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How White Supremacy Shows up in our lives

How White Supremacy shows up in our lives

Years ago I remember getting prepared for the day in my brightly lit classroom. It was my first day teaching English in Taiwan and I was amazed that I was abroad-that I had finally left my hometown of Los Angeles to explore the world. While settling in I noticed something that would change the way I look at the world forever- a world map. There was nothing particularly special about this map, it looked old and used like many I had seen in America, with one important distinction- Asia was in the middle of it instead of the United States and Europe.

That small incident changed my perspective from then on. I began to wonder daily as I saw the map during my teaching, if all maps were like this in Taiwan. If so, why do we center the west in the U.S.? Who makes these decisions? What other types of maps are there?

These questions were important- but what became more important were the implicit beliefs that began to change within me. I began to understand that what is central is dependent on who is speaking. I began to understand how many times we centralize the west-and in particular whiteness in our country. Most importantly, I began to understand the ways in which as a society we decentralize what is often the majority population in our country and certainly in our world.

So how does this apply to teachers? Teachers play an integral role in shaping the humans of the next generation. We have the power to make students feel seen and heard. We have the power to expose them to different ways of thinking and viewing the world. It’s not just about feelings-having a globalized view of the world helps students become more successful in a wide range of subjects. Ridding our teaching practices of white supremacist practices allows our students to be prepared for a globalized future.

Instead of tips, I would like to offer some questions for consideration:

  1. What does it mean when we say “there is no white culture?”
  2. What defines a culture? (Eg: is there a time period that it has to exist? Does it have to have include a language?)
  3. What defines a language?
  4. How can we know something is truly unique to a culture?

    These questions and many more can help us as educators start a dialogue, talk to students and think about the way in which we present material in our classrooms.

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