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When Race Breaks Out

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

Series:

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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Chapter 5: Having a “Civil Conversation”

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· 5 · having a “civil conversation” Passionate confrontation can be a powerful learning experience when the instructor feels that conflict around racial issues is normal and ultimately pro- ductive, and that emotion is not a fearful thing, but a force, an energy, for cutting through falsehoods and fears. But confrontation is not for everyone, nor is it the only way instructors can help students move toward a greater understanding of each other. A Social Science professor with white, Native American, and African-American ancestry says: I truly believe in people being civil to each other in the classroom. I think that if someone is domineering or disruptive, that has negative emotional fallout for all of us, myself included. And that is very hard to overcome; it will affect the dynamics of the class. So I differ from some of my longtime colleagues in this kind of work in that I do not think that a disruptive conflict is necessary in order to have the class go for- ward. I want to maintain civility in the classroom, even at a possible cost—and I want to stress possible—that people will not speak their minds fully. I’m not convinced that speaking one’s mind totally fully contributes positively to creating a dialogue. I’ve had students say remarkable things in the classroom when they became trusting enough to say those things. And I think that can only happen when the class has a history of being able to talk together, even if it’s very tentative....

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