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How to Use This Text
Bill Howe has been an educator for 35 years in the U.S. and Canada and has given over 400 workshops, lectures and keynotes on diversity, multicultural education and organizational development. He is a regular presenter at state and national conferences, has appeared on both radio and television on diversity issues. Over the past fifteen years, he has trained over 14,000 educators in multicultural education.
Teaching may not be the oldest profession, but probably the most noble.
The Academic and Social Value of Ethnic Studies
A Research Review
Christine E. Sleeter (2011, NEA)
National Education Association
Ronald D. Henderson, Director
What is the value of ethnic studies in schools and universities? Supporters say ethnic
studies promotes respect and understanding among races, supports student success, and
teaches critical thinking skills. Critics, however, increasingly question the relevance of
ethnic studies education programs in the post-integration era.
As issues involving ethnic studies take center stage in education policy and practice, the
National Education Association believes any discussion of the role of ethnic studies in
education and in student achievement rightfully begins by asking:
• What do we know from prior research and practice about ethnic studies,
especially as they relate to student achievement and narrowing achievement gaps?
• Are there ways to examine and talk about what we have learned that will enable
us to apply those lessons to creating and establishing ethnic studies programs that
support student and teacher learning?
The evolution of ethnic studies has sparked its share of controversy. NEA commissioned
a review of the research on ethnic studies programs and curricula—specifically the ways
in which such programs and curricula serve to improve student achievement and narrow
achievement gaps—to inform the discourse on this issue. This paper provides a research
base for discussing best practices for designing and implementing ethnic studies programs
and curricula that meet those targets.
We hope this review is useful for revisiting ideas and generating new thoughts about
the relationship between ethnic studies and student achievement. And we hope that our
efforts in this regard will help ensure a great public school for every student.
Dennis Van Roekel
National Education Association
read the article at http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/NBI-2010-3-value-of-ethnic-studies.pdf
If the first words out of your mouth are to cry ‘political correctness!’, … chances are very, very high that you are in fact part of the problem. N.K. Jemisin
White people don’t like to believe that they practice identity politics. The defining part of being white in America is the assumption that, as a white person, you are a regular, individual human being. Other demographic groups set themselves apart, to pursue their distinctive identities and interests and agendas. Whiteness, to white people, is the American default.
> Tom Scocca
they do not see color.
you are invisible.
> Nayyirah Waheed
People know about the Klan and the overt racism, but the killing of one’s soul little by little, day after day, is a lot worse than someone coming in your house and lynching you.
> Samuel L. Jackson
The problem is that white people see racism as conscious hate, when racism is bigger than that. Racism is a complex system of social and political levers and pulleys set up generations ago to continue working on the behalf of whites at other people’s expense, whether whites know/like it or not. Racism is an insidious cultural disease. It is so insidious that it doesn’t care if you are a white person who likes black people; it’s still going to find a way to infect how you deal with people who don’t look like you. Yes, racism looks like hate, but hate is just one manifestation. Privilege is another. Access is another. Ignorance is another. Apathy is another. And so on. So while I agree with people who say no one is born racist, it remains a powerful system that we’re immediately born into. It’s like being born into air: you take it in as soon as you breathe. It’s not a cold that you can get over. There is no anti-racist certification class. It’s a set of socioeconomic traps and cultural values that are fired up every time we interact with the world. It is a thing you have to keep scooping out of the boat of your life to keep from drowning in it. I know it’s hard work, but it’s the price you pay for owning everything.
> Scott Woods
In this country American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate.
People of color, women, and gays — who now have greater access to the centers of influence that ever before — are under pressure to be well-behaved when talking about their struggles. There is an expectation that we can talk about sins but no one must be identified as a sinner: newspapers love to describe words or deeds as “racially charged” even in those cases when it would be more honest to say “racist”; we agree that there is rampant misogyny, but misogynists are nowhere to be found; homophobia is a problem but no one is homophobic. One cumulative effect of this policed language is that when someone dares to point out something as obvious as white privilege, it is seen as unduly provocative. Marginalized voices in America have fewer and fewer avenues to speak plainly about what they suffer; the effect of this enforced civility is that those voices are falsified or blocked entirely from the discourse. Teju Cole
Motherfuckers will read a book that’s one third Elvish, but put two sentences in Spanish and they [white people] think we’re taking over.
> Junot Díaz
Most middle-class whites have no idea what it feels like to be subjected to police who are routinely suspicious, rude, belligerent, and brutal.
> Benjamin Spock
We cannot educate white women and take them by the hand. Most of us are willing to help but we can’t do the white woman’s homework for her. That’s an energy drain. More times than she cares to remember, Nellie Wong, Asian American feminist writer, has been called by white women wanting a list of Asian American women who can give readings or workshops. We are in danger of being reduced to purveyors of resource lists.
We have made enormous progress in teaching everyone that racism is bad. Where we seem to have dropped the ball… is in teaching people what racism actually IS. Jon Stewart
Richard exhaled. It was like somebody sprinkling pepper on his wound: Thousands of Biafrans were dead, and this man wanted to know if there was anything new about one dead white man. Richard would write about this, the rule of Western journalism: One hundred dead black people equal to one dead white person.
>Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
…being Latino means being from everywhere, and that is exactly what America is supposed to be about.
> Raquel Cepeda
You and I both know, deep in your heart, you agree with me. And I will prove it with one hypothetical scenario: you are alone in a closet of your home. There`s a bright red button. You can push that button and presto all Negroes and Jews and all other colored people are instantly removed from the North American continent and returned to their native countries. You`d push it, wouldn`t you whitey? See? See? See? in the final analysis, you agree with me. But of course, you wouldn`t do antything to bring that scenario about, or any other scenario favorable to your Race.
> Frazier Glenn Miller
Things like racism are institutionalized. You might not know any bigots. You feel like “well I don’t hate black people so I’m not a racist,” but you benefit from racism. Just by the merit, the color of your skin. The opportunities that you have, you’re privileged in ways that you might not even realize because you haven’t been deprived of certain things. We need to talk about these things in order for them to change.
> Dave Chappelle
Black and Third World people are expected to educate white people as to our humanity. Women are expected to educate men. Lesbians and gay men are expected to educate the heterosexual world. The oppressors maintain their position and evade their responsibility for their own actions. There is a constant drain of energy which might be better used in redefining ourselves and devising realistic scenarios for altering the present and constructing the future.
> Audre Lorde
The police can go to downtown Harlem and pick up a kid with a joint in the streets. But they can’t go into the elegant apartments and get a stockbroker who’s sniffing cocaine.
Often white people hear blame whenever the issue of racism is brought up, whether or not blame has been placed on whites. As beneficiaries of racism and white privilege, you sometimes take a defensive posture even when you are not being individually blamed. You may personalize the remarks, not directed personally at you. It is the arrogance of your privilege that drags the focus back to whites. When whites are being blamed or personally accused of racist behavior, this defensiveness and denial further alienate you and may preclude you from examining your possible racist behavior.
The new racism: Racism without ‘racists.’ Today, racial segregation and division often result from habits, policies, and institutions that are not explicitly designed to discriminate. Contrary to popular belief, discrimination or segregation do not require animus. They thrive even in the absence of prejudice or ill will. It’s common to have racism without racists.
> Eduardo Bonilla-Silva
There are a lot of readers who pride themselves on not paying attention to the identities of their favorite writers. Some of them think this means they’re not prejudiced. I don’t know anyone who isn’t, myself included. But let’s say for argument’s sake that those particular readers in fact are not prejudiced. How many books by writers of color do you think you’ll find on their bookshelves? I’d lay odds that if there are any at all, they will be far outnumbered by the books by white authors. Not necessarily because those readers are deliberately choosing mostly white/male authors. They don’t have to. The status quo does it for them. So those readers’ self-satisfied “I don’t know” is really an “I don’t care enough to look beyond my nose.” And that’s cool. So many causes, so little time. But don’t pretend that indifference and an unwillingness to make positive change constitute enlightenment.
> Nalo Hopkinson
I get how it can be news to some of you that people are victimized by systems legitimated by your nation, countrymen, and god. But I’m black and female and southern. I call that Tuesday.
> Tressie McMillan Cottom
More than 2 million people found themselves behind bars at the turn of the twenty-first century, and millions more were relegated to the margins of mainstream society, banished to a political and social space not unlike Jim Crow, where discrimination in employment, housing, and access to education was perfectly legal, and where they could be denied the right to vote. The system functioned relatively automatically, and the prevailing system of racial meanings, identities, and ideologies already seemed natural. Ninety percent of those admitted to prison for drug offenses in many states were black or Latino, yet the mass incarceration of communities of color was explained in race-neutral terms, an adaptation to the needs and demands of the current political climate.
> Michelle Alexander
If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.
> Desmond Tutu
Recognized globally as the “father of multicultural education,” James A. Banks is the latest esteemed scholar to be interviewed for Arizona State University’s “Inside the Academy.”
The free, open-source online archive of conversations with America’s “best of the best” education luminaries was created by Audrey Amrein-Beardsley, associate professor in ASU’sMary Lou Fulton Teachers College. The Banks video interview delves deep into the influential educator’s career-long quest for social justice in K-12 classrooms, first in the U.S. and now worldwide.
Growing up in segregated rural Arkansas, Banks explained that he comes from “a long pedigree of farmers and Southerners” and even worked picking cotton as a child. One of his most poignant memories was as a first grader walking five miles to school, with other African-American schoolmates joining him along the way.
“I remember that the white kids would pass us riding in school buses that splattered mud on us,” Banks recalled.
Later on in high school, Banks said he started seeing fellow students who were “as bright as I (was) or brighter” falling by the wayside. It triggered a recurring dream for him, in which he created a school in the South where African-American students could thrive.
“I developed a real strong commitment to make it possible for kids who were black and poor to be successful,” he said.
Today, Banks serves as the Kerry and Linda Killinger Professor of Diversity Studies and director of the Center for Multicultural Education at the University of Washington in Seattle. A past president of the American Educational Research Association, Banks is perhaps best known for co-editing the groundbreaking, “Handbook of Research on Multicultural Education,” with his wife and colleague, Cherry A. McGee Banks. This seminal work is one of a total of 100 journal articles, 60 book chapters and 20 books he has authored or co-edited.
It was Banks’ doctoral dissertation – an extensive content analysis of how African-Americans were portrayed in the nation’s K-12 textbooks – that launched his scholarly quest to study multicultural issues. He said his thesis found the textbooks generally restricted mention of African-Americans to slavery, depicting all slaves as “happy,” and three famous figures – Booker T. Washington, educator; George Washington Carver, scientist; and Marian Anderson, contralto singer.
Being at the forefront of multicultural research, Banks set a career trajectory that opened space for a new generation of scholars. It also led him to develop the widely recognized five dimensions of multicultural education, including content integration, knowledge construction, equity pedagogy, prejudice reduction and empowering school culture. This conceptual framework is intended to help teachers of all disciplines understand that “multicultural” needs to span all aspects of K-12 education, not simply content.
Banks said his determination to work for social justice in education has been a powerful motivator for him personally and professionally. He added that his efforts also continue to expand to encompass additional minority and ethnic groups in the United States and around the world.
“I always tell my graduate students to study something they have a passion about,” he said. “That is what keeps you going.”
Written by Judy Crawford
Teachers, consider the possibility that you may unconsciously commit racial microaggressions in the classroom? Watch this short video, titled ‘The Invisible Discriminator’ – Stop. Think. Respect. This Public Service Announcement provides clear examples of microaggressions in everyday life. Racial microaggressions such as these may occur across all types of interracial communications; however, those that have the potential for the greatest harm are those perpetrated by majority culture individuals toward persons in disempowered racial groups.
According to Derald Wing Sue, Professor of Psychology and Education in TC’s Counseling Psychology program in the Department of Counseling and Clinical Psychology, racial microaggressions are “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral and environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory or negative racial slights and insults that potentially have harmful psychological impact on the target person or group”
Let’s switch the scene to your classroom. Now, reflect on your physical, verbal and non-verbal behaviors towards students of color.
Ask yourself three tough questions.
1. How do I behave and act around students of color?
2. How do students of color perceive my behaviors and actions toward them?
3. Do I commit racial microaggressions toward students of color?
Consider the possibility that you may commit racial microaggressions. Stop and think about how those comments or actions may cause real distress and harm to them.
Four strategies that may reduce racial microaggressions
1. Acknowledge – acknowledge you may unconsciously commit racial microaggressions. Only then can then change your subconscious attitudes and ultimately your behavior towards students of color. We can’t change what we don’t acknowledge.
2. Counter – counter your hidden bias with positive images of people of color. Distribute stories and pictures that portray stereotype-busting images – posters, newsletters, annual reports, speaker series, and podcasts throughout your classroom.
3. Engage – engage with students of color by focusing on your similarities, yet appreciating your differences. You can achieve this by engaging with students of color in situations that involve meaningful activity.
4. Accept – accept their racial reality by looking at situations or experiences from their vantage. Do not minimize their racial identity, or avoid the discomfort of discussing racial issues with them.
All of these strategies require work and I encourage you to keep doing them. As long as racial microaggressions remain hidden, invisible, unspoken and excused as innocent slights with minimal harm, individuals will continue to insult, demean, alienate, and oppress marginalized groups. It is incumbent upon educators to make every effort to recognize and address racial microaggressions in our schools.