Blurring the Boundaries

The Mechanics of Creating Composite Characters

Authored by: Daniella Ann Cook

Handbook of Critical Race Theory in Education

Print publication date:  March  2013
Online publication date:  September  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415899956
eBook ISBN: 9780203155721
Adobe ISBN: 9781136581410


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As Pharaoh drew near, the sons of Israel looked, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they became very frightened; so the sons of Israel cried out to the Lord. Then they said to Moses, “Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, “Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians”? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.

(Exodus, 14:11–12)

We are voices in the wilderness, trying to talk to the powers that be … that some of the issues that you must take care of, we need to have some input into.

(Sarah Steve, 1 veteran African American educator)
The words spoken by Sarah Steve, regarding school reforms in post-Katrina New Orleans, call into memory the images of the Jewish people wandering in the wilderness after 400 years of slavery in Egypt. In the Biblical passage from Exodus, the newly freed Israelites are venting their anger and fear about being led into the wilderness by Moses. In many ways, this captures the plight of black educators in New Orleans after Katrina. As with the Israelites being led to the Promised Land, the wilderness experience tested their faith and belief. The wilderness in Biblical texts represents a place of remoteness and isolation. From one perspective, the wilderness is a place to be avoided or a sign of being out of favor with the powers that be. Yet the wilderness was also a place of miracles. In the Biblical account, over 40 miracles happened during the wilderness journey. In this sense, the wilderness is a place where miracles can happen, where a people can be restored.

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