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kwilkinson's picture

Quotes from text (working draft)

Transcriptions/Quotes from Media/Text

Cosmopolitan Canopies by Elijah Anderson: 

The Politics of Difference by Iris Marion Young

Page 303: “I propose that instead of community as the narrative ideal of political emancipation, that radicals develop a politics of difference.  A model of the unoppressive city offers an understanding of social relations without domination in which persons live together in relations of mediation among strangers with whom they are not in community.”


1. Sekani: How I Got My “Black Attitude” Problem by Sekani Moyenda

Page 17:  “First, we wanted to encourage our readers to read the stories we tell critically.”

Page 17:  “…We tell our stories to provide examples of racial autobiographies that we hope will provoke our readers to explore how their life experiences have shaped the ways they see themselves and others who, because of accident of birth, have lived lives that are both like and dislike.”

Page 18:   “As a child I either attributed the mistreatment to the ‘meanness’ of teachers or thought I deserved the treatment I received.  I did not consider that there might be a connection between the events and my color.”

Page 21:  “At the time, however, I doubt if I was conscious that racism was involved.  I didn’t get it that the teacher didn’t listen to my side of the story because she saw me as ‘less than,’ or that the blonde-haired girl took it for granted that because of her coloring she was entitled to my territory.  I was just taking care of Number One.” 

Page 21:  “In my class, children can choose to be defiant as long as they can do one of two things: (1) prove to me that they are on the side of “righteousness” and I am wrong, or, (2) gracefully accept the consequences I will impose—first, if I am later found to be wrong, I will give a public apology and make amends.”

Page 23:  “Her parting words: ‘Just for the record, so you’re very clear on the concept.  I do indeed believe my daughter is special and she is a rose.  Do you have a problem with that?’  She wasn’t leaving until she got an answer.”

Page 24:  “The incident had separated me from my peers.  I started on a mission that consumed my interpersonal relationships.  I used my energy to prove I was worthy of the other children’s friendship.  In time, with other disappointments totally unrelated to this, I came to believe friendship was about having something of value to offer.  I could not possibly be appreciated for who I really was.”

Page 26:  “I remember, on that day, my other sitting me down and for the first time explaining racism to me.”

Page 26-7:  “I remember that I had felt excited over the idea that I could possibly be something more exotic than just Black.”

Page 27:  “…what had enraged her was the effects racism was having on me.”

Page 27:  “I asked her why she had not talked to me about racism before… She said it was because she wanted me to have my childhood as long as possible.  She felt I would have to deal with racism all my life.  She wasn’t going to bring it into my awareness any sooner than she had to.”

Page 28:  “Though I was not always conscious at the time that she was fighting racism, I now know I watched her confront it continuously to protect me while I was growing up.  I also realize that because it was the first one that had been named… my first clear memory of being abused because of my color.  And it was my mother who had named it for me.  Today, fighting racism is central to my self-esteem and identity.  It is what my mother approves of.  It affects my life choices.  Even down to my date.”

Page 28:  “My mistake from the beginning was that I was too civilized.  She took it for weakness and stupidity.”

Page 30:  “What frustrates me most about some ‘white folks’ is how I can’t tell if they are stupid, passive-aggressive, or both.  I again tried to let it slide.  I didn’t want to argue.  So I continued.”

Page 31:  “I don’t recall what she said; but it was stupid and petty.  So I told her to get a life.  That was all she needed to run crying to the principal’s office to accuse me of –what else—hurting her feelings?

Page 31:  “These teachers had managed to communicate that without ever saying these words.  Why would children doubt them?  They were adults they were white.”

Page 32:  “…behavior toward me reflects the hegemonic assumption that Black teachers are inept—at best only good for discipline problems.”

Page 32:  “Taken together, they embody a pattern of institutional racism because teachers and librarians are agents of institutions that shape the way children and adults think and feel about race.  These patterns are part of a long history of systematic forms of racism that have been manifest in U.S. schools from their inception.”

Page 32:  “It is hard, in the heat of the moment, for me to see that it is a system of schooling that has allowed and sanctioned a curriculum that has conveyed views of people of color as ‘less than,’ through both what it is does and what is difficult to remember that ;something bigger’ is going on.  And trying to dismantle institutional racism almost always seems too overwhelming, given how limited my internal resources are.  I have to get the bees that are crawling on me off my body before I can go looking for the beehive to destroy it.”

Page 33:  “We knew that style and race were not the major reasons for our success, and we all bitterly resented the implication.  The conclusion that we reached was that chaos didn’t reign our classrooms because we knew that the behavior problems were not about ‘bad’ kids, bout about community-based problems that were manifesting themselves in the classrooms, and we worked hard to apply every possible strategy to address them.  We did so because we knew the children were intelligent and could learn.”

Page33:  “We knew many white people were snow-blind and would disregard advice if it came from a Black person, so if getting the idea across was that important enough to us we would make it a suggestion to a receptive white who would then convey it to the person who was snow-blind.”

Page33:  “So when Ann(e) invited me to speak in her classroom I had more than enough to say.” I JUST LIKED THIS ONE!!!!!

ANN BERLAK “How I Developed An ‘Obduracy of Tone’”

In my class and place I did not recognize myself as a racist because I was taught to see racism only as individual acts of meanness by members of my group, never in invisible systems conferring unsought racial dominance on my group from birth

She had only experienced the Mammie image of Black women, never really once questioned her humanity—how they were place (and her reinforced their place in society?)  I am not arguing by the actions because she was a child… however HOW SHE THOUGHT OF THEM—recognizing them as identities existing outside of her (space and time).

--*she said exposure to Gone with the Wind causes this…


“I recall no African American, Asian, Latino, or American Indian classmates at Swarthmore College, nor any mention of racism, race, or segregation in any of my classes.  I took a course called “The British Empire.”  Issues of racial injustice and white supremacy were never raised.  I graduated with honors without understanding that the history I was learning was told from the perspective of white people and served as an apologia of European domination of the world and the status quo.  As I write, I consider the possibility that these ideas were taught but passed me by.  But if that were so, how could I have graduated with honors?” (Berlek 28)

“…I was at the Harvard Graduate School of Education getting prepared to teach.  There too I encountered a cast silence about injustice.  The only mention of race in any of my classes was the assignment the read Gordon Allport’s The Nature of Prejudice.  I don’t think we ever discussed it, or what it might mean for us as teachers.  Perhaps we did, and I simply assimilated into a mindset that had no place from racism.” (Berlak 38)

“What I intended to do was help children, one by one, gain skills so they could move into the middle class.  I don’t think I knew or wondered why the children we were tutoring were Black.  I had no sense of what the Civil Rights Movement was all about.” (Berlak 38)

I don’t understand how she thought she could help Black children if she did not understand the great disparities is between black and white children, specifically in their education and assimilation/orientation into white America—often resulting as non-existent.

I hate the like I didn’t know color blind excuse—like no one put the information therefore I didn’t know… like how could this be so for a white highly educated women in the 1950s/1960s???

-Black people/students have to find this information constantly… things that are ”inaccessible”

Pg 39:  the relationship between Jews and Blacks:  For me growing up I have always been very close to Jewish culture and traditions.  *should I elaborate on this more?

“The director as I see it now, influence by the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement, was a strong advocate, in the lingo of the white progressive community of the time, of “racial tolerance.”  Mike taught all of us white Jewish campers and counselors songs that condemned prejudice and celebrated the “fact” that “we were all the same under the skin.”  (39)

“We were being taught to be ‘color-blind ‘—not to notice ‘color’.  Years later I realized that this ideal of color-blindness obstructed my sibility to grasp the significance of racial identity, racism, and the privileges that came with being white.” (39)

“Throughout my childhood, privileged in so many ways, I always felt I was on the margin and somehow not quite good enough in so many ways” (41).

“I learned little to nothing about being Jewish… I learned nothing of the languages my forebears spoke, and almost nothing of the Jewish literature, history, or traditions of political action for social justice that reached back for centuries, or the of the legacies of struggle and resistance” (42). 

“Membership in their community required suppressing resonant feelings toward all types of persons beyond that community’s racial pale.” (42).

“My desire to look, act and be like my middle- and upper- middle-class white Protestant classmates was reinforced by my parents and teachers, who, with or without awareness, valued me more the closely I approximated the white and upper- or upper-middle class ideal.  My desire to be that sort of white person was then in part a form of protection against the rejection by the very communities into which I had been born” (42/3).

“In the context of the story I am telling now, I see this event as evidence that... I took for granted that it was my responsibility as a teacher to redress injustice, although I was far from being able to articulate this commitment… Did my action flow from the contiguity of my observations of the social world and silences about what I had seen, from the contradictions… the promises of democracy that had been fermenting ever since I had with hand upon heart pledged allegiance to the symbol of liberty and justice for all in those sunny classrooms so many years ago?” (43).

“From that experience I learned that neither my race nor my know-how could impact the institutional racism that lay behind the long wait for an appointment.  I began to realize how little I knew about racism” (44).

“Perhaps in part because of what I was learning from Elizabeth and her family and in part because of a curiosity fed by the deafening silence about the African-American presence in my formal education, I chose a thesis topic that would allow me to learn more.  The title was ‘Conceptions of Authority and Deviance of Fifth-Grade Boys Whom Teachers Label Troublemakers’” (45).

“My analysis was unsupported by any writings by Black or white scholars of race…  I learned from all of the interviews… I had a knack of listening, and these boys were eager to talk.  They wanted to sort out what was going on, particularly whether the principal and all their white teachers and classmates were racist.  They wanted to set me straight about race…” (45).

“She had, she said understood every word of it, and I remember how excited she was as having been required to read a book that “told it like it was.”  She hadn’t known people put such things in books.  During that course and others she took with me, she spoke from her experience and greatly expanded my understanding of racism.  When Inuka spoke, I listened” (45).

--the tactic she learns of the “unlearning oppression” pedagogy.  She says: “The goal of the model was to promote the building of alliances across differences.  The hope was that these alliances would make it possible for people of diverse identities to work together to identify various forms on injustice in social institutions, including schools, and to join as allies to change these institutions” (47).


Undoing Whiteness in the Classroom:  Critical Educultural Teaching Approaches for Social Justice Activism: “Challenging the Hegemony of Whiteness by Addressing the Adaptive Consciousness” by Ann Berlak

Page 48:  “I recall the moment when I first notices the contradiction between a student’s claim to repudiate teacher’s perpetuation of white privilege and power and her classroom behavior... The A signified, among other things, that I thought Katie has explored the issue of racism and white supremacy thoughtfully, had unlearned most aspects of her blindness to white racism, and was well on her way to becoming an antiracist teacher and an ally to people of color…  It was this moment that the gap between students’ espoused beliefs and values on the one hand and behaviors on the other came clearly into focus and I began to think systematically about how I could address this gap through my teaching.  Such observations also prompted me to think about the gap between my own espoused commitments and my teaching practice.”

**Going to add more later.



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