White Racism, White Supremacy, White Privilege, & the Social Construction of Race Omowale Akintunde

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White Racism, White Supremacy, White Privilege, & the Social Construction of Race

  • Omowale Akintunde

Where Multicultural Education Fails

  • “The majority of multicultural education literature builds on a false, humanly constructed epistemological base where race and “difference” are natural states and thus does not focus on the evolution of the histories, systems, and circumstances which erected these constructions.”

Where Multicultural Education Fails

  • Regards “differences” as inherent realities and thus seeks ways for us all to just “appreciate” each other.

  • Through its efforts to increase an “understanding” of “others” it actually reinforces and cements “otherization” and reinforces and perpetuates White supremacy.

Where Multicultural Education Fails

  • “[Is] designed to help ‘Whites’ learn to see “others” as their equal. Implied in such thinking is that “others” are assumed inferior and need to be raised to the status of ‘Whites’.”

An important note about Multicultural Education

  • The issues raised above are NOT meant to imply that Multicultural Education in general is bad, or a waste of time.

  • Not ALL Multicultural Education programs have these problems.

  • It is important that we be aware of the subtle messages we are sending through Multicultural Education, but continue to learn from and with each other.

Modifying Unit Plans

  • Unit one inherently, though perhaps not intentionally, perpetuates White supremacist ideology.

  • There are other problems with lesson one, pedagogically speaking.

  • What areas can you see White supremacist ideology in the lesson plan?

Problems with Unit One

  • Indigenous people are referred to as “Indians”, suggesting that the “other” who was encountered was a cardboard, monolithic culture – as opposed to the varied indigenous cultural groups which inhabited the Americas at the time of the arrival of Europeans.

Problems with Unit One

  • The “voice” in the plan is never identified, but is clearly from the perspective of “White” people, helping to establish the “White” perspective not as a cultural or “racial” disposition but rather as a position of “neutrality”.

Problems with Unit One

  • The notion of White as a “race” is subconsciously dismissed.

  • This is how Whiteness and White privilege becomes invisible to white people and “White” and “human being” come to mean the same thing.

Problems with Unit One

  • The “other” are identified as Indian, a name which refers to a “racial” identity; the Whites are “cowboys” – an occupational identity.

Problems with Unit One

  • “Bury Me Out on the Lone Prairie” suggest that there was no one on the prairie. The genocide of indigenous people is not discussed, but totally eliminated from the scenario altogether.

Problems with Unit One

  • Possessive individualism and hierarchy, benchmarks of the Eurocentric paradigm are evident: The “best” art projects will be displayed:

  • Reinforces the notion that some are “better” than others and the “poor” students are recognized by their exclusion of their projects on the wall outside the classroom for all to see.

Problems with Unit One

  • “Honorary Cowboy” certificates will be given to “exceptional” students.

  • No mention is made of the fact that “cowboys” contributed to the decimation of indigenous people, land, the buffalo, and natural resources. In fact, being certified as a “cowboy” is an “honor”.

Features of Unit Two

  • Suggests that there are multiple perspectives.

  • The frame of reference is third person, not the White “I”.

  • Students are challenged to think about the impact of a foreign culture (European) on indigenous populations.

Features of Unit Two

  • No attempts at rankings are made.

  • Examines the songs for evidence of cultural view points.

  • All people are described in terms of “culture” [not by “race”].

“Race” vs. “Culture”

  • Racial Identity is a construct, not biologically based. The differences in feelings, thoughts, and behaviors between people of color and white people are the result of conditions endured by people of color.

  • Culture is basically the sum of the core concepts of a particular group of people, which is transmitted generation to generation.

  • -Cameron and Wycoff

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