March 17, 2009: This months Provisions session drove into the world of Teaching Diversity. Presenters included Shai Butler, Assistant to the President for Diversity, Deborah Kelsh, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Teacher Education, and Silvia Mejia, Assistant Professor of Spanish and American Studies. 

          Shai Butler began the session by explaining why it is important to teach students about diversity, and how to prepare students to engage in a increasingly interconnected world. Butler provided a great deal of online resources and National Practices from Universities such as Indiana, Rowan, and Ithaca College. Butler also shared the components of a diversity-infused curriculum and the efforts Saint Rose is currently making to fit into this curriculum. Deborah Kelsh shared a lesson plan which involves students looking at a variety of case studies and how this motivates students to talk about race and racism using different concepts and theories. Kelsh also referenced a book by Jane Bolgate entitled, “Talking Race in the Classroom.” Much of Kelsh’s presentation focused on the challenges one faces in the classroom when openly talking about race, and the different theories, concepts, and forms of racism. Finally Silvia Mejia shared a cultural blog created for her Spanish 203 course in which students are asked to response to Spanish written entries. In doing so, students engage in a discussion with other classmates while learning about different cultures.  

          The session concluded with an open discussion about religious diversity and how to re-engage this conversation, how to teach civility, and how to look at diversity infusion less as a set aside and more as a broad and global discussion in every area of pedagogy.

Below you will find the materials in which each presenter shared during the session, as well as links to other helpful and informative resources.

Teaching Diversity

Multicultural Curriculum Infusion; Resources for Transformation


A Workshop for Provisions



Presented by:

Shai L. Butler,

Assistant to the President for Diversity

The College of Saint Rose

March 17, 2009


Multicultural Curriculum Infusion

The use of diversity-infused content and pedagogical techniques in the classroom.

Why Teach Diversity


One Rationale

Tom Friedman offered us the observation that “The World is Flat”

Are we preparing CSR students to engage in an increasingly interconnected world?

Components of a diversity-infused curriculum

  INcorporating knowledge, theories, and analyses from the perspective of historically oppressed or marginalized populations 

Developing teaching strategies and pedagogies that are sensitive to students from historically underserved populations

Paying conscious attention to the goal of reducing prejudice and transforming classroom climate

Transformation of the processes by which we construct knowledge.  A fully infused curriculum challenges both students and faculty to think in new ways

As defined by the University of Wisconsin LaCrosse Campus

Four Points of Consideration for developing diversity-infused curriculum

Could this enhance the academic reputation of my institution, school or department ?

Is it important to the discipline?

Does it have perceived legitimacy to my faculty colleagues?

Does it compete with departmental concern?

Anderson, J (2008). Driving Change Through Diversity and Globalization. VA: Stylus Publishing, (3), 64-65.

National Best Practices

Institutional Commitment to Diversity Infusion

Loyola University – Multicultural Curriculum Infusion Workshops

University of Washington’s Center for Curriculum Transformation

American Association of Colleges & Universities, Diversity Web Site houses a comprehensive list of other institutional initiatives

Inclusive Pedagogy

Inclusive Pedagogy Expert Dr. Frank Tuitt

      “The characteristics of an inclusive pedagogy include but are not limited to faculty student relationship issues such as sharing power, dialogical professor-student interaction, activation of student voices, and utilization of personal narratives. In theory, faculty members using inclusive pedagogical practices seek to achieve an optimal learning environment by ensuring that there is dialogical professor-student participation — both the professor and students engage in dialogue that affirms their presence and acknowledges their right to speak in multiple ways on diverse subject matter” (Tuitt, 2000). 

Course Descriptions
Math & Science

Stanford – Course in Science, Technology & Race

     This course is an introduction to the numerous ways in which science, technology, and race are constructed and construct each other. Since there has been little work on this topic, students become researchers in addition to reading and discussing existing studies and each others’ work. We ask specific questions about race and science/technology, including those related to politics, class, and identity. Instead of approaching the subject from a single scholarly framework, we begin with these questions and see how various disciplinary tools provide insight. Sources are also broad; we introduce academic work, cultural productions, statistical analyses, and, most importantly, our own observations to create a new picture of these intersections.

Course Descriptions

Arts & Humanities

San Francisco State Unv–Philosophy Course/Law, Society & Difference

This upper-division course was designed to fit into a sequence of philosophy courses on law and social philosophy. It brings together students with somewhat different interests in disability: students with disabilities, students whose family members are disabled or aging noticeably, students who have family histories pre-disposing them to disability, students who are majoring in fields concerned with disability, students headed for law school, and others. 

Course Descriptions

Virginia Tech – School Wide Initiative

The Pamplin College of Business launched a business diversity minor in fall 2008, expanding the college’s teaching and research programs that prepare students for culturally diverse workplaces and contribute to greater understanding of the impact of diversity and multiculturalism on individual effectiveness and corporate competitiveness. The minor, an 18-credit program for business majors who are juniors and seniors, was developed by Associate Professor of Management Mary Connerley, who also directs Pamplin’s  Business Diversity Center, established last year to coordinate the college’s teaching and research programs in business diversity.

Course Descriptions



      Provides students with the opportunities to explore and experience research-based learning theories, teaching practices, curriculum, classroom management models, instructional strategies, and assessment used in upper elementary/middle level classrooms. Students will apply a framework of culturally responsive teaching and learning to curriculum development and building classroom community. Critical reviews of research, case study methods, planning and implementation of an integrated curriculum unit, and reflection on one’s teaching beliefs will be investigated through journal writing, classroom observations, curricular development, assessment techniques, and group discussion

More Than Content


Indiana University-Purdue: Diversity Teaching Techniques

Ithaca University – LGBTQI

Rowan University – Gender

The Diversity Requirement

Our Efforts at The College of Saint Rose



Deborah Kelsh: 

Though race related issues continue to occupy a significant portion of our political discussion, and though there remain many unresolved racial issues in this nation, we, average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race. . . . And yet, if we are to make progress in this area we must feel comfortable enough with one another, and tolerant enough of each other, to have frank conversations about the racial matters that continue to divide us.

~ Attorney General Eric Holder,

Remarks to the Department of Justice on the African American History Month Program, February 18, 2009


Talking About “Race” and Racism in the Classroom

~Created for Methods of Teaching English in the Secondary Schools~

*as requested by students in Spring 2008*



1.     Connecting it to current events as appropriate, share with students the central purpose of the lesson: In today’s global society, it is important to develop what Jane Bolgatz calls “racial literacy.” By providing an opportunity to examine and discuss cases in light of three theories of “race” and a variety of forms of racism, the primary aim of this lesson is to help us develop racial literacy.

2.     Distribute handout 1 (see Appendix 1 below), which includes entries on “Racial Literacy,” “Talk,” and “Theory.” Tell students you will read each entry to them. Before reading each entry, give students a purpose for reading by previewing the activity they will engage in after hearing each entry.

3.     Read each entry and work through each activity.

4.     Distribute handouts 2 and 3 (see Appendices 2 and 3 below), “Three Theories of ‘Race’” and “Forms of Racism.” Explain to students that “race” is in quotation marks to indicate that it is a “struggle concept,” that is, a concept whose meaning(s) people struggle with and over. There are at least three theories of “race” that inform those struggles and that represent different standpoints. Give students 15 minutes to “skim and scan” the texts.

5.     Distribute handout 4 (Appendix 4 below), “Cases.” Divide students into groups of no more than 4, and explain that each group will be responsible for making sense of a case using the handouts “Three Theories of ‘Race’” and “Forms of Racism.” Specifically, students must analyze and present their case to the class, using the following questions, as appropriate to the case, as a guide:

a.     What theory/ies of “race” are expressed by any of the individuals in the case, and how do you know? Provide textual evidence and explain your reasoning.

b.     What theory/ies of “race” best explain the circumstances of or in the case? Explain your reasoning.

c.     What forms of racism or efforts at ally-building (if any) are in evidence in the case? Provide textual evidence and explain your reasoning.

In addition, each group must EITHER present any differences in their analysis OR ask a question about something in the handouts that they would like to understand more fully or accurately. Tell students that during their group presentations, each member must make at least one substantive contribution.

  1. Inform the class that as they listen to each group’s presentation, they also have a task. They should each

Ø     Prepare a question that asks the panel members for clarification of information; or

Ø     Prepare a comment that offers supporting or competing examples, real or hypothetical; or

Ø     Prepare a comment or question that refers to important evidence from the situation text that remains unaccounted for in the panel presentation.

Explain that while each may not have an opportunity to ask a question or offer a comment to all panels, students should write their question or comment and include their name. These will be turned in to the instructor, who will then turn them over to the panel members during the next session.

¨    In order to model useful speaking practices (e.g., “I wonder if this means that. . .”; “There is another way of looking at this”), it is useful to work through one case together with students before having them engage in the task.


Racial Literacy, Talk, and Theory

“Good students use a variety of lenses to analyze what they see and do. Race should be one lens that we teach students to use.” (Bolgatz 2005: 119)


Racial Literacy


. . . Racial literacy is a set of social competencies. Being racially literate means being able to interact with others to challenge undemocratic practices. Racially literate students are willing to break the taboos of talking about race. They can hear and appreciate diverse and unfamiliar experiences. They are genuine about their feelings. They recognize that they have much to learn, and they know how to ask questions. Cultivating racial literacy takes courage. Courage, as Winston Churchill exhorted, “is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”

            Racial literacy is not simply a matter of speaking and listening, however. One must view racial issues through a critical lens that attends to current and institutional aspects of racism. Racially literate students understand that various forms of racism have developed historically and that they can contest these practices. . . .

            We develop racial literacy – our own and our students’ – socially. That is, we learn to talk about race and racism by talking about race and racism. Information and theories that we glean from history, sociology, science, and the popular media are valuable components of understanding racial issues. Becoming racially literate, however, also involves learning how to engage in talk – even when that talk is difficult or awkward. Fortunately and perhaps surprisingly, we foster our racial literacy precisely in those moments when we bump into disagreement and even antagonism. . . . [W]e can find opportunities to grow and learn when we meet what seems like the most resistance.

                                                                                                  (Bolgatz 2005: 1-2)


¬    Activity: Round Robin

What is the most important phrase or sentence in the passage?




















         Talk gives shape to our ideas. When we talk, we articulate ideas that have not been completely formed. Psychologist Lev Vygotsky (1986) explained, “Thought is restructured as it is transformed into speech. It is not expressed but completed in the word” (p. 251). Talk helps us “complete” our thoughts. Language enables us to articulate notions we might not have fully seen or understood. Listening and speaking can help us know in new ways. New awareness can lead to new feelings. New emotions, in turn, can lead to new ways of acting.

                                                                                                 (Bolgatz 2005: 11)


            Talk is always contextualized (Tobin, 2000). What we say and how we talk depends on the situation. I talk differently about an illness, a romantic relationship, or my bank account depending on whether I am talking to my mother or a new coworker. . . what students say in the classroom, therefore, is not the expression of constantly held beliefs. Rather, students make particular statements that reflect their location in a particular social environment.

            Group dynamics make classrooms complicated. Groups can inhibit speakers, but talking in groups has its advantages. Students and teachers talking together can “complete” thoughts for one another (Vygotsky, 1986).

                                                                                                  (Bolgatz 2005: 15)


¬    Activity: What would the writer say?

What would Bolgatz say in response to each of the following statements?

  1. We always say what we mean and mean what we say.









  1. To a certain extent, everyone lies when talking.


















In the main, there are three ways of understanding “race” and racism. There are, in other words, three THEORIES of “race” and racism. So before turning to the theories themselves, it is important to have a basic understanding of what a “theory” is.


¨    1. “. . . theory . . . helps open our minds to possibilities we once found unimaginable” (Hinchey 1998: 15).

¨    2. “Works that become ‘theory’ offer accounts others can use about meaning, nature and culture, the functioning of the psyche, the relations of public to private experience and of larger historical forces to individual experience” (Culler 1997: 4).

¨    3. “Theory is often a pugnacious critique of common-sense notions, and further, an attempt to show that what we take for granted as ‘common-sense’ is in fact a historical construction, a particular theory that has come to seem so natural to us that we don’t even see it as a theory” (Culler 1997: 4).

¨     4. “Theory . . . is a political practice, not simply a rationalist and ahistorical abstraction or discursive play. This means that even such a seemingly natural and nontheoretical practice as common sense is, as Gramsci argues (Prison Notebooks), a frame of intelligibility, a theory, but one that conceals its own constructedness and consequently represents itself as the way things naturally are” (Ebert 1996: 18-19).


¬   Activity: Reading Across Texts (in this case, the texts are quotes)

All of the texts above are about “theory.” But do they all say the same thing? Which two are most like one another? Which two are most unlike one another? If we put them all in a Venn Diagram, what would that Diagram look like?




















Three Theories of “Race”




§       “. . . classical racist ideology tends to highlight supposed physical differences between groups of people. The most theoretically articulated version of racist ideology is what Peter Fryer calls the ‘pseudo-scientific mythology of race’ that flourished in Britain (and indeed the rest of the developed capitalist world) between the 1840s and the 1940s. this held that humankind was divided into races each based on distinct biological characteristics and that the domination of the world by Western imperialism reflected the inherent superiority of the white races over the rest in the process of natural selection” (Callinicos 1993: 17).


§       “Race” as “type”: “polygenetic theory that all human beings do not share a single common origin” (




§        “. . . already in 1753 the great Scottish philosopher David Hume, one of the giants of the eighteenth century Enlightenment, had declared: ‘I am apt to suspect the negroes, and in general all the other species of men (for there are four or five different kinds) to be naturally inferior to the whites’” (Callinicos 1993: 24).


§       “. . . supported by the work of Philadelphian doctor Samuel James Morton, who in 1839 published work based on measurements of skull sizes in which he drew the distinction five different races: (1) the Caucasian(1) the Caucasian (Europe, India, North Africa and the Middle East); (2) the Mongolian (Chinese and Eskimos); (3) the Malay (Malaysia and the Polynesian Islands); (4) the American (native Americans) and (5) the Ethiopian (sub-Saharan Africa). He maintained that the Caucasians had larger cranial capacity, and hence larger brains and greater intelligence” (; see also Gould 1996).


§       “In 1854 J.C. Nott and G.R. Gliddon published Types of Mankind also in Philadelphia which built on Morton’s theory. They claimed that the Caucasians ‘have in all ages been the rulers’ and demonstrate their racial superiority by having evolved democracy. During the 1850s French writer Arthur de Gobineau claimed [in Essay on the Inequality of Races] that there was a distinctive Aryan race that was superior to all other races. He claimed that this race was the basis of all the major civilizations of the world including those of Egypt, Rome, China, Greece, Assyria, Mexico and Peru” (


§       In 1994 [The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life] Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray argue that “some ethnic groups nonetheless differ genetically for sure, otherwise they would not have differing skin colors or hair textures or muscle mass. They also differ intellectually on the average” (297).


§       Exemplifies “deficit” view of non-dominant groups: these groups “lack” what the dominant group has, and there is no changing this.






§       “Race, gender, ability, etc., are socially and historically constructed” (Bolgatz 136).


§       “Meanings attributed to differences such as race and gender are constructed and reinforced through language. Meanings continually change” (Bolgatz 22).


§       In 1998, arguing that “As a result of public confusion about the meaning of ‘race,’ claims as to biological differences among ‘races’ continue to be advanced,” the American Anthropological Association issued a “Statement on ‘Race’” arguing that “Our temperaments, dispositions, and personalities, regardless of genetic propensities, are developed within sets of meanings and values that we call ‘culture’” (




§       “The Holocaust made biological racism in its nineteenth century form stink – hence the shift from biology to culture, and from race to ethnicity” (Callinicos 32).


§       “Evidence from the analysis of genetics (e.g., DNA) indicates that most physical variation, about 94%, lies within so-called racial groups. Conventional geographic ‘racial’ groupings differ from one another only in about 6% of their genes. This means that there is greater variation within ‘racial’ groups than between them” (American Anthropological Association Statement on “Race” 1998,


§       “Race must be viewed as a social construction” (Lopez 168).


§       Tends to reject “deficit view”  and put in its place


o      an “appreciative” view: we should all appreciate our many differences (Sahay 1998) (basis of multiculturalism as represented by the “heroes and  holidays” [Bolgatz 24-5]approach to studying different cultures)


o      a “cultural change” view: “. . . implies that the main task of anti-racists, among white people at any rate, is to change attitudes, presumably through some process of education” (Callinicos 32).



“RACE” AS PRODUCED BY CAPITALIST RELATIONS OF PRODUCTION (exploitation of workers by capitalists)


§       “. . . at the core of the issue of ‘race’ is the question of the production of racial difference and its relation to wider global structures, processes and relations. In materialist . . . theory racial difference (like all other differences) is not ‘separate from’ or ‘autonomous from’ this wider global series [of the division of labor under capitalism through which “profit” for the capitalist class is extracted from workers]” (Sahay 1998: para 21).

§       “Revolutionary Marxists . . . regard racism as a product of capitalism which serves to reproduce this social system by dividing the working class; it can be abolished, therefore, only through a socialist revolution achieved by a united working class, one in which blacks and whites join together against their common exploiter” (Callinicos 11).




§       “. . . the plantation economies initially relied on unfree white labour in the shape of indentured servants” (Callinicos 24).

§       “’Slavery was not born of racism; rather, racism was the consequence of slavery” (Williams, quoted in Callinicos 24).

§       “. . . racism as we know it today first developed in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in order to justify the systematic use of African slave labour in the great plantations of the New World which were central to the original emergence of capitalism as a world system. Racism, that is, was formed as part of the process through which capitalism became the dominant social and economic system” (Callinicos 14).

§        “Modern racism . . . arises in the conditions of industrial capitalism. Capitalism in its fully developed form rests on the exploitation of free wage labour.” (Callinicos 33).

§       “Capitalists employ immigrant workers because of the economic benefits they bring: they contribute to the flexibility of labour supply, are often unable to refuse employment in low paid, dirty jobs frequently involving shiftwork . . . . But, more than that, the existence of a working class composed of ‘natives’ and immigrants . . . makes possible the division of that class on racial lines, particularly if differences in national origin at least partially correspond to different positions in the technical division of labour (for example, between craft workers and unskilled labourers)” (Callinicos 34).

§       “Marx grasped the way in which racial divisions between ‘native’ and immigrant workers could weaken the working class, as he showed in his famous letter of 9 April 1870 to Meyer and Vogt” (Callinicos 34; for Marx’s letter to Meyer and Vogt, see In this letter, “Marx sketches out the outline of a materialist explanation of racism in modern capitalism” (Callinicos 35).

o      1. “Economic competition between workers” “Particularly in periods of capital restructuring when labour is deskilled, capitalists. . . are tempted to replace established skilled workers with cheaper and less skilled workers. If the two groups of workers have different national origins, and probably therefore also different languages and traditions, the potential exists for the development of racial antagonisms among the two groups of workers” (Callinicos 35).

o      2. “The appeal of racist ideology to white workers  “The mere fact of economic competition between different groups of workers is not enough to explain the development of racial antagonisms. Why do racist ideas appeal to white workers? One answer is that it reflects their economic interest in racial oppression: white workers . . . benefit materially from racism.” W.E.B. Du Bois indicates this is false when in his Black Reconstruction in America (1935) he argues that “’two groups of workers with practically identical interests’ were divided, so that ‘the wages of both classes could be kept low’”; and that “white workers received, in compensation for their low wages, ‘a sort of public and psychological wage’ deriving from their membership of what Marx calls ‘the ruling nation’” (Callinicos 37).

o      3. “The efforts of the capitalist class to establish and maintain racial divisions among workers” by promoting racism in “the press, the pulpit, the comic papers, in short by all the means at the disposal of the ruling classes [Marx 1870]” (Callinicos 39).







Forms of Racism


Judgments we make about others based on a generalization (Bolgatz 136)


§       A generalized image of a person or group, which does not acknowledge individual differences and which is often prejudicial to that person or group.

§       We develop stereotypes when we are unable or unwilling to obtain all of the information we would need to make fair judgments about people or situations. In the absence of the “total picture,” stereotypes in many cases allow us to “fill in the blanks.” Our society often innocently creates and perpetuates stereotypes, but these stereotypes often lead to unfair discrimination and persecution when the stereotype is unfavorable. . . . Stereotypes also evolve out of fear of persons from minority groups (“Stereotypes and Prejudices”


Actions based on prejudice (Bolgatz 136)


§       Scapegoating is the practice of blaming an individual or group for a real or perceived failure of others. The origin of the term comes from the Bible. The high priest in Biblical times would place his hand upon a goat’s head and transfer the sins of the community to the goat, which was then released into the desert.

§       It is not uncommon to blame others for our own mistakes, and especially to affix blame on those who are unable or unwilling to defend themselves against the charges. Minorities are often the targets of scapegoating. First, minorities are often isolated within society and are thus an easy target. Those in the majority are more easily convinced about the negative characteristics of a minority with which they have no direct contact. Violence, persecution, and genocide directed against minorities often occur when a minority group is being blamed for some social ill. Unemployment, inflation, food shortages, the plague, and crime in the streets are all examples of ills which have been blamed on minority groups (“Stereotypes and Prejudices”

Minority Persecution

§       Just as a school bully can assert his power over a weaker student by pure physical intimidation, a minority group may be victimized by a more powerful majority which is insensitive to the needs and aspirations of that minority. Minority groups may be subjected to dehumanization experiences [that is, they may be] made to feel powerless by being subjected to degrading and humiliating experiences based on prejudice. Examples in history have been:

  • African-Americans being forced to ride in the back of the bus
  • German Jews being required to wear a yellow “Star of David”
  • minorities being referred to by pejorative slang names . . .
  • minorities being the subject of jokes which poke fun at the target’s race, religion, or ethnic origin, and which rely on stereotypes
  • Japanese-Americans being isolated in camps during World War II
  • Native Americans having their land confiscated in violation of treaties, being the victims of government-sponsored massacres, and being placed on reservations.


§       Minorities have also been the victims of violence based on their minority status. Minority institutions, such as places of worship, schools, and cemeteries, have been the target of vandalism, arson, and desecration. African-Americans were victims of lynching and whippings in the South and other parts of the United States as well. In Eastern Europe, random violence directed at Jews, called pogroms, resulted in the massacre of thousands. Today, there are groups such as the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), the White Knights, the Order, the Posse Comitatus, and neo-Nazi Skinheads, which openly condone discrimination and advocate against certain minorities as part of their doctrines.

(“Stereotypes and Prejudices”


Genocide, the destruction of a people, is the most extreme form of persecution. During World War II, Hitler’s dream of destroying European Jewry substantially came to fruition. Through the use of propaganda, he successfully convinced millions of followers that the Jews were to blame for Germany’s troubles, including its humiliation during World War I, and its economic chaos. Six million Jews were annihilated. The Armenian genocide of the early 20th century and the murder of millions of Cambodians by Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge are other examples of genocide in the 20th century.

(“Stereotypes and Prejudices”


Internalized oppression


§       Unconsciously held prejudiced beliefs about oneself (Bolgatz 136)

§       “External oppression is the unjust exercise of authority and power by one group over another. It includes imposing one group’s belief system, values and life ways over another group. External oppression becomes internalized oppression when we come to believe and act as if the oppressor’s belief systems, values, and life way is reality” (Women’s Rural Advocacy Program


Institutionalized oppression


§       Systemic and systematic discrimination against members of a group

§       “Institutional racism is a complex, multifaceted concept, . . . . Some definitions . . . focus on the outcome of segregation and inequality, while others focus on the outcome of unearned privileges and advantages. Frequently, definitions stress that once racism takes hold and is embedded within institutions it does not require ‘intent.’ Rather, institutional racism can be perpetuated by seemingly benign policies, practices, behaviors, traditions, structures, etc., which is why it usually goes unchallenged” (Education Research Advocacy Support to Eliminate Racism [ERASE]



§       Can be enshrined in or enabled by judicial practices (the law)

o      Hudgins v Wright 1806 Virginia Supreme Court: “Nature has stampt upon the African and his descendants two characteristic marks, besides the difference of complexion, which often remain visible long after the characteristic distinction of colour either disappears or becomes doubtful; a flat nose and woolly head of hair”; “The distinguishing characteristics of the different species of the human race are so visibly marked, that those species may be readily discriminated from each other by mere inspection only.”  According to Davis (1996), “The court thereby gives legal determinacy to what was scientifically uncertain and socially contested. It establishes as legal standard the individual judges’ perception of racial distinction”(



Critical Race Theory contests the view of “race” as biological and shows the consequences of that view:

§       “Human fate still rides upon ancestry and appearance. The characteristics of our hair, complexion, and facial features still influence whether we are figuratively free or enslaved. . . . Race determines our economic prospects. The race-conscious market screens and selects us for manual jobs and professional careers, red-lines financing for real estate, green-lines our access to insurance, and even raises the price of that car we need to buy. Race permeates our politics. It alters electoral boundaries, shapes the disbursement of local, state, and federal funds, fuels the creation and collapse of political alliances, and twists the conduct of law enforcement. In short, race mediates every aspect of our lives” (Lopez 164).



Related Concepts


Benefits resulting from being or being perceived as a member of a group (Bolgatz 136)

White Privilege


“In a racist system, Whites gain advantages because they are White . . . . Peggy McIntosh, a White professor of women’s studies, has written a list of White privileges that includes, for instance, being free from harassment in a shopping mall and knowing that your race will not work against you in seeking medical treatment or public accommodation (McIntosh 1988)” (Bolgatz 32).

[The McIntosh article is available at]

White Allies

An important part of ending racism and all other oppressions is to develop alliances between those targeted by the oppression and those outside the targeted group. Eliminating racism requires the development of strong alliances among groups of people targeted by racism and also with white people who are committed to ending racism. These white allies are people who have decided to work for the liberation of all people targeted by racism [emphasis added]. We, white people in this ally role, demonstrate by our actions and words that we support the goals and visions of groups targeted by racism and work alongside them. In United to End Racism, we have learned a great deal about building these alliances and about white people becoming effective allies.

Steps Toward Becoming White Allies

There are many ways for white people to work as allies in eliminating racism. Some of these include:

  • Taking visible stands against all forms of racism by both backing anti-racism organizations led by people targeted by racism as well as standing independently as a white person against racism;
  • Working on and eliminating our own racism and healing the places we have been silent and passive about racism;
  • Standing against one of the effects of racism by reminding targeted people of their goodness, intelligence, competence, and the importance of their relationships with one another;
  • Actively seeking correct information and healing from the ways we have been unaware and uninformed;
  • Building long-term friendships with people targeted by racism and challenging the racist messages of separation, difference, and fear;
  • Training and building groups of white allies committed to eliminating racism by assisting other whites to heal the damage done to us by racism;
  • Understanding that being allies to people targeted by racism is for our own benefit since it involves reclaiming our full humanity and having a world right for everyone, a world where everyone matters.

For more information about white people healing the damage done by racism, see the pamphlet Working Together to End Racism, a publication of United to End Racism.










Case I


Leading a high school class in a New York City public high school, law professor Patricia Williams reports that law students


. . . asked the class of twelfth-graders to break up into small groups and envision that they had to send an expedition of people to populate a new planet. They were to describe the six new architects of the brand-new world, giving their race or ethnicity and their professions. In every group, Hispanics, if they were included, were car mechanics (“They’re good at stripping cars” was the explanation some students gave); Asians were included in every group and were always scientists (“They’re smart”); whites (including ethnics such as “French,” “Italian,” “Russian,” as well as just “white”) had the greatest numerical presence and variety of profession. No blacks were included in the new world (the one student who listed a Nigerian doctor thought Nigeria was in Asia). The kicker is that this school was 53 percent black and 45 percent Hispanic . . . . Moreover, when the law students attempted to discuss the significance of such impressive skewing, the students. . . uniformly protested that race had nothing to do with it, and why did the law students (who, by the way, were white) have to “racialize” everything? ([Williams,] pp. 156-157).

                                                                                                                                                                                                     (Bolgatz 2005: 2-3)





Case II


A presenter at a conference told about a woman who was a well-dressed White woman, who got on an elevator in some big city. And she got on and was not paying too much attention about what was happening, and stood there for a little while, and some more people got on, and some more people got on. And she looked kind of out of the corner of her eye and saw three very, very tall Black men standing kind of behind her. They had just gotten on the elevator. They had on jackets and hats. One of them said, “Hit the floor.” And the woman panicked. She fell down on the floor. And she was really having a fit. And she looked up and they were all laughing, kind of like “what’s going on here?”

                                                                                                                                                                                   (adapted from Bolgatz 2005: 47)







Case III


In his “Remarks” delivered to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, February 24, 2009, President Barack Obama used the phrase “we are not quitters” (see below for the text in which the quote appears). He was quoting Ty’Sheoma Bethea. As Gabrielle Gurley noted in The Guardian on March 5, 2009, Ty’Sheoma’s rural middle school “was constructed at the end of the 19th century and is plagued by faulty heating and wiring; its computers are castoffs from a state prison. (Contemplate the message that decision sends to students.)”


(“A nation of cowards on race?”


Here is the “case” to focus on: the fact that Ty’Sheoma’s rural middle school “was constructed at the end of the 19th century and is plagued by faulty heating and wiring; its computers are castoffs from a state prison. . . . ”


Text in which quote appears:

“And I think about Ty’Sheoma Bethea, the young girl from that school I visited in Dillon, South Carolina – a place where the ceilings leak, the paint peels off the walls, and they have to stop teaching six times a day because the train barrels by their classroom.  She has been told that her school is hopeless, but the other day after class she went to the public library and typed up a letter to the people sitting in this room.  She even asked her principal for the money to buy a stamp.  The letter asks us for help, and says, ‘We are just students trying to become lawyers, doctors, congressmen like yourself and one day president, so we can make a change to not just the state of South Carolina but also the world.  We are not quitters.’ 

We are not quitters.”


From. . .

Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery Address to Joint Session of Congress Tuesday, February 24th, 2009 Comments ()
















Case IV

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Racism…or what do you call it?

Now what set me thinking about this “term” that everyone thinks of but no one wants to talk about….. I really don’t know! I think it was because some people commented on it in my last post.

Have I been a victim of racist comments or attitudes? I think so. I will run through a few scenarios, and tell me what you think.

Scenario 1

We had this 70-something year old patient who we had operated on the day before, he had become really agitated on the ward and needed antipsychotic drugs to calm him down. A few nurses had to hold him down as he struggled to climb out of his bed. From a mile away, I could hear his loud voice booming through the silent corridors – he was swearing and cursing.

As I stepped into the ward, he saw me and shouted “Blackkie, get out of here”. He repeated it a number of times and I just smiled. (You know those plastic smiles that would make a doll go green with envy). The nurses felt embarrassed and tried harder to calm him down but he just bit and kicked them.

I left them and attended to other patients, while another of my colleagues reviewed him. A few minutes later, the nurses asked me why I did not come to help them.

“C’mon, he verbally assaulted me” was my curt reply.

“Oooooh, but he verbally and physically assaulted us too”

“It was not the same”. Speedily replacing the fake smile with a frown – they recognized the cue to stop asking stupid questions.

People show their true selves when they are not fully conscious, like when they are drunk or even psychotic. The experience only confirmed my thoughts that most of these folk smile at you everyday, when deep inside, they really dislike your guts.


By “Andy,”


·                      Gender: Male

·                      Astrological Sign: Cancer

·                      Industry: Science

·                      Occupation: Medical doctor

·                      Location: Glasgow : United Kingdom

About Me

A Man aspiring for the Top! That really is me in one sentence.




Case V


In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination – and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past – are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds – by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations. It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of American prosper.

                                                                                                                                    ~ From Barack Obama’s Speech on Race, March 18, 2008






References (excluding embedded web references)

Bolgatz, J (2005) Talking Race in the Classroom. New York: Teachers College Press.


Callinicos, A. (1993) Race and Class. London: Bookmarks.


Culler, J. (1997) Literary Theory. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Ebert, T. L. (1996) Ludic Feminism and After: postmodernism, desire, and labor in late capitalism. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press.


Gould, S. J. (1996) The Mismeasure of Man. New York and London: W. W. Norton & Company.


Hinchey, P. H. (1998) Finding Freedom in the Classroom: a practical introduction to critical theory. New York: Peter Lang.


Lopez, I. F. H. (2000) “The Social Construction of Race.” In R. Delgado and J. Stefancic (eds) Critical Race Theory: the cutting edge, 2nd ed., Philadelphia, Temple University Press.


Sahay, A. (1998) “Transforming Race Matters: Towards a Critique-al Cultural Studies,” Cultural Logic, 1 (2). Online. Available HTTP: <> . Accessed 7 February 2005.


Pro Visions 

Teaching Diversity 

March 17, 2009 


Silvia Mejía  

Assistant Professor of Spanish & American Studies 

 El blog de SPA 203 

Un espacio para hablar de lenguaje y cultura 

(A space to talk about language and culture) 






Enero 15, 2009  (January 15) 


Bienvenidos al blog de SPA 203. 

Durante todo el semestre, vamos a utilizar este blog como un espacio para compartir información e 

ideas sobre las diferentes culturas del mundo hispanoablante. ¿Listos para empezar? 



Las reglas del juego (The rules of the game) 

Enero 19, 2009  (January 19) 


With the exception of those few weeks when there is a exam or some other special assignment 

scheduled for our class, we will be meeting on this blog weekly. A blog entry featuring a new subject 

of discussion will be posted every week by Friday, and you will be expected to post your comments 

by Wednesday (midnight) the following week. In total, our class will have ten topics of discussion 

throughout the semester. 


Your comments should be between 250 and 300 words long, in English. The weekly blog entry, 

however, will be written in Spanish. Your comments, then, must demonstrate: 


– that you understood the entry in Spanish; 


– that you are making a conscious effort to reflect on the contrasts and similarities between the 

cultural issue discussed in the weekly blog entry and aspects of your own culture(s), 


– and, that you are interested in what your classmates have to say about the topic being discussed, 

which will be reflected in your effort to incorporate a couple of your classmates’ ideas in your own 

comment. I understand that you will not be able to check this last requirement if you’re the first 

person posting, so, please try not to be always the first!   


Entonces, ¿estamos listos para empezar? Aquí vamos…. 

Vehículos vs. peatones  (Vehicles vs. pedestrians) 

Febrero 28, 2009 · 11 comentarios  (February 28 – 11 comments) 


J.N.  // Mar 4, 2009 at 3:25 pm 


Here at college, almost all of my transportation is done on foot. My entire first semester here, I 

hadn’t even been in a car between arriving in August and Thanksgiving break. In the winter months 

I’ve been using the college’s shuttle to get from my dorm to my classes, but walking is still my 

primary source of transport. 

I definitely agree with the above posters that cars have the priority. Even though pedestrians have the 

right of way on the roads, you’re seen as living in the past if you don’t have a car or license. Cars have 

become less of simply a mode of transportation and more of a kind of status symbol in our country. 

Now things like bicycling and walking are seen more as on-the-sideline exercise activities rather than 

genuine modes of transportation, which has its side effects: like Bethany said, more cars means more 

fossil fuel emissions and less exercise means less healthy people. 

I remember seeing some video of places in Japan where there were more bicycle roads and you could 

see dozens of people in suits biking to work. I think something like this would be good to implement 

here, since it would be cheaper, better for the environment, and better for the commuters. I’m not 

saying we should get rid of cars completely, as they are handy for getting around quickly and for 

transporting cargo and larger groups of people. But there’s room for both here. 



V.D.  // Mar 4, 2009 at 7:12 pm 


The means i use to travel each day would be walking. Expecially with the cold weather i dont even 

want to walk anywhere. But once the warm weather comes i feel that not only myself but many other 

students will start walking and leave their cars parked to be more energy efficient. In the US i feel 

that cars have the priority but officals try to make it easier with cross walks, but even then the 

pedestrian has to wait for a red light or for there to be no traffic. Cars have the right of way because 

they weigh so much and if it came down to the person or car the car will win. The US should really 

think about establishing more systems like Curitiba and have buses that have their own lane and can 

get to the major metropolitian area easily with less polution. However i feel Puerto Rico is far worse 

than most of our states in the US, places like New York City are congested like this but also have 

subways and trains to help the transportation. I feel a change is nessesary for the US and many 

countries around the world, polution is a huge deal and things need to change before they get so bad 

things cant be reversed. I also feel that making people ride bikes will also help with obesity and it will 

help children and adults exersize more and maintain a better health. 



C.C.  // Mar 4, 2009 at 11:52 pm 


i had a foreign exchange student in the fall of my senior year in high school and she was from 

belgium. she was totally shocked when she came to my house, i live in a really small rural farm town 

and we rely on cars & trucks for EVERYTHING. She couldnt believe how much energy we use with 

gas and having big trucks. She would always take a bus, train or bike to whereever she needed to go. 

In albany i can walk almost everywhere or use the CDTA buses, like most of my classmates. I like the 

idea of hybrid cars, its a step in the right direction however, where i’m from we have no use for small 

cars except to transport ourselves. We have trucks and SUV’s mostly because we tow alot of things 

like snowmobile trailers, hay trailers, tools and other things. i feel like this is takign a big toll on the 

environment, but my family is all farmers and mechanics and they need the big vehicles to make 

money and support us. So i’m kind of playing the devils advocate because i’m on the other side of 

the spectrum. 




Related Resources:

Bolgatz, J (2005) Talking Race in the Classroom. New York: Teachers College Press.

 Universal Intellectual Standards

by Linda Elder and Richard Paul

Universal intellectual standards are standards which must be applied to thinking whenever one is interested in checking the quality of reasoning about a problem, issue, or situation. To think critically entails having command of these standards. To help students learn them, teachers should pose questions which probe student thinking; questions which hold students accountable for their thinking; questions which, through consistent use by the teacher in the classroom, become internalized by students as questions they need to ask themselves.

The ultimate goal, then, is for these questions to become infused in the thinking of students, forming part of their inner voice, which then guides them to better and better reasoning. While there are a number of universal standards, the following are the most significant:

  1. CLARITY: Could you elaborate further on that point? Could you express that point in another way? Could you give me an illustration? Could you give me an example? Clarity is the gateway standard. If a statement is unclear, we cannot determine whether it is accurate or relevant. In fact, we cannot tell anything about it because we don’t yet know what it is saying. For example, the question, “What can be done about the education system in America?” is unclear. In order to address the question adequately, we would need to have a clearer understanding of what the person asking the question is considering the “problem” to be. A clearer question might be “What can educators do to ensure that students learn the skills and abilities which help them function successfully on the job and in their daily decision-making?” 
  2. ACCURACY: Is that really true? How could we check that? How could we find out if that is true?
    A statement can be clear but not accurate, as in “Most dogs are over 300 pounds in weight.”
  3. PRECISION: Could you give more details? Could you be more specific?
    A statement can be both clear and accurate, but not precise, as in “Jack is overweight.” (We don’t know how overweight Jack is, one pound or 500 pounds.)
  4. RELEVANCE: How is that connected to the question? How does that bear on the issue?
    A statement can be clear, accurate, and precise, but not relevant to the question at issue. For example, students often think that the amount of effort they put into a course should be used in raising their grade in a course. Often, however, the “effort” does not measure the quality of student learning; and when this is so, effort is irrelevant to their appropriate grade.
  5. DEPTH: How does your answer address the complexities in the question? How are you taking into account the problems in the question? Is that dealing with the most significant factors? A statement can be clear, accurate, precise, and relevant, but superficial (that is, lack depth). For example, the statement, “Just say No!” which is often used to discourage children and teens from using drugs, is clear, accurate, precise, and relevant. Nevertheless, it lacks depth because it treats an extremely complex issue, the pervasive problem of drug use among young people, superficially. It fails to deal with the complexities of the issue.
  6. BREADTH: Do we need to consider another point of view? Is there another way to look at this question? What would this look like from a conservative standpoint? What would this look like from the point of view of . . .? A line of reasoning may be clear accurate, precise, relevant, and deep, but lack breadth (as in an argument from either the conservative or liberal standpoint which gets deeply into an issue, but only recognizes the insights of one side of the question.)
  7. LOGIC: Does this really make sense? Does that follow from what you said? How does that follow? But before you implied this, and now you are saying that; how can both be true? When we think, we bring a variety of thoughts together into some order. When the combination of thoughts are mutually supporting and make sense in combination, the thinking is “logical.” When the combination is not mutually supporting, is contradictory in some sense or does not “make sense,” the combination is not logical.


(Paul, R. and Elder, L. (June 1996). Foundation For Critical Thinking, online at website:


Ø    Here is a version to use with students:


Questions to Use to Elicit Critical Thinking


CLARITY                        Could you elaborate further on that point?  Could you express that

point another way?  Could you give me an illustration?  Could you give me an example?


ACCURACY            Is that really true?  How can we check that?  How can we find out if it’s true?


PRECISION                        Could you give me more details?  Could you be more specific?


RELEVANCE            How is that connected to the question?  How does that bear on the issue?


DEPTH            How does your answer address the complexities in the question?  How are you taking into account the problems in the question?  Is that dealing with the most significant factors?


BREADTH            Do we need to consider another point of view?  Is there another way to look at this?  What would this look like from the point of view of  . . . .?



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