In January, Caroline Swinehart, ARK Instructional Specialist and Project Coordinator, attended a one-day workshop on Racial Literacy and Antiracist Teaching: A Workshop for Educators, through NWAIS (Northwest Association of Independent Schools).
ARK has presented at NWAIS workshops in the past. This workshop was held by a small group of team members with CARLE (Critical Analysis of Race and Learning in Education), an Institute for White Educators in Independent Schools.
The workshop included small group and partner discussions with educators from private schools in Washington State and surrounding states. Topics included:
- the historical construction of race, racism, and whiteness.
- the role of personal narrative in developing one’s understanding of race and racism.
- the importance of normalizing difficult discussions about racial identities and power.
- review of ways that race has historically been covered in K-12 education in the United States (e.g. through celebration of prominent cultural traditions, which only scratches the surface of the complex reality of racial and cultural identities in our country).
- shifting from multicultural to antiracist education to center diversity, equity, and inclusion work in a commitment to racial justice.
- the importance of establishing white accountability to People of Color in antiracist initiatives.
Caroline’s primary take-away was that as educators, we have a responsibility to seek to understand our own racial identities, and to view our own experiences through the lens of those identities. This can help educators become more aware of the ways in which they live within and may perpetuate unfair power structures, regardless of their best intentions. Though this kind of self-reflection can feel uncomfortable, by re-focusing the lens onto ourselves, we can learn to hold difficult conversations about the work we personally can do to dismantle racist structures and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in our communities.