Taika Waititi is taking part in an important campaign to help identify, confront and hopefully dismantle racism in schools across New Zealand.
The film-maker and Hollywood star has teamed up with the Teaching Council who want to “Unteach Racism” – address widespread racist attitudes in class and empower the teaching profession to take action.
In a video launched today, Taika describes his own school experiences while talking to a photo of his younger self:
“Forget about being accused of being a glue-sniffer, or stealing lunches, or that you’re brown because you don’t take baths,” he begins.
“You’ve been made to feel you’re not trustworthy, you’re trouble, that you won’t add up to much, but you’ll prove them all wrong.”
He goes on to explain that young people can’t get advice from their future selves, which is why it’s so important for teachers to deal with racism in the classroom now.
“As teachers, you’ve got the real life ability to make a difference for kids in the face of racism. There are so many things their benevolent and successful future selves would love to go back and unteach them but you’re the ones who can choose to do that in real time, now You have the power to unteach racism – will you?”
The Teaching Council has been working with the Human Rights Commission to find ways to support teachers, leverage their unique skills and help positively change the dialogue around racism in schools.
“Teachers all want the best for learners. Unfortunately, to help all learners succeed, teachers face an extra challenge – society has already taught learners that some of them are less valued,” it says in the Unteach Racism campaign material.
Sharing his campaign video on Instagram, Taika explains that he used to look like a girl when he was a kid and jokes that he still looks like one when he shaves. But he also points out that teachers “make a huge impact and influence on our younger selves, especially when it comes to kids facing racism. A few of mine did.”
Watch Taika’s full video below:
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(Feature Image Credit: Andrea Raffin/Shutterstock.com)