Negotiating White Science in a Racially and Ethnically Diverse United States
by Patricia S. Dunac-Morgan
Scholars have empirically examined, rigorously developed, and analyzed various strategies to increase teachers’ capacity to reach students of color. These instructional strategies and philosophies include the study of multicultural education, teaching for social justice, and theorizing the connection between school and home life. While these instructional strategies highlight the need for a more inclusive approach, they do not center race enough. Culturally Relevant Pedagogy (CRP) is the pedagogical content and cultural knowledge a teacher exhibits (Ladson-Billings, 1995). CRP does not explicitly problematize race; yet the theory and praxis of CRP should include a critical analysis of race and racism. As an alternative framework that centers on race, researchers have begun to use Critical Race Theory (CRT) to explore aspects of race and racism in the teaching and learning realm. This qualitative case study examined how teachers make sense of their own racial selves in relation to teaching students from different racial backgrounds (Yin, 2008). Data collection included semi-structured interviews as the primary source of data. Classroom observations and researcher memos served as secondary sources of data (Seidman, 2005; Hatch, 2002: Prior, 2003). According to critical race theorists, narratives are essential when gathering vital sources of information, in that they make the social realities of people of color, as influenced by racism, observable to the world (Wallace & Brand, 2012). As such, CRT was used to identify whether there were any influences of the students’ racial identities on the teachers’ development and implementation of culturally responsive practices. The analysis revealed that: (1) teachers’ explicit confrontation with/of “otherness” as White female teachers and their critical awareness of societal influences on students of color presented more opportunities to be race-conscious and directly address institutional racism; and (2) teachers’ critical awareness of explicit and implicit power structures and how these relationships ate embedded in a “hidden curriculum” influenced their beliefs and instructional practices. These findings communicate the significance of White female teachers understanding of issues specific to urban schools, and their efforts to find ways to remedy those issues to make learning meaningful, purposeful, and authentic for students of color.