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.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Slam Poetry as Anti-Racist Education

Anti-racist education works to counter and dismantle all forms of interconnected oppression. I recently found out about slam poetry from a student I taught last summer. Although it seemed very powerful and empowering, I wasn't introduced to poets who use slam poetry to counter oppression. Then, I met an inspirational young man and teacher who does just that and has won national awards for his work and passion. We were fortunate to have Khodi Dill present at our EraceISM conference this year. His presentation focused on the spoken word and how it can be used with students of all grade levels as anti-racist education. Here is a link to some of his incredible work on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsDwOKUHZbA&feature=related

Teaching Tolerance offers some links about Slam Poetry as anti-racist education. Check out this blog post about a group of students called Rapid Fire at an American high school: Full post http://www.tolerance.org/blog/change-rapid-fire-pace

Amazing and courageous work!

A group of talented young poets has emerged at my school, Life Academy, over the last three years. They call themselves “Rapid Fire.” When they speak, there is heat, and their words do catch. They’ve met critical success in district and area slam competitions. This year, the team placed second in the preliminary Unified District Poetry Slam sponsored by Youth Speaks and went on to place second in the finals. Not only are their words deliberately beautiful, but their messages can transform and teach tolerance.
Through poetry Mendoza, Phan, and Garcia have found their political voice. “I learned to get involved in social issues that affect me, like immigration and gangs,” Mendoza said. “Through poetry I realized that I wanted to major in women and gender studies for college. It's just completely transformed me and helped me grow.”
As these three seniors leave Life Academy for college, they gift the school the legacy of poetry, the message of change. They also leave big footsteps to be filled by their younger classmates, the next generation of poets.

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