Synopses & Reviews
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.
This detailed case study relies on ideas from critical race theory toexplore race relations at a suburban charter high school, known here by the pseudonym “Excellence Academy.” The study reveals how studentsand teachers construct and perform racial identity as they study multicultural literature in a wider school environment that does notencourage discussions about race and racism. The study follows one white teacher of 10th and 11th grade literature and her students ofseveral races, offering numerous quotes and dialogues interviews with students and classroom discussions. The author argues thatstudents’ cross-racial friendships allowed the space for insensitive responses during class discussions and racially biased administrativepractices by teachers and administrators who insist they are ‘colorblind.’ Appendices outline the childist/critical race approach of studying race in the classroom and in schools.Annotation ©2016 Ringgold, Inc., Portland, OR (protoview.com)
andquot;Inand#160;Learning Race, Learning Place, Erin N. Winkler has pushed the literature on racial socialization in new directions by including children's perspectives and looking beyond the parent as sole socializer, and she has done so in an effective and accessible manner.andquot;
andquot;Learning Race, Learning Place
goes beyond traditional studies of racial socialization by bringing in the geographic contexts where young people live and travel. Winkler crafts an engaging narrative about how kids both learn and create Blackness.andquot;
andquot;With rich narratives, solid data, and a refusal to smooth over problematic areas thatand#160;exist when discussing whiteness and racism, Race among Friends addresses important issues with insight, clarity, and a call to (re)commit ourselves to pursing strategies for undoing whiteness and racism in ourselves and in the teaching environment.andquot;
andquot;Race matters in suburbs as much as in cities. In her ethnographic study of high school students in a suburban charter school, Modica pays astute attention to the juxtaposition of cross-racial friendships and racial tension. Itandrsquo;s a must-read for all.andquot;
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.
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.
About the Author
MARIANNE MODICA is an associate professor of education at the University of Valley Forge inand#160;Phoenixville, PA.
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;