Academic journal article Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development

Teaching Antiracism in Counselor Training: Reflections on a Course

Academic journal article Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development

Teaching Antiracism in Counselor Training: Reflections on a Course

Article excerpt

This article provides a descriptive review of an antiracism course taught within a counseling and development program. Adopting a reflective stance, the article presents the rationale for antiracism training, describes the course structure and content, and includes personal reflections from students and the instructor.

Este articulo proporciona una critica descriptiva de un curso de antiracismo que se enseno dentro de un programa de consejeria y desarrollo. Adoptando una postura de reflexion, el articulo presenta los fundamentos para la formacion en antiracismo, describe la estructura del curso y su contenido e incluye ademas reflexiones personales de los estudiantes y el profesor.


The evolution of multicultural training and the acceptance of the Multicultural Counseling Competencies (Roysircar, Arredondo, Fuertes, Ponterotto, & Toporek, 2003) as guidelines for ethical practice have been critical developments in the training of counselors. Whereas the multicultural counseling emphasis grew out of the civil rights movement (Sue & Sue, 1999), the dialogue on culture and diversity in counseling evolved to include a range of marginalized groups and identities (Arredondo et al., 1996). Some scholars have suggested that the focus on multiculturalism has possibly obscured the significance of race and the ongoing challenge of racism (Helms & Richardson, 1997). Given the enduring nature of racism within U.S. society (Feagin, 2000), this article proposes that a specific focus on antiracism training be viewed as an imperative for counselor educators. As such, the article outlines the development and implementation of an antiracism course, documents some reflections from the instructor (author; hereinafter referred to as the instructor) and students, and provides suggestions for counselor educators who are interested in offering antiracism courses.

currents context of racism

According to demographics, people of non-European ancestry will assume the collective numerical majority in the coming years (Sue & Sue, 1999). Yet, irrespective of these demographic shifts, the historical establishment of a racial hierarchy within the United States (Fredrickson, 1988; Smedley, 1999) has resulted in an ongoing imbalance of social power within U.S. society, which has been exemplified in the phenomenon of racism (Feagin, 2000). Thompson and Neville (1999) provided one definition of racism:

   Racism consists of two interlocking dimensions: (a) an
   institutional mechanism [structural] of domination and (b) a
   corresponding ideological belief that justifies the oppression of
   people whose physical features and cultural patterns differ from
   those of the politically and socially dominant group--Whites. (p.

The profession of counseling exists within a society that has been indelibly shaped by race and racism and, as such, counseling students bring with them patterns of socialization (Pieterse & Collins, 2007) that influence their abilities to engage in the type of training designed to raise racial awareness (Spanierman et al., 2008).

antiracism instruction


In its 2006 annual report ("The State of Black America"), the National Urban League indicated that Black Americans continue to lag behind their White counterparts across a wide spectrum of social indices including education, wealth, health status, and social influence. Of note, the report identified an alarming increase in the incarceration rates of young Black men and indicated that Blacks continue to experience significant disparities in health, wealth, and income. These findings have indicated that although the nature of racism in the 21st century has changed, the pervasiveness of institutional racism (Miller & Garran, 2007) perhaps still has as pernicious an influence on some individuals of color as did the overfly racist policies that were present during the Jim Crow and segregation eras (Fredrickson, 1988). …

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