Now, more than ever, we must gain the tools to navigate courageous conversations, which we acknowledge can be difficult. However, it is our collective responsibility to gain the tools necessary to initiate and respond to systemic racism, and systems of oppression that deeply effects the lives of our students and our peers, as well as our campus community.
One of the first and most powerful moves you can make is to be introspective and examine the way these systems of oppression may present themselves in your classrooms, your interactions with staff and other faculty members. Acknowledging and then addressing oppression takes courage. We can view these opportunities for conversation as innate learning and deeper connection as essential to our own professional development and personal growth.
Below is a list of resources as a starting point. There are ample resources available for self-education and items for you and to share with your colleagues.
We are in the midst of one of the most difficult periods in recent history. We are struggling to stay safe from a global pandemic, COVID-19, contending with historic racial strife and discourse that led to national, sustained grassroots protests. At the same time we are witnessing a highly contentious presidential election season with intense partisan divisions and a focus on the Fault Lines - those characteristics that divide us as a nation: race, gender, class and sexual orientation.
More than ever, we must gain the tools to create opportunities to foster a particular kind of discourse in our classrooms that encourages students to talk about things that matter to them. How do we encourage our students to share views that are different from our own and may be different from other students?
Facing History and Ourselves, a non-profit organization that supports educators in challenging bigotry and hate, creates resources for educators to have these challenging but necessary conversations. Below is a list of resources as a starting point for initiating courageous conversations.
Anti-racist Resources, Books & Organizations to Follow on Social Media
Most of the links & documents below have been compiled by Sarah Sophie Flicker, Alyssa Klein (May 2020).
Books to read:
- Black Feminist Thought by Patricia Hill Collins
- Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by Dr. Brittney Cooper
- Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon
- How To Be An Antiracist by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
- Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color by Andrea J. Ritchie
- Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
- Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad
- Raising Our Hands by Jenna Arnold
- Redefining Realness by Janet Mock
- Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde
- So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
- The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
- The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
- The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
by Michelle Alexander
- The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century
by Grace Lee Boggs
- The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
- Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
- This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color by Cherríe Moraga
- When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America by Ira Katznelson
- Frye, M. (1983). Oppression. In The Politics of Reality (pp. 1-16). Freedom, CA:Crossing Press.
- Stop Talking and Start Talking: The University of Alaska Anchorage with Alaska Pacific University's books for professors seeking guidance on how to engage with students on "some of the most important topics of our time." For an array of resources, visit their website.
- Turn the Tide: Rise Above Toxic Difficult Situations in the Workplace, Dr. Kathy Obear offers a free copy of her book after signing up for her newsletter.
- Kathryn Sorrells developed an Intercultural Praxis model as a tool for navigating the complexities of cultural differences and power differences in intercultural situations. This can help students critically reflect on their positionality and cultural frames building their capacity in addressing issues of difference and power (Learning Activity for Navigating Difficult Dialogues).
Organizations to follow on social media:
- Antiracism Center: Twitter
- Audre Lorde Project: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- Black Women’s Blueprint: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- Color Of Change: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- Colorlines: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- The Conscious Kid: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- Equal Justice Initiative (EJI): Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- Families Belong Together: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- Justice League NYC: Twitter | Instagram + Gathering For Justice: Twitter | Instagram
- The Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- The Movement For Black Lives (M4BL): Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
More anti-racism resources:
- 75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice
- Anti-Racism Project
- Jenna Arnold’s resources (books and people to follow)
- Rachel Ricketts’ anti-racism resources
- Resources for White People to Learn and Talk About Race and Racism
- Save the Tears: White Woman’s Guide by Tatiana Mac
- Showing Up For Racial Justice’s educational toolkits
- The [White] Shift on Instagram
- “Why is this happening?” — an introduction to police brutality from 100 Year Hoodie
- Zinn Education Project’s teaching materials
- Colleges are deeply unequal workplaces
- Black Minds Matter
- Robin Diangelo and Resmaa Menakem-In Conversation
- America Faces Racial Reckoning Checking White Privilege
- 100 Things White People can do for Racial Justice
- But I'm Not a Racist: Tools for Well Meaning Whites, Kathy Obear
Classroom Ideas on How to Navigate Difficult Dialogues
- Souza, T. J. (2018). Responding to Microaggressions in the Classroom: Taking ACTION. Online article in Faculty Focus Premium. Madison, WI: Magna Publication.
- San Diego State's Managing Challenging Conversations webpage (Office of Diversity & Innovation)
- The University of Michigan's Center for Research on Learning & Teaching provided insights on how professors can engage with students when dealing with difficult moments.
- San Diego State's Anti-Racism and Allyship in the Classroom google document is intended to provide suggestions and resources for instructors looking to advance racial and social justice across the curriculum, with a focus on discipline-specific applications and examples. Created by Jennifer Imazeki, email@example.com, Associate Chief Diversity Officer for Faculty and Staff, San Diego State University.
- Help students see that conflict & difficult dialogues can be positive and actually prepare you for a job interview
- Consider taking more steps towards building an inclusive learning environment using these teaching strategies
Specific Steps When Navigating Difficult Moments
When someone says something upsetting, what are your options for responding? Do you freeze, flee, or even fight back? What if there was another option that could result with deeper learning and understanding? What exact words can be said in that exact moment? Open The Front Door (based on the work called Non-Violent Communication) is a 4-step process to navigate micro-aggressions or any other conflicting moments using observations, thinking statements, acknowledging feelings and stating desires. San Diego State University's Diversity & Innovation Office provides a specific example of how to apply these 4 steps along with Souza's (2020) definitions:
- Observe: "State in clear, unambiguous language what occurred. Seek common ground here by stating an observation without judgment so that all involved could agree on the speech act, behavior, or incident." For example, "I noticed that you asked Jennifer where she is from originally after she said she is from the Bay Area”;
- Think: "Express what you think and/or what you imagine others might be thinking based on the observation. This is your interpretation step based on the evidence you have. It’s important here to be generous with your assumptions as to not put the student on the defense." For example, “I think you might be assuming that because she looks Asian, she must not be an American citizen”;
- Feel: "Express your feelings about the situation. It’s important to take responsibility for one’s own feelings using “I” statements (“I feel upset when…) instead of placing blame (“You made me feel upset when…”). It is also important to actually name an emotion so if the words “I feel” are followed with “like,” this is unlikely to happen. For example, “I feel like you are being insensitive” is NOT naming an emotion and can elicit defensiveness." For example, “I feel uncomfortable with that assumption”; and
- Desire: "State the concrete action you would like to have happen. For example, this request could be for the behavior to change or for more conversation about the microaggression." For example, “I’d like us to recognize that such assumptions can make people feel like they do not belong and that is inconsistent with the community we are trying to build here. I’d also like us to re-focus our attention on the matter at hand.”
To learn about these steps, check out this handout by Drs Cynthia Ganote, Floyd Cheung, & Tasha Souza and access the articles below.
- Souza, Tasha, (2020). Responding to Microaggressions in Online Learning Environments During a Pandemic. Academic Impressions, June 1, retrieved Oct 22, 2020, https://www.academicimpressions.com/blog/microaggressions-online-learning/
- Souza, T.J. (2016). Managing hot moments in the classroom: Concrete strategies for cooling down tension. In Faculty Focus Special Report: Diversity and Inclusion in the College Classroom.Magna Publication.