HoltsclawIs Everyone Really Equalby Ozlem Sensoy and Robin DiAngelo is a beginner’s guide tosocial justice education (2012). The first eight chapters focus on different aspects of socialjustice including the main causes for injustice. Chapter nine goes deeper by offering readersanswers to common questions, criticisms, and complaints. This chapter helps to reinforce theimportance of using social justice in schools. The final chapter links all of the previous aspectstogether and provides teachers with steps to take to start using social justice in their classroomsand schools. Throughout the book Sensoy and DiAngelo challenge readers to think more deeplyabout their own biases and understandings of race to help them become more socially awareteachers.They explain that teachers must first be aware of their own biases and prejudices so theycan overcome them and start working towards creating a more just society.Sensoy and DiAngelo explain a series of steps one must take to become a teacher thateffectively promotes social justice. The first step is to be aware of how race can affect power inall relationships at both the individual and structural levels. Then teachers must understand howthey fit into these power dynamics in society and at schools. The third step can be morechallenging as it calls teachers to think critically about what this means and figure out how to dosomething about it. They define thinking critically as using informed knowledge to guidedecisions instead of relying on opinions and hearsay. Setting aside one’s opinions can be difficultespecially when those opinions feel like culturally accepted facts.I agree with the authors as theyexplain that teachers must self-reflect on race issues before they canhelp students do the same.As Sensoy and DiAngelo explain how socialization can lead to prejudice, discrimination,oppression, privilege and possibly racism, they require readers to analyze their role in all aspectsof social injustice. It is critical that teachers be socially aware and the perspective check boxes,stop boxes, discussion questions and extension activities all require readers to self-reflect and
Holtsclawthink critically about what they are reading. I particularly enjoyed these as they helped me thinkdeeper about race and my own preconceived notions about it. I was able to reflect on how societyhas shaped me and how my race has given me many privileges. By providing differentperspectives the book also exposes readers to the otherness that we must see in order to be awareof our own culture. Readers could have very little experience with other cultures so theseresources may help to broaden their understanding of their own culture in comparison to others.The last two chapters were the most powerful to me because they provided deeperexplanations and logical steps for action.Chapter nine offered many rebuttals to commonquestions or concerns. These were particularly helpful to me as I plan to start taking aboutcritical race theory at my school and with my students. It provided a set of tools that I can use tohelp others realize that race inequality is still a problem in our society today.They provide thedata and information to help people think critically about race issues and not rely on opinions.The “Insisting on Immunity from Socialization” section was chiefly powerful for me as I havesaid some of the statements mentioned (p. 134). This idea that we do not have any prejudice canbe hard to overcome. No matter how we were raised or where we grew up we still have certainbiases. We must get over the hurdle of believing we do not before we can move on to teachingfrom a social justice standpoint. I am still working on this myself. I feel that I am more sociallyaware than some others around me, but that does not mean I do not have biases that come out inmy teaching. I want to continue to learn more about my own prejudices and biases so that I cancontinue to overcome them.In chapter ten Sensoy and DiAngelo state that “antiracism requires action;” there is nosuch thing as “passive antiracism” (p.161). This statement points out that passive reactions toracism are in fact passive racism and that in order to help make changes in our society we must
Holtsclawact.In my own teaching I want to commit to making several changes. I want to be more aware ofmy position of power as a white staff member. I want to reach out to minority staff members andsee what can be done to help increase their power or at least help them feel more equal andcomfortable at school. I want to be more aware of my own biases in the classroom and whatdifferent expectations I have for different students and why. I will work to analyze these to makesure I am expecting high standards from everyone. I want to include parents in decisions makingas equal partners. I would also like to get more feedback from parents about what they value ineducation and see as successful for their children.As I learn more about my own biases and how I can better support minority staffmembers and students at my school, I would like to also address these issues in my classroom.At the beginning of the year I want to create an environment that is open and collaborative. Iwant to help students become aware of their own cultures and realize why they are important. Iwant to encourage students to rely on the strengths of their own cultures as well as learn aboutthe strengths in others. I want my class to be able to speak out against discrimination and helpmake change for their own lives. These are lofty goals, but by starting small with myself andbranching outwards I believe I can have a positive influence for social justice.
HoltsclawResources:Sensoy, O., & DiAngelo, R. J. (2012). Is everyone really equal?: An introduction to key conceptsinsocial justice education. New York: Teachers College Press.