Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

Sailing against the Wind: African Americans and Women in U.S. Education

Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

Sailing against the Wind: African Americans and Women in U.S. Education

Article excerpt

Sailing Against the Wind: African Americans and Women in LI.S. Education, edited by Kofi Lomotey. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1997.183 pp. $16.95, paper.

Reviewed by Mignonne Pollard, Harvard University.

Sailing Against the Wind combines educational theory and personal experience in an examination of the lives of students and teachers in the southern United States from elementary school to graduate school. The title provides an apt metaphor for the challenges present in the lives of African Americans and women in all areas of the educational system. Part of the SUNY Press "Frontiers in Education" series, the book tackles issues of racism, sexism, and discrimination against the disabled, posing complex questions and offering concrete solutions to issues of diversity at every level of education.

Sailing Against the Wind is divided into five sections, the first of which is an introduction by editor Lomotey, vice president and provost of Medgar Evers College and editor of the journal, Urban Education. In Section II, "Multiculturalism Re-Examined," Natalie Adams tackles the myths of multiculturalism by examining power relationships between students and teachers and by challenging the idea of separation between communities and schools. Harriet Walker offers a new definition of multiculturalism that has as its foundation an understanding of the psychological, cultural, socioeconomic, and political constructions of oppression. Annette Jackson-Lowery concludes this section with a candid look at her personal journey from prejudice to acceptance and, finally, advocacy for disabled students. "African American Students in Secondary Schools" is the third and largest section. It opens with Jill Harrison's chapter entitled "Lisa's Quiet Fight: School Structure and African American Adolescent Females." Based on interviews with one of the author's seventhgrade students, this chapter is a much-needed addition to the scant literature about the educational experiences of African American girls. In a moving chapter entitled "The Voices Behind the Faces: What Listening to Students Can Teach Teachers," Amy Zangar, a young White teacher, chronicles the increased understanding of cultural differences she gained while teaching in an all-Black high school.

Section IV, "Women in Higher Education," includes an important chapter by Gwendolyn Snearl entitled "Sailing Against the Wind: African American Women, Higher Education and Power. …

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