Response To The Readings
2-page response to the readings.
This reading response must consist of two parts:
- A description of what you identify as the theme for the readings. The theme should draw from all of the readings attached in Files and provide a brief summary of the authors’ main points.
- You should respond critically to “Sensoy & DiAngelo: Chapter 5 (PP. 99-120)” & “Gorski and pothini (PP. 83-90)” , taking note of connections to your own experiences, previous chapters readings, or other related work that addresses the Chapter 5’s theme. In this section, feel free to pose any questions that the readings raise for you. You will not receive money if you only submit a summary of the readings.
Global Business Cultural Analysis Instructions
The purpose of this research project is for you to write a professional, graduate-level research paper in current APA format. Competency in current APA format is required of all business graduates of Liberty University, as set forth by policy of both the graduate faculty and the administration.
You will research and write a paper analyzing the cultural perspectives of doing business in another nation. You will select a nation to study, and have approximately 8 modules/weeks to research and write the paper. Your professor will provide a list of approved nations by the second day of the course. Select a nation, then begin working on the project.
After reading your paper, the reader should be able to comprehensively answer the following research questions. Thus, the research questions form the major aspects (APA Level 1 headings) of your outline.
· What are the major elements and dimensions of culture in this region? (See Chapter 2 of the textbook for a list of the required dimensions.)
· How are these elements and dimensions integrated by locals conducting business in the nation?
· How do both of the above items compare with US culture and business?
· What are the implications for US businesses that wish to conduct business in that region?
Important Points to Consider
This paper must be written in strict conformance to current APA format, and contain a minimum of 24 pages of content (excluding the title page, abstract, and references) utilizing at least 24 references from reputable professional and/or scholarly journals and/or informational venues that deal with the content of the course (i.e., not blogs, Wikipedia, newspapers, etc.).
1. Use the following as the exact title of your paper, Global Business Cultural Analysis: (insert nation selected)
2. The paper must consist of only 4 sections, as indicated above . Do not add sections, or revise the research questions.
3. The paper must be submitted as a Microsoft Word file through the SafeAssign link in Module/Week 8.
4. Three SafeAssign draft links will be provided in the Assignments folder of Module/Week 5 for you to use to improve your originality score prior to your final submission.
5. Three levels of current APA headings must be used throughout the paper, as this is a graduate-level research paper.
Some students do not fully understand the difference between plagiarism and paraphrasing. Paraphrasing is when you take a source or someone else’s idea and say it in your own words. When you paraphrase, you must still give the author’s name, date, title of the source, the scholarly journal from where it came, and the exact website address or book from where it came. However, when you directly quote a source, it must have quotation marks around the quote, or (if 40 words or more) it must be set in block quotation format. Give detailed information of where you acquired the quote.
For the purpose of this academic paper, adhere to the following rules when quoting or using a source:
· Do not directly quote more than 120 words from any 1 source.
· If the source is 2,000 words or less, do not directly quote more than 50 words from it.
· Do not use the same source more than a total of 3 times within the whole document for quoting or paraphrasing.
· Quotes must contain the section (if provided) and paragraph or page numbers of the quote and this information must be placed in the reference.
· In all instances, use current APA guidelines for citations and references.
Email your professor with any questions regarding the Global Business Cultural Analysis.
Submit this assignment by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Wednesday of Module/Week 8.
-GBCA SafeAssign draft submissions. These are non-graded opportunities to check your GBCA before final submission.
Please remember that as you prepare for the GBCA there are a few items that I see tend to cause students significant point deductions.
– Be sure the abstract is present and meets APA standards.
– Make sure that the Hofstede, SWOT, and FDI analyses are all present.
– Make sure that RQ1, RQ2, and RQ3, discuss each of the dimensions of culture.
As always, if you have any questions, please let me know.
As you look toward the completion of the GBCA, I wanted to provide you with some helpful guidance to maximize your chance for success in this assignment.
*Don’t forget to include the Abstract!*
Question 1 requires you to discuss the general elements of culture (described in Chapter 2 of your textbook) as they apply to your chosen nation. Be sure to analyze ALL 6 of the elements.
Question 2 is a natural extension of Question 1 in that you will demonstrate how these elements of culture are used in business dealings by the people of your nation. Be sure to analyze ALL 6 of the elements.
Question 3 is a natural extension of Question 2 in that you will compare and contrast the 6 elements with those found in the USA. You will also use the Hofstede model for understanding cultures and compare and contrast those elements between the cultures as well.
Question 4 is where you briefly summarize your research findings and is the place where you draw substantive conclusions and report the implications of your research for doing business in that nation. Questions 1 through 3 “set the stage” for Question 4.
Question 4. A substantive and comprehensive coverage demonstrates to the reader why the information is important and how it can be used in business dealings for US managers. This question also provides a SWOT and FDI analysis.
I hope that you will find this information helpful as you work towards completion of the paper.
MULTICULTURAL EDUCATION SERIES JAMES A. BANKS, Series Editor
Is Everyone Really Equal? An Introduction to Key Concepts in Social Justice Education, Second Edition
ÖZLEM SENSOY AND ROBIN DIANGELO Teaching for Equity in Complex Times: Negotiating Standards in a High- Performing Bilingual School
JAMY STILLMAN AND LAUREN ANDERSON Transforming Educational Pathways for Chicana/o Students: A Critical Race Feminista Praxis
DOLORES DELGADO BERNAL AND ENRIQUE ALEMÁN, JR. Un-Standardizing Curriculum: Multicultural Teaching in the Standards-Based Classroom, 2nd Edition
CHRISTINE E. SLEETER AND JUDITH FLORES CARMONA Global Migration, Diversity, and Civic Education: Improving Policy and Practice
JAMES A. BANKS, MARCELO SUÁREZ-OROZCO, AND MIRIAM BEN-PERETZ, EDS.
Reclaiming the Multicultural Roots of U.S. Curriculum: Communities of Color and Official Knowledge in Education
WAYNE AU, ANTHONY L. BROWN, AND DOLORES CALDERÓN Human Rights and Schooling: An Ethical Framework for Teaching for Social Justice
AUDREY OSLER We Can’t Teach What We Don’t Know: White Teachers, Multiracial Schools, Third Edition
GARY R. HOWARD Teaching and Learning on the Verge: Democratic Education in Action
SHANTI ELLIOTT Engaging the “Race Question”: Accountability and Equity in U.S. Higher Education
ALICIA C. DOWD AND ESTELA MARA BENSIMON Diversity and Education: A Critical Multicultural Approach
MICHAEL VAVRUS First Freire: Early Writings in Social Justice Education
CARLOS ALBERTO TORRES Mathematics for Equity: A Framework for Successful Practice
NA’ILAH SUAD NASIR, CARLOS CABANA, BARBARA SHREVE, ESTELLE WOODBURY, AND NICOLE LOUIE, EDS.
Race, Empire, and English Language Teaching: Creating Responsible and Ethical Anti-Racist Practice
SUHANTHIE MOTHA Black Male(d): Peril and Promise in the Education of African American Males
TYRONE C. HOWARD LGBTQ Youth and Education: Policies and Practices
CRIS MAYO Race Frameworks: A Multidimensional Theory of Racism and Education
ZEUS LEONARDO Reaching and Teaching Students in Poverty: Strategies for Erasing the Opportunity Gap
PAUL C. GORSKI Class Rules: Exposing Inequality in American High Schools
PETER W. COOKSON JR. Teachers Without Borders? The Hidden Consequences of International Teachers in U.S. Schools
ALYSSA HADLEY DUNN Streetsmart Schoolsmart: Urban Poverty and the Education of Adolescent Boys
GILBERTO Q. CONCHAS AND JAMES DIEGO VIGIL Americans by Heart: Undocumented Latino Students and the Promise of Higher Education
WILLIAM PÉREZ Achieving Equity for Latino Students: Expanding the Pathway to Higher Education Through Public Policy
FRANCES CONTRERAS Literacy Achievement and Diversity: Keys to Success for Students, Teachers, and Schools
KATHRYN H. AU Understanding English Language Variation in U.S. Schools
ANNE H. CHARITY HUDLEY AND CHRISTINE MALLINSON Latino Children Learning English: Steps in the Journey
GUADALUPE VALDÉS, SARAH CAPITELLI, AND LAURA ALVAREZ Asians in the Ivory Tower: Dilemmas of Racial Inequality in American Higher Education
ROBERT T. TERANISHI Our Worlds in Our Words: Exploring Race, Class, Gender, and Sexual Orientation in Multicultural Classrooms
MARY DILG Culturally Responsive Teaching, Second Edition
Why Race and Culture Matter in Schools TYRONE C. HOWARD
Diversity and Equity in Science Education OKHEE LEE AND CORY A. BUXTON
Forbidden Language PATRICIA GÁNDARA AND MEGAN HOPKINS, EDS.
The Light in Their Eyes, 10th Anniversary Edition SONIA NIETO
The Flat World and Education LINDA DARLING-HAMMOND
Teaching What Really Happened JAMES W. LOEWEN
Diversity and the New Teacher CATHERINE CORNBLETH
Frogs into Princes: Writings on School Reform LARRY CUBAN
Educating Citizens in a Multicultural Society, Second Edition JAMES A. BANKS
Culture, Literacy, and Learning CAROL D. LEE
Facing Accountability in Education CHRISTINE E. SLEETER, ED.
Talkin Black Talk H. SAMY ALIM AND JOHN BAUGH, EDS.
Improving Access to Mathematics NA’ILAH SUAD NASIR AND PAUL COBB, EDS.
“To Remain an Indian” K. TSIANINA LOMAWAIMA AND TERESA L. MCCARTY
Education Research in the Public Interest GLORIA LADSON-BILLINGS AND WILLIAM F. TATE, EDS.
Multicultural Strategies for Education and Social Change ARNETHA F. BALL
Beyond the Big House GLORIA LADSON-BILLINGS
Teaching and Learning in Two Languages EUGENE E. GARCÍA
Improving Multicultural Education CHERRY A. MCGEE BANKS
Education Programs for Improving Inter group Relations
WALTER G. STEPHAN AND W. PAUL VOGT, EDS. City Schools and the American Dream
PEDRO A. NOGUERA Thriving in the Multicultural Classroom
MARY DILG Educating Teachers for Diversity
JACQUELINE JORDAN IRVINE Teaching Democracy
WALTER C. PARKER The Making—and Remaking—of a Multiculturalist
CARLOS E. CORTÉS Transforming the Multicultural Education of Teachers
MICHAEL VAVRUS Learning to Teach for Social Justice
LINDA DARLING-HAMMOND, JENNIFER FRENCH, AND SILVIA PALOMA GARCIA-LOPEZ, EDS.
Culture, Difference, and Power, Revised Edition CHRISTINE E. SLEETER
Learning and Not Learning English GUADALUPE VALDÉS
The Children Are Watching CARLOS E. CORTÉS
Multicultural Education, Transformative Knowledge, and Action JAMES A. BANKS, ED.
Is Everyone Really Equal?
An Introduction to Key Concepts in Social Justice Education
Özlem Sensoy and Robin DiAngelo
Published by Teachers College Press, 1234 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10027
Copyright © 2017 by Teachers College, Columbia University
Cover design by Katherine Streeter.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission from the publisher. For reprint permission and other subsidiary rights requests, please contact Teachers College Press, Rights Dept.: firstname.lastname@example.org
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available at loc.gov
ISBN: 978-0-8077-5861-8 (paper) ISBN: 978-0-8077-7617-9 (ebook)
To all those whose shoulders we stand on and lean on—may ours be as steady for the next generation.
Series Foreword James A. Banks
What Is Critical Social Justice? Chapter Summaries
A Parable: Hodja and the Foreigner Layers of the Parable
1. How to Engage Constructively in Courses That Take a Critical Social Justice Approach
An Open Letter to Students A Story: The Question of Planets Guideline 1: Strive for Intellectual Humility Guideline 2: Everyone Has an Opinion. Opinions are Not the Same as
Informed Knowledge Guideline 3: Let Go of Anecdotal Evidence and Examine Patterns Guideline 4: Use Your Reactions as Entry Points for Gaining Deeper
Self-Knowledge Guideline 5: Recognize How Your Social Position Informs Your
Reactions to Your Instructor and the Course Content Grading Conclusion
2. Critical Thinking and Critical Theory
Two Dimensions of Thinking Critically About Knowledge A Brief Overview of Critical Theory Why Theory Matters Knowledge Construction
Example of Knowledge as Socially Constructed Thinking Critically About Opinions
3. Culture and Socialization
What Is Culture? What Is Socialization? Cultural Norms and Conformity “You” in Relation to the “Groups” to Which You Belong
4. Prejudice and Discrimination
What is Prejudice? What is Discrimination? All Humans Have Prejudice and Discriminate
5. Oppression and Power
What is Oppression? Social Stratification Understanding the “isms” Internalized Dominance Internalized Oppression Hegemony, Ideology, and Power
6. Understanding Privilege Through Ableism
What Is Privilege? External and Structural Dimensions of Privilege Internal and Attitudinal Dimensions of Privilege Common Dominant Group Misconceptions About Privilege
7. Understanding the Invisibility of Oppression Through Sexism
What Is an Institution? An Example: Sexism Today What Makes Sexism Difficult to See? Discourses of Sexism in Advertising Discourses of Sexism in Movies Discourses of Sexism in Music Videos
8. Understanding the Structural Nature of Oppression Through Racism
What Is Race? A Brief History of the Social Construction of Race in the United States A Brief History of the Social Construction of Race in Canada What Is Racism? Two Key Challenges to Understanding Racism Racism Today Dynamics of White Racial Superiority Dynamics of Internalized Racial Oppression Racism and Intersectionality
9. Understanding the Global Organization of Racism Through White Supremacy
What Is Whiteness? White Supremacy in the Global Context Common White Misconceptions about Racism
10. Understanding Intersectionality Through Classism
Mr. Rich White and Mr. Poor White Strike a Bargain What Is Class? Common Class Venacular Class Socialization Common Misconceptions About Class Understanding Intersectionality Examples of Everyday Class Privilege Common Classist Beliefs
11. “Yeah, But …”: Common Rebuttals
Claiming That Schools Are Politically Neutral Dismissing Social Justice Scholarship as Merely the Radical and
Personal Opinions of Individual Left Wing Professors Citing Exceptions to the Rule Arguing That Oppression Is Just Human Nature Appealing to a Universalized Humanity
Insisting on Immunity from Socialization Ignoring Intersectionality Refusing to Recognize Structural and Institutional Power Rejecting the Politics of Language Invalidating Claims of Oppression as Oversensitivity Reasoning That If Choice Is Involved It Can’t Be Oppression Positioning Social Justice Education as Something “Extra” Being Paralyzed by Guilt
12. Putting It All Together
Recognize How Relations of Unequal Social Power Are Constantly Being Negotiated
Understand Our Own Positions Within Relations of Unequal Power Think Critically About Knowledge Act in Service of a More Just Society
About the Authors
Since publication of the first edition of this visionary, practical, and engaging book, a number of events around the world have stimulated the rise of xenophobia, institutionalized racism, and the quest for social cohesion and nationalism (Banks, 2017). These events include the migration of Syrian and other refugees to European nations and the xenophobic responses they evoked as well as the populist revolts that resulted in the 2016 passage of the Brexit referendum in England to leave the European Union (Erlanger, 2017). The election of Donald Trump as President of the United States in 2016 and the popularity of Marine Le Pen in France and other right-wing politicians in European nations are also manifestations of the resurgence of neoliberalism and the pushback on social justice in nations around the world. The election and rising popularity of conservative politicians have led to an increase in reported Anti-Semitic and Islamophobic attacks in the United States and other nations. Reported attacks and threats on Jewish centers increased significantly after Trump won the presidential election in 2016 (Haberman & Chokshi, 2017). Reported harassment and attacks on Muslims in the United States increased after Trump issued an executive order on January 27, 2017 that banned immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim nations (Chokshi & Fandos 2017; Shear & Cooper, 2017).
Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice” (King, 1965). The chilling and pernicious events described above do not necessarily invalidate the belief that the quest for social justice is long and “bends toward justice.” However, they exemplify the major thesis of Arthur W. Schlesinger Jr.’s (1986) illuminating book, The Cycles of American History, in which he argues that during the past two centuries of American history periods of social justice and idealism have rotated with periods of pragmatism and conservative backlash. The election of Donald Trump as president of the United States after Barack Obama engineered the passage of progressive legislation related to health care and the environment during his 8-year occupancy of the White House epitomizes Schlesinger’s thesis. The dismal and toxic “cycle” of American history that was initiated by the Trump administration and the White nationalism that it sanctioned (Painter, 2016) underscores how much we need the second edition of this informative and helpful book. Teachers, like other Americans and Canadians, will be influenced by the
disconcerting and dispiriting racial climate in the United States and in many other nations today. These developments require multicultural and progressive teacher educators to work more diligently to promote social justice and equality today than was perhaps the case when the first edition of this book was published.
This trenchant and timely book is written to help both preservice and practicing teachers attain the knowledge, attitudes, and skills needed to work effectively with students from diverse groups, including mainstream groups. A major assumption of this book is that teachers need to develop a critical social justice perspective in order to understand the complex issues related to race, gender, class, and exceptionality in the United States and Canada and to teach in ways that will promote social justice and equality.
One of the most challenging tasks that those of us who teach multicultural education courses to teacher education students experience is resistance to the knowledge and skills that we teach. This resistance has deep roots in the communities in which most teacher education students are socialized as well as in the mainstream knowledge that becomes institutionalized within the academic community and the popular culture that most students have not questioned until they enroll in a multicultural education or diversity course. Sensoy and DiAngelo—who have rich and successful experiences teaching difficult concepts to teacher education students—thoughtfully anticipate student resistance to many of the concepts discussed in this adept and skillfully conceptualized book. They respectfully and incisively convey to readers the important difference between opinion and informed knowledge. They also convincingly describe why informed and reflective knowledge is essential for effective teaching in diverse schools and classrooms. The authors also provide vivid and compelling examples, thought experiments, and anecdotes to help their readers master challenging and complex concepts related to diversity, social justice, and equity.
Sensoy and DiAngelo draw upon their years of experience working with predominantly White teachers and their deep knowledge of diversity issues to construct explicit definitions of complicated concepts such as racism, sexism, classism, ableism, and internalized oppression. Another important feature of this book is the wide range of issues and groups with which it deals, including race, gender, exceptionality, and social class. The authors also present an informative discussion of intersectionality and how the various concepts related to diversity interrelate in complex and dynamic ways that create institutionalized and intractable forms of marginalization.
This well-written and practical book will help practicing educators deal
effectively with the growing ethnic, cultural, and linguistic diversity within U.S. society and schools. Although students in the United States are becoming increasingly diverse, most of the nation’s teachers are White, female, and monolingual. Race and institutionalized racism are significant factors that influence and mediate the interactions of students and teachers from different ethnic, language, and social-class groups (G. R. Howard, 2016; T. C. Howard, 2010; Leonardo, 2013). The growing income gap between adults (Stiglitz, 2012)—as well as between youth that are described by Putnam (2015) in Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis —is another significant reason why it is important to help teachers understand how race, ethnicity, gender, and class influence classroom interactions and student learning and to comprehend the ways in which these variables affect student aspirations and academic engagement (Suárez-Orozco, Pimentel, & Martin, 2009).
American classrooms are experiencing the largest influx of immigrant students since the beginning of the 20th century. Approximately 21.5 million new immigrants—documented and undocumented—settled in the United States in the years from 2000 to 2015. Less than 10% came from nations in Europe. Most came from Mexico, nations in South Asia, East Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Central America (Camarota, 2011, 2016). The influence of an increasingly diverse population on U.S. schools, colleges, and universities is and will continue to be enormous.
Schools in the United States are more diverse today than they have been since the early 1900s, when a multitude of immigrants entered the United States from Southern, Central, and Eastern Europe. In 2014, the National Center for Education Statistics estimated that the percentage of students from ethnic minority groups made up more than 50% of the students in prekindergarten through 12th grade in public schools, an increase from 40% in 2001 (National Center for Education Statistics, 2014). Language and religious diversity is also increasing in the U.S. student population. The 2012 American Community Survey estimated that 21% of Americans aged 5 and above (61.9 million) spoke a language other than English at home (U. S. Census Bureau, 2012). Harvard professor Diana L. Eck (2001) calls the United States the “most religiously diverse nation on earth” (p. 4). Islam is now the fastest-growing religion in the United States, as well as in several European nations such as France, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands (Banks, 2009; O’Brien, 2016).
The major purpose of the Multicultural Education Series is to provide preservice educators, practicing educators, graduate students, scholars, and policy-makers with an interrelated and comprehensive set of books that summarizes and analyzes important research, theory, and practice related
to the education of ethnic, racial, cultural, and linguistic groups in the United States and the education of mainstream students about diversity. The dimensions of multicultural education, developed by Banks (2004) and described in the Handbook of Research on Multicultural Education and in the Encyclopedia of Diversity in Education (Banks, 2012), provide the conceptual framework for the development of the publications in the Series. The dimensions are content integration, the knowledge construction process, prejudice reduction, equity pedagogy, and an empowering institutional culture and social structure. The books in the Multicultural Education Series provide research, theoretical, and practical knowledge about the behaviors and learning characteristics of students of color (Conchas & Vigil, 2012; Lee, 2007), language minority students (Gándara & Hopkins 2010; Valdés, 2001; Valdés, Capitelli, & Alvarez, 2011), low- income students (Cookson, 2013; Gorski, 2013), and other minoritized population groups, such as students who speak different varieties of English (Charity Hudley & Mallinson, 2011), and LGBTQ youth (Mayo, 2014). Several books in the Multicultural Education Series complement this book because they describe ways to reform teacher education to make it more responsive to social justice issues and concerns. They include We Can’t Teach What We Don’t Know: White Teachers, Multiracial Schools by Gary R. Howard; Why Race and Culture Matter in Schools: Closing the Achievement Gap in America’s Classrooms by Tyrone C. Howard; Learning to Teach for Social Justice, edited by Linda Darling-Hammond, Jennifer French, and Silvia Paloma García-Lopez; and Walking the Road: Race, Diversity, and Social Justice in Teacher Education by Marilyn Cochran-Smith.
The first edition of this influential and bestselling book helped teacher education students and practicing teachers to acquire the knowledge, skills, and perspectives that enabled them to work more effectively with the rich and growing student diversity in U. S. and Canadian schools. This second edition has been enriched by the addition of a new chapter on class, enhanced pedagogical supports, and with additional examples from contexts outside the United States. Students will find the second edition of this excellent and visionary textbook challenging, enlightening, and empowering.
—James A. Banks
Banks, J. A. (2004). Multicultural education: Historical development, dimensions, and practice. In J. A. Banks & C. A. M. Banks (Eds.). Handbook of research
on multicultural education (2nd ed., pp. 3–29). San Francisco, CA: Jossey- Bass.
Banks, J. A. (Ed.). (2009). The Routledge international companion to multicultural education. New York, NY, and London, UK: Routledge.
Banks, J. A. (2012). Multicultural education: Dimensions of. In J. A. Banks (Ed). Encyclopedia of diversity in education (vol. 3, pp. 1538–1547). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Banks, J. A. (Ed.). (2017). Citizenship education and global migration: Implications for theory, research, and teaching. Washington, DC: American Educational Research Association.
Camarota, S. A. (2011, October). A record-setting decade of immigration: 2000 to 2010. Washington, DC: Center for Immigration Studies. Retrieved from cis.org/2000-2010-record-setting-decade-of-immigration
Camarota, S. A. (2016, June). New data: Immigration surged in 2014 and 2015. Washington, DC: Center for Immigration Studies. Retrieved from cis.org/New-DataImmigration-Surged-in-2014-and-2015
Charity Hudley, A. H., & Mallinson, C. (2011). Understanding language variation in U. S. schools. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Chokshi, N. & Fandos, N. (2017, January 29). Demonstrators in streets, and at airports, protest immigration order. The New York Times. Retrieved from www.nytimes.com/2017/01/29/us/protests-airports-donald-trump-immigration- executive-order-muslims.html
Cochran-Smith, M. (2004). Walking the road: Race, diversity, and social justice in teacher education. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Conchas, G. Q., & Vigil, J. D. (2012). Streetsmart schoolsmart: Urban poverty and the education of adolescent boys. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Cookson, P. W. Jr. (2013). Class rules: Exposing inequality in American high schools. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Darling-Hammond, L., French, J., & García-Lopez, S. P. (Eds.). (2002). Learning to teach for social justice. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Eck, D. L. (2001). A new religious America: How a “Christian country” has become the world’s most religiously diverse nation. New York, NY: HarperSanFrancisco.
Erlanger, S. (2017, March 29). Pillars of the West shaken by ‘Brexit,’ but they’re not crumbling yet. The New York Times. Retrieved from www.nytimes.com/2017/03/29/world/europe/uk-brexit-article-50-analysis.html
Gándara, P., & Hopkins, M. (Eds.). (2010). Forbidden language: English language learners and restrictive language policies. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Gorski, P. C. (2013). Reaching and teaching students in poverty: Strategies for erasing the opportunity gap. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Haberman, M., & Chokshi, N. (2017, February 20). Ivanka Trump calls for tolerance after threats on Jewish centers. The New York Times. Retrieved from www.nytimes.com/2017/02/20/us/politics/ivanka-trump-jewish-community- centers.html?_r=0
Howard, G. R. (2016). We can’t teach what we don’t know: White teachers, multiracial schools (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Howard, T. C. (2010). Why race and culture matter in schools: Closing the achievement gap in America’s classrooms. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
King, M. L., Jr. (1965, February 26). Sermon at Temple Israel of Hollywood. Retrieved from www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlktempleisraelhollywood.htm
Lee, C. D. (2007). Culture, literacy, and learning: Taking bloom in the midst of the whirlwind. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Leonardo, Z. (2013). Race frameworks: A multidimensional theory of racism and education. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Mayo, C. (2014). LGBTQ youth and education: Policies and practices. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
National Center for Education Statistics. (2014). The condition of education 2014. Retrieved from nces.ed.gov/pubs2014/2014083.pdf
O’Brien, P. (2016). The Muslim question in Europe: Political controversies and public philosophies. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.
Painter, N. I. (2016, November 16). What Whiteness means in the Trump era. The New York Times. Retrieved from www.nytimes.com/2016/11/13/opinion/what- whiteness-means-in-the-trump-era.html?_r=0
Putnam, R. D (2015). Our kids: The American dream in crisis. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.
Schlesinger, A. M. Jr. (1986). The cycles of American history. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.
Shear, M. D., & Cooper, H. (2017, January 27). Trump bars refugees and citizens of 7 Muslim countries. The New York Times. Retrieved from www.nytimes.com/2017/01/27/us/politics/trump-syrian-refugees.html
Stiglitz, J. E. (2012). The price of inequality: How today’s divided society endangers our future. New York, NY: Norton.
Suárez-Orozco, C., Pimentel, A., & Martin, M. (2009). The significance of relationships: Academic engagement and achievement among newcomer immigrant youth. Teachers College Record, 111(3), 712–749.
U. S. Census Bureau (2012). Selected social characteristics in the United States: 2012 American Community Survey 1-year estimates. Retrieved from factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml? pid=ACS_12_1YR_DP02&prod-Type=table
Valdés, G. (2001). Learning and not learning English: Latino students in American schools. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Valdés, G., Capitelli, S., & Alvarez, L. (2011). Latino children learning English: Steps in the journey. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
We begin this text by acknowledging that we conduct our scholarship and teaching on the unceded ancestral territories of various Indigenous peoples, on what is today identified as Canada and the United States. It can be easy for us to dismiss how events from the past could matter to us here in the present. But studying the history of colonialism—the cultural, emotional, and physical genocide of peoples around the world—reminds us that to understand the injustices of today we must recognize their connection to injustices of the past. We offer our deepest respect to Elders both past and present.
We extend our heartfelt thanks to the friends and colleagues who have supported us with this project, especially those who so generously gave their time and expertise to read and offer feedback on various aspects of the book. Your collegial support, and willingness to push our thinking on issues taken up in the first and in this second edition have been invaluable. Specifically, we would like to thank Carolyne Ali-Khan, Kumari Beck, Rochelle Brock, Ann Chinnery, Sumi Colligan, Cheryl Cooke, Darlene Flynn, Paul Gorski, Aisha Hauser, Michael Hoechsmann, Rodney Hunt, Mark Jacobs, Byron Joyner, Yoo-Mi Lee, Darren Lund, Elizabeth Marshall, Anika Nailah, Deborah Terry-Hayes, Jason Toews, and Gerald Walton.
We thank the reviewers who have been involved in the first and second edition for their guidance and insightful suggestions.
Thank you to Katherine Streeter for her artwork. Thank you to Brian Ellerbeck, Karl Nyberg, Lori Tate, and the entire
publication team at Teachers College Press. And finally, we extend our deepest appreciation to James Banks for his
trust in us to produce a text worthy of joining the Multicultural Education Series, and for his lifelong courage and commitment to building a more just world.
Map of Indigenous Communities Throughout North America
We are educators who collectively bring over 2 decades of experience conducting research, teaching, writing, leading workshops, and facilitating discussions in the study and practice of social justice. We have led this work with elementary and high school students, undergraduate and graduate students, preservice and in-service teachers, and in the workplace for employees of government, university, nonprofit, and for-profit organizations. We have presented our research at national and international conferences, and within the disciplines of education, social work, cultural studies, women’s studies, ethnic studies, and Middle East studies.
Through our experiences with wide-ranging audiences, we consistently see predictable gaps in peoples’ understanding of what social justice is and what might be required to achieve it. We think of these gaps as a form of society-wide social justice illiteracy and argue that this illiteracy is not due to a lack of information alone. Rather, social in justice depends on this illiteracy; it is not benign or neutral, but actively nurtured through many forces and serves specific interests.
Social justice illiteracy prevents us from moving forward to create a more equitable society. Thus the primary objective of this book is to provide a foundation for developing social justice literacy. Using accessible language, addressing the most common misinformation, providing vignettes, definitions, exercises and reflection questions, our goal is to provide this foundation to a wide range of readers.
What Is Critical Social Justice?
Most people have a working definition of social justice; it is commonly understood as the principles of “fairness” and “equality” for all people and respect for their basic human rights. Most people would say that they value these principles. Yet seldom are the following questions discussed, and even less seldom are they agreed upon: What are those basic human rights? Have we already achieved them? If not, why not? How do we go about achieving them if we agree on what they are and why they haven’t yet been achieved? From whose perspective is something fair and equitable? Might something be fair for one person while actually having an unfair outcome for another? What does respect actually mean in practice? While some say it is to treat others as we would like to be treated,
some say that it is to treat others as they would like to be treated. Thus the definition itself is our first challenge.
The second challenge surfaces when we consider what it means to practice social justice. Generally, because most people see themselves as valuing social justice, most people also see themselves as acting justly in their lives. In response to questions about how they practice social justice, many would say that they treat everyone the same without regard to differences; because they do this, their actions are aligned with their values.
While these ways of conceptualizing social justice are very common, we see them as woefully inadequate. Indeed, a great deal of scholarship in social justice studies is focused on the gap between the ideals of social justice and the practices of social justice.
To clarify our definition, let’s start with the concept social justice. While some scholars and activists prefer to use the term social justice in order to reclaim its true commitments, in this book we prefer the term critical social justice. We do so in order to distinguish our standpoint on social justice from mainstream standpoints. A critical approach to social justice refers to specific theoretical perspectives that recognize that society is stratified (i.e., divided and unequal) in significant and far-reaching ways along social group lines that include race, class, gender, sexuality, and ability. Critical social justice recognizes inequality as deeply embedded in the fabric of society (i.e., as structural), and actively seeks to change this.
The definition we apply is rooted in a critical theoretical approach. While this approach refers to a broad range of fields, there are some important shared principles:
All people are individuals, but they are also members of social groups. These social groups are valued unequally in society. Social groups that are valued more highly have greater access to the resources of a society. Social injustice is real, exists today, and results in unequal access to resources between groups of people. Those who claim to be for social justice must be engaged in self- reflection about their own socialization into these groups (their “positionality”) and must strategically act from that awareness in ways that challenge social injustice. This action requires a commitment to an ongoing and lifelong process.
Based on these principles, a person engaged in critical social justice practice must be able to:
Recognize that relations of unequal social power are constantly being enacted at both the micro (individual) and macro (structural) levels. Understand our own positions within these relations of unequal power. Think critically about knowledge; what we know and how we know it. Act on all of the above in service of a more socially just society
Our goal in writing this book is to deepen our readers’ understanding of the complexity of social justice and inspire readers to actively engage in critical social justice practice. We call this blend of understanding and action critical social justice literacy.
We have brought together key concepts necessary for beginning to develop critical social justice literacy. Drawing on examples from Canada and the United States, the chapters are intended to be accessible to both Canadian and U.S. readers. We provide many familiar examples and have kept in- text citations to a minimum. We open each chapter with a quote that captures a familiar misconception that the chapter will address. The chapters are written to be building blocks; because each chapter builds upon the previous, they are best read in sequence. The issues are complex, political, and often emotionally charged, and if readers have difficulty understanding a key idea from one chapter, they may have difficulty carrying the idea forward into the next. For these reasons, the book has the following features:
Definition Boxes in which we define key terms. Stop Boxes to serve as reminders of key ideas from previous chapters and to help with difficult or challenging concepts. Perspective Check Boxes to draw attention to alternative standpoints on examples used in the text. Discussion Questions and Extension Activities for those who are using the book in a class, workshop, or study group. Patterns related to specific dynamics of oppression and how to practice recognizing them. A Glossary of terms used in the book and guide to language use.
Detailed chapter summaries appear below.
Chapter 1: How to Engage Constructively in Courses That Take a Critical Social Justice Approach guides students using the book in a course context. We address some of the common challenges and present five guidelines or dispositions that can help ensure a constructive learning experience in the social justice classroom. These guidelines include how to reframe student beliefs and expectations about course grading and assessment.
Chapter 2: Critical Thinking and Critical Theory explains what it
means to think critically about social justice. We explain the theoretical perspective known as Critical Theory and provide a brief sketch of key ideas relevant to our approach. The concept of knowledge construction is introduced. This chapter clarifies the difference between the opinions that readers already hold on a topic and the informed knowledge that we wish to provide and foster. We explain the importance of setting aside one’s opinions and engaging with humility when encountering content that is personally challenging or politically charged.
Chapter 3: Culture and Socialization. This chapter explains what
culture and socialization are and how they work. We introduce the relationship between being an individual and being a member of multiple social groups (such as race, gender, and class). The chapter explains how important it is for us to understand that our ideas, views, and opinions are not objective and independent, but rather the result of myriad social messages and conditioning forces. We take the reader beyond the common conception of parents and families as the sole forces of socialization and describe how other institutions work to form our worldviews. Examples are provided to illustrate the power of socialization and how it works as an unconscious filter shaping our perceptions.
Chapter 4: Prejudice and Discrimination unravels common
misunderstandings of two key interrelated terms: prejudice and discrimination. The chapter examines prejudice as internal—thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and assumptions—and its relationship to discrimination, which is external—prejudice occurring in action. We explain that prejudice and discrimination cannot be humanly avoided; we all hold prejudices and we all discriminate based on our prejudices. We argue that the first step in minimizing discrimination is to be able to identify (rather
than to deny) our prejudices.
Chapter 5: Oppression and Power explains how prejudice and discrimination are not the whole story. We move beyond individuals and take readers on an examination of prejudice and discrimination at the group level. We introduce the concept of power, which transforms group prejudice into oppression, and define terms such as dominant group and minoritized group. This chapter also explains the difference between concepts such as race prejudice, which anyone can hold, and racism, which occurs at the group level and is only perpetuated by the group that holds social, ideological, economic, and institutional power. The chapter explains the “ism” words (for example racism, sexism, classism) and how these words allow us to capture structural power as it manifests in particular forms of oppression.
Chapter 6: Understanding Privilege Through Ableism explains the
rights, benefits, and advantages automatically received by being a member of the dominant group, regardless of intentions. From a critical social justice perspective, privilege is systemically conferred dominance and the institutional processes by which the beliefs and values of the dominant group are made “normal” and universal. While in some cases the privileged group is also the numerical majority, numbers are not the key criterion; the key criterion is social and institutional power. This chapter also explains related concepts such as internalized oppression and internalized dominance, and offers examples of how these dynamics work to hold existing relations of power in place.
Chapter 7: Understanding the Invisibility of Oppression Through
Sexism traces a specific form of oppression—sexism—in order to illustrate how our ideas, views, and opinions are the product of interlocking and ongoing social messages in popular culture. We describe the ways in which such interlocking messages serve as barriers to seeing oppression and as such are central to how oppression is normalized.
Chapter 8: Understanding the Structural Nature of Oppression
Through Racism traces a specific form of oppression in depth. Racism is discussed within the U.S. and Canadian contexts, and explained as White racial and cultural prejudice and discrimination, supported intentionally or unintentionally by institutional power and authority. Racism is illustrated through an examination of economic, political, social, and cultural
structures, actions, and beliefs. We offer an in-depth understanding of racism as an entry point into building an in-depth understanding of how all oppressions are structural.
Chapter 9: Understanding the Global Organization of Racism
Through White Supremacy. This chapter continues the examination of racism by identifying some of the ways in which racism adapts to and co- opts efforts to challenge it. We contrast multicultural education and antiracist education, introduce other concepts such as Whiteness and White supremacy, and end by addressing common misconceptions about racism. These misconceptions also function as another form of adaptation and co- optation.
Chapter 10: Understanding Intersectionality Through Classism
begins with an examination of class oppression. We explain current economic relations of power, address concepts such as capitalism and socialism, wealth and income, as well as provide common class vernacular. The chapter also addresses the concept of intersectionality as an important theoretical development for understanding the multidimensional nature of oppression. We identify elements of class privilege, name common misconceptions about class mobility, and speak back to common classist narratives.
Chapter 11: “Yeah, But …”: Common Rebuttals. Based on our
experiences teaching these concepts in a variety of forums, we predict that readers will raise some common questions, objections, and critiques. This chapter addresses the most commonly raised issues. Drawing on all that has been discussed in previous chapters, we briefly but explicitly speak again to these issues.
Chapter 12: Putting It All Together. Understanding social justice
means that an individual must be able to recognize how relations of unequal social power are constantly being negotiated at both the micro (individual) and macro (structural) levels, understand our own positions within these relations of unequal power, think critically about knowledge, and most importantly, act from this understanding in service of a more just society. The final chapter reviews key principles of critical social justice and offers some concrete suggestions for action.
We hope to take our readers on a journey that results in an increased
ability to see beyond the immediate surface level to the deeply embedded injustice below; injustice that for so many of us is normal and taken for granted. Looking head-on at injustice can be painful, especially when we understand that we all have a role in it. However, in taking our readers on this journey we do not intend to inspire guilt or assign blame. At this point in society, guilt and blame are not useful or constructive; no one reading this book had a hand in creating the systems that hold injustice in place. But each of us does have a choice about whether we are going to work to interrupt and dismantle these systems or support their existence by ignoring them. There is no neutral ground; to choose not to act against injustice is to choose to allow it. We hope that this book gives our readers the conceptual foundations from which to act against injustice.
A Parable: Hodja and the Foreigner
Once upon a time, a foreign scholar and his entourage were passing through a town in Anatolia. The scholar asked to speak to the town’s most knowledgeable person. The townsfolk immediately called Nasreddin Hodja to come to meet the foreign scholar.
The foreigner did not speak Turkish, Persian, or Arabic, and Hodja did not speak any European languages, and so the two wise men had to communicate with signs while the townsfolk and the entourage watched in fascination.
The foreigner used a stick to draw a large circle in the sand. Hodja took the stick and divided the circle into two halves. The foreigner drew a line perpendicular to the one Hodja drew, and the circle was now split into four. He moved the stick to indicate first the three quarters of the circle, then the remaining quarter. In response, Hodja made a swirling motion with the stick on the four quarters. Then the foreigner made a bowl shape with his two hands held together side by side, palms up, and wiggled his fingers. Then, Hodja responded by cupping his hands with his palms down and wiggling his fingers.
When the meeting was over, the members of the foreigner’s entourage asked him what they had talked about. “Nasreddin Hodja is a very learned man,” he said. “I told him that the Earth was round and he told me that there was an equator slicing it in half. I told him that three-quarters of the Earth was water and one quarter of it was land. He said that there were undercurrents and winds. I told him that the waters warm up, vaporize, and move toward the sky, and to that he replied that they cool off and come down as rain.”
The people of the town were also curious about how the conversation went. They gathered around Hodja. “This stranger has very good taste,” Hodja explained. “He said that he wished there was a large tray of baklava. I said that he could only have half of it. He said that the syrup should be made with three parts sugar and one part honey. I agreed, and said that they all had to be well mixed together. Next, he suggested that we should cook it on blazing fire. And I added that we should pour crushed nuts on top of it.”
Layers of the Parable
This story is from the tales of Nasreddin Hodja, a 13th-century Sufisage. His wisdom stories often use humor to point out human failings and misunderstandings. What is relevant about this story for our purposes is the way it captures some of the key concepts in critical social justice literacy:
Each of us has a culturally based worldview. We hold a common assumption that others share our worldview. We often assume that what we intend to communicate is what is received.
Because Hodja and the foreigner do not speak the same verbal language, they move to a form of sign language and assume that they share the same understandings of what is being signed. Although both men leave the exchange feeling satisfied, we realize that they have completely misunderstood each other. But if we go deeper than a simple misunderstanding, we might also see that they had completely different ways of organizing the world and what they valued within it. For the foreigner, the emphasis was on the elements of the Earth; he had a more scientific orientation. For Hodja, the emphasis was on sharing a meal; he had a more community orientation.
As their ideas about each other form and are communicated to their respective groups (the foreigner to his entourage and Hodja to his fellow townspeople), consider now that one of them is in the position to enforce his worldview upon the other; that is, consider what might happen when we add power to the encounter. Imagine the foreigner and his entourage are not just passing through, they are in town because their nation has just invaded Hodja’s. The foreigner has been installed to govern Hodja’s town and he now controls all of the land—land that Hodja and the townfolk have lived on and raised their food on all of their lives, as did their ancestors before them. But now Hodja must pay the foreigner large fees to use this land. The foreigner moves in and appoints his own people to key positions of government and sets up his culture’s rules and social norms. The foreigner imposes these new rules and norms upon Hodja and the townspeople.
Which one of these men is going to need to learn to understand the perspective of the other? While they each have their own worldview and neither worldview is inherently superior, only one of them is in a position of power that enables him to impose his worldview on the other. Hodja
and his community’s ability to work and feed their families now depend upon the foreigner and his customs, language, and traditions, whereas the foreigner does not have to learn the town’s customs, language, or traditions. Indeed, the foreigner, who now controls all of the resources needed for Hodja’s livelihood, will profit from Hodja and the community’s labor without ever having to learn to understand their perspective.
Now fast-forward from the 13th century to the 21st. Centuries of domination of the town and resultant conflicts have occurred. The descendants of the foreigner, who continue to control the town, benefit from the resources and power they have accumulated over the centuries. Meanwhile, the descendants of the townsfolk have had to change their entire way of life, customs, and even language in order to survive. The townsfolk try to pass their traditions on to their young children, but the children see little value in cultural traditions that don’t seem to get them anywhere in society. Many of the foreigners’ descendants are also frustrated. They can’t understand why some townsfolk are so angry—after all, they weren’t the ones who invaded the town centuries ago, and they don’t see why the townspeople can’t just get over it and assimilate so they can all live together in peace.
As we can see, there are many layers of complexity in this story, layers that have built up and been left unaddressed over generations. The foreigner’s descendants see the situation as simple: Hodja’s descendants should just let go of the past and move on. Hodja’s descendants, however, see the situation as much more complicated. Until the historical, cultural, and ideological aspects of the foreigner’s domination are addressed, no one can just “get over it.” Indeed, they recognize that far from being over, the domination continues in newer forms. The suggestion that they could just move on reveals how little the foreigner’s descendants understand the history of their town and their current position within society, based on that history. This story is meant to illustrate many of the complex issues that must be understood in order to develop critical social justice literacy.
How to Engage Constructively in Courses That Take a Critical Social Justice Approach*
The struggle has always been inner, and is played out in outer terrains. Awareness of our situation must come before inner changes, which in turn come before changes in society. Nothing happens in the “real” world unless it first happens in the images in our heads.
—Gloria Anzaldúa (2009, p. 310)
Vocabulary to practice using: anecdotal evidence; platitude; mainstream society; peer review; objective; subjective
If you are reading this book, you are likely enrolled in a course that takes a critical stance. By critical stance we mean those academic fields (including social justice, critical pedagogy, multicultural education, antiracist, postcolonial, and feminist approaches) that operate from the perspective that knowledge is socially constructed and that education is a political project embedded within a network of social institutions that reproduce inequality.
Throughout your course, you will likely be studying key concepts such as socialization, oppression, privilege, and ideology and doing coursework that challenges your worldview by suggesting that you may not be as open-minded as you may have thought. You are encountering evidence that inequality not only exists, but is deeply structured into society in ways that secure its reproduction. You are also beginning to realize that, contrary to what you have always been taught, categories of difference (such as gender, race, and class) rather than merit alone, do matter and contribute significantly to people’s experiences and life opportunities.
When confronted with evidence of inequality that challenges our identities, we often respond with resistance; we want to deflect this unsettling information and protect a worldview that is more familiar and comforting. This is especially true if we believe in justice and see
ourselves as living a life that supports it. Forms that resistance takes include silence, withdrawal, immobilizing guilt, feeling overly hopeless or overly hopeful, rejection, anger, sarcasm, and argumentation. These reactions are not surprising because mainstream narratives reinforce the idea that society overall is fair, and that all we need to overcome injustice is to be nice and treat everyone the same. Yet while comforting, these platitudes are woefully out of sync with scholarly research about how society is structured. The deeply held beliefs that inform our emotional responses make studying and teaching from a critical stance very difficult.
In addition to being asked to question ideology that is deeply internalized and taken for granted, critical engagement rarely provides concrete solutions. This ambiguity can lead to frustration, for our K–12 schooling (especially in Canada and the United States) has conditioned us to seek clear and unambiguous answers. Still, we pull various strategies together and offer an overall framework for critical engagement. We draw on research and our years of practice teaching social justice content and share the vignettes and guidelines that have been most effective for our own students. A list of key terms can be found at the beginning of this chapter. Practice incorporating these terms into your academic vocabulary.
An Open Letter to Students
Courses that address social justice and inequality through a critical lens often challenge mainstream understandings and thus bring to the surface patterns and tensions that other courses do not (Gallavan, 2000; Kincheloe, 2008). This is due, primarily, to two key reasons:
The first is that many of us are underprepared to engage in the course content in scholarly ways. Basic study habits, reading comprehension, writing skills, vocabulary, and critical thinking are often underdeveloped in college students. Ironically, much of this is due to structural inequalities that courses like these try to address. For example, political and economic pressures on schools to focus on standardized testing have resulted in moves away from intellectual curiosity, critical thinking, and engagement with ambiguity and toward creating conforming and compliant students who can memorize the “one right answer” to pass the test. Differences in the kinds of schooling we receive and the differential futures they prepare us for are based on structural inequalities related to our race, class, gender, and other social locations. These differentials affect our preparation for college and university-level engagement and are examples of the kind of inequalities that social justice–oriented courses address. The ultimate goal of social justice education is to enable us to recognize structural
inequalities in ways that prepare us to change them. However, the sociopolitical context of schooling makes critical engagement challenging for many students, and this challenge is heightened when the topics under study are politically and emotionally charged.
This leads to the second reason that courses that address social justice and inequality bring to the surface patterns and tensions that other courses do not: most of us have very strong feelings and opinions about the topics examined in social justice courses (such as racism, sexism, and homophobia). These opinions often surface through claims such as:
“People should be judged by what they do, not the color of their skin”
“I accept people for who they are” “I see people as individuals” “It’s focusing on difference that divides us” “My parents taught me that all people are equal” “I always treat everyone the same” “I’ve been discriminated against so I don’t have any privilege” “Our generation is more open-minded” “I have friends from all races and we are all fine with each other” “I don’t think race and gender make any difference—as long as you
work hard” “It’s White males who are the minority now” “Women are just as sexist as men”
While these opinions are deeply held and appear to be commonsense truth (and not opinion at all), they are predictable, simplistic, and misinformed, given the large body of research examining social relations. Yet, the relentless repetition of these ideas in the mainstream makes them seem true, and allows us to form strongly held opinions without being particularly educated on the issues. Indeed, where we are members of dominant groups (e.g., if we are male, White, cisgender, able-bodied), we will almost certainly have a superficial understanding because that is the primary message made available to us through mainstream society. Where we are members of minoritized groups (e.g., if we are women, Peoples of Color, transgender, People with disabilities), we may have a deeper personal understanding of social inequality and how it works, but may not have the scholarly language to discuss it in an academic context.
Further, it is a rare individual who is dominant in all key social groups, or conversely is minoritized in all key social groups. Yet messages that circulate in mainstream society do not prepare most of us to conceptualize
or develop the language to discuss our intersecting identities in any depth. Take for example the intersection of race and class and consider a White woman who lives in poverty. While she will face many class barriers, she will not face racism. Yet a poor White woman—while not facing racism— will face barriers related to her gender—sexism—that a poor White man will not. For example, she will be more likely to be held responsible for the care of her children, she will be more likely to earn less than a man, and she will be more at risk for male violence, all of which increase the burden of poverty. Yet mainstream culture tends to present poverty as if there is a collective and shared experience of “the poor.”
Without practice and study beyond what we absorb in our daily living, we are ill prepared to understand social group injustices. Therefore, our perspectives on issues like poverty and social inequality are necessarily lacking—and especially so if we ourselves are not poor. These perspectives include the idea that if we don’t believe in social inequality, then we don’t participate in it. Mainstream culture prevents us from understanding a central tenet of social justice education: Society is structured in ways that make us all complicit in systems of inequality; there is no neutral ground. Thus an effective critical social justice course will unsettle mainstream perspectives and institutional discourses, challenge our views about ourselves, what we think we know about society, how it works, and our place in it.
Unfortunately when we are new to the examination of social relations, we only know one way to respond to ideas studied in the course: “If the professor is saying that I participate in systems of injustice (such as racism), they are saying that I am a bad person (a racist).” Later, we should come to understand that this is not what our professors are saying, and that binary ways of conceptualizing these issues (good/bad, racist/not-racist) are part of what prevents us from seeing them.
In sum, the combination of underdeveloped academic skills, difficult theoretical concepts, and highly charged political content that is absent of complex analysis in mainstream culture, all of which is embedded within an institutional context that is structured to reproduce inequality, can make these courses challenging. Yet basing our knowledge on such sources as personal opinions, self-concepts, anecdotal evidence, hearsay, intuition, family teachings, popular platitudes, limited relationships, personal experiences, exceptions, and mainstream media is insufficient for understanding and responding constructively to social injustice.
Therefore, to maximize your learning of social justice content, we offer the following guidelines:
1. Strive for intellectual humility. 2. Recognize the difference between opinions and informed
knowledge. 3. Let go of personal anecdotal evidence and look at broader societal
patterns. 4. Notice your own defensive reactions and attempt to use these
reactions as entry points for gaining deeper self-knowledge. 5. Recognize how your own social positionality (such as your race,
class, gender, sexuality, ability-status) informs your perspectives and reactions to your instructor and the individuals whose work you study in the course.
Below we explain these guidelines in more depth and how they can help you engage constructively with social justice content.
A Story: The Question of Planets
Imagine: You are in a course that fulfills a university science requirement. The professor holds a PhD in astronomy. He has written several books, is widely published in academic journals, and has a national reputation in his field. The course objectives include defining terms used in modern astronomy and exposure to the practices, methodology, and concepts of the discipline. The professor is reviewing the assigned readings, which present the most established theories in the field. He overviews the scientific community’s discussion of the number of planets and states that based on the criteria for what constitutes a planet, only 8 planets are officially recognized in our solar system.
One of the students raises his hand and insists that there are actually 9 planets because that is what he learned in school. He has seen many books with pictures of the planets, and there are always nine. As further evidence, he recites the mnemonic he learned to pass all his science tests: “My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas.” He states that he had a map of the sky in his bedroom as a child and it showed 9 planets. Further, he says, his parents taught him that there were nine planets and many of his friends also agree that there are nine. He spent his childhood camping out and looking up at the sky and identifying constellations, so he has experience in astronomy. The professor tries to explain to the student that to engage with the planet controversy one must first demonstrate understanding of the criteria for what constitutes a planet, but he is cut off by the student, who declares, “Well, that’s your opinion. My opinion is that there are nine.”
The professor tries once more to explain that what he presents in regard to the number of planets is not his opinion, but knowledge based on the scholarly community’s established criteria for what defines a planet. Although at one time astronomers believed that Pluto qualified as a planet, as with all disciplines, their knowledge evolved. With the discovery of new information and further study they now understand that Pluto doesn’t meet the criteria of a planet, in large part due to its shape. This is not an opinion, the professor repeats, but astronomical theories that have resulted from ongoing research and study. The student replies, “I don’t care if Pluto is square, diamond-shaped, or shaped like a banana, it’s a planet, and there are nine planets.”
How likely is it that the majority of the class thinks our hypothetical
astronomy student is raising a credible point? Would the class admire him for standing up to the professor and expressing the same understanding they had (but were too hesitant to bring up)? Even if his peers did share his view, that would not make his argument valid. It is more likely that he would be seen as having some academic challenges, as somewhat immature, and perhaps even disrespectful. It may even be assumed that he might have trouble passing the class.
Guideline 1: Strive for Intellectual Humility
Our hypothetical student is representative of many students we encounter: He has not done the readings or has trouble understanding what he’s read; he has limited knowledge but is resistant to increasing it; he clings to the same worldview he came into the course with; and he is overly confident about his position. Scholars have referred to these patterns as a form of willful ignorance (Baker, 1990; Dei, Karumanchery & Karumanchery- Luik, 2004; Schick, 2000). In our experience, students who have trouble understanding what they read seldom: re-read, read more slowly, use a dictionary to look up new words, or ask their professors to explain difficult passages. Standardized testing and the punishment and reward system of grades are major contributors to these habits, as they have created a school culture that rewards conformity and single, correct answers over intellectual curiosity and risk-taking. Yet critical social justice education demands a different kind of engagement than most of us have been prepared for in our previous schooling.
Another challenge to intellectual humility is that many of us see social science content as soft science and therefore value-laden and subjective. On the other hand, the natural sciences such as astronomy are seen as hard
science and therefore value-neutral and objective. Because of the presumed neutrality of the natural sciences, we are unlikely to argue with astronomy findings until we have some mastery in the field—knowing that we might not fully understand the concepts and theories presented. We are more likely to focus on gaining a basic understanding and not on whether we agree or disagree. If we perform poorly on tests, we might feel frustrated with the professor or material as being too hard, but still recognize our own lack of knowledge as the primary cause of the poor performance.
Yet in the study of the social sciences—and particularly when the topic is social inequality—the behavior of our imaginary astronomy student is not unusual. In fact, it can be common for students to argue with professors prior to achieving mastery of the concepts and theories presented. Furthermore, students frequently cite anecdotal evidence to support their arguments and dismiss course content prior to engaging with the research. And unfortunately, students who “disagree with” social justice content are often taken seriously by classmates —even seen as a kind of hero for speaking up to the professor. Seeing the study of social inequality as a form of subjective scholarship, these students put it on par with their own personal opinions and dismiss it out of hand.
In academia (including the social and natural sciences), in order for an argument to be considered legitimate (e.g., such as how many planets there are, and whether racism exists), it must stand up to scrutiny by others who are specialists in the field. This scrutiny is called peer review. Peer review is the process by which theories and the research they are based on are examined by other scholars in the field who question, refine, deepen, challenge, and complicate the arguments, expanding the collective knowledge base of the field. Just as the astronomy professor’s teachings are more than his personal opinions, social justice professors’ teachings are more than their personal opinions. Both instructors are presenting concepts that have undergone peer review. The overall evidence, theories, arguments, and analysis presented in class are rooted in the peer review process.
STOP: When we say that peer review makes an argument legitimate, remember that we mean this for academic contexts (such as a college or university course you might be taking). There are other forms of evidence that are legitimate. However, academic arguments such as those we present in this book must stand up to peer review.
Most of us have seldom previously encountered—much less understood enough to disagree with—the scholars we initially read, especially in introductory critical social justice courses. Although some of us may bring important firsthand experiences to the issues (such as being a member of a particular minoritized group under study), we too can benefit from grappling with any theoretical framework before debating it. For the beginner, grappling with the concepts is the first step. To facilitate doing so, practice the following:
Read the assigned material carefully. Look up vocabulary words and terminology that are new to you (e.g., if there are terms used in this chapter that you do not know, start with the book’s glossary). Accept that you may need to read all or part of the material more than once. Consider reading passages out loud or taking notes of key points as you read. Practice using new terms in class. If there are terms or concepts you are still unsure about, raise them in class. It is likely that you are not alone in your confusion. Assume that your instructors appreciate questions that demonstrate engagement and curiosity, rather than apathy and silence that make it difficult to assess student needs. Strive to see the connections to ideas and concepts already studied. This will help with your recall, critical thinking, and ability to see the big picture. Focus on understanding rather than agreement. Consider whether “I disagree” may actually mean “I don’t understand,” and if so, work on understanding. Remember, understanding a concept does not require that you agree with it. Practice posing questions. Because most students have been socialized to care more about getting the answers right and less about comprehension, we may fear that asking questions will reveal that we don’t know the answers. Thus, we may make bold statements that lack intellectual humility. These statements could be more usefully framed as questions. Be patient and willing to grapple with new and difficult ideas. “Grappling with” ideas means to receive, reflect upon, practice articulating, and seek deeper understanding; grappling is not debate or rejection. The goal is to move us beyond the mere sharing of opinions and toward more informed engagement.
One place where grappling often falls short is in small-group work. For most instructors, the goal of small-group work is much more than students
simply “sharing their ideas or opinions on X.” Rather, it’s an opportunity for students to spend time critically thinking through difficult ideas with the support of others in order to deepen understanding and share insights. In addition to the specific prompts and questions that the instructor has given, all of the following could be taken up in small-group work:
Asking clarifying questions of each other Making connections to other readings Identifying key concepts and defining terms Generating examples that illustrate the concepts under study Identifying patterns Developing questions Questioning relationships between concepts Discussing the implications for your own life and work Practicing articulating the ideas introduced in the course using your own words, in order to clarify and increase your comfort discussing them with others Identifying and discussing challenging passages
Yet instructors often encounter small groups who are merely reinforcing their previous opinions, have moved on to engage in off-topic social banter, or are sitting in silence, checking email or texting because they are “finished” discussing the topic at hand. From an academic perspective, a small group should never be “done” talking about any topic they are given. Scholars have spent their careers developing these concepts, and a limited number of class minutes is not adequate to finish working through and understanding them. If you find yourself at a standstill, work through the bulleted list above, or ask your instructor for some prompts and check in about how you are doing in your comprehension.
Guideline 2: Everyone has an Opinion. Opinions are Not the Same as Informed Knowledge
One of the biggest challenges to attaining Guideline 1—intellectual humility—is the emphasis placed in mainstream culture on the value of opinion. Mainstream culture has normalized the idea that because everyone has an opinion, all opinions are equally valid. For example, local news and radio shows regularly invite callers to share their opinions about questions ranging from “Do you think so-and-so is guilty?” to “Should immigration be restricted?” Reality shows invite us to vote on the best
singer or dancer, implying that our opinions are equal to the opinions of professional dancers, singers, choreographers, and producers. While we might have an informed opinion, our response certainly does not depend on one. Thus we can easily be fooled into confusing opinion (which everyone has) with informed knowledge (which few have without ongoing practice and study).
Because of this socialization, many of us unwittingly bring the expectation for opinion-sharing into the academic classroom. However, in academia, opinion is the weakest form of intellectual engagement. When our comprehension is low and critical thinking skills underdeveloped, expressing our opinion is the easiest response. All of us hold opinions on a topic before we enter a course (as our astronomy student did), and these opinions don’t require us to understand the issues or engage with the course readings at all. Therefore, expressing our opinions simply rehearses what we already think and doesn’t require us to expand, question, or go beneath our ideas. If we aren’t interested in reading what we have been assigned, or do not understand what we have read, the easiest thing to do is to point to a passage in the text and give a personal opinion about it (e.g., “I loved it when the author said that men dominate because it reminded me of an experience I had….”), or use it to reject the reading out of hand (e.g., “The author said White people have privilege. I totally disagree with that because I know someone who didn’t get a job because he’s White!”).
When we make claims based on anecdotal evidence with regard to the concepts studied—for example claiming, “Now there is reverse racism” — we are in effect expressing an opinion that is not supported by scholarly evidence. We would not use opinion in astronomy class and believe it unlikely that a student arguing that she or he disagrees with Stephen Hawking on a matter of astronomy would have her or his position taken seriously, much less feel free to make such a claim to begin with. Yet in the social justice classroom, scholars such as Peggy McIntosh, Michel Foucault, and Beverly Tatum are regularly disagreed with well before comprehension of their work is mastered. Consider how our astronomy student’s understanding of planets—as well as his understanding of science as an ever-evolving field—could deepen if he was able to engage with current theories about what constitutes a planet. Unfortunately, our hypothetical student’s attachment to his previously held beliefs precludes this possibility.
Because of these tendencies, professors who teach from a critical social justice stance sometimes “shut down” opinion-sharing (Sensoy & DiAngelo, 2014). This curtailing of the sharing of opinions in class is often perceived as breaking a social rule: “I have the right to my opinion and
denying me that right is unfair.” Of course we have a right to our opinions. But our academic goals are not to simply express our preexisting opinions; our goals are to engage with scholarly evidence and develop the theoretical tools with which to gain a more complex understanding of social phenomena. Yet let us be clear: We do want students to offer opinions in order to reflect on and examine them; opening one’s opinions to examination is not the same as simply expressing them.
In order to move beyond the level of previously held opinions, practice the following:
Reflect on your reasons for pursuing higher education. Many students would say they are going to university or college in order to secure a good career. However, your longevity and success in that career will depend on your critical-thinking skills and the depth and breadth of your general knowledge base. How might allowing your worldview to be stretched and challenged actually serve your future career interests? Recognize that you do not have to agree with concepts under study in order to learn from them. Let go of the idea that you must agree with a concept you are studying in order for it to be valid or worth learning. Practice posing open-ended questions rather than closed questions that invite yes/no responses or debate. Closed questions often begin with “Should” or “Do you agree” (e.g., “Should schools ban soda machines?” or “Do you agree that opportunity is not equal?”). The limitation of these questions is that the debate format does not leave much room for examining grey areas or grappling with complexities. Closed questions can also be answered with an easy yes or no, which prevents a nuanced engagement with complex issues. Practice developing quality questions. For example, using John Taylor Gatto’s “Seven Lesson Schoolteacher” (2002), strong questions could include: “Consider Gatto’s argument that all teachers teach the seven lessons. On a continuum from ‘Yes absolutely’ on one end, to ‘No absolutely not’ on the other, position yourself in relation to his argument. Explain why you have positioned yourself there.” Use phrases such as, “Under what conditions …” and “To what extent …” when you ask questions. For example, “Under what conditions might we avoid teaching Gatto’s lessons?” “To what extent does the school curriculum influence teacher autonomy?” Use the course readings to support your position. Questions connected to texts should require familiarity with
the text to answer. For example, “Identify two of Gatto’s seven lessons and find examples you have seen in schools.” If someone can respond to the question without ever having read the text, it is not a strong question. Questions may also ask people to re-imagine. For example, “Using the readings, design the ideal classroom. Describe the guidelines for student engagement in this ideal classroom. How would the curriculum and pedagogical activities be organized? How would you assess your goals?”
Guideline 3: Let Go of Anecdotal Evidence and Instead Examine Patterns
Anecdotal evidence is evidence drawn from hearsay or only personal experience, and thus anecdotal evidence is superficial, limited to interpretation, and not generalizable. For example, many of us have heard something similar to, “My cousin tried to get a job, but they hired an unqualified Black guy instead because they had to fill a quota.” Because mainstream education and media seldom teach us how social inequality works, most of the evidence we rely on to understand issues of social justice is anecdotal. But the goals of college and university classes are to expand one’s ability to make sense of everyday events, issues, and incidences. In other words, to offer new and more complex sense-making systems. One of the more important academic skills we can develop is the ability to apply a new sense-making framework to something we currently make sense of using another framework.
To illustrate this concept of frameworks, imagine that you have pain in your leg and go to your doctor. Your doctor would likely examine your leg, feel the bones and muscles, and perhaps take X-rays to identify the source of the pain. If, however, you went to an alternative (from a Western perspective) medical practitioner, such as a doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), she might have a completely different way of examining your body and identifying the source of the pain. She may begin by looking at your tongue and examining other parts of your body. A chiropractor might not examine your leg at all, but instead begin work on your spine.
If we are taking a course studying how humans understand the body and conceptualize healing, then we are less interested in which practitioner is “right” and which is “wrong” in their approach to identifying the source of your pain. We are more interested in the various frameworks each practitioner uses, the scholarly community that informs the ideas that practitioner draws on, and what each framework offers us in terms of
understanding how the body works and how humans conceptualize illness and healing. Just as the TCM doctor offers a new way of understanding how your body works, the critical social justice framework offers us a new way of understanding how society works.
Another popular approach many of us take when we encounter a new and unfamiliar framework is to focus on one or two exceptions in order to disprove the framework under study. For example, when reading scholarship describing racism as structural, we may cite sensational examples such as Barack Obama as proof that “anyone can make it.” We may also use personal stories to “prove” that structural oppression doesn’t exist (or has now “reversed” direction), such as in the story above about the cousin who didn’t get a job and believes this is because the company had to fill a racial quota. Although it is a common White myth that peoples of Color must be (unfairly) hired over Whites, it is false and problematic for at least three reasons. First, it’s misinformed because hiring quotas are actually illegal. Affirmative Action in the United States or Employment Equity in Canada are not hiring requirements, but goal systems for the hiring of qualified people who are underrepresented in a given field. Second, all of the evidence demonstrates that peoples of Color are discriminated against in hiring, not preferred (Alexander, 2010; Bertrand & Mullainathan, 2004; Dechief & Oreopoulos, 2012). Third, the story above rests on an embedded racist assumption that the only reason a person of Color could have been hired over the cousin is because of a quota and not because the person of Color was in fact more qualified, or equally qualified but brought a needed perspective that the cousin did not.
Focusing on exceptions or unanalyzed personal experiences prevents us from seeing the overall, societal patterns. While there are always exceptions to the rule, exceptions also illustrate the rule. Yes, people from oppressed groups occasionally rise to the top in dominant society. But the historical, measurable, and predictable evidence is that this is an atypical occurrence. If we focus exclusively on those exceptional occurrences, we miss the larger structural patterns. Focusing on the exceptions also precludes a more nuanced analysis of the role these exceptions play in the system overall.
The following questions offer a constructive way to engage with the course content and support Guideline 3:
How can using a critical framework expand my understanding of these phenomena? For example, let’s say you are White and have spent time abroad. You have enjoyed the food and cultures of places such as China, Mexico, or Morocco, but have also felt discriminated
against (ignored, stereotyped, made fun of) because you are White and from the United States or Canada. Why, you might wonder, aren’t the locals more open to you when you are being so open to them—maybe even learning a bit of their language? You offer this anecdote as an example that illustrates that everyone is racist in some ways. Now imagine that you are grappling with a new framework to make sense of your experience. You are studying key concepts such as Whiteness, globalization, and hegemony. How can using this framework help you contextualize your experience within larger macrodynamics and apply academic concepts? Am I able to identify the larger group patterns at play in any individual situation? For example, if my best friend lives with a disability, I may assume that I am outside of ableism because I am open to this friendship when others are not. Yet rather than make me exempt from ableism, how can my friendship provide me with a view into the barriers faced by persons with disabilities? How can considering overall patterns help me recognize how my friendship is situated in relation to broader social dynamics—dynamics that intentions and individual practices alone do not overcome? Do I recognize that when I claim that my friend’s disability is not an issue in our friendship, that I am sharing my own limited perspective, because my experiences are interpreted from my positionality as someone who is considered able-bodied? What might the risks be for my friend to disagree with me or try to give me feedback on unaware ableist assumptions I may be making? Do I have the skills to respond to this feedback without defensiveness and denial? Using another example, we often hear heterosexual students make claims such as, “There was one gay guy in our school and no one had an issue with him.” Yet that “one gay guy” likely has a very different memory of school. Indeed, when we have students in our classes from minoritized groups, they invariably tell us of the misery of high school and all of the unconscious attitudes and behaviors from the dominant group that they had to endure. Our anecdotes are not universal, they are from a particular perspective; they will necessarily be filtered through our blind spots and thus are not sufficient evidence.