KIM PARKER


INTERVIEW


How has race and intersectionality impacted your life?

"I'm always showing up with an eye towards revolution."

I am a Black woman, and I grew up working class. That impacts how I show up every day. I am constantly thinking about the lens in which I see the world, and how does it then impact my work with pre-service teachers? I'm also always aware of how much we devalue Black women. I want to make sure that in whatever context I’m in, I’m remembering that we’re really powerful, that we have this really broad and long history of progress, and not just struggle. I'm always showing up with an eye towards revolution.


Why is talking about race in the subject(s) you teach necessary?


Almost 90 percent of all teachers are White women. Many teacher education programs do not explicitly describe, or discuss, racial literacy with pre-service teachers. Many White teachers, when they start teaching, will say, “I'm not prepared. I never had any conversations about racial literacy.” And I think that that's a disservice to teachers. It’s important to discuss racial literacy with White teachers. Many of them don't even know that Whiteness is race.


What was it like teaching this lesson or unit plan?


Tell Me Who You Are has been so important because it gives us a text, and I think when you have a text, you can have conversations, right? People can locate themselves within that book, and then you can say, all right, so this is what is happening, this is how it’s impacting you… how might this impact your future students as well?


Slowing down, looking at those really thoughtful introductions to the language, and terms, in TMWYA, is so important. Giving teachers time to be reflective—that's what actually makes an excellent teacher, being reflective about your practice. Once you have that grounding, which TMWYA’s introduction gives especially, once everyone has a common language, and a common understanding, you can begin to really get into things.


What would you like to tell any educator looking at your work right now?

We as teachers don't do our own work. If we haven't done our own racial literacy homework, we can’t expect someone else to.

We as teachers don't do our own work. If we haven't done our own racial literacy homework, we can’t expect someone else to.

I would particularly like people to be racially literate, who were in positions of power, and in positions of being able to change the outcomes for Black, Latinx, and other kids of color. Because, in my experience, they are not.

I would really like educators to be racially literate. I would particularly like people to be racially literate, who are in positions of power, and in positions of being able to change the outcomes for Black, Latinx, and other kids of color. Because, in my experience, they are not. And they are making tremendously powerful decisions that impact kids and impact families and impact communities.


At this moment, I'm done with hoping that people will be racially literate. Now, I'm just demanding it. You have to be racially literate, or we can't have a conversation anymore. I hope other educators demand that of themselves, and of others, too.



KIM PARKER'S Lesson plan:

TYPE: Lesson (full class) TITLE: What is Racial Literacy? CONTENT AREA: ELA/Humanities

GRADE LEVEL(S): For teachers of Grades 6 to 12

DESCRIPTION: This lesson will help preservice teachers unpack their own racial identity so they are able to do the same work with middle and high school young people. They will anchor their consciousness in the text as they develop their facility and comfort with teaching for racial justice.

Click below to download a PDF of Kim Parker's full lesson plan.

What is Racial Literacy
.pdf
Download PDF • 59KB



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Last Updated: October 2020

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