Synopses & Reviews
Complicating the common view that immigrant incorporation is a top-down process, determined largely by parents, Vikki Katz explores how children actively broker connections that enable their families to become woven into the fabric of American life. Childrenandrsquo;s immersion in the U.S. school system and contact with mainstream popular culture enables them more quickly to become fluent in English and familiar with the conventions of everyday life in the United States. These skills become an important factor in how families interact with their local environments. Kids in the Middle
explores childrenandrsquo;s contributions to the family strategies that improve communication between their parents and U.S. schools, healthcare facilities, and social services, from the perspectives of children, parents, and the English-speaking service providers that interact with these families via childrenandrsquo;s assistance. Katz also considers how childrenandrsquo;s brokering affects their developmental trajectories. While their help is critical to addressing short-term family needs, childrenandrsquo;s responsibilities can constrain their access to educational resources and have consequences for their long-term goals. Kids in the Middle
explores the complicated interweaving of family responsibility and individual attainment in these immigrant families.
Through a unique interdisciplinary approach that combines elements of sociology and communication approaches, Katz investigates not only how immigrant children connect their families with local institutional networks, but also how they engage different media forms to bridge gaps between their homes and mainstream American culture. Drawing from extensive firsthand research, Katz takes us inside an urban community in Southern California and the experiences of a specific community of Latino immigrant families there. In addition to documenting the often-overlooked contributions that children of immigrants make to their familiesandrsquo; community encounters, the book provides a critical set of recommendations for how service providers and local institutions might better assist these children in fulfilling their family responsibilities. The story told in Kids in the Middle reveals an essential part of the immigrant experience that transcends both geographic and ethnic boundaries.
Erin N. Winkler uses in-depth interviews with an economically diverse group of African American children and their mothers to reorient the way we look at how children develop their ideas about race. She shows the importance of considering this process from childrenandrsquo;s points of view and listening to their interpretations of their experiences. The roles of gender, skin tone, colorblind rhetoric, peers, family, media, school, and, especially, place in developing childrenandrsquo;s racial identities and ideas are also examined.
In an American society both increasingly diverse and increasingly segregated, the signals children receive about race are more confusing than ever. In this context, how do children negotiate and make meaning of multiple and conflicting messages to develop their own ideas about race? Learning Race, Learning Place engages this question using in-depth interviews with an economically diverse group of African American children and their mothers.
Through these rich narratives, Erin N. Winkler seeks to reorient the way we look at how children develop their ideas about race through the introduction of a new frameworkandmdash;comprehensive racial learningandmdash;that shows the importance of considering this process from childrenandrsquo;s points of view and listening to their interpretations of their experiences, which are often quite different from what the adults around them expect or intend. At the childrenandrsquo;s prompting, Winkler examines the roles of multiple actors and influences, including gender, skin tone, colorblind rhetoric, peers, family, media, school, and, especially, place. She brings to the fore the complex and understudied power of place, positing that while childrenandrsquo;s racial identities and experiences are shaped by a national construction of race, they are also specific to a particular place that exerts both direct and indirect influence on their racial identities and ideas.
and#160;Kids in the Middle
explores how children of immigrants use their language capabilities, knowledge of American culture, and facility with media content and devices to help their parents forge connections with local schools, healthcare facilities, and social services as they adjust to life in the United States. Through in-depth inquiry in one Southern California community, Vikki S. Katz explores the important contributions children make to the functioning of their immigrant families and considers what social workers and parents in diverseand#160;community can do to support them. and#160;
Race among Friends
focuses on a andldquo;racially friendlyandrdquo; suburban charter school called Excellence Academy, highlighting the ways that students and teachers think about race and act out racial identity. Marianne Modica finds that even in an environment where students of all racial backgrounds work and play together harmoniously, race affects the daily experiences of students and teachers in profound but unexamined ways.
Many saw the 2008 election of Barack Obama as a sign that America had moved past the issue of race, that a colorblind society was finally within reach. But as Marianne Modica reveals in Race Among Friends,
attempts to be colorblind do not end racismandmdash;in fact, ignoring race increases the likelihood that racism will occur in our schools and in society.
This intriguing volume focuses on a andldquo;racially friendlyandrdquo; suburban charter school called Excellence Academy, highlighting the ways that students and teachers think about race and act out racial identity. Modica finds that even in an environment where students of all racial backgrounds work and play together harmoniously, race affects the daily experiences of students and teachers in profound but unexamined ways. Some teachers, she notes, feared that talking about race in the classroom would open them to charges of racism, so they avoided the topic. And rather than generate honest and constructive conversations about race, student friendships opened the door for insensitive racial comments by whites, resentment and silence by blacks, and racially biased administrative practices. In the end, the schoolandrsquo;s friendly environment did not promoteandmdash;and may have hinderedandmdash;serious discussion of race and racial inequity.
The desire to ignore race in favor of a andldquo;colorblind society,andrdquo; Modica writes, has become an entrenched part of American culture. But as Race Among Friends shows, when race becomes a taboo subject, it has serious ramifications for students and teachers of all ethnic origins.
About the Author
and#160;VIKKI S. KATZ is an assistant professor of communication at Rutgers University. Her research explores the communication challenges immigrant Latino families face as they integrate into U.S. society. She is also co-author of Understanding Ethnic Media: Producers, Consumers, and Societies
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
1. Comprehensive Racial Learning, Grounded in Place
2. Rhetoric versus Reality: Ambivalence about Race and Racism
3. Racialized Place: Comprehensive Racial Learning through Travel
4. Place Matters: Shaping Mothers' Messages
5. Competing with Society: Responsive Racial Socialization
6. Back Is Black? Gender, Skin Tone, and Comprehensive Racial Learning
7. Conclusion: andquot;I Learn Being Black from Everywhere I Goandquot;