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Breaking Away from White Solidarity

Last year I revisited James Baldwin’s “A Talk to Teachers” before starting the school year. I encouraged myself and other teachers committed to social justice to “go for broke.” I did lots of work I felt proud of in our classroom last year, working with our 5th graders to understand, analyze, and combat racism. They culminated the unit by presenting their research at a conference at the Museum of the City of New York. But, after a summer learning and reflecting a lot about internalized white superiority, I’ve come to some clarity about what it means to “go for broke” this year. It has been easy in some ways to talk to kids about racism. In these conversations, as the teacher I still maintain the authority that conserves my psychological safety and white superiority. The real work this year is to talk to other white teachers. I have known this for some time. But I’ve found a myriad of reasons to avoid most of the hard conversations I know should happen. I didn’t think I had the relati…

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