Practicing Anti-Racist Pedagogy
Key definitions and concepts associated with anti-racist pedagogy
This button links to an anti-racist pedagogy annotated bibliography maintained by CRLT
Learn about the historical legacy of racism and activism at U-M
Learn about LSA DEI and anti-racism initiatives
Practicing Anti-Racism and Anti-Racist Pedagogy: An Overview
When we define what it means to be an anti-racist, we acknowledge that there is no middle ground between equity and inequity, justice and injustice, racism and anti-racism. One is either pushing for for equity and justice or maintaining inequity and injustice. We also acknowledge that being anti-racist is not an identity but a form of active participation. Anti-racism calls for critical reflection, explicit action, and disrupting the status quo established by white supremacy. Anti-racism requires us to examine racism in different contexts, including the personal, interpersonal, institutional, and cultural. By exploring these contexts, we understand that racism is not made up of isolated, individual acts, but is woven into the fabric of society.
Educational institutions are not exempt from the historical or contemporary perpetuation of white supremacy, including the University of Michigan. Anti-racist pedagogy, a form of Disruptive Teaching, uses the framework of anti-racism to critically examine the role of education in disrupting white supremacy. We practice anti-racist pedagogy by acknowledging and countering the systems of oppression that have been historically constructed and continue to privilege whiteness at the expense of Black, Indigenous, People of Color.
The purpose of this page is to provide instructors tools and resources to practice anti-racist pedagogy. Practicing anti-racist pedagogy does not entail seeking out a final destination where we can claim to have done all the necessary work to be anti-racist teachers. It is a lifelong, ongoing process in which we practice self-reflexivity, seek to disrupt racism in all contexts (personal, interpersonal, institutional, cultural), and maintain that our classroom spaces are not apolitical. We offer this page as a place for those who are exploring anti-racist pedagogy for the first time and for those who are looking to engage further in this practice. If you are new to this work, exploring our resource guides, annotated bibliography, and definitions are good starting points.
Use the three buttons at the top of this page to explore additional resources, including anti-racism definitions, an anti-racist annotated bibliography, and an overview of historical events, student activism, and initiatives at the University of Michigan.
Anti-Racist Teaching and Inclusive Teaching: Differences and Commonalities
“Anti-racist pedagogy is not a prescribed method that can simply be applied to our teaching, nor does it end with incorporating racial content into courses.”-Kyoko Kishimoto
As defined by the Center for Research on Learning & Teaching (CRLT), “inclusive Teaching involves deliberately cultivating a learning environment where all students are treated equitably, have equal access to learning, and feel welcomed, valued, and supported in their learning. Such teaching attends to social identities and seeks to change the way systemic inequities shape dynamics in teaching-learning spaces, affect individuals’ experiences of those spaces, and influence course and curriculum design.” The central space where inclusive teaching resides is in the individual classroom. Practicing inclusive teaching requires instructors to examine their pedagogical practices in the classroom setting, identifying where bias can be reduced and how to allow for universal engagement.
Anti-racist pedagogy focuses on connecting the individual classroom with personal and institutional contexts. Although anti-racist pedagogy requires instructors to reflect on what they teach and how they teach it, the aim is to disrupt white supremacy in all educational contexts. Inclusive teaching, while important in challenging systemic inequities, stops short in its analysis of structural racism, power relations, and social justice. Anti-racist pedagogy attempts to teach about race and racism in a way that fosters critical analytical skills, which reveal the power relations behind racism and how race has been institutionalized in U.S. society to create and justify inequalities (Kishimoto, 2018).
While there are similarities between anti-racist teaching and inclusive teaching, a key difference is that anti-racist pedagogy, “recognizes the historical and contemporary role of education in establishing and maintaining inequities and seeks to disrupt and change those patterns and the outcomes they produce (Dr. Whitney Peoples, CRLT).” Inclusive teaching focuses on course design, in-class facilitation, and the interactions that take place in the classroom, creating equal access and opportunity for all identities. Anti-racist pedagogy not only examines course design and in-class facilitation, it also looks at the context beyond the individual classroom (departmental, disciplinary, school/college, university, local community, state, national, global contexts).
What anti-racist teaching and inclusive teaching have in common is that they require us to move away from formulaic approaches in our practice. In other words, we must move beyond quick fixes, if-then scenarios, or simply engaging in a particular activity, when looking to deepen our understanding and knowledge of anti-racist pedagogy and inclusive teaching.
The following table is a succinct overview of inclusive teaching and anti-racist pedagogy:
|Inclusive Teaching||Anti-Racist Pedagogy|
|Purpose||-Universal engagement across difference|
|-Disrupting white supremacy in and through formal education|
|Potential||-Can flatten the impact of differences between students|
-Can focus on student identity as the site intervention
rather than systemic inequity
|-Anti-racist organizing on campus that links community |
to institutional and social change
|Draws Upon||-Critical Race Theory|
|Core Components||-In depth analysis of structural racism|
-Intersectionality (resists flattening and neutrality)
-Awareness and action
-Connection between classroom and larger context
Key Principles of Anti-Racist Pedagogy:
The following principles will help guide you as you practice anti-racist pedagogy and should underscore the point that anti-racist pedagogy is a self-reflexive and ongoing process. They should also remind us that classroom spaces are not insular or apolitical. For each principle, there are relevant resources for further exploration. Practicing anti-racist pedagogy brings these principles into the classroom, disrupting the idea that the classroom space and our students are not implicated in this work.
We are not seeking to arrive at a particular destination but to always be growing in our understanding and practice of anti-racist pedagogy. Beginning our growth requires that we start somewhere and these principles are foundational pieces of knowledge. These principles were developed by Dr. Whitney Peoples, CRLT.
- Acknowledges racism in disciplinary, institutional, departmental contexts – We ask and explore the question, “How is racism operating in this space?” Additionally, we must examine the historical context of this principle by learning about the history of race at the University and the different movements for racial equity on campus. From this historical context, we seek to understand how racism is made manifest presently in LSA and the University as a whole.
- Undermining Racial Justice: How One University Embraced Inclusion and Inequality by Matthew Johnson. From the publisher: Focusing on the University of Michigan, often a key talking point in national debates about racial justice thanks to the contentious Gratz v. Bollinger 2003 Supreme Court case, Johnson argues that UM leaders incorporated Black student dissent selectively into the institution’s policies, practices, and values. This strategy was used to prevent activism from disrupting the institutional priorities that campus leaders deemed more important than racial justice.
- How to be a better ally: LSA Ally Resource Flyer
- Centers both structural and personal manifestations of racism – We understand that racism is not distilled down to individual acts or choices but is engrained in our systems and structures.
- Explore our page “Definitions as a Starting Point” to read about the different levels of racism.
- Disrupts racism whenever/wherever it occurs – There is no neutral stance toward racism. We are either maintaining racism and white supremacy or disrupting racism and white supremacy.
- Read through the LSA Anti-Racism Task Force report.
- Explore our page “LSA DEI and Anti-Racism Initiatives” to learn more about the different programs and efforts on campus.
- Seeks change within and beyond the classroom – Anti-racist pedagogy is about what we teach and how we teach as we examine our positionality in the classroom. Yet it also calls us to practice reflexivity regarding our institution. We must question the University of Michigan’s relation to white supremacy and racism.
- Explore our page “Disrupting White Supremacy on Campus” to learn about past and present student activism to create a more just and equitable University.
- Bridges theory and practice – Drawing from Critical Race Theory (CRT), we use this framework to inform our disruptive teaching practices.
- Unfamiliar with CRT? Read this piece by civil-rights attorney Janel George: A Lesson on Critical Race Theory – American Bar Association
- Read about resistance to using CRT in education: The Academic Concept Conservative Lawmakers Love to Hate – The Chronicle of Higher Education
- Focuses on the importance of process over time – This page stresses the importance of practicing anti-racist pedagogy as it is an ongoing, intentional process. Engaging in critical self-reflection must be done regularly as we develop our knowledge and practice as anti-racist pedagogues. We are not seeking to arrive at a finish line, but to continuously practice these principles.
- This LSA guide offers a variety of organizations, websites, authors, movies, and readings to explore: Allies at Work: Anti-Racism Resource Guide
- Our resource and activity guides offered on this page are not intended for one-time use. Setting the intention to revisit this page, share it with colleagues, explore additional resources, and to revisit activities with students throughout the semester involves sustained effort and involvement over time. While addressing racism in all its forms is an urgent issue, working to creating more just and equitable spaces will not involve quick fixes.
How to use these Resources:
The following resources have been curated specifically for Practicing Anti-Racist Pedagogy. The Resource Guides provide materials, readings, and strategies to further one’s knowledge and practice regarding anti-racist pedagogy. The Activity Guides provide in-class activities that can be used to practice anti-racist pedagogy in your online classroom. These resource and activity guides are but a few of the many you can find on this website. If you are interested in additional resource and activity guides related to inclusive teaching, you can find our inclusive teaching resource guide catalogue on the Planning Page and our inclusive teaching activity guide catalogue on the Activities Page.
Within each resource and activity guide, you will find:
- An Overview, providing further context about the guide and its relation to inclusive classrooms
- The goals associated with the resource or activity
- Two files containing a PDF and Docx version of the guide
- An associated video, where applicable, to provide additional insights into the topic
Resource Guides to Deepen Understanding of Anti-Racism Pedagogy
Activity Guides to Practice Anti-Racism Pedagogy
Additional Resources to Explore
- Racial Equity Tools.Org
- Anti-Racist Research and Policy Center
- BU Center for Antiracist Research
- University of Michigan Library’s 2014 online exhibit: Michigan’s Story: The History of Race at U-M
- University of Michigan Library Anti-Racism Research Guide: Anti-Racism Research Guide
- University of Michigan Library Race and Racism in Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan Guide: Race and Racism in Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan Guide
Anti-Racism Starting Guide
This is a resource guide provided by the HR department at the University of Michigan and serves as a more general introduction to anti-racism. Although this guide is not explicitly about anti-racist pedagogy, this work requires that we do our personal work to unpack racism beyond our teaching. This is not a complete guide to anti-racism activism, but can serve as an introduction to this very important topic for those who don’t know where to start. If you just want to get started and go at your own pace, you can download the quick-start guide. It includes four sections, intended to be spread over four weeks. Each section has links to resources, articles, videos, podcasts and other materials that will help you on your journey. At the end of each section, there is a set of starter questions and a place for you to reflect on what you learned that week.
We would like to thank the following U-M faculty for their time and support in the development of this page:
Dr. Whitney Peoples
Director & Coordinator of DEI Initiatives & Critical Race Pedagogies – Center for Research on Learning & Teaching (CRLT)
Dr. Angela Dillard
Richard A. Meisler Collegiate Professor of Afroamerican & African Studies, History, and in the Residential College
Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes
Professor of American Culture, Romance Languages and Literatures, and Women’s and Gender Studies
Kishimoto, K. (2018) Anti-racist pedagogy: from faculty’s self-reflection to organizing within and beyond the classroom, Race Ethnicity and Education, 21:4, 540-554, DOI: 10.1080/13613324.2016.1248824
Peoples, W. (2021, February 18). Principles and Practices of Anti-Racist Pedagogy [Webinar]. CRLT.
We appreciate your interest in our site. Generally, we are very happy to have our resources widely used in educational settings of all kinds. Reuse in a classroom, webinar/ professional development, or for individual reflection are all appropriate, so long as it is not for commercial purposes. If you share our resources, we ask that you please include an acknowledgement of our website or specific page reference, as suggested in our Reuse Permissions Guide in APA or MLA format, in addition to any acknowledgement of the original authors.
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