The American School Counselor Association states that “School counselors are advocates for the equitable treatment of all students in school and in the community. School counselors must be prepared to talk to students about race issues and anti-racism.”
As an anti-racist school counselor, you’re equipped with empathy and compassion. And you’re trained to invite healthy conversations (and begin the conversation) about racism and the importance of equality.
But perhaps the most important thing you can do, is focus on your inner dialogue. By addressing your inner-self and biases, you learn to live authentically. And, in turn, you’ll become confident in your ability to handle sensitive topics.
Knowing your own biases, and acknowledging them, will help you understand your own beliefs, interactions, and how they affect others.
And addressing self-awareness regarding race and privilege will help you build confidence when talking about racial issues as well as advocating for equality in your schools.
Here’s what you can do to become a confident anti-racist school counselor:
Talk About Racism and White Supremacy
If students, parents, or staff approach you with concerns or to start a dialogue, keep an open door policy. Shying away from sensitive topics may seem like the easiest way to handle these situations, but if you close the world off to these problems, you may inadvertently send the wrong message about your own positioning.
Shutting the door to these important issues may lead those who rely on you to believe you are not supportive of them.
The best thing you can do is open the door for healthy conversations.
Familiarize Yourself with Historical Truths
Take time to educate yourself on not only historical truths surrounding racism, but also as an advocate for your school.
Become familiar with how students are learning the historical significance of racism. And speak up if the topics are inaccurate, insensitive, or traumatizing to students.
If you’ve been made aware of inaccuracies or insensitive teaching methods, approach educators with compassion, and never assume they are trying to be racist. Sometimes, they don’t know any different. It’s also possible that they’ve never sought out, or had access to, the appropriate professional development resources.
Anti-Racist School Counselor Advocacy
If you see racist behavior, take action, and speak up. Do so in an empathetic way so those nearby can witness a non-aggressive approach to healthy action against racism. Check out 8 everyday ways to fight racism.
Diversify Your Space
Make sure the spaces in which you meet with students and family depict cultural diversity and is inclusive of all races and genders. Too often, pamphlets and educational resources do not accurately depict the world we live in. You can find so many great books for your counseling library here.
Celebrate Cultures around the World
Make it a point to talk about and celebrate the variety of cultures around the world. Get students involved in researching their culture and bragging about their backgrounds. Show students how to appreciate the uniqueness of each country and culture.
Self-Awareness for Anti-Racist School Counselors
Perhaps the most important thing you can do to ensure you’re doing your best to be an anti-racist and anti-white supremacy educator and counselor is to address your own thoughts and biases with mindfulness.
Some things you can ask yourself in order to understand your own biases are questions like:
- Does your inner dialogue affect how you interact, grade, or help manage a student’s behavior and learning?
- Do you have materials and resources that are helpful, diverse, and positive for all races and genders?
- Does your own identity help or hinder your ability to counsel a diverse population of students? If it hinders, what changes can you make within your mindset to support each and every student?
Self-awareness is the first step in building a confident anti-racist counseling program that gives all students a safe place to come and talk about racism. It’s up to you to build an understanding of your own thoughts and behaviors so you can become a confident counselor and trusted advocate in your school.