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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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10. Reconceptualizing “Activism”: Developing a Socially Conscious Practice With Prospective White Mathematics Teachers

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KATE R. JOHNSON

In American Sign Language, the sign for “oppress” is directional, when signed accurately. That is, the subject and the object of the verb are indicated in the sign itself.

[OPPRESSION: Make a fist with your left hand, holding your hand sideways so that your fingers stack on each other (as if holding a pole vertically). Your right hand open palmed with spread fingers rests on top of the fist. You push down with your right hand, moving both the fist and open hand together.]

When Deaf people sign about the oppression of Deaf people, the sign makes clear that they are the object of the oppression. The movement of the sign starts in an area away from their body and moves toward their body. As a Hearing1 person, it is not accurate for me to sign it in this way. I am bound by the grammar of the language to sign it as the oppressor. Being implicated as oppressor in this way reminds me that to disassociate from the identity of oppressor, I must be an active agent of change. This change must begin with a deep understanding of my own privileges and my passive participation in the strata that currently exist.

As a White, Hearing, heterosexual, middle-class Christian, the italicized statement above always lingers in my mind. I find it critical to explore the ways in which these identities that are associated with unearned privileges play...

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