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Critical whiteness studies and the challenges of learning to be a "White Ally"

Aveling, N. (2004) Critical whiteness studies and the challenges of learning to be a "White Ally". Borderlands: E-journal, 3 (2).

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In working with teacher education students (most of whom are white) to develop an explicitly ant-racist consciousness, it is one of my aims as a white teacher educator to examine how the boundaries of ethnicity, race and power make visible how whiteness functions as a social construction that is specific to its historical and social location. While I want white students to own their whiteness and to become aware of white race privilege, at the same time it is important to provide future teachers with strategies and resources that enable them to move beyond the feelings of guilt that critically examining whiteness frequently engenders. One way of addressing this is through the model of the ‘white ally’ (Tatum 1994), a concept that is inextricably tied to, not only the notion of "working with, rather for the Other" (Giroux 1993, 29), but also to the injunction to "work on racism for your sake, not their sake" (Yamato 1990, 423). In this paper a range of responses from a representative subgroup of the 2003 cohort of my students are presented with particular reference to the ways in which these students reflected on ‘being white’ and the ways in which they felt that being a white ally would help them in their own teaching. What I seek to do, in fact, is to clarify the effect that deconstructing whiteness has on students’ perception of themselves as educators. At the same time I also take the opportunity to reflect on the challenges that working in this way poses for teacher educators.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Education
Copyright: 2004 borderlands ejournal
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