From Rage to Hope – Crystal Kuykendall

from rage to hope The full title is From Rage to Hope: Strategies for Reclaiming Black and Hispanic Students. Overall, a quality book which gave concrete examples of how to reach these students. While the book focused on Black and Hispanic students (possibly more so on  Black students due to the author’s own background), most if not all of the suggestions and studies can be applied to all students. What was possibly most useful was the explanation of the intricacies of Black culture (generalizing, here) that I was unaware of as a white lady. For example, Black students may “Play the Dozens” which is a game about insulting people’s relatives or mothers but is really about being quick witted and good with language. Basically, if students are doing this, they shouldn’t be punished for insulting people (unless they really ARE insulting people) but rewarded for their skills which should be channeled into classwork or activities.

The resounding lesson here is that teachers must love each and every student, no matter their faults. Always find something good in each student and use that quality to  build that student up. The author writes with a sense of urgency that we must forsake our stereotypes of these children (because most teachers in America are White and middle-class) and expect success from all children. No excuses.

The book addressed why many African American and Hispanic students don’t do well in school: because they don’t want to be labeled as White for being successful in this White-centric society. The author suggests that teaching about the academic and life achievements of African American and Hispanic (and others) people with whom students can identify. Basically, Black History is every day, not just in February. The same can be said about teaching about people from all backgrounds.

Kuykendall asks us to look at our society and culture of our schools to see if we are excluding anybody. For example, some schools don’t allow students to wear cornrows in their hair (which excludes African Americans) or wear large earrings (which excludes Latinas who might wear large hoop earrings – again with the generalizing). It’s time to step back and look with a critical eye at our decisions, biases, rules, and expectations.

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