Academic journal article Journal of Teacher Education

Digital Storytelling as Racial Justice: Digital Hopes for Deconstructing Whiteness in Teacher Education

Academic journal article Journal of Teacher Education

Digital Storytelling as Racial Justice: Digital Hopes for Deconstructing Whiteness in Teacher Education

Article excerpt

Whiteness and Teacher Education: Setting the Stage

Over 10 years ago, Sleeter (2001) argued the existence of an overwhelming presence of Whiteness in teacher education. Such a claim hastened the academy--specifically teacher education--to revisit its practices, promoting the adoption of culturally diverse theories (Villegas & Lucas, 2002) and increasing the hiring of faculty of color. Despite such efforts, middle-class, straight, White females still occupy most positions in both the K-12 teaching profession and in programs of teacher preparation/education in institutions of higher education across the United States (National Center for Education Statistics [NCES], 2012). Needless to say, there still exists an overwhelming presence of Whiteness in teacher education that is so invisible and undetected that teacher education is still asking how is Whiteness defined today. However, with mission statements that now explicitly commit to social justice, an increase in urban-focused programs, and the wide adoption of culturally diverse theories (e.g., cultural responsive teaching, multicultural education, etc.), the manifestation of Whiteness has become more nuanced. How are such programs continually enacting Whiteness despite these commitments to social justice?

Psychoanalytically, this quandary parallels the same underlying racial fallacies found in statements like, "Our society is post-racial upon the election of our first Black president," "I'm not a racist because I am married to a Latino," or, more poignant to education, "I cannot possibly be a racist because I teach urban students who are mainly African American and Latino." These commonly used statements are exemplars of how today's understanding of race dynamics, inclusive of an understanding of Whiteness, get misconstrued, and, in misconstruing race, the hope for racially just education becomes less hopeful. Plainly stated, increased exposure to people of color, multicultural theories, and explicit commitments to social justice is simply not enough to eradicate Whiteness in teacher education. To self-invest in an antiracist education system, interrogations of how Whiteness mutates, survives, and re-fashions itself must be taken up, even if it means uncomfortable discussions.

If we, as academics, acknowledge Sleeter's (2001) demand for diversifying teacher education over 10 years ago, then why is teacher education still emotionally investing in maintaining Whiteness-at-work in the academy by not talking about the issues of Whiteness directly (Yoon, 2012)? When dealing with Whiteness, often invoked are theorizations of how Whiteness operates in White teachers (Ringrose, 2007), how Whiteness becomes a burden for faculty of color (Williams & Evans-Winters, 2005), and how Whiteness operates writ large (Leonardo, 2009). Yet not often considered is why a society may continue to maintain Whiteness for emotional reasons. Because masculinists often refute the study of emotions and the pervasiveness of male-privilege in a patriarchal society (Boler, 1999; hooks, 1994), the critical understandings of the emotionality of Whiteness are overlooked, therefore this article includes a critical analysis of Whiteness and emotionalities of Whiteness to attempt to act upon Sleeter's (2001) decade-old demand for de-Whitenizing teacher education. The focus of our analysis in this article is "How do teachers make sense of Whiteness and/or their own White identity in the context of digital stories as pedagogy?

Before exploring pedagogical practices that help debunk Whiteness in teacher education we, the authors, provide some definitions to clarify our conceptualizations. First, Whiteness does not equate to White people, albeit Whiteness tends to operate more readily among White people due to the nature of White supremacy (Allen, 2001; Gillborn, 2006; Leonardo, 2009). Whiteness is a "social construction that embraces white culture, ideology, racialization, expressions and experiences, epistemologies, emotions and behaviors" (Mafias, Viesca, Garrison-Wade, Tandon, & Galindo, 2014, p. …

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