We are in unprecedented times. In the middle of global pandemic and protest are erupting worldwide around racial violence and discrimination. This is the time for us as teachers to step up. Aiming to drop our egos and make a difference, I have often said: “teachers you are the future of the future”, and I mean it you have the world in your hands.
Are you confident in teaching and nurturing our pupils towards a more equitable world? It’s okay if you’re not, sign up to the commitment here and I’ll be sending out resources in the coming weeks to help you on your journey. Are you scared of getting it wrong? This fear is also okay. Is this fear stopping you from engaging in these conversations? Not acting shouldn’t be an option.Institutionalised racism is 123741724 times worse than being called a racist.
To every one too scared to speak out because they think they’ll say the wrong thing and maybe be called a racist.— Pran Patel (@MrPranPatel) June 2, 2020
Believe me being called a racist is so much easier than facing institutionalised racism.
One impacts on you – the other a generation.
Yes, you may get it wrong. Yes, you may even be told that you are promoting upholding white supremacy or supporting a white supremacist agenda. Yes, that may hurt, and you may be fearful of that pain, think through, what are your alternatives? Do you want to leave society as it is? I don’t want to leave a legacy of a world where your life chances and experience determined by the melanin in your skin cells, your gender, or anything else. I’ll take the risk if it means that I have done my part in the journey.
When engaging in anti-oppression work, I have felt vulnerable I have quite rightly been schooled in public and to my face, was this a pleasant experience? Of course not, were they right? Were they right to correct me? 100%. If you are genuinely committed to a fairer society, we have to think big and forget about our egos.
How did I feel? How have I exhibited fragility?
I was trying to help, and I’m now being attacked.
So, my intentions may have come from a place of great place, but if I am doing harm then I should listen and act accordingly.
I’m a ‘good’ person
Using the good-bad binary is pointless; your actions define who we are, you can be a saint and still act problematically. This cause is not about me.
You can’t say that to me. I will not have it.
I’m off; I’m not here to be subjected to this.
Anger, this is a typical response when people feel uncomfortable it easier to get angry and even attack the source of the challenge than to reflect. The flight response and tears are also prevalent as they provide personal respite from the uncomfortableness. However, this leaves the world the way it is, unfair and unyielding.
How to respond to challenge.
- Listen- I mean actually listen.
- Reflect- This means putting aside all my feelings and thinking about the systems.
- Apologise- Sincerely and mean it.
- Gratitude- This is a person who took the time and labour to make you a better person; it may not feel like that, but would you want to continue doing damage.
- MOVE ON- This is the most significant step; if you are committed to change, feelings of guilt are a waste of time and energy. Remember there is work to do indulging in self-pity isn’t helping anyone.
The only thing I can urge every educator and every person to do is act. Get it wrong but act. Yes, you may get called out, but what is the alternative? We continue in a world that systemically kill those of us of colour? In which domestic violence is prevalent? That’s not me, and it’s not a world I want to leave to the next generation, and I welcome challenge, come at me as hard as you want, make me better, our children deserve it.