Anti-Racist Education Essay

Racism is among the most difficult problems that the US has ever faced. Higher education institutions have been hit hard by racism. As a result, researchers have looked into the best root cause approach to solving the issue. The concept of emphasizing an anti-racist American education is at the core of this concentration.
A well-known educator named C. Richard King looked at the several indicators that point to racist mascots. King noted that people's perceptions of Native Americans and their use of mascots were inaccurate, if not downright racist. King made a paradigm shift from the status quo and adopted other ways of looking at education and race relations. Consequently, he used his research potential to prepare a response on the same. Below are three of the responses that King passionately put forward.

How Racism and Racialization Affects the Institution of Education Itself

King notes with concern that at the moment, the legal fraternity is not in agreement about the concept of diversity and its relation with affirmative action as well as other social programs covering the greater society. This has made it difficult for universities to take a streamlined approach to the issue of race and education.

It should be noted that racism can deny an institution of higher learning the unique talent from both lecturers and students. For example, a bright African American may shy away from joining a university which has a reputation of practicing racism. Similarly, a talented scientist may not want to be a lecturer in an institution that discriminates against his race. In an institution where appointments and promotion is not based on merit but variables such as race, then certain employees get disillusioned. It therefore becomes challenging to maintain cohesion among the members of staff.

Teaching About Racialization and Not Race

Whereas the term race and racialization are close terms, there are key differences between the two. From the theories of sociology, the term racialization refers to the process that ascribes a racial identity or ethnicity to a social group that does not identify with such. Thus, students should be careful to understand their differences.

One of the most effective strategies of race literacy is teaching the history of race. For example, scholars have examined the teaching of race history as a heuristic in teaching about race. Consequently, race history can be used an education framework in the interpretation of key elements that affect race. As a matter of concern, the traditional methodology of teaching history has been wanting in defining the various issues affecting racialization.

The endorsement of mascots in institutions of higher learning has sometimes divided the school down the middle. Minorities, native Indian for example, have cried foul over what they have stated as misconnects and misunderstanding in their culture and history. They have continued to lament the collective ignorance that students have shown over the course of time. This is more so when interacting with people who are ignorant about their cultural practices and history.

King (2006) has stated that the US has one of the universities in the world- but the universities have not taught their own students about appreciating symbols. The university has not assumed its esteemed place as the guide of anti-racist intervention. In deed, American mascots have particularly being taken for granted in the American history and has not been given the relevant emphasis.

Closely associated to this is the issue of miseducation of such mascots. For example, Indian imagery has made a false presentation of the indigenous people. Reductively, it has presented the Indians as cartoon characters as well as familiar clichés such as the warrior, the brave, or the Chiefs. Consequently, the native Americans get engaged in a trap of their past life.

The Society of Indian Psychologists of the America noted about the effect of such miseducation and wrote:

We believe that it establishes an unwelcome academic environment for Indian students, staff, and faculty and contributes to the miseducation…..Stereotypical and historically inaccurate images of Indians in general interfere with learning about them by creating, supporting, and maintaining oversimplified and inaccurate views of indigenous peoples and cultures.

The positive use of mascots can have a number of benefits. For example, they have the ability to present various fashionable elements of culture. In addition to that, they provide a much needed break from the social and professional commitments. Moreover, the students who are descents of native Americans have an opportunity to challenge the euro-American centrism and superiority that thrives at the expense of native culture.

Again, the school environment has been a scene of terror that has been directed at the indigenous group of people. It has stripped native nationalities of their beliefs as well as practices. The American history cannot forget slogans such as ,” Kill the Indian, save the man.” Native students who were able to get an education found themselves in a precarious position when they were prohibited from speaking the local languages. In addition to that, they were forced to cut their long and braided hair off, a radical departure from their cultural practices.

Challenges of Dismantling Racism

Functionalism as one of the theories of race and ethnicity holds that racism as well as discrimination plays a positive role in the society. For example, slavery in the US, through the slave labor in antebellum South, made the economy of those geographical zones. The functionalist thesis further states that the differences between organisms must be retained in order to guarantee a harmonious relationship (Malik, 1996).

Whereas scholars have the academic liberty to justify such premises, functionalism is problematic in that it justifies racism by giving its benefits. If a school is socialized through such a theoretical framework, then that is a dangerous trend. It is therefore important to rethink such theories of racism in order to make informed decisions.

A culture of prejudice assumes that racism is embedded in different cultures and thus not unusual afterall. For example, it is not uncommon to find young children growing up when they are surrounded by casual expressions or stereotypes. In particular, advertisements and movies are known to carry on cultural prejudices. A person who has never had a Mexican American friend may have cultural expressions of such groups through watching Taco Bell’s talking Chihuahua or Speedy Gonzalez.

It is a paradox that institutions of higher learning are mandated to combat racism and they face such problems themselves. Some professors have faced victimization and racism (a good example outside the US was the racial harassment case against the University of Pretoria). Therefore, the US academia should be keen to set a good example all over the world in terms of racism. This is not an easy thing though. Just like Dubai is made of immigrants, the US has seen a wave of immigrants over time, both legal and illegal. It is a melting point of different culture. Universities should understand that if they are to succeed, then they must embrace diverse cultures.

Richard laments that cultural illiteracy has been born out of the inability of American institutions to teach the Americans their own symbols (2006). This has not been done from generation to generation. It is therefore not surprising that some members of the current generation are not aware of the use of symbols and their significance.

Strategies of Dismantling Racism: Personal/Societal Level

The legal fraternity ought to consider having definitions through consensus. In connection to this, such consensus should be arrived at through a rigorous professional and public participation in order to avoid issues of public participation. In addition to that, there ought to be a comprehensive legal framework that can be used to discuss the various issues that affect racism and offer racism.

However, it is not recommendable to always recommend the judicial process. Inherently, the judicial system is adversarial in nature thereby creating tensions among the various participants. The judicial process can also be time consuming and expensive. Moreover, there is no guarantee about the outcome of the court process.

In 2015, students at Princeton approached President Christopher Eisgruber stating the emotional justification of the reasons that made them feel ill at ease with the name of Woodrow Wilson and requested that the school does not have buildings bearing his name. One student stated thus,

I do not want to sit in Wilcox hall and enjoy my meal and look at Woodrow Wilson, who would not have wanted me here.

These are some of the issues that have faced the modern institutions of higher learning. Whereas it is not possible to change everything en masse, there are a number of initiatives that stakeholders in education can do in order to have create a sustainable education environment to people of all colors.

According to Scott (2012), the use of affirmative action as a form of social justice. This helps historically isolated and oppressed groups to not only manage discrimination but also promote diversity. Affirmative action is aimed at giving discriminated groups an opportunity that can help them have a level playing ground amidst fierce competition.

Campuses ought to make a deliberate attempt to include the minorities and make them feel that they are part and parcel of the school and do not feel disconnected. For example, institutionalized racism should be discouraged in order to make sure that the students and faculty who are colored do not feel alienated. In addition to that, the university should make a deliberate effort to share the university resources in an equitable manner.

The school should make an effort to combat perceived discrimination. Claude Steele, in an article Race and the Schooling of Black Americans, argues that the American mainstream culture is essentially white. Consequently, encouraging other cultures to emulate the behavior and mannerism of the mainstream culture is too lofty an order.

Institutional racism includes informal rules too and not just the formal ones (Clark, 2001). Prior to the pre-civil rights times, racism was not only widespread but overt. In the contemporary institutions of learning, it is not easy to identify racial discrimination. Consequently, researchers face a challenge in measurement, collection of empirical data, and making of hypotheses on critical theories of racism. Nevertheless, modern day researchers are trying their best to make research on the same.

At the personal level, every one has a responsibility of setting an example in confronting societal racism. For example, when students are forming class groups, it is critical to look at diversity as a beneficial thing. Encouraging racism leads to a cumulative wear and tear on the victims. It is not good to be the one contributing to the social ills in the society. If not handled well, race can lead to general anxiety, stress, or outright mental disorders. In addition to that, it makes the victims internalize racist perceptions.

Again, individuals ought to be conscious to the issue of race. In this regard, the social media comes in handy in controlling behavior. A responsible citizen should not share racist messages, posts, or pictures and should instead report that to the social media platform administration. The government and the institutions can develop policy to combat racism through positive education, but it the action of the individuals that matters most.

Victims of racial prejudice have a role to play too. For example, rather than being overly aggressive in reacting to racism, there are ample peaceful opportunities that are a mature platform of responding to racism. In this note, taking part in peaceful rallies is not only a commendable thing to do, but ensures that there is no violence whatsoever. If there is no violence, there is all the likelihood of having an informed discourse on the controversial issues that affect racism.

In connection to this, recording instances of racial prejudices in universities ensures that the anti-racism education gathers momentum. Such recording can be used as a point of reference when discussing racism in a class. Moreover, it can be used to discourage people who are racist in that that there is sufficient evidence to take action against them.

Lastly, researchers should intensify their research in order to make it more effective when presented for implementation. For example, instead of focusing on perceptions as well as attitudes among the actors, researchers should consider measuring the inequality of the outcomes as a more realistic measurement of racism. This is going to ensure that the research carried out is not only credible but also overly helpful to the consumer of knowledge.

Researchers should be keen to identify systematic disparities through studying patterns and reports in institutions of higher learning. In addition to that, identifying the byproducts of discrimination as well as causal relationships plays a critical role in coming up with research that will stand the test of time. Moreover, the research fraternity should be keen to identify the changes that have taken place in the field of racism.


The government, the academic institutions, and the general public must adopt a revisionist approach to the various issues affecting race. Most importantly, institutions of learning must set a good example par excellence of the most effective stratagems of achieving racial consciousness. There should be a strong correlation between race relations and pedagogy. Perhaps, making a comprehensive audit of the various racial parameters that need improvement is not a bad way to start.


Clark, V. R. (2001). The perilous effects of racism on blacks. Ethnicity & Dise

King, C. R. (2008). Teaching intolerance: Anti-Indian imagery, racial politics, and (anti) racist

pedagogy. The Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies, 30(5), 420-436.

Malik, K. (1996). The meaning of race: Race, history and culture in Western society.

Washington Square, N.Y: New York University Press.

Scott, M. (2012). Think Race and Ethnicity. Boston: MA, Pearson.

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