Everyday Antiracism: Getting Real About Race in School / Edition 1

Overview

How should teachers respond when children ask challenging questions about race? How should teachers handle the use of the "N-word" or discuss "achievement gaps" with colleagues? How can teachers avoid unwittingly making children of color speak on behalf of their entire group? In more than fifty original pieces written especially for this groundbreaking book, Everyday Antiracism offers practical advice for teachers and parents.

Leading educators-among them Beverly Daniel Tatum, Sonia Nieto, and Pedro Noguera-describe concrete ways to analyze classroom interactions that may or may not be "racial," deal with racial inequality and "diversity," and teach to high standards across racial lines. Topics range from using racial incidents as teachable moments to valuing students' home worlds and helping parents fight ethnic and racial misconceptions about their children. Questions following each essay prompt readers to examine everyday issues of race and opportunity in their own classrooms and schools.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Teachers and parents often want to act on the issue of racism, but don’t know how. This one-of-a-kind volume is the blueprint; no one should teach another day without reading it."
—Tim Wise, author of White Like Me
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Product Details

  • BN ID: 2581595580545
  • Manufacturer: New Press, The
  • Publication date: 6/26/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)
  • These items ship to U.S. address only. No APO/FPO.

Meet the Author


Mica Pollock is an associate professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. An anthropologist of education, she previously taught tenth grade and worked in the civil rights field. She is the author of Colormute and Because of Race. She lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.
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Read an Excerpt


Introduction:

Defining Everyday Antiracism

Everyday things represent the most overlooked knowledge.
—Don DeLillo, 1997

To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.
—George Orwell, 1946

For this book, I invited over sixty researchers, many of whom are former
teachers, to boil down their school-based research into knowledge usable for
K–12 classroom practice. I wanted each author to suggest a school-based action
educators could take, every day, to help counteract racial inequality and
racism in schools and society. We call these actions everyday antiracism.

This book is not designed to convince you that you intentionally harm children.
Instead, it is designed to get you thinking about how everyday actions
can harm children unintentionally. It is not designed to get you to ask, “Am I a
bad person?” Instead, it is designed to get you to ask, “Do my everyday acts
help promote a more equitable society?”

We collectively define “racism” as any act that, even unwittingly, tolerates,
accepts, or reinforces racially unequal opportunities for children to learn and
thrive; allows racial inequalities in opportunity as if they are normal and acceptable;
or treats people of color as less worthy or less complex than “white”
people. Many such acts taken in educational settings harm children of color,
or privilege and value some children or communities over others in racial
terms, without educators meaning to do this at all. That is why this book
zooms in on ordinary acts taken by educators on a daily basis, and focuses
proactively on suggestions for everyday antiracism. We not only show what
acts inside schools and classrooms perpetuate racial inequalities, but we suggest
alternative acts that can help to dismantle such inequalities instead.

Educational policies and “outside” realities of health care, housing, and
family employment have huge effects on the opportunities the children in our
schools need and receive. Stereotypes and inaccuracies about “race groups”
circulate in society at large. But inside schools, everyday acts matter, too. In
schools, people interact across racial lines, distribute opportunities moment
to moment, react to “outside” opportunity structures, and shape how future
generations think about difference and equality. Interactions in educational
settings help build or dismantle racial “achievement gaps.” To a student, one
action can change everything. Everyday acts explored in this book include
how we talk with our students and discipline them; the activities we set up for
them to do; the ways we frame and discuss communities in our curriculum;
and the ways we assign students to groups, grade their papers, interact with
their parents, and envision their futures. Few of the contributors to this book
see such actions as “small potatoes” efforts. Rather, we propose that such antiracist
work helps remake social structure one bit at a time.

I acknowledge that the word “antiracism” can have a negative cast, for it
implies that the educator is constantly fighting against and reacting to racial
inequality, rather than struggling more positively and proactively to equalize
opportunity and create an egalitarian society. It also can be heard as suggesting
that some people are “racist” and others are not. Yet this book
frames dismantling racial inequality and pursuing racial equality as two
sides of the same collaborative undertaking. It also sets forth to counteract
racial inequality and racism in society, not just inside “bad people.” The
word “everyday” is also crucial: it suggests that educators can, and must,
help counter racial inequality and racism in society at routine moments of
the schooling experience.

Pursuing racially equal opportunity and counteracting racism on a daily basis
in our classrooms and schools requires more than being a great teacher of
a subject; it requires particularly hard thinking about our choices in complex
situations. In a society where racism and racial inequality already exist, it is often
hard to figure out which of our everyday activities are harmful to students
or others and which are helpful to them. Blanket advice to “be colorblind” regarding
our students, to “celebrate” their or others’ diversity, or to “recognize”
their “race” and our own is not that helpful in real life. In daily life, sometimes
educators’ being colorblind is quite harmful to young people, since they live
in a world that often treats them racially; sometimes a particular celebration
of diversity can be reductive and stereotypic; sometimes seeing a person primarily
as a member of a “race” detracts from recognizing our common humanity.

Antiracist educators must constantly negotiate between two antiracist impulses
in deciding their everyday behaviors toward students: they must choose
between the antiracist impulse to treat all people as human beings rather than
racial group members, and the antiracist impulse to recognize people’s real experiences
as racial group members in order to assist them, understand their situation
better, and treat them equitably. I ask the reader to keep a basic
question in mind throughout the book. In your practice, when does treating
people as racial group members help them, and when does it harm them? This
core question ties this book together. Academics who write about racism and
antiracism in education often neglect to answer, or even consider, this basic
question. But in a world that has been organized for six centuries around bogus
biological categories invented in order to justify the unequal distribution of
life’s necessities, some antiracist activity refuses to categorize people racially.
Other antiracist activity recognizes people living as racial group members in order
to analyze and transform a racially unequal world.

In countless daily ways, teachers, administrators, and program directors
hoping to protect and assist young people must decide which acts counteract
racial inequality. This involves deciding whether and how to see, treat, or talk
about students, parents, colleagues, or others in racial terms. Some ways of
recognizing students as “black” buoy them up with confidence; others trap
them in reductive or stigmatizing notions of what being “black” means. Many
colleagues may not consider it relevant that they or their students are “white”;
yet ignoring their lived experience as “white” people can miss a major dimension
of their reality. Some ways of framing students as “Latino” make Latino
students feel welcome and safe; others make them feel excluded or likely to
fail. Some framings in curriculum of parents as “Asian” or a community as “Indian”
can be deeply inaccurate, yet ignoring people’s experiences as “Asians”
and “Indians” can prevent recognition of their struggles and joys. Specific ways
of highlighting or downplaying our own racial-ethnic experiences or identities
in conversations with students or colleagues can be dangerous or useful.

Really, everyday antiracism requires both addressing people’s experiences
in the world as racial group members and refusing to distort people’s experiences,
thoughts, or abilities by seeing them only or falsely through a racial
lens. This applies when educators interact with students in classrooms, design
and discuss curriculum, interact with students’ families, or even think about
ourselves and our colleagues. Educators must analyze, concretely, when,
where, and how it helps to treat people as racial group members, and when,
where, and how it harms. Above all, educators must keep analyzing which of
our everyday actions counteract racial inequality and which do not.

All of us, then, suggest specific, concrete ways educators can help equalize
students’ academic and social opportunities to learn and thrive in K–12 educational
settings, and more generally combat racism and racial inequality from
within schools and classrooms. We differ in the methods we suggest to move
in that direction. Some of the authors here measure “helping” as getting students
to achieve higher test scores; others measure “helping” as getting students
to believe in their own potential to become scientists. Some measure
“harming” as actions that cause students to doubt their abilities, to lower their
career aspirations, or even to despise themselves or others. Some authors
analyze the treatment of students of color in particular; many essays’ recommendations
can apply to schools and classrooms of any demographic composition.
Educators with a range of personal styles, in a variety of school
situations, will find different suggestions useful and compelling.

These essays focus on things to do in our schools and classrooms, rather
than just on ways to think differently about ourselves or others. Antiracist
practice requires the intermingling of actions and ideas. The contributors recognize
that being effective at countering racism and racial inequality requires
us to develop skills as well as commitment. Many educators say they enter the
field seeking to improve opportunities for all children but end up either frustrated
or failing at this task because they cannot figure out how to navigate
race issues while doing this. So, each essay in the book asks educators to rethink
their ordinary activities and to try doing something differently in everyday
life. I asked each author to boil her or his recommendation down to one
sentence that I have used in the introduction to each section, forcing us all to
pinpoint strategies and principles of everyday antiracism.

We assume that readers are committed to helping children to learn and
thrive. We do not assume that readers will accept or agree with our analyses
of how the everyday acts discussed here might help equalize opportunity for
children, or combat racism and racial inequality in society. I asked each author
to support each of his or her claims with research and personal experience. I
also asked each author to clarify claims about “race” and “racism.” Finally, and
perhaps most importantly, I asked each author to walk the educator through
the minefields or pitfalls educators might encounter if they take his or her advice.
Educators work in a world of ever-changing complexity; we expect that
readers will modify and rework these ideas for their own purposes and contexts.

In “Suggestions for Using This Book,” I suggest that as you read and discuss
these essays, you seek to name antiracist principles: core ideas about how
to pursue racially equal opportunity and counteract racism from within
schools and classrooms. To get us started, let me propose four foundational
principles. Everyday antiracism in education involves
Rejecting false notions of human difference;
Acknowledging lived experiences shaped along racial lines;
Learning from diverse forms of knowledge and experience; and
Challenging systems of racial inequality.

First, everyday antiracism in education involves rejecting false notions of
human difference and actively treating people as equally worthy, complicated,
and capable. In educational settings, antiracism entails actively affirming that
no racially defined group is more or less intelligent than any other. We can tell
students that racial categories have no valid genetic basis. Through our curriculum
and in our everyday interactions, we can challenge oversimplified notions
about racial-ethnic identities or group behaviors. We can remember that
any “race” group is composed of individuals who have complicated identities
and lives.

Second, everyday antiracism in education involves acknowledging and engaging
lived experiences that do vary along racial lines. Genetically bogus
racial categories like “white,” “black,” and “Asian” were built upon genetically
insignificant physical differences (hair, noses, and bone structures). Racialized
categories like “Latino,” “Native American,” and “Arab” lump together people
from countless regions and, in some cases, people who speak totally different
languages. Still, over six centuries of American history and even now, people
have been lumped into ranked “races” by others and forged solidarity along
racial-ethnic lines themselves as a means of social empowerment. The Irish
“became white” in the nineteenth century, and Jews “became white” in the
twentieth, to gain opportunity in a system that already favored “whites” of
European descent. Lumped together as a “race” to be enslaved by “whites,”
Africans and their descendants in America simultaneously forged deep solidarity
as “black” people. People from a variety of Asian origins made alliances
as “Asian Americans” starting in the 1960s. “Latinos” converged at that time
as well, voicing the plurality of their origins and the unity of their agendas.
Distinct tribes of Native Americans recognized common experiences of displacement
and forced assimilation. “Arabs” have shared many U.S.-based experiences,
particularly in recent years. All such “racial” groups in the United
States today bring different historic and contemporary experiences to the table,
and after several centuries of opportunities being distributed differentially
along racial lines, racial group members still have differential access to educational
resources and opportunities for success. Everyday antiracism entails
engaging our own and one another’s experiences as racial group members—
particularly of this differential treatment, whether we have benefitedfrom it
or been sabotaged by it.

Third, everyday antiracism in education involves learning from diversity in
human experience, and valuing equally the knowledge and activity shared
within various “groups.” As Cornel West wrote, for example, being “black” today
can involve both experiencing stigmatization, particularly from “whites,”
and enjoying a community that has bonded through expressive practices and
political resistance in the midst of oppression.1 Respecting such shared experiences
and knowledge also involves appreciating the critical lenses that members
of groups can offer—even as we highlight the diversity within groups and
emphasize each person’s individuality.

Fourth, everyday antiracism in education involves equipping ourselves and
others to challenge racial inequalities of opportunity and outcome, rather than
accepting racial disparities as normal.

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Table of Contents


Acknowledgments     xi
Suggestions for Using This Book     xiii
Introduction: Defining Everyday Antiracism     xvii
Race Categories: We Are All the Same, But Our Lives Are Different     1
Remember That Racial Categories Are Not Biological Realities     3
Exposing Race as an Obsolete Biological Concept   Alan H. Goodman     4
No Brain Is Racial   Mica Pollock     9
Getting Rid of the Word "Caucasian"   Carol C. Mukhopadhyay     12
Get Ready to Talk about a Racialized Society     17
Beginning Courageous Conversations about Race   Glenn E. Singleton   Cyndie Hays     18
Talking Precisely about Equal Opportunity   Mica Pollock     24
Nice Is Not Enough: Defining Caring for Students of Color   Sonia Nieto     28
Remember That People Do Not Fit Neatly and Easily into Racial Groups     33
Following Children's Leads in Conversations about Race   Kimberly Chang   Rachel Conrad     34
Observing Students Sharing Language   Ben Rampton     39
Remember That People Are Treated as Racial Group Members and Need to Examine That Experience     43
Strengthening Student Identity in School Programs   Patricia Gandara     44
Uncovering Internalized Oppression   Angela Valenzuela     50
Helping Students See Each Other's Humanity   L. Janelle Dance     56
Emphasize Individuality     61
Constructing Colorblind Classrooms   Samuel R. Lucas     62
Knowing Students as Individuals   Joshua Aronson     67
Showing Students Who You Are   Heather M. Pleasants     70
How Opportunities Are Provided and Denied Inside Schools     75
Remember That Students Experience Racially Unequal Expectations about Their Brainpower     77
Helping Students of Color Meet High Standards   Ronald F. Ferguson     78
Providing Supportive Feedback   Geoffrey L. Cohen     82
Counter Racially Patterned Skill Gaps     85
Teaching and Transcending Basic Skills   Amanda Taylor     86
Grouping in Detracked Classrooms   Beth C. Rubin     90
Help Students Gain Fluency in "Standard" Behaviors While Honoring the "Nonstandard" Behaviors They Already Have     97
Standards vs. "Standard" Knowledge   Edmund T. Hamann     98
Valuing Nonstandard English   John Baugh     102
Teaching Students Fluency in Multiple Cultural Codes   Prudence Carter     107
Defy Racially Based Notions of Potential Careers and Contributions     113
Challenging Cultural Stereotypes of "Scientific Ability"   Maria Ong     114
Finding Role Models in the Community   Meira Levinson     120
Analyze Racial Disparities in Opportunities to Learn     125
Providing Equal Access to "Gifted" Education   Karolyn Tyson     126
What Discipline Is For: Connecting Students to the Benefits of Learning   Pedro A. Noguera     132
Curriculum That Asks Crucial Questions About Race     139
Create Curriculum That Invites Students to Explore Complex Identities and Consider Racial Group Experiences     141
Using Photography to Explore Racial Identity   Alexandra Lightfoot     142
Exploring Racial Identity Through Writing   Jennifer A. Mott-Smith     146
Involving Students in Selecting Reading Materials   Christine E. Sleeter     150
Create Curriculum That Analyzes Opportunity Denial     155
Teaching Critical Analysis of Racial Oppression   Jeff Duncan-Andrade     156
Using Critical Hip-Hop in the Curriculum   Ernest Morrell     161
Engaging Youth in Participatory Inquiry for Social Justice    Maria Elena Torre   Michelle Fine     165
Create Curriculum That Represents a Diverse Range of People Thoroughly and Complexly     173
Arab Visibility and Invisibility   Thea Abu El-Haj     174
Evaluating Images of Groups in Your Curriculum   Teresa L. McCarty     180
Teaching Representations of Cultural Difference Through Film   Sanjay Sharma     186
What Is on Your Classroom Wall? Problematic Posters   Donna Deyhle     191
Teaching Racially Sensitive Literature   Jocelyn Chadwick     195
Create Curriculum That Discusses History Accurately and Thoroughly     199
Making Race Relevant in All-White Classrooms: Using Local History   Mara Tieken     200
Teaching Facts, Not Myths, about Native Americans   Paul Ongtooguk   Claudia S. Dybdahl     204
Race and the School Experience: The Need for Inquiry     209
Investigate Learning Experiences in Your Classroom     211
Inviting Students to Analyze Their Learning Experience   Makeba Jones   Susan Yonezawa     212
Interrogating Students' Silences   Katherine Schultz     217
Questioning "Cultural" Explanations of Classroom Behaviors   Doug Foley      222
Creating Safe Spaces in Predominantly White Classrooms   Pamela Perry     226
On Spotlighting and Ignoring Racial Group Members in the Classroom   Dorinda J. Carter     230
Spearhead Conversations with Students about Racism in Their Lives and Yours     235
Racial Incidents as Teachable Moments   Lawrence Blum     236
Debating Racially Charged Topics   Ian F. Haney Lopez     242
Developing Antiracist School Policy   David Gillborn     246
Talk Thoroughly with Colleagues about Race and Achievement     253
Focusing on Student Learning   John B. Diamond     254
Moving Beyond Quick "Cultural" Explanations   Vivian Louie     257
Naming the Racial Hierarchies That Arise During School Reforms   Rosemary Henze     262
Spearheading School-wide Reform   Willis D. Hawley     267
Analyze, with Colleagues and Students, How Your Race Affects Your Teaching     273
Responding to the "N-Word"   Wendy Luttrell     274
Engaging Diverse Groups of Colleagues in Conversation   Alice McIntyre     279
Locating Yourself for Your Students   Priya Parmar   Shirley Steinberg     283
Expanding Definitions of "Good Teaching"   Lee Anne Bell     287
Engaging Communities for Real     291
Inquire Fully about Home Communities     293
Valuing Students' Home Worlds   Eugene E. Garcia     294
Getting to Know Students' Communities   Leisy Wyman   Grant Kashatok     299
Helping Students Research Their Communities   Kathleen Cushman     305
Discuss Parents' Experiences of Racially Unequal Opportunity     309
Cultivating the Trust of Black Parents   Beverly Daniel Tatum     310
Helping Parents Fight Stereotypes about Their Children   Janie Victoria Ward     314
Informing Parents about Available Opportunities   Roslyn Arlin Mickelson   Linwood H. Cousins     318
Keeping it Going     325
Struggle to Change a System That Is Unequal, While Working Within It     327
Resisting the "Lone Hero" Stance   Audrey Thompson     328
Recognizing the Likelihood of Reproducing Racism   Eduardo Bonilla-Silva   David G. Embrick     334
Staying Hopeful   Ronald David Glass     337
What Is Next?   Mica Pollock     341
Complete List of Everyday Antiracist Strategies      343
Notes     349
Reference List     361
Index     381
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