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Anti-Racism Teach-Ins: Critical Reflection for Change

Special to The Truth


A central theme of the Anti-Racism Teach-Ins and of all work on antiracism is critical reflection: all of us need to reflect on the institutions in which we are involved, how they have been fueled and structured by ideologies of race and white supremacy, and how that affects the people they/we serve. 


This does not have to be threatening to anyone; however, it does need to be personal.  This past week’s teach-ins focused on tools and strategies to recognize and respond to structural racism and antiracists.  Anyone, Black or White, can be part of the antiracist team: antiracism is not about being against any particular individuals; rather, it is for change to support all individuals.  As Toledo’s St. Martin de Porres church sign has proclaimed for many weeks now, “When Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter.”  We need policies and practices that ensure this, and the past week’s antiracism teach-ins included good examples for achieving it.  Here are summaries of the teach-ins as written by the presenters.

Hope Bland, PhD



A Critical Look at Systemic Racism in Education: The Need for a Racial Equity Policy

By Hope Bland, Ph.D.

The University of Toledo


Without a critical and reflective inquiry into how we conceptualize systemic racism and the way in which we move through this space, we may never reach effective strategies to overcome racist ideologies permeated within and throughout our society. To understand how systemic racism undermines our democracy, we must first examine and scrutinize the historical racial context of our institutions starting at its origin when the United States Constitution classified Black people as the property of White people. 


Joe Feagin, a well-known sociologist, best describes systemic racism as “rooted in racist foundation, is composed of intersecting overlapping, and codependent racist institutions, policies, practices, ideas, and behaviors that give an unjust amount of resources, rights, and power to white people while denying them to people of color.”


This teach-in explored core principles in education rooted in racism that began at the inception of slavery and passed through the Civil War, Jim Crow, and Civil Rights eras. African and African American children were legally denied education at the time they arrived from being transported across the Atlantic in chains. Dating to the 1800s, Native American, Chinese and Chinese American, Latinx American students were also denied education or subjected to poor quality education while learning in deplorable conditions, compared to their white counterparts. Native American children were not permitted to speak their native language while they experienced forced assimilation into the European cultural.  This brief overview describes the United States education system as founded in racist ideology.


According to Ibram K, Kendi, author of How to be an Antiracist, many racist principles are transformed into racist policies that continue to exist in our educational institutions today.   According to Kendi, systemic and penetrating acts of racism are not figments of our imaginations. Therefore, once we accept the definition of systemic racism, then we must conceptualize that systemic racism is intrinsic and infused into the fabric of our society and daily existence.


The premise of this antiracism teach-in was to examine from a critical lens systemic racism in education; its implications, and the need to explore racial equity policies that place a racial ideological framework as the focus.  Systemic racism in education is not explicit or in conscious view but rather hidden in policies and practices. A racial equity policy positions “race” as the focal point and prioritizes the elimination of racial disparity and disproportionality in all aspects of our educational system.


In order to address systemic racism and its implications on students of color, student disparities and disproportionalities should be critically examined with a racial equity lens.  Educational institutions must also commit to strategic goals designed to dismantle racism at the root level.  According to Kendi, policy reform is an excellent starting point. 


Although in the teach-in I did not place much emphasis on personal accountability, antiracism work does not exclude any persons from responsibility.  Kendi graciously summarized his own afflicted reality, writing, “It is hard for me to believe I finished high school in the year 2000 touting so many racist ideas. A racist culture had handed me the ammunition to shoot Black people, to shoot myself, and I took and used it.  Internalized racism is the real Black on Black crime.” 


Several school districts around the nation have begun to make policy that prioritizes antiracism. As outlined from my teach-in, I provided an example of a few goals as identified by the Seattle area’s Shoreline School District, which has adopted a racial equity policy and plan as part of their district’s strategic plan:


A.    Reducing the suspension rates of students of color by 10 percent

B.    Decreasing the achievement gap in proficiency rates between African American and white students by 3 percent;

C.    Increasing the number of minority teachers by 2 percent;

D.    Increasing students of color enrolled in higher level courses by 3 percent, and those participating in career pathways and graduating transition ready by 5 percent; and

E.    Providing funding of at least $2 million on initiatives focused on students of color.

F.    Equity in Systems and Operations • Identify barriers and transform practices, including assessment, which lead to the under-representation in programs such as, but not limited to Highly Capable, Honors, accelerated, and Advanced Placement courses • Recognizing and empowering under-represented families of color as essential partners so that all students are successful • Commit to equitable budgetary alignment

G.    Workforce Equity • Formally and informally recognizing the value of a diverse workforce • Make appropriate efforts within existing legal frameworks to Recruit, hire, support and retain racially and linguistically diverse staff

H.    Opportunity Gap: Acknowledges that there are still structural issues with institutionalized racism, disparate educational opportunities, and different treatment experienced by students of color. More specifically, opportunity gap refers to inputs— the unequal or inequitable distribution of resources and opportunities. (Shoreline School District, n.d.)


Addressing systemic racism in education through policy and transformative social reform is revolutionary in its approach. Moreover, educational reform through a racial equity lens could be the baseline from where to begin.  I leave you with Kendi’s observation, “Really, when you look at racist ideas historically we see teachers, we see principals whose schools and classrooms have these notorious disciplinary gaps and instead of saying, ‘You know what? It’s something that I’m doing.’ They say, ‘There’s something wrong with these Black boys.’’ We all as individuals need to look critically at what our schools have been doing and how these policies and practices affect our students negatively, and then we need to create policies and enforce practices that support our students’ learning positively.




Feagin, J. (2019).  "Racist America: Roots, Current Realities, and Future Reparations.”


Kendi, I. (2019). How to be an Antiracist. New York: One World Press.


Shoreline School District (n.d.). Race and Equity Policy. Seattle, WA: Shoreline School District. Retrieved from https://www.shorelineschools.org/cms/lib/WA02217114/Centricity/Domain/1090/5b-Race%20and%20Equity%20PolicyREV.pdf


Antiracist Pedagogy as Praxis: Developing Personal Commitments to Racially Inclusive Classrooms


By Quatez Scott

The University of Toledo


The purpose of this teach-in was to transform the theoretical components of antiracism into practical steps for critically conscious antiracist educators. Grounded in Paulo Freire’s theory of critical consciousness, critically conscious antiracism was defined along with the importance of challenging racism through (1) critical reflection, (2) unveiling the world of racism, and (3) introducing effective versus ineffective forms of action.

Quatez Scott


Freire developed the pedagogy of critical consciousness to help Brazilian peasants (or the oppressed) learn to “read the word” and “read the world.” Educationally, this meant emphasizing the development of literacy, the capacity to reflect on the inequities of social conditions that perpetuate oppression, and submit a challenge to the oppressed to take action against these systems. Of particular note, Freire acknowledges that humans are human beings in the world and of the world. As such, because racism exists in the world, it exists in all humans. This perspective acknowledges that all humans are oppressed by racism and therefore have a moral duty to take action in dismantling racism.


In this session, we identified important practices such as: seeking to understand racism as a complex rather than concrete issue, being challenged to rethink the way(s) we reflect on racism, aligning our practices with the principles and values of antiracism, inspiring others to take action through our own efforts, and not being afraid to experiment with our efforts as long as they are well informed. Each of these serves as a manner of creating humanizing experiences which is one of the central components of critical consciousness. This session also discussed avoiding efforts such as: symbolic antiracist gestures devoid of antiracist work, charity efforts that do for groups rather than work with groups, preserving aspects of education that continue to exploit students of color, and believing that racism ends with policy changes.


In Eddie Glaude, Jr’s., Democracy in Black, he stated that “we enter a world not of our own making.” However, it is important to acknowledge that the world we leave is largely of our own doing. Therefore, the actions we take in transforming classroom and other social spaces are critically important to antiracist efforts that realize the fullness of each person’s humanity.




Friere, P. (2000). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum.


Glaude, E. (2016). Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul. New York: Broadway Books.


Kendi, I. (2019). How to be an Antiracist. New York: One World Press.


The Anti-Racism Teach-Ins have been hosted by the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library and supported by The Sojourner’s Truth.  The teach-ins are open to the public with a special invitation to teachers, administrators and parents who want a safe space to work together to learn about, challenge and change white supremacy in schools.  Though the presenters have all been faculty, adjunct faculty, and graduate students in the UToledo Judith Herb College of Eduction, the university is not an official sponsor of the series. On Facebook, follow Anti-Racism Teach-Ins at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100053978557767 for news of plans to continue the sessions into the fall. Please leave a message there if you have ideas for a teach-in topic or would like to participate in some other way.


Anti-Racism Teach-Ins: Confronting Racism in Our Curricula
             Crap! My Curriculum is Racist! What Do I Do?
             Teaching about White People’s Violence against Black People


  1. By Lynne Hamer, Anti-Racism Teach-Ins: Safe Spaces to Tackle White Supremacy (part 1 of series). Retrieve from https://www.thetruthtoledo.com/pdf/2020/072920pdf.pdf or 
  2. By Lynne Hamer, Anti-Racism Teach-Ins: Policy and Practice for Anti-Racism (part 2 of a series). Retrieve from https://www.thetruthtoledo.com/pdf/2020/080520pdf.pdf or 
  3. By Shingi Mavima and Dale Snauwaert (part 3 of series), Anti-Racism Teach-Ins ContinueRetrieve from https://www.thetruthtoledo.com/pdf/2020/081220pdf.pdf or 
    http://www.thetruthtoledo.com/story/2020/081220/afrocentricity.htm and 
  4. By Aaron Baker and Chelsea Griffis (part 4 of series), Anti-Racism Teach-Ins Popular. Retrieve from https://www.thetruthtoledo.com/pdf/2020/081920pdf.pdf or 





Copyright © 2019 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 09/03/20 13:58:16 -0400.

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