Through these words…

6320990854_881b857cb1_oI struggle to write about this topic, as a result it’ll be through these words that I share some thoughts on the silencing of minority, people of colour, the silencing of “the other” in Education.

“The oppressors do not favour promoting the community as a whole, but rather selected leaders.” Paulo Freire ~ Pedagogy of the Oppressed.

This quote resonates with me for many reasons. There are systemic problems in education that deal with race that many of us don’t feel comfortable in discussing.  The systemic problems often deal with those in power. What kind of power are we talking about here? What problems arise from these power relations that exist in education? How does this impact our students’ teaching and learning?

As you can see an entire course can be designed based on the questions above, and so I won’t try to address them in a blog post, because it simply would not do the conversation any justice.

As a result, I have a few thoughts to share, but would like to keep this conversation going and hear from others about their experiences.

What do I mean by education: schools, districts, colleges, our offices, the classroom, conferences, social media, professional development. These are just a few examples of the spaces that are often occupied by those in power.

The silencing of people of colour in education is often a very subtle. It sometimes even starts off as one trying to engage with you on the same level. It’s quiet, it’s subtle and it’s scary.

It’s scary because often the oppressors seek to use minority as a platform to deliver their own agenda. But it’s scary because when this is spoken about out loud there is very little support. People choose not to believe. More importantly, people choose not to associate themselves with the oppressed. This is normal. And sad.

Here is where I think educators who want to fight injustices in education can do something about it. What can you do as an educator to help those who struggle on a daily basis?

Allyship. Allyship is a way to provide solidarity with the oppressed. This is often hard to do because allyship and solidarity are seen as acts of defiance by the oppressors.

What’s allyship? 

  • It’s an ongoing process of fighting injustices through words and actions.
  • It is fighting the silent acts of racism that are experienced by students and teachers in education.
  • It’s a process that involves a lot of listening.
  • The hardest part of allyship is to be able to recognize that one’s experiences (white male or female) limits their perspective on race and racism, but will not stay silent as a result of this privilege.

So for me the biggest more impactful acts of oppression are the silent ones. We cannot stay silent through these acts though. We must fight these acts of silence through words and actions. Perhaps a good start is through these words that you and I can share together.

12 thoughts on “Through these words…

  1. This is a new word and challenging idea for me – allyship.
    It feels like a reciprocal relationship between listening and speaking. You are so right in saying it’s difficult since the words chosen contain meaning, personal perspectives, experiences and contexts. In community, these are more readily accepted and understood. Words spoken in community are more meaningful, I think. Remaining silent in open spaces is easy – listening and speaking up is hard. Through on-going words and actions this community is created and understanding can result. My words and actions will mean something to those who listen.
    Thanks for sharing your words – 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for stopping and sharing your thoughts here. I agree with you, remaining silent in open spaces is easy for many reasons, and listening and speaking often is hard. But I think here’s where we should push outside our comfort zone and do something that’s hard but still support our belief in solidarity and social justice. It was hard for me to write this post, no matter how lightly I touched the surface of inequality in education. But through the many conversations I’ve been having with other educators, I was empowered to share my own thoughts. So thank you for sharing yours 🙂


  2. My guess is that the “listening” is the most difficult part of allyship for so many people. In not wanting to be accused of *gasp* being racist, many spend more time defending themselves about how “not racist” they are. Shutting the mouth and opening the ears and mind accomplish so much more.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. So appreciate what you share here and on Twitter, my friend. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think one of the great difficulties with the silent and subtle aspect of this oppression is that sometimes those who perpetuate it are oblivious and when confronted, react with defensiveness. I know that even in my own life I have unknowingly perpetuated stereotypes and discriminatory practices simply because I didn’t know any better. When I knew better, I did better, but that first jarring moment of reconsideration of your own actions cuts deeply and requires time to reorder approaches and understandings. Unfortunately the liberation of the oppressor takes as much time as the subjugation of the oppressed.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks so much for posting this. It can be so easy to sentimentalize the “oppressed” part in reading Pedagogy of the Oppressed, so thanks for reminding us that this work has, in the end, to be an act of defiance. I would love to learn more from and with you about what that looks like.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. As always, your writing transforms my thinking. Being an ally is somethign I am struggling to get better at. I am trying to listen in a new way, by first accepting that there are some things that I cannot ever understand without experiencing and living it. Hearing stories like your own, hearing wisdom like yours, hearing what truly makes a difference, that helps so much. You are doing such good for this world and I know that doing this work comes with a price, an exhaustion. But please know that it is making such a difference.

    Liked by 1 person

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