White Faculty’s Commitment to Racial Consciousness in STEM Classrooms
Edited By Nicole M. Joseph, Chayla Haynes and Floyd Cobb
5. Learning and Teaching About Race, Privilege, and Disprivilege
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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