University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
The Student Teachers Anti-Racism Society (STARS) promotes anti-racism education at the College of Education, University of Saskatchewan through the support of the College. We work collaboratively to understand, identify, and address individual and systemic racism and its interlocking forms of oppression based on gender, sexuality, ability, class, religion and other socially constructed categories. We believe that anti-racist and decolonizing education, when woven together, can create humanizing and emancipatory change for everyone.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Race: a social construction

As established in the previous post; race is a human creation that has no biological basis. Once we debunk the illusion of "race" we can begin to effectively deconstruct the historical white ideologies used to justify the dehumanization process of darker skinned people.

For example, Indigenous people on this continent were considered inferior to white Europeans who constructed them as animal-like using words such as "savage" or "wild." A sub-human description of Indigenous people justified the capture, killing and overtaking of indigenous people and lands for European economic gain.

An historical understanding of the emergence of race enables us to see how the pattern of using ideologies to construct darker skinned people as inferior continues today. The word "savage" continues to be used, along with others like "lazy" or "dirty" to maintain the well-established belief that Aboriginal people are "less-than" white people.

Here are some resources which can help deconstruct the myth of race and lead students to better understand race as something humans made up for financial and political gain. They may help students see racism as a very obscure construct.

1. PBS- Race: The power of an illusion
This is a fantastic interactive website that explores the construct of race. It takes visitors through a series of activities that challenge our notions of what race means. This would be a good place to do an online scavenger hunt or to just let students log on and learn. The site is designed to compliment the PBS video series "Race: the power of an illusion" however it can definitely stand alone. Be sure and check out the background information for a continued discussion regarding this topic.

Only a segment of one video could be found on YouTube:

2. A similar series, "Racism: A History" was produced by BBC and all 3 episodes can be found on YouTube. Here is a taste:

We have all inherited this history. Lets try to change it!

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