Sunday, September 21, 2014

An Urban Teacher's Education: I'm a Racist, and You Are Too. Accept It.

An Urban Teacher's Education: I'm a Racist, and You Are Too. Accept It.:



I'm a Racist, and You Are Too. Accept It.

It’s the beginning of a new school year, a time when I find myself reflecting on the parts of myself that brought me into this work.






 It was the fall of 2005 when I first stepped in front of a group of diverse students. I stayed up all night planning the perfect thirty-minute lesson. I must have tweaked it, reworked it, and totally re-planned it dozens of times before I went to bed late at night.


Then, I believed excellent teaching was about perfect planning, exact timing, and lots of energy. Now, I believe it’s more about appropriate perspectives on school, society, and human behavior.

In the years since that first lesson plan, I’ve learned hundreds of times over that I have led a tremendously privileged life. And while I believed that in 2005, teaching in urban schools has allowed me to experience its veracity many, many times firsthand.

Nine years later, I’m still discovering assumptions I make about people and behavior that need reexamining. This is a fundamental part of human nature buried deep in our amygdala. A predisposition toward prejudice is part of the package.

The question is not whether you will be biased toward a group of people for this reason or that. The question is which group of people it will be and how it manifests itself in your behavior. To believe otherwise is to put yourself on a pedestal – to raise yourself above the rest of us. Our society is not post-racial because we as individuals are not, and never will be, post-racial.

Unbeknownst to people who claim not to be racist, nobody lives 100% of their life in their pre-frontal cortex. Prejudice and the tendencies toward oppression that accompany it are deep-seated and often unconscious.
This is important for people who work in institutions that serve as cornerstones of democracy (like An Urban Teacher's Education: I'm a Racist, and You Are Too. Accept It.:

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