Emily just put up a post on racism in Chile; it was serendipitous as I just received an email from Chile about racism and how to confront it. Here is the email:
Hi Clare my name is Valeria. I am a third year English Pedagogy student at Universidad Catolica del Maule Talca, Chile.
We have to do a little research, a Problem Based- Learning Project, about racism behavior and language in senior year High School. The problem is that some students have exhibited racist behavior towards a couple of student from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. So we have to come up with some solutions to this problem. If you have any suggestions they’ll be welcome.
I have written about racism and classism in Chile before. See:
- Class consciousness
- Contraceptive rights (but only for the rich)
- Protest in support of the morning after pill and Chilean women’s reproductive rights
- The ugly face of racism, or as we say here in Chile, classism
I get a fair number of hits on my blog with people looking for information on racism and Chile. Like Emily, I have gotten some very thoughtful and insightful comments both from Chilean readers and from expats.
But, I am not quite sure how to answer Valeria’s question. How do we fix racism? How do we teach students?
The thing is, while at George Warren Brown Graduate School of Social Work, I spent a lot of time thinking about this and reading. I spent a lot of time during courses looking at my own privilege as a white woman, as part of the middle class, as American, as able-bodied. It has always been easy to see areas where I am discriminated. It is easy to cite sexism and homophobia. It was harder for me to see my privilege.
I honestly believe that racism needs to be addressed in Chilean classrooms (just as I strongly believe it needs to be addressed in US classrooms). I am trilled that a student asked, but it is hard because it can’t be taught in a single lesson. If Valeria really wants students to stop calling other students by racial names, she needs to understand that she is looking for behavioral chance and she is looking to get kids to see the world through a different prism. This learning needs to be coupled with an conducive environment— she as a teacher can’t let things slide because it is easy or because she doesn’t want to deal with backlash.
Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice outlines some key goals for curriculum design around racism:
- Identify and discuss racial and ethnic heritages.
- Understand our socialization into a racist culture.
- Learn definitions and guiding assumptions about race and racism.
- Increase awareness and understanding of individual, institutional and societal/ cultural manifestations of racism.
- Understand conscious and unconscious racism.
- Explore the concepts of white priviledge, collusion, internalized racism, and empowerment.
- Understand the experiences of people from different racial heritages.
- Explore the costs and benefits of working to end racism.
- Identify ways to taking action against racism in the personal, institutional, and community lives of participants.