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Justice in Search of Leaders

A Handbook for Equity-Driven School Leadership

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Gloria Graves Holmes

Justice in Search of Leaders: A Handbook for Equity-Driven School Leadership is a guide for educators who are committed to equity-driven teaching, leading, and policy-making, and would like to operationalize socially just school practices for all children. Moving beyond a heroes and holidays approach to addressing racism, bias, injustice, and a cluster of isms, it provides a deeper understanding of the causes of structural inequities in schools, and suggests approaches for deconstructing them. The book includes a frank discussion of race, racism, social dominance, and implicit bias, and encourages both objective and subjective analyses of how they infect school practice.

America’s ambivalent response to race, racial identity development, the nature of prejudice, and how humans form values and develop belief systems is explored in some depth. There is also a critique of Whiteness as a socio-political concept as it relates to power and privilege, and as a demographic reality as it relates to institutional discrimination in schools. The book is not a critique of white people, and it is important that readers make that distinction. This leads to a discussion of the tricky and challenging process of changing beliefs, values, and attitudes as they relate to school leadership and teaching, and how all of this is connected to the power dynamics in schools.

Justice in Search of Leaders: A Handbook for Equity-Driven School Leadership encourages educators to acknowledge that we all have racial identities and biases that inform professional practice, and to reflect on the significance of this. It means thinking deeply about socially abhorrent subjects which make us uncomfortable and cause us to retreat to the safety of our comfort zones. This is necessary because for most under-served students, there is no retreat and no safety; there are only discomfort zones.

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Chapter 3: Reentering the Racial Self: Examining and Deconstructing Personal Biases

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REENTERING THE RACIAL SELF

Examining and Deconstructing Personal Biases

There exists a dissonance between America’s official identity as the definitive world democracy and its de facto reality as a country still struggling to acknowledge its racist substructure while simultaneously affirming its’ multicultural past, present, and future. American schools reflect this tension, and this chapter examines what this looks like in terms of everyday biases that inflect and infect policies and practices in schools.

The chapter explores in some detail America’s ambivalent response to race, racial identity development, the nature of prejudice, and how humans form values, and develop belief systems in terms of what this means for the educative process. And, there is a critique of Whiteness as a sociopolitical concept as it relates to power and privilege, and as a demographic reality as it relates to institutional discrimination in schools; it is not meant to be a critique of white people, and that is an important distinction. The goal of the chapter is to get educators to acknowledge, confront, and deconstruct personal biases that sustain institutional and systemic inequities in schools.

Keywords: personal biases, racism, white privilege, American exceptionalism, new Jim Crow, color blindness, school-to-prison pipeline, zero tolerance, race, institutional discrimination ← 41 | 42 →

Identity seems to be the garment with which one covers the nakedness of the self …

—James Baldwin

… ignoring race is understood to be a graceful, even...

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