Listen to an episode featuring Celia Reddick:

Refugee Education and Language of Instruction

Racism in Education Across Global Contexts

by Celia Reddick
Visiting Assistant Professor, Lynch School of Education and Human Development, Boston College
Adjunct Lecturer, Harvard Graduate School of Education

“Hey! Do you have any recs for non-US articles on race and education?” a colleague wrote me as she was preparing her course for the coming semester. She was hoping to expand her class about race and racism in education to consider contexts outside the United States. As I reflected on materials I might share with her, two other similar messages appeared from colleagues, also eager to help students understand the ways in which the white supremacy that defines the US education system is transnational, rooted in histories of colonialism.

I teach courses that examine issues of educational inequity globally, including related to migration, colonialism, and language. In these courses, I increasingly find that FreshEd episodes can help students draw connections between what they are learning of education in the US and contexts that might feel further afield.

The episode with Derron Wallace about his new book, The Culture Trap: Ethnic Expectations and Unequal Schooling for Black Youth is an excellent place to start. In his book—and through his FreshEd episode—Wallace takes his readers to schools in London and New York City to demonstrate how narratives about cultural distinction and cultural deficits shape the educational pathways open to Black Caribbean youth. Wallace examines his own social position vis-à-vis the questions he asks and reveals how ‘culture’ serves as a proxy for ‘race’ in narratives about Black Caribbean youths’ academic abilities and achievement across two very different contexts. Wallace concludes with strategies that educators and families can employ to undo the ‘culture trap’ that constrains young peoples’ experiences at school, untangling the racial prejudice young people face across contexts and contributing to more just educational opportunities.

If Wallace’s book provides a point of entry to understand the intertwining of narratives about race, culture, and schooling in New York City and London, Sharon Walker and Krystal Strong’s episode about their co-edited special issue in the Comparative Education Review, Black Lives Matter and Global Struggles for Racial Justice in Education expands this transnational perspective between the US and UK, bringing listeners to South Africa, Brazil and Australia, among other settings. Walker and Strong highlight here the colonial precursors to contemporary white supremacy, “baked,” as Walker explains, “into the framings of the state,” across contexts and over time. Walker and Strong’s episode provides productive framing for students, offering a pedagogically engaging conversation that then creates space to consider the articles in this episode, looking across contexts.

Finally,  Francine Menashy and Zeena Zakharia’s episode about their article White Ignorance in Global Education shifts from the work of educators (as in the case of Wallace’s book) and the transnational and historical structures of oppression (as in Walker and Strong’s episode) toward organizations in the field of global education—organizations where many current graduate students may eventually lead important work. This piece focuses on the ways that global education organizations avoid engagement with race and racism in education through a shared misconception that racism is a problem only in the United States. Through key informant interviews and analyses of organizational documents and websites, Menashy and Zakharia demonstrate how organizations have resisted structural change that might serve to combat entrenched racism and white supremacy—and this podcast and the related article provide space for students to begin to critically examine and consider ways to reform organizations where they aspire to work.

Together, these FreshEd episodes offer important entry points to students interested in comparative and international education (CIE), examining racism, colonialism, and injustice that connect across contexts and over time. Further episodes about issues of race and racism in CIE would productively include examples of successful anti-racist work in education across global contexts, encouraging students to think comparatively and aspirationally about their future work in education.

January 1, 2024