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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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14. For Whom Do We Do Equity and Social Justice Work? Recasting the Discourse About the Other to Effect Transformative Change



The classroom, with all its limitations, remains a location of possibility. In the field of possibility we have the opportunity to labor, to demand of ourselves and our comrades, an openness of mind and heart [emphasis added] that allows us to face reality [emphasis added] even as we collectively imagine ways to move beyond boundaries, to transgress [emphasis added]. This is education as the practice of freedom.

—hooks (1994, p. 207)

When we consider these powerful words, “an openness of mind and heart,” “face reality,” “move beyond boundaries,” “to transgress,” we are inspired to take the risks necessary to engage in the ongoing struggle for establishing equity and social justice in our culturally diverse society. However, as we seek to transgress—and by doing so, enact our ideological and epistemological positions—we should critically reflect and ask ourselves for whom do we do equity and social justice work? Potential answers to this question might be more problematic than we think, especially when our good intentions might blind us and work against our noble efforts to establish a more just and inclusive society.

By recasting the predominant discourse on how working for the Other is often perceived, I offer in this chapter an alternative response to the core question, “For whom do we do equity and social justice work?” Given the unique theme and format of this book, we have an excellent opportunity to engage critically with each...

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