HOME Media Kit Advertising Contact Us About Us


Web The Truth

Community Calendar

Dear Ryan


Online Issues

Send a Letter to the Editor



Anti-Racism Teach-Ins: Safe Spaces to Tackle White Supremacy  

By Lynne Hamer, Ph.D.,
Special to The Truth  

A series of teach-ins open to the community hosted via Zoom and especially intended for teachers will explore white supremacy. Rooted in the 1950s and ‘60s civil rights and Vietnam war protests, a teach-in is simply an activity intended to share knowledge and generate energy toward confronting an important political issue.  

That political issue is white supremacy.  As the event flyer notes, “Formal education represents and reproduces the white supremacy that is inherent to the material taught, the discipline dispensed, and the teaching and administrative faculty hired and fired.” Yet, the organizers find, formal educational institutions—that is, P-12 schools, colleges and universities—find it risky even to voice the words “white supremacy.”   

Shingi Mavima, PhD

That is why this series is not sponsored by a school or university, but is instead led by individuals who teach and study at the University of Toledo. Following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, faculty and students came together in weekly Zoom meetings and crafted a plan with a purpose: “The purpose of this ongoing series of teach-ins is to collaborate with teachers in P-12, higher education and community settings to name, describe, and undo the white supremacy that structurally constitutes and culturally informs the organizations in which we work.”  

The series is not limited to UToledo leadership. The group hopes that the teach-ins will gather momentum and be ongoing. Teach-ins typically recognize a wide variety of types of expertise and sources of knowledge—street knowledge, life knowledge, ancestral knowledge, and book knowledge. At each teach-in, participants will think about what further information and knowledge they would like to pursue.  

Shingi Mavima, PhD, assistant professor in the UToledo history department, kicks off the series on Monday, August 3 at 5 pm on the topic, Why Afrocentricity? The Importance of an African-Centered Approach. Mavima emphasizes that “pluriversalism is the answer—not white supremacy nor black supremacy, which seems to be the fear.  Marginalized kids need to see themselves in positive positions of power, but mainstream white kids also need to see marginalized kids in positions of power.”   

As Mavima indicates, talking about white supremacy and figuring out how it affects teaching in our schools and universities does not have to feel dangerous. As stated on the teach-in flyer, “We need to work through the problem of white supremacy at all levels of education and these teach-ins are safe spaces to do that—offering tools to use, knowledge we haven’t had, and the opportunity to practice discussion in a skillfully facilitated space.”  

Dale Snauweart, PhD, professor and co-coordinator of peace studies at UToledo, will present the second teach-in on Wednesday, August 5 at 5 pm. With the title Pedagogy of Reflective Inquiry: Racist Policy and Anti-Racist Teaching, Snauweart describes, “The purpose of this session is to engage participants in a pedagogy of ethical, critical, and contemplative reflective inquiry concerning the nature of Racial Inequity, Racist Policy, and Racism.” Snauwaert will draw on the work of Ibram X. Kendi, whose book How to be an Anti-Racist has become very popular in the past few months and whose ideas provide a framework for the teach-in series.  Snauwaert’s session will offer participants an opportunity to engage in a form of Anti-Racist teaching.  

The series continues with a range of topics, all addressing white supremacy from different angles. Political science professor Renee Heberle, PhD, emphasizes, “We must not be naïve about how white supremacy produces and reproduces itself through channels of economic, social and political power. Understanding how it works through the institutions and practices of teaching is one critical piece of coming to terms with how to end it.” Heberle will address Teaching About White Violence in Black Communities in a teach-in session. She explains, “While discourse and language don’t themselves change the world, shifting how we remember and describe white violence, the topic of my workshop, can help expose the ways white supremacy hides and reproduces itself in discourse and language.”  


Chelsea Griffis, PhD, assistant professor in the UToledo history department, will address Exposing and Challenging White Privilege as her teach-in.  Griffis plans to provide "actionable tools to begin or facilitate classroom discussions, while recognizing the myriad other identities also embodied by communities and people of color."  Griffis’ commitment to a practical approach to challenging topics is shared among the presenters of the ten sessions.  

UToledo art education professor Jason Cox, PhD, an organizer of the series, quotes artist-teacher Alyssa Liles-Amponsah as saying, "Acknowledgement is the first step to change." Cox feels that “for education to meet its promise, it requires critical reflection on and confrontation of the part we educators have played in perpetuating systems that fail to provide the equity we claim to believe in. Once our flaws have been seen and acknowledged, we can begin to act and become the institutions our students need instead of the ones they have been given."  

Appropriately, Cox’s session later in the month will be entitled, Crap, my curriculum is racist? What do I do?  He will share strategies for identifying how inherited racist practices infiltrate curriculum even when a teacher, like himself, does not want to be racist.  Cox says, “Don’t panic when you find everything you’re doing is racist”; instead, just start taking little steps to make everything anti-racist.  

The 10 faculty and students who have banded together to organize the Anti-Racism Teach-Ins as a safe space in which all participants—including themselves—can begin or continue to take small but substantial steps.  White supremacy won’t be cracked in ten sessions, and none of the presenters imagine that they know all the answers.  The organizers hope that other presenters and topics will emerge as the teach-ins progress and the work will be ongoing.  

The author is one of the organizers Anti-Racism Teach-Ins. She is professor of educational theory and social foundations and will be contributing Knowing the Past Makes Sense of the Present: White Violence and School Segregation in Toledo later in the series. The teach-ins are open to the public with a special invitation to teachers who want a safe space to work together to learn about, challenge and change white supremacy in schools.   

Join in Zoom meetings, 5-6 pm Mondays and Wednesdays, August 3 until Labor Day, at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87347454267, meeting ID: 873 4745 4267. On Facebook, follow Anti-Racism Teach-Ins at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100053978557767 for the schedule and links to materials shared in teach-ins. When the coronavirus is under control and limitations on gatherings are lifted, sessions will take place at the Mott Branch Library and continue to be accessible via Zoom. The Anti-Racism Teach-Ins are supported by The Sojourner’s Truth, which will make resources from the sessions available on its website.    




Copyright © 2019 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 07/30/20 11:08:05 -0400.

More Articles....

Covered and Crowned: The 6th Annual Naturalista Photo Shoot

“Black Lives Matter” Billboard Raised at Corner of Detroit and Bancroft

The Case for Police and Criminal Justice Reform

How to Set up a Successful Bribery Scheme

Statement from the Ohio Democratic Party on Householder Charges

Fair Housing Rules Upended by Trump Administration

Changing for the Better: Meet Dennis Byndom


Back to Home Page