Reauthoring Savage Inequalities

Narratives of Community Cultural Wealth in Urban Educational Environments

Edited by Lori D. Patton, Ishwanzya D. Rivers, Raquel L. Farmer-Hinton, and Joi D. Lewis
Foreword by William T. Trent
Afterword by Tara J. Yosso

Subjects: Education, African American Studies, Sociology, Cultural Studies
Series: SUNY series, Critical Race Studies in Education
Hardcover : 9781438492902, 361 pages, June 2023
Paperback : 9781438492919, 361 pages, December 2023

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Table of contents

William T. Trent
Lori D. Patton, Ishwanzya D. Rivers, Raquel L. Farmer-Hinton, and Joi D. Lewis

Part 1. Resilience, Wholeness, and Thriving in Urban Schools (Self)

1. Peering Back in a Press Forward: Critiques of Educational Equality that Protect White Innocence
Chayla Haynes

2. Displaced Equalities: Exploring the Impact of Place on Urban Students
Jada Renee Koushik

3. Persisting through Life as a Result of My Urban Education: The Making of a Black Male Professor
Omari Jackson

Guest Commentary and Reflection: We Know Best What Tools and Resources Will Sustain Us
Dorinda J. Carter Andrews

Part 2. The Urban Community as Educator (Community)

4. Chicago’s Other Children
Mirelsie Velazquez

5. Far from Savage: (Re)Turning to My Village and Revealing the “Two Worlds of Washington”
Steve D. Mobley Jr.

6. A Third-World City: An Autoethnography on Growing Up in Detroit, Michigan, and Becoming a Teacher
Amber C. Bryant

Guest Commentary and Reflection: The Complexity and Nuances of Origin Stories
Marvin Lynn

Part 3. Centering Students in Teaching and Learning (Students)

7. “People Don’t Really Know Camden High”: Student Perspectives on their Negatively Viewed High School
Keith Benson with help from Deliyah Whetstone, Tina Q. Baker, Merv Ragsdale, T’emon’et Elliot, Joel Tarte, Dwyane Cooke, Naima Battie, Ajianna Bailey, Joselyn Chevere, Rasheed Pollard, Ijshanna Martin, and Brene’ Troutman

8. No Excuses: Believing and Achieving
Jane Bean-Folkes, Susan Browne, and Chanelle Rose

9. Avenues to Organic Engagement: One Counselor-Educator’s Experiences Working with Community Agencies to Promote Educational Success in an Urban Community
Ahmad R. Washington

Guest Commentary and Reflection: There’s More to the Story: Counter-Narrating Urban Failure and Success
Noelle W. Arnold

Part 4. Reflections on Educator and Institutional Influences (Educators)

10. Fictive Kin as Driving Forces for Academic Success in Detroit: Black Women’s Narratives on Successfully Navigating through College
Diane Fuselier-Thompson, Ezella McPherson, and Carly Braxton

11. “Old School” Urban Education: How Friends, Families, Communities, and Teachers Support Success in Early Childhood
Theresa J. Canada

12. “I Have Seen the Mountaintop”: Intersectionality and the Auto-ethnography of a Mediocre Student at a Gifted School
Heather Moore Roberson

13. Dispelling the Myth of Despair and Hopelessness: How Ethical Leadership Creates a Counter-Narrative to Kozol’s Leadership Caricature
Lonnie R. Morris Jr. and Maceo A. Cooper-Jenkins

Guest Commentary and Reflection: Same Place, Different Race
H. Rich Milner IV

Part 5. Renarrativizing “Home” (Place)

14. And Still We Made It: Counter-Narratives of Success, Educational Attainment, and Opportunity in Atlanta
Brittany M. Williams and Lyntoria Newton

15. In Search of Oz: Culture, Education, and Counter-Narratives of Inequity in Southern Colored Schools
Toby S. Jenkins

16. Bringing the Love Back Home: An Ode to the Wiz and Growing Up in East St. Louis
Jodi L. Jordan, Deborah J. Patton, and Lori D. Patton

Guest Commentary and Reflection: Emerald City, Oz, and Savage Inequalities in Education: Centering the Ruby Slippers
Theodorea Berry

Part 6. Sunday Dinners with Love

17. The Meaning of Sunday Dinners
Raquel L. Farmer-Hinton

18. East St Louis: Where Our Black Lives Always Mattered
Dallas Jewell Watson and Joi D. Lewis

19. We Were Always a Community: Cooking, Eating, and Living in the John DeShields Housing Project
Ishwanzya D. Rivers

Guest Commentary and Reflection: “You Can’t Keep Telling Us What We Already Know”: A Fugitive End to Educational Narratives of Tragedy
David Stovall

Tara J. Yosso

Offers rich, wide-ranging counternarratives to social, political, and educational discourses that characterize urban schools and communities as places of despair, revealing the resources and strategies of resistance that teachers, students, and families use to succeed and thrive.


Reauthoring Savage Inequalities brings together scholars, educators, practitioners, and students to counter dominant narratives of urban educational environments. Using a community cultural wealth lens, contributors center the strategies, actions, and ways of knowing communities of color use to resist systemic oppression. So often, discussions of urban schooling are filled with stories of what Jonathan Kozol famously referred to as "savage inequalities" in his 1991 book of the same title—with tales of deficiency and despair. The counternarratives in this volume grapple with the inequalities highlighted by Kozol. Yet, in foregrounding lived experiences of educating and being educated in schools and communities that were systemically isolated and disenfranchised then and continue to be thirty years later, Reauthoring Savage Inequalities brings nuance to depictions of teaching and learning in urban areas. In nineteen essays, as well as commentaries, a foreword, and an afterword, contributors engage readers in critical dialogue about the importance of community cultural wealth. They identify the sources of support that enable students, staff, parents, and community members to succeed and thrive despite the purposeful divestment in communities of color across this nation's cities.

Lori D. Patton is Professor of Higher Education and Student Affairs and Chair for the Department of Educational Studies at The Ohio State University. Ishwanzya D. Rivers is Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership, Evaluation, and Organizational Development at the University of Louisville. Raquel L. Farmer-Hinton is Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Policy and Community Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Joi D. Lewis is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Joi Unlimited and the Founder and President of Healing Justice Foundation.


"Reauthoring Savage Inequalities is groundbreaking, timely, and exquisite. It is both a response to Kozol's scholarship and a call to do research differently. In Savage Inequalities, Kozol exposes a particular deficit-driven narrative that plagues urban education. It depicts hopelessness and victimization. But what happens when insiders shape our understanding of education, oppression, and liberation? A fuller, richer, more complicated rendering begins to emerge. This edited volume draws us away from the narrow gaze of white interlocutors and exposes the fragility of scholarship saturated with whiteness and Eurocentricity. Reauthoring Savage Inequalities is what research becomes when you don't merely study the community but serves its people. When you are them and they are you. This kind of kinship leads us to grander validity and deeper answers—not merely in our findings related to urban education but in our work as human beings." — Vajra M. Watson, author of Transformative Schooling: Towards Racial Equity in Education