Education Is Too Widely Informed By The Mainstream White Voice

Warm demanding pedagogy and culturally relevant pedagogy also focus on the expressions of teacher care and respect of students, their home communities, and overall well-being.

I read this quote and this question arises in my mind:  How can a Trump supporter teach Black and Brown children and be a “warm demander” of those children?

It’s oxymoronic. Intellectually irreconcilible, even. Eighty percent of the teaching workforce is comprised of White woman. I talk a lot about White women. That makes some of you uncomfortable. Good. Welcome to my world of often being misunderstood and uncomfortable simply because of the reaction of others to the color of the skin I’m in. If you teach Black and Brown children, that feeling of being uncomfortable and misunderstood is many of their realities too.

How in touch ARE you with your students and their realities? How much do your political ideologies factor into your beliefs about the abilities and aptitude of the children you teach? For instance, are teachers of Mexican students Trump supporters who favor the building of his wall?

These are genuine questions running through my mind as I learn more about the qualities of teachers identified as warm demanders. (See my last post.) What really got these questions resonating in my mind was a photo from the recent Women’s March posted by one of my fellow teacher-leader sisters, Rosalie Arndt.

Rosalie is a White woman who has exclusively taught Black and Brown immigrant children in Denver and NYC for the entirety of her teaching career. She was questioned by another white woman as to why she would post such a divisive photo when the Women’s march/movement is about unity: “Rosalie Arndt, this is ‘furthering’ the divide during a movement that provides education on a diverse range of issues. A movement that is to work together against all inequalities… work as one in fighting the machine that is.. this is No Bueno!”

Rosalie’s response made me jump out of my seat:

Rosalie: There is a divide. It’s real, it’s glaring, and white women need to wake up and show up even when it’s not explicitly all for and about them…To varying degrees the women’s marches have felt informed by white feminism. I think we’re in agreement that the issue this photo draws attention to is that white women are still voting with their whiteness and not their womanhood, and need to do better.

I know her so I wasn’t shocked at her staunch stance; however, I must say it was reaffirming to hear a white woman in all of her white privilege speak boldly and honestly about the division and inequity along color lines when it comes to societal issues. What she expressed about the Women’s March is what I see in the field of education. Same division. Same inequity. Same culprits. Education has been too widely informed by the dominant, mainstream White voice in spaces where the students being educated are Black and Brown.

As humans, we all have implicit biases. As teachers we have influence. How do we ensure that our biases don’t harm our students’ psyches and educational opportunities?

What do you think?

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