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Democracy & Education

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Race relations -- Study and teaching -- United States, Racism -- Study and teaching -- United States, Sexism -- Study and teaching -- United States


The biggest barriers to learning about racism, sexism, and the other oppressions, are the non-rational aversive reactions most of us have to the material and to the learning process. When men truly inquire into the lives of women, we come face to face with a horrible reality that just "cannot be true," but is. When those of us of European heritage inquire into the lives of those whose ancestors came from the other continents, what we find often makes us flinch at its brutality. We feel guilty for what "whites" or men have done, and most of us don't like to feel bad. Our visceral reaction -- seeking to shut out this new information -- continually wars with the desire many of us have to get closer to others by understanding their lives, and the often unacknowledged connections to our lives. This paper presents one method I have found to be extremely effective at circumventing the triggering of hot-button responses.


This is the publisher's final PDF. Revised 2009 from the version that appeared in Democracy & Education, Fall 2000, pp. 69-72.

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