Reflecting on my schooling experience as well as my upbringing, I have come to realize my worldview has changed dramatically, my knowledge of certain topics has (hopefully) increased, and the biases I carry have shifted. Although I would love to believe I grew up without influence from racial, sexual, gender, or other biases, I know this is not the case. I along with many others in Saskatchewan grew up in a neighbourhood that had a strong white majority, attended religious schools with very few differing racial groups, was not exposed to the LGBTQ+ community, and did not quite understand why or how any marginalized group concerned me. It is safe to say I did not know diversity and how powerful it could be.
I heard many ‘single stories’ of different cultures and groups most of which were extremely stereotypical, heteronormative, and racist. They ranged anywhere from impoverished Africans who lived in clay huts, Asians who were bad drivers, Indigenous peoples who received everything for free, white men who were most qualified, to sitting with a young boy while in grade one and having everyone ask if we were boyfriend and girlfriend. These narratives are extremely harmful. Reinforcing such narratives learned through popular culture, media, family, and friends, encourage a ‘superior’ person and oppress everyone else.
It is evident I was exposed to biases that moulded me into a person who was uneducated, misunderstanding, and had plenty of room for improvement. Had I not decided to actively unlearn such biases to ensure I do not oppress my future students, I may have been an educator who made incorrect assumptions, reinforced stereotypes, and brushed off the importance of activism and social justice. The classroom environment would have been far from inclusive and I could have potentially harmed students with my previous and incorrect understanding of certain groups and communities.
It is crucial educators undergo this transition to unlearn these biases by educating oneself on the facts, considering many biases stem from little evidence and consideration or are simply dated from many years ago. Making effort to keep an open, but critical mind is also important as this will filter content which may not be logical or just while being available to hear the perspectives and opinions of others. Listening to a person can be very beneficial! Ultimately, everyone will make the decision for themselves to unlearn such biases when they are ready or see necessary. It is unfortunate some people may see no opportunity to make this change but I am thrilled that I decided to do this in my young adulthood. I could not imagine living how I was raised any longer. I would like to believe my parents, family, teachers, and peers had positive intentions but they imposed views onto me which I did not create for myself. I will work for the rest of my life on recovering from such biases and work hard to not pass the biases I carry with me to my students or family in the future. This will be a life long battle and I will learn everyday, but I am thankful I have the opportunity to change my life which will better myself and the lives of those around me.