Education is where we, as members of the human race, can begin to eradicate future notions of racism and untrue conceptions of race. In the essay “Everyday Antiracism in Education,” Dr. Mica Pollock explains how our current ways of teaching blanket statements about race, such as that children should “be colorblind” or “celebrate diversity” can be actively harmful in certain situations, and that they are too abstract for everyday circumstances that children will encounter as they grow older. Instead, she focuses on four lesson ideas that teachers can use to help children better understand what race is and how to treat people with dignity and value rather than make shallow judgments based upon culturally created ideas about what being a member of a certain race means.
The first lesson “involves rejecting false notions of human difference.” An idea of an activity that could teach this to students would be to have an open question and answer session where you ask a question such as “How are black/white/Asian/Native American people different from other people?” and have students write their answer onto an anonymous piece of paper. The teacher would then randomly draw the answers, read them out loud, and discuss the answer with their students. The idea would be to get the students to critically think about why they answered the way they did, and open the floor up for concepts of race and how there are no significant genetic differences between these groups. In other words, to help students understand that since there is no significant biological difference, the only difference is in how we think about and treat other people.
The second lesson “involves acknowledging and engaging lived experiences along racial lines.” This lesson could involve showing a slide of when race groups were added or taken away from the US Census, and talking about why those changes happened. Students could be shown a variety of cultural props, and asked what each prop makes them think or feel. Then, after they discussed their reactions, they would be asked how they would feel if someone had that reaction about one of their cultural props (a certain haircut, style of dress, or accessory such as a backpack). They could then talk about what it would be like to live as a race that is thought poorly of, or mocked or treated like less than human, such as black people before the Civil Rights Movement, or Arab-Americans or Muslim-Americans are today.
The third lesson “involves capitalizing upon, building upon and celebrating those diversities that have developed over centuries and decades.” They could be asked to bring in a picture of their favorite food, and asked how it makes them feel to have people tell them that they like the food versus hating the food. Then the class could discuss what it means to enjoy things as a group, and how exploring and sharing in diversity can lead to rich experiences. The teacher could then play clips that highlights the different ways food is prepared in different cultures, and then ask the students to come up with other differences in cultures that they find interesting or enjoyable.
The fourth lesson “involves equipping self and others to challenge racial inequality.” Students could be reminded of the first lesson where they realized that all humans are fundamentally the same in biological makeup. The final lesson could involve a final group project where each group is assigned a race. They would then come up with a list of five or so racial stereotypes, and have examples of people who break this stereotype (either famous people or people they know), as well as at least one person who is seen by the global community as being an exceptional individual (such as a Nobel winner).