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Critical Multicultural Perspectives on Whiteness

Views from the Past and Present

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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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14. Stop Telling that Story! Danger Discourse and the White Racial Frame (Robin DiAngelo)

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Chapter 14

Stop Telling that Story!

Danger Discourse and the White Racial Frame

Robin DiAngelo

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 multi-dimensional nature of racism and how it is structured into society. As I walk towards the classroom, a group of...

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