Digital Learning & Design

Teaching Race in 2020

Structuring academic discussions around and including race introduces unique challenges in classroom environments, whether in person or online. While it is impossible to anticipate all of the stressors and challenges of this upcoming academic year, education towards social justice includes teaching the topics of race and racism. The pervasiveness of structural racism is found and can be addressed among and between academic fields. With compassion and openness in mind, here is a noncomprehensive list of advice from educators in the United States.

  • Find your own means of protest. Aundrey Jones, in a guest blogpost on Karen Kelsky’s The Professor Is In, stresses the importance of continuously educating in one’s environment. Classroom discourse on race does not begin and end according to the structure of a syllabus. It is a necessarily ongoing process. 
  • Seek collective effort, especially online. Here’s a good place to start: the National Museum of African American History has an online portal called Talking About Race. Chicago Public Schools has also released an online toolkit called Say Their Names for educators looking to talk about more recent events.  
  • There is no such thing as anti-racist boot camp. WBUR’s interview with educators and activists from June explores the long-term effects of race education, especially among children.
  • Consult a variety of resources to find synthetic strategies that work for you. Some of these resources have been developed by established institutions like Yale and the New York Times; other resources and testimonials can be found on social media by following hashtags like #EduColor and #AntiRacistEd. Brown’s own Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning has produced an anti-racist teaching guide

Community-based efforts have produced an upswell of anti-racist organizing outside of academic environments. There are numerous examples of non-institutional initiatives to combat racism in people’s everyday lives, not only in the academy. Some of them follow: