Why teach about racism?Why teach about racism?

Expert Answers
missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

We need to see the effects of history on a people.

There are a couple of cliche' phrases that come to my mind when I think about a topic like this.

1. Hindsight is always 20/20. We can clearly see historical effects of decisions and actions. In the here and now however, we can't always tell how what we does affects other people until time has passed. Now, when we make decisions about race, we have the past to help us make decisions. Look at the opportunity for education, in terms of race, affirmative action was put in place and schools stopped being segregated.

2. Before you can take the speck out of someone else's eye, you need to remove the plank from your own. Sometimes our own actions blind us. Although we think we can see the bad in someone else, we can't really see the tons of bad in ourselves.

Racism is one of these issues that both of these concepts hit. We are likely all a little bit afraid or aversive to that which we don't know or understand, often times that's another race. We can also easily think we are not being racist when we actually are.

besure77 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Racism occurs in every culture and race all over the world. It is important to teach about it because it has had an impact on history for thousands of years. I believe that schools should teach about racism starting at an early age. It is important to learn about historical American figures such as Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King, Jr. These are just a few of the brave men and women who have fought for freedom and equality in the United States but as a teacher I know that many middle schoolers do not even know who Frederick Douglass was and that is very misfortunate.

Students also need to know the harm that has come from racism. They need to be able to recognize when someone close to them is handing down negative racial stereotypes. More times than not racism is learned as a child from those adults who surround us. If children are taught how to ignore these negative stereotypes then perhaps racism will no longer be carried on to the next generation.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There will be many questions to this particular question.  I would say that one reason why it is important to teach about racism is for students to understand its complexity in a more clear manner and to ensure that it is actively combatted.  There might be a belief in students today that racism is not present today because the conception of racism in their minds is a more overt and demonstrative manner.  This image is valid, but its complete absence does not reflect a lack of racism in the world, such as more insidious and institutionally covert forms.  At the same time, it can help to provide a model of therapy to students to understand that difficult topics can be talked about in a classroom of compassionate discourse and consideration for others' points of view.  If we do not speak about difficult topics in the classroom setting, then our classrooms are not transformative forums that are dynamic and vivid, but rather lifeless and static.

teacher2011 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Living in a world that has been and is plagued by racism, it is essential that we do not turn a blind eye to are past or our present. We must learn from it. In high school you will more than likely be assigned a number of literary works that reflect racism that has occurred in our country. As we read these works, we must reflect on the different ideologies of our ancestors, realize why some of those ideologies were inhumane, and also reflect on the ideologies of those who have sought to improve the human condition and realize the great strides they’ve made in improving our society.

In our studies of racism, I think the ultimate goal is to make ourselves more sensitive and reflective of our words, our thoughts, and our actions. They hold a great deal of power, and we must think, speak, and act in a way that is fair and humane to all.

lfawley eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Teaching about racism makes people aware of the damage that it does. If we ignore something or pretend that it does not exist, then we are not likely to do anything about it. When we become aware of a problem in society, then we are much more likely to work to change it. By understanding the reasons why racism exists, as well, we can better work to do away with it. We fear the other because it is different from us. This is at the heart of racism. When we learn about it and why it exists, we find common cause and we begin to understand that different does not have to be bad. Once we reach that point, we stop being afraid of someone just because he or she is different from us in some way and a gap is bridged and understanding is fostered.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would think that the major reason to teach about racism is that it is a powerful force in the world.

I am not saying that all people are racist or that we are more racist now than we have been in the past.  But I am saying that it seems that all people are really quite capable of being racist.

In addition, when we let racism happen unchecked, we get really bad things.  We tolerate slavery and segregation.  We allow genocide to happen.

So if there is this thing that is inside all of us (potentially), and if it can cause vast damage when it "gets out," surely we must teach about it so people can be aware of it.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I find that many of the world's problems are rooted in racism, and it is certainly important to point out to future generations the importance of judging all humans by their actions--not by their skin color. Historical instances of racism--for example, the Holocaust, Apartheid and American slavery--should be studied and discussed in depth. Hopefully today's students will grasp the social consciousness of the 21st century and use past historical racial injustices as examples to avoid in the years to come. Teaching this subject in both literature and social studies should be mandatory in American classrooms. 

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Because it is the only way to defeat racism.  Education and the way in which we raise our kids can and should be a socially revolutionary act.  Think about how much more tolerant our country has become in the last forty years since the civil rights movement took place.  We've elected an African-American President.  This is serious progress, and we need to keep going.

krishna-agrawala | Student

Racism is a reality that existed in the past and exists today also. As a matter of fact it is a reality that has great impact on human life. Therefore understanding of racism will be definitely be very useful in many areas of public administration and management of human behavior under different contexts. Teaching of racism to people involved in such work will enable them to work more effectively. Some understanding of racism is also useful for individuals, as it can lead to avoidance of offending racial behavior in personal conduct of individuals.