Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Privilege in a Police Car: The Story of My Unresolved Ride-Along

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Privilege in a Police Car: The Story of My Unresolved Ride-Along

Article excerpt

Within my professional practice as a teacher educator, I strive to act with fealty to supporting the future teachers in my classes in adopting the most critical and proactive counter-hegemonic stances possible (Apple, 2004). To this end, students in my courses are asked to move through and then beyond engagement in "courageous conversations" (Singleton & Linton, 2005) and "cultural plunges" (Houser, 2008), and to make themselves vulnerable, naming unwarranted privileges, challenging injustice, and speaking in solidarity with (but never for) the oppressed. Duncan-Andrade (2010) describes this by stating, "We must be willing to stand boldly in solidarity with our communities, sharing the burden of underserved suffering. We cannot treat our students as "other people's children" - their pain is our pain" (para. 1).

While including a concentrated focus on race, class, and gender, pre-service teachers entering my multicultural education course are asked to step outside this familiar "other-ness" canon (Gorski, 2008) and stretch it to include topics that may be less comfortable and more taboo. In doing so, they take on the role of researchers and examine their own conceptions of difference, and explore how these may shape their work as educators. Focusing on the metaphorical pressure-points that cause psychological discomfort, my students are asked to examine the origins of their beliefs about what they consider "normal" and to attempt to parse about where those ideas came from.

In working to shift the margins of comfort, the student-researchers in my course are asked to reflect upon their own constructions of borders and their reactions to trespass, and to consider the ways they, as future educators, may have already been primed to "defend" certain boundaries (Anzaldua, 1987). These acts of perceived trespass and defense are then problematized, and examined not with the binary framework of normal/ different, but rather, contextualized in family, community and cultural belief systems (Marshall & Toohey, 2010). Students are urged to identify, consider and create shades of gray, looking for personal, fine-grained "tipping points" where something moves from good to bad, acceptable to unacceptable, friendly to foul-and then to consider why those points exist and how they came into being.

Further exploring this tension around identifying "normal," students in the course are asked to examine the power relationships they participate in, and how these hierarchical relationships were established and are maintained (Vaandering, 2010). Building from this thinking and theorizing, students are asked to "warp the lens" to attempt novel views of their roles as educators in ways that may "move the margins" of normal and different in their classroom communities (Ullucci & Battey, 2011).

Informed by critical theory, this work intends to be an effort which, "recognizes power-that seeks in its analyses to plumb the archaeology of taken-for-granted perspectives to understand how unjust and oppressive social conditions came to be reified as historical "givens" (Cannella & Lincoln, 2012, p. 105). By employing critical theory, the intent of this work is to help scratch away at these givens-particularly those most stubbornly rooted ideas and ideals related to power and privilege.

Building upon these ideas, this work also draws from feminist epistemology, in that the situated-ness of the knowledge of schooling signals a masculinity that is often unnamed and unchallenged. Invoking Anzaldua's (2002) concept of the nepantlera, which she describes as those who "facilitate passage between worlds" and who engage in thinking that seeks to "question old ideas and beliefs, acquire new perspectives, change worldviews, and shift from one world to another" (p. 1), this work frames my thinking as active and agentic, questioning and challenging.

Further, I have decided to frame this paper as an autoethnography, centering my own lived experience and making no claims for generalization. …

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