Reading Whiteness

Antiracist Pedagogy Against White Racial Knowledge

Authored by: Zeus Leonardo

Handbook of Social Justice in Education

Print publication date:  December  2008
Online publication date:  June  2009

Print ISBN: 9780805859270
eBook ISBN: 9780203887745
Adobe ISBN: 9781135596149

10.4324/9780203887745.ch16

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Abstract

In studies of race, the idea that Whites do not know much about race is generally accepted. By virtue of their life experiences, White students and teachers are portrayed as subjects of race without much knowledge of its daily and structural features (Dalton, 2002; Kincheloe & Steinberg, 1997; McIntosh, 1992; McIntyre, 1997). It has been suggested that Whites do not grow up with a race discourse, do not think of their life choices in racial ways, and do not consider themselves as belonging to a racial group. Gary Howard (1999) puts it best when he suggests that Whites “can’t teach what they don’t know,” an appropriation of a statement from Malcolm X to mean that White educators cannot teach about race if they do not have knowledge of it. As a result of this oblivion and apparent lack of race knowledge, many White educators and researchers avoid studying racialization because “Race is not ‘their’ project” (Greene & Abt-Perkins, 2003), a sentiment that Aanerud (1997) rejects when she claims that race affects and is fundamental to all our lives, including White lives. The challenge is often posed as the transformation of Whites into knowledgeable people about race.

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