Celebrating Diversity With Books

At DiverseBooks.net, we put diversity in the forefront year-round, but April is the national observance of  “Celebrate Diversity Month” and that calls for special emphasis. Many of the titles we sell through this website deal directly with the issue of diversity in its many facets. We would like particularly to call your attention to our selections that deal with issues of diversity as it relates to race, gender, religion and ability.

The Jim Dilemma: Reading Race in Huckleberry Finn, by Jocelyn Chadwick-Joshua, $18.70 (list price: $22), University of Mississippi Press, July 1998, ISBN: 9781578060610, pp. 183.

In the wake of news that another publisher plans to neuter the language of Huck Finn by substituting the word ”slave” for Twain’s oft-repeated “nigger” in a special edition, The Jim Dilemma offers a refreshing and spirited defense of teaching this classic in the classroom — as is. The author argues that Huck Finn offers a unique opportunity for students to understand the issues, conflicts and convoluted logic that race presented in the time of Jim and Huck. Joshua, who is director of the American studies program at Dallas Institute for the Humanities, calls for the book to take its rightful place in the classroom and for those who are bothered by that prospect to revisit old assumptions about Twain’s work and to keep an open mind.

The Mulatta and the Politics of Race, by Teresa C. Zackodnik, $42.50 (list price $50), University of Mississippi Press, March 2010, ISBN: 9781578066766, pp. 272.

In contrast to the ante-bellum notions of the mixed race female as a “tragic mulatta,” this book argues that African Americans perceived such women as potent symbols that could be used to advantage in the struggle for equity. In theory, the tragedy lay in the mulatta’s role, supposedly, as outcast from either race. Her very existence, however, could be used to evoke abolitionist sympathy and to challenge ideas about womanhood. Teresa C. Zackodnik, a professor of English at the University of Alberta in Canada, examined  antislavery writings and the fiction of a number of women (Ellen Craft, Sarah Parker Remond, Pauline Hopkins, Frances Harper, Jessie Fauset, Nella Larsen, Dorothy Lee Dickens and Reba Lee), reaching conclusions that offer new insights.

Presbyterian Missionary Attitudes Toward American Indians, 1837-1893, by Michael C. Coleman, $21.25 (list price $25), University of Mississippi Press, November 2007, ISBN: 978 1604730074, pp. 236.

When 19th century Presbyterian missionaries went out to Christianize and “civilize” American Indians, the teachers took with them their own attitudes, ideas and values. The Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S., founded in 1837, dispatched more than 450 missionaries to at least 19 groups of Indians. This book uses letters the evangelizers sent home to examine their spiritual outlook and their thinking – and often prejudices — about the cultures and the people they encountered.

Promoting Racial, Ethnic, and Religious Understanding and Reconciliation, by Robert L. Hampton and Thomas P. Gullotta, $21.21, (list Price, $24.95), Child Welfare League of America (CWLA), January 2004, ISBN: 9.78088E+12 , pp. 196.

This book provides tools to help the nation prepare for a time when so-called “minorities” — ethnic and racial — will make up the majority of the population. It suggests that it is vital that our society find a way for people to forgive past hurts inflicted by various segments of the population against each other and move toward being an inclusive, united country. It explores how children develop ideas about race and how college students can be persuaded to take part in the study of racial dynamics.

Strength, by Paddy Masefield, $27.63, (list price $32.50), Trentham Books, May 2006, ISBN: 978 1858563800, pp. 230.

This liberally illustrated book illuminates the contributions that underserved people with physical and mental disabilities can make to the arts. It is based on the author’s speeches on disability arts to organizations, including the Arts Council of England, the British Film Institute, Central Television, and the Foundation for Community Dance. The book is intended for teachers, students and people in the arts.

White Teachers / Diverse Classrooms, by Julie Landsman, Chance W. Lewis, $50.96 (list price: $59.95) Stylus Publishing, January 2006, ISBN: 9781579221461, pp. 256.

Teachers are on the frontlines of the efforts to break through the cycle of low expectations, lack of effort and failure that hinder the education of many poor students in increasingly diverse school populations. This book aims to give teachers the insights and tools to break through unconscious racism, bias and stereotypical thinking, as well as to apply practical, culturally appropriate strategies for setting high standards, expecting achievement and getting results.