Race and SEL
February marks Black History Month.
Social-emotional learning and anti-racism go hand in hand. The more I learn about how racism shows up in our culture and the world, the more I see this connection. Just like we need to be intentional about becoming anti-racist, we also need to be intentional about social and emotional learning. But why do these topics feel harder to prioritize?
Because, unlike math and reading or getting through your “to-do” lists, this type of learning is:
- Ever-changing and is a lifelong process - it’s not linear and harder to measure
- Can feel really uncomfortable and hard to navigate
- Changes the way we show up in the world (back to uncomfortable)
Race and SEL
“The only way to undo racism is to consistently identify and describe it - and then dismantle it.”
Yes! And this is where that intentional and uncomfortable piece can get in our way. And also why SEL is directly related to becoming anti-racist. Let’s take a closer look at SEL.
“Social and emotional learning (SEL) as an integral part of education and human development. SEL is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.”
Let’s dissect this for a minute. If you are a white reader, think about these pieces from someone else’s perspective, as well as your own.
1. “developing a healthy identity”
Think about all of the insecurities that come along with human development. Now imagine how much more challenging “developing a healthy identity” would feel if you grew up in a society that is still not integrated, and is just beginning to be more inclusive in terms of media and literacy consumption.
2. “managing emotions and achieving personal and collective goals”
What if you are being mistreated? Managing your emotions would feel near impossible. Think about how hard this is for many of us, regardless of race. How about achievement? There are so many barriers to how we define achievement, only perpetuating a cycle of racism.
3. “feel empathy for others”
This concept alone, as a collective society, could dismantle racism. When we have real, consistent empathy, how could we perpetuate racism?
SEL and racism are big topics and we (Kind Mind) are actively pursuing partnerships to ensure our materials are supportive of this collective goal of living in an anti-racist world. Fundamentally, our approach is to recognize a common humanity and a shared experience to feel loved, respected, and like we all matter in this world.