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Interrogating Whiteness and Relinquishing Power

White Faculty’s Commitment to Racial Consciousness in STEM Classrooms


Edited By Nicole M. Joseph, Chayla Haynes and Floyd Cobb

Interrogating Whiteness and Relinquishing Power: White Faculty’s Commitment to Racial Consciousness in STEM Classrooms is a collection of narratives that will transform the teaching of any faculty member who teaches in the STEM system. The book links issues of inclusion to teacher excellence at all grade levels by illuminating the critical influence that racial consciousness has on the behaviors of White faculty in the classroom. It functions as an analytical tool, scaffolding exemplary examples to inspire readers to engage in the complex and difficult work of assessing their own racial consciousness and teacher effectiveness. White pre-service teachers in STEM education rarely see the importance of the link between race and the teaching and learning of mathematics, in part because the White faculty who are teaching these subjects rarely engage in the study of racial projects in STEM. From this perspective, the authors of this book contend that the classroom is a racialized environment that, if not addressed, can reproduce racial structures and hierarchies in cyclical ways.
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1. Learning to Work While White to Challenge Racism in Higher Education



Autumn 1972

At age 24, I knew I was White. I had known my racial classification for as long as I could remember, although I do not remember how I learned it. Racial classification permeates the U.S. social environment so thoroughly that most of us take up categories as if they were natural rather than the social constructions that they are. Learning what Whiteness means, however, having spent the great bulk of my life by age 24 in all-White or predominantly White contexts—well, that was a different matter. It wasn’t until then that I heard the challenge to consider how my life was continually shaped by Whiteness—the system of racialized privileges that benefit White people, coupled with White people’s ignorance that such a system exists.

I had always found it easy to find an apartment, no matter where I happened to be looking. I would browse newspaper ads, circle a few places that looked affordable, hop in my car, and go take a look. Normally by the end of the day, I had signed a rental agreement. So, on an autumn day in Seattle, I couldn’t understand why my African American boyfriend was having such a hard time with the same task. He had been at it for weeks. Maybe he was just picky. Finally I asked him what the problem was.

“I’m Black. As soon as they see me coming, most landlords have suddenly...

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