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Beth Seegebarth

Racial Healing
Book Report
Multicultural Ed/Practice
EDU 624
All the books we have read for this class show a unique perspective on the racial issues
we have in America. If we can go into any situation and realize that everyone has their own point
of views, it will make us more accepting. Our agendas shouldnt be to force our opinions or
ideals on anyone, just as we shouldnt let people push their views onto us. Everyone deserves a
chance to be heard. We will meet plenty of people in our lives that do not agree with our stance
on issues; however, that is okay. It takes all kinds of people and views to make the world go
around. Our opinions dont make us right and their views dont make them wrong.
The author, Harlon L. Dalton, had a very unique experience with Jadwiga Sutak (p. 29).
Even though her curiosity was genuine, her delivery definitely left room for a lot of
improvement. Harlon had reservations answering her questions based on her delivery; however,
he saw that she was genuinely interested in the answers to her questions. His openness to answer
her questions, I believe, came from her being from Poland. If she wasnt from Poland, would he
have been as open to answer her questions? Im not so sure. This is where we can use this
example in the educational setting. People are genuinely curious about other races and cultures.
We need to make it okay to talk about other races and cultures without being judgmental or
accusatory. We may have students with legitimate questions or concerns about other cultures or
races and based on how we answer their questions may dictate how open they are to share their
own culture. Our openness to not allow any subject to be taboo is important to help our students

with anything that may come up in their lives. Harlon allowed Jadwiga a look into a life and
culture she may have never had without Harlons openness.
This is why it troubles me when he says that, There is also a part of us that is tired of
being the ones who do all the work, of bearing the burden of educating White folk, as my
people say (p. 37). Dalton then mentions, the ensuing conversation often founders because
the assumptions we make about one another get in the way of real communications, (p. 38).
Who better a resource than the people who live it every day? Is it our approach, or is it our
assumptions about each other? We need to learn about each other; however, there a lot of things
we cannot learn from books, museums, and articles. We can never fully understand each others
paths, but we can appreciate the journey. If we are never open to questions and we shut each
other out with our assumptions, we will forever be at a stagnant state of brush-offs and
avoidances. How is that racial healing?
Dalton then contradicts himself. He is tired of teaching people, but then Dalton tells us to
look at other teachers for answers. How, then, can we break the grip of the past? How can we
stop replaying old tapes and repeating old patterns? How do we unburden ourselves of the hurts,
fears, anxieties, and woes that have been bequeathed to us? How do we heal our psychological
wounds? By taking a leaf from Mandela and De Klerk, Begin and Sadat, Arafat and Rabin.
Among the many lessons they have to teach us are the importance of candidly confronting the
past, expressing genuine regret, carefully appraising the present in light of the past, agreeing to
repair that which can be repaired, accepting joint responsibility for the future, and refusing to be
derailed by setbacks and short-term failure, (p.100). What if theses teachers just said they were
tired of teaching people?

Dalton then gives advice on how people should tell their story. He says, In retelling our
story, we need to do a much better job of articulating all of the ways in which race matters. We
need to describe the effects of racism and discrimination on our daily lives, (p. 168). Im glad
he points out ways to help with communication. Openness is the key to our future being better.
We cant understand where the other person has been, but we can listen and appreciate their
journey. I hope to be this open with all of my students. Being in special education, a lot of my
students will have their own discriminations to overcome. I want them to feel open to talk about
their challenges and to be a part of ways to overcome them, to not let them hinder them in any
I greatly appreciate Daltons story about his friend, Trina (p. 82). At the time of their first
meeting, Dalton wasnt even sure she was black. Trina was from a very racially-mixed family.
Daltons first impression of Trina was that she was Latina or possibly white, but he did not think
she was black until she said she was. Her identity as a black woman was wrapped up in the
culture she felt most comfortable with growing up in. It had nothing to do with her looks. So his
original assumption of her was wrong, and he maybe would have missed out on a unique
friendship if he would have gone with his gut. He ran into Trina again, years later, and while she
wasnt very different, her outlook on race and what it meant was. She was now exploring other
sides of who she was culturally and racially. We may, from time to time, run into students who
are from a racially-mixed background. It is up to the person with the diversity what race they
prefer to associate with. Trinas daughter, who had blonde hair and blue eyes, also identified as
black. To most people, she would be seen as white; however, her mother being racially diverse
herself, identified as black so, so did she. As teachers, it is not our job to tell them they are
wrong. We do not know their backgrounds or their whole families, and even if we do, it is still

not our place to decide for them. We should give them an open door to do what they feel is right.
How a person identifies their race may have nothing to do with the color of their skin, and how
someone identifies culturally, may have nothing to do with their upbringing. We have to do what
feels comfortable; however, I do not believe we should ever lie about who or what we are. What
we share is up to us. No one can make us share a part of ourselves we arent comfortable with
sharing but that does not give an excuse to tell lies. I think Dalton sums this up nicely when he
says, For most of us, the various building blocks of racial identity fit together easily. Our
official racial designation, the label attached to us by society as a whole, our self-identity, and
the messages we get from the group we belong to all stack neatly on top of another. But for an
ever increasing number of Americans, building an identity is much more complex. It is as if one
block comes from a set of Lincoln Logs and the next from a set of Legos. The resulting identity
confusion makes for a tangle of issues social, political, and psychological that is difficult to
tease out, much less resolve (p. 90).
I never want a student to think that I am putting them down or trying to keep them
separated from their educational interests. I also dont want to foster a rift from them that may
not exist. I am not saying that white privilege does not sometimes feel like oppression; what I
am saying, is that it isnt always there. I hope that is not my naivety showing. I know it is there at
times, but I am not convinced that it is just ALWAYS there, either. I dont like the picture that
Dalton paints, They are forever instigating: pitting the interests of one group against those of
another; exalting leaders who are weak and tearing down those who are strong; spotlighting
worrisome fissures and transforming them into gaping chasms. Their goal in all this is to keep
people of color from coalescing and mounting a serious challenge to the existing order, (p. 136).
Maybe it is just that I dont want to believe that about people; however, I do know that I am

going to be more aware and on the lookout for these kinds of behaviors. I would hate to think
that people I associate with would consciously do this, but it is altogether possible. To move on
though, I think people need to make sure they arent seeing things that arent there. This goes on
both sides of a conversation.
Daltons victimization thesis is, that we (black people) use slavery, segregation, and
discrimination as all-purpose excuses for our own failings; that we are caught up in playing the
blame game, thereby alienating our allies and leaving our enemies unscathed; and that in any
event it is high time for us to give it a rest and move on, (p. 147). This can be a double-edged
sword. I have definitely heard this theory from other people, but I have never thought it. I have
never owned anyone, nor has my family, I have never had the power to segregate anyone, and I
definitely dont discriminate against people. I dont want to perpetuate this theory. I dont want
any students I come across to feel this or use it as an excuse for poor behavior or their lack of
interest in classes. I dont know if it is more detrimental to keep bringing up the past or to know
it is there and that, for the most part, people no longer agree with those feelings and no longer
live there. Our countrys history is a part of all of us and it is good to learn from it, but it is not
good to live in it; thats why it is the past, not the present, or the future.
We all have differences, we all have our own story to tell. By paying attention to, rather
than sliding over, our various differences, we are in a better position to reach out to all parts of
the community, (p. 179). Paying attention to our differences and doesnt mean pointing them
out but to be accepting of them. We all have them; some differences are physically noticeable
and some are not. Just because we do not see our differences doesnt mean they are not there.
Also, just because we can see differences doesnt mean that those differences have to define who
we are. Differences dont explain who we or what we have been through. we should be

careful not to judge too quickly or too harshly, (p. 189). Indeed the very process of racial
engagement puts us all on the same plane. When we are open and honest with each other; when
we abandon our hiding places, take risks, and own up to our own self-interest, when we place on
the table our assumptions, fears, trepidations, and secret desires, by that very act we are
connecting with one another as equals, (p. 224). There is positivity and we can find it. We just
have to want to. We have to want to share, to encourage, and to be a part of each others lives.
People on different sides of the race line need to find a way to communicate without
arguing. We can be too quick to point on the problems with each other, instead of learning from
each other and discussing how to make the problems better. When our culture comes under
attack, we need to respond both to our accusers and to the problems they highlight. We should
use the occasion to point out efforts that have long been underway in our community to deal with
the highlighted problem, (p. 201).
I struggle with his smugness about other races. I believe that if you are fighting your own
racial battle, there can only be strength in numbers. Why is he cutting out resources and other
people that may share his fight? I dont understand this philosophy. We deserve to be elevated
above Asian-Americans and Latinos because we are more truly American than they. After all,
English is our native tongue. We go back several generations. Although our distant African
heritage is important to us, we owe no allegiance to any other country, (p.207). I feel this is a
very tick-for-tack argument. White people have suppressed other whites in this country, but it
has never been to the extent that white people have kept other races down. I hate that Dalton is
making me feel like I have to defend my position as a white person. Again, my skin color has
nothing to do with who I am. My skin color doesnt tell you that my parents divorced when I was
eight, that I rarely saw my father after the divorce, and that my mother constantly chose her

second husband over me. It doesnt tell you that she chose him over me so much that she wanted
to give up her parental rights of me when I was sixteen. This is while I maintained a 3.5 GPA in
high school, worked, and was a star athlete in my high school. I never came home late and did
everything I could to make others happy. All of that doesnt matter. What truly matters is how
you treat others and how others treat you. Our assumptions and background dont decide who we
are, they may have had a hand in shaping who we are, but they arent the only factors.
For my senior seminar project to complete my bachelors degree, I did a research project
and paper on women in a mans world in the workplace. I did a lot of research and read a lot of
books and articles on this topic; they are everywhere and not difficult to find. The more I read,
the more I wrote about. The more I wrote, the more I realized how saturated the media was on
this topic. Is that really a good thing? In my conclusion, I mentioned that we needed to stop
discussing it so much. Will it really go away if all we do is focus on how bad it is, or how to
accomplish changes, or point fingers.
I think Racial Healing fits in this category. While our author has his own point-of-view,
is it necessary? Is this yet another topic that we have beaten to death? Is it terrible? Yes! Does it
need to be explained over and over again? Do people need to constantly point their fingers at
racism as a scapegoat for everything? Is it necessary to over-analyze everything that happens to
find a link to how awful racism is in America? Im just not so sure. I think we need way more
action and a lot less talking. Im not saying to sweep things under the rug or pretend that racism
doesnt exist. I am saying we need to work towards a more harmonious lifestyle.