A Practical Guide to K-12 Anti-Racist, Multicultural Education and Staff Development
By Enid Lee (Editor), Deborah Menkart (Editor), Margo Okazawa-Rey (Editor)
This interdisciplinary guide for teachers, administrators, students, and parents offers lessons and readings that show how to:
- Analyze the roots of racism
- Investigate the impact of racism on all our lives, our families, and our communities
- Examine the relationship between racism and other forms of oppression such as sexism, classism, and heterosexism
- Learn to work to dismantle racism in our schools, communities, and the wider society
Beyond Heroes and Holidays has sold over 55,000 copies to date and is used as a core curriculum in college courses.
Publisher: Teaching for Change
Publication Date: September 12th, 2011
About the Editors
Enid Lee began her career as a classroom teacher 35 years ago. Today she is an accomplished "front line teacher," teacher educator, researcher, writer, consultant, facilitator and speaker. She has taught in the Caribbean, Canada and the USA and has been involved in the professional development of teachers for two decades. She consults internationally on anti-racist, inclusionary and equitable education.
Through her consulting firm, Enid assists urban schools districts and individual schools to continuously restructure themselves for equitable outcomes for all students. She has pioneered the equity-centered initiative, Putting Race On The Table, which is designed to help teachers and administrators develop the skills, knowledge and will to create and maintain equity-centered classrooms. She facilitates an international network of schools enabling educators to share strategies for addressing questions of language, race, culture and class in education and for ensuring that teaching and learning are characterized by academic rigor and readiness for social justice action.
Enid Lee is the author of over 30 publications. They include Letters to Marcia: A teacher's guide to Anti-racist education, the docudramas, "Quick to Judge" and "Food for Thought" from the television series, "Many Voices," and Beyond Heroes and Holidays: A Practical Guides to K-12 Anti-Racist, Multicultural Education and Staff Development. Her current area of research is professional development and anti-racist school leadership.
She has served on numerous boards and commissions concerned with education, immigration and employment and has been an advisor to leaders in education, social services and cultural and arts organizations on equity issues. She is currently a Visiting Scholar with Teaching For Change in Washington, D.C. and formerly held the same position at The New Teacher Center, University of California at Santa Cruz.
Enid Lee has been the recipient of several awards for her ground-breaking work in anti-racist education and community-building among Black communities and immigrant parents. She recently received an Honorary Doctor of Laws from one of Canada's oldest Universities for her contribution to the development of anti-racist education in that country.
The question which continues to guide her work is this: "What do we do now, in concrete, everyday terms to change this situation and move us to greater social justice and human possibility?" The clarity, confidence and courage embedded in this question shape the collaborative relationships she enjoys with educators in a wide variety of contexts.
Deborah Menkart is the executive director of Teaching for Change, a non-profit organization working for social and economic justice by promoting equity-related teaching materials, offering professional development, and increasing parent power in schools. In her 19 years as executive director, Menkart has developed a catalog that over 40,000 educators from across the country rely on for progressive teaching materials and helped launch the school reform collaborative, DC VOICE. She is also the coeditor of Beyond Heroes and Holidays: A Practical Guide to K–12 Anti-Racist, Multicultural Education and Staff Development.
Menkart’s activism began in junior high school when she joined protests of D.C.’s “taxation without representation” and the “dresses-only” dress code for girls. During the 1970s she lived in San Diego, California, where she worked as a shipyard electrician and was involved in the antiwar, women’s, international solidarity, and labor movements.
Menkart received a B.A. in Human Services and a master’s in curriculum and instruction from George Washington University, but attributes most of her learning to colleagues at Teaching for Change, Rethinking Schools, DC VOICE, and the National Coalition of Education Activists.
Margo Okazawa-Rey is Professor of Social Work at San Francisco State University and a long-time community organizer focused on militarism, globalization, and women's rights. She is the co-author with Gwyn Kirk of Women's Lives, Multicultural Perspectives (McGraw-Hill, 2001), a major multicultural feminist textbook used in college level women's studies courses throughout the nation, and the co-author of Beyond Heroes and Holidays: A Practical Guide to Anti-Racist, Multicultural Curriculum and Staff Development, focused on multicultural, multi-racial education.
She was a member of the Combahee River Collective in Boston during the 1970s and one of the founders of the Afro-Asian Relations Council in Washington, D.C. Dr. Okazawa-Rey has served as Jane Watson Irwin Co-Chair in Women's Studies at Hamilton College and holds a doctorate from Harvard University's Graduate School of education. Most recently she has co-edited a special volume of The Journal of Social Justice, focused on neo-liberalism, militarism, and armed conflict. She is a founding member of the East Asia - U.S. Women's Network Against Militarism, and the Institute for Multiracial Justice in San Francisco, organized to bring communities of color together to promote progressive politics.
Beyond Heroes and Holidays Review in EL by Stan Karp (May 1998)
Recently I watched an episode of "Star Trek Voyager" in which the crew was subjected to the evil experiments of invisible aliens. Needles were attached to the heads of unsuspecting crew members, causing some to suffer agonizing pain, others to waste away, and still others to engage in uncharacteristically stupid behavior. The story reminded me of the urban high school I've taught in for 20 years. But instead of being tortured by alien experiments, the inhabitants seem afflicted by the debilitating legacy of racism, often no less invisible and with similarly unhappy results.
Beyond Heroes and Holidays renewed my hope that schools may yet find ways to address this dilemma. Beyond Heroes is a toolkit for unpacking years of personal, institutional, and historical baggage and raising hard issues in constructive ways. It shows how the trendy but soft and superficial multiculturalism now prevalent in schools might become more robust and powerful. It moves beyond "celebrating diversity" to understanding why some differences translate into access to privilege and power, while others are a source of discrimination and injustice. With its many practical strategies for creating dialogue and real change in school communities, Beyond Heroes and Holidays left me hopeful that we might yet move to a higher ground of mutual understanding and join in a common struggle for justice in schools and out.
Beyond Heroes and Holidays Review from Democracy and Education By David Stone, Assistant Professor in Counselor Education at Ohio University (Fall 1998)
Beyond Heroes and Holidays is a find. It offers insight into how the traditional American educational system perpetuates racism in all curricular areas, It provides a rich array of resources, models and strategies for promoting multicultural education. And it can be used by all teachers-new as well as experienced, K-12 as well as university-level. This book is for anyone who has either wondered or been asked, "How can I incorporate multicultural education into my classroom?"
The book is divided into two broad sections: "Working with School Staff, Family and Community" and "Working with Students." In the overview, Sonia Nieto provides a framework for the book which both depicts the mono-cultural structure of most schools and illustrates a truly multicultural learning environment. Nieto acknowledges that tolerance is the most commonly used approach to multicultural education. Yet she argues that tolerance cannot be the foundation for multicultural education because it basically represents support for the status quo. Nieto delineates four levels of multicultural education, each of which is more inclusive, more holistic, and more desirable than the preceding one.
The four levels are: tolerance; acceptance; respect; and affirmation, solidarity, and critique. Nieto suggests -- and I agree -- that the fourth level (affirmation, solidarity and critique) embodies the richest theory and practice of multicultural education. I say this because the model embraces and celebrates racial, ethnic, and cultural differences, where all persons are affirmed in curricular areas. The fourth level is full of possibility. Students' experiences are used as springboards into broader horizons, helping students learn that "American" means everyone.
Some of the articles that follow Nieto's overview offer educational practices that concretely illustrate how educators have been promoting "affirmation, solidarity, and critique" in their classrooms; some of the articles expose practices that support the status quo; and most do both. Due to space limitations, I can only summarize a few of the dozens of articles that are in this anthology. In Sleeter's "Teaching Whites About Racism," the goal is for teacher educators to help White students to identify and to transcend the limitations that racism places upon their thinking. Sleeter offers specific classroom strategies for pre-service teachers to understand racism and to see how it shapes their teaching practices.
The misrepresentation of the history of Africans and African-Americans in textbooks of American history is eloquently captured by Loewen in "Lies My Teacher Told Me: Racism and Anti-Racism in U.S. History," an excerpt from his book Lies My Teacher Told Me. Loewen examines four serious flaws of the average textbook's treatment of slavery: (1) it does not discuss how the peculiar institution impacted White America; (2) it never acknowledges that there was something wrong with White Americans for them to have enslaved people; (3) it does not discuss slavery's relevance to the present in terms of the economic and social inferiority placed upon Blacks and the racism it imprinted upon Whites; and (4) it inaccurately depicts anti-racism forces in U.S. history.
"Working With Students" is the title of the second section of the book, and it is full of strategies that take us beyond heroes and holidays. This section focuses on the classroom, and we find classroom and school-wide activities that will assist in achieving the true inclusiveness and multicultural education that Nieto discussed in the overview.
In an article on activism and preschool children, Louise Derman-Sparks presents an anti-bias curriculum and a structure for teachers to create activism activities for children. The anti-bias curriculum has several goals: to assist the child in the development of a "knowledgeable, confident self-concept and group identity"; to promote the child's "comfortable, empathic interaction with people from diverse backgrounds"; to "foster each child's critical thinking about bias"; and to "cultivate each child's ability to stand up for her/himself and others in the face of bias."
Derman-Sparks' framework for activities is a wonderful avenue for children to feel that they can take stands for the sake of their world and their concerns. The process builds a sense of empowerment and teaches children to be critical thinkers about their world.
Debbie Wei, a Philadelphia school teacher, offers an ESL social studies curriculum in which community issues become the class text. By studying issues such as a racial incident in which a young person died, the students learned how media reporting may further shape people's perceptions. Further, the students explored the link between race and justice. Wei broadens this lesson to encompass the experiences of racial minorities in the United States and to highlight their similarities. This in turn allows the students to develop insight into the sociopolitical realities of others, and to make empathic connections. This process blossoms into a study of the Civil Rights Movement in which the students' essays about discrimination are developed into comic strips that are displayed at a reception for teachers, students and their families.
Bill Bigelow presents a powerful play on the resettlement of two Native American groups from their homelands. In this lesson, students become the principal players in an 1830 drama that significantly changes the lives of thousands of people. The students research and then role play the Cherokees, the Seminoles, the Congressmen, the President, the Plantation Owners, the Farmers, the Missionaries and the Reformers who participated in the processes that led to this displacement. History is given life in this wonderful teaching medium. The ugly underbelly of government is exposed as well, giving students an opportunity to perceive "first-hand" the institution of racism working in concert with the institution of government.
Ernie McCray's piece on the exclusion from California schools of children who are not in the country legally illuminates a basic value that educators of children must have. We are responsible for assisting children to nourish their hopes, to fulfill their dreams, and to maintain their dignity. We must look out for the children who share their lives with us in the classroom. Beyond Heroes and Holidays goes a long way towards helping us meet this responsibility.
Reprinted here with permission.
Beyond Heroes and Holidays: A Practical Guide to K-12 Anti-Racist, Multicultural Education and Staff Development Review by Jerome E. Morris (December, 2000)
According to their Annual Report of 1999, “The Network of Educators on the Americas (NECA) is a nonprofit organization committed to promoting social and economic justice through transformative, quality education for all learners.” Editors Enid Lee, Deborah Menkart, and Margo Ozakawa-Ray, and NECA have made a major contribution to multicultural education. Beyond Heroes and Holidays: A Practical Guide to K-12 Anti- Racist, Multicultural Education and Staff Development brings the ideas and thoughts of multicultural education to the “masses” of educators.
This edited book is a must-have for educators at all levels. Beyond Heroes and Holidays consists of classroom lessons, professional development activities, critical literacy, stories, and excerpts of readings that focus on major multicultural principles and thought. The volume is organized into the following ten sections: School, staff, family, and community development; (2) Reading between the lines: Critical literacy; (3) Language; (4) Lessons for the Classroom; (5) Technology; (6) School-wide Activities; (7) Holidays and Heritage; (8) Talking Back; (9) Glossary; and (10) Resource guide. Interspersed within the writing are activities for workshops, courses, and institutes.
The editors use the philosophy of critical pedagogy, pioneered by the Brazilian educator, Paulo Freire to guide the book. Infused within critical pedagogy is a focus on race and class-based inequity in education that analyzes multicultural education through multiples lenses and from multiple levels: the individual and personal (micro); community (meso); and the societal (macro). I personally found this refreshing because too often misuses of what some define as “multicultural education” avoid serious analyses of race and racism in schools and society. If not careful, multicultural education has the potential to be coopted by naive and sometimes well-intentioned educators who have not critically examined their relative positions within a personal, and global context. For many of them, unfortunately, multicultural education is only about heroes, holidays, ethnic foods, and cultural attire, and devoid of serious discussions of race and class-based inequities. Beyond Heroes and Holidays provides educators with practical tools for deconstructing surfacelevel celebrations and analyses of culture in schools and societies.
An example of the information presented in the edited book includes an article by Sonia Nieto, “Affirmation, Solidarity, and Critique: Moving Beyond Tolerance in Education.” In this article, Nieto takes the reader inside schools to illustrate how multicultural education might actually look like in various schools’ practices and policies. She does this through five scenarios and notes how each school—through a critical analysis of the cultural symbols, power arrangements, curriculum, and the extent of affirmation of students’ diversity and ethnicity—provide different levels of multicultural education support. Numerous examples of insightful critiques and analyses permeate this book, including critiques of popular knowledge such as the notion that Mexicans are “taking” U.S. jobs and movie depictions of Pocahontas. Educators are encouraged to begin to see historical events and movements such as “Thanksgiving,” “Chinese exclusion” in America, the “Westward Movement” the “Civil Rights Movement” and slavery and the Civil War, through different lenses. Moreover, the book not only focuses on multicultural education for diverse, ethnic, cultural, and language groups; selected articles by noted authors and researchers such as Beverly Daniel Tatum and Peggy McIntosh enable the reader to begin to deconstruct whiteness, white racial identity, and their accompanying privileges.
This edited book also includes a collection of writings by prominent scholars such as James Banks, Lisa Delpit, and Christine Sleeter, as well as articles, essays, and poems by not so well known students, teachers, and activists. A major strength is the editors’ ability to operationalize theoretical and abstract concepts by providing concrete readings and examples of the manifestation of hidden privileges, racism, ethnocentrism, and oppression. Beyond Heroes and Holidays not only “educates” educators, students, and activists, but it also illustrates how to “Talk Back” through protest and collective community action. This 450+ page volume ambitiously provides examples of “how to” infuse multicultural education into every aspect of our daily lives. In some ways, however, the editors realize how humanly impossible this task might become. Therefore, they provide references, resources, and internet sites to encourage the reader to move beyond the text.
The major weakness of the book is organizational, rather than substantive in nature. Some of the transitions between the writings are dis-jointed. While the book is already voluminous, brief interludes at the beginning of each section might help the reader to make a smoother transition. The contents, without a doubt, clearly convey NECA’s seriousness in publishing informative and consciousness raising texts and guides, as well as the editors’ expressed commitment to transformative multicultural education and social justice.
Beyond Heroes and Holidays: A Practical Guide to K-12 Anti-Racist, Multicultural Education and Staff Development will prove to be extremely useful as a resource guide for school-based educators, and a valuable supplementary text for courses that focus on race, culture, class, and gender in education. I currently use selected writings for graduate-level courses that I teach on race and culture in education policy, and the cultural politics of December, 2000 post-colonial education. I highly suggest this book for beginning and advanced multicultural educators, schoolteachers, and college professors across disciplines, as well as activists and intellectuals outside of formal educational institutions.
Jerome E. Morris is a member of Edliberation, a national organization of activists, academics, and practitioners who focus on education for critical consciousness. He is also an assistant professor in the Department of Social Foundations of Education at The University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia.