Colormute + Everyday Antiracism

Everyday Antiracism:
Getting Real About Race in School

Edited by Mica Pollock

Leading experts offer concrete and realistic strategies for dealing with race in schools in a groundbreaking book that should become required reading for every teacher in the country.

“Teachers and parents often want to act on the issue of racism, but don’t know how. This one-of-a-kind volume is the blueprint; no one should teach another day without reading it.” —Tim Wise, author of White Like Me

Which acts by educators are “racist” and which are “antiracist”? How can an educator constructively discuss complex issues of race with students and colleagues? In Everyday Antiracism leading educators deal with the most challenging questions about race in school, offering invaluable and effective advice.

Contributors including Beverly Daniel Tatum, Sonia Nieto, and Pedro Noguera describe concrete ways to analyze classroom interactions that may or may not be “racial,” deal with racial inequality and “diversity,” and teach to high standards across racial lines. Topics range from using racial incidents as teachable moments and responding to the “n-word” to valuing students’ home worlds, dealing daily with achievement gaps, and helping parents fight ethnic and racial misconceptions about their children. Questions following each essay prompt readers to examine and discuss everyday issues of race and opportunity in their own classrooms and schools.

For educators and parents determined to move beyond frustrations about race, Everyday Antiracism is an essential tool.

Contributors include: Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, Prudence Carter, Thea Abu El-Haj, Ron Ferguson, Patricia Gandara, Ian Haney López, Vivian Louie, Maria Ong, Paul Ongtooguk, Christine Sleeter and Angela Valenzuela.


Race Talk Dilemmas in an American School

By Mica Pollock

This book considers in unprecedented detail one of the most confounding questions in American racial practice: when to speak about people in racial terms. Viewing “race talk” through the lens of a California high school and district, Colormute draws on three years of ethnographic research on everyday race labeling in education. Based on the author’s experiences as a teacher as well as an anthropologist, it discusses the role race plays in everyday and policy talk about such familiar topics as discipline, achievement, curriculum reform, and educational inequality.

Pollock illustrates the wide variations in the way speakers use race labels. Sometimes people use them without thinking twice; at other moments they avoid them at all costs or use them only in the description of particular situations. While a major concern of everyday race talk in schools is that racial descriptions will be inaccurate or inappropriate, Pollock demonstrates that anxiously suppressing race words (being what she terms “colormute”) can also cause educators to reproduce the very racial inequities they abhor.

The book assists readers in cultivating a greater understanding of the pitfalls and possibilities of everyday race talk and clarifies previously murky discussions of “colorblindness.” By bridging the gap between theory and practice, Colormute will be enormously helpful in fostering ongoing conversations about dismantling racial inequality in America.


“Pollock attacks the topic with strength, providing a clear, compelling, and well-written argument. She helps readers cultivate greater understanding of the pitfalls and possibilities of daily race talk. A necessary and important work in fostering ongoing conversations about dismantling racial inequality in the United States.”Library Journal

“The dilemma at the heart of this book is the same dilemma at the heart of US society: practically no available form of public discourse about racial topics or issues actually engages with what race i. . . . This book’s ethnographic setting, detailed observations, and transcripts provide a close-up look at a vexing everyday issue, demonstrating an important performative dimension in the generation of racialization.”
Bonnie Urciuoli, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute


“The scholarship is provocative, the text well written, and the argument clear and compelling. Pollock is a truly gifted writer.”Michelle Fine, City University of New York

“Professor Pollock attacks a vitally important topic with vitality and an engaging and very readable style. Displaying a keen ear, she has artfully picked up the nuances of ‘race talk’ from students she has taught and observed. Pollock presents a troubling, but significant finding: Talking in racial terms can make race matter; but so too, can not speaking in racial terms.”
Hugh Mehan, University of California San Diego

“This welcome book invites us to become more critically conscious of ‘race talk’ and thus more aware of how even our silences can reproduce racial hierarchies.”
Charles Payne, Duke University

“Pollock’s profound insights about the dilemmas of race talk and silence will change the way Americans think about language, social categories, and the responsibilities we must face if we are ever to make headway against racial inequality.”
Katherine S. Newman, Princeton University

Because of Race:
How Americans Debate Harm and Opportunity in Our Schools

By Mica Pollock

In Because of Race, Mica Pollock tackles a long-standing and fraught debate over racial inequalities in America's schools. Which denials of opportunity experienced by students of color should be remedied? Pollock exposes raw, real-time arguments over what inequalities of opportunity based on race in our schools look like today--and what, if anything, various Americans should do about it.

Pollock encountered these debates while working at the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights in 1999-2001. For more than two years, she listened to hundreds of parents, advocates, educators, and federal employees talk about the educational treatment of children and youth in specific schools and districts. People debated how children were spoken to, disciplined, and ignored in both segregated and desegregated districts, and how children were afforded or denied basic resources and opportunities to learn. Pollock discusses four rebuttals that greeted demands for everyday justice for students of color inside schools and districts. She explores how debates over daily opportunity provision exposed conflicting analyses of opportunity denial and harm worth remedying. Because of Race lays bare our habits of argument and offers concrete suggestions for arguing more successfully toward equal opportunity.


"[This book] challenges assertions that discrimination against minority children isn't provable, shouldn't be discussed, or can't be fixed."Education Week

"Because of Race . . . explores how everyday interactions produce racial disparities in schools. . . . Pollock argues that Americans have entered a 'new civil rights era,' . . . [and] ends her book with a passionate call for the pursuit of everyday justice."Joe Soss, Perspectives on Politics

"A groundbreaking book which blows the cover off the country's continued shameful color-coded patterns when it comes to access to quality education."
Kam Williams, Philadelphia Sunday Sun

"Because of Race without question extends our understanding of the continued struggle for equitable schooling opportunities in the post-civil rights era. It raises important questions and data that everyone should read, especially those interested in making the nation and its public schools a safe haven of justice and democracy for all."
Christopher M. Span, Journal of American Ethnic History


"Once again Mica Pollock demonstrates her amazing understanding of the relationship between race and education. If there is one book to read to make sense of the way race permeates the schooling experience, this is it."
Gloria Ladson-Billings, University of Wisconsin-Madison

"In this thoroughly researched book about civil rights and education today, Mica Pollock demonstrates that what she calls 'everyday justice' is systematically denied and disavowed. Pollock is deeply attentive to the dilemmas, successes, and failures of all her subjects: civil rights officials, educators, and parents who try to make civil rights law function effectively. Because of Race is the best study yet of structural racism in the twenty-first century."
Howard Winant, University of California, Santa Barbara

A Companion to the Anthropology of Education

Edited by Bradley A.U. Levinson and Mica Pollock

A Companion to the Anthropology of Education presents a comprehensive and state-of-the-art overview of the field, exploring the social and cultural dimension of educational processes in both formal and nonformal settings. 

  • Explores theoretical and applied approaches to cultural practice in a diverse range of educational settings around the world, in both formal and non-formal contexts
  • Includes contributions by leading educational anthropologists
  • Integrates work from and on many different national systems of scholarship, including China, the United States, Africa, the Middle East, Colombia, Mexico, India, the United Kingdom, and Denmark
  • Examines the consequences of history, cultural diversity, language policies, governmental mandates, inequality, and literacy for everyday educational processes
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