Racial tensions are a critical part of public discourse that cannot be ignored. Because schools are central to our communities, they can play an important role in grappling with and addressing the issues race relations bring. Educators can examine school data to understand which groups of students are being best served by our schools and which students are being left behind. Educators can lead conversations about race and weave it into their curriculum to support their students in grappling with issues they face in their communities.
None of this is easy. At the NYC Leadership Academy, we continuously seek to improve our work by learning from the experiences and insights of others.
#EquityReads 2017 offers a list of some of the books, articles, speeches, and films about racial equity that our staff members found compelling and useful in our work in 2017. Most of these works are new, some are not but are worth revisiting. We have recommended many of these to the school and school systems leaders we work with, and hope it will be useful to you as you plan your work for 2018.
This list is by no means comprehensive, and we would love to expand it. Please share with us resources you have found valuable this year by posting them on Twitter with the hashtag #EquityReads2017 and our handle @NYCLeadership, or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can add them to this list.
We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates
In a collection of essays and personal reflections, best-selling author Ta-Nehisi Coates recounts the Obama Years. Coates offers his unique perspective on a time that has shifted both the cultural and the political landscape, and will be remembered as a defining moment in American history.
Nathan draws upon her years of experience as a principal and the stories of her former students to, as Leadership Academy Chief Strategy Officer Nancy Gutierrez says, defy the myth that all kids need is grit. The book takes the reader through five assumptions commonly made in education to show how those beliefs in fact hide inequities.
The Origin of Others (The Charles Eliot Norton Lectures) by Toni Morrison
In a collection of essays, Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison tackles the issue of race, specifically how literature has informed our perceptions of it.
Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson
Georgetown professor Michael Eric Dyson provides a sobering look at America’s racist history and implores us to fully acknowledge and face it as a crucial step to healing.
New York Times best-selling author Ibram X. Kendi explores how anti-black racist ideology has permeated and influenced American history.
In a revised edition made more urgent by the hostile nature of contemporary race conversations, Beverly Daniel Tatum writes that open and honest talk about racial identities is essential for bridging racial and ethnic divides.
Keeping Track: How Schools Structure Inequality (2nd edition) by Jeannie Oakes
Jeannie Oakes documents how tracking students into ability groups reflects and perpetuates racial and economic inequalities in America.
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
In her seminal book, Michelle Alexander charges that the incarceration of black men through the War on Drugs has relegated millions to a permanent second-class status.
In this classic piece, Claude M. Steele examines a range of phenomena from racial and gender gaps in test scores to the belief in the superior athletic prowess of black men, and constructs a plan for mitigating stereotypes.
A “guidebook” for school leaders on revealing the root causes of, and developing thoughtful plans to solve problems related to race, inequity, and bias using data analysis and other means.
Teach Us All
Now streaming on Netflix, Teach Us All, written and directed by Sonia Lowman, was released to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the Little Rock Nine integrating Little Rock Central High School following Brown v. Board of Ed. The film looks at the pervasive inequalities in the American education system today and asks how much (or little) have things changed.
Time: The Kalief Browder Story, now available on Netflix, tells the story of a young man from the Bronx who spent years in jail despite never having been convicted of a crime.
Race/Related blog on the New York Times explores race “with provocative reporting and discussion.”
“Drowning in Whiteness” by Ijeoma Oluo
Oluo offers her experiences and perceptions as a mixed race black woman raised by a white mother in Seattle. Notes Leadership Academy Vice President for School Leadership Programs Marlene Filewich, “As a white woman reading this, I found her words to be provocative and challenged my thinking. I came to appreciate her words more fully and I have furthered my understanding of whiteness and how it lives in the middle-class.”
“White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard to Talk to White People About Racism” by Dr. Robin DiAngelo
Written by a white woman, this piece explores some of the challenges involved with talking to white people about race.
“What I Said When My White Friend Asked for My Black Opinion on White Privilege” by Lori Lakin Hutcherson
A black woman’s response to her well-meaning white friend’s Facebook query regarding the existence of “White Privilege.”
“Choosing a School for My Daughter in a Segregated City” by Nikole Hannah-Jones
A firsthand account of rezoning, segregation, and other disparities affecting two New York City schools.
A conversation with Nikole Hannah-Jones, a writer best known for her work covering segregation in American education.
“The Resegregation of Jefferson County” by Nikole Hannah-Jones
The battle against segregation continues as a majority white town in Alabama attempts to secede from the county’s majority black school district to form their own district.
“Prominent Scholar Calls Growth Mindset A ‘Cancerous’ Idea, In Isolation” by Adriel A. Hilton, Ph.D.
Dr. Luke Wood challenges the concept of growth mindset in the education of boys and men of color.
“Code Switch” (NPR)
Written and produced by journalists of color, the episodes in this podcast grapple with issues pertaining to education like school closure, grading policies, and social promotion. ”These issues are presented in a way that captures their complexity,” said Leadership Academy Vice President for Leadership Coaching Services Michelle Jarney. “In Code Switch, race is isolated and central to the discussion, and the perspectives offered are nuanced and authentic – but they are not white. And that’s the best thing about it.”
Blaisdell, B. (2016). Schools as racial spaces: understanding and resisting structural racism. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education 29(2), 248-272.
Dee, T. & Penner, E. (2016) The causal effects of cultural relevance: Evidence from an ethnic studies curriculum. NBER Working Paper No. 21865. January 2016. JEL No. 10.
A study of the causal effects of introducing an ethnic studies curriculum on student attendance and academic performance.
Galloway, M. & Ishimaru, A. (2017) Equitable leadership on the ground: Converging on high-leverage practices. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 25(2)
This study highlights the importance of leadership for countering systemic and structural barriers that maintain disparities, and examines the implications for leadership preparation, policy, and tools to support leading for equity.
National Leadership Facilitator
Verta joined the NYC Leadership Academy in 2018. Prior to that, she designed, managed, and delivered professional learning experiences and programs for sitting and aspiring school leaders at UnboundEd and New Leaders. Verta began her 20-year career in education as a teacher in Prince George’s County Public Schools, and then as a literacy specialist for the New York City Department of Education. She was principal of Bronx Arts for five years and served for several years as a leadership coach for principals and residents at New Leaders. Verta has a B.S. in communications and middle school education from James Madison University, and an M.A. from Teachers College, Columbia University.