“Lucid, accessible” research on classroom language bias for educators and “parents concerned about questions of power and control in public schools” (Publishers Weekly). In this collection of twelve essays, MacArthur Fellow Lisa Delpit and Kent State University Associate Professor Joanne Kilgour Dowdy take a critical look at the issues of language and dialect in the education system. The Skin That We Speak moves beyond the highly charged war of idioms to present teachers and parents with a thoughtful exploration of the varieties of English spoken today. At a time when children who don’t speak formal English are written off in our schools, and when the class- and race-biased language used to describe those children determines their fate, The Skin That We Speak offers a cutting-edge look at this all-important aspect of education. Including groundbreaking work by Herbert Kohl, Gloria J. Ladson-Billings, and Victoria Purcell-Gates, as well as classic texts by Geneva Smitherman and Asa Hilliard, this volume of writing is what Black Issues Book Review calls “an essential text.” “The book is aimed at helping educators learn to make use of cultural differences apparent in language to educate children, but its content guarantees broader appeal.” —Booklist “An honest, much-needed look at one of the most crucial issues in education today.” —Jackson Advocate
From the row houses of Baltimore to the stoops of Brooklyn, the New York Times bestselling author of The Cook Up lays bare the voices of the most vulnerable and allows their stories to uncover the systematic injustice threaded within our society. Honest and eye-opening, the pages of We Speak for Ourselves “are abundant with wisdom and wit; integrity and love, not to mention enough laughs for a stand-up comedy routine” (Mitchell S. Jackson, author of Survival Math). Watkins introduces you to Down Bottom, the storied community of East Baltimore that holds a mirror to America’s poor black neighborhoods—“hoods” that could just as easily be in Chicago, Detroit, Oakland, or Atlanta. As Watkins sees it, the perspective of people who live in economically disadvantaged black communities is largely absent from the commentary of many top intellectuals who speak and write about race. Unapologetic and sharp-witted, D. Watkins is here to tell the truth as he has seen it. We Speak for Ourselves offers an in-depth analysis of inner-city hurdles and honors the stories therein. We sit in underfunded schools, walk the blocks burdened with police corruption, stand within an audience of Make America Great Again hats, journey from trap house to university lecture, and rally in neglected streets. And we listen. “Watkins has come to remind us, everyone deserves the opportunity to speak for themselves” (Jason Reynolds, New York Times bestselling author) and serves hope to fellow Americans who are too often ignored and calling on others to examine what it means to be a model activist in today’s world. We Speak for Ourselves is a must-read for all who are committed to social change.