Anti-Racism and Pedagogy: What Does it Mean to be an Anti-racist Teacher?

Erin Miller, Reading and Elementary Education, UNC Charlotte

On a global, national, and local level, it is not difficult to find examples of overt racism. Recently growing numbers of white supremacist groups, an epidemic of mass incarceration of people of color, the continued legacy of police terror and brutality against black and brown people, rising Islamophobia, hostile immigration policies, and mass murders targeting people of color at malls and churches are all examples of contemporary racism. Less clearly visible, however, is anti-racism. What exactly is anti-racism? Do historical and contemporary social movements, such as The Civil Rights Movement and Black Lives Matter, bind anti-racism to a few iconic leaders and visible social protests? Or, is anti-racism an everyday phenomena? Does it have a well-defined ideology and political strategy? Is it malleable across temporal and geographic contexts? Can white people be anti-racists? Can teachers or should teachers be anti-racist? If so, what would their teaching look like? These are the key questions that will guide this seminar.  Launching the inquiry into these questions will be a close read of Alex Zamalin’s (2019), Anti-Racism: An Introduction. The seminar will primarily focus on anti-black racism since this has been “the most expansive, historically durable, and salient form of racism” (Zamalin). To connect our study of anti-racism to pedagogical contexts, this reading will be followed by discussions of Joyce King and Ellen Swartz’s (2015), The Afrocentric Praxis of Teaching for Freedom: Connecting Culture to Learning. We will then pivot to re-membering antiracism in local communities. With an understanding of the interdisciplinary nature of antiracism (antiracism as visual art, theater, poetry, and music), teachers will be guided as they launch their own investigation into and subsequent unit development about anti-racism in the local communities of their students.