Education and Racism
"If teachers across America would arise and make the personal commitment to do something about racism, beginning with their own selves, their eventual impact would, I believe, be tremendous" (Hacker 191).
It is time to take action. Not only in our own lives, but in the lives of the children. There has been attempts, there has been success, and there has been failure. Many people have ways in which they believe will help reduce racism. But which is the right way, the best way? According to Barbara Hacker, author of "Advice for Teachers on Racism and Oneness," it is up to the educators. She believes teachers can make a difference in the lives of his or her students.
Hacker suggests four principles that teachers can follow in order to help. The first is to accept that it is okay to talk about racism. Most people know how wrong racism is, and therefore keep quiet about it. They remember the most horrific forms of the act (KKK) and don't want to be associated with it. Many also fear finding that they themselves are racist. Also, people of color try to suppress feelings and experiences related to racism. They "protect" themselves by believing that they have not been personally effected. But, in reality, this suppressing of their feelings and reality is hurting them more.
Basically, realizing that it is okay to talk about racism means realizing that it does exist, everywhere. And that everyone is affected by it some way or somehow. Opening up the lines of communication means to learn to listen to others, use "I" statements relating your feelings and experiences regarding racism, and agree not to judge others opinions and beliefs.
Teachers need to set guidelines for students to discuss their views openly. Students, especially younger ones, can get out of hand, feelings can be hurt, and many things can be said out of context. By setting rules for discussion, much more can be accomplished, more people can be heard, and more opinions can be changed.
The second major role teachers can play in educating students about racism is through exactly that, education. "A lot has been written about the nature of prejudice, and racism, the many ways in which it is manifested, how it is transmitted and perpetuated, and even the stages that individuals go though in overcoming it's effects" (Hacker 192). If teachers would find this information, believe in it and share it with the children, then hopefully a few, if not all the views of the students will change. "Everyone needs this body of knowledge" (193).
The third important principle is to realize that we all have prejudices. They are formed very early in life and are often very strong. They become a natural part of our lives, and cloud our minds with ignorance. Teachers are seen as role models, authority figures, and mentors. So many children fail to challenge them whether they be right or wrong. "A corollary of the concept...