Calling In, Not Calling Out: A Critical Race Framework for Nurturing Cross-Cultural Alliances in Teacher Candidates

Calling In, Not Calling Out: A Critical Race Framework for Nurturing Cross-Cultural Alliances in Teacher Candidates

Anita Bright (Portland State University, USA) and James Gambrell (Portland State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0897-7.ch011
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With a focus on transformation, this chapter engages educators in considering how the key ideas in Critical Race Theory may be immediately applicable in their own settings. The authors explain ways to define, identify, and disrupt microaggressions, and explore ways to serve as empathetic allies to marginalized students, families, and teachers. Grounded in the lived experiences of the two authors as they teach courses in an initial teacher preparation program at a large, urban institution in the Western U.S., this chapter includes vignettes that highlight the processes of calling in and being called in as a means to work towards greater equity and reduced oppression in educational and social settings.
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“I can’t believe you just said that.” The class froze and fell silent, uncertainty and electricity hanging in the air. Margaret, a teacher candidate in our graduate program, pointed angrily at Ryan, her classmate, and continued, “Mexican isn’t a language, it’s a nationality. You’re ignorant and need to get a clue, Ryan.”

With a clear focus on working towards achieving greater equity and social justice within educational contexts and within the world at large, we (Anita and James) take our work as teacher educators quite seriously. As faculty members in an initial teacher licensure program at a large, public institution in the Western US, we have the humbling privilege of working with several hundred teacher candidates each year, as these candidates embark on their journeys towards becoming educators. Part of our work involves navigating interactions like the in-class conversation between Margaret and Ryan (pseudonyms, as are all individuals named in this chapter aside from the authors), described above.

In the very first term of their program of student, our teacher candidates take a foundational course that lays the groundwork for the remainder of their studies, and hopefully for their professional practices as educators. This course, which focuses on educating for equity and social justice, addresses a range of issues related to identity, positionality, power, privilege, and oppression. As professors, we learn side-by-side with our teacher candidates, welcoming the unending flow of new opportunities to deepen our own understandings while also marveling at the newly rich understandings of our teacher candidates themselves.

In our work as educators, we recognize there are multiple times throughout a each day wherein we might speak or act in ways that unintentionally oppress or wound those around us. As each individual carries and enacts a uniquely constructed and evolving cultural identity, the interplay between these cultures has great potential to lead to misunderstanding, conflict, and even oppression (Brookfield, 2002).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Microaggression: The everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon aspects of their identities.

Meritocracy: The idea that a system distributes resources (such as wealth and income) according to the merit of individuals.

Interest Convergence: People with power will support ideas that may serve others when there is some benefit for their own privilege embedded within.

Whiteness: An ideology based on values, beliefs, behaviors and attitudes that result in the inequitable and unequal distribution of power and privilege as related to skin color.

Post-Racial Society: A theoretical environment in which a community is free from hegemonic influences.

Little-c Culture: This consists of the routine aspects of life, such as the things people know, believe, and do within a culture, and includes styles of communication, conceptions of time, and notions of beauty, goodness, and rightness.

Big-c Culture: This consists of things people within a culture make and use, and serve as artifacts. Examples include literature, songs, food, holidays, and art.

Colorblind Racism: The idea that in the US, the legal and educational systems treat all people equally regardless of racial identity, with a clear denial of historical factors that may influence contemporary issues.

Critical Race Theory: A theoretical framework that examines and challenges the ways power is held by certain groups, while other groups are marginalized or oppressed.

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