Developing White Racial Literacy – Revised Edition
Chapter 15: Stop Telling That Story! Danger Discourse and the White Racial Frame
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STOP TELLING THAT STORY! DANGER DISCOURSE AND THE WHITE RACIAL FRAME
I am a white professor. I teach in a program that is 97 percent white. We are located 10 miles away from Springfield, MA, a city that is approximately 57 percent black and Latino. I am walking down the hallway towards the classroom where I am teaching a course titled “Schools in Society.” In this course, we take an institutional perspective on schools as primary sites of socialization and explore the role that schools play in the maintenance and reproduction of social inequality. On the second day of class, during an introductory exercise wherein students share aspects of their frames of reference, a student shares that she and her boyfriend had been “mugged by a black man in Springfield.” I am dismayed that she chooses to tell us this, and that she doesn’t follow it with any point or connection, but don’t see how I can challenge her story so early in the course. Now, 8 weeks later, we have finished reading James Loewen’s Lies My Teacher Told Me and are halfway though Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in an Era of Colorblindness. My students have responded very well to both texts and I am feeling hopeful that they are beginning to understand the multidimensional nature of racism and how it is structured into society. As I walk towards the classroom, a group of students is sitting in...
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