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Life began for Paula Rothenberg in a privileged home in New York City, but it took her to the battlefields of the culture wars on behalf of the underprivileged. Now this veteran of that cultural clash examines the subtle and complex ways in which issues of race, class, and gender impact people's lives.
A prominent figure in the creation of women's studies and multicultural studies as academic disciplines, Rothenberg is perhaps best known for her textbook Race, Class and Gender in the United States, which was widely attacked by conservatives defending traditional curricula. Now she shows how higher education upholds race, class, and gender bias and, more generally, analyzes the ways in which many white people's unwavering belief in their own good intentions leaves them blind to their societal privilege and their role in perpetuating class difference.
In this candid look at social and academic realities, Rothenberg shares incidents from her own life and the lives of family and friends to show how privilege is constructed and to reveal the forces that make us unaware of it. Through recollections of her childhood in an upper middle class Jewish family and her college years in the early sixties, she tells how she discovered that the world one takes for granted as "everyday life" is in fact riddled with privilege of which we are unaware.
Reviewing the social upheaval of the seventies that challenged fundamental assumptions about gender roles, race relations, and even the nature of the family, Rothenberg tells how she gained a new understanding of what it meant to be an educator and activist. In sharing events surrounding the publication of Race, Class and Gender, she offers an inside look at the culture wars and brings her story into the '90s with a cogent discussion of hate speech and the "political correctness" controversy.
Rothenberg recalls the early mobilization against sexual harassment and recounts what it was like to create one of the first feminist philosophy courses. She also offers a hard-hitting critique of current teaching practices and a response to critics of multiculturalism and feminism-as well as a look at how de facto segregation continues in American education in the form of tracking.
Both deeply personal and broadly social, this finely crafted memoir will capture the interest of anyone who cares about the future of education, race relations, feminism, and social justice.
1. A Jewish Girlhood
2. Negotiating Adolescence
3. Becoming Educated
4. Getting It Right
5. Fifteen Minutes
6. Our Town
Posted May 5, 2006
I found this memoir to be vibrant, thoughtful, and politically astute. Rothenberg writes of her growing up female in the 1950's, intelligent, and filled to the brim with the potential to do anything she wished in the world. That is, until she came face to face with a world that was closed to her, except for the options of marriage, and motherhood. She, also writes of her experiences of being born white skinned, and into a wealthy family, and how these facts afforded her respect, status, and opportunities that were not open to the rest of the world. The memoir is filled with many poignant passages that brought more than one tear to my eyes. The book is written with a thoughtful honesty that i found very refreshing. For me, the importance of this one woman saga lies not only in the reader being able to revisit this painful world of the 1950's, where a persons's sex, race, and class determined ones life, but lies in the reality of the present, as a reminder that in many crucial ways, they still do! I recommend this book to all those who strive for self-determination. Donna ParisiWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 5, 2010
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