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Critical Multicultural Perspectives on Whiteness

Views from the Past and Present


Edited By Virginia Lea, Darren E. Lund and Paul R. Carr

Whiteness is a narrative. It is the privileged dimension of the complex story of "race" that was, and continues to be, seminal in shaping the socio-economic structure and cultural climate of the United States and other Western nations. Without acknowledging this story, it is impossible to understand fully the current political and social contexts in which we live. Critical Multicultural Perspectives on Whiteness explores multiple analyses of whiteness, drawing on both past and current key sources to tell the story in a more comprehensive way. This book features both iconic essays that address the social construction of whiteness and critical resistance as well as excellent new critical perspectives.

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13. The Elephant in the Room: Picturebooks, Philosophy for Children and Racism (Darren Chetty)


Chapter 13

The Elephant in the Room*

Picturebooks, Philosophy for Children and Racism

Darren Chetty

1. Introduction

Continuing racism and social injustice are sometimes invoked as evidence of the urgent need for Philosophy for Children (P4C) in education. For example, Laurence Splitter and Ann Margaret Sharp begin their text on Philosophy for Children and the Community of Inquiry with the following words,

We live in difficult times… Conflict and discontent are widespread, ethnic and racial hatreds flourish, the gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots” is wider than ever… (Splitter & Sharp 1995: 1)

More recently, the 2007 version of the Society for the Advancement of Philosophical Enquiry and Reflection in Education (SAPERE)1 Level 1 Handbook states,

In a world where 35,000 people die every day of starvation, where one in five are malnourished and where 16 per cent of the global population controls 80 per cent of the world’s GDP, there must be—surely—a desperate need for reasonable, responsible, informed, freethinking and active citizens to change this appalling situation for the better. P4C has demonstrated over 30 years that it can be non-partisan, and yet give rise to the thoughtfulness that is needed to challenge injustice and suffering. (SAPERE 2007: 11)←249 | 250→

However, there is little in the current literature relating to Philosophy for Children that explicitly addresses the topic of race and racism. In the UK,...

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