As part of my research in the Education department, I am presenting on a panel about race and education. The goal of the panel is to illustrate the different school districts in the area and the relationship between the prominent race in each school, the average socioeconomic status of students, and overall “success” of the school according to the state. The idea is to start a conversation about why the schools that are predominately African American students are schools that aren’t meeting state standards. This is a complex topic, and a very loaded question, but we want to at least get people thinking about it.
The more I think about our latest conversation in class about aversive racism, the more I realize I see this happening all of the time in the schools and it is essentially what I am presenting in the panel. In class we discussed how aversive racists have negative feelings towards other races, but justify these thoughts or actions with a reason not related to race. All too often I see teachers in the schools and other faculty members justify their reasons for why African American students aren’t doing well, or justifying choices they are making regarding their students. I specifically see this a lot with discipline in the classrooms. Teachers or lunch aids will give black students a more harsh punishment for acting out on the playground or not listening in class. I’ll usually hear them later say something along the lines of, this happens all of time he/she needs me to be strict, or he/she was taking away learning time from the rest of the students. These are examples of teachers blaming their racist actions on completely un-race related issues. These are just a few of my personal observations in the schools of aversive racism and how it effects the students.
Racism can be hard to notice in the schools, especially if you do not know what aversive racism is. I started to think, if for the sake of the students, this movement from explicit racism to aversive racism is good or bad? They are only children, so they cannot really stand up for themselves and some students may not even realize they are being discriminated against. Do you think this aversive racism culture is a step in the right direction for students? What can be done to get this out of the schools? Do you think it would be worthwhile to educate teachers and faculty on aversive racism so they can become more aware and notice when it is happening?