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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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13. Moving From the Outside In, or What White Colleagues Need to Do to Get It Right With Their White Students



I have struggled with how to begin this response to Johnson’s essay (Chapter 10) on the re-conceptualization of activism. Her piece reflects the sentiments and the words of many of my White social-justice-minded colleagues in mathematics education. Her desire to help her White students to consider issues of “equity and social justice,” in mathematics education are familiar to me. She is forthright about her struggles to connect with her students on these issues. Her dissatisfaction with the plight of underserved and marginalized mathematics students is clear; and I resonate with this. I cannot argue with many of her statements, as they are stances that I either take or support. These include, in her words:

• 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.

• I must act in order to disrupt and dismantle the effect of racism on people’s lives, including my own and other White people’s lives.

• Confronting systems of privilege and oppression in my life, generally, and in my work as a mathematics teacher educator more specifically, includes but is not limited to engaging in difficult discussions about race, gender, sexual orientation, and ability, as well as using lessons from critical pedagogy in teaching prospective and practicing teachers. ← 223...

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