Q.1 Inform and enhance your knowledge about American history, social realities, educational realities, and multicultural education.
A review of Gary Howard’s book reveals that it talks about American history, social realities, educational realities, and multicultural education. Seemingly, the book can be considered resourceful and beneficial to people, particularly teachers who have the plan of working with students from different cultures and races throughout their lives and professions. It cannot be doubted that the book is written from a white teacher’s perspective. Its primary purpose is to inform or tell the readers of how it is important for white teachers to be aware and learn how to work with multiracial students. Evidently, a white teacher has no way of learning and understanding the culture of other people other than experiencing and associating with them. The book goes ahead to give a revelation that the whites in America are seen to dominate every context in the country while despising the contributions of those from other cultures. In line with the challenge of racism, the book addresses various ways and strategies that can play an integral role in breaking down the barriers to equality notwithstanding the racial background so that in the end, everybody feels equal because, before God, everyone is equal.
The book gives insight into American history. It is highlighted that America is home to people from various races including Whites, African Americans, Hispanics, and others. Despite the fact that several races have existed in America, the relationship between them remains corrupted. This has been a practice in America notwithstanding the fact that there have been several movements and campaigns against practices such as racism, sexism, and classism. The book also mentions that before America attained peace, there were frequent assassinations and death, particularly of non-whites. The death of Martin Luther King Jr’s death is highlighted, and Howard mentions that he experienced his death while living in “The Hill.” Howard’s first residential estate was a ghetto where he together with other boys from Yale University lived. The book also highlights that before America’s peaceful era; there were fires and riots across the country. At that time, Black Panthers emerged, and this was coupled with a series of other historic events. Throughout the book, it is argued that discriminatory practices have been part and parcel of America’s history. Whites have been dominant in every context and the fact that minority groups such as African-American and Hispanics are discriminated cannot be refuted. Moreover, the book highlights that civil rights activities are part and parcel of American history, with their main objective being to resist White dominance, which spreading to other Western nations. One of the key challenges in America’s history as argued by Howard was racism and White dominance in the educational sector. It is argued that White Dominance is not only an issue in the United States but all over the world. In support of this argument, the book states that:
Worldwide immigration is increasing racial, ethnic, cultural, language, and religious diversity throughout the United States, and in other Western countries including the UK, Germany, France, and Australia. The Western world is perplexed, fear-ridden, and exhausted by the increase in racial practices, and this has compromised the attempts and efforts to envision and implement viable and creative strategies to respond effectively to conflicts in various sections of the world such as the Middle East.
The book also gives insight into the social realities both in the United States and the rest of the world. It is agreeable after a review of the book that the social interaction of people from different races has been and continues to be a problem in the US and the rest of the world. One social reality that can be drawn from the book is that if people’s understanding and examination of the principal causes of social inequality are shallow, then the approach that they could use to correct the action leading to social equality could be ineffective and superficial. Another social reality drawn from Howard’s book is that social dominance truly exists, and this is underlined by factors explained in the book such as minimal group paradigm, social positionality, social dominance theory, and privilege and penalty. A critical analysis of each of the aspects reveals that first, minimal group paradigm gives a suggestion that human beings seemingly demonstrate both discriminatory out-group and in-group dynamics notwithstanding the fact that there is an existence of an extremely limited basis for distinction drawing between the group members.
On the other hand, social positionality, which is an aspect of social reality, argues that in America and other regions of the world, Whites have been disproportionately allocated authority, power, wealth, dominance, and control over other races. This is evident in America where the Whites have the belief that they have more authority and power than African Americans, Hispanics, and other minority groups and races. Other social realities are evidenced by the social dominance theory, which is critically analyzed in Howard’s book. These include the facts that human social systems are often predisposed with an aim of forming social hierarchies that exhibit negative reference at the bottom and hegemonic groups at the top, hegemonic groups seem to be male disproportionately, and that social oppression forms like classism, racism, and sexism could be viewed as manifested aspects of group-based social hierarchy.
Also, it cannot be refuted that educational realities are highlighted in Howard’s book. First, it is seen that the educational settings are often dominated by White educators and White students particularly in America, and other regions of the world. This is supported by the argument that in an educational setting of several races, the entry of a White educator cannot be noticed because of the White dominance that will be demonstrated. Information relevant to the educational reality that can be drawn from the book is that teachers are without a doubt transformations, and they often look forward to changing their lives in a bid to work better to accomplish the objective of changing the lives of others. The book also states that when it comes to education, particularly for White teachers, race matters, beliefs play an integral role in the determination of outcomes, and change often begins with the educators.
Howard’s book also gives insights into multicultural education. It is argued that multicultural education takes place when people from various backgrounds come together in an educational setting. Arguably, to promote multicultural education, it is vital that White dominance be done away with, and this should see an increase in the number of teachers with the intention of becoming transitionist teachers. Multicultural education requires a change in attitude and behavior that will see non-white students realize that White teachers are caring, and through this, the issue of White dominance will have been addressed. Most importantly, the book argues that multicultural education plays an integral role in ensuring that people from different cultures work together, and through this, the importance of diversity is underlined.
Q2. Racial identity development, deconstruction, construction, or reconstruction
Howard’s book gives a critical analysis of both White and Black racial identity development, and through this, people’s knowledge and awareness of racial identity development is enhanced. First, the book argues that there are five stages of Black racial identity development and these include the immersion-emersion stage, internalization, internalization-commitment, as well as encounter and pre-encounter stages. In the pre-encounter stage, it is argued that African Americans often seem to distance themselves from their racial identity. The book argues that the stage involves African Americans having a mindset that Whites are superior while Blacks are inferior. Also, it is at this stage that African Americans have the mindset that everything White is right whereas everything Black is wrong. At this stage, most African Americans have the feeling that everything that happens in their lives is attributed to the fact that their skin is Black. The book argues that the transition to the second stage, encounter, occurs after African Americans’ stimulation by events that cause the removal of the mask of Whiteness and that underscore the importance of racial categories. The third stage of Black racial identity development as stated in the book is immersion/emersion. It is argued that at this stage, feelings of hatred towards Whites are experienced by African Americans and everything else that is White. The stage sees African Americans make a conclusion that every valuable thing must to a large extent be Black or related to Blackness. The book also highlights that the tendency of denigration of the White people by the Black is higher and frequent.
The fourth stage of Black racial development as outlined by the book is internalization. It is opined that the stage begins when people with Pro-Black attitudes realize a sense of interaction in life and become less defensive but rather more open. It should be understood that it is at this stage that African Americans or Black people see the need or significance of interacting with people of other cultures, particularly the White people. The interaction at this stage ignores stereotypic aspects, and the interaction is triggered by the need to get rid of anti-cultural practices such as racism and sexism. The stage is followed by the internalization-commitment stage, which seemingly is the fifth and final stage of Black racial identity development. At this stage, the willingness exhibited by African Americans to engage proactively in activities and operations that strengthen the Black community is irrefutably higher. There is the perception that the Blacks at this stage are strongly and securely rooted in their Black culture and identity.
Apart from Black racial identity development, Howard’s book also gives insight into White racial identity development. In contrast to that of Africans, White racial development concentrates more on overcoming racism-related issues than finding solace and love for their White culture.
Their racial development is thus divided into two phases and six stages. The first phase is known as ‘The Abandonment of a Racist Identity’ and comprises three stages. The first stage is contact, which begins when the Whites interact with people from other cultures, particularly African Americans. The stage sees the Whites realize that there is no color to separate them from other cultures, and they end up having a feeling that they are abandoning their Whiteness. The second stage of the identity development is disintegration, which is entered by the White people after the acknowledgment of their Whiteness. At this stage, Whites also come up with myriads of questions regarding what they have been socialized to believe about race. At this stage, Whites tend to make up for their unreasonable and wrong thoughts about other cultures, and they begin to better their thinking about other races and cultures that are unfamiliar to them. This leads to the Whites questioning the authenticity of their culture.
The third stage of the identity development is reintegration, and during this stage, White people are seen to embrace fully the belief that they are superior to other cultures and races. At this stage, White people will exhibit behaviors and actions that are to a large extent beneficial only to them while the same actions harm or are unwelcome by other cultures. The second phase begins with the fourth stage of development, which is pseudo-independence. Howard articulates that at this stage, there is an acknowledgment of the fact that White people handle racism and there is a confrontation of the fact that White people benefit from their actions of racism. However, the Whites show attempts and efforts to overcome the responsibility for racism by helping other cultural and racial groups. In support of this argument, Howard’s book states that:
We acknowledge White responsibility for racism and confront the fact the White people have intentionally or unintentionally benefitted from it (p. 96).
The fifth stage of White racial development is immersion-emersion, which sees the White people move away from interacting with and helping other cultures. The Whites move toward the desire to change themselves in more positive ways, and this is when the anti-social practices such as racism are heightened. Also, at this stage, the selfishness of the White people cannot be ignored, and they out-rightly despise people from other cultures. The sixth and final stage of White racial development is autonomy, which sees an emotional and intellectual internalization of a new and positive definition of Whiteness. It is at this stage that White people begin the stride towards autonomous racial identity. From the arguments and facts about racial identity development, people’s awareness of the deconstruction, construction, and deconstruction of the process of racial development is enhanced.
For instance, for the Black racial identity development, deconstruction is evident in the stage of pre-encounter when Africans tendency to distance themselves from own racial identity is higher. Construction of the same is evident when in the stages of mentioned stages of immersion-emersion, encounter, as well as internalization when African Americans begin to appreciate their culture and that of other people particularly the Whites. Reconstruction of the Black racial identity development as argued by Howard’s book is evident in the latter stages of internalization and internalization-commitment, which sees the Blacks become more committed to the development of their culture at the expense of others. On the other hand, deconstruction of the White racial identity development happens at the first stage when they encounter other cultures and races, and this leads to the development of the feeling that they are abandoning their culture. This is succeeded by the construction process that takes place in the stages of disintegration, reintegration, and pseudo-independence. The reconstruction of the identity development takes place in the final stages of immersion-emersion and autonomy, which sees the Whites embrace autonomous racial identity.
Q3. Developing as multicultural and culturally responsive, competent practitioner
Howard’s book plays an integral role in enhancing development of an individual as a multicultural and culturally responsive practitioner. First, the book explains and critically analyzes Howard’s life as a teacher. The book highlights how Howard interacted and related with people from different cultures. It is articulated that Howard had not related or interacted with people from other cultures until he double-dated his friend and girlfriend who was of an African-American origin. The book gives an explanation of the process that enables a person to become a competent practitioner who is multicultural and responsive to cultural issues and diversities. In his arguments, Howard states that the journey to a person becoming multicultural and culturally responsive begins during the period of cultural encapsulation. The book opines that during this period, which often begins at the onset of a person’s life and lasts for several years, a person could be so encapsulated within his or her culture making him, or her have no understanding or knowledge of other cultures. The book states that to go beyond the period and limits of encapsulation, it is vital for people to make connections with people from other races and cultures.
Arguably, the efforts and struggles to go beyond the limits of encapsulation contribute to a person’s development, as a multicultural and culturally responsive competent practitioner. Apart from going beyond the limits of encapsulation, the book articulates that to develop as a multicultural and culturally responsive competent practitioner, a person has to understand the background of the people he or she educates. By understanding the background of the learners, one could have the capability of identifying whether the learners are experiencing racial problems or not.
Q4. Developing skills and dispositions for change agency
The book contributes significantly to the development of skills and dispositions for change agency. In chapters 7 and 8 of the book, there is an emphasis of how predominantly White educators or teachers should work effectively with people from radically and culturally diverse backgrounds, and thus, skills and dispositions for change agency are developed. In a bid to develop the skills and dispositions for change agency, the book gives a presentation of the idea that educators need to become transformationists, and this implies that they should have the intention to change their lives to enable them to work better and change the lives of others. According to Howard’s book, there are three perspectives that if embraced, could lead to the development of skills and dispositions for change agency. First, people and especially educators need to embrace the fact that race matters. Arguably, when White teacher goes into a classroom with a culturally diverse student, it is obvious that the students will notice that the teacher is white. This underlines the fact that students or learners often enter classrooms with preconceptions based on the colors of their skin. However, to develop skills and dispositions of change, it is vital that teachers, as well as learners, should understand that race matters, and that being intelligent and real bout issues of race is vital.
Moreover, the book helps people develop skills and dispositions for change agency by convincing people that change indeed begins with them. It should be understood that for change to be introduced in school structures and systems, educators and teachers have to be willing to change the structure of classrooms, schools, and themselves. Moreover, teachers must be committed to better their practices, attitudes, as well as beliefs that are related to cultural and racial issues. Furthermore, the development of skills and dispositions for change agency should be accompanied by the embrace of the fact that beliefs determine outcomes in educational settings. That is to say, when students fail, the failure does not lie with the students but in the teachers’ lack of capacity to believe in their students. It is vital that people should go beyond having beliefs based on the color of the skin. As stated in the book:
The process of growth toward transformationist White identity requires the acquisition of many new ways of knowing. For those who choose to teach in racially diverse schools, this knowing comprises at least the four areas: that race matters, that change begins with us, that beliefs greatly influence outcomes, and that teaching is a calling, not just a job (p. 126).
Most importantly, Howard’s book opines that teachers and educators need to make commitments without conditions to their students, as well as offering endless support coupled with care to their students. With these arguments, the fact that Howard’s book helps in the development of skills and dispositions for change agency cannot be refuted.
Q5. New thinking, perspectives constructed about multicultural education for preparing America’s diverse urban students
As articulated in the book, notwithstanding the ever-increasing civil rights activities in the United States, White dominance still proves to be one of the factors that are resistant to change not only in the US but also other Western nations. The universal agreement is that the key challenge facing the educational sector, which is the deep nature of racism and White dominance needs to the addressed. The books states that:
The challenge now facing us in education is to dismantle the deeper nature of racism and dominance, a challenge that will require a more rigorous analysis of the underlying dynamics of dominance than we as White educators have achieved (p. 53).
The book goes ahead to explain the fact that White dominance is not only experienced in the United States but also in other places around the world. Arguably, official knowledge in all major social institutions, including educational institutions is often constructed by those in power. However, this needs to be changed if the myriads of problems and challenges facing multicultural education in America are to be addressed. The preparation of America’s diverse urban students requires that new perspectives or thinking about the country’s multicultural education must be taken into consideration. The dynamics of dominance, which includes the assumption of rightness, the luxury of ignorance, as well as the legacy of privilege, must be addressed. First, according to the assumption of rightness, hegemonic groups believe that their actions, beliefs, and attitudes are not in a way determined by the influences of group membership or cultural conditioning. It is from this assumption that most Whites believe that they are simply right in every perspective despite not having culture.
Arguably, multicultural education needs to get rid of the assumption of rightness in a bid to prepare America’s diverse students. Another dynamic of dominance is the luxury of ignorance, which is a reinforcement of the fact that groups that tend to dominate other groups seemingly have no information or know very little about the other groups they dominate. That is to say, when dominating African Americans, the White people seem not to have any information about African Americas or know very little about them. With the luxury of ignorance, it is believed that dominant groups can function and proceed with their day-to-day activities without necessarily having to interact with individuals or groups that are not part of them. Thus, the luxury of ignorance dynamic leads to the projection of false assumptions and perceptions as truths, an aspect that is not appropriate for multicultural education. Thus, multicultural education needs to do away with the perceptions and assumptions resulting from the luxury of ignorance. Owing to the legacy of privilege, the Whites have for a long time enjoyed privileges by the color of their skin, and this means that the people from other cultures and races have remained underprivileged for a long time.
Moreover, the legacy of privilege has led to the consideration that Whites are the real Americans, whereas those with skin colors that are not white are considered as foreigners or immigrants. Also, the legacy has resulted in the Whites having the power to control public education and information besides getting richer than the other races. When it comes to multicultural education, legacies such as that of privilege need not be taken into consideration. Through this, equality of all races will be promoted, and this is one of the perfect ways and strategies of preparing America’s diverse urban students. It is important that potential conflicts, riots, and disagreements that could jeopardize multicultural education be prevented in every way possible. Howard’s book is in support of the fact that equality of all races should be promoted.
The book also suggests that enhancing awareness and knowledge of racial identity development is of great significance to multicultural education, and it plays an integral role in the preparation of America’s diverse urban students. For instance, Blacks should be made aware of the five stages of Black racial identity development including the immersion-emersion, internalization, encounter, pre-encounter, as well as internalization-commitment stages. On the other hand, Whites should also be made aware of the stages of White racial identity development.
Q6. How the book challenges prior knowledge, thinking, and practice regarding teaching diverse urban students
In the ancient and modern world, there is a belief that effective teaching of diverse urban students is a great challenge, and this is owed to the fact that there are diverse cultures that cannot be easily interacted or brought together. Without doubt, the interaction of people from various racial and cultural backgrounds has been worsened by practices such as racism, sexism, and classism. In other countries, the favoritism and dominance of particular races over others have to a large extent corrupted the interaction of people from different cultures and races. As a result, the belief that teaching diverse urban students are a great challenge has been coined. However, in its entire argument and suggestions regarding multicultural education, the belief that teaching diverse urban students is difficult has been challenged. First, Howard’s book articulates that through interaction and understanding of various cultures and racial backgrounds, teaching diverse urban students can be made easier and achievable. That is to say, when a teacher has an understanding of students or learners from various racial and cultural backgrounds, he or she will be in a position to observe whether the learners or students are happy or not. Besides, understanding the culture and racial backgrounds of students gives the teachers or educators the ability to ensure that the students interact and socialize and through this, the teaching of diverse urban students is made easier. Moreover, the book states that a predominant preparation of teachers to work effectively with radically and culturally diverse students could help teachers easily manage, handle, and teach diverse urban students. The book opines that:
The predominant preparation should entail ensuring that teachers become transformations, and this means that the teachers or educators should be people with the intention of changing their lives to enable them to work better to change the lives of others (p 97).
According to Howard’s book, teaching diverse urban students could be made easier, practical, and achievable if teachers embrace the opinions that race matters, change begins with them, and that beliefs play a crucial role in the determination of outcomes. First, the opinion that race matters could make teaching diverse urban students easier because teachers become intelligent and real about issues of race, and thus, the perceptions and preconceived notions developed by students regarding the skin color of their fellow students and teachers are addressed or eliminated. Second, the opinion that change begins with teachers could make teaching diverse urban students easier because teachers and educators will have the willingness to change the structures of their classrooms, their schools, and their structures. Moreover, the opinion that change begins with teachers could make teaching diverse urban students easier because there will be a commitment by teachers from various cultural and racial backgrounds to better the practices, beliefs, and attitudes of students from other races.
It is also notable that the opinion that beliefs play a crucial role in the determination of outcome makes teaching diverse urban students easier because the decisions made in such educational settings will not be in any way based on the students’ or learners’ colors of the skin. The opinion that beliefs determine outcomes could also see teachers make unconditional commitments to students without taking their cultural and racial backgrounds into consideration, and as a result teaching of diverse urban students no longer becomes a challenge.
Q7. Analysis of chapters
Howard’s book has eight chapters, which underscore the need for multicultural education in America and other regions of the world. Chapter 1 is titled “White Man Dancing: A Story of Personal Transformation” and it gives detailed personal information about Gary Howard who is the author of the book. The chapter highlights that Howard was born in a small rural town next to Seattle, Washington. It is opined that Howard’s first contact with a person from different culture and race was when he was 18 years, and this was during his senior year of high school. The chapter also states that he went on a double date with a classmate who was his African American friend together with his friend. The book states clearly:
It wasn’t until my senior year in high school that I discovered my Whiteness. A White male friend, who was going out with an African American student from another school, asked if I wanted to join them on a double date with one of her friends, also Black. This was the first time I had ever been invited to dip my toes in the racial consciousness (p. 14).
The chapter goes ahead to state that Howard attended Yale University after graduating from high school. It was while attending Yale University that Howard met and worked with Black and Hispanic children at the local YMCA. The chapter stated that he later moved to an impoverished neighborhood where he began and found his calling and commitment to fight racism and promote cultural awareness.
Chapter 2, “White Dominance and the Weight of the West” revolves around the primary argument that White people are not the problem, but the dominance itself. It goes ahead to argue that teachers have a responsibility to their students, and through this, they assure that they remain open to even deeper levels of awareness dominance. The chapter also states that if the educators’ understanding and examination of the root causes of social inequality are shallow, it means that their approach to corrective action will be ineffective and shallow. The chapter attributes the existence of social dominance to factors such as minimal group paradigm, social positionality, social dominance theory, and privilege and penalty. First, the chapter opines that minimal group paradigm gives a suggestion that human beings seem to demonstrate out-group and in-group dynamics despite the existence of an extremely limited basis for drawing distinctions between group members. The chapter states that social positionality is when Whites are disproportionately allocated amounts, wealth, control, and dominance. Regarding social dominance theory, the chapter believes that there are four basic assumptions: human social systems are predisposed with the aim of forming social hierarchies that have hegemonic groups at the top and negative reference at the bottom, hegemonic groups tend to be disproportionately male, social hierarchy is a survival strategy whose selection is done by several species of primates Homo sapiens included, and that most forms of social oppressive acts like classism, sexism, and racism can be viewed as manifested forms of group-based social hierarchy.
Chapter 3 of the book talks about the three major processes that function together as the dynamic of dominance. The three processes mentioned are the assumption of rightness, the luxury of ignorance, and the legacy of privilege. According to the assumption of rightness, it is argued that hegemonic groups do not in any way consider attitudes, actions, and beliefs to be determined by influences of group membership or cultural conditioning. On the other hand, according to the luxury of ignorance, dominant groups seem to have no information about other groups or know very little about them. This means that dominant groups can function or operate without having any knowledge of the other groups, an argument that is refutable. The chapter also focuses on the legacy of privilege, which states that the White race is often privileged based on the color of their skin.
Chapter 4 of Howard’s book argues that White teachers should come with a healing response that could see a change of other regions of the world and America’s multicultural education. It is opined that the healing response by White teachers should encompass honesty, empathy, advocacy, and action.
Chapter 5 of the book focuses on racial identity development, and it states that Black racial identity development occurs in stages including pre-encounter, encounter, immersion-emersion, internalization, and internalization-commitment. From the stages, the deconstruction, construction, and reconstruction of Black racial identity development can be analyzed. The chapter also analyzes the White racial identity development, which occurs in two phases. Phase I of abandonment of a racist identity includes three stages of contact, disintegration, and reintegration while phase II of the establishment of a non-racist White identity includes three stages of pseudo-independence, immersion-emersion, and autonomy.
Chapter 6 of the book stresses a practitioner’s approach to multicultural growth. In line with this, White identity orientations are highlighted, and these include fundamentalist White Identity, integrationist White identity, and the transformationist White Identity.
Chapter 7 states that for effective teaching of diverse urban students, teachers should move towards transformationist pedagogy. This means that teachers should consider the perspectives that race matters, change begins with them, beliefs determine outcomes, and that teaching is not just a job but a calling.
Chapter 8, which is titled ‘Our Unfinished Work: White Educators and La Tierra Transformativa’ talks about what White educators need to embrace to transform or change multicultural education. The chapter articulates that with the complexity and internal tension that is to a large extent related to Whiteness, there is a sense of marginality that is about White identity that casts a tentative and illusory shadow over positive images that might be achieved by teachers. The chapter summarizes and underscores the need for doing away with White dominance and practices such as racism, classism, and sexism if effective multicultural education is to be achieved.
Q8. Constructive critique
Without doubt, Howard’s book is essential when it comes to fighting against practices such as racism, sexism, classism, and White dominance. In the modern world, the inclination to an all inclusive type of education cannot be refuted, and this is because of the existence of several and diverse races and cultures. Howard through his book campaigns for an all-inclusive education, and he states that it is important for teachers not to view their students by their skin color. The book also provides vital information about racial identity development, and thus, through the book, learners can learn and understand the deconstruction, construction, and reconstruction processes of their racial identity development. The book highlights that White dominance has contributed largely to the oppression faced by people from other cultures and races in America and all over the world. Thus, it suggests that White dominance should have no place in the modern society. The author, Howard, gives his interaction with people from other races during his time in school as a platform of benchmark for others who want promote multicultural education. The book is resourceful and pinpoints the significance of the interaction of people from various racial and cultural backgrounds.