Recommended Reads

Explore 25 recommended books on diversity compiled by Christine Savini, Principal Consultant, Diversity Directions.

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Can We Talk About Race? Beverly Daniel Tatum, (President, Spelman College)

Dr. Tatum’s newest text is another must read for educators and parents. In this book she explores how racial identity (both the student’s and the teacher’s) affect learning. With her ABC Approach to Creating Inclusive Classrooms:, Affirming Identity, Building Community and Cultivating Leadership, she shares with us a process for transforming our schools.

If you only have time to read one book on diversity issues in schools, this is the one.

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Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race Beverly Daniel Tatum, (President, Spelman College)

Beverly Tatum’s theories on racial identity development in both white students and students of color are essential reading for anyone working with a multicultural student body.

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Everyday Anti Racism: Getting Real About Race in School Edited by Mica Pollock

Mica Pollock has collected over 50 essays from educators and scholars that offer concrete, practical advice on translating multicultural, anti-racist concepts into actual teaching and learning in the classroom. This is the text for you if you’ve ever said, “I believe in diversity and multicultural practice, but how do I DO it?”

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Whistling Vivaldi And Other Clues to How Stereotypes Affect Us Claude M. Steele

Dean of the School of Education at Stanford and social psychologist Claude Steele examines how cultural stereotypes impinge upon identity and self-confidence resulting in underperformance of talented students of color. Steele presents his life’s research on what it’s like to be stereotyped by gender, age, race, class, etc. and how “stereotype threat” can affect our performance in the classroom and on the job, especially by those who are intellectually gifted.

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Covering: The Hidden Assault on our Civil Rights Kenji Yoshino

This NYU Law Professor combines his poetic personal story with astute legal analysis in examining how each of us “covers” who we really are to assimilate in our workplaces and communities, e.g. we change our names, mask a disability, minimize our faith, or downplay our family structures, etc. Yoshino maintains that we need a new model for civil rights in which we no longer compete for recognition of our differences, but come together in recognizing each of us needs to be who we authentically are.

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The Miner’s Canary – Enlisting Race, Resisting Power, Transforming Democracy Lani Guinier and Gerald Torres

Law Professors Guinier and Torres use the metaphor of the miner’s canary in observing that the experience of people of color in our communities reveal to us what practices are working well in our institutions, for our whole population, and what is not. They go on to advocate that only with cross-racial coalitions can we

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Racism Without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in the US Eduardo Bonilla-Silva

Professor of Sociology at Duke University, Bonilla-Silva exposes the polite arguments, coded phrases and myths those of us in the majority use that continue to perpetuate racial inequality in the US. The second edition of the book includes a chapter on racial stratification beyond black and white, and answers questions from readers of the first edition.

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Color Blind: The Rise of Post-Racial Politics and the Retreat from Racial Equity Tim Wise

One of our leading and most powerful national voices on white privilege, Tim Wise refutes the call for color-blind policies and the end of affirmative action programs in post-Obama America. Wise, who is white, asserts that racism is still an acute problem in education, employment, healthcare and housing, and advocates that we now need to be more, not less vigilant, on how race impacts equal opportunities.

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Blacks in the White Elite: Will the Progress Continue? Richard Zweignhaft & G. William Domhoff

This very readable sociological study of the A Better Chance program assesses the real upward mobility that results when lower income black and Latino students attend independent schools, the price they often pay for their success, and why they would do it again.

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Race and Culture in the Classroom Mary Dilg

An English teacher at The Latin School of Chicago chronicles what happens in her classroom when a diverse student body responds to multicultural initiatives at the school.

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Other People’s Children Lisa Delpit

Lisa Delpit examines how white teachers communicate with children of color, (and vice versa) and how cultural contexts can impact the translation.

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Loose Canons – Notes on the Culture Wars Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

This selection of essays on the academic “canon” by the Director of Harvard University’s W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African-American Research (particularly Chapter 6: “Integrating the American Mind”) raises the question, “How does something get to count as knowledge” to be valued and taught?

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Multicultural Education: Issues and Perspectives James A. Banks

Often considered ‘the father of multicultural education,” University of Washington Professor James Banks, provides an anthology of essays on multicultural issues focused on the topics of culture, race, gender, religion, ethnicity, language, physical and intellectual abilities.

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Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness: Memoir of a White Mother of Black Sons Jane Lazarre

This memoir of a white mother raising bi-racial children contains one of the best examples of how a well-intentioned white teacher, early in her career, uses language that takes on a different meaning within the cultural context of her students of color.

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Beyond Heroes and Holidays Edited by Enid Lee, Deborah Menkart and Margo Okazawa-Rey

A Practical Guide to K-12 Anti-Racist, Multicultural Education and Staff Development

This is a practical interdisciplinary guide containing model lessons and readings to create curriculum that is both multicultural and anti-racist. In the words of the authors, multicultural education must “encourage academic excellence that embraces critical skills for progressive social change.”

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The Shape of the River: Long-Term Consequences of Considering Race in College and University Admission William Bowen and Derek Bok

The authors, former presidents of Princeton and Harvard respectively, bring data based evidence to the issue of race-sensitive admissions policies to present a truly informed analysis to a debate that is often fueled by misinformation. While focused on college admissions, many of the observations are also applicable to independent schools’ admissions processes.

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Our Kind of People: Inside America’s Black Upper Class Lawrence Otis Graham

Lawrence Graham provides a detailed history of America’s well-established black elite. A must-read for anyone who works in independent schools, and particularly admissions offices, this book shatters all stereotypes about race and class in this country.

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Yellow – Race in America Beyond Black and White Frank H. Wu

Frank Wu examines racial diversity in American with an Asian-American lens, confronting the myths of “the model minority” and “the perpetual foreigner.” In his chapter on The Changing Face of America, Wu candidly discusses why most racially mixed marriages in the US are those between a European American man and an Asian or Asian/American woman, and the larger implications it has on American attitudes about race.

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Nicked and Dimed – On (Not) Getting By in America Barbara Ehrenriech

Frank Wu examines racial diversity in American with an Asian-American lens, confronting the myths of “the model minority” and “the perpetual foreigner.” In his chapter on The Changing Face of America, Wu candidly discusses why most racially mixed marriages in the US are those between a European American man and an Asian or Asian/American woman, and the larger implications it has on American attitudes about race.

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Honky Dalton Conley

This autobiography by an NYU Sociology professor chronicles his own growing up as a poor, white child in the projects of Manhattan’s Lower East Side. This excursion into the issues of race and class is filled with humor, heart and wisdom. This is also an excellent book for the classroom.

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How The Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents Julia Alverez

In this wonderful novella by Middlebury English Professor Julia Alverez, the author fictionalizes her own family’s immigration from the Dominican Republic to New York City, and what was lost and gained by each member in the process. This is another fine text to use with students.

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Half + Half – Writers on Growing Up Biracial +Bicultural edited by Claudine Chiawei O’Hearn

These 18 essays by such authors as Gish Jen, Julia Alverez, David Mura, Danzy Senna, and Bharati Mukherjee address the advantages and challenges of coming of age in bi-racial or bi-cultural families. The essays contain several examples that mirror the biracial experience in our schools, where this population continues to increase. These essays are enlightening for both faculty and students.

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Mama’s Boy; Preacher’s Son Kevin Jennings

This is the memoir of the founding Executive Director of GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network), the national organization working to make schools safe places for all. The book tells the story of Jennings own growing up – Southern, poor, and gay – and the path that took him to Harvard, independent school teaching, and national advocacy. Jennings is now US Assistant Deputy Secretary of Education for Safe and Drug-Free Schools.

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How to Be A Perfect Stranger Edited by Arthur J. Magida

A Guide to Etiquette in Other People’s Religious Ceremonies Vol. 1 & Vol. 2

This is a very useful reference guide to etiquette for religious practices and ceremonies of the world’s denominations. The chapters cover the History and Beliefs, the Basic Service, Holy Days and Festivals, Life Cycle Events and Home Celebrations of 37 world religions. Parents and teachers will find this a helpful tool in understanding and supporting students who participate in religious practices from fasting at Ramadan to attending a Bat Mizvah.

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Binge: What Your College Student Won’t Tell You Campus Life in an Age of Disconnection and Excess Barrett Seaman

Trudy Hall, head of Emma Willard School, NY, recommends this book. She writes, “A former journalist, Seaman researched 13 college campuses, intent on providing an insider’s look at life outside the classroom, and reports a number of disconnects in the social culture of our nation’s finest colleges and universities. Among them: disturbing trends in drug and alcohol use, and sexual behaviors and excesses; unexamined insensitivity around issues of diversity; a growing aloofness from professors who feel the tension between research and teaching; and, of course, the impact of the new economics of athletic programs. It strikes me—and reports from college students I know tell me this is accurate—that it is vital for teenagers to own the necessary social survival skills to get through the college experience so they can thrive as intellectual innovators. This engaging revelation about the current social scene on college campuses should be a clarion call for action on the part of parents and educators alike to provide those skills to our college-bound students.”

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