OSU Brings Antiracist Principles to the Real World
Oregon State University is hosting a free, online conference this fall for secondary and college-level educators to learn about advancing antiracist teaching practices and to connect with a broader community working to implement those practices.
The goal of the event is to move antiracist teaching principles into real-life, everyday practice, said Tim Jensen, director of the School of Writing, Literature and Film and one of the conference organizers.
“It’s not enough to declare, ‘Antiracist education is important.’ Our actions need to show how and why it’s vital,” Jensen said. “I think there are lots of teachers who are eager to engage with antiracist pedagogy, but who are uncertain about what it looks like in practice. This conference can help by providing suggestions and support for implementing antiracist elements into the education system, from diversifying voices represented in one’s curriculum to rethinking grading and grammar systems inflected with racial injustice.”
Spread across three Zoom-based sessions, from 11 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. on Sept. 17, Sept. 24 and Oct. 1, the conference is aimed at high school and college teachers and anyone interested in advancing antiracism.
Five prominent scholars will present keynote lectures followed by question-and-answer periods.
On Sept. 17, OSU assistant professor Ana Milena Ribero will lead off with a session on how to implement the principles of critical race theory in teaching students. Vershawn Ashanti Young, an English professor at the University of Waterloo in Canada, will follow with a discussion of why critical race theory is currently controversial and share examples of successful teaching of the theory.
On Sept. 24, Victor Villanueva, Regents Professor at Washington State University, will present on how to center work by Black, Indigenous and people of color, which means moving away from the white perspective being the sole lens through which lessons are taught. Alexandria Lockett, an assistant professor of English at Spelman College in Atlanta, will then discuss the racial politics of knowledge production and the importance of teaching critical information literacy. The discussion will be moderated by Akua Duku Anokye, associate professor of Africana language, literature and culture at Arizona State University.
On Oct. 1, Asao Inoue, a professor of rhetoric and composition at Arizona State University, will discuss how current educational practices uphold white language supremacy and how to investigate those practices with students. The conference will close with a roundtable discussion with all five speakers, moderated by Jesse Stommel, executive director of the journal Hybrid Pedagogy and co-founder of the professional development space Digital Pedagogy Lab.
“I hope teachers who attend the conference can find ways to inquire into their own teaching and assessing practices, to de-center whitely habits of language and judgement, and to teach and learn in antiracist ways,” said Inoue, who earned his master’s degree at OSU and chose the university to be the home of the Antiracist Teaching Endowment.
“We cannot dismantle white language supremacy alone. We need each other in our mutual antiracist work, in our classrooms and elsewhere; and our world needs it, even as so many other problems are around us.”
In the days between keynote sessions, conference participants will be encouraged to utilize antiracist teaching techniques in their classrooms and to share their experience with others via online forums established by conference organizers.
“For many white educators contending with systemic racism, there can be a strong sense of unease and defensiveness, which can tempt one into not acting. But we must act,” Jensen said. “With this conference, we want to give teachers of all backgrounds a forum in which their efforts to grow and learn are validated and encouraged.”
The event is open to educators nationwide, along with anyone who hopes to learn more about antiracism teaching and philosophy.