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Keeping On Keeping On: OCR and Complaints of Racial Discrimination 50 Years After Brown

by Mica Pollock - 2005

This article, written by a former civil rights investigator in the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR), contends that ordinary Americans advocating for equal educational opportunity for students of color might enlist OCR more actively and knowingly to help secure racial equality of opportunity 50 years after Brown. Now a scholar of racial inequality in education, the author shows that OCR's original purpose of rooting out racial discrimination in federally funded educational programs has been both hampered by hostile administrations and eclipsed by nonrace casework in the years since OCR's inception. The author argues that to successfully enlist OCR's civil rights tools today, complainants must arrive at OCR with as much concrete evidence of racial harm as possible and be ready to navigate some core disputes over defining and investigating racial discrimination in the current era.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 107 Number 9, 2005, p. 2106-2140
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 12155, Date Accessed: 10/21/2020 8:46:42 AM

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About the Author
  • Mica Pollock
    Harvard Graduate School of Education
    E-mail Author
    MICA POLLOCK, assistant professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, studies youth and adults struggling to talk about, think about, and address fundamental questions of racialized inequality and diversity in their daily lives. An anthropologist of education, she examines ongoing (and intergenerational) disputes over difference, discrimination, and inequality in both school and community settings. Her early work has tackled everyday struggles over race and education in the United States. Her first book, Colormute: Race Talk Dilemmas in an American School (Princeton University Press, 2004), winner of the 2005 AERA Outstanding Book Award, explores one of the most confounding questions of U.S. educational practice: when it helps to talk in racial terms about people, practices, and policies in schools. As a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study in 20042005, Pollock is writing a second book, Everyday Justice: Disputing Educational Discrimination in the New Civil Rights Era, an analysis of her own postdoctoral experience investigating and addressing claims of educational discrimination in the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights. This book explores contemporary rhetorical controversies over how, whether, and when to make opportunity in U.S. schools racially equal. Pollock is also editing the forthcoming Everyday Antiracism: Concrete Ways to Successfully Navigate the Relevance of Race in School, a volume of concrete antiracist strategies for educators written by 100 experts in race and education studies. Finally, Pollock is spearheading an international ethnographic research project, "Global Youth/Global Justice," examining young activists who analyze and address social problems transnationally and across racialized boundaries. Before receiving her M.A. in anthropology and her Ph.D. in anthropology of education from Stanford, Pollock taught high school in California.
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