Toward Pedagogies and Methodologies of Collaboration, Inclusion, and Voice
Edited By Judith Flores-Carmona and Kristen V. Luschen
11. “Some of Us Got Heard More Than Others”: Studying Brown Through Oral History and Critical Race Theory
In a recent graduate-level class about the persistence of institutional racism in schools, an African American female student offered Bell’s (2004) interest-convergence theory as the explanation about the passage of Brown v. Board of Education and its subsequent failure. In brief, the theory suggests that “the interests of blacks in achieving racial equality will be accommodated only when that interest converges with the interests of whites in policy-making positions” (Bell, 2004, p. 69). Bell argued that at the height of the Cold War, with the United States trying to position itself as a superpower and a model for the superiority of democracy over communism, Brown was passed primarily because it served the international interests of the US, and helped remedy the image problem the United States was encountering as people worldwide witnessed the atrocities committed against African Americans on our own soil. As the African American student presented this very compelling argument about the macro forces leading to the passage of Brown in 1954, the only White male student in the class became visibly agitated. When she finished, the male student exploded:
I think Thurgood Marshall and hundreds of other African Americans in the South who gave their lives for the cause of desegregation would be appalled at what you’re suggesting. It totally negates the hard work people did in the field to make this happen. Sometimes theory can be total bullshit in the way it erases the hard work teachers do day in and day out to...
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