“I guess I’m not alone in this”

Exploring racialized students’ experiences and perspectives of safer classrooms at McMaster University





This chapter details the findings of our critical race theory-informed study, which explored how pedagogy can adapt to create, foster, prioritize, and sustain safety for racialized students in the classroom. We invited racialized students to participate in a focus group which researchers designed to be a safe space, unpack their experiences of tokenization, harm, and exclusion in the classroom. Participants described the (a) systemic issues within white-streamed pedagogy, (b) the significance of uncompensated and unrecognized labour in the classroom, (c) classroom experiences of harm, and (d) long-term emotional and academic impacts of racial trauma. Drawing from their recommendations, we emphasize the production of counter-stories that centre the need for safer and more inclusive classrooms within post-secondary institutions. Recommendations offered from participants include ways the administration can materially invest in the safety and well-being of students of colour; implications oriented to instructors, staff, and white- identified students in making classroom spaces more equitable; and reflexive-learning and educational opportunities to change language, curriculum, discourse, and interactions across the institution.

Author Biographies

Maddie Brockbank, McMaster University

PhD Student, School of Social Work

Renata Hall, McMaster University

PhD Student, School of Social Work