Straddling White and Black Worlds
How Interpersonal Interactions with Young Black People Forever Altered a White Man’s Understanding of Race
Author(s): Paul Clement Reck

A white male professor reflects on the formation of his own racial consciousness, vicarious understanding of Blackness, and resulting commitment to racial justice, through relationships with young Black people in school and personal life.

Collection: Black Studies
 Publication Date  Available in all formats
ISBN 9781915734204
  Pages 243

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Description

How does a white man understand what it’s like to be Black? How can he start to form a sense of racial consciousness, and take action for racial justice?

For Dr Paul Reck PhD, an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Ramapo College, this journey was sparked and informed by the interactions and relationships he has, and has had, with his Black godchildren and Black students he has taught. To use one’s privilege for the benefit of those less privileged means first understanding that privilege and the needs of those you are trying to help: this honest and reflective autoethnography recounts Reck’s developing sense of racial consciousness from his childhood through to his work as a university professor.

Ideal reading for students of Black Studies or African-American Studies and similar courses, this book will be of interest to anyone who is beginning to explore how to de-centre their own whiteness in their understanding of race.

  • Cover
  • Half Title
  • Title Page
  • Dedication
  • Copyright Page
  • v 
  • viiContents
  • 1 Seeds of my racial consciousness
  • 2 My miseducation regarding race and racism
    • Silencing and erasing race
    • Omissions and exclusions of Blacks’ experiences in the United States
    • Misleading messages and lies about anti-​Black racism and distorted portrayals of Whites and Blacks
    • Compounding miseducation through immersion in predominantly White schools and communities
    • Cracks in the wall of miseducation and teachers’ discouragement of studying race
    • Key takeaways from my miseducation
  • 3 My re-​education regarding race and racism
    • The influence of Black friends on my re-​education
    • The influence of volunteer experiences in college on my re-​education
    • Stepping into a Black world and becoming a godfather
    • Returning to the classroom and receiving new lessons about race and racism
    • Main lessons learned about Blackness and Whiteness
    • Learning objective
      • Understanding how experiences shape racial consciousness
  • 4 Racially skewed expectations of intellectual ability
    • Educators’ discretionary class and curricular placement of Black and White students
    • Educators’ expectations and goals for Black students: set your sights low
    • Problematic consequences of racially skewed expectations of ability
  • 5 Manufacturing Black threat
    • Gender and Black threat
    • Age and Black threat
    • Spatial variation of Black threat
    • The mitigation of Black threat through the presence of Whites
    • Consequences of equating Blackness with threat
    • Learning objective
      • Recognizing the variability of racial meanings
  • 6 Presuming Black guilt
    • Manufacturing guilt out of racial stereotypes
    • When in doubt, blame a Black person
    • Round up the usual suspect
    • They did what? It must be true!
    • Racialized attributions of blame
    • Consequences of racial presumptions of guilt
    • Learning objective
      • Recognizing expectations associated with Blackness and Whiteness
  • 7 Protecting White innocence
    • Covering up and hiding problematic White behavior
    • Protecting White innocence through casual dismissal and rationalizations
    • Protecting White innocence by demonizing Blacks or calling attention to White victimization
    • Consequences of protecting White innocence
  • 8 Reflections on race privilege, power, and treatment
    • Reflections on privileges related to ability, competence, threat, and guilt
    • Reflections on power to affect outcomes and the limits on such power
    • Reflections on how I am treated when interacting with Black people
    • Promoting healthier cross-​racial interactions between Black and White people
    • Learning objectives
      • Developing critical awareness of race privilege
      • Understanding ways of improving Black–​White relations
  • 191Recommended projects and assignments
  • 193Notes
  • 218References
  • 230Recommended further reading
  • Index

Paul Reck PhD is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Ramapo College. His research interests focus on the social construction of race, class, and gender, and how such constructions contribute to structural inequality, particularly within the context of the criminal justice system. During his tenure at Ramapo College, Dr Reck has created and supervised the Diversity Action Student Group, a student organization dedicated to promoting diversity and social justice on campus, and has spearheaded the establishment of a chapter of the NAACP.

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