Race and ethnicity Resource Guide: Can we finally have “The Talk”?
We have never really had “The Race Talk” in this country. It is simply too uncomfortable, or too emotional—or, as some claim, no longer necessary in a post-racial, post-colonial world.
Of course, that subject looks differently to those who live in the world where race and colonization have not ended.
The assertion that we are post-anything is itself an expression of privilege. This country historically presumed that the light-skinned people coming from northern and western Europe were superior to Indigenous people. This is simply too uncomfortable. We hide both in our national narrative and school curriculum. But we need “The Talk” as badly today as we did in 1950 or 1850 or 1750 or 1650.
My task was to find a positive way to deal with the issue and to emphasize a way forward. However, for a nation and a people in denial so long, how can removal of the disease not be painful? Is not the pain part of the process of healing? Has not the pain been borne by our brothers and sisters of color too long? Have Whites been denied the healing of their spirits for too long? My task as a critical educator is to offer hope and love. In order to do this, I must overcome the new “censorship of positive.”
The resource guide concerns race/ethnicity. However, we must always be reminded that while American Indians are increasingly racialized as part of the colonial project, they have a unique legal and political status.
This guide is for everyone who thinks they do not need it and everyone who know they do.
Bonilla-Silva, E. (2003). Racism without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in the United States. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
This book explores the central frames of color-blind racism, the ways color-blind racism talks nasty without sounding racist, the stories of color-blindness, and much more.
Chesler, M., Lewis, A. & Crowfoot, J. (2005). Challenging Racism in Higher Education: Promoting Justice. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
This book contains research along with the voices of people, including American Indians. The authors recognize that diversity and multicultural initiatives are not fruitful until Whiteness is included within the scope of those terms. They recognize the institutional nature of racism and suggest ways to change.
Chavers, Dean. (2009). Racism in Indian Country. New York: Peter Lang.
With chapters on everything from the Bureau of Indian Affairs and mascots to border towns and oil and gas royalties, the author admits in this introduction that this book—his 24th—is the hardest he has ever written.
Cruz, Barbara C. (2001). Multiethnic Teens and Cultural Identity. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers.
A book for young adults that discusses issues such as discrimination and the search for ethnic identity.
Delgado, R. (1995). Critical Race Theory: The Cutting Edge. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
Over 40 contributors make this an essential volume in the critical study of race. Essays provide a critique of liberalism, incremental civil rights litigation and activism, faith in the legal system, and a belief that everything is progressing. Many of the essays use the power of storytelling as a method of countering dominant thought. Essays explore historical revisions, social science, structural determinism, intersections of race with class and other factors, law, pedagogy and critical White studies. It contains important questions for discussions and further resources.
Freire, Paolo. (1973). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: The Seabury Press.
This 1968 book, within which the author critiques traditional teaching methods, remains relevant today.
Gould, J. (1996). The Mismeasure of Man. New York: W.W. Norton and Co.
This is a historical study of scientific racism and a definitive refutation of biological determinism. Even though science has refuted the racism of the past, the ideas persist in popular imagination.
Hill, J. (2008). The Everyday Language of White Racism. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
White racism is not fading because it is a pervasive and adaptive cultural system. Racial talk is framed by a folk theory of racism that contains overt and covert racism and slurs. The book applies theoretical perspectives to aid the reader in becoming more critical.
Lipsitz, G. (2006). The Possessive Investment in Whiteness: How White People Profit from Identity Politics. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
The book explodes the oppressive language that defines African Americans, American Indians, and any other groups as “problems.” The problem in the U.S. is the White problem, which has determined that to be American means being White. The book explains how law and policy give White people preference over non-Whites in housing, education, and employment. It includes a new chapters on inheritance, wealth, and health; Hurricane Katrina; and Whites and war.
Luckey, A. (2010). Free Land: A Hip Hop Journey from the Streets of Oakland to the Wild Wild West: Curriculum Guide. Oakland, CA: Speak Out Now.
This guide accompanies the Free Land DVD (see below) and weaves poetry, theater, dance, and hip hop music into the truth in the land beneath our feet. The curriculum guide includes the play script; instructions on how to use it; and eight lessons that include historical literacy, manifest destiny, Homestead Act, sacred sites, energy justice, and mascots. It explores White privilege, U.S. history, and Native America.
Memmi, A. (2000). Racism. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
This classic work explores racism’s causes, hidden manifestations, and its close relationship to colonialism. It describes the four moments of racism and shows how racism as form is powerful.
Nelson, T. (2009). Handbook of Prejudice, Stereotyping, and Discrimination. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.
The book’s 26 chapters are written by leading researchers and provide a comprehensive overview. In addition to current research, readers are introduced to new and developing theories and models. This volume deals with many prejudices other than racism. Chapter 19, “Racism in the 21st Century” by Michael Zarate, examines racism as a contemporary phenomenon. He defines racism, looks at the relationship to ethnicity, and looks at quality of life and workplace evidence for the continuing existence of racism. He then examines the driving forces of racism, and in his final section considers solutions.
Parker, R., & Smith Chambers, P. (n.d.). The Great White Elephant: A Workbook on Racial Privilege for White Anti-Racists. Mount Laurel, NJ: Beyond Diversity Resource Center.
This book helps us start to talk about the thing we don’t want to talk about and why we don’t want to talk about it – racial privilege. Provocative exercises, experiential learning, and personal reflection provide important processes to begin the journey. It proposes a new mental model for addressing racial privilege. Also check out the Beyond Diversity Resource Center’s Red Box Diversity System for an extended employee diversity program. www.beyonddiversity.org
Peacock, T.,& Wisuri, M. (2010). To Be Free: Understanding and Eliminating Racism. Afton, MN: Afton Press.
The authors write about the need to acknowledge racism and talk about ways to prevent, reduce, and alleviate it.
Pollock, M. (Ed.) (2008). Everyday Antiracism: Getting Real About Race in School. New York: The New Press.
This book has more than 60 chapters within six sections, including race categories, how schools provide and deny opportunities inside school, curriculum that asks critical racial questions, race and the school experience, really engaging communities, and keeping change going. The introduction contains four principles of everyday antiracism that can make a good poster to remind us, and pages following the chapters provide a “Complete List of Everyday Antiracist Strategies.” The book is a wonderfully researched and practical guide to doing something to improve the world. Discussion questions follow each chapter.
Roediger, D. (2008). How Race Survived U.S. History: From Settlement and Slavery to the Obama Phenomenon. London: Verso.
This book reminds us “that the Cadillac of White supremacy has undergone centuries of model changes” without any changes of real substance. The author explores race and White supremacy as central to understanding the U.S. and focuses on the development of “personal Whiteness” as both an asset and an identity.
Saito, N. (2010). Meeting the Enemy: American Exceptionalism and International Law. New York: New York University Press.
Explains how a racialized Other has played into the role of law in the U.S. and how the U.S. claims exceptions from international norms and institutions. It shows how the U.S. is an enemy of colonized peoples both within its borders and beyond.
Van Dijk, T. (1993). Elite Discourse and Racism. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publication.
A leading international scholar in discourse studies examines the racism within political, corporate, academic, educational, and media discourse. It provides a theoretical framework known as “discourse analytical approach.”
Winfield, A. (2007). Eugenics and Education in America: Institutionalized Racism and the Implications of History, Ideology, and Memory. New York: Peter Lang.
This book is most relevant in a time of hyper-measurement to organize, classify, and sort students. The book shows how many of the assumptions about a “democratic” public schooling in America come from a racialized scientism known as eugenics (whose ultimate goal is establishing a White superior race). Anyone who has taught in schools that contain non-privileged White students has encountered the continuing influence of eugenics in our schools where Nordic Whiteness is normed as the standard of assumed excellence. This book explains why and is important for anyone battling school systems on behalf of all students.
Wise, T. (2008). White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son. Berkeley, CA: Soft Skull Press.
The author, a southern White man, traces his journey toward understanding how White privilege benefited him and all other White people—whether or not they are actively racist. The book is very readable while also being intelligent and analytical.
Wise, T. (2008). Speaking Treason Fluently: Anti-Racist Reflections from an Angry White Male. Berkeley, CA: Soft Skull Press.
The author explores and challenges White denial of racism, including minimization, rationalization, deflection, and competing victimization. Essays are also included on confronting White privilege and the cost of the status quo to Whites themselves.
Wise, T. (2010). Colorblind: The Rise of Post-Racial Politics and the Retreat from Racial Equity. San Francisco: City Lights Books.
This book challenges the notion that we are in a post-racial, colorblind era and calls for Whites to take the lead in addressing the pervasiveness of racism. It illuminates the failure of post-racial universalism to address the increasingly intense racist rhetoric. The DVD is available from www.speakoutnow.org
Zinn, H. (2011). Howard Zinn on Race. New York: Seven Stories Press.
This collection includes the shorter writings and speeches on race from the historian who had the courage to bring other voices to the table in our history.
Articles/ Book Chapters
Berger, B. (2009). Red: Racism and the American Indian. UCLA Law Review 56, 591-655.
This covers the history of race by the American colonizers. It is an important contribution to the discussion about diminished tribal sovereignty through racial equality and the increasing racialization of American Indians.
Brayboy, B. (2005). Toward a Tribal Critical Race Theory in Education. The Urban Review 37(5), 425-446.
This article provides a theoretical framework to address the complicated relation of American Indians and the federal government. It recognizes American Indians as both racial and legal/political groups and individuals.
Butcher, Nancy. Undoing the Smile. Everyday Acts of Racism: Raising Children in a Multiracial World, ed. Maurreen Reddy (Seattle, WA: Seal Press, 1996). 12-20. Hall, S. (1986). Gramsci’s Relevance for the Study of Race and Ethnicity. Journal of Communication Inquiry 10, 5-27.
This classic article uses the work of Gramsci to explain hegemony (power) in maintaining racist relations, the constant contestation, and the way that real change can occur. It avoids the extreme class/economic position of classical Marxism.
Harris, C. (June 1993). Whiteness as Property. Harvard Law Review 106 (8), 1707-1791.
The author traces the history of Whiteness as it developed from racial identity to a form of property. Law has ratified and legitimated White privilege. It discusses the type of affirmative action needed to address the problems.
McIntosh, P. (1988). White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. Essay in White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondences through Work in Women Studies. Wellesley, MA: Wellesley College Center for Research on Women.
This includes a well known list of 26 conditions White people can count on in their lives that others cannot. It helps point out the pervasiveness of White privilege.
Strong-Wilson, T. (2009). Moving Horizons: Exploring the Role of Stories in Decolonizing the Literacy Education of White Teachers, In D. Kapoor (Ed.), Education, Decolonization, and Development: Perspectives from Asia, Africa and the Americas, 111-128.
White teachers are the most stubborn when it comes to social justice education. This chapter focuses on ways to decolonize the most deep and cherished storied horizons of teachers that contain racist assumptions.
Van Leeuwen, T. (2000). Visual Racism. In M. Reisigl & R. Wodak (Eds.), The Semiotics of Racism: Approaches in Critical Discourse Analysis, pp. 333-350.
In a world where visual literacy is increasingly more important, this article teaches a research-based method to help determine how people are being visually portrayed in racist ways.
The following three videos show Jane Elliot’s work, which resulted from her original “Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes” exercise as an elementary teacher in 1970. The website is found at www.janeelliott.com and contains information about all of the videos, including those not listed here. It includes a bibliography and other items of interest.
- The Eye of the Storm (1970, 26 minutes): In Elliot’s original exercise, she divides her class by eye color and differentiates privileges and impediments based upon eye color. This shocking exercise demonstrates how people react to feelings of superiority.
- The Stolen Eye (2002, 52 minutes): Elliot’s second the exercise is done with White and Aboriginal adults in Australia. Watch how White privilege asserts itself.
- Indecently Exposed (2005, 59 minutes): Elliot conducts her third exercise in Canada with White Canadians and First Nations peoples and exposes how systemic racism continues.
Mirrors of Privilege: Making Whiteness Visible (50 minutes)
When I showed this film to a 100% Native college class, the students responded that they had never heard White people talk like that before. The intent of the film was to take the dialogue further along. The producer had not been satisfied when people of color had told their stories and White participants felt guilt or shame; there was no real learning or progress toward healing. By having White people who have worked to gain insight into racism and White privilege speak, they can serve as models for other White people to get beyond guilt. It is produced/directed by Shakti Butler for World Trust Educational Services.
Free Land: A Hip Hop Journey from the Streets of Oakland to the Wild, Wild West (2010, 90 minutes)
See description of DVD and curriculum guide under books above.
Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick? (2008, 56 minutes, six 26 minutes each)
This award-winning series consists of seven episodes. “In Sickness and Wealth” explores how power, wealth, and resources shape opportunities for good health. “When the Bough Breaks” asks whether racism can be embedded in the body such that birth outcomes are affected and challenges the notion that money, education, and a good job are sufficient for good healthcare. “Becoming American” examines why Latino immigrants’ health declines the longer they stay in the U.S. “Bad Sugar” looks at the health of Native peoples in Arizona and the result of racism and colonialism. “Place Matters” examines why our street address is a strong predictor of our health and looks at how choices are structured to favor some people. Other episodes examine the Marshall Islanders and U.S. military policy and why the effects of layoffs differ so much in various countries.
Van Dijk, T. (2007). Bibliography on Racism
It includes 480 pages of international references. Also check out his Project on Racism and Discourse, which contains a bibliography. www.discourses.org/projects/racism
Kivel, P. (2002). Bibliography on Racism
This includes 30 pages of racism references.
Radical Reference (n.d.). Anti-Racism for Activists: A Bibliography
The website provides articles, books, and visual media for White allies and people of color.
Teaching for Change (2010)
Twenty-year old organization that provides teachers and parents “with the tools to transform schools into centers of justice where students learn to read, write and change the world.” Teaching for Change’s Busboys and Poets Bookstore sells progressive and independent book titles: http://bbpbooks.teachingforchange.org
Look for the bibliographies “The Basics” and “Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles.” Under the videos link is a videography of documentaries for use in the classroom.
A project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, this is a great site for teachers. By searching racism you can get direct on-point readings, lessons, case studies, and more. The organization also offers hard copy educational kits and subscriptions to its magazine for free to classroom teachers, school librarians, school counselors, school administrators, professors of education, leaders of home school networks, youth directors at houses of worship, and employees of youth-serving nonprofit organizations. Take the implicit bias test at www.tolerance.org/activity/test-yourself-hidden-bias
The website offers readings, audiotapes, and videos on Whiteness, racism, and taking action to end racism. It is designed especially for human service practioners and educators.
World Conference against Racism
This organization provides an international perspective that is increasingly important. The website includes a link to racism against Indigenous peoples.
Michael W. Simpson, J.D., M.Ed, is a teacher, lawyer, and social justice advocate and a Ph.D. candidate in American Indian Studies at the University of Arizona. He may be reached at email@example.com.