Taking Back Control

African Canadian Women Teachers' Lives and Practice

By Annette Henry

Subjects: African American Studies
Series: SUNY series, Identities in the Classroom
Paperback : 9780791438381, 211 pages, September 1998
Hardcover : 9780791438374, 211 pages, September 1998

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Table of contents



Introduction: Taking Back Control
Part I. Black Women Teachers' Activism: Conversations And Contexts

1. Black Women Teachers Speak






2. Contextualizing Black Women's Lives and Activism

"Adventure," "Opportunity," "A Better Life," and Other Myths: African-Caribbean Canadians in the Political Economy

"Scrubbing Hard Someplace"

"I'm a Paper Canadian"

African Canadian Educational Activism: A History of Cultural Resistance

Part II. Classroom Practice

3. "So You Close the Door and You Do What Works": Possibilities and Limitations of Oppositional Standpoints

Hands in the Lion's Mouth

Voices in the Wilderness: Black Women in White Institutions

Child-centeredness Undressed


4. Literacy, Black Self-representation, and Cultural Practice: Sustaining and Re-creating Intertextual Relationships in the African Diaspora

"Intertextual Crossing": Cultural Forms as Pedagogical Forms

"Don't Throw Stones when You've Got Glass Windows!": Proverbs and Maxims in the Classroom

"It's Jamaican, Miss! They're Jamaican Words!": Caribbean Creoles in the Classroom


5. The Dilemma of the Empty Shelf and Other Curricular Challenges for Transformative Teachers

The Dilemma of the Empty Shelf

"Liberating Their Minds"


Epilogue: Holding on to Hope

Thoughts on Pedagogies of Black Self-Representation

Critically Raising the Next Generation of Black Women: Working Against Invisibility and Silence

The Subject of Black Women




An alternative pedagogical perspective toward the education of Black children is explored through the narratives of five African Canadian women teachers.


Taking Back Control is a ground-breaking investigation of the world and consciousness of five African Canadian women teachers. Their rich, textured narratives explore the contradictions in North American and "Western" education and the need for alternative standpoints and transformative strategies. Their engaged vision is presented as a means to discuss the limitations and possibilities of oppositional "minority" teacher standpoints in the mainstream, as well as alternative pedagogical strategies. Henry also discusses the literacy strategies employed in creating an environment in which African Canadian pupils can develop literacy skills and critically understand their identities as people of African heritage in North American society. She raises important issues for thinking about teaching from critical, informed, anti-racist perspectives.

Annette Henry is Associate Professor of Education at University of Illinois at Chicago.


"This book is superbly written and interesting to read. The framing of the text and the articulate development of a number of theoretical underpinnings clearly establish its intellectual contribution. Throughout Henry creates and weaves a texture that illustrates the relationship of her theorizing to previous understandings of Afrocentric and womanist views. This in itself (the application of education to such stances) is new; that she goes on to embellish and build upon such theory is even more exciting. " — Toni C. King, Denison University

"This book will prove vital to those who seek to understand how teachers conceptualize their work. We are just beginning to get information on how teachers of color view themselves, and this book provides that. I know of no competing book. The classroom interaction sections are extremely important and will be unique in the literature. " — Lisa Delpit, Georgia State University