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Discussing Race


Discussions about race can range from celebrating the importance of diversity to understanding the impact of racism from the perspective of those who have been historically marginalized. Educators should regularly practice using discussion norms that support active listening and respecting differences during class discussions and academic debates. This supports Social Awareness and Relationship Skills and builds a foundation for courageous conversations. It is important not to single out learners, ask them to speak on behalf of culturally and historically marginalized groups, or force them to share if they are not ready. Establishing nonverbal signals allows participants to communicate their readiness to speak or level of discomfort with the conversation. Creating affinity groups, or subgroups of students and/or educators structured around a particular identity (e.g., culture, gender, race), can help educators and organizations understand issues that may affect different social groups and take action to initiate greater inclusivity.

Use It In Your Learning Environment

Educators should work to create a community learning environment that encourages open communication and establishes rapport with and between learners to foster a greater Sense of Belonging. This can be done through discussion-based learning and by educators encouraging open lines of communication with students. To discuss race meaningfully, educators must sharpen their own cultural awareness lens, reflect on implicit biases they may hold, and be aware of unintended messages learners can receive from their environment. Making race visible by intentionally integrating diverse images and stories that use culturally relevant, but not stereotypical, examples helps to create environments that mitigate Stereotype Threat.

Products can also create and share content designed in partnership with educators and racially diverse communities that facilitates conversations about race. Importantly, creating opportunities for learners to share feedback directly with the product provides space for design teams to catch their own blind spots. When products are committed to continuously improving, they are better able to create an edtech solution where learners of color are centered in design and meaningful tools are available to support complex and difficult conversations.