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Going beyond anti-racist pedagogical practices: co-constructing a pro-Black classroom

Siettah Parks (Department of Education Policy and Social Analysis, Teachers College of Columbia University, New York, New York, USA)
Jordan Bell (Department of English and Humanities, SUNY Dutchess Community College, Poughkeepsie, New York, USA and Department of Urban Education, CUNY The Graduate Center, New York, New York, USA)
Sydoni Ellwood (Department of MALS, CUNY The Graduate Center, New York, New York, USA)
Sherry L. Deckman (Middle and High School Education, Lehman College, City University of New York, Bronx, New York, USA)

Journal for Multicultural Education

ISSN: 2053-535X

Article publication date: 25 May 2022

Issue publication date: 23 June 2022




The purpose of this study is to explore the means, rationale, challenges and opportunities of shifting focus from anti-racist to pro-Black educational practice. The authors argue that while anti-racism is necessary, it is insufficient in addressing the deeply entrenched anti-Blackness in US society. The instructor and three student members of a graduate course on Black girlhoods reflect on their time together to better understand the process of developing a classroom specifically for Black students.


Through a process of collaborative autoethnography, the authors used their reflections as data to identify the practices that served to establish their space as pro-Black and consider how these practices may apply to other contexts.


The data presented indicate that co-construction, intentionality and care and love are integral to developing a pro-Black classroom. The implementation of these practices in the authors’ graduate course allowed the students to feel seen and affirmed, which contrasts with their previous experiences in higher education.


This paper introduces the concept of the pro-Black classroom space as a pedagogical transformation aimed at preserving Black lives. The authors’ insights demonstrate how concrete practices that not only constitute anti-racist practice, but further challenge anti-Black bias, help to dismantle structural and systemic inequities in academia.



The authors would like to thank the other members of their fall 2020 Black girlhoods class.


Parks, S., Bell, J., Ellwood, S. and Deckman, S.L. (2022), "Going beyond anti-racist pedagogical practices: co-constructing a pro-Black classroom", Journal for Multicultural Education, Vol. 16 No. 3, pp. 259-271.



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