During Wednesday's Live Event we talked about some of the ways that bias manifests in adult literacy programming. Here are three things that you can do TODAY to reduce bias and the impact of bias in your program!
1) Listen! If students, volunteers, or staff members share they they have experienced bias in the form of prejudice, discrimination, or one of the "isms" (racism, cisgenderism, sexism, ableism, heterosexism ageism, anit-semitism, etc). listen to their experiences, and try to see the experience from their perspective. Even if you don't believe the INTENT was harm, focus on the impact- what they felt. Resist the urge to dismiss the issue.
2) Ask! If you want to know how to make your program more welcoming and affirming to your student population, ask them what that looks like for them. Ask students about what they love about your program and ask what they would change. Ask if they have ever felt like they were treated differently or unfairly because of their social identities (race, class, sex, gender, gender expression, immigration status, etc.). Ask what happened in those instances if there were any. Ask what they think should have happened.
3) Represent! Consider some ways that you can provide mirrors in your program? Mirrors are ways for students to see themselves and their cultures represented in your program. Examine your staff, volunteers, board, and leadership. Are the social identities of your learners represented in any of those bodies? Can you elevate a student or alum to increase representation? Do students see themselves represented on your website and marketing materials? What about your curriculum? How do you incorporate diversity in your curriclulm? Do you include writings from authors with diverse backgrounds and perspectives?
Let's talk about some things that we can do (or that you are currently doing) to reduce the impact of bias in your adult literacy program or adult literacy class.