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Beyond Conversations About Race

A Guide for Discussions With Students, Teachers, and Communities

By: Washington Collado, Sharroky Hollie, Rosa Isiah, Yvette Jackson, Anthony Muhammad, Douglas Reeves, Kenneth C. Williams

Written by a collective of brilliant authors, this essential work provokes respectful dialogue about race that catalyzes school-changing action. Learn how to talk about race in the classroom and discover actionable steps you can take toward promoting a safe, equitable environment for marginalized students and underserved communities.

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How to talk about racism in schools and implement equitable classroom practices

Written by a collective of brilliant authors, this essential work provokes respectful dialogue about race that catalyzes school-changing action. The book masterfully weaves together an array of scenarios and discussions, and directly addresses challenging topics such as discomfort, violence, advocacy, bias, and responsibility. The authors call on their lived experiences and, most important, their work with tens of thousands of educators, leaders, and students to help all of us do better in our schools and communities.

Learn how to talk about race in the classroom and advocate for racial equity in schools:

  • Recognize the presence of systemic racism in schools and understand why racism is such an uncomfortable topic for many.
  • Use scenarios and effective discussion questions to encourage challenging conversations.
  • Learn how to advocate for underserved communities and those who suffer under racism.
  • Resist racial stereotypes and promote equity in the classroom.
  • Take appropriate action based on challenging conversations.
  • Ultimately develop classrooms, schools, and districts into safe, anti-racist educational strongholds and promote positive learning experiences for marginalized students.

Related Topics

Family & CommunityLeadershipYouth at Risk


Additional Information

Product Code: BKG035, EKF597

ISBN: 9781952812798

Published By: Solution Tree

Beyond Conversations About Race will be seen as one of the most important educational books of our time regarding what can be done to create equity for all students, especially our students of color. This book comes out less than a year after the death of civil rights icon John Lewis, who lived his life with both the courage and fierce elegance to not only have challenging conversations about race but also fight for equity. It draws attention to the unjust voting system rooted in racism and white supremacy that Lewis and the other marchers on Bloody Sunday on the Edmund Pettus Bridge protested. Issues of systemic racism still pervade society today.

“The authors courageously and adeptly take on the issue of racism, which still leaves our schools not fulfilling the goal of the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. Although that decision struck down the ‘separate but equal’ law, our supposedly integrated school system of today continues to be unequal because the system and some members of that system refuse to face or address the continued racism that is a stain on our country. The authors do a magnificent job of not only giving irrefutable evidence of systemic inequities but also providing tools to have uncomfortable and yet safe conversations about race for all, including students from elementary age through to secondary. Their use of multiple scenarios is truly both effective and engaging, and in their words, ‘These scenarios are one of the most helpful strategies for students, faculty, administrators, and policymakers to have challenging and constructive discussions about race.’

“Their clarion call to move from conversations to a responsibility of action with regard to policies, programs, and practices that are in every educator’s control is meant to both embolden and empower educators to do what is right, not as an act of charity but, as Dr. Muhammad has stated, as a professional responsibility. In this book, their goal, as they state, is not to have everyone agree but to base claims on evidence to support students to critically think about what they have experienced and have been taught. The authors readily admit that they hope what comes from this book are powerful discussions that ‘lead to policies and practices that will help our schools and the students we serve. We have not offered any solutions for racial tension or racism. Rather, we offer an open door for the challenging and necessary discussions that we all must have with one another.’ They share specific actions that educators can take today to move toward the goal of creating a more equitable system that challenges the status quo of systemic racism to ensure all students succeed.”

Brian K. Butler, educational presenter and coauthor, What About Us?

“This book has brought together quite an awesome list of authors. They bring original perspectives on a topic that is quite timely. Each chapter has thought-provoking questions and vignettes that situate a dilemma or a hidden thought that most educators are reluctant to bring into the open with peers. Moving beyond discomfort means embracing collegial support. Their recommendations for using literature or vignettes are very practical and safe ways to bring certain topics to the classroom. Having students construct those scenarios is a great follow-up tool. The way the book is laid out is very teacher friendly.”

Margarita Espino Calderón, professor emerita, Johns Hopkins University

“For schools looking for structure, and fruitful outcomes, to have tough conversations about race and raise racial equity, this all-star team of education authors hit a grand slam with the aptly titled Beyond Conversations About Race! This guide delivers the how for schools to move from dialogue to action by collaboratively assessing and confronting the obstacles to creating inclusive and culturally responsive spaces for all students. A must-have book to study and reference for your school’s diversity, equity, and inclusion work.”

Jorge Valenzuela, education coach, advocate, and author, Rev Up Robotics and SEL in Action

“A refreshingly real approach to engaging and growing through conversations moving beyond race to equity and excellence. The authors are transparent and model trust as they share their experiences and invite others to reflect on their own. The powerful, thought-provoking scenarios provide educators with tools and the opportunity to model what it means to sit with dissonance or disharmony to make meaning of what could and should be a natural part of learning in a world of diversity. The work compels us to move theory and tropes to today and tomorrow, from agitation to advocacy and from personal reflection to collective responsibility as we ensure safe spaces for challenging conversations, whether regarding a name or the nation, to ensure hope and humanity as we live and learn in community.”

Regina Stephens Owens, educational presenter

Beyond Conversations About Race reminds us that schools do not exist in a vacuum, and as a result, those of us who compose schools, both educators and students, are faced with the challenge of grappling with the inequities and racist ideologies that have permeated our country’s educational system. The authors skillfully remind us that to ignore conversations that over time lead to actions intent on addressing both overt and covert forms of racism serves to only further divide the society our students will ultimately inherit. Most notable is the manner in which the authors share their personal and professional experiences to provide readers with examples on how best to navigate these necessary conversations with students of all ages and backgrounds. I was ultimately reminded that excluding conversations about race as part of the learning experience with fellow educators and students only serves to further fuel the inequities, hate, and divisions that today unfortunately pervade our country.”

Luis F. Cruz, educational presenter and author

“I found Beyond Conversations About Race to be not only timely but very effective in achieving its goal of developing strategies to talk about, and work through, issues of race. The tone that this book creates, to me, is the exact tone that needs to be struck when discussing this subject matter. From the very beginning, the layout, the chapter titles, and the authors’ choice of language set up the reader for an easy, comfortable read, even if the subject matter is anything but easy and comfortable. In my work, this is my number-one priority, and therefore, I could easily see myself using a book like this to guide my day-to-day activities.

“My biggest takeaway, and perhaps the most important in my view, is the authors’ use of humor and sarcasm throughout the text. In my professional experience, I find that humor has been my most useful tool when having difficult conversations. Humor is necessary because of the amount of anxiety that these conversations produce. People often feel judged or misunderstood and, as a result, will often shut down or disengage. The use of humor allows people to relax, feel more comfortable, and ultimately open up and expose any vulnerabilities they may have, which allows for true growth.

“While the use of humor implies the creation of a ‘safe space’ while reading, I was pleased to see that the authors chose to focus explicitly on safety in one of the chapters, as this is essential to this type of work. The case studies were also very useful and realistic; I can see how they would easily spark conversations and discussions among staff and faculty members. I did feel that there was a bit of a tonal shift as I got further along in my reading; however, I realize how and why that happened. Moving from setting standards for challenging conversations to talking about law enforcement will naturally create a shift in tone; however, I do think it is necessary given the topic. Overall, I very much enjoyed this book. I found it informative, practical, easy to use, and timely.”

Otis Daye, student equity advisor, Halifax Regional Centre for Education, Canada

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