Feeling the race issue: how teachers of colour deal with acts of racism towards them




Mutitu, Maria Wanjugu

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Inspired by my own struggles with racism, this narrative and phenomenology study investigated how teachers of colour in the Canadian schooling system dealt with the pain of racism and how this process informed their teaching practice. I addressed this issue of racism and its relevance to the schooling process from an anti-racist theory of education theoretical framework. The study comprised of six women of colour who shared their experiences with racism through written narratives, face to face interviews, as well as electronic communications. While the study focused on the schooling experiences of the teachers, their narratives comprised of holistic experiences that included experiences in the schooling system as well as the general society. The data collected, revealed the following themes as central to the questions of the study: Knowledge of cultural, family, and political history gave the participants strength to stand against racism. However, most of the women carried the shame of being and knowing they were different. Trying to attain a form of standardized beauty was an ongoing struggle for the participants. All participants pointed to one teacher whose care was instrumental to their choice to become teachers. To the participants getting a good education was more important than worrying or paying attention to the pain of racism. However, all but one of the participants admitted to receiving treatment for racism related anxiety. Finally, the participants shared that by participating in the arts or having personal faith and beliefs was helpful tool that helped them negotiate the worlds of their cultural beliefs and traditions and that of mainstream (White society) society.



Racism, Education, Canada