I want to say more, but I also want to pause and listen. I want to hear the many voices… voices of those that can teach me, not anger me. Voices that can change me, not harden me. Voices that can be heard, that only a few days ago would not be listened to.
We pulled into the parking lot, looking for signs of life. But the daily life of the school had ended hours ago. It was pushing four o’clock on that warm April day in 1990, on Long Island, New York…
Don’t Be a Sucker is a short film produced by the United States Department of War released in 1943, and adapted as a slightly shorter version in 1947. It has anti-racist and anti-fascist themes, and was made to educate viewers about prejudice and discrimination. The film was also made to make the case for the desegregation of the United States armed forces. It is held for preservation by the U.S. National Archives.
Howard C. Stevenson from Penn’s Graduate School of Education indicates three steps to address these harmful discourses as they enter your classroom.
- Start with you – Process your own feelings, and address your own vulnerabilities before entering the classroom. Develop a support system with your colleagues.
Practice – Classroom reactions usually happen in a split second. Prepare yourself for these instances by role-playing with colleagues in your building, or online with your PLN.
- After an incident – Resist the urge to condemn the action or content. First try to understand the motivation if is disseminated through your classroom or building. Allow the school’s code of conduct to address instances where students actively spread this information. Strongly explain to students that these harmful discourses and the messages being spread about individuals and groups are not accepted. You will not accept the silencing of voices.
- Keep talking – After these events, the best course of action is to keep talking. Difficult discussions will often ensue, but children and adults alike need to be able to process their feelings and reactions. This is an opportunity to shut down and be silent, or engage and promote change.
Multiculturalism is not an outcome but a process. Racism may not be deliberate BUT anti-racism is always deliberate.