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‘Clapping back at systemic racism in education’

Faculty hosts first in lecture series on reconciliation

October 5, 2020 — 

Titled, “Clapping back at systemic racism in education,” the Faculty of Education held the first of its Distinguished Lecture Series on Sept. 30, Orange Shirt Day, recognizing the sacrifices of residential school survivors and honours those who died as a result of this dark period in Canadian history. 

Featured speaker Dr. Jerome Cranston, a former faculty professor, who currently serves as dean at the Faculty of Education, University of Regina, was the first speaker in a series that is planned to focus on the theme of reconciliation during the 2020-21 season.

“We are called to listen with open ears to the stories of Indian residential schools’ survivors,” Cranston said. “And to remember and honour those who didn’t make it.”

Race-conscious approach

Cranston introduced the audience to critical-race scholars who have uncovered how racist ideologies, structures and institutions create and maintain inequality and injustice. Using this race-conscious approach, he hopes that society can find solutions that lead to racial justice. 

Cranston pointed to headlines worldwide about systemic racism, and including Canada, and described the impact—from job opportunities to poverty and health determinants. The presentation then turned to education and the data revealing uneven outcomes based on race. 

In order to change systems that are inherently racist, Cranston encouraged the audience to bring an end to not only quantifying overtly racist incidents, but also denying systemic racism exists in the society and the education system and making excuses for a lack of change. 

Creating change

Among the ways education leadership can create change, Cranston called for an end to policies and practices that reinforce white privilege. He asked educators to commit to enacting equity measures that dismantle barriers denying opportunities to racialized students, staff and faculty. 

Human resources policies should be changed to create more opportunities racialized people to access senior administration roles. 

And Cranston added that faculty and staff that more closely reflects the diverse makeup of the student body and national pool of candidates. 

Cranston concluded his lecture with a list of ways to disseminate knowledge that dismantle systems of racism that included: 

• Learning history and how has influenced your identity. 

• Studying systemic racism. 

• Explicitly teaching about school practices that sustain racism, power and whiteness, among others. 

Cranston’s entire lecture can be accessed on the faculty’s YouTube channel here

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