REEL Anti-Racist Statement of Principles

REEL Mission Statement

The mission of the Reading and Elementary Education (REEL) Department is to prepare effective teachers and teacher-leaders. We posit that in order to do so, we must recognize and value the unique position elementary educators have to influence – through teaching and critical literacy practices – the nation’s youngest generation of thinkers, innovators and leaders who will strive for a more equitable world. We believe that achieving equity broadly, first and foremost, involves an explicit commitment to antiracism, with the understanding that anything less than antiracism (i.e., racism and non-racism) is not an option.

Anti-Racist Statement of Principles – A Prelude

We acknowledge that as individuals and as a department, we are either anti-racist or racist at any moment in time; we can either act in direct and ongoing confrontation with the philosophy of racism, racists, and the structures of racism, or we are complicit in them. And yet, we also acknowledge we are all at different points in the continuous work toward challenging racism and anti-Blackness in our teaching and learning. We do not undertake this journey alone but rather progress through it with study, self-reflection, and in courageous dialogue with others. In this spirit, we offer this statement of principles as points of reference to lead, challenge, and inspire our work in the Reading and Elementary Department.

This statement of principles relies on meanings that are reflections of our best understandings from the scholarly field at this time; however, we recognize that definitions – like knowledge – are fluid, ever-expanding, and contested. For clarity and cohesion, we work from the following lexicon:

  • racism – racial prejudice or systematized discrimination or antagonism backed by systems of power and a belief that whiteness is superior
  • anti-racism – actively opposing racist thoughts, behaviors, policies, and practices
  • anti-Blackness – thoughts, “actions, and behaviors that minimize, marginalize, and devalue” the lives of Black people (UCI)