Witnessing Whiteness: First Steps Toward an Antiracist Practice and Culture

Witnessing Whiteness: First Steps Toward an Antiracist Practice and Culture

by Shelly Tochluk
     
 

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Witnessing Whiteness invites educators to consider what it means to be white, describes and critiques strategies used to avoid race issues, and identifies the detrimental effect of avoiding race on cross-race collaborations. The author illustrates how racial discomfort leads white educators toward ineffective teaching pedagogy and poor relationships with students

Overview

Witnessing Whiteness invites educators to consider what it means to be white, describes and critiques strategies used to avoid race issues, and identifies the detrimental effect of avoiding race on cross-race collaborations. The author illustrates how racial discomfort leads white educators toward ineffective teaching pedagogy and poor relationships with students and colleagues of color. Questioning the implications our history has for educational institutions, school reform efforts, and diversity initiatives, this book considers political, economic, socio-cultural, and legal histories that shaped the meanings associated with whiteness. Drawing on dialogue with well-known figures within education, race, and multicultural work, the book offers intimate, personal stories of cross-race friendships that address both how a deep understanding of whiteness supports cross-race collaboration and the long-term nature of the work of excising racism from the deep psyche. Concluding chapters offer practical information on building knowledge, skills, capacities, and communities that support anti-racism practices, a hopeful look at our collective future, and a discussion of how to create a culture of witnessing educators who support allies for social and racial justice.

Editorial Reviews

Paul Kivel
Clear, insightful, and accessible, Witnessing Whiteness is an important resource for white educators and other white people who want to understand how racism works and to address these issues in their lives and communities.
Michael Wagner
As a high school administrator, I think this book will bring sensitivity to racial discussions needed for a constructive and balanced dialogue to occur in any classroom setting. I would encourage the faculty and students to read this book because of the real life sharing of Dr. Tochluk's personal journey and her willingness to explore her own experience through her research. It is clear the information provided in this book does not leave the normative, social, legal contexts of race unaddressed. The ability to acknowledge the dynamics between these contexts is crucial to understanding the web of relationships that have influenced race dialogue in our schools, communities and nation. This type of book is another perspective needed to continue dialogue on issues being quietly ignored and dismissed as a trivial part of our history. I think this book will bring about a dialogue on race never imagined before in and outside of the classroom setting.
Jennifer Leigh Selig
Too often white educators simplify their complex relationship to race by seeing it as a subject matter we teach to our students, primarily as it has influenced the past. Dr. Tochluk's book moves us from teaching about the racism of others in the past to witnessing our own racial identity as whites in the present. Not content to leave us there, she challenges us to create a different future regarding race in America, and she offers us realistic role models whose cross-race friendships provide us with the wisdom for how to do so. Any educator looking to move beyond tired discussions of race will find this book informative, provocative, inspirational, and most of all practical; I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to all my colleagues. What's more, the author has written the book in such an inclusive way, including many examples of non-traditional educators, that any person can read the book and find applicability to his or her life regardless of race or vocation.
Debbie Winters
This book should be read by all white educators conquering issues of race and diversity within themselves and society. How can one be an effective educator without addressing race and diversity in the classroom? Without self-awareness and "witnessing their own whiteness", it is impossible for educators to talk about issues of race and racism openly and directly as well as serving as role models and mentors for students. I would recommend this book to all my white colleagues and encourage them to start their own journey to engage with themselves and others about race and racism.
Kevin Railey
Exploring the issue of whiteness has become, in fact, a hot topic in many academic circles. It is also one that has had a market in educational circles since at least White Teacher, if not before that. Certainly white educators in America need to explore their own sense of what it means to be white, and raising consciousness along these lines is absolutely essential to the future of education and race relations. If this book contributes to those issues at all, as it seems very likely it will, it would be a very valuable book.
Michele Dumont
As a college educator, teaching about racism in diverse classes, I would find this book an invaluable tool to move students gently and with many good examples to face racism in positive ways. "Witnessing" is such a powerful method of helping all of us to see how racism has diminished all of our lives and to move toward a truly race-neutral world. I would recommend this book to all of my friends and colleagues. Thank you, Shelly Tochluk, for unmasking the enigma of whiteness in this gentle, powerful, hopeful book. I anticipate using this book in all of my diversity courses. The author gives us guides and direction to mend our racially scarred society.
Christine Sleeter
In Witnessing Whiteness, Shelly Tochluk demonstrates first-rate teaching. With refreshing honesty and forthrightness, she invites readers—especially those of us who are white—to tread into the difficult terrain of confronting racism. Using rich storytelling and frank self-reflection, she skillfully engages readers in acknowledging, examining, and then taking on responsibility for racism and the work needed to dismantle it. This powerful and very readable book leads us through a clear analysis of why and how white people remain ignorant of and afraid to acknowledge racism, to laying out a practical framework for action. This book is an indispensable resource for white people who sense that racism is wrong, but don’t know where to start.
Luis J. Rodriguez
Accessing the amazing experiences and wisdom of activists, thinkers, writers, and mythologists on the front lines of racial issues in this country, Shelly Tochluk brings to light the most important book about race in a generation. Is 'whiteness' bad in itself? When is it just part of the social, historical and cultural legacy of a people? And what is the prison/poison that this legacy bequeaths us? I highly recommend this book—it's helping raise race dialogue to a more healing and regenerative ground.
Frances E. Kendall
Witnessing Whiteness is a useful book for white educators who want to explore the impact of their whiteness on those with whom they work. Using personal experiences and interviews, Shelly Tochluk provides teachers with insights into their experiences as white people and practical approaches to helping them develop more intentional ways of addressing race in their schools.
April 2009 Midwest Book Review
An exploration of the stigma that the white race carries in some fields, especially those issues dealing with race....Witnessing Whiteness is an scholarly look at whiteness and society, a fascinating read throughout.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781578867264
Publisher:
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
11/16/2007
Edition description:
Older Edition
Pages:
354
Product dimensions:
6.08(w) x 9.06(h) x 1.02(d)

Meet the Author

An educator, with a background in psychology, Shelly Tochluk spent ten years as a researcher, counselor, and teacher in California's public schools. She now trains educators to work with the diverse Los Angeles school population as an assistant professor of education at Mount St. Mary's College.

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