Education: A Career in Social
by Beryl Tsang
I like to view anti-racist educators as catalysts for social and political change. While it may be a bit of a cliche to say so, our job is to transform people's thoughts and actions.
Although I have tried on many occasions to describe what anti-racist educators do, I have realized that there is no one way to illustrate our work. How anti-racist educators go about fulfilling the task of teaching people to recognize and eliminate racism differs. Each anti-racist educator has his/her unique approach but most of us use methodologies that challenge people's existing notions of race, educate them about how these personal notions of race inform the creation of racist structures, and offer them workable solutions to transform racist notions and Structures into non-racist ones.
Anti-racism is not a new concept. It has roots in the British Labour and the American Civil Rights movements. Over the last decade anti-racism has been slowly gaining public prominence in Canada as racial tensions in this country reach new heights. While some point to increasing immigration from non-European nations as a cause of this tension, history reveals that Canadian society is inherently racist.
Racist elements in Canada's past include the establishment of residential schools for Aboriginal-Canadians and separate schools for Afro-Canadians; the passage of the Chinese Head Tax and Exclusion Act and the exclusion of Jewish immigrants in the 1930s; and openly bigoted acts such as the internment of Ukrainian-Canadians during World War I and Japanese and Italian-Canadians during World War II.
Anti-racist educators help groups who want to deal with their racism do so in an effective manner. We facilitate processes through which individuals and organizations learn to recognize the roots and the different forms of racism and we teach them practical ways of eliminating it.
Since racism is so pervasive it is not only necessary to educate white Canadian society about it but to assist ethno and racial specific groups to fight discrimination and bias. Anti-racist educators provide this assistance. We validate the experience these people have with racism. We support their various initiatives in combating it and we attempt to give visible minorities a sense of ethnic and racial pride.