The Importance of Anti-racism in Education

9/20/20

By: Hina Haider

A classroom, like our nation, is not monolithic nor homogeneous. The myriad of identities, backgrounds, and experiences acts as the foundation for our diversity. It is important for our schools and education to represent our history and our identity in a way that illustrates our communities void of the whitewashed narrative. The understanding and acceptance of our differences is what separates us from the past: the ability to recognize that difference is not justification for inequality. To recognize the progress our country has made towards racial equality does not mean ignoring our problematic past. We must recognize that a colorblind approach to education denies the presence of racism in our society without acknowledging how racism is woven through every facet of our history. 


Before diving into the importance of anti-racism in education, it’s important to note the presence of ethnocentrism in American history. In the 1900s, William Graham Sumner coined the term “ethnocentrism” to describe the perception of a particular culture to be the “norm.” This can be seen when Christopher Columbus is taught to have discovered America, ignoring the natives that inhabited the land before. Ethnocentrism and racism are why history is taught in the gaze of white while minorities remain invisible. 


The problem with an ethnocentric education that focuses solely on the white perspective is that teaching a multicultural perspective is seen as an afterthought. 


“Racism means that "Black History Month" will offer exceptional attention to African American achievements but ignore the centrality of the African American experience to "regular" American.”


In a racialized society, where economic and social barriers to minorities are still present, there must be an anti-racist education to eradicate the presence of racism. Teachers must be committed to the type of world they want to live in and take an active role in changing the dialogue. Empower voices of minorities who are overlooked or minimized in textbooks.