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Anti-Racist Community-Engaged Pedagogy

Principles for Anti-Racist Community-Engaged

This statement was developed by faculty from four Massachusetts public universities as a part of a project, "Building on Cultural Wealth of Minoritized Students: Anti-racist Community-Engaged Programming, Pedagogies, and Practices," funded by a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education1.

Drawing on the literature on anti-racist and community-engaged pedagogy and on input from students of color and community partners at each of the four campuses, this statement is designed to serve as a resource for community-engaged faculty adopting anti-racist pedagogy and practices.

Four Guiding Definitions
  1. Anti-racist pedagogy is a "paradigm located within critical theory utilized to explain and counteract the persistence and impact of racism using praxis as its focus to promotoe social justice for the creation of a democratic society in every respect" (Blakeney, 2011, pp. 119). It is a pedagogical approach that reveals the structural inequalities within U.S. society, while fostering students' critical analysis skills, as well as their critical self-reflection. 
  2. Critical Service-Learning Pedagogy fosters a critical consciousness, allowing students to combineaction and reflection in classroom and community to examine both the historical precedents of the social problems addressed in their servie placements and the impact of their personal action/inaction in maintaining and transforming those problems (Mitchell, 2008). 
  3. Critically-Engaged Civic Learning (CECL) is an equity-based framework that views all constituent stakeholders as invested partners in co-design, implementation, and evaluation of CECL initiatives, and is founded on redistribution of power and authority to promote civic learning and social change. This approach places the needs of students on an equitable power axis alongside the needs of all other invested stakeholders. (Vincent et al., 2021).
  4. Anti-racist community-engaged pedagogy (ARCEP) seeks to counteract the persistence andi mpact of racism on our campuses and in our community engagement through critical reflection on individual and systemic/structural racism (including institutional and governmental policies); intentional course design that may include anti-racist learning goals, course content, policies, and assesment; and the creation of a compassionate, reflective classroom that critically challenges racism when it happens, acknowledges the cultural wealth of students of color, and meets students where they are. 

 1 The contributors include Roopika Risam, Joanna Gonsalves, Cindy Vincent, and Cynthia Lynch from Salem State University; Wafa Unus, DeMisty Bellinger-Delfeld, Asher Jackson, David Weiss, and Will Cortezia from Fitchburg State University; Christina Santana, Aldo Garcia Guevara, Nabin Malakar, and Andrew Piazza from Worcester State University; Deborah Keisch, Joseph Krupczynski, Lindi Sibeko, and TreaAndrea Russworm from the University of Massachusetts Amherst; Elaine Ward from Merrimack College; and John Reiff from the MA Department of Higher Education. 

Four Guiding Principles

1. Counteracting the Persistence and Impact of Racism on our Campuses and in our Community Engagement: Reframing our Institutional and Pedagogic Practices

  • recognizes that the burden of anti-racist training can no longer rest alone on the shoulders of students and educators of color; white faculty and the institution at large must commit time and focus to developing anti-racist practices and structrues in their practice
  • fosters collaboration with communities that is driven by and responsive to needs identified by community partners rather than overdetermined by perspectives on what needs to be done or how it should be done that emerge from the university.
  • rejects working "on" a community to instead work "with" a community, positioning community partners as equal partners in the intellectual project, including identifying research questions or problems to be solved, designing methods to analyze these questions or problems, and creating solutions.
  • repudiates ideologies of "white saviorism" or "charity" that position minoritized communities as in need of "saving" or "rescuing" by faculty and students within universities and prepares white students to enter and engage with communities without these mindsets.
  • decenters whiteness by challenging its construction and through highlighting the wealth of knowledge communities of color possess about their own communities

2. Critical Reflection on Individual and Systemic/Structural Racism: Understanding positionality, bias, and historic roots of systemic racism.

  • is guided by regular training of faculty and students to identify and respond effectively to microaggressions
  • raises student and faculty critical consciousness about white supremacy and racism before and during community engagement, through reflective practices about power and privilege-- questioning bias and false histories/narratives that justif/legitimize the status quo-- in order to build critical understanding of oppression and political efficacy to challenge power and enact systemic change.
  • critically considers the forms racism and white privlege take in Higer Education, its impact on knowledge production, and how normative epistemologies affect how we perceive and know the world.
  • engages in dialogue with community partners to understand their own histories and issues to better support their work and build their capacity to access campus knowledge resources.
  • recognizes, reflects on, and works towards addressing challenges that minoritized students face on campus alongside working on issues they care about within communities.
  • acknowledges intersectionality is important to students' and faculty's understanding of racial inequity, while maintaining a primary focus on anti-racist goals.

3. Intentional Learning/Course Design: Developing Anti-Racist learnng goals, course content, policies and assessment.

  • develops specific anti-racist strategies to diversify course content (readings, discussions, assignments) that de-centers whiteness, integrates perspectives that have traditionally been marginalized, and emphasizes intersectional ways in which community-based knowledge production is recognized and valued.
  • works with community partners to build an understanding of the community in terms of its assets, spoken languages and highlights the cultural wealth and empowered potential of communitites of color.
  • equips students with a robust understanding of communities with which they will work including a trauma-informed perspective, through sources that privilege and value the multilingual voices from the community.
  • involves students and/or community partners in the creation of the syllabus and provides opportunities for community/student voice and agency (leadership development, community/student directed projects in the classroom and community).
  • develops diverse forms of assessment that best enable students to demonstrate their mastery of course objectives and provides instructors constructive feedback abou thte effectiveness of their anti-racist teaching practices.

4. Compassionate/Reflective Classroom: Create a sense of belonging in the classroom by acknowledging student contributions and meeting students where they are.

  • promotes the well-being of students, centers the intersections of their identities, and empowers the communitities in which they live and/or serve.
  • provides spaces to resond to microaggressions and difficult conversations in ways that facilitate learning and accountability, as well as providing opportunities for repair and healing
  • recognizes the community-based work that minoritized students already undertake but is not recognized, such as serving as translators for family and friends and helping family and friends navigate bureaucratic challenges with governmental apparatuses.
  • features collaborative learning that builds on the cultural wealth of minoritized students and creates space for their knowledge and expertise to be applied to solving problems in our communitites, without looking to them as "informants" who are expected to speak on behalf of a minoritized community.
  • decenters higher education and cetners the community as an open and reciprocal learning enviornment.