Antiracist Pedagogy

Antiracist Pedagogy in Online Education

In “Antiracist Pedagogy: Definition, Theory, and Professional Development” (2005), Alda Blakeney provides the following definition of antiracist pedagogy: “Antiracist 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 promote social justice for the creation of a democratic society in every respect.”

In other words: antiracist pedagogy isn’t just about being “not racist” in your teaching practices. It is about recognizing the presence of racism in students’ lives and in our institutions, and taking active measures to counteract its impact in the classroom.

While the core tenets of antiracist pedagogy apply to any teaching modality, online education poses a unique set of challenges and opportunities for antiracist practice. Below, we describe:

  • Recommendations for antiracist practices in online courses

  • The five fundamentals of antiracist teaching (in-person or online)

  • Resources on antiracist pedagogy

Antiracist practices for online courses

A few ways to enact antiracist pedagogy in your online course

  • Require students to engage in critical self-reflection and discussion, in journals and/or asynchronous discussion forums (Valcarlos et al. 2020). Online forums like Canvas Discussions, Piazza, or Discord should be frequently monitored by your teaching team, and students should agree to and follow discussion agreements.

  • Legitimize students’ emotions, identities, and cultures (Valcarlos et al. 2020). This can include incorporating course materials from diverse scholars, as well as making space in your course for students to draw connections between course materials and their own lives. This can happen in online forums, using an asynchronous video tool like Flipgrid, or live in Zoom breakout groups.

  • Mitigate stereotype threat by communicating your belief in students’ ability to achieve the high standards you’ve set for the course—especially for high-stakes assessments and assignments. It also helps to provide students concrete, actionable feedback on their work (Brown University 2020). Giving students substantive comments in a Canvas rubric or recording short, informal videos to describe upcoming major assignments are two ways to offer this support in an online course.

Addressing microaggressions in the online classroom

A student’s perspective

“On one hand, the online course provided a platform where students felt comfortable expressing their opinions...But on the other hand, it also allowed students to speak almost without a filter.... students feel more comfortable making comments that are offensive to other students when they’re online.” (Ortega et al. 2015)

Responding in the moment

From Ortega et al. 2018: “Employing an anti-racist pedagogy to online learning requires that we be prepared for when a microaggression occurs, not if.”

  • Focus on supporting the students and their emotional reactions rather than being defensive if you did not notice the microaggression

  • Assign a reading on microaggressions relevant to the incident

  • Engage students in critical self-reflection in an online forum

Responding to racial microaggressions.pdf

The Five Fundamentals of Antiracist Teaching

  1. Reflection: Strengthen awareness of racial exclusion and engage in critical reassessment of one’s practices

  2. Climate: Foster an antiracist classroom climate

  3. Curriculum: Revise course and program curricula to better reflect diverse contributions to (and address exclusions from) the discipline

  4. Equity: Investigate and take responsibility for equitable access and outcomes at the course, program, and campus level

  5. Inclusion: Practice inclusive course design and delivery