March 21, 2021

Aisha White: You Have an Anti-Racist Book List – Now What?

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Dr. Aisha White is the director of the P.R.I.D.E. Program in Pittsburgh, where she has long been involved in arts and social activism, she offers some practical advice for teachers who want to bring anti-racism texts into the classroom. She starts with these three tips:

  1. Teaching about diversity, cultural differences, and racism.
    You may have a great list of books, but If you are not prepared to talk about racism, don’t read books about racism. Start instead with books that are more benign, ones that illustrate diversity, cultural difference, etc. and begin with conversations about those. Then gradually move into more challenging texts.
  2. Practice.
    Actually practice reading and talking about the books, first on your own, and then with another adult. Discuss how you felt and get feedback on your body language, etc.
  3. Prepare to ask and answer questions about differences.
    Keep in mind that children learn at a very young age to not talk about race, so they may be hesitant to mention differences. If that’s the case, help them understand that noticing is a good thing. Also, plan the questions you will ask, think about the kinds of questions they will ask, and try to anticipate statements they will make.

She also offers some ways to move beyond the reading, including providing a prelude, create a related and age appropriate activity, do your research, and be intentional about dialogue.

Without getting comfortable and being more prepared, you can in turn, cause more harm to your students. So I encourage all of you to get comfortable getting uncomfortable.

The article offers practical advice for teachers interested in doing this work. The full piece can be found here.

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