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Courageous Conversations About Race

Courageous Conversations About Race
A Field Guide for Achieving Equity in Schools

Second Edition
Additional resources:

October 2014 | 312 pages | Corwin

Create a systemwide plan for transforming the district office, schools, and classrooms into places that truly support ALL students achieving their highest levels!


This updated edition of the highly acclaimed bestseller continues to explain the need for candid, courageous conversations about race so that educators may understand why student disengagement and achievement inequality persists and learn how they can develop a curriculum that promotes true educational equity and excellence. Almost a decade since its original publication, the revised book includes new features as well as preserves the core content that led to many schools’ and districts’ success.


  • NEW! Courageous Conversation Compass
  • NEW! Racial autobiographies, offering more focused and relevant voices from a diverse group of skilled Courageous Conversation practitioners
  • NEW! Case study on St. Paul Public Schools, a district that has stayed on track with Courageous Conversations and successfully implemented the Systemic Racial Equity Transformation Framework
  • NEW! Links to video segments featuring the author describing different aspects of the work
  • UPDATED! Implementation exercises
  • UPDATED! Activities and checklists for school and district leaders 
  • UPDATED! Action steps for creating an effective equity team


"What this book has given me is an effective set of tools to support me in understanding, first, my own racial biography and then how to discuss with my team race and its impact on education. The lessons from this book offer a useful starting point for every school district that wants to change mindsets, policies, and outcomes. Singleton takes readers on a personally and professionally transformative journey toward understanding and action."

—S. Dallas Dance, Superintendent

Baltimore County Public Schools, MD


"All students, especially white students, need to read, think, converse and write about issues of race, racism and whiteness if teachers are to help move society into a more racially aware and just place for all. The work of Glenn Singleton and Pacific Educational Group gives educators the tools they need to have those Courageous Conversations."

—Jackie Roehl, 2012 Minnesota Teacher of the Year

Edina High School, Edenia, MN


"Brave and grounded, patient but pointed, Courageous Conversations About Race delivers a rare combination of critical information, illuminating perspective, and truly useful tools to get and keep us all engaged in the most important work of our time. A great nation is not defined by its ability to assimilate all of its citizens, but by its ability to provide equitable opportunities for all of them. This book shows us how."

—Dr. Anton Treuer, Author, Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask; Executive Director, American Indian Resource Center

Bemidji State University, MN


"When I finished reading this book, I immediately wanted to share it with others. Glenn Singleton provides strategies and tools to help one examine one's own racial identity. His curriculum and modes of inquiry promote self-discovery and self-awareness. The racial autobiographies allowed me to deepen my racial consciousness and become a more effective Courageous Conversation practitioner.  Mr. Singleton is the best equity practitioner I have worked with—provocative, stimulating, mindful of the sensitivities of this topic, and devoted to fulfilling our racial equity mandate."

—Ellen C. Stein, Head of School

The Dalton School, New York, NY


"In the first edition of his groundbreaking book, Courageous Conversations, Glenn Singleton made a powerful case that, in order to dismantle racism, it is first necessary to talk about and understand how power and privilege are related to race. In this second edition, he takes it one step further, adding racial autobiographies and supplements to make it even more accessible to diverse audiences. This work is sorely needed if we are ever to reach educational and social equity in our nation."

—Sonia Nieto, Professor Emerita - Language, Literacy, and Culture

College of Education, University of Massachusetts, Amherst


"The City’s leadership team has used Pacific Educational Group’s training and the Courageous Conversation protocol effectively to launch our racial equity work. Sharing these concepts and approaches with our partners, Saint Paul Public Schools, has created a level of trust and understanding around racial equity we didn’t have before."

—Christopher B. Coleman, Mayor

City of Saint Paul, MN

Foreword by Gloria Ladson-Billings
About the Author
1. Breaking the Silence: Ushering in Courageous Conversation About Race
The Racial Achievement Gap and Other Systemic Racial Disparities

Three Critical Factors

The Courageous Conversation Strategy and Protocol

Part I. Passion: An Essential Characteristic of Racial Equity Leadership
2. What’s So Courageous About This Conversation?
Courageous Conversation

A Difficult Conversation

3. Why Race?
The Problem of the Color Line

The Racial Gap

Race as a Factor in Education

Dealing With Race

Establishing Common Language Around Race

Do We Have the Will?

Racial Autobiography Part I: Glenn Singleton

4. Agreeing to Talk About Race
Racial Consciousness

Four Agreements of Courageous Conversation

Racial Autobiography: Curtis Linton

Part II. Practice: The Foundation of Racial Equity Leadership
5. The First Condition: Getting Personal Right Here and Right Now
Personal, Local, and Immediate

The Impact of Race on My Life

Degree of Racial Consciousness

Racial Consciousness Versus Racial Unconsciousness

Racial Autobiography: Melissa Krull

6. The Second Condition: Keeping the Spotlight on Race
Isolating Race

Unpacking Race

Racial Autobiography: Patrick Sanchez

7. The Third Condition: Engaging Multiple Racial Perspectives
Social Construction of Knowledge

Surfacing Critical Perspectives

Racial Autobiography: Leidene King

8. The Fourth Condition: Keeping Us All at the Table
Interracial Dialogue

Creating Safety

The Courageous Conversation Compass

Racial Autobiography: Andrea Johnson

9. The Fifth Condition: What Do You Mean By “Race”?
A Brief History of Race

A Working Definition of Race

Racial Autobiography: Luis Versalles

10. The Sixth Condition: Let’s Talk About Whiteness
White Is a Color

White Privilege

White Is a Culture

White Consciousness

Whiteness as Examined in the Five Conditions

White Racial Identity Development

Racial Autobiography: Rev Hillstrom

Part III. Persistence: The Key to Racial Equity Leadership
11. How Racial Equity Leaders Eliminate Systemic Racial Disparities
Invisibility Versus Hypervisibility

Understanding Students of Color and Indigenous Students Within a White School

Understanding Systemic White Racism

The Injustice of Gradualism and Incremental Change

Racial Autobiography: Courtlandt Butts

12. Exploring a Systemic Framework for Achieving Equity in Schools
A Vision of Equity

Systemic Racial Equity Transformation

Racial Autobiography: Unsuk Zucker

Racial Autobiography: Malcolm Fialho

13. Courageous Conversation as a Strategy for Achieving Equity in Schools
Personal Racial Equity Leadership

Individual Teacher Racial Equity Leadership

Whole School Racial Equity Leadership

Systemic Racial Equity Leadership

St. Paul Public Schools: A Case Study

Leadership for Racial Equity

Racial Autobiography Part II: Glenn Singleton

References and Selected Bibliography

“The ‘so what’ and ‘what now’ options this guide presents for self and institutional learning are clear. The ‘so what’ describes the necessary work in addressing the under education of ‘children of color’ and the ‘mis-education’ of white students and many current educators. The ‘what now’ is framed by the important message that ‘this is not easy work’ and it is fraught with the unaddressed dangers for those who undertake to do it. It is those dangers that allow racism to persist in our country.”

Randall Lindsey, Emeritus Professor
California State University, Los Angeles, CA

“Glenn E. Singleton has provided yet another powerful and still relevant book in this useful revision. If you are serious about engaging in exercises that can truly interrogate race and unearth privilege for the purpose of obtaining equity in our schools, read this book. Indeed, this book inspired me to do my own racial autobiography, and also inspired my principalship students to start the journey to become more racially aware leaders who can skillfully lead courageous conversations. Since then they have taken action through practice, often using this volume, to make impactful changes to eradicate inequities in their schools in meaningful, life-altering ways.”

Mark Anthony Gooden, Associate Editor
Urban Education

“Courageous Conversation About Race (CCAR) protocol has provided significant depth to my diversity and inclusion practice at the University of Western Australia (UWA). Since the inception of our work in 2008, CCAR has provided a robust and comprehensive framework to embed cultural competence across all facets of university life.  CCAR is now a regular feature on the annual UWA staff development calendar and this programming is now being emulated in fifteen universities across Australia and New Zealand.”

Malcolm Fialho, Associate Director
Equity and Diversity, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia

“The protocols of Courageous Conversation have changed my life as a leader, an educator, and fellow citizen of our forever-changing world. As a white woman, I have deepened not only my racial consciousness but also my ability to engage, both personally and professionally, in richer and truer capacities. I once heard Cornell West say that the heart of a strong, liberal education rests within the ability “to be prepared for the conversation and to be prepared to be changed by it. Courageous Conversations have allowed me that sort of preparation.”

Ellanor N. Brizendine, Head of School
The Spence School, New York, NY

“The work Glenn is doing through Courageous Conversations About Race will stir you intellectually and move your personal beliefs beyond what you knew possible. This is the first approach I’ve seen that moves everyone along on their journey based on where they are personally first. The application is Glenn’s work goes beyond education and into many sectors of our society and industries.  I am excited to see how his work can impact the advertising industry. Writing mission statements, policies and coming up with programs are all boxes many companies check.  That part is too easy.  And I think many companies will admit to feeling stuck. Glenn’s approach takes true courage to get real about one major obstacle which is - the belief system I have that may block my perspectives on diversity.  Cheers to Glenn for challenging the conversation!”

Keesha Jean-Baptiste, Director of Human Resources
Wieden+Kennedy, Portland, OR

Great resources that can be used in a variety of courses across disciplines.

Dr Delores E McNair
Educational Admn & Leadership, University Of The Pacific
April 22, 2020

Courageous Conversations offers a structure and head-on communicative plan that is unparalleled in other texts and strategies for meaningful discourse. Singleton has captured an effective manner of engaging in discomfort that embraces the associated challenge and allows participants to learn and grow in the process. In this second edition, checklists for school leaders are provided and offer an invaluable resource for true equity-focused work.

Mrs Gina Gullo
Accounting Dept, Lehigh University
July 20, 2017

Sample Materials & Chapters


Courageous Conversation Compass

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ISBN: 9781483383743

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