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Crossing the Hall: Exposing an American Divide Lori Wojtowicz
Why is it so many white Americans are proud to tell you they don’t even see color? Why are they extraordinarily confident they aren’t racist?
Lori Wojtowicz has spent her life in classrooms, 35 years teaching and now traveling the country as an educational consultant. She writes not of what she taught, but of what she learned. And the lessons were not easy. Her students provided a microcosm of American society, and she was forced to confront the issue of racism in her classroom, her country, and most significantly in herself. A journey in self-reflection, she presents the questions she now believes white Americans must ask of themselves if there is ever to be equity. An unusual pair, Plato and Malcolm X, and all the students served as her guides. She writes because of them.
“Reading this book, as an African American man, I felt at times like a fly on the wall, being privy to thoughts and conversations that I wouldn’t ever be privy to. Wojtowicz follows her own journey questioning the myths that White Americans envelop themselves within to insulate against honestly and sincerely dealing with the issues of race in America. What I didn’t expect to take away from reading this book, what took me completely by surprise, was how inspired I was after reading it to question my own assumptions about race and identity in America.”
Author, Sometimes When You Pursue the Beast, It Eats You Nkrumah Shabazz Steward
“For decades we have wrestled with the “achievement gap.” In Crossing The Hall experienced teacher, Lori Wojtowicz, challenges us to think more deeply about that persistent gap. To understand the gap, she writes, we must first understand ourselves, our culture, our society. She offers up her life, in and out of the classroom, for examination and reflection, and she challenges each of us to do the same with our lives. But don’t assume this book is only for teachers. This book should appeal to any and all who are concerned about our country and the direction it is currently taking. Put this book on your “must read” list.” Founder of New School, Ann Arbor, Richard Ballard
Crossing the Hall: Exposing an American Divide by author Lori Wojtowicz will challenge everything you believed about racism. After 35 years in the classroom of listening, testing, and observing, she shares her chilling findings in a well-written and creative discourse that’s counter-intuitive to our white American systemic beliefs.
The search for knowledge and understanding is an underlying theme that pushes the author forward. As Wojtowicz deciphers the pretense behind her beliefs based on her own experience in the only white world, she becomes enlightened. And you will, too, as you read the rest of the story.
Wojtowicz taught honor classes to white students and African American Studies across the hall. Her finding didn’t hit her with a lightning bolt giving her immediate insight. After years of teaching and self-reflection, she found answers. We’re given a front-row seat for a first-hand view of her journey. The author’s comparison of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz to leaving the land of whiteness to encounter other cultures is a unique and well-written description of the experience.
The honor classes are filled with white students, but she learns across the hall in the African American Studies are smart black students who could have been in her classes except for the lack of freedom they had for their studies. They were responsible for more than themselves, taking part-time jobs and/or caring for their siblings, sometimes both. The students were living in a gilded cage unable to flee to make a better life. Often, the lack of freedom became internalized racism; whereas institutional racism becomes internalized with self-hate at the core of the being.
The author compares the state of our understanding to 400 BC, Plato, The Simile of the Cave where since birth prisoners are shackled beneath the earth’s surface and don’t realize they are prisoners. They see only shadows of the world beyond. Their limited view has been their only reality. It takes someone from beyond the boundaries to expand one’s vision, someone who makes you question your perceptions and beliefs about racism. Cross the Hall: Exposing and American Divide will bridge this gap.
Crossing the Hall is an educational resource for individuals from all walks of life to learn about our cultural divide. The bickering and fights ‘in the hall’ would halt with the understanding of the root causes of our misunderstandings and support for making changes for the inclusion of ethnicity different from ourselves.
The book hits the mark as a resource for all walks of life, especially those charged with educating or developing policy for and between races. It’s an eye-opener and will give the reader a chance to walk out of Plato’s cave with a new understanding that they too, could cross the bridge into a new land of mutual trust and responsibility. Crossing the Hall is just the first step to this paradigm shift in thinking and could provide the catalyst for creating the reality Martin Luther King dreamed about — inclusiveness. Crossing the Hall: Exposing an American Divide by author Lori Wojtowicz is a must-read and highly recommended by Chick Lit Café. Book reviewed by CJ Bowen for Chick Lit Café.