A Workbook About White People Fostering Racial Equality in Their Lives
by Kaolin

January 15, 2010

G.A. Williams, photographer

Howard Zinn
A People's History of the United States
Received his Ph.D. from Columbia University, taught at Spelman College and Boston University, and has been a visiting professor at the University of Paris and the University of Bologna. He has received the Thomas Merton Award, the Eugene V. Debs Award, the Upton Sinclair Award the Lannan Literary Award and the Prix des Amis du Monde Award.

Talking About Race is wonderfully engaging, truly conversational, and because it is so personal it takes the subject out of the realm of academic discussion and confronts readers with the reality of their own thoughts, their own experiences. I think it would be a very useful book for teachers and students.

Tim Wise, author White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son

Kaolin's narrative is a compelling mix of first-rate analysis, personal stories, and practical, illuminating exercises that help readers utilize this book as a living, evolving document. By asking readers to stop and reflect as they move through the text, Kaolin gives us all a chance to breathe, take in the deep and important material herein, and then push forward in the struggle against racism, in ourselves and society.

Mab Segrest, author of Memoirs of a Race Traitor

Kaolin's Talking About Race: A Workbook About White People Fostering Racial Equality in Their Lives offers a thoughtful curriculum for white people to do the hard but necessary work of confronting the denial, pain, fear and apathy that comes with growing up in the racist culture of the United States. Drawn from her own extensive life experiences and a course she designed as a returning-to-school undergrad, Talking About Race adds to the growing toolbox for anti-racism that helps white people move towards accountability, courage, and freedom.

Holly Fulton, Traces of the Trade and "Coming to the Table"

This is a very difficult topic to explore, study, encourage awareness of, and pay attention to. I find Kaolin's Talking About Race a thorough, real, and needed workbook or primer for the rising number of beginning white anti-racists to start or further their journey as they become acquainted with the enormity of racism that persists in the United States. She brilliantly addresses the importance and wide spectrum of challenging emotions and needs felt and explored in the monumental work towards the goal of racial equality. I completely agree with her 'musts', warnings, and cautionary points. My deep hope is that this book will educate, inspire, and guide a good number of white people who want to organize and build communities to heal our wounded society.

Dr. Carlie C. Tartakov
Emerita Professor, Iowa State University and retired public school teacher
Immediate Past President, Iowa Chapter
National Association for Multicultural Education

Talking About Race is a valuable tool for raising awareness of the number one problem in the US today: Racism. It is written from the standpoint of Whites who benefit most from race bias. Anyone interested in standing up for social justice has something to learn from the lessons taught and learned by Kaolin and her students.

As the nation attempts to dismantle racism's devastating effects, open discussion is essential. Kaolin's book gives a look at the burden Whites carry in a racist environment without minimizing what People of Color suffer on a daily basis. This book shines a light on the guilt, shame, fears, challenges and triumphs of unpacking White privilege.

Readers will find the questions and exercises an opportunity to go beyond book knowledge and escape their comfort zone to flex their "racial equality muscles." These practical and proven strategies encourage both new ways of thinking and action. Kaolin's message is quite clear: everyone loses in a racist society but there is hope if we work to change it.

Craig Taylor, CEO & Founder

As a young black athlete growing up in NYC during the seventies and early eighties, my teams weren't afforded the luxuries of having a 'home court' advantage and had to travel to play in white CYO gyms around the city. More times than not, we had to literally defend ourselves against rogue gangs of youths, that wanted to cause us bodily harm as we left the gym. Oft times this also occurred during the games.

While these experiences did help to shape me, I still never understand why such racism exists. Kaolin's workbook, 'Talking About Race' answers some of these questions, because now I can hear it from 'the other side'. Kaolin attacks this delicate subject by telling her experiences as a wife and mother in an inter-racial marriage and as a teacher on this delicate topic. To also hear Caucasian students speak on how they were introduced to racism and their subsequent reaction to it shows us that racism is inherited and not hereditary and can be lessened over generations if properly addressed. I highly recommend this workbook to all seeking to eradicate this disease.

Dr. Diane Beers, author and Professor Social Sciences Division, Holyoke Community College

As an educator who teaches the history of racism, I see firsthand just how much students want to discuss-really discuss-the topic of race. We educators need to do more, and Talking About Race is a great resource to get that much-needed discussion going.

Carolyn Battle-Cochrane
Director/Producer "Biracial Not Black Damn It"

Talking About Race, identifies the on start of racism and will demystify the process of deprogramming (for both blacks and whites). This honest, enjoyable read touched me as a biracial woman, made me LOL, as well as made me hopeful that we are one step closer to becoming "just" different shades of the same human race.

Nancy R. Lockhart, M.J.

Kaolin has constructed a powerful tool in the fight for racial justice. Talking About Race provides the user with self help strategies that uproot ingrained prejudices and fosters healing.

Adele Azar-Rucquoi author of Money As Sacrament/tenspeed press/random house

If you think racism is dead, check out a city's churches on a Sunday morning. Whites worship their God in white churches. Obviously race continues to shape our religious practices.

Kaolin's workbook, Talking About Race, was born from her probing leadership and teaching experience. She gives us a vital reflective tool for shifting our latent stereotypical attitudes. Her workbook overflows with sensitive questions and keen observations on a delicate subject. It reminds us that our multiracial culture is a gift, calling us to continually evolve, widen our cultural consciousness.

I recommend this workbook to all Sociology Educators.

Robin Pugh-Perry, Mhs. IntegralTalk:

Writer, educator and long time community activist. The concentration of her 1994 Master of Human Services degree from HBCU Lincoln University is the ethics, sociology, and psychology of organizational change. She has recently separated from her 30 year career, most recently, as a systems analyst for a large social services agency in NYC.

Not only is Talking About Race an important contribution to the conversation on race in America, it is one that will present human beings with actual opportunities for self-reflection and growth. Instead of inundating the readers with yet more information to take in about the racial problems in America, Kaolin guides her readers to take a look at their innermost thoughts, feelings and experiences on racism. By doing the exercises in Talking About Race whites who formerly might have remained frozen in place due to fear of rejection and/or reprisal from other whites, are afforded the chance to become more open to moving themselves and therefore a better quality of dialogue on race toward positive change. Kaolin is to be commended for her foresight and courage in bringing this wonderful opportunity to the good people of America so that we might all breathe just a little more freely.

Ms. Kerry K. Dowling
New York City Teacher (Beacon School).
Union Activist-UFT-United Federation of Teachers
NYSUT- New York State United Teachers,
AFT - American Federation of Teachers

In her book, Talking About Race … Kaolin opens up an opportunity for people to examine and create their own race stories. By effectively weaving in and out of her own race story, her students stories, and our own writing exercises in a cyclical style. Kaolin intertwines the ideas and experiences that affect all of us. As a white woman living in New York City, I never thought racism was an issue in my life. This "course" has redefined the way I interpret the reality of racial equality and makes me see that there is much work to be done, both within the way one chooses (or not) to participate in our communities and our continuing education.

Kaolin asks us to continually revisit the ideas presented in the book, and as one does so, each reflection allows us to dig deeper and deeper into our pasts and review the experiences from the beginning, middle and end of the book, as well as in our lives over time. This work should be required curriculum in high schools around the country, especially in the diverse communities where we think there is no problem.

Although at time's the writing exercises were uncomfortable, they are there to help us all begin the process of healing as we can hopefully move toward a place of greater understanding of each other and plan ahead for a future in which we consciously work toward equality, and not just patting ourselves on the back for how far we have come! Kaolin and her students are brave, vulnerable, open, and ready to continue their work, and we should follow suit!

A Review of Talking About Race by Michelle Kaye Malsbury, BSBM, MM for also posted on

This is one of the most revealing and honest books that I have ever had the pleasure to read and review. It invites the reader to consider and respond to their experiences with racism. While it is intended for white people to learn about and work toward racial equality it can translate to all of the other ethnicities as well.

Much of this book stems from a class that Kaolin developed and taught fro the University of Massachusetts which ran for two semesters. There are personal stories from nay of her students (the names have been changed) that portray their change in mindset as they worked through the issues, topics, and questions in this class and book.

This book is organized and works best when read in snippets and left alone to digest and reflect upon before determining how we might each respond to the various and poignant questions as they relate to issues of racism and racial inequality. Doing so helps us to splice together our own race stories such that we can understand how history has helped shape this unfortunate racial dynamic as well as learn what we can do to move past this and into a world of racial equality.

Elizabeth Merriweather, Co-Founder of P.R.I.S.M.S. Ministry (Progressive Racial Integration for Sunday Morning Services)

We all have a unique race story. In the Talking About Race workbook Kaolin provides an expertly guided opportunity to explore and consciously define a new, racially mature identity. My African-American husband and I (myself Caucasian) enthusiastically endorse this book as a tool for helping confront the legacy of racism we all share. Change is truly up to each one of us and Kaolin offers a rare chance to candidly, yet gently make the shifts in perspective and behavior necessary to right the wrongs of our past.

Robert M. Wilson, M. Ed.
Executive Director, Veteran's Education Project

Talking About Race is both a do-it-yourself guide and a source of motivation to understanding and confronting racism and white privilege, in oneself and in one's family, school and community. It is a bold sharing of personal experiences uncovering and confronting racism in the Caucasian world into which the author was born. The book is based almost entirely on Kaolin's first-person experiences, in her family, in her interracial marriage, and in her experiences as a student and a teacher. It is a heartfelt meditation on a vital topic, and an important complement to the research-based literature that abounds on race and racism. Whether one completely agrees with all of Kaolin's many personal insights and assertions regarding racism or not, her book will likely push all readers to examine where they stand, and to exercise what she terms the "racial equality muscle."

Jake Alimahomed-Wilson
Assistant Professor of Sociology
California State University, Long Beach

Talking About Race puts anti-racism into action in the classroom. Kaolin moves far beyond mere theoretical musings of white privilege by offering an introspective and applied workbook. This practical book challenges the deafening silence of whiteness and racism that pervades far too many classrooms across the United States. Talking About Race challenges white students to not only take the first step in reflecting and analyzing their own racial privilege, but more importantly, calls upon them to actively resist and challenge the system of white supremacy. The author's writing exercises provide compelling questions to probe the many layers of depth and delusion that whiteness fosters within the classroom.

Momodou Sarr
Cross Cultural Conversations Facilitator
Greenfield, MA

Finally, a primer for those who seek to understand the dynamics of facilitating a conversation about race. The interactive design of this book makes it accessible and relevant in an ongoing conversation about race. The first person accounts are powerful and authentic. The worksheets allow you to question your assumptions about race, and at the same time guide you to a better understanding at how we see ourselves in an increasingly diverse universe.

Laura Collins
Author of Eating WITH YOUR Anorexic

"I finished Talking About Race: A Workbook About White People Fostering Racial Equality in Their Lives yesterday and am filled with gratitude for Kaolin and her students.

As a person from a mixed background, I have grown used to knowing that those around me generally live in one or the other side of the divide. I accept this.

But reading Talking About Race I truly for the first time envisioned a world where it was no longer necessary to translate and interpret and shelter the children. I envisioned a world where people talked LIKE THIS and TALKED openly and some- day the awkwardness would fade as would defensiveness and fear and anger. Thank You!"

Published by Crandall, Dostie & Douglass Books, Inc.