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Promoting Anti-Racism in Classrooms through Culturally Responsive Teaching

"Anti-racism is the active process of identifying and eliminating racism by changing systems, organizational structures, policies and practices and attitudes, so that power is redistributed and shared equitably." - NAC International Perspectives: Women and Global Solidarity


Culturally responsive teaching (CRT) is a research-based approach that makes meaningful connections between what students learn in school and their cultures, languages, and life experiences. These connections help students access rigorous curriculum, develop higher-level academic skills, and see the relevance between what they learn at school and their lives. (1) Just like anti-racism work, culturally responsive teaching is action-oriented. Culturally responsive teaching is a goal, a practice, a method, a value, and not a "program".


Culturally relevant education goes beyond celebrating Black History Month or providing ethnic studies. (2) Gloria Ladson-Billings, CRT foundational researcher provides three pillars of culturally relevant teaching:

  1. Academic Success

  2. Cultural Competence

  3. Sociopolitical Consciousness

Culturally responsive teaching is an asset-based approach to student achievement, curriculum, and teaching. How do we reframe questions, assessments, and success in our schools and in our classrooms such that Black students, Latino students, and low-income students are thriving?

Anti-racism is the process of unlearning racist ideas; co-learning new ways of seeing the world; engaging in the challenging work required to make meaningful change; enacting policies that manifest the changes needed to make our communities equitable for all. Culturally responsive classrooms are justice-oriented classrooms by default. In most cases, culturally responsive classrooms are part of the larger anti-racist effort to fight systematic oppression that shows up in the education system, the curriculum, and in the engagements between students, teachers, and the parent community. (3)

Read more about culturally responsive teaching in this New America study on 50 State Survey of Teaching Standards.

Building Culturally Relevant Schools Post-Pandemic with Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings

A Guide to Culturally Responsive Teaching 


Culture is central to learning. To truly engage students, we must reach out to them in ways that are culturally and linguistically responsive and appropriate, and we must examine the cultural assumptions and stereotypes we bring into the classroom that may hinder interconnectedness. (4) 

Questions to Consider when establishing anti-racist classrooms:

  1. What voices and perspectives are missing in the curriculum? Where can I find them?

  2. How can I center a student’s identity, culture, or language to good teaching practices?

  3. What measures can be put in place to prevent students of color from being “othered” in the classroom?

  4. How am I continuing to evaluate my own understanding of race and cultural identity?

  5. How does structural racism impact the conditions and circumstances of the lives of the students in my classroom?

  6. How is justice in the United States experienced differently for different groups?

  7. Am I leveraging social-emotional learning as a tool to police student behavior or to connect with student needs?

  8. How can I leverage social-emotional learning as a vehicle for mutual respect amongst students, between teachers and students, and between teachers and parents?

  9. How is justice in the United States experienced by different groups? What are examples of engaged civic actors fighting injustice? What can I learn from their effort to aid in the fight against injustice experienced today?

Culturally Responsive Teaching: A Guide to Evidence-Based Practices for Teaching All Students Equitably


This guide by Education Northwest provides a wide range of practices—supported by research—that can help prepare educators become more culturally responsive in their approach to teaching.

Resources and Book Recommendations 

Resources on racial inequality in school building and districts:

  • Institutional racism in school funding - This edBuild report breaks down funding differences in white and nonwhite schools across socioeconomic conditions.

  • Redlining and its stealth impact on Education - An article from Next Ed Research that discusses Redlining policies abolished over 50 years ago that still impact black and brown students and communities today. 

  • Nice White Parents  - A podcast series from Serial and the New York Times that looks at the 60-year relationship between white parents and the public school down the block.

  • White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Nation's Divide - Watch Dr. Carol Anderson, Charles Howard Candler Professor and Chair of African American Studies, break down the systematic refusal to invest in schools and black communities in retaliation to Brown v. Board of Education.


Anti-Racism Resources:

Book Recommendations for teachers:

Book Recommendations for Students:

Anti-Racism in Classrooms

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