What We Still Don't Know About Teaching Race

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The sections of this book and chapters therein are intended to offer an additional lens for an anti-oppressive pedagogy of race. It is organized to present this lens with clarity through (a) a stepwise approach to educating our students on the topic of race, (b) enhancing our potential and our students’ possibilities for transcending ‘race’s’ barriers, and (c) engaging in the challenging role of writing (‘I’ as scholar) and against ourselves (‘I’ as scholar with flaws in teaching about race). It taps the expertise of thoughtful, critical, and reflexive scholars from Education and several related disciplines to address (a) how ‘race’ is socially constructed in teaching and learning settings, rendering it either sustainable and substitutable, or deconstructed and re-appropriated; and (b) strategies for minimizing any detrimental influences of race-related actions or inaction on the quality of teaching and learning … living. This book intends to critique traditional race-related praxis and to offer competing ideas for praxis that challenge our taken-for-granted knowledge about race. Thick, rich narratives, strong syntheses, and analyses stemming from multiple methods within the book hold potential to broaden possibilities of educators teaching about race; heighten students’ understanding of social contexts of teaching/schooling; and deepen empathy of anyone else on the fringes of engaging a commitment to (a) teach diverse others, (b) re-teach diverse others about the chaos surrounding race, and (c) teach diverse others to be self-critical of othering by re-appropriating race as a dangerous concept driven largely by social history of ideology; biological determinism; political imposition and exclusion; performance expectations; and schooling. Similar to Dr. Fred Riggs of the University of Hawaii, the term ‘race’ is written in quotation marks in each section heading to remind us to be personally suspect of the term, while also remembering that it is part of an international critical dialogue.


“ ... Understanding how race as experience feels, how it walks and talks, how it sounds lived in experience can give us an understanding of the ways that the construction of race transforms and can be altered ... Telling and receiving stories taps into the affective world of knowing ... Although [young people] need to experience the joys of childhood, supported and protected by families and communities, they also need a developmentally appropriate understanding of the destructive challenges before them and how to act on them ...” – Professor Mary Stone Hanley, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

“Since the end of the Vietnam War, the demographic makeup of immigration to the United States has shifted. No longer are we as a nation challenged to integrate into our nation large numbers of people from Europe; instead, newcomers hail from Southeast Asia, Central and South America, West Africa, the Caribbean, as well as Mexico. These new Americans, increasingly of Hispanic heritage, are reshaping every aspect of our culture, from interpersonal relations, friendships and marriage, to our language and music ... Issues of race are often assumed to be ‘covered’ when one speaks of diversity. As one ticks off the list of ‘differences’: gender, sexual orientation, age, language, work style, ability/disability, country of origin, race is always added. The implicit message is that race is similar to the other terms. Thus, if one is teaching or talking about diversity, then one has ‘covered’ race. The very focus of Dr. Hughes’ edited text refutes this notion. Race is not the same as diversity. With appropriate references to the genetic implications of race, he has put together chapters that provide a critical analysis of race in terms of its socio-historical and socio-cultural influences on the experiences of all Americans, particularly African Americans ... Dr. Hughes’ text is invaluable for educators seeking a thoughtful critique of factors impacting the teaching of race and equity, as well as case examples that provide suggested strategies for an anti-oppression approach to teaching about race.” – Benjamin D. Reese, Jr., Vice President of the Office of Institutional Equity, Duke University

Table of Contents

Section One: Critical Pedagogy of “Race”: From Black Perspectives
Section Two: Critical Pedagogy of “Race”: From White Perspectives
Section Three: Critical Pedagogy of “Race”: Assessing How Well We Teach “The Sneeches”
Section Four: Critical Pedagogy of “Race”: From Alternative Perspectives
Glossary of Terms

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