While a Ph. D. student, I enrolled in number of formative classes, but none more so than a course on race and education inequities. The course content challenged me. So did the instructor. I remember vividly one class discussion about racial inequities and the ways in which teachers perpetuated them. At some point in the class conversation, the instructor, in agreement with a students’ comment, rolled his eyes and said something like, “white women teachers and white women tears” with exasperation. I was shocked and I was hurt. I enrolled in the class to learn more about racial inequities and education. Wasn’t I absolved because I showed up? How was I the problem? What was his problem?
I realize now that was a pivotal moment in my journey toward better understanding race in the United States and racial inequities in education. As I began my career as an academic scholar, I was fortunate to have mentors like him and others who cared so deeply about and understood fully the importance of race equity work. They fiercely and lovingly held up the mirror for me to confront, reflect upon, and struggle with my complicity with whiteness. They did not hold my hand, for the work was mine to do with myself. The confrontation was ugly. It was lonely. It was difficult.
This is our first step, white friends. It is not easy to look in the mirror, but we have to move past ideas that we live in a post-racist society and are colorblind, inclusive, and not ourselves racist. We may not engage in racial hate crimes, but if we live in the United States, we participate in a deeply embedded racist system every day. We must move past our fragility and emotionality because we are responsible for dismantling white supremacy. It’s our job to make change.
I share below resources that have helped me in my work to unpack my whiteness and more fully recognize the ways in which I participate in systemic racism. Regardless of where you are on your journey, I hope some of these resources are helpful to you. This list is not intended to be all encompassing, but hopefully it will be a part of a journey of further discovery. Additionally, please note that this is not a journey we will ever fully complete regardless of how much we read. So, we don’t need to binge consume content, but rather we can strive to continually engage with material as we learn and grow. As teacher educator Dr. Alyssa Hadley Dunn noted on social media recently, “We cannot ‘checklist’ our way to ending our own white supremacy. We cannot book club our way to equity. We cannot ‘toolkit’ our way to racial justice.” It is a practice we must engage in every day.
Check Out These Resources:
On the Web:
The Danger of a Single Story – Chmamanda Ngozi Adichie
Institutionalized Racism: A Syllabus
Talking About Race – Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
Whiteness – Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
Being Antiracist- Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
Why Talk About Whiteness? – Emily Chiariello (Teaching Tolerance)
What is White Privilege, Really? – Cory Collins (Teaching Tolerance)
What’s My Complicity? Talking White Fragility with Robin DiAngelo – Adrienne Van Der Valk & Anya Malley (Teaching Tolerance)
White Anti-Racism: Living the Legacy – Teaching Tolerance
The Conscious Kid
A note on book links: These links take you to the author's professional webpages so that you can make choices about where you would like to purchase the book and to connect you directly to the scholar and their body of work.
White Rage – Carol Anderson
Racism without Racists – Eduardo Bonilla-Silva
Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates
We Were Eight Years in Power – Ta-Nehisi Coates
White Fragility – Robin DiAngelo
Me and White Supremacy - Layla F. Saad