Unlearning Racism: The Classroom as Community.Report as inadecuate

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A female African American educator with dreadlocks in a class of predominantly white college students begins each semester by warning students that the terms "black" and "white" will be used regularly. She also points out factors that might inhibit speaking in class, such as white students' fears that awkward phrasing of their questions or comments might classify them as racist in many minds. She also acknowledges that many black students, who may be just as new to the information gained in African American literature classes as whites, will often become angry and fear that their anger will reveal itself in their comments. The class is asked to forego all judgment. In addition, she tries to decenter her authority as much as possible and to show students that she values all of their comments. Assignments literally force the students to present their own feelings about the works. Students must interrogate the readings, especially those which serve to bring them up to date on the conversation surrounding the works of literature as well as the historical background and context. Lively debate is also encouraged. One of the most gratifying things about teaching at Lake Forest College is the autonomy and support the educator is granted in designing her own classes. Out of this freedom came her course on Blues Women in African American Literature. In this course students examine racism directed toward southern blacks, confront issues of sexism, and critique prescribed notions of womanhood. (NKA)

Descriptors: Black Literature, Classroom Communication, Classroom Techniques, Discourse Communities, Higher Education, Racial Attitudes, Reflective Teaching, Student Reaction, Teacher Student Relationship

Author: Dozier, Judy Massey

Source: https://eric.ed.gov/?q=a&ft=on&ff1=dtySince_1992&pg=9814&id=ED449513

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