Teaching Outside One’s Race: The Story of an Oakland Teacher

Bree Picower


“Oh, the District placed you at Prescott Elementary?  You better watch out ‒ they hate white people.  Especially that Carrie Secret ‒ she’s one of those black radicals, you know, the Ebonics people.”  This was the warning I was given multiple times in multiple ways when people found out that I had been assigned to Prescott Elementary School for my first teaching position, in Oakland, California in 1999.  The “warners” were other white folks who were trying to protect what they saw as a young, new teacher from what they perceived to be a hostile place.   However, I really didn’t fit the stereotype.  I had been involved with several organizations that explicitly addressed issues of race and education for several years, often as the only white person there.  I was thrilled to be placed at a school such as Prescott, whose reputation for high achievement for African American children and adoption of the “Ebonics” program had placed it at the forefront of national debate.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/rt.2014.166


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