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Revealing the Invisible: Confronting Passive Racism in Teacher Education

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This book examines and confronts the passive and often unconscious racism of white teacher education students, offering a critical tool in the effort to make education more equitable. Sherry Marx provides a consciousness-raising account of how white teachers must come to recognize their own positions of privilege and work actively to create anti-racist teaching techniques This book examines and confronts the passive and often unconscious racism of white teacher education students, offering a critical tool in the effort to make education more equitable. Sherry Marx provides a consciousness-raising account of how white teachers must come to recognize their own positions of privilege and work actively to create anti-racist teaching techniques and learning environments for children of color and children learning English as a second language.


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This book examines and confronts the passive and often unconscious racism of white teacher education students, offering a critical tool in the effort to make education more equitable. Sherry Marx provides a consciousness-raising account of how white teachers must come to recognize their own positions of privilege and work actively to create anti-racist teaching techniques This book examines and confronts the passive and often unconscious racism of white teacher education students, offering a critical tool in the effort to make education more equitable. Sherry Marx provides a consciousness-raising account of how white teachers must come to recognize their own positions of privilege and work actively to create anti-racist teaching techniques and learning environments for children of color and children learning English as a second language.

41 review for Revealing the Invisible: Confronting Passive Racism in Teacher Education

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    I loved this book. It really opened my eyes to racism as a serious issue in teacher education. I only hope that I can remember it so that I can keep my own racism from hurting my classroom. This book inspired me to travel to Houston, TX for my student teaching and face racism. As a caveat, I don't believe I am a racist. However, I understand that racism is a rampant part of our society, and no race can completely understand one another. Everyone has different ways to do things, and different grou I loved this book. It really opened my eyes to racism as a serious issue in teacher education. I only hope that I can remember it so that I can keep my own racism from hurting my classroom. This book inspired me to travel to Houston, TX for my student teaching and face racism. As a caveat, I don't believe I am a racist. However, I understand that racism is a rampant part of our society, and no race can completely understand one another. Everyone has different ways to do things, and different groups act differently. I cannot stand here and pretend that isn't true. I'm never going to treat everyone as if they're just like me, that's short sighted and ridiculous. They're not just like me. They are their own person and I need to respect and treat them as such.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nathan

    It was "interesting" reading this book as a non-white teacher. To think critically about the ways in which racism can manifest itself both in and out of the classroom for White teachers was an exercise in both patience and, in some ways, empathy. Marx lays out the beginnings of some great conversations that equip the reader (all readers) with tools to engage in some rather difficult talks about what equity in classrooms and for students of color actually looks like. One compelling thought is the It was "interesting" reading this book as a non-white teacher. To think critically about the ways in which racism can manifest itself both in and out of the classroom for White teachers was an exercise in both patience and, in some ways, empathy. Marx lays out the beginnings of some great conversations that equip the reader (all readers) with tools to engage in some rather difficult talks about what equity in classrooms and for students of color actually looks like. One compelling thought is the subtle way educators who operate with good intentions attempt to justify these moments of passive racism. However, what is scarier is how seldom such justifications, Marx would add, are met with critical questions and dialogue behind the true motivations--even subconscious--for them. Take for example, one scenario of a white teacher who frequently bumps students' grades to passing or never fails a student, even though he/she remarks often of how students do not have the requisite skills to complete work at the level at which it should be. There are complicating factors in this example, that Marx does not address with as much clarity as she does other aspects. Namely, what role do instructors play in correcting past injustices on the part of their student, particularly in the example provided? If said students have been socially promoted for years such that the skills and content have not been taught at all or taught well, what does an equitable classroom then look like knowing students of color have already been forcibly removed for years of fair and quality education? Isn't the grade inflation and failure to "fail" a student a mark of [White] guilt? A guilt then manifesting itself in a ways that are serving only to reinforce a churning out of young Black men and women who do not have the skills needed to do well or even compete fairly with their White counterparts...it looks like a never ending cycle. Marx effectively argues that it is only through critical reflection of our practice as teachers that we will be equipped to confront the pervasive nature of problematic, racist, discriminatory thought that floods our schools. I will add that this book is more geared towards novice teachers or individuals who are thinking of entering the profession. More so, her language is often tailored to teachers entering the field in more urban contexts, but that does not mean the narratives and dialogue within the work cannot find its relevance to those who teach in more rural environments. Marx's blueprint is helpful and provides context for those who have been doing this for years, if for no other reason than to reflect on moments and times when we have overlooked these microaggressions for whatever reason. It is hard work and the more I read works like Marx's it makes me think about leaving or, honestly, stepping away from the classroom. The sheer weight of remaining an advocate for students, particularly students of color, every single day, is at times a rather troubling weight with stark consequences should we as educators not remain cognizant of our duty and responsibilities. As such reading books like this make me question if I am informed and diligent enough in my own practice to effectively even attempt to be a part of this conversation.

  3. 5 out of 5

    McKenzie

    Marx (2006) has created an excellent guide for White readers willing to discover their racial identity and how to proceed with this identity. While Marx’s (2006) intended audience was preservice teachers, she keeps her suggestions open enough that I would recommend anyone who is open to confronting the racism in our society to read this book. Marx (2006) exposes the racist language used every day and calls attention in every instance it’s used, increasing the reader’s awareness. It’s a clearly w Marx (2006) has created an excellent guide for White readers willing to discover their racial identity and how to proceed with this identity. While Marx’s (2006) intended audience was preservice teachers, she keeps her suggestions open enough that I would recommend anyone who is open to confronting the racism in our society to read this book. Marx (2006) exposes the racist language used every day and calls attention in every instance it’s used, increasing the reader’s awareness. It’s a clearly written, well organized, ideal guide for White readers who wish to learn about themselves, their society, and the issues of race and racism and provides emotional support for those who might be overwhelmed during their self-discovery. Marx assures readers that when they accept their racism, they do not have to live with the guilt that accompanies this discovered identity. Giving the reader this support creates a caring, genuine tone to the book and moves the shift away from the guilt and backlash that comes with dealing with issues of race and White identity. It’s a supportive book ending on a positive note that racism can be managed, much like a disease, by taking action against these effects in small but significant ways.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Longhair

    America is held up by threads invisible to those who maintain them but binding to those to whom they are painfully obvious. Sherry Marx vividly and candidly illustrates the embedded racism present in the beliefs, behaviors and minds of nine White women from various backgrounds, and provides several suggestions for creating an open classroom that explores White Identity, Color-Blind speech, and racism. Marx does a fantastic job calling attention to the language used everyday that reenforces racis America is held up by threads invisible to those who maintain them but binding to those to whom they are painfully obvious. Sherry Marx vividly and candidly illustrates the embedded racism present in the beliefs, behaviors and minds of nine White women from various backgrounds, and provides several suggestions for creating an open classroom that explores White Identity, Color-Blind speech, and racism. Marx does a fantastic job calling attention to the language used everyday that reenforces racism, and creating a sympathetic tone that keeps the intended audience of White educators reading instead of dismissing the entire book as being focused on generating a negative White identity and listing seemingly insignificant grievances of minority populations. A large contributing factor to the hidden nature of passive racism is the language used is not explicitly racist, so to call attention to this extension of racism Marx starts in the first chapter to italicize key characteristic expressions. Such as ideas that associate minorities with fear and inferiority, “private school, I felt safer (52). We [White people] weren’t welcome (64).” People who have not taken a look at their own racism are probably very familiar with these terms and have most likely used them to describe their own feelings and/or situations they have experienced, and when first reading this book will wonder at the odd words being emphasized, especially during the first chapter before the meaning behind this language is explained in the second chapter. Still consistently drawing attention, wherever appropriate, helps the reader build their awareness of this racist language so the reader can recognize these terms in their speech and others and given that this book is only 174 pages long expanding the audience’s knowledge is all the more important. Another way Marx highlights racist talk by using direct quotes taken from the women’s interviews throughout expository paragraphs. “ As I listened, they opened up more about their ‘honest,’ very negative, feelings(97).” The example references White Talk, calling attention to the women’s own words and how they fit into McIntyre(98)’s definition. The disadvantage of using quotations is that it feels that while these words maybe used by the women to describe themselves, the abrupt quotation gives the impression that Marx had other, less flattering terms in mind. This suspicion is never confirmed and the inserted quotes are used to greater effect elsewhere in the book. Using the women’s exact words gives credence in places where the reader might think that the author chose words with negative connotation. The strongest aspect present is the focus being on identifying one’s racism and providing suggestions on dealing with these revelations. The entire fifth chapter is devoted to summarizing common themes in the women’s recognizing own racism, stages of recognition and dealing with hurtles in confronting one’s racism. It’s a supportive chapter ending on the positive note that racism can be managed, much like a disease, and taking “action against these effects in small but significant ways were just beginning the treatment. Already, it was making a difference(146).” It assures the reader that when they accept their racism they don’t have to live with the guilt that accompanies this discovered identity. The following chapter expands on this idea by outlining traps a lately aware racist and improvements that could be made in training of preservice teachers so that those responsible shaping the future of young people. Giving the reader this support creates a caring, genuine tone to the book and moves the shift away from the guilt and backlash that comes with dealing with issues of race and White identity that are only natural attachments to being the dominant culture as most people, particularly among preservice teachers, are kind hearted. People won’t read a book that evokes negative and perceived groundless feelings meaning whatever message present in a book, whether it be, is meaningless if the intended audience isn’t reading it. Many would dismiss race focused literature because it was written by a minority who can’t connect to the trails of a White person coming to grips with their racial identity and their place in reproducing racism. Marx avoids this by discussing her own journey in the first chapter after introducing the women who voluntarily participated in this study, and owning up the fact that she is a member of this dominant culture. There are several incidences through out the book where the White populace is referenced using a third person pronouns such as, “them (16), their (172),” and these are accompanied by an inclusive pronoun “us(16), our (172).” Marx openly admits her part as a White person and that she shares their responsibility to work towards a better society. Having a sympathetic writer encourages the reader to continue by diffusing the fear, shame and isolation that follow racial identity and responsibility acceptance. Marx has created an excellent guide for White readers willing to discover their racial identity and those lost as to how to proceed with this identity. True, Marx’s focus is the education of preservice teachers she keeps the explanations and suggestions open enough that anyone could benefit from reading this book. She exposes the racist language used everyday and calls attention in every instance it’s used regardless if she explicitly addresses it, increasing the reader’s awareness. The cliché White guilt focused text is avoided here as the author stress and projects a genuine and caring tone that takes away the reader’s first objection towards the material and provides emotional support for those who might be overwhelmed during their self discovery. It’s a clearly written, well organized, ideal guide for White readers who wish to learn about themselves, their society, and the issues of race and racism.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I just re-read this book and was reminded of the importance of dialog, reflection, our own stories and the truths they hold for each of us and how we must share these stories and embrace who we are to become who we might be. The recommendations for teacher education and research in this text remain relevant even in my second reading.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Zoa

  7. 4 out of 5

    Shannon Kehoe

  8. 4 out of 5

    Laura

  9. 4 out of 5

    Thea

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ruth

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn

  12. 4 out of 5

    Laura

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ingridristroph

  14. 5 out of 5

    Theresa Heath

  15. 5 out of 5

    Connie

  16. 4 out of 5

    Theresa

  17. 4 out of 5

    Randi Beth

  18. 5 out of 5

    Annie

  19. 4 out of 5

    Adi Adinugroho-Horstman

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jenna Grubman

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Weber

  22. 5 out of 5

    Audra

  23. 5 out of 5

    Anna-Marie Mackenzie

  24. 5 out of 5

    Brittany

  25. 4 out of 5

    Julie Marie

  26. 4 out of 5

    Beth Link

  27. 5 out of 5

    Amberfutch

  28. 4 out of 5

    Patty

  29. 5 out of 5

    Susan

  30. 4 out of 5

    Abby

  31. 4 out of 5

    Lucy

  32. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

  33. 4 out of 5

    Dhara

  34. 5 out of 5

    Maddie

  35. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

  36. 5 out of 5

    Amparo Mata

  37. 5 out of 5

    Sherise

  38. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Rodriguez

  39. 4 out of 5

    Courtney Wai

  40. 5 out of 5

    Katelyn

  41. 4 out of 5

    Brady Nash

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