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Jill Goodreau and Tracy Williams-Shreve

Title:  Being E-Raced: Shifting Black Student Realities Through Teacher Activism

Session presenters: Jill Goodreau & Tracy Williams-Shreve

Organization: Teachers, UGDSB & TDSB

Contact information: jillgoodreau@yahoo.com, twshreve@rogers.com

Workshop goals:

  • To explore the history of the idea of race, identify ways in which it is made real in action, and explore how to challenge the status quo.
  • To increase participant awareness of some of the realities of African Canadian students in urban schools.
  • To examine the role schools and their human participants play in maintaining these realities.
  • To encourage participants to begin reflecting on beliefs and biases they bring with them into the classroom and the impact these have on all students.
  • To generate possible responses to create positive change for racialized youth in our classrooms, schools and communities. 

Strategies used:

  • Testimonials of student, parent and teacher experiences surrounding race and schooling.
  • Examination of social construction of race in short lecture format.
  • Collage film of racism in popular media – Used to illustrate the pervasiveness of race in popular children’s media to introduce the notion that we are socialized to think (and subsequently, act) based on ideas of race.
  • Racial Autobiographies – Used to initiate reflection and dialogue on participants’ personal development of ideas surrounding race.

Two key resources that support our work:

Singleton, Glenn E., and Curtis Linton. (2006). Courageous Conversations About Race:  A Field

Guide for Achieving Equity in Schools.  California:  Corwin Press.  Amended from cover:  Explains the need for candid, courageous conversations about race so that educators may understand why performance inequities persist and learn how they can develop practices and curricula that promote true academic parity.

DeCuir, Jessica T. and Adrienne D. Dixson (2004) “Using Critical Race Theory as a Tool of

Analysis of Race and Racism in Education”, Educational Researcher, Vol. 33 No 5. Pp 26-31.

Examines the salience of race through the testimonials of racialized students with a view toward refining CRT as a theoretical and practical framework.

Issues which we continue to struggle with in our own pursuits of educational activist goals:

Issues related to the workshop:

  • Systemic lack of awareness of issues and concomitant behaviours that support the maintenance of the status quo.
  • Getting colleagues and administrators to recognize gaps in understanding and knowledge to open doors to learning; getting past emotional barriers and defences.
  • Making connections with other activists and organizations.
  • Expanding and deepening our understandings of students who live in these gaps so that we can support their layered realities.

Next steps (E.g., Supports [theoretical or practical] that may enhance our ongoing or future practice):

  • A knowledgeable and aware administrator from a school-based perspective.
  • An electronic network of educational activists to facilitate process and support implementation of exemplary practice.
  • A well-organized, comprehensive web resource.

“Big idea” that we want people to walk away with:

We are all subjects of history.  It shapes us, but it does not have the final say on the decisions that we make when we interact with others (in our minds, or face to face in our bodies).  The history of the racialization of peoples of African decent in particular (and other racialized groups more generally), have shaped the realities of students so designated.  They are realities we participate in either to perpetuate existing inequity or disrupt it.  As educators we can and should disrupt unjust realities as part of our mandate to ensure growth and development for all students.

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