Teachable Moments of Discomfort


"I've never experienced white guilt." A black teacher reflects on helping her white students explore their racial identities. by Sarah Webb
Teaching Tolerance, Issue 58, March 1, 2018

In her article, "I've never experienced white guilt," Sarah Webb's insight and clarity as an educated Black woman navigating the world of privilege gives the reader a clear-headed and practical approach to situations many educators of color face in predominantly white classrooms. She opens with an anecdote that rings true: white students asking a teacher of color to define "white guilt" for her, which is virtually impossible from the standpoint of the instructor. However, Webb lays out four steps to cracking open and shedding light upon students’ capacity to unpack their own privilege, using her unique position as a guiding force. While the author cautions that there is no easy fix to these teachable moments of discomfort, the only way around them is through them. By anticipating the biases of those in the classroom, bringing in white teachers to facilitate discussions, being transparent about the role that identity plays in every aspect of learning, and depersonalizing the process, Webb suggests that it is possible for educators of color to support white students in discovering, and dismantling, systems of privilege and oppression from within.

Submitted By: Phoebe Search, Elisabeth Morrow School, Englewood, NJ

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