The unexamined Whiteness of teaching: How White teachers maintain and enact dominant racial ideologies

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While much research that explores the role of race in education focuses on children of color, this article explores an aspect of the predominately White teaching force that educates them. This article explores findings from a qualitative study that posed questions about the ways in which White pre-service teachers' life-experiences influenced understandings of race and difference, and how these pre-service teachers negotiated the challenges a critical multicultural education course offered those beliefs. In keeping with the tenet of critical race theory that racism is an inherent and normalized aspect of American society, the author found that through previous life-experiences, the participants gained hegemonic understandings about race and difference. Participants responded to challenges to these understandings by relying on a set of 'tools of Whiteness' designed to protect and maintain dominant and stereotypical understandings of race - tools that were emotional, ideological, and performative. This phenomenon is typically referred to as resistance in the literature on White teachers and multicultural education. The author contends, however, that these tools are not simply a passive resistance to but much more of an active protection of the incoming hegemonic stories and White supremacy and therefore require analysis to better understand when and how these tools are strategically used. Understanding how these tools of Whiteness protect dominant and stereotypical understandings of race can advise teacher education programs how to better organize to transform the ideologies of White teachers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-215
Number of pages19
JournalRace Ethnicity and Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 2009


  • Critical Race Theory
  • Critical whiteness
  • Elementary education
  • Race
  • Racism
  • Student teachers
  • Teacher education
  • Tools of Whiteness studies
  • White supremacy
  • Whiteness


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