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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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18. “We Acted Like a Genocidal Country When We Are Clearly Not One”: Exploring the Complexities of Racialization and the Structuring Forces of Whiteness in a High School Classroom (Tana Mitchell)

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Chapter 18

“We Acted Like a Genocidal Country When We Are Clearly Not One”

Exploring the Complexities of Racialization and the Structuring Forces of Whiteness in a High School Classroom

Tana Mitchell

As a high school social studies teacher, I hope to challenge and to support my students to become engaged and critical learners. As the provincial curricula mandates, my students and I examine historical and contemporary topics and issues, including the lived experiences of Indigenous peoples in Canada before and after colonization and our ongoing struggles to negotiate a nation wherein diversity is recognized and honoured. While I expect students to be troubled by particular issues, I am often surprised as they continually perpetuate a pride in the nation and in themselves as citizens. For example, students continue to (re)construct Canada as tolerant and accepting even though we examine several historical and contemporary non-examples of these claims (like the devastating experiences of many First Nations peoples at government sanctioned residential schools, racist immigration policies, and inequitable economic, legal, social, and educational realities today). Even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, rather than rethinking their glowing recommendations of Canada as a peaceful, kind, and caring nation, students will often dismiss these negative events and policies or view them as minor blips in an otherwise spotless record thereby essentially “whitewashing our racist history” (Lund, 2006, p. 206). As such, it appears our shared classroom experiences often enable the perpetuation...

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