Published on 20 June 2022

My Journey towards becoming Anti-Racist Educator in Wales


Welsh Government funded Professional Doctorate/EdD student DARPL

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The pandemic gave rise to increasing levels of hate crime toward East Asians.8 The pandemic fractured my sense of belonging because the media demonised and stigmatised my ethnicity.

I was conditioned to conform to society's expectations and expected to be rewarded with a sense of belonging. I realised that was not true. In my education and my career, I have experienced non-racist environments. These were racially ‘colour blind’ spaces where my ethnicity was not acknowledged and pupils' ethnicity and culture were not discussed nor celebrated.2 However, being non-racist does not stop racism and I realised that it did not improve relations between different ethnic groups; it merely ignores it. To be anti-racist demands that you identify inequalities and act on them.5 To be proactive, I joined a grassroots organisation called Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Educators (BAMEed) Wales. I developed my racial literacy and wanted to be a catalyst for change. Currently, I am on a Welsh Government funded Doctorate to research anti-racist practice in education. Now, my journey to become anti-racist is entwined with Wales' zero racism ambitions.11

The zero racism ambition is for Wales to be anti-racist by 2030.11 Additionally, the Welsh government accepted the 51 recommendations that Professor Charlotte Williams made for stakeholders of the New Curriculum to help improve equity and Cynefin in Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Communities.12 Cynefin was a new word for me that was explained in an event hosted by the Education Workforce Council.4 Dr Huw Griffiths explains that Cynefin is a concept that helps pupils explore their sense of belonging. It promotes children to be ethical, informed citizens of Wales and the World and it is one of the four purposes that underpin the Curriculum for Wales. As part of the solution, Wales became the first UK nation to make teaching Black Asian and Minority Ethnic history mandatory.13

With such support with policies and guidance, surely the route to being anti-racist will be straightforward – right? Anti-racism is on the top of my agenda, but it may not be on the top of school priorities. Schools are complex places and we need to understand how to make anti-racist practice sustainable. We need to consider the ‘leaders, levers, learners’ (p.58) as indicated in Professor Charlotte Williams’ report.12 Accountability is the lever. Schools are accountable to ESTYN and when schools recognise that anti-racist practice is on ESTYN’s agenda, there can be sustainable change. Until then, this agenda competes with schools' scarce time and resources.

As I start my research and read the experiences of minority ethnic children1,10 and educators3,6,7, . I realise we have a long and complex route ahead. As well as teaching Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic history, it is about looking at who is around you and also searching within. I am an optimist and believe that we can all be conduits for change. Our reasons for starting our anti-racist journeys are personal. My advice for you is to avoid being paralysed with fear but be brave, seek advice, and try.

Thank you for allowing me to be part of your journey by reading this blog.

References
  1. Abramson, J. and Cifuentes, R. (2021)
    Show us you care: exploring the cumulative impact of racism upon racialised young people in the Welsh Education System.
    Race Alliance Wales. Accessed: 22 Feb 2022.
  2. Apfelbaum, E.P., Norton, M.I. and Sommers, S.R. (2012)
    'Racial Color Blindness: Emergence, Practice, and Implications', Current directions in psychological science: a journal of the American Psychological Society, 21(3), pp. 205-209. doi: 10.1177/0963721411434980.
  3. Davis, S., Haughton, C., Chapman, S., Okeke, R., Smith, M., Yafele, A. and Yu, K. (2021)
    The Recruitment and retention of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Teachers in Wales - A qualitative study.
    wales.gov. Accessed: 22 Feb 2022.
  4. Education Workforce Council (2022)
    Teaching Cynefin and the diverse history of Wales: How to include Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic themes in the new curriculum.
    Accessed: 23 March 2022.
  5. Education Workforce Council (2021)
    Guide to good practice: Tackling racism.
    Accessed: 22 Feb 2022.
  6. Education Workforce Council (2021)
    Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic representation within the school workforce in Wales Phase 3 report and final recommendations for the Welsh Government. EWC.
  7. Gibson, D.E. (2004)
    'Role models in career development: New directions for theory and research', Journal of Vocational Behavior, 65(1), pp. 134-156. doi: 10.1016/S0001-8791(03)00051-4.
  8. Protection Approaches (2020)
    COVID-related hate.
    Accessed: 21 March 2022.
  9. Runnymede Trust
    NASUWT and Act For Racial Justice (2017) Visible Minorities, Invisible Teachers. Runnymede Trust.
  10. Show Racism the Red Card (2020)
    Racism in Wales: Exploring prejudice in the Welsh Education System.
  11. Welsh Government (2021a)
    An Anti-Racist Wales: The Race Equality Action Plan for Wales.
    Welsh Government.
  12. Welsh Government (2021b)
    Black Asian and Minority Ethnic Communities, Contributions and Cynefin in the New Curriculum Working Group: Final Report.
    Cardiff: Cardiff. Accessed: 13 March 2022.
  13. Welsh Government (2021c)
    Learning of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic histories included in new Welsh Curriculum.
    Accessed: 22 Feb 2022.

Further reading

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24 May 2024

Anti-racism from a facilitator's perspective – thoughts and reflections

8 May 2024

DARPL Schools Tube Map

8 May 2024

DARPL CPEY Tube Map

23 April 2024

DARPLing through Community and Connection in Grangetown: St Paul’s Church In Wales Primary at the Heart ❤️

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23 April 2024

Tales of The Unexpected – Lessons Learnt From Our Time in The Māori World

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11 April 2024

Supporting schools to embed diversity within the Curriculum at Central South Consortium

18 March 2024

Leading as an ally in anti-racist Wales

7 March 2024

A whole region takes action towards safeguarding children from racism

27 February 2024

Hidden in Plain Sight: Racism Is Not Always Seen

20 February 2024

Taking a hard look at ourselves: starting your anti-racist learning

Team DARPL is a dynamic coalition of independent providers with a wide range of expertise with lived and professional experience. Team DARPL are excited to have the opportunity to work with you, your schools, colleges and organisations. Together in Wales, we can succeed in making a difference in this step-change as we all move towards REAP (2030) and our ‘anti-racist' Wales.

We welcome questions, ideas and requests for partnership involvement.

Chantelle Haughton
National Teaching Fellow SFHEA

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