Lecturing about race and racism is one of the most challenging lectures I do. This is because I do not simply talk about these issues in theory, but discuss how they play out in our everyday lives: including how I wrestle with my own prejudices.
I have always tried to confront my own inner thoughts and feelings. As part of this, I co-wrote a paper about my own prejudices in 2008 titled ‘Racists Like Us…‘. It was a difficult paper to write and at the time I received a number of abusive emails – and once during a presentation a couple of people walked out.
The argument of the paper is that we all carry prejudices – particularly when we find ourselves in privileged positions – and these are learnt as we progress through life. The instincts we develop are there and we should be brave enough to admit it: for only we are willing to admit these can we confront them.
I had almost forgotten I had written this paper until someone retweeted it stating that it remains relevant almost 10 years later particularly in the current political context. I just re-read it and though there are parts that still make me feel uncomfortable, I really do think it is worthy of discussion.
I am a supporter of the Race Discrimination Act and have argued here that we should protect Section 18C – something I have discussed in a Sociologic podcast. But this does not mean we cannot have difficult and complex conversations – at home, with friends, in the classroom and in the media. These need to remain respectful and we need to remain cognisant of the fact that the feelings of others should always be acknowledged and protected as best as we can.
These conversations are had in pubs, bars, cafes and family dinners – and as educators I feel that we need to lead these discussions in the classroom so concerns are raised, myths are confronted, facts are presented and feelings are acknowledged.
The article is attached: I would appreciate your thoughts and views…
The PDF is here: Racists like us or follow the link above…