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Interrogating Whiteness and Relinquishing Power

White Faculty’s Commitment to Racial Consciousness in STEM Classrooms

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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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5. Learning and Teaching About Race, Privilege, and Disprivilege

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FREDERICK ERICKSON

Overview

White privilege and racism in America are both material and cultural, carried and reproduced not only in behaviors but in symbols and narratives that are framed in public discourse. Dominant narratives justify White privilege and its opposite, the disprivileging of people of color. These narratives produce “figured worlds” (Holland, Lachiotte, & Skinner, 2001) and “imagined communities” (Anderson, 1983); that is, these are representations of what the world is like, not what it is actually like. In this culturally symbolic “figuring” of us and them distinctions, subordinated people of color are portrayed as “other”—as deficient and potentially dangerous in their motives and actions (Hall, 1992; Said, 1978). In the dominant narratives that support White privilege, the “other” is seen as exotic/deviant, whereas “we”—the White people—are seen as normal and as benign in motives and actions. If you are poor, the dominant narratives say, that is either because you lack talent or motivation. The dominant narratives say that poor people of color, especially, live within a “culture of poverty” that leads them to make bad life choices. They are illiterate, ignorant, and dishonest. They lack a work ethic and the capacity to delay gratification. They experience hardships, to be sure, but those hardships are primarily their own fault.

This stereotypical “figuring” of the non-White “other” permits the dismissal of nondominant people categorically as lacking in moral and social worth. It also helps to keep White privilege transparent (i.e...

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