RIAINetwork - Anti-Racism and Unconscious Bias Training

Schools and Colleges Workshops

In the Irish Education Policy and Practice, the only anti-racism spoken about is racist bullying between children and young people (Department of Education and Skills [DES] 2013).As it has recently been evidenced in various news outlets across Ireland, systematic, structural, institutional, and individual racism exists within schools’ colleges and other higher education settings. Overt and covert racism exists from both students to students, but also micro aggressions from teachers and adults within schools. In addition, Smyth (2011) found that one-fifth of migrant students drop out of school compared with just under 10 per cent of students with Irish parents. RIAINetwork aims to provide anti-racism talks, workshops , activities and training in schools, colleges and other higher education settings. These will be provided in an age appropriatemanner employing a person-centred approach. Sessions will be delivered with sensitivity, respect, awareness, and consideration for all involved by Garda Vetted educators within the school curriculum of History, SPHE and Music. There will be collaboration and support with the schools, colleges, and teachers before, during and after sessions to ensure accountability and success of sessions. Our modules cover 4 main areas which explore race relations and unconscious bias:

  • Stock stories: These are those told by the dominant group, passed on through historical and literary documents, and celebrated through public rituals, monuments, and media representations. Because stock stories tell us a lot about what a society considers important and meaningful, stock stories about race and racism provide a useful way of understanding how racism operates.
  • Concealed stories: These coexist with the stock stories but most often remain in the shadows, hidden from the public. Though invisible to those in the dominant society, concealed stories are often circulated, told, and retold by people in the margins whose experiences and aspirations they express provide a view that is often very different from that of the normal. Through concealed stories those marginalised, and often stigmatised by the dominant society recount their experiences and critique the mainstream narratives. They tell stories of struggle, self-affirmation, and survival in the face of oppressive circumstances. While concealed stories are often overshadowed by stock stories, they challenge the stock stories and offer a viewpoint that can expose and challenge their self-interested nature and claimed universality. The Workshops will help deconstruct stock stories through comparing them to concealed stories, identifying different perspectives and knowledge, and developing a fuller picture of our society and its institutions. Such comparisons will help participants understand how stock stories maintain the institutional and social status quo in ways that support and perpetuate a racial system that harms everyone by preventing the full realisation of our ideals as a society committed to equality.
  • Resistance stories: These are stories, both historical and contemporary, that tell about how people have resisted racism, challenged the stock stories that support it, and fought for more equal and inclusive social arrangements. Resistance stories are the reserve of stories built up through the ages about challenges to an unjust status quo. They include stories of resilient people who have been excluded (though sometimes included and vilified) in history books, but who have nevertheless struggled against racism. Such stories help teach us about antiracist perspectives and practices that have existed throughout our history up to the present time therefore expanding our vision of what is possible in our own anti-racism work.
  • Counter Stories: Counter stories are new stories that are deliberately constructed to challenge the stock stories. They are built on and amplify resistance stories and offer ways to interrupt the status quo and focus on change. Such stories enact continuing critique and resistance to the stock stories and enable new possibilities for an inclusive society. These four-story types are connected. Through engagement with the four-story styles, we want students to:
    • understand the complexity of racism and the power dimensions through which it operates.
    • help them recognise how race is constructed to support hierarchies of power and privilege that sustain racism, as well as to figure out ways to challenge these hierarchies through collaborative work with others.
    • to be able to access and make sense of their own experience through stories as they listen to and learn from the stories others tell.

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