California Educator

June/July 2019

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Why did you leave a tenured university position, where you were teaching and researching the social justice issues you now consult on? I felt that I could have a greater impact outside of teacher education than within it. Very few teacher education programs give the right level of attention to social justice and equity issues, and as a result are often many years behind what is happening in our classrooms today. This leaves teachers able to design a basic lesson plan, but without the awareness or skills to adeptly respond to racially complex educa- tional spaces. It made more sense for me to do more concrete, long-term and potentially more effective work outside of teacher education than within it. Why should educators care about teaching with a racial equity perspective? Our job is to prepare students to be effective, skillful and useful in a complex society. We all need information that is conveyed through a racial equity lens to function well in society. This lens cuts across the needs of all students and their families. Students of color and Native students need their voices and stories heard. White students need to hear them. We all need this information to be successful. " We need to remember that our relationships — not any one relationship but our relational societal ethos — should be imbued with love and accountability. They are at the heart of racial justice work." Heather Hackman says teaching with a racial equity perspective helps all students succeed A Critical Lens W H E N I T C O M E S to racial equity, Dr. Heather Hackman believes that many of us often get the terminology wrong. at is, we tend to use the words "diversity," "cultural competency" and "social justice/equity" interchangeably, when in fact they all have distinctly different meanings (see sidebar next page). is is important, Hackman says, because we live in an increasingly complex society when it comes to race, a fact that is reflected in class- rooms and schools nationwide. To help students, particularly Native students and students of color, reach their fullest potential, it has become essential that educators address racial issues to examine the personal and institutional biases that block this goal. "Racial realities in the United States are what they are because of long-standing systems, structures and policies that have given or denied resources based on skin color and racial characterization," says Hack- man, a trainer and consultant on diversity, equity and social justice issues who has also been an educator. To effect real systemic change in racial equity, "simply focusing on diversity and awareness is too tepid of a response." Hackman's work helps individuals and groups move beyond basic diversity and inclusion efforts to develop a critical racial equity lens. is lens lets us look at the big picture, including systems and history, and focus on access to resources, power and privilege. What we learn has the power to transform and foster real change. "Diversity work is an easy approach, and educators who start with it can get stuck in it. Equity and social justice are a much harder body of work — it's chal- lenging emotionally, and profound in its impact," Hackman says. Hackman and co-trainer Erin Jones, M.Ed., are working with CTA to begin this racial equity work. They led CTA's Board of Directors and a group of diverse leaders through a four-day session, and will continue working with them and many others in the organization in the coming months. "As educators, it's important that we lead these discussions in our classrooms and within our union," said CTA President Eric Heins. "We must do more than acknowledge that many of us come from a place of privilege. We need to recognize institutional racism and the impact it has on the system. We need to listen and seek understanding in order to better reach all of our students." Here Hackman suggests ways educators can use this lens to gain and teach perspectives that can help students succeed. 49 J U N E / J U L Y 2 019 T

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