.
Implications: Mitigating
Mitigate injuries
 Stop violence
 Listen actively and express concern
 Focus on the effects
 Support organizations of the
 Probe Silences
What Does this Mean is Schools?
Ask the young people around you what is happening. Check
it out.
Are they called racist names (this might have to be
What do they think of the textbook?
Do some people not like them because of their background,
Ask their parents, older siblings
Ask teachers of colour the same things
Schools (cont.)
Probe the silences.
Can you find ways of witnessing those silences?
How did school make this student into “a classroom
management problem”?
Ask uncomfortable questions?
Can the student see himself in my teaching?
If you can’t hear anything, you aren’t listening.
Summing Up Antiracisms
An antiracist act may address one or
all of the conditions for racisms.
 Antiracisms are anything that
challenge racisms.
 Even racists can have antiracist
moments and antiracists racist ones.
Putting it all together: Antiracist
Develop a profound understanding of your discipline, its
origins and development and incorporate in your teaching
E.G., In Mathematics
The universal human language
The combined creation of all of human civilization
Zero and decimals were invented in India and by the
No zero, no computers
Calculus in China
Numbers are Arabic numerals.
Applications can be illustrated with global examples
Antiracist Teaching (cont.)
Are all students regardless of difference welcome in your classroom?
Is your classroom a safe place?
Do you teach all of your students?
Have you written off certain students from some groups?
Do you assume that some students are “naturally” better in certain
If you do, are there students from that group who need help but are
not getting it?
Test it out: Tabulate your evaluations in comparison to how you
racialize your students.
Test it out: Ask your students?
Test it out: Ask your colleagues?
Concluding Thoughts
This is hard
You cannot do it alone
Look for Allies: Create an antiracist learning
Be strategic:
 Don’t
Get Fired
 Try not to alienate colleagues.
Talk to all your students.
Resources and Follow up
Some interesting websites
 National Antiracism Council of Canada
 See Educational Resources, Truth and Reconciliation Commission
of Canada,
 American Anthropological Association, Race: Are we so
different? Project,
 Racism in our schools (Fact Sheet), Canadian Race Relations
A useful Textbook: Mica Pollock (ed.) Everyday Antiracism:
Getting Real About Race in School (New York: The New Press,
Questions/comments: Tim Stanley [email protected]

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