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Toward an Anti-Racist Pedagogy: Resources for Educators

This teaching and learning page provides strategies and resources that encourage us to reflect on and have conversations about what it means for a university curriculum to be anti-racist and to guide us in taking a closer look at ways we at Rockford University can build an anti-racist community. The five steps outlined are intended to offer opportunities for you to enter into anti-racist work where you see yourself on this journey and to emphasize that this process is just that–a continuing process in personal and community growth.  

This teaching and learning page has been developed by staff at the Jane Addams Center for Civic Engagement after a survey of best practices at other colleges and universities, and in consultation with faculty and staff on our campus. Work on this resource page is an important part of the Center’s commitment to Racial Justice and to the enduring legacy of Jane Addams at Rockford University. Because we at JACCE are not experts in the field of anti-racism work, we encourage you to contact us at jacce@rockford.edu if you have suggestions and comments for us or if you know of additional strategies and resources that can be added to this page. 

1. Starting Your Journey

Confront racism head-on. Understanding systemic racism and the ways systemic racism negatively impacts persons of color is an important first step. As a classroom instructor, it is critical for you to learn about the challenges faced by students of color not only through your own reading and studies but also through your observations of student learning and interactions in your classroom. Educate yourself about systemic racism and its roots in American culture, microaggressions, intersectionality, and the harmful effects of colorblindness. Keep in mind that this is an initial step, but should be part of a continuing process of self-education.

Suggested Resources to Explore:

Act.tv. (2019). Systemic Racism Explained (A Crash-Course type short video that explains systemic racism.)

Jon Greenberg. (2015). “7 Reasons Why ‘Colorblindness’ Contributes to Racism Instead of Solves It.” (An article from the Everyday Feminism website that gives a high school teacher’s perspective on the harmful effects of colorblindness.)

Darnell Moore. (2016). “Here is the Problem with ‘All Lives Matter’” (A short video explaining why “All Lives Matter” is the wrong response to “Black Lives Matter.”)

National Humanities Center Education Programs. (2017). The History of White Supremacy: A Professional Development Webinar (Designed for teachers. An excellent resource for anyone interested in learning about the history of white supremacy.) 

Netflix. (2016). 13th. (Documentary by Ava DuVerney on the systematic injustice of the prison system.)

NPR. (2010). “‘Whistling Vivaldi’ and Beating Stereotypes.” (An interview with Claude Steele, author of Whistling Vivaldi: And Other Clues to How Stereotypes Affect Us, a book on social identity and the negative perceptions that come along with stereotypes.)

Monnica T. Williams. (2011). Colorblind Ideology Is a Form of Racism (An article from Psychology Today that explains the problems with colorblindness and the importance of valuing difference.) 

2. Reflecting on Your Own Racial Identity, Experiences, and Biases

What biases might you carry that you are unaware of? Understanding them is an important step in expanding your perspective. Consider taking the Harvard IAT to examine both your conscious and unconscious biases. Spend some time looking inward and examining how your own attitudes about race have been shaped by your own identity and experiences. Recognize that before you ask students to reflect on racial identity and biases, you must first interrogate and process your own. This experience may be challenging, but is necessary work.

Suggested Resources to Explore:

Adichie, C.N. (2009). The Danger of a Single Story. (A TedTalk on the importance of recognizing the multiplicity of life stories that make us who we are and the cultural misunderstandings that can happen if we limit views of others to just a single story.) 

Robin DiAngelo. (2018). White Fragility. Beacon. (Best-selling book on why white people find it so hard to talk about racism.) 

Kimberly Harden & Tai Harden-Moore. (2019). “Moving from Ally to Accomplice: How Far Are You Willing to Go to Disrupt Racism in the Workplace?Diverse: Issues in Higher Education (An article that explains why being an ally isn’t enough.) 

Harvard Implicit Association Test (A tool for assessing your own implicit biases. The study takes about 10 minutes, and you’ll receive your IAT result at the end of the study.)

Willie Jackson. (2019). “To Promote True Advocacy, Don’t Be an Ally: Be an Accomplice.” From Day One. (An article from a business-focused website on the importance of being an accomplice.)

Ibram X. Kendi. (2019). How to Be an Anti-Racist (Short video with best-selling author Ibram X Kendi defining what it means to be Anti-Racist and discussing the importance of working to be Anti-Racist.)

Ibram X. Kendi. (2019).  How to be an Anti-Racist. Penguin. (Best-selling book that proposes ways to bring about change on both personal and systemic levels.)

Peggy McIntosh. (1989). White Privilege: Unpacking Your Invisible Knapsack (A groundbreaking article in the discussion of white privilege.) 

Refinery 29. Why Are White People So Bad at Talking About Race? (An interview with Robin DiAngelo, the author of White Fragility.)

3. Critically Examining Your Course Curriculum

This next step asks you to turn to your own course materials and content. Educate yourself about what an Anti-Racist curriculum is and look at Anti-Racist curriculum models. Educate yourself on best approaches to talking about race in the classroom. Is your course design intentionally and explicitly Anti-Racist? In a course where the content is race-focused, multiple voices and perspectives should be represented and whiteness decentered. If your course is not focused on race, there is opportunity for questioning: What is valued as important knowledge in the discipline? Who made those decisions? What voices are left out? 

Suggested Resources to Explore:

Antiracist Pedagogy Reading List (A resource list intended for college professors.)

Braun, Gina and Kristin Ravel. “Toward an Anti-Racist Curriculum.” (Powerpoint presented as part of RU’s Courageous Conversations series. The slides provide an overview of strategies for designing an anti-racist curriculum.)

Brown University Center for Teaching and Learning. Effective Teaching in Anti-Racist Teaching. (A webpage from Brown University that offers a process for working toward anti-racist teaching. Focuses on course goals, content, classroom discussions, and assessment.)

Jennifer Imazeki. Anti-Racism and Allyship in the Classroom (An extensive list that includes general and discipline-specific resources.) 

Kernahan, C. (2019). Teaching About Race and Racism in the College Classroom: Notes from a White Professor. West Virginia University Press. (A university professor’s reflections on teaching about race.)

Taylor, S.D., Veri, M.J., Eliason, M., Hermoso, J.C.R., Bolter, N.D., & Van Olphen, J.E. (2019). The Social Justice Syllabus Design Tool: A First Step in Doing Social Justice Pedagogy. Journal Committed to Social Change on Race and Ethnicity (JCSCORE), 5(2), 133-66. (An article that suggests ways to design a syllabus that “signals belongingness, growth mindset, communal goals, clear and positive expectations, and success-orientation.”)

4. Building an Inclusive Classroom

Students come into a classroom with a wide variety of perspectives and experience. No matter the content of the course, these differing outlooks vastly affect their beliefs and understanding of the subject. Keeping this in mind, it is important for your students to confront their own positionalities and biases. An Anti-Racist classroom encourages this reflection and interrogation. Fostering an Anti-Racist environment means meeting students where they are and engaging from there. This may result in challenging conversations or even resistance from certain students. Aim to work with your students on developing skills for having tough conversations. Doing so will also help them in addressing social injustices they see beyond the classroom. 

Suggested Resources to Explore:

Cora Learning. (2020, April 28). Responding to Racial Bias and Microaggressions in the Online Environment [Video]. Youtube. 

Columbia University Center for Teaching and Learning (2017). Guide for Inclusive Teaching

Harbin, M.B., Thurber, A., & Bandy, J. (2019). “Teaching Race, Racism, and Racial Justice: Pedagogical Principles and Classroom Strategies for Course Instructors. Race and Pedagogy Journal, 4(1), 1-37.  

Smith, L., Kashubeck-West, S., Payton, G., & Adams, E. (2017). White professors teaching about racism: Challenges and rewards. The Counseling Psychologist, 45(5), 651-68. 

Supiano, B. (2020).  Teaching: When students resist learning about racism. Chronicle of Higher Education. 

5. Taking Action Beyond the Classroom

It is important that your Anti-Racist work does not stop at the classroom door. Ask your students to reflect on ways we can build Anti-Racist communities and encourage them to think of ways they can take what they have learned in your classroom to other parts of their lives, both on and off campus. Consider ways that your work in the classroom can be translated into broader work on our campus. Reach out to others in departments that impact students and propose collaborations on Anti-Racist programs and discussions. Look at students holistically–not just within the limits of your classroom.

Suggested Resources to Explore:

Colorado College. Our Work Toward Becoming an Antiracist Institution. (An open letter from Colorado College’s president that outlines steps being taken by the college to work toward becoming an anti-racist institution.)

Eliminate Racism 815. (Website for a growing group of community members in Rockford that aims to end racism and validate the importance of every individual.) 

Ibram Kendi. (2020). “Making Higher Education Anti-Racist.” Harvard Gazette. (A short article about potential reforms in higher education.)

Errol Louis. (2020). ”Ibram X. Kendi: Building an Anti-Racist Society.” (An interview with Kendi on dismantling racist systems and building an anti-racist society.)

Krishni Metivier. (2020). Envisioning Higher Education as Anti-Racist.” Inside Higher Education.  (A checklist of key actions that colleges and universities should take in working toward an anti-racist campus culture.)  

University of Dayton. (2020). Explore UD’s Steps Toward Becoming an Anti-Racist University. (An Open Letter to the University of Dayton Community from Members of the President’s Council Regarding Steps Toward Becoming an Anti-Racist University.)