This is always one of my favorite posts of the year. Usually some time during the early summer months, I create a list of the books that I’m going to read that are going to help me grow as an educator, as a leader and as a person. Over the last few summers, I’ve tried to select a diverse list of books on a variety of topics to grow in a bunch of areas. This summer, however, I’m going to focus my energies on a single, critical topic facing our schools and our society.
1. How to Be an Antiracist (Kendi, 2019): While I listened to the audio version of this book a few months ago, I feel like I need to reread the book to help digest the strategies a little more so I can put them into practice in my classroom and in my life.
2. White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People To Talk About Racism (DiAngelo, 2018) I saw Robin DiAngelo speak in February at a conference in Atlanta. At the time, DiAngelo directly challenged the audience to confront our roles as educators in the larger society. Interestingly, that presentation was a few weeks before the worldwide shut down in response to the coronavirus pandemic and a few months before the protests in response to the George Floyd killing. I wonder how different her presentation would be today.
3. Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? (Tatum, 2017) Tatum, a psychology scholar, was president of Spelman College until 2015 and revised this book to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its original publication in 1997. In an interview in Inside Higher Education, Tatum discussed how she tries to be optimistic in the face of so many societal challenges. “I work at maintaining my optimism because I believe that in times of darkness, we all need to generate more light. The epilogue is titled “Signs of Hope, Sites of Progress,” because we all need to remember that each of us can exercise the kind of inclusive leadership we need to interrupt the cycle of racism. With the collective hard work and effort of many, I still believe positive social change is possible.”
4. The History of Institutional Racism in U.S. Public Schools (DeFresne, 2018). I’m previewing this book as a possible text for a class I’ll be teaching this fall. While the book discusses some difficult topics that will challenge some of my students, I think the unique presentation may make some of the content more accessible. The author, Susan DuFresne, mixes art and research to educate the reader on the history of racism in schools.
5. Deculturalization and the Struggle for Equality: A Brief History of the Education of Dominated Cultures in the United States (Spring, 2016). This is another preview for my fall classes, but I’m excited to read this text. In the book, the author discusses different school polices imposed on marginalized groups in the United States and how those policies strip away family languages and cultures.