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What's Race Got To Do With It?

How Current School Reform Policy Maintains Racial and Economic Inequality. Second Edition


Edited By Edwin Mayorga, Ujju Aggarwal and Bree Picower

At the time that the first edition of What’s Race Got to Do with It was published (2015), many on the left were struggling to both fight back neoliberal education reforms—such as charter schools, school closings, high-stakes testing—understand how these reforms were defined, and how they circulated through the entanglements of race and class. In the years since, we have seen the accelerated growth of social movements push back against this logic. The steady and grounded work of those fighting back neoliberal education reform has increased the visibility and critique of privatization, market-based reforms, and segregation; demonstrating the interlocking connections between racism and capitalism. We have also seen the election of Donald Trump to the office of U.S. President and the appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, signaling an intensified attack on public education (alongside other public infrastructures) and a return to "racism as we knew it." As neoliberal multicultural reforms that defined the Obama administration are rolled back, this new edition of What’s Race considers how we might sharpen our analysis concerning what we are working to defend and what we are working to transform. Each chapter author tracks the changes and continuities of recent years, revealing the ways in which market-driven education reforms work with and through race, and sharing grassroots stories of resistance to these reforms. We hope that this book will continue to provide readers with a guide to action that emboldens our struggles for justice.

“The editors of What's Race Got To Do With It understood the urgent need for this second edition.  They help us make sense of the perils and possibilities of this moment and lay out an essential race-class analysis so we might understand and attack the many-headed Hydra of educational injustice today.”—Jeanne Theoharis, Distinguished Professor, Brooklyn College of CUNY; Author, A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History

“The first edition of What’s Race Got To Do With It was critical in orienting educators and activists in the struggle against institutional racism in our schools in an era largely marked by ‘colorblind’ racism. Now, with a white supremacist in the White House, the editors have thoroughly updated the book to analyze the open attack on Black and Brown students and equip antiracists to fight back by joining the social movements—test resistance, Black Lives Matter at School, community schools, educator strikes, and others—that are turning our schools into sites of resistance.”—Jesse Hagopian, Ethnic Studies Teacher, Editor of, Teaching for Black Lives