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  • Writer's pictureJulia Maloof

Let's Rethink Dr. King ~ Anti-Racist Teachings as a White Woman

It's a bit pre-emptive to post an image of a book I haven't finished, but I can already tell that the writing of bell hooks and the experiences I have had thus far as an educator coincide on a regular basis. I have no doubt I will feel just as empowered and inspired I am now within the first 100 pages as I will with the last.

As I read bell hooks' writings about the classroom as a place of freedom (gained largely from her studies with and of Paulo Freire) I am reminded of the importance of pointing out to students the radicalness of Dr. Martin Luther King. This upcoming month is usually filled with activities for elementary-aged children that point out the importance of standing up for what is right and how one man managed to change history. I say this with a bit of sarcasm, as many students somehow draw conclusions that Dr. King "ended" racism for the most part of modern history. Students are sometimes surprised to learn about how this is not true, due to the strength of the inequities in this nation in particular.

I hope that this month, I can incorporate ways to point out how even though Dr. King was not the sole person responsible for the Civil Rights Movement's advances, he did more than bring cause for desegregating schools and businesses. I hope that I can point out to students the power of the working class and how only after his empowering of union organizations and working class individuals, was he seem as a threat to the people in power of this country.

I hope also to bring into view how my students' positions in their cultures and societies allow them to bring about change. Their diverse knowledge and experiences can change school from being a blind following of rules, to where they can make it their own. I hope that they will question why they learn (or do not learn) what they do in order to understand how their education can benefit them and improve their lives.

The system of education in the United States is increasingly monetized to power business growth instead of student growth. The least I could do for my students is to teach them that this is unjust and they must believe that the system of schooling must work with them and not against them.

At the very least, the writing of this post will encourage me to finish this book in a timely manner. At the very most, it will engage my teaching in a more anti-racist manner to reach my wonderful students more strongly.

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