Cover Image: Colour Matters

Colour Matters

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Member Reviews

There are not enough books about racism in Canada that I’ve read. There are not enough hyped up. There are not enough recommended. This is one I’ve put on my YOU MUST READ THIS list for my fellow Canadians. Even tho it’s a Toronto Ontario setting this can be taken and copy/pasted into my city. The backgrounds of the people featured may be different but the way that Black children are treated in school is a similar way to the way the children in this book are. Their experiences are valid and common. Nationwide.
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A group of essays regarding the education of african american children in Canada.  You can tell that there was an extensive amount of research done, and a lot of what was revealed happens in other countries, including the untied states.  This book was very informative and interesting.
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I'll be honest -- this is a dense read.  And I mean, DENSE.  There is SO MUCH information here, and so much reflection of the realities of our world and the lives of people of color.  All of the text is thoroughly annotated to give context to the information presented, which adds even more weight to what is in this book.
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Colour Matters sheds light on such an important and timely conversation about race. I particularly appreciated that it was focused on race and education in Canada rather than the United States, so often these conversations get focused on what is happening in the US rather than looking at the problem in other locations as well. However, the book was not particularly readable, rather it was written in a very scholarly format which made it dry and difficult to keep reading/read for an extended period of time at points.
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A bit too convoluted for me and I wasn't able to dedicate any time to commit. 

Thanks to the publisher and author for the ARC.
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This book is a nonfiction book that studies African-American boys in the Toronto area but it can also apply to intersectionality all over the world. 

I just reviewed Colour Matters by Carl E. James. #ColourMatters #NetGalley
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Very informative and well-research book on the role that race plays in education, particularly for Black students. James is a well-known scholar on Critical Race Theory and the experiences of Black children and youth and you can see in this non-fiction book why that is. 
It is definitely a very dense book and in my opinion meant for academic audiences rather than general consumer audiences. The language comes from a very specific discourse on race and education that I am fortunately familiar with having read James' works before, however the average reader may not be familiar with some of the language and type of writing. 
I really like the inclusion of other scholars in their responses to his essays as it gives another perspective on the same issue while reinforcing the points made by James. I think this is very important read for people working in school boards in higher positions to identify the systemic barriers Black youth and children face in the education system and how they can make their experiences better and more equitable.
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I personally felt that this book was not for me. I felt it was just to factual. I loved the points presented but there were too many facts presented and I got overwhelmed.
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Too often, we view racism in the sole lens of the United State's Black population while ignoring the cultural nuances which exist in other Westernized countries. In Colour Matters: Essays on the Experiences, Education, and Pursuits  of Black Youth, Carl E. James presents a series of academic research and reflections written by Black Canadians and Americans, in order to better serve Canadian Black communities and education. As a teacher in the United States, it was incredibly valuable to see how racism persists in other countries, as well as other cultural nuances which exist elsewhere. At the end of the day, not only is this collection well-researched and convincing, it is absolutely necessary for educators to read and use to maintain high expectations for minoritized groups in the classroom.

The value of the research, which was usually in the form of evaluated interview data, created a compelling amount of data and case studies for readers to contemplate and cling onto. The concept of generational identity in Black-Caribbean communities was particularly interesting, as it focused on the immigrant stereotype while also recognizing the unique consequences (both positive and negative) that having a "dual identity" can at times have. The United States has a very different history involving their Black populations, so learning that many Black people were not able to enter Canada in a permanent sense until the late 1970s was interesting. The idea that many Black students are pressured to take Applied tracks in education and focus on sports so they can "go south" to the United States on athletics scholarships was particularly alarming. Despite realizing the damage that racial discrimination can have through their proximity to American and British history, Canadians also fall into the systemic trappings of a racist educational system.

The takeaways of this book are that educational institutions must have high expectations for Black students while also properly funding and promoting opportunities for Black students to feel community and support. Stereotyping and lack of teacher understanding are some of the biggest additional barriers Black students must overcome. There is also a great discussion about the lack of gifted identification for Black students, not because bright students do not exist, but because educators "don't know what to do with bright Black students". These are all takeaways which can be implemented in a United States educational model in order to better incorporate equity into the classroom. I would be interested to see Carl E Jame's discuss the importance of teaching Social Justice and Public Action as a part of the school curriculum, on top of the benefits that Black History and Cultural classes also bring.

I appreciated that the contributors of this collection were Black people, who focused their research on one topic for an incredibly long period of time. The research in this paper is completed over at times decades. The writings themselves are records of the racial challenges that Canada faces over the years. This is a lot for a book to cover in less than 400 pages, but Colour Matters is clear in its titular message.
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