How can schools teach about structural racism?

A recent article reveals that schools are challenged with teaching the subject of structural racism to students. According to Rosa Parks, “Racism is still with us. But it is up to us to prepare our children for what they have to meet, and, hopefully, we shall overcome.” Schools will benefit from teaching structural by avoiding the characteristics associated with a dysfunctional organization.

According to the article, Can Structural Racism be taught without division?, several schools have had challenges with attempting to teach structural racism in their schools. For example, a Virginia school showed students a four minute video titled ‘Structural Discrimination: The Unequal Opportunity Race’ which created a feeling of embarrassment amongst the White teaching staff. Kenny Manning, who is a student at the Glen Allen High School, stated ” A lot of people thought it was offensive to white people and made them feel bad about being privilege.”

The Christian Monitor believes that it is impossible to teach structural racism without the adverse affects. University of Kansas Randal Jelks who is an American and African American Studies professor agreed and stated “I don’t think there is any way you approach race in America without contention.” He went on to say, “People try to avoid contention. But slavery was contentious and brutal. Native removal was contentious and brutal. So there’s no way you can avoid conflict in this issue.”

Both the Christian Monitor and Randal Jelks have failed both Blacks and Whites in publicizing that there is no solution to teaching structural racism in schools. The approach that many schools are implementing results in characteristics associated with a dysfunctional organization.

What are the characteristics associated with a dysfunctional organization?

Dysfunctional organizations exhibit several characteristics that are detrimental to its existence. There are five different levels that contribute to a dysfunctional organization. The foundation for the dysfunctional organization begins with each person’s use of defense mechanisms for coping. Defense mechanisms are the unwritten rules an individual learns and utilizes to effectively deal with circumstances that are upsetting, embarrassing, or threatening.

The second level is skilled incompetence, which is the outcome of the defense mechanisms we have internalized. When the defensive behaviors we’ve learned are transformed into a learned behavior, that behavior becomes a skill – albeit an incompetent skill – that we consider necessary in order to deal with issues that are embarrassing, threatening, or upsetting. A skill that is learned from the regular application of a defense mechanism has a high degree of incompetence embedded within it, because we are unaware of how this skill will impact our future.

Skilled incompetence transforms into a defensive routine. Defensive routines are the third level. When the skilled incompetence is automatically exhibited at all times, the behavior is now a defensive routine.

Defensive routines lead to fancy footwork. Fancy footwork is the fourth level. Fancy footwork happens when individuals try to deny the behavioral inconsistencies they exhibit, or else they place blame on other people, which results in distancing themselves from taking responsibility for their behavioral inconsistencies.

Fancy footwork leads to organizational malaise. Organizational malaise is the final level. During this phase the individuals in the organization will seek to find fault within the organization rather than accept responsibility for their actions and correct their behavior accordingly. The individual continues the process by accentuating the negative and deemphasizing the positive in an effort to cover up their actions. The organizational malaise is further exacerbated by a refusal of one or all the members to discuss their area of responsibility.

How do the characteristics of a dysfunctional organization complicate teaching structural racism in school?

In this case, teachers exhibit characteristics associated with organizational malaise by blaming the administration for approving a video that teaches students about structural racism. Organizational malaise is a product of fancy footwork. During the fancy footwork phase, teachers deny that they are the facilitators of structural racism. Instead, they will blame the school, parents, and even students for the problems and not accept responsibility as the enforcers of the process that leads to structural racism.

Fancy footwork is a product of defensive routines. Since defensive routines are an automatic skill, teachers will exhibit behavior without second thought that contributes to structural racism.

For example, teachers with high percentages of Black students in their classroom are more likely to use an authoritarian classroom management approach. Teachers react to Black student learning experiences that are in opposition to traditional public schools by determining Blacks are incapable of following simple rules and therefore make rules that they deem intolerable. Teachers justify this authoritarian process with the belief that these students want to be disciplined and have some order in their lives for a change. Developing this belief is a product of skilled incompetence.

Defensive routines are a product of skilled incompetence. The skilled incompetence that is associated with structural racism is developed when teachers are testing their expectations for student discipline. Teachers are more likely to have negative academic and behavioral expectations regarding Black students when compared to the expectations of White students. This results in White teachers rating Black male children more deviant when compared to White children. White teachers will direct more criticism toward Black males and rate Black male children personalities more negatively when compared to White male children. Over a period of time, teacher expectations influence student achievement and the social organization of the classroom

Skilled incompetence is a product of defensive mechanisms. Many White teachers are embarrassed when confronted about the past actions of their ancestors that have lead to structural racism. This embarrassment is a product of slavery.

When incorporating students into a marginalized society by slavery, conquest, and colonization, students believe school is detrimental to their identity. Indians, Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Blacks share the past of having been brought into the United States against their will and then downgraded to subordinate status. Blacks have learned since slavery that the way to get ahead is not through merit and talent but through White patronage. Americans of color adapt to a society that does not value their ethnicity, history, heritage, or language by establishing societal survival strategies.

Black parents prepare their children to live in a dual cultural world that involves helping them to develop skills for adult roles such as wage earners and parenthood in addition to negotiating a dominant society that has different cultural values and judges people by their skin color or ethnic background. Blacks who live in an urban society and a society that dislikes them for the color of their skin ensure they do not become victims by approaching people with caution, wariness, and a sense of distrust.

What the Christian Monitor, Randal Jelks, and host of others have become privy to are responses associated with the final level of a dysfunctional organization – Fancy Footwork. In order to avoid the embarrassment associated with Fancy Footwork, schools must teach about structural racism by promoting positive racial teacher student classroom relationships.

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Can structural racism be taught without division?


Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.

PO Box 4707 Cherry Hill, NJ 08034


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About Classroom Racism Exterminator

Racism is a menace and so we’ve been taught for ages which is the primary need for a diversity expert. However, even in this modern society of today where we see a lot of colored celebrities performing on stage with huge fan followings and of course an Afro-America President for the USA, we are still in a phase where racism exists in all its brutal glory and has been eating away at the society like a plague. Classrooms, are one of the most affected areas where color differences and racism exists to its extremes. Even after decades of progress and a lot of communal efforts at bridging the gaps between colored students, white students and teachers, it is sad to say that the disparities still exist and are just as pronounced today as they were back in the 1950s. Colored students, even in the likes of New York City, are attending under resourced schools or have been significantly isolated and made to be unequal in regular schools. Even if the teachers are well-intentioned, perpetuating the structural racism that has taken deep roots into the fabric of our education system is a tough task and make the need for a diversity expert imperative. Teachers need to recognize the biases that exist within the classroom and also take conscious measures to address them and their own biases of course. James Baldwin once said, “it is your very own responsibility to change this society, if you think of yourself as an educated person.” Dr. Derrick L. Campbell took this quote very effectively and straight to the heart and thus this Classroom Racism Exterminator happened. Classroom Racism Exterminator is an initiative that will teach you about your duty and moral obligation towards eliminating racism from the classrooms. This is where and how you will learn about what you need to do to produce a better society that is free of biases and disparities amongst the blacks and the whites. Because we understand how classroom biases and conversations about racism are difficult and how teachers and students almost avoid the topics altogether, we have put together a range of effective methods and products to help address the problem at hand and talk meaningfully to counter issues related to race and racism in the classroom. Diversity expert Dr. Campbell understands that it takes a lot of courage to talk about race and racism and that racial issues need to be viewed through a very critical lens that can understand and attend to the pertaining aspects of racism in the classroom. And therefore through this website we have made a conscious effort to eliminate racism from the classroom and make the educational system equal and beneficial for all. We know and we understand that there are no words that can actually describe how racism feels. There are cases and everybody tends to deal with it in their own manner. Some might lash out verbally or others might just withdraw into shells. Whatever the case, people don’t talk about it openly and teachers don’t really make a conscious effort at addressing the issue. We don’t really know if our children or if the youth is learning to be educated or become racists in their classroom. Our program is focused on helping children of color and regardless of their race, their full potential. We want every student to be able to recognize and reach their full potential so that they think of themselves as responsible citizens of their country and not regard themselves as worthless human beings. Here you will find motivational books and flash card games, all of which have been designed focusing on eliminating racism completely from our classrooms. The books and the games have been consciously designed keeping in mind the American society and educational system. It is a small effort on our and Dr. Campbell’s part to help this society become a better place to live in. A little about diversity expert Dr. Campbell Dr. Derrick L. Campbell the driving force behind Classroom Racism Exterminator is a dynamic figure and a constant source of motivation for us. He has a Bachelors of Science in Electronics Engineering Technology, Math Education, a Masters in Education Administration and also holds a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership. Dr. Campbell is a well known personality throughout the nation. He has lectured at various events including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Iron Sharpens Iron Men’s Conference and a lot of local churches. He is a personality well dedicated towards eliminating the plague of racism from our classrooms and helping every child recognize his/her true potential not the color of their skin. He realizes how a child would feel if he/she was made to think they are worthless human beings. Diversity expert Dr. Campbell is compassionate and related to the experiences and therefore this initiative is a constant and continual effort to eliminate racism manifested in us, completely from the classroom and from our society.
This entry was posted in Classroom Management, Discrimination, institutional Racism, Leadership, Positive Teacher Student Relationships, Race Relations, Race Relations in America, racial discrimination, Racial Profiling, Racism, Racism in America, Racism in Education, School Discipline, Structural Racism and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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