Lori Wojtowicz's book Crossing the Hall: Exposing an American Divide is not a "breath of fresh air" type of material. It is even better. It is the type that forces a slow, deep breath that completely fills the lungs. If given the chance, it is the type that has the potential to correct, renew, and strengthen society.
In certain places, one cannot help but wince as Wojtowicz's honest and bold insights expose the divide that has always been right under America's nose. Neither can one help to agree with the author as she points out spot-on observations. Crossing the Hall: Exposing an American Divide then is not for the close-minded or the faint of heart—or perhaps it is, an antidote to the destructive way of thinking that has plagued the American system for so long: racism.
Plato and Malcolm X both serve as Wojtowicz's unlikely guides. Wojtowicz writes, "Plato's prisoners didn't know they were chained. It's kind of like living on an island. Unless you live by the bridge, you can forget that there are boundaries." Juxtaposed next to Plato's wisdom, Malcolm X's resolve seems disconcerting at best. According to the author, "Malcolm X's concept of a system of racism was forcing me over the bridge and into unknown territory."
However, her students pushed the author to confront her all-white reality and see reality plain and straightforward: "Preparing to teach African American literature immersed me in the study of African American history. This is not the United States history I had been taught. Here I learned the language of power and oppression [italics not mine]. Not my native vernacular, the words helped me see another America that had been obscured by the shadows of my upbringing."
Marked by succinct expressions and thought-provoking insights gleaned from over thirty-five years in the academe, Lori Wojtowicz's Crossing the Hall: Exposing an American Divide is a remarkable book that must be read, inhaled profoundly to hopefully transform the dark recesses of social consciousness, and exhaled with a sigh. This timely piece of impressive literature is the perfect springboard to launch healthy discourses.
Reviews and What Readers Say
" Read Critically, Think Deeply, Write Well, Act Wisely (p. 4) - Lori Wojtowicz’s classroom rules flashed before my eyes as I read Crossing the Hall: Exposing an American Divide, not once but twice! I kept highlighting more golden lines and making more connections. This is not your typical education text, filled with quick fix solutions to the complex issues educators discuss, debate, and sometimes ignore. Rather, it is a book that forces us to reflect on our family experiences, our attitudes, our biases and to confront their impact on our families, our colleagues, our students, and their parents. "
—Maryan Mastey, Amazon, Readers' Review
" This book woke memories of being a white kid going to an inner city Detroit school in the 60’s. It reminded me that for all intents and purposes I’m back in The Land of Only White and will have to work hard for the rest of my life to eliminate the inherent racism that comes with that. Thank you Lori for sharing this story of courage and awakening. We all have aLot of waking up to do. This book helps to understand that. "
—Nancy Millar, Amazon, Readers' Review
" Lori Wojtowicz's book Crossing the Hall: Exposing an American Divide is the kind of book designed to make the Reader uncomfortable. And I mean that in a good way. "
—Julie S. Porter, Amazon, Readers' Review
Crossing The Hall: Exposing An American Divide by Lori Wojtowicz
Review by Isabella Sachs
Disclosure: This article is a personal endorsement of the professional reviewer. The BookWalker is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
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My life has been lived in classrooms. A teacher for thirty-five years, I write not of what I taught, but of what I learned. The lessons were not easy. I learned racism is alive and well, not only in our school system and American society but also within myself. Crossing The Hall: Exposing An American Divide, strips away the myths that keep white America blind to the truth. It poses the questions that white America will need to ask if we are ever to approach true equality. I wish I had asked the questions sooner. I now work for WestEd, a nonprofit, public research, and development agency in San Francisco as a national educational facilitator.