For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood … and the Rest of Y’all Too by Christopher Emdin
Christopher Emdin is a well-respected, education scholar who posts motivational and inspiring content on his social media feed. I have been following him for a while now. So when I saw this book at the library, I thought it might be worth my time looking at some of his work. I was wrong.
Emdin repetitively uses a term that is so offensive I’m surprised it actually got passed the editor and publisher. It’s a term he coined as well. It’s not like he consciously decided to use a term that alienates an entire race of people. He made one.
I’m not sure why Emdin spent so much time at the start of the book trying to emphasize the plight of Black students in American schools. I’m not sure why he felt the need to frame the way he did either. Comparing one culture to another might work well in certain aspects, it certainly does not here.
I don’t want to type this term. I have never been so offended by a book before. I shared this term and a page of the book with a notable First Nations TikTok and Instagram personality. He told me that is sounds “stupid and made up.”
Here it is, the offensive term that Christopher Emdin coined . . . neoindigenous.
It’s an ignorant term. Indigenous Peoples still exist all over the world. Australia and Canada governments even attempted a cultural genocide of them. There isn’t a new group of people that can use the word “indigenous.” Emdin doesn’t even have the respect to capitalize it.
There is already a term that would have fit his argument perfectly, BIPOC, which stands for Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour. Imagine that I identified with some of the struggles these people had and declared myself to be a neo-BIPOC. Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?
One of my friends called this kind of behaviour “race hustling.” I’ve never heard that one before either, but it fits.
Many people have no idea about First Nation culture or how to write about it. There are scholars working to correct that though. I wrote about the Indigenous Style Guide a few weeks back. I’d like to send Emdin a copy and ask him to retract this book.
As a teacher, I was hoping to get something out of this book. I guess I did. I already knew that you need to meet students where they are and to consider their backgrounds and experience. Teachers need to confront racism and bias and fight for their students. We can’t apply a one-size fits all approach in the classroom. We need diversity. We need passionate teachers who care.
I’ve written bad reviews before, but I’ve never had closing thoughts like this one.
I’ve lost the respect I once had for Christopher Emdin. I’ve unfollowed him on all social media platforms. And I believe you should think twice about reading his work.