Review of Race Talk and the Conspiracy of Silence: Understanding and Facilitating Difficult Dialogues on Race
by Michelle D. Deardorff, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
We are regularly confronted in the classroom by the need to enhance our pedagogical skills in moderating hard discussions surrounding the issue of race. Unfortunately, as this book by educational psychologist Derald Wing Sue amply demonstrates, most of us are so uncomfortable with our own negotiations of race that we avoid these discussions or abruptly shut them down, exacerbating the significance of the issue in our classroom. Based on a decade of research on the dynamics of discussions around race, Sue clearly articulates why these conversations are so difficult. He asserts that this is because the narratives around race whites have been taught are directly in conflict with the experiences of most people of color. This useful book walks through the competing interpretations of race at play and demonstrates why “[t]he explosive nature of race talk makes it hard for participants to understand one another’s point of view” (ix).
This Educate-JPSE collaboration brings together articles published in the Journal of Political Science Education that discuss classroom approaches related to teaching about race, racism, social justice and civic action. Our reading list offers a range of materials – from syllabi, reading lists to active learning assignments – that discuss classroom practices through the lens of identity, gender and power relations. It includes a model for professors who are interested in partnering with local community activists to design civically engaged courses, with specific examples covering research and organizing around affordable housing issues.
The Journal of Political Science Education is an intellectually rigorous, path-breaking, agenda-setting journal that publishes the highest quality scholarship on teaching and pedagogical issues in political science. The journal aims to represent the full range of questions, issues and approaches regarding political science education, including teaching-related issues, methods and techniques, learning/teaching activities and devices, educational assessment in political science, graduate education, and curriculum development.