Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Hybrid Chronicles: Biracial and Biethnic Perspectives on the Pedagogy of Unlearning Racism

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Hybrid Chronicles: Biracial and Biethnic Perspectives on the Pedagogy of Unlearning Racism

Article excerpt

This article details an autoethnography project of our odysseys into the pedagogy of unlearning racism. Our knowledge creation process forced us to re-envision both our locations in, and pedagogy of, anti-racism work, with particular attention to the challenges and dangers of teaching about, to, and from White privilege within social work. In the end, we are both troubled and invigorated by what we experienced, witnessed, and supported. By asking people of color to share their personal narratives of racism in the presence of Whites, teachers, facilitators, and diversity trainers stand to continue privileging Whiteness where Whites benefit and learn at the expense of people of color. Key Words: Autoethnography, Pedagogy, Anti-Racism, Privilege, and Biracial


We, the authors, are an assistant professor and a graduate student from a college of social work in the western United States. One of the authors identifies as a Palestinian-French Canadian immigrant, who had experienced a challenging semester teaching a Diversity and Social Justice course to master's level social workers. The other author identifies as a biracial, fourth generation Japanese American graduate student who had waged some tough battles in her administrative position at the university's School of Medicine's Office of Diversity and Community Outreach. We met as members of the College of Social Work Diversity Committee, in addition to meeting as instructor and student in a social work practice course, during the year prior to the workshop we discuss in this paper. The associate vice president for diversity, at the university where we worked, had previously hired a trainer to work with selected students, staff, and faculty on diversity issues within the university. The trainer identified as a Chinese-American community therapist, documentary film maker, educator, performance poet, and author. Upon request from additional students, staff, and faculty, the university brought him back to provide a more extensive (2 1/2 day) training to a broader range of individuals including members from the community who had ties through agencies to the university. We participated in this 2 1/2 day training titled, Unlearning Racism, with 48 other individuals. At the forefront of the professor's agenda for attending the training was a desire to address how to teach to, and about, White privilege without reinscribing it. The graduate student attended the workshop in hopes of learning more about how White individuals can be influenced to unlearn racism.


Autoethnography, also recognized as a type of performance ethnography (Alexander, 2005), is understood as a genre of research that presents multiple layers of consciousness that connect the personal and cultural (Ellis & Bochner, 2000; Richardson, 2000). In autoethnography, the researcher shifts his/her gaze back and forth between the self and culture to explore and understand self and society. Hamera (1999) describes autoethnography as the/a performance of ethnography. In this performance, the performer/researcher couples her own lived experience with her personal and cultural histories to navigate the "busy intersections" (Rosaldo, 1989, p. 17) of multiple social identities (i.e., race, class, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity).

   Autoethnography thus engages ethnographical analysis of personally
   lived experience. The evidenced act of showing in autoethnography
   is less about reflecting on the self in a public space than about
   using the public space and performance as an act of critically
   reflecting culture, an act of seeing the self see the self through
   and as the other. (Alexander, 2005, p. 423)

Within this methodology researchers' personal experiences are significant to the extent that they present a type of cultural performance (Lionnet, 1989).

Autoethnography grounds the methodology that informs this project. …

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