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Whiteness, privilege and identity in education

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The Great White North?
Translucent Whiteness
in a Colour-Blind Society
Dr. Paul R. Carr
1
The Great White North?
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THE GREAT WHITE NORTH?
EXPLORING WHITENESS, PRIVILEGE, AND IDENTITY IN EDUCATION
Editors: Paul R. Carr and Darren E. Lund
Foreword by George J. Sefa Dei
Introduction: Scanning Whiteness
Paul R. Carr and Darren E. Lund
Section 1: Conceptualizing Whiteness
1. Exposing the Authority of Whiteness: An Auto-Ethnographic Journey
Kathleen S. Berry
2. Before I was White I was Presbyterian
Tim McCaskell
3. Being White and Being Right: Critiquing Individual and Collective Privilege
James Frideres
3
Section 2: Whiteness and Indigenous Peoples
4. On Indigenous Academia: The Hermeneutics of Indigenous Western Institutional Participation –
Eleven Theorems
Tracey Lindberg
5. Going Native: A White Guy’s Experience Teaching in an Aboriginal Context
Herbert C. Northcott
6. “Don’t Blame Me for What My Ancestors Did”: Understanding the Impact of Collective White
Guilt
Julie Caouette and Donald M. Taylor
4
Section 3: Deconstructing and Developing White Identity
7. Development of Anti-Racist White Identity in Canadian Educational Counsellors
Christine Wihak
8. “Radical Stuff”: Starting a Conversation about Racial Identity and White Privilege
Susan A. Tilley and Kelly D. Powick
9. Who Can/Should do this Work? The Colour of Critique
Carl E. James
Section 4: Learning, Teaching, and Whiteness
10. The Parents of Baywoods: Intersections between Whiteness and Jewish Ethnicity
Cynthia Levine-Rasky
11. Re-inscribing Whiteness Through Progressive Constructions of “the Problem” in Anti-Racist
Education
Lisa Comeau
12. Discourses on Race and “White Privilege” in the Next Generation of Teachers
R. Patrick Solomon and Beverly-Jean M. Daniel
13. White Canadian Female Teachers and Technology in Education: Stories Reproducing the
Status Quo
Brad Porfilio
5
Section 5: The Institutional Weight of Whiteness
14. Whiteness and Philosophy: Imagining Non-White Philosophy in Schools
Laura Mae Lindo
15. (De)Centering Normal: Negotiating Whiteness as a White School Administrator in a Diverse
School Community
Debbie Donsky and Matt Champion
16. A Group That Plays Together Stays Together: Tracing a Story of Racial Violence
Gulzar R. Charania
17. The Whiteness of Educational Policymaking
Paul R. Carr
6
Why talk about Whiteness?
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Power: gaps in income, employment, status and representation based on race
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Equity advancements have often avoided racial issues (i.e., women’s movement)
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Networks, associations, clubs, etc. are changing but Whiteness is still a predominant
factor; private schools are mainly for Whitesпѓ producing more inequity
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Unwritten, unspoken, coded language still characterizes public discourse (jokes,
expressions, concerns about “reverse discrimination”, rejection of notion of racism)
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Confusion between overt and systemic racism
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Data collection on race is discouraged
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“Filling a quote” and “Playing the race card” can be used to neutralize racial equality
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Evolving complexity of race
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Intersectionality of identity; complexity of lived experience
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More mixing of identity (race, culture, religion, etc.) re: marriage, adoptions, study,
travel, etc.
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Rapid demographic changes; Whites are in an extreme minority in World population
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Concern about sustaining and growing cultures while acknowledging inequities
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How do you classify groups (Hispanics, Arabs, Mixed Race)?
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With mixing of races, will there be a day when there are no Whites?
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DNA tests prove that over 50 million White Americans have at least one relative of
African origin, and 10% of African-Americans are more than 50% White (One-drop
rule)
Is racism democratic? (Tator and Henry)
8
9
(Source : Prison Policy initiative - http://www.prisonpolicy.org/graphs/raceinc.html)
10
Are there racial minorities in France?
(Source : http://no-pasaran.blogspot.com/2005/09/no-minorities-in-france-and-no-racial.html)
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A country known for human rights, one that denounces racism in the US
A country without minorities or “persons of colour”
The census does not document racial origin; estimates of 2M+
Since there are no Black people, there is no representation for Black people
Is the Black French experience the same as the White French experience?
A visible absence of Black people in public life in leadership positions
France does not receive European Union funds for programs targeted at
minorities because there is no official recognition of these minorities
11
Non-White Population in Great Britain
Year
Number
1951
30,000
1961
400,000
1971
1,400,000
1981
2,100,000
1991
3,000,000
2001
4,600,000
(Source : Commission for Racial Equality ;
http://72.14.205.104/search?q=cache:fl5kfCot6_4J:www.cre.gov.uk/downloads/factfi
le02_ethnic_minorities.pdf+racial+minorities+great+britain&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=2)
12
Institutional Racism n South Africa
(Source : http://www-cs-students.stanford.edu/~cale/cs201/apartheid.hist.html)
13
Toronto – Ethnic Origin - 2001 (Statistique Canada)
Total responses
Single responses
Multiple responses
4,647,960
3,265,740
1,382,215
Population
861,945
375,155
486,790
Canadian
783,770
211,835
571,930
English
517,115
84,415
432,705
Scottish
487,210
73,415
413,795
Irish
435,685
379,550
56,135
Chinese
429,380
309,350
120,035
Italian
345,855
279,330
66,525
East Indian
220,540
25,545
195,000
French
220,135
51,180
168,960
German
171,545
129,280
42,265
Portuguese
166,700
83,305
83,395
Polish
161,215
95,385
65,830
Jewish
150,840
107,330
43,505
Jamaican
140,405
116,910
23,495
Filipino
104,490
40,705
63,785
Ukrainian
85,860
27,340
58,520
Dutch
85,375
61,955
23,420
Greek
65,600
24,410
41,190
Spanish
62,540
21,160
41,380
Russian
46,790
21,220
25,565
Hungarian
45,240
33,290
11,950
Sri Lankan
45,100
34,200
10,900
Vietnamese
44,175
3,590
40,585
Welsh
43,110
40,710
2,405
Korean
43,030
32,110
10,920
Pakistani
41,290
34,985
6,310
Iranian
40,600
24,545
16,055
West Indian
14
38,215
20,900
17,315
Guyanese
Racial Origin - Toronto (2001)
Ethnic group
Visible minorities *
Population
%
1,051,125
42.8
Chinese
259,709
10.6
South Asian
253,921
10.3
Black Canadian
204,075
8.3
Filipino
86,460
3.5
Latin American
54,350
2.2
West Asian
37,205
1.5
Southeast Asian
33,870
1.4
Korean
29,755
1.2
Arab
22,355
0.9
Japanese
11,595
0.5
Other minorities
37,985
1.5
White (Non-Hispanic)
1,405,680
57.2
Total
2,456,805
100
15
Toronto District School Board
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50%+ of students do not have English as their mother tongue; more than
100 languages represented in the schools
Approximately 55% of the students are racial minorities; roughly 15% of the
teachers are racial minorities
More than 30% of the students are born outside Canada in more than 175
countries
More than 10% of the students are in Canada less than three years
The drop-out rate for Black students is 2-3 times higher than for White
students
16
The imagery of Whiteness
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“White as Snow”, “Pure White”, “Snow White”…
Metaphors, analogies, images, cultural landmarks and concrete
manifestations in language, law and cultural practices
White пѓџ----------------------------------------------------------------------пѓ Black
Good
пѓџпѓ Evil
Lightness
пѓџпѓ Darkness
Benevolence
пѓџпѓ Malevolence
Cleanliness, kindness, and serenity пѓџпѓ Undesirable
the conqueror
пѓџпѓ the “dark continent”
17
White racial superiority
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Slavery, colonialism, neo-colonialism, & imperialism
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Whiteness пѓ moral, biological, religious superiority
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Hate groups against people of colour (& others)
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Europeans and Aboriginal peoples (forced religious conversion,
disrespect of language, culture and family, and attempts to
terminate First Nations)
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Why are churches still largely segregated?
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Why are inter-racial marriages still taboo for many?
18
White racial superiority
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Slavery, colonialism, neo-colonialism, & imperialism
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Whiteness пѓ moral, biological, religious superiority
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Hate groups against people of colour (& others)
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Europeans and Aboriginal peoples (forced religious conversion,
disrespect of language, culture and family, and attempts to
terminate First Nations)
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Why are churches still largely segregated?
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Why are inter-racial marriages still taboo for many?
19
Mimi Pinguin, important characature in Mexico in
the 1940s, in a series of stamps in 2005
(Source : http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/06/29/AR2005062902831.html)
20
Is Tin-Tin racist?
(Sources : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/07/12/ntintin112.xml)
(http://vivirlatino.com/2007/07/13/racist-book-ruffles-feathers-in-the-uk.php)
21
American art and culture
(Source : http://www.sonofthesouth.net/slavery/african-american-art/racist-picture.htm)
22
Whites who paint their faces black (Blackface)
(Source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackface)
23
White hate groups
(Sources : http://www.rulen.com/kkk/ et
http://sun.menloschool.org/~sportman/ethnic/individual/kkk/)
24
The myth of White goodness
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Canada as a civilized, non-colonizing, pacifist nation, with “two founding peoples”
(English and French)
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Land of opportunity, more welcoming and charitable than the US (“less” segregated,
racist and divided)
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Canadians embrace multiculturalism, difference and minority status; ours is a
“meritocracy”
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How do we reconcile our history of history of colonization, slavery & racism?
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Colour-blindness masks internment of Japanese in WWII, razing of Africville in N.S.,
Chinese head-tax, under-achievement in education by some groups, etc.
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Canada as a White country (embassies, symbols, monarchy)
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Prime Ministers, Supreme Court Judges, major cultural and media figures, business
icons, etc. are largely, if not exclusively, White
25
White identity
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We know that people of colour are racialized but do Whites know that they have a
racial origin?
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Do Whites use their privilege to deny or ignore their racial identity, and,
simultaneously, infer inherent racial attributes to the “Other”?
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If White people do not know they are White, how can those in positions of power
(who are mainly White) effectively understand and challenge racism and unearned
privilege?
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If there are Black, Asian, Chinese, Racial Minority, etc. communities, is there then,
logically, a White community?
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If Affirmative Action for minorities today is wrong, was Affirmative Action for Whites
for the past 400 years equally wrong?
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If we are colour-blind, why is there racism (individual, collective, systemic,
institutional)?
26
Shades of Whiteness
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If Whites experience power and privilege differently, does that mean that
we are all simply “individuals”, responsible for our own actions?
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If White groups also experience discrimination, does this mean that there is
no real racial discrimination against people of colour?
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Francophones vs. Anglophones in Canada
Catholics vs. Protestants in Northern Ireland
Hungarians vs. Romanians in Romania
Basques vs. Spanish in Spain
Maritimers vs. Central Canadians in Canada
Jews vs Christians in Europe & North America
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Social class пѓ power and privilege
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“Whites, no matter how poor, are part of a club, even if it is the second tier”
27
Whiteness and education
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Education as a key site for learning and advancing social justice
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Most teachers are White
Curriculum is still contested, considered Euro-centric
Student identity and experience is evolving
Issues of power, democracy and social justice need to be addressed formally as well as
informally in an authentic way
Neo-liberalism can reinforce marketization of public education as well as less political
literacy
The study of Whiteness forces us to interrogate identity, difference, equity and
power from diverse vantage-points, with myriad linkages to the international context
A multitude of studies on racial groups, racial problems, integration, multiculturalism,
etc. without a explicit focus on Whiteness and White complicity in shaping social
realities
Educational policymaking, curriculum development, teacher training and teacher
unions, etc., are infused with Whiteness
28
George J. Sefa Dei
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“To my reading and experience, Whiteness is never invisible to those who
daily live the effects of White dominance. Many Whites may see their
Whiteness, and yet they are able to deny the dominance associated with it.
This denial is not unconscious, nor is it accidental; I believe it is deliberate.
Critical anti-racism maintains that we will only do away with racism when
Whiteness no longer infers dominance and Whites acknowledge and work
towards this end. In noting this I also agree that there are contradictory
(and sometimes competing) meanings of Whiteness, as in the way Whites
and subordinate groups understand contemporary Whiteness (e.g., the
perception of Whiteness as anything but positive). ”
“Because White bodies are invested in systems of privilege, the importance
of dominant groups questioning their self-appointed and racialized neutrality
is always critical and transformative. For far too long we have witnessed
how White society has conscripted and choreographed the idea of a
fractured Black community that avoids taking responsibility.”
29
Auto-ethnography of Whiteness
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Kathleen Berry employs an auto-ethnography to explore how numerous factors,
events, and phenomena in her youth served to buttress a White hegemony in
education and society, as she reveals how the intersectionality of race and
(dis)ability effectively marginalizes people at different levels.
“the spaces and times of the auto-ethnographic text show where Whiteness hides in
ancestral and inherited grand narratives, such as Euro-centric history and rationality,
Christianity, and Colonization, that have constituted modern, Western education.”
She describes the books studied in school in Maritime Canada that served to diminish
the non-White “other,” the highly informal encounters with “ethnic food,” the adept
manoeuvres to avoid contact with non-Whites, even at Church, the endless jokes,
and the evident marginalization of people of colour without interrogation, all of
which infused privilege and power in the White child and White race.
Berry speaks to the “individual interpretations and political implications for the
institution (that) varied in their degrees of inclusion based on a difference from the
�norm’al.”
30
Personal evolution through Whiteness
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Tim McCaskell discusses his personal in “Before I was White I was Presbyterian,”
highlighting how being raised in Ontario in the 1950s involved myriad forces that
encouraged alienation of the “other,” whether these were Catholic, Italian, or
French. This first “other” was White, making intensely aggravated relations with the
non-white “other” (Aboriginal peoples, Blacks, and other immigrants).
The dichotomy between the goodness of the Church and the evil of segregation and
hatred of others is brought to the fore.
Illustrating how his own racial origin became clearer with the contact he established
with people of colour in Latin America, Africa and India, who better understood the
international dynamic of racism.
Documenting the difficulty in doing antiracism work within the Toronto Board of
Education, and then as a man living with HIV, he underscores that, for White people
to become allies in anti-racist struggle, it is crucial that we understand not just the
racialization of others, but our own Whiteness, both as a marker, and a constituent
element of our own privileged cultural, national and class location. We need to
understand how our own biographies and experiences shape and limit our identities
31
and consciousness, and the path we must take to transform them.
White normative values
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James Frideres discusses “Being White and being right: Critiquing individual and
collective privilege”
He documents his experience in teaching Aboriginal students, highlighting how the
normative values of education and society serve to malign and marginalize Aboriginal
peoples.
He writes that White privilege is an institutional set of benefits granted to those who,
by colour, resemble the people who dominate the powerful positions in our
institutions and organizations. In turn, these become individual benefits. The system
is not based on each individual White person’s intention to harm but on a racial
groups’ determination to preserve what they believe is rightly theirs.
For Frideres, White is invisible, and all “others” have to substantiate their claim to
citizenship. There are, therefore, numerous barriers to teaching and learning, and
the concept of power is underscored as being key to understanding how to achieve
equity as well as, importantly, breaking the silence of Whiteness.
32
The Whiteness of “Second Peoples”
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Tracey Lindberg examines the European-Aboriginal relationship, calling the White
Christian colonizers “Second Peoples” as juxtaposed to First Nations
Eleven theorems “related to Indigenous peoples’ survival in non-Indigenous
institutions,” highlighting the ingrained, systemic and taken-for-granted morality of
attitudes, behaviours, traditions and systems that serve to freeze out First Nations
people in the academy.
Addresses how Aboriginal persons need to be able to survive within Western
academic institutions, and how there may be an exotic, folkloric view of First Nations
that trivializes their identity while simultaneously contributing to some form of a
perceived cultural enrichment program.
Describes the institutional challenges, enforced through a philosophy that sustains
Whiteness, which marginalizes work necessary for recognition and growth within
First Nations.
Lindberg also critiques the way Aboriginal persons are regarded when they do
undertake work that is beneficial to the First Nations.
33
Going native: A White guy’s experience
teaching in an Aboriginal context
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Herb Northcott’s discusses how attempts to teach to Aboriginal persons
using the same references, frames, approaches, and attitudes employed for
the general population were highly ineffective, and ultimately, further served
to alienate the former.
By elucidating Whiteness, Northcott was able to discover constructive
learning, demonstrating the need to understand identity when dealing with
others, and, ultimately concluding that avoiding it or assuming its neutrality
will only aggravate the situation:
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“Despite my attempts to remove Whiteness from this course, Whiteness
remained. I, the �White guy,’ was clearly responsible for the course, was the
person who graded each essay, and assigned the students’ final grade…. The
success of a course like this depends on disclosure by individual participants, and
a willingness to examine issues publicly from a variety of perspectives. However,
public discussion is constrained by political correctness, that is, by an awareness
of the perspectives that are more or less acceptable in the local community….
Distance, in the form of Whiteness, is then both problematic and functional.”
34
The Impact of Collective White Guilt
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Julie Caouette and Donald Taylor examine the impact of collective White
guilt from a social-psychological perspective.
They discusses the problematic of White people doing research on
Whiteness and others, a common concern among antiracism workers: Who
should be researching whom, and how?
They surmise that “it can be painful to face our White privilege and our
White guilt; and it can be frustrating to deal with issues related to our
Whiteness and our White identity in a diverse nation such as Canada.
Nevertheless, the quality of our relationship with disadvantaged groups
depends on our being vigilant about the implications of our position of
privilege.”
Their research on collective White sentiment toward racism concludes with a
plea to “shift our focus from attributing blame and towards taking
responsibility.”
35
Developing anti-racist White identity
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Christine Wihak analyzes White identity from a psychological lens, focusing on the
development of anti-racist White identity in Canadian education counselors.
Based on her experience living in Nunavut with the Inuit, she stresses that “White
adolescents, however, may never consider this facet [racial] of identity because
Whiteness is not something that distinguishes them as individuals,” which will
ultimately influence how counselors approach problems and issues related to race.
“Initially, a White person raised in a liberal, White country such as Canada cannot
see the differences in life experiences and opportunities that come from race. As a
White person actually gets to know members of oppressed minorities, she also starts
to see her own Whiteness and the privilege that accompanies it. As she accepts
responsibility as a White person to work for social justice, she once again can
express her sense of shared humanity with minorities, a sense essential for making
the end of oppression their common cause…. This ability to be colour-blind and not
colour-blind simultaneously is the hallmark of the achievement of a mature, antiracist, White identity.”
She concludes that there is never an end-point to White racial identity development,
that the work continues as it transforms itself but, significantly, this work must be36
rendered visible.
Understanding Whiteness with racial
minorities
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Susan Tilley and Kelly Powick expose how a group of graduate students in a
Master’s of Education program interrogated Whiteness.
They found that White students had difficulty understanding and grappling
with the notion that they were White, whereas racial minority students
demonstrated an in-depth and textured understanding of Whiteness:
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“For racial minority students, concepts and ideas were taken up in more personal
ways. Throughout the interviews, these students introduced stories of their
parents growing up in a racialized society, retold personal encounters with
racism, and even related course content to the schooling experiences of their
own children…. A racial minority participant talked about the idea of White
privilege as “not really [new] because I’ve been confronted with it throughout
my whole life that they [White people] are the dominant race,” while White
students often struggled with the idea that their group membership grants
unearned privileges not available to �others’.”
They conclude that attempting to achieve a more critical consciousness of
lived and societal experiences through structured programs is one way of
laying the groundwork for difficult, but necessary, conversations about race.
37
Who can/should do this work?
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Carl James asks “Who can/should do this work? The colour of critique.”
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In his exploration of how race issues are broached by his students, he
focuses his analysis by acknowledging that:
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“Whiteness as an identity/identification that, like with other identities, is not
fixed, but is always in transition, which involves �conscious reflective struggle’
and an active process of construction and reconstruction—the meanings and
understandings of which continuously shift in relation to structural and cultural
contexts.”
James highlights how racism is the responsibility of all people, not just those
who are disadvantaged by it and, moreover, requires that “antiracism
proponents must work to disrupt the normativity and centrality of Whiteness
as well as expose and challenge �White talk,’ all of which function to
maintain White hegemony.”
Emphasizing that individuals and groups experience racism differently,
James warns against avoiding tackling race issues because of the illusion of
colour-blindness, which deflects the lived experiences of racial minorities. 38
Intersectionality between Whiteness
and Jewish identity
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Cynthia Levine-Rasky discussing the complexity of the intersectionality between
Whiteness and Jewish identity, delving into the problematic issues surrounding social
class and race.
In highlighting the neo-liberal commodification of the school as an integral part of
the market place, Levine-Rasky dissects the motivations for school choice as well as
the linkage between Jewish identity and social class. Ultimately, this analysis of
Whiteness unearths and confirms the problem of over-generalizing about identity:
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Jewish identity is ambiguous. Ambiguity is manifest in appeals for Jewish authenticity and
for membership within the White, Christian majority. Jews want to sustain dos pintele yid
(the Jewish essence) but within the framework of dominant Christian society. Jews may
feel the risk of their difference or they can forget it, but they want to evoke Jewishness too
by choosing schools and neighbourhoods that feel Jewish. Jewish narratives of
immigration, struggle, and subsequent mobility influence these parents’ regard of the
“other” embodied by the Kerrydale parents since Jewish assimilation is accomplished
through their ongoing project of differentiation from others. That is �we’ are integrated only
relative to others who are not. The problem of ambiguity in being both privileged and at
the periphery indicates Jews’ contradiction with their liberal humanistic principles.
Protecting and nourishing ethnic, cultural, and linguistic identity, as is the case for
Francophones in Canada, is a complex enterprise, and the connection to Whiteness
39
may, therefore, take on different shapes and forms.
Re-inscribing Whiteness
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Lisa Comeau examines “Re-inscribing Whiteness through progressive
constructions of �the problem’ in anti-racist education”
Her research employs a discourse-analytic perspective, exploring “variable
and often contradictory ways these highly educated, experienced, and wellintentioned research participants discursively construct and account for the
problem of social inequality.”
She argues that “the discursive production of cultural difference through
racializing and racist discourse is complicit in re-inscribing both Whiteness
and Otherness, thereby reproducing the social inequality that is claimed to
be the object of transformative, anti-oppressive education.”
Comeau exposes how Whiteness is delineated as goodness in educational
discourse, and argues that White privilege and power need to be named in
order for there to be bone fide progress in education.
40
Teacher-educator discourses on race
and White privilege
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Patrick Solomon and Beverly-Jean Daniel’s qualitative research uncovered two
predominant themes, one dealing with “Not here in Canada,” revealing “the extent
to which the candidates remain unaware of the history of racism in the Canadian
context,” and another related to “discourses of competing oppressions, which
centres gender and class, and decentres race.”
They expose the deeply entrenched beliefs of the largely White, female, middle-class
teacher candidates: namely, that many White Europeans from an under-class were
able to integrate into Canada, and that Canadian society is a meritocracy:
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“The part of the story that seldom gets told is the fact that their ancestors were given land
(often stolen from First Nations peoples), or allowed to purchase land for nominal sums of
money. The fact that their ancestors Anglicized their names in an attempt to better fit in
with the existing Canadian populace, or that within one generation, their White skin and
the disappearance of their accent gave them access as the dominant group at the time, is
another part of the story that remains untold.”
They conclude that if teacher education students can acknowledge that, “Whites
continue to experience multiple economic, political, social and ideological benefits,
which have been accrued through centuries of colonial ventures,” they will then start
to question the myth of meritocracy, thus placing them in a moral and ethical
41
quagmire.
Neo-liberalism and White normativity
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Brad Porfilio outlines the re-production of social relations constructed from
his research on White, Canadian, female students in a technology in
education class in a Bachelor of Education program. Drawing on the
literature related to neo-liberalism, Porfilio finds that White privilege framed
how teacher-education candidates perceived the normative world, revealing
that they:
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enter schools of education with a pedestrian view of how power, privilege and
domination gird their own as well as other citizen’s relationships. The data
indicate that teacher-educators did little, in twelve graduate courses, to broaden
their perspectives, so as to help them recognize White privilege.
His analysis underscores the prevailing normative view that technology is
neutral, although it is adapted primarily to the needs of middle-class White
people.
His work reminds us that only a small percentage of people around the
world have computers, or have unhindered access to the Internet, yet
technology is often presented as a remedy for under-development.
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The Philosophy of Whiteness
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Laura Mae Lindo interrogates non-White philosophy in schools, recounting her own
story of how she, as a Black woman, was dissuaded from pursing graduate studies in
philosophy. She critically questions the normative positioning of philosophy in
education, and how White people and their concepts, ideas, and lives seem to take
precedence over all other groups.
She highlights how “philosophy has often been presumed a �disembodied’ practice,”
disconnected from “racialized bodies” engaged in philosophy. Raising issues related
to epistemology and “philosophic insiders,” Lindo argues that race and gender are
removed from the philosophy canon with a paradoxical acceptance that philosophy is
both White and male:
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“The clash between a philosopher’s naturalized sensibility of who does and does not belong
within the boundaries of academic philosophy, and the �other’ that stands before them
requesting to share in their philosophical epistemological discourses is often considered an
irrelevant concern. Yet, it is not irrelevant but an important aspect of philosophical
epistemology, for it is these presumed ideas of who belongs and does not belong in the
discipline that form the backdrop upon which new epistemologies are created, proliferated
and, consequently, more deeply entrenched.”
Lindo concludes by analyzing the saliency of the philosophy curriculum in Ontario,
which can offer opportunities for constructive engagement but is also shrouded with
43
systemic barriers potentially ensuring its isolation and limitations.
The Whiteness of leadership
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Debbie Donsky and Matt Champion, two White school administrators in the Toronto
region in a school where the majority of students are from racial minority groups,
question of how to negotiate Whiteness in such a diverse community, and reflect on
the problems of inclusion, equity, and leadership.
They decipher how they each acted in relation to various events involving race, and
question how difficult it is to interpose oneself into situations about which one may
not understand the lived experiences of those involved. They question normative
values in structuring public education, and also illustrate how difficult it is to critique
the institution in which one is employed as an administrator.
Questioning their own predispositions and identities is a necessary component to
understanding the educational experience of the students in their school. Their
openness about how they structure their thinking provides for critical reflection on
issues related to race:
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“I [Champion] have always worked hard to hire teachers who reflect the broad range of
cultures we have in Canada. I am embarrassed to say that in all of these cases I have only
hired teachers who received their training in Canada, and have been reluctant to hire
teachers whose training was in a country where I was uncertain about the instructional
values and methods.”
44
Embodied inequity and Whiteness
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Gulzar Charania explores the intricacies of how race plays itself out within a school context in
relation to racial violence.
By examining the “dominant story,” from the point of view of school officials, she lays the
groundwork for understanding how normative values and judgments are made and reinforced
in a systemic way. The school in question is portrayed as harmonious until the arrival of Black
students from a feeder school.
Charania examines the meaning of insisting on bringing together the two groups involved in the
violence, White and Black girls, as the only logical response to the problem, rather than
understanding if, and how, the Black girls were facing discrimination She explains:
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“The multicultural school requires the appearance of difference but only on conditions and
terms defined by the students and community that are rightly entitled to the space.
Racialized students are not excluded from the school officially or denied access all together.
However, their success or failure is thought to be about qualities intrinsic to who they are,
qualities worn on their bodies as explanation, rather than in the systemic processes of
marginalization they experience and the racially ordered opportunities offered to them.
Curiously, the inclusion of these less desirable students also has the effect of representing
the White students and community as gracious, tolerant hosts, making space in their
school community at considerable inconvenience and disruption.”
She concludes by focusing on accountability in how these situations are handled, emphasizing
the inequitable power relations framing school codes and policies used to assert Whiteness. 45
Educational policymaking and Whiteness
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Paul Carr discusses the Whiteness of educational policymaking based on his experience as a
government policy advisor working on equity policies in the Ontario Ministry of Education. He
examines how Whiteness plays a role in virtually every step of the policy process, and how the
willful omission or exclusion of groups, concepts, and approaches is built into that process.
An example is the complete lack of response from the Ontario government to the desire of
some Black parents to have Black-focused schools in Toronto because of the less than
acceptable conditions and outcomes produced by the public (White) system.
He provides a number of examples of how Whiteness is rife in the system, and how it remains
problematic to raise social justice concerns from the inside, thus making the discussion and
realization of antiracism gains extremely difficult on the outside:
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A critical realization from this review of how government functions in support of Whiteness
resides in the infinite number of subtleties and nuances framing the discourse. Despite the
numerous efforts, resources, and pronouncements in support of social justice at the
formal, institutional level, the results appear to be extremely mitigated and the impact
rarely sustained…. The power to manipulate and omit language has been used to convince
broad sectors of society of the high level of “democracy” and “accountability” in education.
He concludes that identity and social justice need to be a greater area of focus in the policy
process, as does the effect of such policies, which should over-shadow the supposed notion of
individual effort, merit and colour-blindness.
46
Questioning Whiteness - General
1. In what ways did/has Whiteness entered your life in Canada as either privilege and/or
oppression?
2. Can you name ten White Canadians and ten non-White Canadians who have made a major
contribution to science, culture, and life of Canada (excluding sports figures)?
3. Does surviving institutional Whiteness require individual or institutional responses?
4. What aspects of Whiteness are difficult to quantify?
5. Is there a reason for the difficulty in articulating Indigenous responses to institutional
colonization and racism?
6. Do you think that being motivated to fight racial inequality as a result of White guilt is
necessarily a sign of an ill-guided motive? In which instances do you think White guilt could be
beneficial, and, conversely, harmful?
7. Statistical projections indicate that in major Canadian cities (Toronto, Vancouver) White people
will soon be in the minority. How might this affect the process of White Racial Identity
47
Development (WRID)?
Questioning Whiteness - General
8. How can individuals work against the silencing of race? What conversations need to happen?
9. What are some of the tactics or mechanisms that Whites use in their denial of race privilege?
How are the respective tactics or mechanisms related to attempts to justify and rationalize their
beliefs that their achievements are a result of their individual efforts?
10. Is it possible for racial minorities to gain equitable access to employment and educational
opportunities without special structural and institutional programs like Affirmative Action and
Employment Equity?
11. If racism is to be addressed, White people must recognize (i.e., admitting to) “White privilege,”
dealing with the resulting personal or internal discomfort, tensions and conflicts, and
challenging the very system or structures that contribute to the privilege. Discuss how best this
state of being might be attained without developing the urge to give up or back down in the
face of personal and interpersonal conflicts that could undermine the socio-economic and
political success for which everyone strives.
12. How is Whiteness complicated by other expressions of ethnicity? By other religious identities?
By sexual difference?
48
Questioning Whiteness - Education
13. Does Canadian multiculturalism hinder possibilities of discussing Whiteness openly
within schools and communities?
14. How do policies aimed at equity and anti-racism play out in the schools? Are they
enough and, if not, how do we continue to move forward in the struggle against
oppressive practices and systemic racism in the education system?
15. How should Whiteness be broached within an institutional context by those who may not be in
positions of power?
16. How should Whites be made aware of, and become engaged in, the conceptualization and
application of race and anti-racism?
17. What do members of minoritized racial groups need to be aware of as they become part of the
decision-making process?
18. How should Aboriginals and Whites negotiate pedagogy in a changing world?
19. How would you as a teacher develop understandings of the difficult knowledge necessary to
49
interrogate Whiteness and White privilege?
Questioning Whiteness - Education
20. What are some of the ways we might be able to avoid "tokenizing" the inclusion of racial
minority (or non-White) people's experiences and/or scholarship in education?
21. How may teacher educators use antiracism pedagogy to disrupt the discourse of denial,
defensiveness, emotional tensions, ignorance, hostility, and “counter-knowledge strategies”
that teacher candidates often engage in to avoid a critical interrogation of racism and privilege?
22. The next generation of teachers demonstrates limited knowledge of Canada’s racist history.
Consequently, they demonstrate moral superiority toward their neighbours to the South. How
do we work toward a comprehensive picture of Canadian history that highlights similarities
between American and Canadian racial histories?
23. Given Canada’s colonialist history and the implications that are evidenced in contemporary
social and schooling practices, how might teacher candidates’ engagement with colonial and
post-colonial discourses further their understanding of race and racial discourses?
24. Do discussions of race in secondary school philosophy classrooms necessarily include
discussions of Whiteness? In short, is it necessary to consider Whiteness in discussions of race?
25. What problems, especially in relation to race, unfold when commercialized imperatives and 50
practices are the chief forces structuring the day-to-day happenings in schools of education?
MERCI
THANK YOU
51
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