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Four Barriers to Antiracist Work

anti-racist schools antiracist antiracistedu education equity racism Jan 12, 2024

While there are many more barriers than 4, these are four common objections people raise when they're trying to explain why they are hesitant about anti racist work in schools. 

We have found that these are easy grabs for people, but actually reveal underlying issues, typically rooted in racism in the first place. Watch. 

1. "I don't know where to start." 

This is a good first question but it’s not an honest one. We know how to start all kinds of things, but we choose not to know how to start anti racism work. When we want to start a diet, we go online and get reviews and check out ads. When we want to know what is happening overseas in Gaza, we go online and find social media accounts to gather multiple points of view. It’s not ignorance. It’s a choice. 

2. "I just want to teach my subject." 

There is no such thing as “just” a subject. In this quick video, Lorena explains how all subjects are part of the problem of white supremacy and racism in this country. She also expands on it in Textured Teaching. All of the subjects are implicated in racism and if unquestioned, you’ll be implicated, too. Teach your young people about being humans through your subject. That's it. That's the work. 

3. "I think they're too young." 

They’re not. There are age appropriate ways to engage in these conversations. I mean, Sesame Street is a model for us on what it's like to take complex ideas and break them down in friendly, age appropriate ways. If we can get into kindness and respect with kindergartners, we can do it with antiracism. Again, it's a choice. 

And one of our personal favorites: 

4. "I'm white. This isn't my place." 

Believe it or not, there is a unique and important role for white people in this work. There is a role for all of us because we are all involved in this system. Some of us suffer from it, some of us sustain it, and some of us benefit. It was their ancestors that created this racist reality for theirs benefit. Similar to feminism, isn't it awesome when a man stands up as an ally and values women for who they are and 'gets it'? Name it, reject it, and work to dismantle it. White people have agency and power. We want you to use it! 

Did you notice the pattern? All of these are about an underlying choice. The choice to value freedom and racial justice. We are either going to choose this option consistently and permanently, or we will stay here in this rotten version of America forever. This is why we created The Anti Racist Teacher Workbook and Course. We know things can be different and we believe in the power of education to address it. Get your copy and join the course. 

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