Equity is achieved when bias is identified and combated, expert says

Chris D’souza believes equity belongs in the classroom. He’s made it his life’s work to help people, and educators, recognize and combat their own biases.

“Teachers are very important players in people’s formation of how they process the world so it’s really important that they understand their own biases,” D’souza said. “The goal is that they think critically about what they think and why. The end goal is to treat people with dignity.”

D’souza will be at Brock University Friday, May 13 for Equity Talks 2016: Promoting Equity Literacy, Critical Conversations and Strategies, an event organized by the Faculty of Education in association with the Ontario Literacy Association Niagara.

The free event is a chance to engage in critical conversations on equity literacy, share innovative and practical resources and curriculum strategies and explore children’s books that focus on black, racialized and Indigenous experiences and history in the Niagara Region.

It takes place in the instructional resource centre on the second floor of Welch Hall from 1-4 p.m.

Also speaking is writer Robert Priest, who has authored 14 books of poetry, three plays, three novels, seven CDs and children’s verse.

D’souza said in his talk he aims to challenge people to look critically at their biases and perceptions about all aspects of being human from race and class to gender identity and sexuality.

Identifying one’s own bias can help them move past it and ensure they are treating all people equitably and with empathy, he said.

“It’s powerful understanding one’s own bias and the way we analyze it,” he said.

D’souza gives talks to people from junior kindergarten to management-level professionals and works extensively with school boards around the country.

He said teachers are an important group to reach because they have such a significant influence on students and how they see others and themselves.

A teacher’s reactions and interactions either replicate or disrupt the status quo, he said.

Associate Professor Dolana Mogadime, in the Faculty of Education, said students have embraced D’souza’s work.

“Chris is a charismatic leader in the field of equity and inclusive education in Ontario. He embodies a clarion call for the promotion of equity and inclusion through his advocacy presentations by incorporating his personal life experiences challenging exclusion, racism, sexism and heterosexism,” she said. “He makes audience participants critically engage with the unexamined assumptions that can take the form of stereotypes and subtle forms of microaggressions that unintentionally perpetuate thinking that marginalizes people because of their race, class, gender and sexuality.”

D’souza will return to Brock this fall to take part in the White Privilege Symposium Canada running Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. He is one of a number of speakers who will discuss equality in his talk titled: Why is the new super girl a skinny, blue-eyed, white blond?” (Interrupting whiteness in youth culture).

For more information on the WPSC read The Brock News story.

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