Monthly Mentor

Jaimee Taborda (February)
Each month, a different member and NAEA awardee is the guest writer for the NAEA Monthly Mentor Blog. Jaimee serves as a Department Head, Mentor Coordinator, Adjunct Professor, and Secretary for the Massachusetts Arts Education Association. Click "GO" to read her full bio.

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February 07, 2020

Unpacking Whiteness

By Jaimee Taborda

Over the past few years, I have begun the work of unpacking my Whiteness. This work is not easy and is never-ending, but it is necessary.  Steeped in White supremacy, the prevalent narrative in our society would have us believe that Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) are “lazy, unintelligent, violent and [have] unhealthy habits” as found in this 2018 study. The truth of the matter is that with 80% of the teaching force being White, White teachers are making decisions every day about their students from their deficit mindsets-- groomed by racist systems-- which lead to inequitable treatment for BIPOC. As a White, cis-hetero woman, I am part of the dominant culture and have to intentionally work to see areas where I perpetuate racism. To be an effective educator for ALL students, I must work to disrupt these systems-- and the work has to start with me.

As we enter Black History Month, I have been reflecting on my role as a White educator and what actions I need to take to disrupt the systems that oppress and target certain students based on the color of their skin. Some steps I need to take: listen to BIPOC, decenter myself in discussions about racism, and amplify the voices of BIPOC, as well as continue the work of dismantling the racism that resides within me. This article from Teaching Tolerance, You and White Supremacy: A Challenge to Educators, shares the work of Layla F. Saad, who in 2018 led a #MeAndWhiteSupremacy challenge on Instagram to invite White people to do the work of acknowledging their privilege and biases. She challenged, “White folks: [It’s] time for some radical truth-telling about you and your complicity in White supremacy. Not those White people ‘out there.’ Not White people as a collective. But you. Just you.”  This “personal anti-racism tool” has been expanded and published as a workbook, Me and White Supremacy. White educators, will you join me in Saad’s challenge to “explore and unpack your relationship to White supremacy”? 

Me and white supremacy

Additional resources:

These people/hashtags have taught me so much. Follow them on Twitter, then listen: Lizzie Fortin, Valeria Brown, #ClearTheAir, #DisruptTexts, Tricia Ebarvia, Kelly Wickham Hurst, shea martin, Julia E. Torres, Lorena German, Christie Nold, Ursula Wolfe-Rocca, Alex Shevrin Venet, Rebecca Nagle, and so many more...

Podcasts: SceneOnRadio Seeing White series, This is My Land, Teaching Hard History

Any books recommended by Clear the Air such as: Where Do We Go From Here by Martin Luther King Jr., A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History by Jeanne Theoharis, Troublemakers by Carla Shalaby

More books: So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo, White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

Also, anything in this book stack is highly recommended:

Book stack

-JT

Comments

Jen Holsinger-Raybourn

Thank you so much for sharing your personal experience and some new resources

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