White Faculty’s Commitment to Racial Consciousness in STEM Classrooms
Edited By Nicole M. Joseph, Chayla Haynes and Floyd Cobb
2. When Nothing’s Lost: The Impact of Racial Segregation on White Teachers and Students
“All the White racists in the room, raise your hand!”
I grew up in poverty, in a family in which no one was expected to go to college. Thus I came late to academia, graduating with a BA in sociology at the age of 34. Unsure what I could do with my degree, I went to my college’s career center for help. After working with the career counselors for several weeks, I received a call. The counselor told me that a job announcement had just arrived for a “diversity trainer,” and she thought I would be a good fit. I did not know what a diversity trainer was, but the job description sounded very exciting: co-leading workshops for employees on accepting racial difference. I believed I qualified because I was “progressive and open-minded.” I was in for the most profound learning curve of my life.
The interview committee explained that the state’s Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS—the “welfare” department) had been sued for racial discrimination and had lost the suit. The federal government had determined that the department was out of compliance regarding serving all clients equally across race, and as part of the settlement had mandated that every employee in the state (more than 5,000 people) receive 16 hours (2 full workdays) of diversity training. DSHS hired a training company to design and deliver the trainings, and this company wrote the curriculum. Part of the...
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