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Synopsis

Stories of the lives of white teachers, as white teachers, too often simplify the complexities and conflicts of their work with students of color. Drawing on in-depth interviews with five white teachers, as well as on her own experiences, Audrey Lensmire provides generous, complex, and critical accounts of white teachers, against the backdrop of her sharp critique of schools and our country’s awful race history.

With Charlotte, Lensmire explores how hard it often is for white people to talk about race. Through Darrin’s stories, Lensmire illuminates this white teacher’s awakening as a raced person, his tragic relationship with a brilliant African-American student, and how his need for control in the classroom undermined his own sense of himself as a good person. In her interpretations of stories told by Paul, Frida, and Margaret, Lensmire examines how care and desire play out in teaching students of color.

In a society in which we avoid serious conversations about race and whiteness and what these mean for the education of our nation’s children, Lensmire’s book is an invaluable resource.

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