Suggested Reading List

Here are some books that I’ve read that I think quite a few people could benefit from reading. Forgive me if it’s a bunch of Black shit (actually not really, deal with it). Most of these are books that played a really big role in my personal development, scholarly development, and my overall worldview. I’ll try to update this list as I read through more books. I’m pretty sure you can find most of these on Amazon for cheap. If you are interested in any book in particularly, please comment and I can tell you more about it. Some of these books I have not read in a long time so bare with me if my memory is spotty for some of them. Or alternatively, if you have any suggestions for books I should read, I would be happy to get those as well.

  1. Creating the Opportunity to Learn: Moving From Research to Practice to Close the Achievement Gap, A. Wade Boykin & Pedro Noguera
  2. Race Talk and the Conspiracy of Silence: Understanding and Facilitating Difficult Dialogues on Race, Derald Wing Sue
  3. Of the Dawn of Freedom, W.E.B. DuBois
  4. Souls of Black Folk, W.E.B. DuBois
  5. The Gift of Black Folk, W.E.B. DuBois
  6. Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
  7. No Name in the Street, James Baldwin
  8. Stolen Legacy, George James
  9. Democracy Matters, Cornel West
  10. Hope on a Tightrope, Cornel West
  11. Silent Covenants: Brown V. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform, Derrick Bell
  12. Black Sexual Politics, Patricia Hill Collins
  13. Black Skin, White Masks, Frantz Fanon
  14. Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon
  15. The Anatomy of Racial Inequality, Glenn C. Loury
  16. Fences, August Wilson
  17. Postcolonialism: A very Short Introduction, Robert J. C. Young
  18. Native Son, Richard Wright
  19. The Outsider, Richard Wright
  20. Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty, Dorothy Roberts
  21. The Miseducation of the Negro, Carter G. Woodson
  22. A Gathering of Old Men, Ernest Gaines
  23. A Lesson Before Dying, Ernest Gaines
  24. Pedagogy of Indignation, Paulo Friere
  25. Undoing Whiteness in the Classroom: Critical Educultural Teaching Approaches for Social Justice Activism, Virginia Lea
  26. Segu, Maryse Condé
  27. Malcolm X: The Last Speeches, Malcolm X
  28. African American Perspectives: Family Dynamics, Health Care Issues and the Role of Ethnic Identity, Marian Harris (I co-wrote a chapter in this book, shameless plug lol) 


Power, Liberation, and Well-Being

Ceci and Papierno (2005) state that multiple disciplines feel that the motivation behind targeted interventions is the Matthew effect. Originally a bible reference, it refers to the intensification of already existing advantages. This leads to the widening of preexisting gaps. Should community psychology just focus on eliminating gaps or should it focus on the aid of all people who can benefit from it?

Community psychology has as goals social activism and the closing of gaps between the “haves” and the “have not,” but is this good enough? Is it the correct route? Some would argue that anything that can help people should be given to everyone and not to just one particular group. Ceci and Papierno state that the enhancement of high achieving students could have a positive effect on everyone. The economic growth resulting from their growth could trickle down to their less achieving counterparts. They also make the point that one can argue that any intervention that can enhance the performance of any student should be made available, regardless of what other characteristics may be in play. There are several problems with this article and the point of view that it takes. When the point is made that anything that can benefit students should be given to them regardless of their situation, it seems to not consider the fact that the reason that there is a gap in the first place is because resources and adequate education were not given to these lower achieving students due to various factors.

Prilleltensky refers to power as “a combination of ability and opportunity to influence a course of events” and that it comes in three forms: power to strive to wellness, power to oppress, and power to resist oppression and pursue liberation. He asserts that power is both psychological and political, a point of view that is not often seen. This is a broader view of power dynamics and it illustrates the interactive relationship between psychology and politics. Such a view of power also shows how oppression is both psychological and political. He also maintains that even community psychologists are not immune to certain conservative influences. Is it possible that using these kinds of intervention with the goal in mind of enhancing everyone is just another way of helping those who already have power to increase their power, specifically the power to oppress?

Ceci and Papierno’s article also states that assessing the history of power differentials, racism and other forms of institutional discrimination is outside the scope of their research. This is a very limiting way of approaching the issue. How can an issue be solved if there is no assessment of how the issue came about in the first place? Watts and Serrano-Garcia (2003) state that historical context is not adequately articulated in the person-environment fit perspective. This makes perfect sense because people do not exist in vacuums and their behavior is determined by environment and historical factors. There is little or no mention in Ceci and Papierno’s article of the socio-historical factors that influenced the direction of the work or the interventions described in the article. The article also does not offer a way to change or modify the social structures that act upon individuals. What could be a framework as to how to approach this issue of widening gaps?

Ryan (1994) offers two views of equality: the Fair Play and Fair Shares perspectives. The Fair Play perspective contends that all participants should be under the same set of conditions. No one should have to face any handicap and no one should have an unfair advantage. As a result of this, the person who succeeds the most does so because of their own ability and no other reason. The Fair Share perspective contends that the lack of disproportionate differences between two groups is a basic component in the idea of equality. The rationale of doing the intervention for all students seems to be based on the Fair Play perspective. It seems as if this methods is a way for all the students to given the same consideration and that their performances would be due mostly to their own ability. Giving targeted interventions to certain demographics that may be oppressed or marginalized could be as coming from a Fair Shares perspective. The intervention would be aimed at evening out the playing field in terms of resources. What this article does not seem to mention is how these two perspectives could be misused or misinterpreted. For example, the Fair Play says that no one should be given any unfair advantage. This point of view can be applied to affirmative action. What tends to be lacking from this point of view is the impact of preexisting handicaps or disadvantages suffered by another group. One would feel that it makes no sense to give an intervention to both the advantaged and disadvantaged groups because one of the groups already possesses an unfair example. This point is exacerbated when the intervention is structured in such a way that the advantaged group has an unfair advantage in utilizing the intervention, leading a widening of the preexisting gap.

A question that community psychology as a field has to ask itself in this kind of situation is: does providing an intervention to all groups benefit everyone in the same way? Does the intervention actually harm another group? Does the intervention actually help to reinforce the status quo that community psychology so wishes to dismantle? Only after answering questions such as these will the field be able to formulate the proper solution to this issue.

Presenting Alternative Images

An anecdote Gladwell tells in Blink Suggests the importance of presenting alternative images when attempting to construct lenses that position people of color as capable and powerful. The story revolves around the race IAT (Implicit Association Test). The race IAT is a computer-generated test that measures our implicit racial valences ( More than 80% of all those who take this test end up having pro-white associations (Gladwell, 2004, 84). This includes about half of the 50,000 African Americans who have taken the test. Gladwell reports that after months of taking the test daily and scoring with the majority every time, one day an IAT researcher was stunned to discover that he got a positive association with images of black people. He was deeply puzzled by this turn of events. Finally, he realized that he’d spent the morning watching the Olympics on TV. From this, he and other researcher surmised that repetitive and recent exposure to positive images of black people had affected the racist features of his adaptive unconscious and thus his response to the IAT. They extrapolated that altering our exposure to the images we come into contact with regularly is one way to alter adaptive unconscious.

Ann Berlak, Undoing Whiteness in the Classroom: Critical educultural teaching approaches for social justice activism

“In his book, W…

“In his book, We Can’t Teach What We Don’t Know: White Teachers, Multicultural Schools, Gary Howard (1999) offers the reader a metaphor for the omnipresence of racism and white privilege in our lives. We see racism as a hugely significant dimension of whiteness. ‘Racism for whites has been like a crazy uncle who has been locked away for generations in the hidden attic of our collective social reality. This old relative has been part of the family for a long time. Everyone knows he’s living with us, because we bring him food and water occasionally, but nobody wants to take him out in public. He is an embarrassment and a pain to deal with, yet our little family secret is that he is rich and the rest of us are living, consciously or unconsciously, off the wealth and power he accumulated in his heyday. Even though many of us may disapprove of the tactics he used to gain his fortune, few of us want to be written out of his will. (p.52)’”

Undoing Whiteness in the Classroom: Critical educultural teaching approaches for social justice activism

At the start of…

At the start of the twenty-first century, government mandates and corporate practices are resulting in growing inequities in the U.S. educational field. Many view this as being driven by whiteness hegemony. Undoing Whiteness in the Classroom is a comprehensive effort to bring together, in one volume, educultural practices and teaching strategies that deconstruct whiteness hegemony, empower individuals to develop critical consciousness, and inspire them to engage in social justice activism. Through music, the visual and performing arts, narrative, and dialogue, educulturalism opens us up to becoming more aware of the oppressive cultural and institutional forces that make up whiteness hegemony. Educulturalism allows us to identify how whiteness hegemony functions to obscure the power, privilege, and practices of the dominant social elite, and reproduce inequities and inequalities within education and wider society.

Undoing Whiteness in the Classroom: Critical educultural teaching approaches for social justice activism