The horrific death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May 2020 has had a far reaching impact across the world. At the time of a life changing global pandemic, this death of an unarmed black man while in police custody has triggered justified outrage, anger and fear, and a determination to bring about change. Across the world, communities are facing up to discrimination. This is not only a monumental inflection point in American history, it has also energised a global movement; George Floyd’s death is a catalyst in Civil Rights history.
As teachers of young people, as well as community members, how do we all respond to this moment? Through what we do best – education. We educate ourselves and we educate others.
Former secondary assistant headteacher, and creator of the UK’s first antiracist schools website, Pran Patel, sees that when it comes to developing antiracist school and community environments, teachers have a central role to play. He explained, “Our curriculum leaves people of colour feeling inferior. Even worse, through no fault of their own, it leaves white pupils feeling superior. As teachers we have also gone through a system which has impacted the way we look at the world. Let’s strive together not to propagate the same inequitable structures for the pupils we teach.”
There is a wealth of reliable material to assist teachers in further developing understanding of structural racism, and in helping young people to understand racism too. The suggestions below are offered to support lecturers and other college staff, parents and young people:
- Sage Publishing has created lists of useful resources for researchers and educators. Here you can find a “range of resources based on social and behavioral science for researchers, instructors, students, policymakers—as well as the general public— to help you educate, inform, research and learn.”
- Research-based resources suggested by Sage to help you teach, talk, and learn about structural racism can be accessed here.
- Raising Little Allies-To-Be by Lucy Song, K Is For Kindness, can be downloaded here.
- As a “celebrity supply teacher” on CBBC, Martin Bashir talks about his historical hero, Dr Martin Luther King Junior: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000k6hc?fbclid=IwAR0FFGVIIjxkeKFrh1BakklFt6dzNGHw5i-rMFVnI8MhW8Z6Z8Al2D9zHwE
- This article by Aimée Felone in the Guardian suggests books that will help children to learn that racism is wrong.
- Do the work: an anti-racist reading list by Layla F Saad can be found here.
- Anti-racist accounts to follow on Twitter (this list of suggestions is just for starters and is by no means exhaustive): Reni Eddo-Lodge @renireni; Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu @SholaMos1; Layla F Saad @laylafsaad; Munroe Bergdorf @MunroeBergdorf; Martin Luther King III @OfficialMLK3; Afua Hirsch @afuahirsch; Rachel Elizabeth Cargle @rachel.cargle; Amanda Seales @amandaseales; David Olusoga @DavidOlusoga; Akala @akalamusic; The Anti-Racist Educator @AntiRacistEd; Ijeoma Oluo @ijeomaoluo; Aja Barber @ajabarber; Emma Dabiri @EmmaDabiri; @BAMEedNetwork.
- Pran Patel can be contacted via: https://theteacherist.com/ @MrPranPatel decolonisethecurriculum.com
As Eli Wiesel said, “neutrality helps the oppressor”. Neutrality is a political act in itself. Using an antiracist lens for all our work will help to raise awareness, and to move towards a fairer, safer, more compassionate community.
About the author
After graduating with a degree in Politics and International Relations from the University of Reading, Elizabeth Holmes completed her PGCE at the Institute of Education, University of London. She then taught humanities and social sciences in schools in London, Oxfordshire and West Sussex, where she ran the history department in a challenging comprehensive. Elizabeth specialises in education but also writes on many other issues and themes. As well as her regular blogs for eTeach and FEjobs, her books have been published by a variety of publishers and translated around the world.