Dr. K.O. Wilson, KOO Director of Black Teacher Retention and Recruitment, traveled to Namibia in Africa this month to present at The 11th Teacher Education & Interdisciplinary Research (TEIR) Conference . Participating African Universities included: University of South Africa, University of Namibia-Windhoek, Nelson Mandela University, University of Zululand, and others. Dr. Wilson was joined by Dr. Martin Smith (Duke University-Dean of Academic Affairs); Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education at Trinity College of Arts & Sciences; and Dr. Christopher Knaus (Assistant Professor of the Practice – Program in Education and Professor of Education at the University of Washington-Tacoma).
The presentation titled “Schools as Anti-Blackness: Globalizing Black Affirmation” focused on how global educational systems remain Euro-centric, white-affirming, and white-organized. As schools and universities continue to diversify the teacher, leadership, and academic workforce, the infrastructures of whiteness remain, ensuring that even as institutions become Black-populated, the scope and function remains anti-Black.
The interactive workshop they led moved from recognizing racism through a critical race theory lens, towards lessons learned from the shared anti-Blackness across the United States and South African contexts. The workshop focused on how Black educational leaders must elevate Black male educators intentionally through Black affirmation, and a complex notion of global Blackness as transformative praxis.
Dr. Wilson reflected on the event, “We discussed with Higher Education Institutions in the Southern Cape of Africa about anti-blackness. Most folks were unaware of the concept of anti-blackness and believed it was an American concept. Our presentation pushed folks to acknowledge that anti-blackness happens in Africa too.” He continues, “For example, throughout the Southern Cape of Africa ‘White schools’ learn English, German, or other European languages rather than Bantu ( Native languages of Africa). This is a sign of anti-blackness because the ‘white schools’ deem it unnecessary to learn the language of the majority of folks in Africa [and instead] learn the language of the power structure.”
Conference organizers were so impressed with the KOO’s work in teacher recruitment, that discussions have already begun for a U.S. South Africa Embassy Grant to Teacher Recruitment with the college partners from the conference.