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Courageous Conversations about Race Essay (Book Review)

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Updated: Nov 3rd, 2020

The Most Appealing Ideas

In Courageous Conversations about Race, Singleton and Linton propose starting discussions about the issue of race and promote antiracist leadership. The authors emphasize that the aforementioned discussions require a level of courage because the issues under review are extremely sensitive and, sometimes, controversial. In the book, the authors cover such topics as the racial achievement gap, institutionalized racism, whiteness and white privilege, and the concept of equity. It is appealing that in their discussion, the authors focus on a variety of issues of race, tracking back the history of racial relations in the United States, as well as the present state of affairs.

Also, it was interesting to see that at the end of each chapter, the authors added what they called “racial autobiography” – a segment written by various individuals for the purpose of describing their experiences in relation to race throughout their lives. Such experiences are very different and allow seeing how race can impact people’s lives on a daily basis. Personal stories of this kind help the members of the general public reading this book understand how pressing the issues of race are and why they need to be brought up and discussed with courage.

Finally, I found the focus on the racial achievement gap as a very appealing idea because I have faced this issue throughout my practice as an educator and I believe that this is a very relevant subject and a problem that required immediate action because due to the lack of equity our country may be losing a significant portion of its human capital – valuable future professionals who could work for the benefit of the state and lead the nation forward.

The Implications of Ideas in the Book for Me as an Educator

As it was mentioned in the previous section, the ideas in the book were focused specifically on the elimination of the achievement gap that is present between the academic performances of members of different races. In most cases, this tendency is a sign that students of color are not given equal opportunities to their peers. In turn, this phenomenon stands for institutional racism – a set of harmful racial biases imbedded in school policies and the attitudes of school personnel, educational leaders, and policymakers towards students of color. In that way, the problems explored by Singleton and Linton in their book are particularly relevant to educators.

The ideas of the authors imply that teachers and school administrators need to begin the reevaluation of the rules and laws practices in their workplaces in regard to the effects they produce on different groups of learners and on the students of color specifically. It is likely that professionals, who are good at critical thinking and free of personal biases, would be likely to identify the practices that harm students. However, it is possible that even if such flawed policies and rules would be identified, the administrations of schools may turn out to be reluctant to change their approaches and reassess some of its foundational principles and replace them with new ones.

The leaders’ reluctance may be based on the amount of work and effort required for the successful implementation of change, as well as the consequent difficulties and challenges that may occur during the implementation process. As a result, one of the long-term implications of the ideas expressed by Singleton and Linton is the potential clash between supporters of the reevaluation of school policies for the purpose of elimination of institutional racism in schools and the protestors who would prefer to keep everything as is in order to stay out of trouble.

The Ideas That I Challenge

First of all, I would like to note that I fully agree with the idea that the conversations about race need to be had in order to clarify all the issues or privilege and the lack of literacy. It seems that even though the problems of racism have been battled for a while now, the progress is still rather minor. Many groups of the modern American population are still affected by racism on multiple levels and on a daily basis. Unfortunately, this tendency persists in subtle ways as a part of approaches and visions in various institutions. Educational facilities, as some of the first places where children go through socialization and learn about their places in the society, should be the most eager to introduce changes and establish equitable treatment and equal opportunities.

However, exploring the need for courageous conversations about race in schools, Singleton and Linton specify that teachers have to gather and conduct collective discussions focusing on the problems of institutional racism in their diverse districts and communities. As much as I agree with the idea that such discussions need to happen, I would like to challenge the suggestion that only staff members participate in them. My major concern is that in many diverse schools, the staff is mainly comprised of white educators. In this regard, one has to wonder if the discussions about race carried out in a predominantly white group would be as effective and insightful as if they included professionals of color.

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