A Teacher’s Call to Teachers: Review of Lorena German’s The Anti Racist Teacher: Reading Instruction Workbook

May 21st, 2020 | By | Category: BLTN Teachers, Spring 2020

Dr. David Wandera is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Special Education, Language & Literacy at The College of New Jersey. He received his BLSE M.A. in 2008, and his M.Litt in 2013.

In 1994, John Kehoe wrote an article on the debate between multicultural education and anti-racist education arguing that anti-racist teaching addresses racism directly. Kehoe concluded by urging more research on anti-racist teaching and extolling educators to “teach about racism to increase empathy for victims, increase the ability to recognize injustice and change it, and correctly identify causation”. Inspired by various scholarly works on critical consciousness and culturally cognizant teaching, Lorena German’s The Anti Racist Teacher: Reading Instruction Workbook takes up this and similar calls. In this regard, German’s workbook serves as an illustrative resource on antiracist work and a call to action directed at reading instructors. To achieve this action, German calls for synergistic participation through building intentional communities of educators. In an effort to maximize communication with the reader, the language used is accessible and there are elaborations and definitions of key terms and concepts.

Characteristically, workbooks function like a manual with directions and exercises that are presented in a do-this do-that fashion which, in the case of a subject such as racism, can sound prescriptive and “preachy”. However, this workbook employs a we/us stance whereby German locates herself as a co-sojourner in the antiracist journey through statements such as “There were, and continue to be, so many practices I’m revisiting and undoing myself. I’m not above this work. My sleeves are up and I’m digging in, too” (p. 2),and “I often do this through 1-1 conversations with students. I use questions…” (p. 9).

Additionally, German employs some rhetorical strategies to create camaraderie with the reader including the use of a conversational tone—there is a welcome note at the beginning, an intermission signaled by “okay, now breathe” (p. 14),and a thank you note at the end.

Reading instructors are constantly challenged to question social norms through introspectively analyzing how they, themselves, might be participating in upholding a culture of violence and inequality. This analysis starts at the level of self as seen in “We have to start with ourselves” (p. 14). The reader encounters questions which necessitate a critical reflection about how classroom practices and particular dispositions might inadvertently sustain traits of White supremacy and coloniality. Notably, the workbook succeeds in interrogating the familiar by demonstrating how common-place traits such as perfectionism, sense of urgency, individualism, and the exaltation of the written word are problematically bound in a mire of racialized hierarchies. The thematic concerns of this workbook make these hierarchies visible. These include dismantling White supremacy, inclusive teaching strategies, reflexive teaching, and race and the imagination in reading instruction. Almost everything in a reading classroom is scrutinized from text selection, expectations for success, navigating ethnolinguistic diversity, portrayals of history in texts, to nurturing imagination. One of several noteworthy points made in the workbook is the renaming of “people of color” as “people of the global majority” thereby spotlighting the minoritization and inferiorization of ethnoracially and linguistically diverse people. 

Although the workbook outlines the reading instructor’s role in confronting racism through intentional instruction animated by specific activities, there is need for a similar clarity in terms of suggesting to public school teachers how they can navigate an atmosphere of standardization and metric-driven contexts. Notwithstanding, the workbook compellingly spells out the urgency of antiracist teaching. That is, the consequences of not doing antiracist work are grim—perpetuation of genocide, linguicide and epistemicide which are instruments of colonialism. The workbook ends on a high note championing educators who are on the journey to make a collective impact in their classrooms.


Kehoe, J. (1994). Multicultural Education vs Anti-Racist Education: The Debate in Canada. 
In Social Education~National Council for the Social Studies 58(6), pp. 354-358.

2 Comments to “A Teacher’s Call to Teachers: Review of Lorena German’s The Anti Racist Teacher: Reading Instruction Workbook”

  1. Hannah Mangham says:

    thank you for the review! I am excited to start reading this workbook!

  2. Alexandra O'Brien says:

    One quote that resonated with me is: “The reader encounters questions which necessitate a critical reflection about how classroom practices and particular dispositions might inadvertently sustain traits of White supremacy and coloniality. Notably, the workbook succeeds in interrogating the familiar by demonstrating how common-place traits such as perfectionism, sense of urgency, individualism, and the exaltation of the written word are problematically bound in a mire of racialized hierarchies.” Critical reflection is something that I always come back to as a non-global majority (white) educator. There are so many layers to white supremacy and colonial thinking that it has taken years of reflection and doing the work to start peeling them back, and still so much more to do!

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