Week 2 Readings
2-page response to the readings.
This reading response must consist of two parts:
- A description of what you identify as the theme for the readings. The theme should draw from all of the readings attached in Files and provide a brief summary of the authors’ main points.
- You should respond critically to “Sensoy & DiAngelo: Chapter 5 (PP. 99-120)” & “Gorski and pothini (PP. 83-90)” , taking note of connections to your own experiences, previous chapters readings, or other related work that addresses the Chapter 5’s theme. In this section, feel free to pose any questions that the readings raise for you. You will not receive money if you only submit a summary of the readings.
MULTICULTURAL EDUCATION SERIES JAMES A. BANKS, Series Editor
Is Everyone Really Equal? An Introduction to Key Concepts in Social Justice Education, Second Edition
ÖZLEM SENSOY AND ROBIN DIANGELO Teaching for Equity in Complex Times: Negotiating Standards in a High- Performing Bilingual School
JAMY STILLMAN AND LAUREN ANDERSON Transforming Educational Pathways for Chicana/o Students: A Critical Race Feminista Praxis
DOLORES DELGADO BERNAL AND ENRIQUE ALEMÁN, JR. Un-Standardizing Curriculum: Multicultural Teaching in the Standards-Based Classroom, 2nd Edition
CHRISTINE E. SLEETER AND JUDITH FLORES CARMONA Global Migration, Diversity, and Civic Education: Improving Policy and Practice
JAMES A. BANKS, MARCELO SUÁREZ-OROZCO, AND MIRIAM BEN-PERETZ, EDS.
Reclaiming the Multicultural Roots of U.S. Curriculum: Communities of Color and Official Knowledge in Education
WAYNE AU, ANTHONY L. BROWN, AND DOLORES CALDERÓN Human Rights and Schooling: An Ethical Framework for Teaching for Social Justice
AUDREY OSLER We Can’t Teach What We Don’t Know: White Teachers, Multiracial Schools, Third Edition
GARY R. HOWARD Teaching and Learning on the Verge: Democratic Education in Action
SHANTI ELLIOTT Engaging the “Race Question”: Accountability and Equity in U.S. Higher Education
ALICIA C. DOWD AND ESTELA MARA BENSIMON Diversity and Education: A Critical Multicultural Approach
MICHAEL VAVRUS First Freire: Early Writings in Social Justice Education
CARLOS ALBERTO TORRES Mathematics for Equity: A Framework for Successful Practice
NA’ILAH SUAD NASIR, CARLOS CABANA, BARBARA SHREVE, ESTELLE WOODBURY, AND NICOLE LOUIE, EDS.
Race, Empire, and English Language Teaching: Creating Responsible and Ethical Anti-Racist Practice
SUHANTHIE MOTHA Black Male(d): Peril and Promise in the Education of African American Males
TYRONE C. HOWARD LGBTQ Youth and Education: Policies and Practices
CRIS MAYO Race Frameworks: A Multidimensional Theory of Racism and Education
ZEUS LEONARDO Reaching and Teaching Students in Poverty: Strategies for Erasing the Opportunity Gap
PAUL C. GORSKI Class Rules: Exposing Inequality in American High Schools
PETER W. COOKSON JR. Teachers Without Borders? The Hidden Consequences of International Teachers in U.S. Schools
ALYSSA HADLEY DUNN Streetsmart Schoolsmart: Urban Poverty and the Education of Adolescent Boys
GILBERTO Q. CONCHAS AND JAMES DIEGO VIGIL Americans by Heart: Undocumented Latino Students and the Promise of Higher Education
WILLIAM PÉREZ Achieving Equity for Latino Students: Expanding the Pathway to Higher Education Through Public Policy
FRANCES CONTRERAS Literacy Achievement and Diversity: Keys to Success for Students, Teachers, and Schools
KATHRYN H. AU Understanding English Language Variation in U.S. Schools
ANNE H. CHARITY HUDLEY AND CHRISTINE MALLINSON Latino Children Learning English: Steps in the Journey
GUADALUPE VALDÉS, SARAH CAPITELLI, AND LAURA ALVAREZ Asians in the Ivory Tower: Dilemmas of Racial Inequality in American Higher Education
ROBERT T. TERANISHI Our Worlds in Our Words: Exploring Race, Class, Gender, and Sexual Orientation in Multicultural Classrooms
MARY DILG Culturally Responsive Teaching, Second Edition
Why Race and Culture Matter in Schools TYRONE C. HOWARD
Diversity and Equity in Science Education OKHEE LEE AND CORY A. BUXTON
Forbidden Language PATRICIA GÁNDARA AND MEGAN HOPKINS, EDS.
The Light in Their Eyes, 10th Anniversary Edition SONIA NIETO
The Flat World and Education LINDA DARLING-HAMMOND
Teaching What Really Happened JAMES W. LOEWEN
Diversity and the New Teacher CATHERINE CORNBLETH
Frogs into Princes: Writings on School Reform LARRY CUBAN
Educating Citizens in a Multicultural Society, Second Edition JAMES A. BANKS
Culture, Literacy, and Learning CAROL D. LEE
Facing Accountability in Education CHRISTINE E. SLEETER, ED.
Talkin Black Talk H. SAMY ALIM AND JOHN BAUGH, EDS.
Improving Access to Mathematics NA’ILAH SUAD NASIR AND PAUL COBB, EDS.
“To Remain an Indian” K. TSIANINA LOMAWAIMA AND TERESA L. MCCARTY
Education Research in the Public Interest GLORIA LADSON-BILLINGS AND WILLIAM F. TATE, EDS.
Multicultural Strategies for Education and Social Change ARNETHA F. BALL
Beyond the Big House GLORIA LADSON-BILLINGS
Teaching and Learning in Two Languages EUGENE E. GARCÍA
Improving Multicultural Education CHERRY A. MCGEE BANKS
Education Programs for Improving Inter group Relations
WALTER G. STEPHAN AND W. PAUL VOGT, EDS. City Schools and the American Dream
PEDRO A. NOGUERA Thriving in the Multicultural Classroom
MARY DILG Educating Teachers for Diversity
JACQUELINE JORDAN IRVINE Teaching Democracy
WALTER C. PARKER The Making—and Remaking—of a Multiculturalist
CARLOS E. CORTÉS Transforming the Multicultural Education of Teachers
MICHAEL VAVRUS Learning to Teach for Social Justice
LINDA DARLING-HAMMOND, JENNIFER FRENCH, AND SILVIA PALOMA GARCIA-LOPEZ, EDS.
Culture, Difference, and Power, Revised Edition CHRISTINE E. SLEETER
Learning and Not Learning English GUADALUPE VALDÉS
The Children Are Watching CARLOS E. CORTÉS
Multicultural Education, Transformative Knowledge, and Action JAMES A. BANKS, ED.
Is Everyone Really Equal?
An Introduction to Key Concepts in Social Justice Education
Özlem Sensoy and Robin DiAngelo
Published by Teachers College Press, 1234 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10027
Copyright © 2017 by Teachers College, Columbia University
Cover design by Katherine Streeter.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission from the publisher. For reprint permission and other subsidiary rights requests, please contact Teachers College Press, Rights Dept.: email@example.com
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available at loc.gov
ISBN: 978-0-8077-5861-8 (paper) ISBN: 978-0-8077-7617-9 (ebook)
To all those whose shoulders we stand on and lean on—may ours be as steady for the next generation.
Series Foreword James A. Banks
What Is Critical Social Justice? Chapter Summaries
A Parable: Hodja and the Foreigner Layers of the Parable
1. How to Engage Constructively in Courses That Take a Critical Social Justice Approach
An Open Letter to Students A Story: The Question of Planets Guideline 1: Strive for Intellectual Humility Guideline 2: Everyone Has an Opinion. Opinions are Not the Same as
Informed Knowledge Guideline 3: Let Go of Anecdotal Evidence and Examine Patterns Guideline 4: Use Your Reactions as Entry Points for Gaining Deeper
Self-Knowledge Guideline 5: Recognize How Your Social Position Informs Your
Reactions to Your Instructor and the Course Content Grading Conclusion
2. Critical Thinking and Critical Theory
Two Dimensions of Thinking Critically About Knowledge A Brief Overview of Critical Theory Why Theory Matters Knowledge Construction
Example of Knowledge as Socially Constructed Thinking Critically About Opinions
3. Culture and Socialization
What Is Culture? What Is Socialization? Cultural Norms and Conformity “You” in Relation to the “Groups” to Which You Belong
4. Prejudice and Discrimination
What is Prejudice? What is Discrimination? All Humans Have Prejudice and Discriminate
5. Oppression and Power
What is Oppression? Social Stratification Understanding the “isms” Internalized Dominance Internalized Oppression Hegemony, Ideology, and Power
6. Understanding Privilege Through Ableism
What Is Privilege? External and Structural Dimensions of Privilege Internal and Attitudinal Dimensions of Privilege Common Dominant Group Misconceptions About Privilege
7. Understanding the Invisibility of Oppression Through Sexism
What Is an Institution? An Example: Sexism Today What Makes Sexism Difficult to See? Discourses of Sexism in Advertising Discourses of Sexism in Movies Discourses of Sexism in Music Videos
8. Understanding the Structural Nature of Oppression Through Racism
What Is Race? A Brief History of the Social Construction of Race in the United States A Brief History of the Social Construction of Race in Canada What Is Racism? Two Key Challenges to Understanding Racism Racism Today Dynamics of White Racial Superiority Dynamics of Internalized Racial Oppression Racism and Intersectionality
9. Understanding the Global Organization of Racism Through White Supremacy
What Is Whiteness? White Supremacy in the Global Context Common White Misconceptions about Racism
10. Understanding Intersectionality Through Classism
Mr. Rich White and Mr. Poor White Strike a Bargain What Is Class? Common Class Venacular Class Socialization Common Misconceptions About Class Understanding Intersectionality Examples of Everyday Class Privilege Common Classist Beliefs
11. “Yeah, But …”: Common Rebuttals
Claiming That Schools Are Politically Neutral Dismissing Social Justice Scholarship as Merely the Radical and
Personal Opinions of Individual Left Wing Professors Citing Exceptions to the Rule Arguing That Oppression Is Just Human Nature Appealing to a Universalized Humanity
Insisting on Immunity from Socialization Ignoring Intersectionality Refusing to Recognize Structural and Institutional Power Rejecting the Politics of Language Invalidating Claims of Oppression as Oversensitivity Reasoning That If Choice Is Involved It Can’t Be Oppression Positioning Social Justice Education as Something “Extra” Being Paralyzed by Guilt
12. Putting It All Together
Recognize How Relations of Unequal Social Power Are Constantly Being Negotiated
Understand Our Own Positions Within Relations of Unequal Power Think Critically About Knowledge Act in Service of a More Just Society
About the Authors
Since publication of the first edition of this visionary, practical, and engaging book, a number of events around the world have stimulated the rise of xenophobia, institutionalized racism, and the quest for social cohesion and nationalism (Banks, 2017). These events include the migration of Syrian and other refugees to European nations and the xenophobic responses they evoked as well as the populist revolts that resulted in the 2016 passage of the Brexit referendum in England to leave the European Union (Erlanger, 2017). The election of Donald Trump as President of the United States in 2016 and the popularity of Marine Le Pen in France and other right-wing politicians in European nations are also manifestations of the resurgence of neoliberalism and the pushback on social justice in nations around the world. The election and rising popularity of conservative politicians have led to an increase in reported Anti-Semitic and Islamophobic attacks in the United States and other nations. Reported attacks and threats on Jewish centers increased significantly after Trump won the presidential election in 2016 (Haberman & Chokshi, 2017). Reported harassment and attacks on Muslims in the United States increased after Trump issued an executive order on January 27, 2017 that banned immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim nations (Chokshi & Fandos 2017; Shear & Cooper, 2017).
Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice” (King, 1965). The chilling and pernicious events described above do not necessarily invalidate the belief that the quest for social justice is long and “bends toward justice.” However, they exemplify the major thesis of Arthur W. Schlesinger Jr.’s (1986) illuminating book, The Cycles of American History, in which he argues that during the past two centuries of American history periods of social justice and idealism have rotated with periods of pragmatism and conservative backlash. The election of Donald Trump as president of the United States after Barack Obama engineered the passage of progressive legislation related to health care and the environment during his 8-year occupancy of the White House epitomizes Schlesinger’s thesis. The dismal and toxic “cycle” of American history that was initiated by the Trump administration and the White nationalism that it sanctioned (Painter, 2016) underscores how much we need the second edition of this informative and helpful book. Teachers, like other Americans and Canadians, will be influenced by the
disconcerting and dispiriting racial climate in the United States and in many other nations today. These developments require multicultural and progressive teacher educators to work more diligently to promote social justice and equality today than was perhaps the case when the first edition of this book was published.
This trenchant and timely book is written to help both preservice and practicing teachers attain the knowledge, attitudes, and skills needed to work effectively with students from diverse groups, including mainstream groups. A major assumption of this book is that teachers need to develop a critical social justice perspective in order to understand the complex issues related to race, gender, class, and exceptionality in the United States and Canada and to teach in ways that will promote social justice and equality.
One of the most challenging tasks that those of us who teach multicultural education courses to teacher education students experience is resistance to the knowledge and skills that we teach. This resistance has deep roots in the communities in which most teacher education students are socialized as well as in the mainstream knowledge that becomes institutionalized within the academic community and the popular culture that most students have not questioned until they enroll in a multicultural education or diversity course. Sensoy and DiAngelo—who have rich and successful experiences teaching difficult concepts to teacher education students—thoughtfully anticipate student resistance to many of the concepts discussed in this adept and skillfully conceptualized book. They respectfully and incisively convey to readers the important difference between opinion and informed knowledge. They also convincingly describe why informed and reflective knowledge is essential for effective teaching in diverse schools and classrooms. The authors also provide vivid and compelling examples, thought experiments, and anecdotes to help their readers master challenging and complex concepts related to diversity, social justice, and equity.
Sensoy and DiAngelo draw upon their years of experience working with predominantly White teachers and their deep knowledge of diversity issues to construct explicit definitions of complicated concepts such as racism, sexism, classism, ableism, and internalized oppression. Another important feature of this book is the wide range of issues and groups with which it deals, including race, gender, exceptionality, and social class. The authors also present an informative discussion of intersectionality and how the various concepts related to diversity interrelate in complex and dynamic ways that create institutionalized and intractable forms of marginalization.
This well-written and practical book will help practicing educators deal
effectively with the growing ethnic, cultural, and linguistic diversity within U.S. society and schools. Although students in the United States are becoming increasingly diverse, most of the nation’s teachers are White, female, and monolingual. Race and institutionalized racism are significant factors that influence and mediate the interactions of students and teachers from different ethnic, language, and social-class groups (G. R. Howard, 2016; T. C. Howard, 2010; Leonardo, 2013). The growing income gap between adults (Stiglitz, 2012)—as well as between youth that are described by Putnam (2015) in Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis —is another significant reason why it is important to help teachers understand how race, ethnicity, gender, and class influence classroom interactions and student learning and to comprehend the ways in which these variables affect student aspirations and academic engagement (Suárez-Orozco, Pimentel, & Martin, 2009).
American classrooms are experiencing the largest influx of immigrant students since the beginning of the 20th century. Approximately 21.5 million new immigrants—documented and undocumented—settled in the United States in the years from 2000 to 2015. Less than 10% came from nations in Europe. Most came from Mexico, nations in South Asia, East Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Central America (Camarota, 2011, 2016). The influence of an increasingly diverse population on U.S. schools, colleges, and universities is and will continue to be enormous.
Schools in the United States are more diverse today than they have been since the early 1900s, when a multitude of immigrants entered the United States from Southern, Central, and Eastern Europe. In 2014, the National Center for Education Statistics estimated that the percentage of students from ethnic minority groups made up more than 50% of the students in prekindergarten through 12th grade in public schools, an increase from 40% in 2001 (National Center for Education Statistics, 2014). Language and religious diversity is also increasing in the U.S. student population. The 2012 American Community Survey estimated that 21% of Americans aged 5 and above (61.9 million) spoke a language other than English at home (U. S. Census Bureau, 2012). Harvard professor Diana L. Eck (2001) calls the United States the “most religiously diverse nation on earth” (p. 4). Islam is now the fastest-growing religion in the United States, as well as in several European nations such as France, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands (Banks, 2009; O’Brien, 2016).
The major purpose of the Multicultural Education Series is to provide preservice educators, practicing educators, graduate students, scholars, and policy-makers with an interrelated and comprehensive set of books that summarizes and analyzes important research, theory, and practice related
to the education of ethnic, racial, cultural, and linguistic groups in the United States and the education of mainstream students about diversity. The dimensions of multicultural education, developed by Banks (2004) and described in the Handbook of Research on Multicultural Education and in the Encyclopedia of Diversity in Education (Banks, 2012), provide the conceptual framework for the development of the publications in the Series. The dimensions are content integration, the knowledge construction process, prejudice reduction, equity pedagogy, and an empowering institutional culture and social structure. The books in the Multicultural Education Series provide research, theoretical, and practical knowledge about the behaviors and learning characteristics of students of color (Conchas & Vigil, 2012; Lee, 2007), language minority students (Gándara & Hopkins 2010; Valdés, 2001; Valdés, Capitelli, & Alvarez, 2011), low- income students (Cookson, 2013; Gorski, 2013), and other minoritized population groups, such as students who speak different varieties of English (Charity Hudley & Mallinson, 2011), and LGBTQ youth (Mayo, 2014). Several books in the Multicultural Education Series complement this book because they describe ways to reform teacher education to make it more responsive to social justice issues and concerns. They include We Can’t Teach What We Don’t Know: White Teachers, Multiracial Schools by Gary R. Howard; Why Race and Culture Matter in Schools: Closing the Achievement Gap in America’s Classrooms by Tyrone C. Howard; Learning to Teach for Social Justice, edited by Linda Darling-Hammond, Jennifer French, and Silvia Paloma García-Lopez; and Walking the Road: Race, Diversity, and Social Justice in Teacher Education by Marilyn Cochran-Smith.
The first edition of this influential and bestselling book helped teacher education students and practicing teachers to acquire the knowledge, skills, and perspectives that enabled them to work more effectively with the rich and growing student diversity in U. S. and Canadian schools. This second edition has been enriched by the addition of a new chapter on class, enhanced pedagogical supports, and with additional examples from contexts outside the United States. Students will find the second edition of this excellent and visionary textbook challenging, enlightening, and empowering.
—James A. Banks
Banks, J. A. (2004). Multicultural education: Historical development, dimensions, and practice. In J. A. Banks & C. A. M. Banks (Eds.). Handbook of research
on multicultural education (2nd ed., pp. 3–29). San Francisco, CA: Jossey- Bass.
Banks, J. A. (Ed.). (2009). The Routledge international companion to multicultural education. New York, NY, and London, UK: Routledge.
Banks, J. A. (2012). Multicultural education: Dimensions of. In J. A. Banks (Ed). Encyclopedia of diversity in education (vol. 3, pp. 1538–1547). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Banks, J. A. (Ed.). (2017). Citizenship education and global migration: Implications for theory, research, and teaching. Washington, DC: American Educational Research Association.
Camarota, S. A. (2011, October). A record-setting decade of immigration: 2000 to 2010. Washington, DC: Center for Immigration Studies. Retrieved from cis.org/2000-2010-record-setting-decade-of-immigration
Camarota, S. A. (2016, June). New data: Immigration surged in 2014 and 2015. Washington, DC: Center for Immigration Studies. Retrieved from cis.org/New-DataImmigration-Surged-in-2014-and-2015
Charity Hudley, A. H., & Mallinson, C. (2011). Understanding language variation in U. S. schools. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Chokshi, N. & Fandos, N. (2017, January 29). Demonstrators in streets, and at airports, protest immigration order. The New York Times. Retrieved from www.nytimes.com/2017/01/29/us/protests-airports-donald-trump-immigration- executive-order-muslims.html
Cochran-Smith, M. (2004). Walking the road: Race, diversity, and social justice in teacher education. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Conchas, G. Q., & Vigil, J. D. (2012). Streetsmart schoolsmart: Urban poverty and the education of adolescent boys. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Cookson, P. W. Jr. (2013). Class rules: Exposing inequality in American high schools. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Darling-Hammond, L., French, J., & García-Lopez, S. P. (Eds.). (2002). Learning to teach for social justice. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Eck, D. L. (2001). A new religious America: How a “Christian country” has become the world’s most religiously diverse nation. New York, NY: HarperSanFrancisco.
Erlanger, S. (2017, March 29). Pillars of the West shaken by ‘Brexit,’ but they’re not crumbling yet. The New York Times. Retrieved from www.nytimes.com/2017/03/29/world/europe/uk-brexit-article-50-analysis.html
Gándara, P., & Hopkins, M. (Eds.). (2010). Forbidden language: English language learners and restrictive language policies. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Gorski, P. C. (2013). Reaching and teaching students in poverty: Strategies for erasing the opportunity gap. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Haberman, M., & Chokshi, N. (2017, February 20). Ivanka Trump calls for tolerance after threats on Jewish centers. The New York Times. Retrieved from www.nytimes.com/2017/02/20/us/politics/ivanka-trump-jewish-community- centers.html?_r=0
Howard, G. R. (2016). We can’t teach what we don’t know: White teachers, multiracial schools (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Howard, T. C. (2010). Why race and culture matter in schools: Closing the achievement gap in America’s classrooms. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
King, M. L., Jr. (1965, February 26). Sermon at Temple Israel of Hollywood. Retrieved from www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlktempleisraelhollywood.htm
Lee, C. D. (2007). Culture, literacy, and learning: Taking bloom in the midst of the whirlwind. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Leonardo, Z. (2013). Race frameworks: A multidimensional theory of racism and education. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Mayo, C. (2014). LGBTQ youth and education: Policies and practices. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
National Center for Education Statistics. (2014). The condition of education 2014. Retrieved from nces.ed.gov/pubs2014/2014083.pdf
O’Brien, P. (2016). The Muslim question in Europe: Political controversies and public philosophies. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.
Painter, N. I. (2016, November 16). What Whiteness means in the Trump era. The New York Times. Retrieved from www.nytimes.com/2016/11/13/opinion/what- whiteness-means-in-the-trump-era.html?_r=0
Putnam, R. D (2015). Our kids: The American dream in crisis. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.
Schlesinger, A. M. Jr. (1986). The cycles of American history. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.
Shear, M. D., & Cooper, H. (2017, January 27). Trump bars refugees and citizens of 7 Muslim countries. The New York Times. Retrieved from www.nytimes.com/2017/01/27/us/politics/trump-syrian-refugees.html
Stiglitz, J. E. (2012). The price of inequality: How today’s divided society endangers our future. New York, NY: Norton.
Suárez-Orozco, C., Pimentel, A., & Martin, M. (2009). The significance of relationships: Academic engagement and achievement among newcomer immigrant youth. Teachers College Record, 111(3), 712–749.
U. S. Census Bureau (2012). Selected social characteristics in the United States: 2012 American Community Survey 1-year estimates. Retrieved from factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml? pid=ACS_12_1YR_DP02&prod-Type=table
Valdés, G. (2001). Learning and not learning English: Latino students in American schools. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Valdés, G., Capitelli, S., & Alvarez, L. (2011). Latino children learning English: Steps in the journey. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
We begin this text by acknowledging that we conduct our scholarship and teaching on the unceded ancestral territories of various Indigenous peoples, on what is today identified as Canada and the United States. It can be easy for us to dismiss how events from the past could matter to us here in the present. But studying the history of colonialism—the cultural, emotional, and physical genocide of peoples around the world—reminds us that to understand the injustices of today we must recognize their connection to injustices of the past. We offer our deepest respect to Elders both past and present.
We extend our heartfelt thanks to the friends and colleagues who have supported us with this project, especially those who so generously gave their time and expertise to read and offer feedback on various aspects of the book. Your collegial support, and willingness to push our thinking on issues taken up in the first and in this second edition have been invaluable. Specifically, we would like to thank Carolyne Ali-Khan, Kumari Beck, Rochelle Brock, Ann Chinnery, Sumi Colligan, Cheryl Cooke, Darlene Flynn, Paul Gorski, Aisha Hauser, Michael Hoechsmann, Rodney Hunt, Mark Jacobs, Byron Joyner, Yoo-Mi Lee, Darren Lund, Elizabeth Marshall, Anika Nailah, Deborah Terry-Hayes, Jason Toews, and Gerald Walton.
We thank the reviewers who have been involved in the first and second edition for their guidance and insightful suggestions.
Thank you to Katherine Streeter for her artwork. Thank you to Brian Ellerbeck, Karl Nyberg, Lori Tate, and the entire
publication team at Teachers College Press. And finally, we extend our deepest appreciation to James Banks for his
trust in us to produce a text worthy of joining the Multicultural Education Series, and for his lifelong courage and commitment to building a more just world.
Map of Indigenous Communities Throughout North America
We are educators who collectively bring over 2 decades of experience conducting research, teaching, writing, leading workshops, and facilitating discussions in the study and practice of social justice. We have led this work with elementary and high school students, undergraduate and graduate students, preservice and in-service teachers, and in the workplace for employees of government, university, nonprofit, and for-profit organizations. We have presented our research at national and international conferences, and within the disciplines of education, social work, cultural studies, women’s studies, ethnic studies, and Middle East studies.
Through our experiences with wide-ranging audiences, we consistently see predictable gaps in peoples’ understanding of what social justice is and what might be required to achieve it. We think of these gaps as a form of society-wide social justice illiteracy and argue that this illiteracy is not due to a lack of information alone. Rather, social in justice depends on this illiteracy; it is not benign or neutral, but actively nurtured through many forces and serves specific interests.
Social justice illiteracy prevents us from moving forward to create a more equitable society. Thus the primary objective of this book is to provide a foundation for developing social justice literacy. Using accessible language, addressing the most common misinformation, providing vignettes, definitions, exercises and reflection questions, our goal is to provide this foundation to a wide range of readers.
What Is Critical Social Justice?
Most people have a working definition of social justice; it is commonly understood as the principles of “fairness” and “equality” for all people and respect for their basic human rights. Most people would say that they value these principles. Yet seldom are the following questions discussed, and even less seldom are they agreed upon: What are those basic human rights? Have we already achieved them? If not, why not? How do we go about achieving them if we agree on what they are and why they haven’t yet been achieved? From whose perspective is something fair and equitable? Might something be fair for one person while actually having an unfair outcome for another? What does respect actually mean in practice? While some say it is to treat others as we would like to be treated,
some say that it is to treat others as they would like to be treated. Thus the definition itself is our first challenge.
The second challenge surfaces when we consider what it means to practice social justice. Generally, because most people see themselves as valuing social justice, most people also see themselves as acting justly in their lives. In response to questions about how they practice social justice, many would say that they treat everyone the same without regard to differences; because they do this, their actions are aligned with their values.
While these ways of conceptualizing social justice are very common, we see them as woefully inadequate. Indeed, a great deal of scholarship in social justice studies is focused on the gap between the ideals of social justice and the practices of social justice.
To clarify our definition, let’s start with the concept social justice. While some scholars and activists prefer to use the term social justice in order to reclaim its true commitments, in this book we prefer the term critical social justice. We do so in order to distinguish our standpoint on social justice from mainstream standpoints. A critical approach to social justice refers to specific theoretical perspectives that recognize that society is stratified (i.e., divided and unequal) in significant and far-reaching ways along social group lines that include race, class, gender, sexuality, and ability. Critical social justice recognizes inequality as deeply embedded in the fabric of society (i.e., as structural), and actively seeks to change this.
The definition we apply is rooted in a critical theoretical approach. While this approach refers to a broad range of fields, there are some important shared principles:
All people are individuals, but they are also members of social groups. These social groups are valued unequally in society. Social groups that are valued more highly have greater access to the resources of a society. Social injustice is real, exists today, and results in unequal access to resources between groups of people. Those who claim to be for social justice must be engaged in self- reflection about their own socialization into these groups (their “positionality”) and must strategically act from that awareness in ways that challenge social injustice. This action requires a commitment to an ongoing and lifelong process.
Based on these principles, a person engaged in critical social justice practice must be able to:
Recognize that relations of unequal social power are constantly being enacted at both the micro (individual) and macro (structural) levels. Understand our own positions within these relations of unequal power. Think critically about knowledge; what we know and how we know it. Act on all of the above in service of a more socially just society
Our goal in writing this book is to deepen our readers’ understanding of the complexity of social justice and inspire readers to actively engage in critical social justice practice. We call this blend of understanding and action critical social justice literacy.
We have brought together key concepts necessary for beginning to develop critical social justice literacy. Drawing on examples from Canada and the United States, the chapters are intended to be accessible to both Canadian and U.S. readers. We provide many familiar examples and have kept in- text citations to a minimum. We open each chapter with a quote that captures a familiar misconception that the chapter will address. The chapters are written to be building blocks; because each chapter builds upon the previous, they are best read in sequence. The issues are complex, political, and often emotionally charged, and if readers have difficulty understanding a key idea from one chapter, they may have difficulty carrying the idea forward into the next. For these reasons, the book has the following features:
Definition Boxes in which we define key terms. Stop Boxes to serve as reminders of key ideas from previous chapters and to help with difficult or challenging concepts. Perspective Check Boxes to draw attention to alternative standpoints on examples used in the text. Discussion Questions and Extension Activities for those who are using the book in a class, workshop, or study group. Patterns related to specific dynamics of oppression and how to practice recognizing them. A Glossary of terms used in the book and guide to language use.
Detailed chapter summaries appear below.
Chapter 1: How to Engage Constructively in Courses That Take a Critical Social Justice Approach guides students using the book in a course context. We address some of the common challenges and present five guidelines or dispositions that can help ensure a constructive learning experience in the social justice classroom. These guidelines include how to reframe student beliefs and expectations about course grading and assessment.
Chapter 2: Critical Thinking and Critical Theory explains what it
means to think critically about social justice. We explain the theoretical perspective known as Critical Theory and provide a brief sketch of key ideas relevant to our approach. The concept of knowledge construction is introduced. This chapter clarifies the difference between the opinions that readers already hold on a topic and the informed knowledge that we wish to provide and foster. We explain the importance of setting aside one’s opinions and engaging with humility when encountering content that is personally challenging or politically charged.
Chapter 3: Culture and Socialization. This chapter explains what
culture and socialization are and how they work. We introduce the relationship between being an individual and being a member of multiple social groups (such as race, gender, and class). The chapter explains how important it is for us to understand that our ideas, views, and opinions are not objective and independent, but rather the result of myriad social messages and conditioning forces. We take the reader beyond the common conception of parents and families as the sole forces of socialization and describe how other institutions work to form our worldviews. Examples are provided to illustrate the power of socialization and how it works as an unconscious filter shaping our perceptions.
Chapter 4: Prejudice and Discrimination unravels common
misunderstandings of two key interrelated terms: prejudice and discrimination. The chapter examines prejudice as internal—thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and assumptions—and its relationship to discrimination, which is external—prejudice occurring in action. We explain that prejudice and discrimination cannot be humanly avoided; we all hold prejudices and we all discriminate based on our prejudices. We argue that the first step in minimizing discrimination is to be able to identify (rather
than to deny) our prejudices.
Chapter 5: Oppression and Power explains how prejudice and discrimination are not the whole story. We move beyond individuals and take readers on an examination of prejudice and discrimination at the group level. We introduce the concept of power, which transforms group prejudice into oppression, and define terms such as dominant group and minoritized group. This chapter also explains the difference between concepts such as race prejudice, which anyone can hold, and racism, which occurs at the group level and is only perpetuated by the group that holds social, ideological, economic, and institutional power. The chapter explains the “ism” words (for example racism, sexism, classism) and how these words allow us to capture structural power as it manifests in particular forms of oppression.
Chapter 6: Understanding Privilege Through Ableism explains the
rights, benefits, and advantages automatically received by being a member of the dominant group, regardless of intentions. From a critical social justice perspective, privilege is systemically conferred dominance and the institutional processes by which the beliefs and values of the dominant group are made “normal” and universal. While in some cases the privileged group is also the numerical majority, numbers are not the key criterion; the key criterion is social and institutional power. This chapter also explains related concepts such as internalized oppression and internalized dominance, and offers examples of how these dynamics work to hold existing relations of power in place.
Chapter 7: Understanding the Invisibility of Oppression Through
Sexism traces a specific form of oppression—sexism—in order to illustrate how our ideas, views, and opinions are the product of interlocking and ongoing social messages in popular culture. We describe the ways in which such interlocking messages serve as barriers to seeing oppression and as such are central to how oppression is normalized.
Chapter 8: Understanding the Structural Nature of Oppression
Through Racism traces a specific form of oppression in depth. Racism is discussed within the U.S. and Canadian contexts, and explained as White racial and cultural prejudice and discrimination, supported intentionally or unintentionally by institutional power and authority. Racism is illustrated through an examination of economic, political, social, and cultural
structures, actions, and beliefs. We offer an in-depth understanding of racism as an entry point into building an in-depth understanding of how all oppressions are structural.
Chapter 9: Understanding the Global Organization of Racism
Through White Supremacy. This chapter continues the examination of racism by identifying some of the ways in which racism adapts to and co- opts efforts to challenge it. We contrast multicultural education and antiracist education, introduce other concepts such as Whiteness and White supremacy, and end by addressing common misconceptions about racism. These misconceptions also function as another form of adaptation and co- optation.
Chapter 10: Understanding Intersectionality Through Classism
begins with an examination of class oppression. We explain current economic relations of power, address concepts such as capitalism and socialism, wealth and income, as well as provide common class vernacular. The chapter also addresses the concept of intersectionality as an important theoretical development for understanding the multidimensional nature of oppression. We identify elements of class privilege, name common misconceptions about class mobility, and speak back to common classist narratives.
Chapter 11: “Yeah, But …”: Common Rebuttals. Based on our
experiences teaching these concepts in a variety of forums, we predict that readers will raise some common questions, objections, and critiques. This chapter addresses the most commonly raised issues. Drawing on all that has been discussed in previous chapters, we briefly but explicitly speak again to these issues.
Chapter 12: Putting It All Together. Understanding social justice
means that an individual must be able to recognize how relations of unequal social power are constantly being negotiated at both the micro (individual) and macro (structural) levels, understand our own positions within these relations of unequal power, think critically about knowledge, and most importantly, act from this understanding in service of a more just society. The final chapter reviews key principles of critical social justice and offers some concrete suggestions for action.
We hope to take our readers on a journey that results in an increased
ability to see beyond the immediate surface level to the deeply embedded injustice below; injustice that for so many of us is normal and taken for granted. Looking head-on at injustice can be painful, especially when we understand that we all have a role in it. However, in taking our readers on this journey we do not intend to inspire guilt or assign blame. At this point in society, guilt and blame are not useful or constructive; no one reading this book had a hand in creating the systems that hold injustice in place. But each of us does have a choice about whether we are going to work to interrupt and dismantle these systems or support their existence by ignoring them. There is no neutral ground; to choose not to act against injustice is to choose to allow it. We hope that this book gives our readers the conceptual foundations from which to act against injustice.
A Parable: Hodja and the Foreigner
Once upon a time, a foreign scholar and his entourage were passing through a town in Anatolia. The scholar asked to speak to the town’s most knowledgeable person. The townsfolk immediately called Nasreddin Hodja to come to meet the foreign scholar.
The foreigner did not speak Turkish, Persian, or Arabic, and Hodja did not speak any European languages, and so the two wise men had to communicate with signs while the townsfolk and the entourage watched in fascination.
The foreigner used a stick to draw a large circle in the sand. Hodja took the stick and divided the circle into two halves. The foreigner drew a line perpendicular to the one Hodja drew, and the circle was now split into four. He moved the stick to indicate first the three quarters of the circle, then the remaining quarter. In response, Hodja made a swirling motion with the stick on the four quarters. Then the foreigner made a bowl shape with his two hands held together side by side, palms up, and wiggled his fingers. Then, Hodja responded by cupping his hands with his palms down and wiggling his fingers.
When the meeting was over, the members of the foreigner’s entourage asked him what they had talked about. “Nasreddin Hodja is a very learned man,” he said. “I told him that the Earth was round and he told me that there was an equator slicing it in half. I told him that three-quarters of the Earth was water and one quarter of it was land. He said that there were undercurrents and winds. I told him that the waters warm up, vaporize, and move toward the sky, and to that he replied that they cool off and come down as rain.”
The people of the town were also curious about how the conversation went. They gathered around Hodja. “This stranger has very good taste,” Hodja explained. “He said that he wished there was a large tray of baklava. I said that he could only have half of it. He said that the syrup should be made with three parts sugar and one part honey. I agreed, and said that they all had to be well mixed together. Next, he suggested that we should cook it on blazing fire. And I added that we should pour crushed nuts on top of it.”
Layers of the Parable
This story is from the tales of Nasreddin Hodja, a 13th-century Sufisage. His wisdom stories often use humor to point out human failings and misunderstandings. What is relevant about this story for our purposes is the way it captures some of the key concepts in critical social justice literacy:
Each of us has a culturally based worldview. We hold a common assumption that others share our worldview. We often assume that what we intend to communicate is what is received.
Because Hodja and the foreigner do not speak the same verbal language, they move to a form of sign language and assume that they share the same understandings of what is being signed. Although both men leave the exchange feeling satisfied, we realize that they have completely misunderstood each other. But if we go deeper than a simple misunderstanding, we might also see that they had completely different ways of organizing the world and what they valued within it. For the foreigner, the emphasis was on the elements of the Earth; he had a more scientific orientation. For Hodja, the emphasis was on sharing a meal; he had a more community orientation.
As their ideas about each other form and are communicated to their respective groups (the foreigner to his entourage and Hodja to his fellow townspeople), consider now that one of them is in the position to enforce his worldview upon the other; that is, consider what might happen when we add power to the encounter. Imagine the foreigner and his entourage are not just passing through, they are in town because their nation has just invaded Hodja’s. The foreigner has been installed to govern Hodja’s town and he now controls all of the land—land that Hodja and the townfolk have lived on and raised their food on all of their lives, as did their ancestors before them. But now Hodja must pay the foreigner large fees to use this land. The foreigner moves in and appoints his own people to key positions of government and sets up his culture’s rules and social norms. The foreigner imposes these new rules and norms upon Hodja and the townspeople.
Which one of these men is going to need to learn to understand the perspective of the other? While they each have their own worldview and neither worldview is inherently superior, only one of them is in a position of power that enables him to impose his worldview on the other. Hodja
and his community’s ability to work and feed their families now depend upon the foreigner and his customs, language, and traditions, whereas the foreigner does not have to learn the town’s customs, language, or traditions. Indeed, the foreigner, who now controls all of the resources needed for Hodja’s livelihood, will profit from Hodja and the community’s labor without ever having to learn to understand their perspective.
Now fast-forward from the 13th century to the 21st. Centuries of domination of the town and resultant conflicts have occurred. The descendants of the foreigner, who continue to control the town, benefit from the resources and power they have accumulated over the centuries. Meanwhile, the descendants of the townsfolk have had to change their entire way of life, customs, and even language in order to survive. The townsfolk try to pass their traditions on to their young children, but the children see little value in cultural traditions that don’t seem to get them anywhere in society. Many of the foreigners’ descendants are also frustrated. They can’t understand why some townsfolk are so angry—after all, they weren’t the ones who invaded the town centuries ago, and they don’t see why the townspeople can’t just get over it and assimilate so they can all live together in peace.
As we can see, there are many layers of complexity in this story, layers that have built up and been left unaddressed over generations. The foreigner’s descendants see the situation as simple: Hodja’s descendants should just let go of the past and move on. Hodja’s descendants, however, see the situation as much more complicated. Until the historical, cultural, and ideological aspects of the foreigner’s domination are addressed, no one can just “get over it.” Indeed, they recognize that far from being over, the domination continues in newer forms. The suggestion that they could just move on reveals how little the foreigner’s descendants understand the history of their town and their current position within society, based on that history. This story is meant to illustrate many of the complex issues that must be understood in order to develop critical social justice literacy.
How to Engage Constructively in Courses That Take a Critical Social Justice Approach*
The struggle has always been inner, and is played out in outer terrains. Awareness of our situation must come before inner changes, which in turn come before changes in society. Nothing happens in the “real” world unless it first happens in the images in our heads.
—Gloria Anzaldúa (2009, p. 310)
Vocabulary to practice using: anecdotal evidence; platitude; mainstream society; peer review; objective; subjective
If you are reading this book, you are likely enrolled in a course that takes a critical stance. By critical stance we mean those academic fields (including social justice, critical pedagogy, multicultural education, antiracist, postcolonial, and feminist approaches) that operate from the perspective that knowledge is socially constructed and that education is a political project embedded within a network of social institutions that reproduce inequality.
Throughout your course, you will likely be studying key concepts such as socialization, oppression, privilege, and ideology and doing coursework that challenges your worldview by suggesting that you may not be as open-minded as you may have thought. You are encountering evidence that inequality not only exists, but is deeply structured into society in ways that secure its reproduction. You are also beginning to realize that, contrary to what you have always been taught, categories of difference (such as gender, race, and class) rather than merit alone, do matter and contribute significantly to people’s experiences and life opportunities.
When confronted with evidence of inequality that challenges our identities, we often respond with resistance; we want to deflect this unsettling information and protect a worldview that is more familiar and comforting. This is especially true if we believe in justice and see
ourselves as living a life that supports it. Forms that resistance takes include silence, withdrawal, immobilizing guilt, feeling overly hopeless or overly hopeful, rejection, anger, sarcasm, and argumentation. These reactions are not surprising because mainstream narratives reinforce the idea that society overall is fair, and that all we need to overcome injustice is to be nice and treat everyone the same. Yet while comforting, these platitudes are woefully out of sync with scholarly research about how society is structured. The deeply held beliefs that inform our emotional responses make studying and teaching from a critical stance very difficult.
In addition to being asked to question ideology that is deeply internalized and taken for granted, critical engagement rarely provides concrete solutions. This ambiguity can lead to frustration, for our K–12 schooling (especially in Canada and the United States) has conditioned us to seek clear and unambiguous answers. Still, we pull various strategies together and offer an overall framework for critical engagement. We draw on research and our years of practice teaching social justice content and share the vignettes and guidelines that have been most effective for our own students. A list of key terms can be found at the beginning of this chapter. Practice incorporating these terms into your academic vocabulary.
An Open Letter to Students
Courses that address social justice and inequality through a critical lens often challenge mainstream understandings and thus bring to the surface patterns and tensions that other courses do not (Gallavan, 2000; Kincheloe, 2008). This is due, primarily, to two key reasons:
The first is that many of us are underprepared to engage in the course content in scholarly ways. Basic study habits, reading comprehension, writing skills, vocabulary, and critical thinking are often underdeveloped in college students. Ironically, much of this is due to structural inequalities that courses like these try to address. For example, political and economic pressures on schools to focus on standardized testing have resulted in moves away from intellectual curiosity, critical thinking, and engagement with ambiguity and toward creating conforming and compliant students who can memorize the “one right answer” to pass the test. Differences in the kinds of schooling we receive and the differential futures they prepare us for are based on structural inequalities related to our race, class, gender, and other social locations. These differentials affect our preparation for college and university-level engagement and are examples of the kind of inequalities that social justice–oriented courses address. The ultimate goal of social justice education is to enable us to recognize structural
inequalities in ways that prepare us to change them. However, the sociopolitical context of schooling makes critical engagement challenging for many students, and this challenge is heightened when the topics under study are politically and emotionally charged.
This leads to the second reason that courses that address social justice and inequality bring to the surface patterns and tensions that other courses do not: most of us have very strong feelings and opinions about the topics examined in social justice courses (such as racism, sexism, and homophobia). These opinions often surface through claims such as:
“People should be judged by what they do, not the color of their skin”
“I accept people for who they are” “I see people as individuals” “It’s focusing on difference that divides us” “My parents taught me that all people are equal” “I always treat everyone the same” “I’ve been discriminated against so I don’t have any privilege” “Our generation is more open-minded” “I have friends from all races and we are all fine with each other” “I don’t think race and gender make any difference—as long as you
work hard” “It’s White males who are the minority now” “Women are just as sexist as men”
While these opinions are deeply held and appear to be commonsense truth (and not opinion at all), they are predictable, simplistic, and misinformed, given the large body of research examining social relations. Yet, the relentless repetition of these ideas in the mainstream makes them seem true, and allows us to form strongly held opinions without being particularly educated on the issues. Indeed, where we are members of dominant groups (e.g., if we are male, White, cisgender, able-bodied), we will almost certainly have a superficial understanding because that is the primary message made available to us through mainstream society. Where we are members of minoritized groups (e.g., if we are women, Peoples of Color, transgender, People with disabilities), we may have a deeper personal understanding of social inequality and how it works, but may not have the scholarly language to discuss it in an academic context.