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When Race Breaks Out

Conversations about Race and Racism in College Classrooms – 3rd Revised edition


Helen Fox

The third revised edition of "When Race Breaks Out" is a guide for college and high school teachers who want to promote honest and informed conversations about race and racism. Based on the author's personal practice and interviews with students and faculty from a variety of disciplines, this book combines personal memoirs, advice, teaching ideas, and lively classroom vignettes. A unique insideräs guide to the salient ideas, definitions, and opinions about race helps instructors answer students' questions and anticipate their reactions, both to the material and to each other. An extensive annotated bibliography of articles, books, and videos with recommendations for classroom use is included.


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Since the 1970s, a small number of dedicated university faculty have been promoting honest talk about race and racism in their classrooms. Some are white; many more are of color. Whether their academic backgrounds are in History or Psychology or Anthropology or Education or any other subject, they must somehow address great gaps in their students’ knowledge: the his- tories of multicultural America, the psychology of racism and race relations, the sociology of racialized institutions, the biology and anthropology of scien- tific racism. Semester after semester, they have worked over this same ground, explaining how racist ideas and assumptions from our nation’s past continue to be perpetuated, often unconsciously, by both whites and people of color. They have gained expertise moderating inflammatory—or painfully silent— classroom discussions, speaking from their own experiences and family histo- ries and encouraging students to do the same. They have watched many white students turn from disbelief to astonishment to great sadness as they discover what whites have done to people of color in the past and how these prac- tices continue to poison our relationships today. Patiently and gently, they have helped students of color face their own doubts and fears, their inter- nalized hatreds, their daily encounters with racism. The experience can be an exhausting one for students, for it takes a great deal of energy to question the way one has been taught to make sense of the world and begin to see that xx when race breaks out other interpretations are...

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