Academic journal article Teacher Education Quarterly

On the "Flip" Side: A Teacher Educator of Color Unveiling the Dangerous Minds of White Teacher Candidates

Academic journal article Teacher Education Quarterly

On the "Flip" Side: A Teacher Educator of Color Unveiling the Dangerous Minds of White Teacher Candidates

Article excerpt

The dominant narrative dispelled in many films and mass media is a fear of the urban student of Color (Kellner, 1995; Leonardo & Hunter, 2007). Dominant narratives indicate that as innocent, well-intentioned White women enter urban schools, ridden with gangs, promiscuity, and drugs, they themselves become victims of the illness of urbanity that plagues People of Color and in doing so, they become White martyrs/messiahs for taking on the risk of contaminating their inherent purity (Vera & Gordan, 2003a). According to this account, the fears are real for White teachers who are willing to sacrifice themselves in the battle to humanize savage students who cuss at them, disrespect their presence, and cannot even read.

And as this narrative of White saviority (a form of benevolence) persists in the recounts of countless films, newscasts, and textbooks, society cries and empathizes with the heroic action of weeping White teachers. Because as society watches tears of anguish roll down the clean White cheek of this harmless White teacher, it can barely survive witnessing how these White knights painfully tolerate the daily aggressive attacks of urban students of Color. Plainly stated, society falls to its knees when White women cry because their pain is felt, similar to how observers of Michelangelo's pieta sculpture (1) cannot help but pity over the grief of the White Madonna clutching to the her lifeless son, Jesus Christ. Their pain becomes real. Their pain is deemed humanized by society's mere engagement of sympathy.

This narrative is indoctrinated in the minds of my countless White teacher candidates. Each semester my White teacher candidates enroll in our urban-focused teacher preparation program ready to sacrifice and give back to disadvantaged students of Color to change the injustices that pervade urban schools. They are prepared to roll their sleeves up and help close the achievement gaps for urban students of Color knowing that it is not fair that suburban schools have more resources, better buildings, and more qualified teachers. This is similar to how Ricky Lee Allen (2002) relates Neo, the White protagonist in the movie The Matrix, to the Chosen One who will "fight the racist Whites" (p. 120). Essentially, my White teacher candidates become the heroic liberal warriors who will save students of Color from failing (Vera & Gordan, 2003b). Then imagine if you will the cognitive resistant reaction of my White heroes when I walk into the lecture hall with my obvious Brown skin and urban mannerisms and introduce myself as Doctor Mafias. How will they help me, the embodiment of who they perceive needs saving, if I am the professor for the course?

Anatomy of Colored Pain: My Counterstory

Contrary to popularized notions of the painful lives of Whites who serve, help, or save People of Color, this article cries for the need to counter this one-sided account of what constitutes humanizing pain, for in adhering to that litmus of pain, Whites can then elevate their pain above People of Color's pain. Essentially, our tears become only three-fifths of the pain of a White person's tears. And as a Brown-skinned, Pinay teacher educator from urban Los Angeles, I painfully attest that teaching in a White institution with White colleagues and White students is a trauma, one that relentlessly terrorizes my heart, soul, and psyche on a daily basis. In order for me to heal my torn soul I developed my pedagogy of trauma.

This article focuses on the conceptualization and operationalization of my pedagogy of trauma as a survival mechanism and as a model for other teacher educators of Color who undertake the grave task of training self-affirmed colorblind White teacher candidates at the expense of our pain. In doing so, we can finally counter the dominant narrative that impacts the learning receptivity of our White teacher candidates (see Matias, 2012a). Just as how People of Color experience racial microaggressions, my experiences with my White teacher candidates become a counterstory of my semester long racial microaggression that subj ects me to pain; a pain I must voice in order to counter White narratives of pain (Delgado & Stefancic, 2001; Solorzano, Ceja & Yosso, 2000; Sue, Capodilupo, Torino, Bucceri, Holder, Nadal, & Esquilin, 2007). …

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