Less than fifty percent of African American students graduate from high school. Their educational failure is built into the racial structure of curriculum, standardized testing, teacher preparation programs, and even teacher recruitment pathways. Shut Up and Listen argues that African American students should be taught to navigate and resist the racism perpetuated in every aspect of society and schools, and that to do so requires the development and expression of a culturally-rooted voice as a foundation for multicultural, multilingual, democratic communities. Shut Up and Listen focuses on the voices, perspectives, and experiences of urban African American students - and on their writing, to remind educators of the power of voice, and how far schools are from addressing the reality of racism.
Christopher Knaus studies and teaches in urban schools, working with African American and Latino youth to understand the silencing impact of racially biased curriculum and pedagogy. He earned his doctorate in multicultural education and policy from the University of Washington and has published numerous articles as well as poetry about the role of racism in shaping urban education. Dr. Knaus is currently Associate Professor in the College of Education at California State University East Bay, where he works to develop educator pipelines that identify and nurture culturally responsive urban educators of color.