Everyday Antiracism: Getting Real About Race in Schools, edited by Mica Pollock (New Press, 416 pages, $24.95), reviewed by Kyle Meador
Educators dealing with race in schools encounter a quandary rooted in systemic oppression. If we want schools to be vehicles for achieving racial equality, when and how should we be “colorblind,” and when and how should we be “race conscious?” Which of our everyday actions in our schools move students closer to or further from educational opportunities?
Mica Pollock compiles the experience and wisdom of over 60 leading educators and scholars into a volume aimed at counteracting and interrupting racial inequality and racism in schools and society. Everyday Antiracism proposes core “principles” of everyday antiracism: rejecting false notions of human difference, acknowledging lived experiences shaped along racial lines, learning from diverse forms of knowledge and experience, and challenging systems of racial inequality. Our “everyday race consciousness” is strengthened in the course of daily life as educators inquire about the relevance of race in schools and come to see that these four principles are complementary; each can be emphasized in particular situations.
Antiracism requires not treating people as racial group members when that is harmful, and recognizing experiences along racial lines when that helps people to analyze life events and equalize opportunity. Deciding which antiracist move to make and when to make it requires hard thinking about life in educational settings. Everyday Antiracism serves as a powerful tool to support educators to open up and stay in conversations about race, engage promptly in analysis of the ways students experience school and classrooms, and initiate action towards equitable schools.
Everyday Antiracism’s essays include discussion questions useful in formal professional development settings, inquiry groups, team meetings, or more informal conversations and personal reflection. These questions can push educators to think deeply about and take action toward infusing the CES Common Principle of democracy and equity in their interactions. Everyday Antiracism prompts analysis of everyday actions in schools that are complex, anxiety-ridden, and deeply consequential to help educators consider how their own actions can help dismantle racial inequity.
Kyle Meador is a School Development Program Associate at CES.