Race – Does It Matter? by LaTonya Wallace

As I embark on giving you some brief reasons why I chose to discuss this topic in my choice of writing, I had to think long and hard; would I be offending anyone? Well I don’t think so because my purpose is to help you as a classroom teacher have a perspective on the fact that race does matter in your classroom. Race matters because it is present and it is with us. It may not always be relevant but if you choose to ignore it, to be colorblind, then you may be ignoring a part of someone’s identity. When I read the book, by Beverly Tatum “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” I realized that we have to stop denying its subtle behavior and accept that race is part of who our students are and where they will go in the future. By no means am I stating that race determines our outcomes but it clearly is a factor and we have to embrace it in our classrooms so that students can maximize their full potential. I researched the topic and found some practical steps that can help teachers infuse racial topics during instruction. We need to talk about the issues of race today. We should also teach about race to clear up the misconceptions behind race. Below are merely suggestions to help support you in your instruction if and when the topic of race comes up. This is a summation from an article on “Teaching Tolerance” by, Southern Poverty Law Center.

Here they are:

  • Don’t make assumptions about your students’ experiences.
    • -Let students speak for themselves about the experience they have had with race or racism
  • Tap into prior knowledge
    • -It may be helpful to have your students write about their experience so you can understand their prior knowledge about race and racism
  • Ask for help
    • -Guest speakers are a huge a help. Search for an expert on the topic and utilize their skills to support what you are doing in the classroom
  • Comfort is the key
    • -If students feel uncomfortable they will not open up. Make your classroom a safe space. Set ground rules stating that kids cannot attack each other personally. Hear all your students out.
  • It is okay not to have all the answers
    • -You as a teacher do not need to know it all. It is okay for the students to see you as human. As long as you can provide them with resources for their questions you are doing your job.
  • Let your students know that you have to work every day to be able to tolerate and accept those of all races

-It is okay to let students know that just like learning math problems learning to be accepting takes practice

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