A recent article, presupposes that the source of institutional racism is centered on the biases that exist in the housing industry. The housing industry biases are a product of other factors. One of the hidden sources of institutional racism is a product of the non-verbal interactions between students and teachers.
According to the article, ADAMES: The hidden nature of institutional racism, the source of racism is a product of the biases of those who implement housing policies designed to eliminate institutional racism. For example, the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. case revealed that when lower-income minority families sought housing they were effectively relegated (and segregated) to lower-income communities. In another example, the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center et. al v. HUD and Paul Rainwater case revealed that a coalition of New Orleans housing organizations that were charged which included the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Louisiana Recovery Authority discriminated against black residents.
The problem with the presupposition that housing biases is the major cause for institutional racism is that it does not take into consideration the source for institutional racism. When minorities attain the appropriate knowledge and skills they have an opportunity to avoid the necessity for housing policies designed to level the playing field for Blacks and Whites. In schools, non-verbal behaviors contribute to the conflict between Black students and White teachers which ultimately contributes to institutional racism such as the school-to-prison pipeline.
The primary function of teachers’ nonverbal behavior in the classroom is to improve the students appreciation for the subject matter. Teachers who improve the students appreciation through nonverbal behavior will have students who are more likely to listen more, learn more, and have a more positive attitude about the school, teacher, and the classroom subject matter. Students who perceive that teachers feel favorable towards them demonstrate desired classroom behaviors. Students are more likely to complete assignments in classes that they feel accepted by the teacher.
Nonverbal communication includes three interacting systems, the visual, auditory, and invisible communication systems. Auditory communication involves loudness, pitch, rate, duration, quality, regularity, articulation, pronunciation, and pitch. Visual communication is the most important nonverbal communication system, and includes kinesthetic, proxemic, and artifactual subsystems. Kinesthetic communication includes facial expressions, eye behaviors, gestures, and posture. Proxemic communication involves the use of space, distance, and territory for communication purposes. Artifactual communication involves facial and bodily appearances and the options that communicators use to alter their appearance. Individuals who nonverbally communicate in a manner consistent with a culture are perceived as more interpersonally attractive by members of that culture. Teachers who identify, analyze, and modify, if necessary, their nonverbal behavior improve their effectiveness.
Black students and White teachers conflict develops from expectation differences related to interaction styles. White Americans believe Blacks should interact with them by acknowledging their cultural identity, being socially polite and friendly, and supporting their arguments. While Black Americans believe Whites should interact with them by being polite to the others as an individual, supporting their arguments and making them relevant, and being assertive.
Teachers are required to present themselves as friends and facilitators of learning rather than purveyors of knowledge. Teachers create a warmer classroom climate for students and convey higher expectations of by smiling. Effective teachers exhibit enthusiasm by facial expressions, which positively influences student attitudes and student perceptions of teachers. Cognitive learning increases when teachers smile at the class. Teachers who smile are perceived as friendly while a frowning teacher is perceived as mean or grumpy. Frowns from teachers who conduct demanding lessons with high-ability students may indicate a belief that students are capable of excellence while the same frown may indicate low expectations and impatience when the teachers conduct a remedial lesson with slow students.
While the nonverbal behaviors examples in this article are not exhaustive, it remains a fact that teacher nonverbal behavior is a major contributor to institutional racism.
Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D. www.positiveracialrelationships.com PO Box 4707 Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
Author of Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships and Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships: Methodology
“The model that you use to analyze teacher-student relationships is a good one for most school districts”.
~ Joe Vas ~ Perth Amboy Mayor
“Dr. Campbell’s Cultural Relationship Training Program is comprehensive, informative, and should be required training for all schools”
~ Darrell Pope ~ Hutchinson Kansas NAACP President