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Race among Friends
Exploring Race at a Suburban School
Marianne Modica (Author)
192 pages, 1 halftone, 3 tables, 6 x 9
Series: Rutgers Series in Childhood Studies
Childhood Studies, Race and Ethnic Studies, Education, Sociology
Many saw the 2008 election of Barack Obama as a sign that America had moved past the issue of race, that a colorblind society was finally within reach. But as Marianne Modica reveals in Race Among Friends, attempts to be colorblind do not end racism—in fact, ignoring race increases the likelihood that racism will occur in our schools and in society.
This intriguing volume focuses on a “racially friendly” suburban charter school called Excellence Academy, highlighting the ways that students and teachers think about race and act out racial identity. Modica finds that even in an environment where students of all racial backgrounds work and play together harmoniously, race affects the daily experiences of students and teachers in profound but unexamined ways. Some teachers, she notes, feared that talking about race in the classroom would open them to charges of racism, so they avoided the topic. And rather than generate honest and constructive conversations about race, student friendships opened the door for insensitive racial comments by whites, resentment and silence by blacks, and racially biased administrative practices. In the end, the school’s friendly environment did not promote—and may have hindered—serious discussion of race and racial inequity.
The desire to ignore race in favor of a “colorblind society,” Modica writes, has become an entrenched part of American culture. But as Race Among Friends shows, when race becomes a taboo subject, it has serious ramifications for students and teachers of all ethnic origins.
"With rich narratives, solid data, and a refusal to smooth over problematic areas that exist when discussing whiteness and racism, Race among Friends addresses important issues with insight, clarity, and a call to (re)commit ourselves to pursing strategies for undoing whiteness and racism in ourselves and in the teaching environment."
—Alice McIntyre, professor and chair of Elementary Education Department, Hellenic College, Brookl
"Race matters in suburbs as much as in cities. In her ethnographic study of high school students in a suburban charter school, Modica pays astute attention to the juxtaposition of cross-racial friendships and racial tension. It’s a must-read for all."
—Heewon Chang, Eastern University
Author / Editor Bio
MARIANNE MODICA is an associate professor of education at the University of Valley Forge in Phoenixville, PA.
Table Of Contents
Introduction:Race, Friendship, and Multicultural Literature
1 Boundaries among Friends: Performing Race and Policing Its Boundaries
2 Anger among Friends: Beneath the Surface of “We All Get Along”
3 Discourse among Friends: The Harlem Renaissance Unit
4 Resistance among Friends: The Bluest Eye
5 Conclusion: “How Can We Fix This?”
Appendix A: Studying Race in the Suburbs
Appendix B: The Childist/Critical Race Approach
Appendix C: Childist/Critical Race Lesson for 11 Honors