(November 17, 2006) “Racism is not a polite issue,” says Dr. Bryan McKinley Jones Brayboy, associate professor and educational anthropologist at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Brayboy, a Lumbee tribal member from Prospect, North Carolina, presented two lectures at Illinois State during American Education Week, November 12-18, 2006.

Brayboy’s first presentation, entitled¬†Teaching Against the Lies: Brown Scholars Teaching Social Justice, focused on the challenges and opportunities for higher education faculty in terms of teaching about race and diversity issues within teacher education curricula. Brayboy highlighted the paradox of multi-race and multi-ethnic representations in the classroom. He noted that there exist significant intellectual, social, emotional, and spiritual costs to educators and students of color as they take on the challenge of teaching about social justice in a white-privileged educational environment.

Speaking to a large group of teacher education majors at the Bone Student Center, Brayboy shared his experiences on a recent visit to an elementary school classroom in the Salt Lake City area. Pointing to the timely issues related to American Indian representation and Thanksgiving, Brayboy described the deeply troubling aspects of the curricular and social practices in our classrooms that lead to gross misrepresentations of Indigenous people. Brayboy says that Indigenous people are often portrayed as relics or figures from the past and not as vibrant and active people who exist today. A point that is punctuated each time he is asked by an elementary school student “where is your horse?”

Bryan McKinley Jones Brayboy is an associate professor at the University of Utah teaching in the Ethnic Studies Program and in the Department of Education, Culture, and Society; Co-Director of the Center for the Study of Empowered Students of Color; and the principal investigator of the University of Utah American Indian Teacher Training program.

American Education Week was created and sponsored by the National Education Association (NEA), the nation’s largest educators’ organization. The College of Education at Illinois State University celebrated American Education Week with a variety of events to raise the awareness of the need to provide every child with a quality public education.

Event sponsors included Urban Needs in Teacher Education (UNITE), Kappa Delta Pi (KDP), Kappa Delta Epsilon, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the College of Education Diversity Committee, the College of Education, MECCPAC, and the Diversity Advocacy Office.