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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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This is a timely book. As I write these words, the United States is yet again is in the midst of grappling with its complex racial reality. For example, political pundits and ordinary citizens of all persuasions are offering up explanations for, and commentary about, the continued devaluation of Black life, as exemplified in a string of police shootings involving unarmed Black men and women. In societal discourses around these recent incidents, it has become increasingly clear to me that there is a high threshold for Black pain, especially among many Whites. Social science surveys show that Black and White citizens remain split in their views on racial matters. Even in the face of video evidence to the contrary, many White Americans continue to believe that racial conditions in the United States have improved to the point that race and racism no longer matter. In contrast, many Black Americans point to contemporary events and link them to a historical trajectory of state violence and dehumanization. Moving beyond the “Black–White” binary, the history of state violence and dehumanization has extended to other “non-White” social groups and “races.” As a result, Whiteness and White supremacy continue to structure U.S. society.

I would argue that contemporary events like those referenced above and the history of racialization in the United States envelop STEM education. STEM education is not above the fray of racial reality and politics. It has always been imbued with racial contestation, racial hierarchy, and racial ideology....

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