A verbatim extract taken from ‘Why Teachers need Anti-racist Therapy’, an op ed piece by Bettina Love in Education Week dated February 6th 2020.
‘When I travel around the country talking to White teachers about educational justice and anti-racism, I am met with tears by many White educators who understand how racism preys on the bodies, minds, and communities of all their students, but especially their students of color. They know they need to do more, but the question is what does more look like? The “more” is anti-racist therapy and healing moving toward anti-racist actions.
White teachers need a particular type of therapy. They must learn how to deal with what Cheryl E. Matias calls “White emotionalities” and what Robin DiAngelo has termed “White fragility.” Emotions of guilt, shame, anger, denial, sadness, dissonance, and discomfort boil up when issues of race and racism challenge their sense of self. Too often, we think the work of fighting oppression is just intellectual. The real work is personal, emotional, spiritual, and communal.
The shift to anti-racism does not happen overnight or after one professional development session: It happens through a process of self-discovery, healing, and learning to reject and call out racist ideas, people, and structures. Anti-racist teaching is not a teaching approach or method, it is a way of life.
In her new book, The Racial Healing Handbook, Anneliese A. Singh writes: “Healing means you begin to unlearn the stereotyped racial messages you internalized about your own race and the race of others. It means you as an individual learn to recognize the wounds that racism creates in you, whether you are White or a person of color.”
Thus, we need therapists who specialize in the healing of teachers and the undoing of Whiteness in education. We need school therapists and counselors who are trained to help White educators and students process their emotions and their fragility. With healing, teachers will better manage their stress, improve their interactions with students, and be able to continue fighting for justice. Teachers should be offered this type of therapy free of charge.
As I am writing this, I understand education and mental-health systems often lack the resources to offer teachers anti-racism therapy at schools. Still, there are things we can do. Individuals can seek their own therapy provided by professionals who specialize in anti-racism.’