For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood… and the Rest of Y’all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education – A Review

for white folks cover


I heard the title last year and saw the pre-order on Amazon and laughed. I was thinking, am I the “white folk” he means? Was my laugh out of discomfort? How could a book title cause so much thought? I was going to pre-order the book anyways but now I really needed to read it! It had me checking myself, my identity, my privilege, my lived experience…all from a pre-order on Amazon…wow Dr Emdin you did it! (FYI he goes into defining “white folk” and “the hood” in the preface).

I got the book on Kindle the first day as I couldn’t wait for it to ship! This book needs to be in the hands of every single educator. Not just in urban settings and those working with youth of colour, as all our students would benefit from this work. I watched Dr. Emdin’s TED talks, read his papers, seen his articles, caught his news clips, re-tweeted his tweets, read his other book and seen him live multiple times in NYC and Toronto (so this review isn’t biased at all🙂 ). I thought I knew what he is all about…but I was wrong! I didn’t know about his work and experience around indigenous education. The first chapter opens up on indigenous education! With a lot of work happening in Canada, this comes at a perfect time and based on the Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) Education Recommendations it is a perfect compliment. Indigenous and Neo-Indigenous youth share very different histories but common circumstances and oppression in and out of schools.

I started writing this review and had summaries and quotes from the book but I can’t possibly do the book justice, you need to read it. So I will continue on with why this book is important and how we can use the book to better education.

Dr. Emdin breaks the book down into 11 chapters filled with amazing ways to transform education. It isn’t just about the students and “fixing them of their problems”, it is really about a complete change needed from top to bottom. Schools are failing students and Dr. Emdin is giving us the manual to fix it! As educators working with students, we need to look critically at the extremely complex and interwoven factors that impact the success and failure at school. The deeply engrained Eurocentric model of schooling that many of us as teachers were extremely successful at navigating in order to get to where we are today, is hard to disrupt. It is replicated class after class, year after year, with many teachers, teaching as they were taught (this includes teachers of colour as well). Dr. Emdin eludes that the “white folk” may not actually be white at all.

I would challenge teachers of all colours, backgrounds and religions to evaluate the narrative they provide to students. This book is excellent for system leaders, policy makers, educators and parents, to understand the deeply rooted issues in our education systems. Dr. Emdin eloquently brings them to the surface and identifies ways to make change. This book looks at the past and theory but most importantly moves forward with actions and recommendations. I see this as a book I read again, return to and refresh myself as an educator.

I read many of the other reviews and articles on this book with so many doing the book justice. A few articles though, try to undermine and suppress the work that is desperately needed calling this pretty much a manual for teachers to run schools like gangs. These authors need to check themselves and evaluate the hegemony in their own work.  I took out the citation to them as the click bait they used in their titles get them enough clicks.😉

Those in the Toronto area Dr Chris Emdin will be doing a Toronto book launch at A Different Booklist on April 22nd. More information to follow!


Dr Chris Emdin – Credit Ryan Lash

Cover Photo Credit to Beacon Press

Dr Emdin Photo Credit to Ryan Lash

See more of Dr Emind at




2 responses to “For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood… and the Rest of Y’all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education – A Review”

  1. adunsiger says :

    Thanks for this, Brandon! My comment is a simple one: thanks to your post, I’m buying the book and am eager to read it!


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