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The Emperor Has No Clothes: Teaching about Race and Racism to People Who Don't Want to Know

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A volume in Educational Leadership for Social Justice Series Editor Jeffrey S. Brooks, University of Missouri-Columbia, Denise E. Armstrong, Brock University; Ira Bogotch, Florida Atlantic University; Sandra Harris, Lamar University; Whitney H. Sherman, Virginia Commonwealth University; George Theoharis, Syracuse University The Emperor Has No Clothes: Teaching About Race a A volume in Educational Leadership for Social Justice Series Editor Jeffrey S. Brooks, University of Missouri-Columbia, Denise E. Armstrong, Brock University; Ira Bogotch, Florida Atlantic University; Sandra Harris, Lamar University; Whitney H. Sherman, Virginia Commonwealth University; George Theoharis, Syracuse University The Emperor Has No Clothes: Teaching About Race and Racism to People Who Don't Want to Know offers theoretical grounding and practical approaches for leaders and teachers interested in effectively addressing racism and other oppressive constructs. The book draws both on the author's extensive experience teaching about race and racism in classroom and community settings and from the theory and practice of a wide range of educators, activists, and researchers committed to social justice. The first chapter looks at the toxic consequences of our western cultural insistence on profit, binary thinking, and individualism to establish the theoretical framework for teaching about race and racism. Chapter two investigates privileged resistance, offering a psycho/social history of denial, particularly as a product of racist culture. Chapter three reviews the research on the construction and reconstruction of dominant culture both historically and now in order to establish sound strategic approaches that educators, teachers, facilitators, and activists can take as we work together to move from a culture of profit and fear to one of shared hope and love. Chapter four lays out the stages of a process that supports teaching about racist, white supremacy culture, explaining how students can be taken through an iterative process of relationshipbuilding, analysis, planning, action, and reflection. The final chapter borrows from the brilliant, brave, and incisive writer Dorothy Allison to discuss the things the author knows for sure about how to teach people to see that which we have been conditioned to fear knowing. The chapter concludes with how to encourage and support collective and collaborative action as a critical goal of the process.


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A volume in Educational Leadership for Social Justice Series Editor Jeffrey S. Brooks, University of Missouri-Columbia, Denise E. Armstrong, Brock University; Ira Bogotch, Florida Atlantic University; Sandra Harris, Lamar University; Whitney H. Sherman, Virginia Commonwealth University; George Theoharis, Syracuse University The Emperor Has No Clothes: Teaching About Race a A volume in Educational Leadership for Social Justice Series Editor Jeffrey S. Brooks, University of Missouri-Columbia, Denise E. Armstrong, Brock University; Ira Bogotch, Florida Atlantic University; Sandra Harris, Lamar University; Whitney H. Sherman, Virginia Commonwealth University; George Theoharis, Syracuse University The Emperor Has No Clothes: Teaching About Race and Racism to People Who Don't Want to Know offers theoretical grounding and practical approaches for leaders and teachers interested in effectively addressing racism and other oppressive constructs. The book draws both on the author's extensive experience teaching about race and racism in classroom and community settings and from the theory and practice of a wide range of educators, activists, and researchers committed to social justice. The first chapter looks at the toxic consequences of our western cultural insistence on profit, binary thinking, and individualism to establish the theoretical framework for teaching about race and racism. Chapter two investigates privileged resistance, offering a psycho/social history of denial, particularly as a product of racist culture. Chapter three reviews the research on the construction and reconstruction of dominant culture both historically and now in order to establish sound strategic approaches that educators, teachers, facilitators, and activists can take as we work together to move from a culture of profit and fear to one of shared hope and love. Chapter four lays out the stages of a process that supports teaching about racist, white supremacy culture, explaining how students can be taken through an iterative process of relationshipbuilding, analysis, planning, action, and reflection. The final chapter borrows from the brilliant, brave, and incisive writer Dorothy Allison to discuss the things the author knows for sure about how to teach people to see that which we have been conditioned to fear knowing. The chapter concludes with how to encourage and support collective and collaborative action as a critical goal of the process.

30 review for The Emperor Has No Clothes: Teaching about Race and Racism to People Who Don't Want to Know

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Rogers

    This book was a bit difficult to get through at times, as a person who is not an educator or well-versed in pedagogy, and yet I was able understand and get a LOT out of it. I’ve been studying anti-racism for about a decade, and new concepts were introduced to me through Tema’s careful dissection of white supremacy culture. I especially loved reading quotes and first-hand feedback on various teaching methods from Tema’s students. Reading this book has given me a push to get involved in education This book was a bit difficult to get through at times, as a person who is not an educator or well-versed in pedagogy, and yet I was able understand and get a LOT out of it. I’ve been studying anti-racism for about a decade, and new concepts were introduced to me through Tema’s careful dissection of white supremacy culture. I especially loved reading quotes and first-hand feedback on various teaching methods from Tema’s students. Reading this book has given me a push to get involved in education around racism, as a white person teaching white people. Thank you for the vocabulary and methods in which to talk to friends, coworkers, family, and potentially strangers, about white supremacy culture. It’s very heartening to have this kind of hard, hard work acknowledged and celebrated.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Graham

    This book was really good, though specifically for teachers/facilitators, but also applicable to the general reader, I think. Very accessible, easy to read, easy to digest. Learned about white supremacist culture, and myself by extension. Good tid-bits of practical advice from someone with much experience having complicated conversations with people, and with herself. I heartily recommend it.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Trevor Gardner

    I learned about Tema Okun's work through her essay, "White Supremacy Culture" written with dR works and I'm glad I found my way to her book "The Emperor Has No Clothes", which provides a much deeper analysis of her thinking and her work. It took me a while to get through her book because I had to pause so frequently to underline, reflect, write, and grapple with the ideas. Instead of writing a summary analysis here, I wanted to offer several of the passages that broke open my thinking, challenged I learned about Tema Okun's work through her essay, "White Supremacy Culture" written with dR works and I'm glad I found my way to her book "The Emperor Has No Clothes", which provides a much deeper analysis of her thinking and her work. It took me a while to get through her book because I had to pause so frequently to underline, reflect, write, and grapple with the ideas. Instead of writing a summary analysis here, I wanted to offer several of the passages that broke open my thinking, challenged me, and helped clarifying my understanding: “A white person who colludes, intentionally or unintentionally, with the systemic racism of U.S. institutions and culture will perpetuate the economic and social disenfranchisement of whole communities of people. As one example, a teacher with no understanding of the white supremacy construct and conditioned by the racist culture to interpret the behavior of his Students of Color as deficient or pathological, will contribute to the escalating push-out rate of these students because he does not challenge his conditioning to experience that student as ‘less than’” - pg. 28 “Our challenge as teachers is that we operate in schools that perpetuate and reinforce these [white supremacy] cultural beliefs, assuming, as systems do, their essential necessity to our identity and survival as a people, a nation state, a western culture.” - pg. 29 “Fear plays a role here. The irony is that while the psychological and physical harm done to People of Color by white people and the white group is historically overwhelming, the fear that white people feel toward People of Color, who have been and continue to be portrayed as dangerous and untrustworthy, is largely ‘manufactured and used to justify repression and exploitation’”. - pg. 53 “The binary operates to keep us in fear, one of the reasons we want so desperately to be one of the ‘good’ ones is our deepest fear that we are actually bad.” - pg 58 “Allowing ourselves to feel the guilt and shame can usher in a stage of profound personal transformation, on in which we realize that we participate in racist institutions and a racist culture, that we both benefit from and are deeply harmed by racism, and that we perpetuate racism, even when that is not our intention.” - pg. 60 “While I certainly concur that oppressed people should lead their own liberation, I also acknowledge that we are all deeply affected by the power of white supremacy culture to condition our thinking and behavior. All of us, whether privileged or targeted, need to work at making good sense of our world through information gathering and the analysis of power.” - pg. 84 “Becoming whole in the context of social justice means developing the ability to question ‘normal,’ which means using our intellect, our emotions, our intuition to understand power in its personal, institutional, and cultural manifestations.” - pg 142

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    I wish I’d read this book years ago. But maybe I just wasn’t ready for it yet. I’ll come back to this book often. It’s full of helpful wisdom and suggestions for facilitating around race and helping people learn more about the world we live in (and the world we might want to create).

  5. 5 out of 5

    Hollie

    There are many, many valuable aspects of this book. But for me, the words that stick the most are from Tema's mother: "You're white in a white supremacist society. You're racist. Get over it." It's about naming, claiming privilege, but not letting guilt paralyze us. It's about each each individual recognizing the stake they have in racism, but also about letting go of self-focused activism. Beautiful book from a wise and gracious author.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Cathy

    Tema did a great job turning her PHD research and reflection on her years of anti-racism work into a guide for organizers, educators and trainers. She offers some theoretical underpinnings for her observations and a series of things she has learned that should be useful to all of us doing anti-racist work.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Olzer

    After you've felt "proud" for reading Americanah, read this.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Chrissy

    There were chapters of this book containing great information, while others seemed repetitive. Overall, I would recommend this book and inform the reader to focus attention on select chapters.

  9. 4 out of 5

    21netivas

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mary

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

  12. 5 out of 5

    Egohsa Awaah

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sha'ron

  14. 4 out of 5

    Amy

  15. 5 out of 5

    Christine

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ijumaa

  17. 4 out of 5

    Vanessa

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sunshine Jeremiah

  19. 5 out of 5

    Joseph C Hill

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

  21. 5 out of 5

    Emily

  22. 4 out of 5

    Crazyarms777

  23. 5 out of 5

    sara

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ellen Santos

  25. 5 out of 5

    Francine Long

  26. 5 out of 5

    Anthea Raymond

  27. 4 out of 5

    Christina Plyler

  28. 4 out of 5

    MSingh

  29. 4 out of 5

    Dean

  30. 5 out of 5

    Staci

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