MSU Faculty Book Talk – Dr. Hagerman

I attended Dr. Hagerman’s book talk about her book White Kids: Growing up with Privilege in a Racially Divided America. She followed and interviewed the children (middle school aged) of affluent white parents from different parts of one big city. She wanted the answers to the following questions: “how do white affluent kids learn about race, racism and inequality?” and “how does white racial socialization lead to the reproduction of racism and racial inequality?”. She did find out that actions speak louder than words; parents can tell their kids that everyone is equal, but unless they behave and treat others as equals, the kids will not believe that everyone is equal. She also noticed that some parents put their children in private schools to remove them from racial issues, or if the kids were in public schools, they had a private tutor. Parents wanted their kids to have the best education, “giving your child the most advantages your resources can provide,” but she says to be a good citizen – “raising a child who will challenge inequality and racism.” Her book talk caused me to reflect on the way I was raised as well as what I have noticed among other families in public. I have always agreed with the statement “actions speak louder than words,” but when Dr. Hagerman put the findings into place, it really opened up a new perspective for me. She ended with the statement that white families can be a place for radical work, and we need to place value on children collectively. Powerful statement. We cannot move forward as a society, as a nation, if we do not want to improve education for ALL – not just some. Yes, children are the future, but they are also our now.

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