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Race as Social Construction

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Matthew Umstot

on 26 March 2013

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Transcript of Race as Social Construction

Race Shouldn't Matter! "The Colorblind Perspective in School: Causes and Consequences" by Janet Ward Schofield (from Banks and Banks) Race is What You Make It! "Goin' Gangster, Choosin' Cholita: Teens Today 'Claim' a Racial Identity" by Nell Bernstein

"Identity is not a matter of where you come from, what you were born into, what color your skin is. It's what you wear, the music you listen to, the words you use - everything to which you pledge allegiance, no matter how fleetingly."

Adolescents and teens feel as though their race is more in their hands than older generations
Racial identity adds excitement Race Definitely Matters! Final Thoughts "Ms. Nathe is basically black anyways!" Why? (mannerisms, speech patterns, music)
Does this make her black?
What impact does the social construction of Nicole's race have on her relationships with her students and her teaching practices? Matt: It's essential that our students take an active role in constructing their own racial identity. They have to live with it their whole lives, not others who try to change it to better fit their own worldviews. “Just What is Critical Race Theory, and What’s it Doing in a Nice Field like Education?" By Gloria Ladson-Billings How is Race Constructed? The Race Constructo 3000! Initial Activity How do you construct yourself? Take a moment to consider how you view yourself.

-How do you view yourself?
-What "labels" do you subscribe to?
-How do these labels affect your life?

Write down at least three "labels" that you use to define yourself.
Example: "White," "Urban," "Catholic," "Male," etc.

Which "label" do you think defines you most?
Which "label" would you like to define you most in others' eyes? RACE AS A SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION By Cara Liuzzi, Nicole Nathe, and Matthew Umstot Assigned Readings "Goin' Gangster, Choosin' Cholita: Teens Today 'Claim' a Racial Identity" by Nell Bernstein

"Just What is Critical Race Theory, and What’s it Doing in a Nice Field like Education?" By Gloria Ladson-Billings

"Backstage Racism: Implications for Teaching" by Leslie H. Picca and Ruth Thompson-Miller (from Banks and Banks

Supplemental Text:
"The Colorblind Perspective in School: Causes and Consequences" by Janet Ward Schofield (from Banks and Banks) Objectives SWBAT reflect on the construction of their own identity and how others construct their identity

SWBAT apply this week's readings about the concept of race as a social construction to the Scott Brown vs. Elizabeth Warren debate (a pertinent current event!)

SWBAT apply the concept of race as a social construction to their own teaching experience Think Pair Share Think about how others construct your race. How might/does this influence your teaching practices?
Share with a partner. Constructing Elizabeth Warren's Race Group Questions Bernstein:
Scott Brown claims Elizabeth Warren is a fraud because she doesn't appear to be Native American. Is Brown justified in this claim or is Warren, like the teens in the article, warranted to construct her own racial identity? Ladson-Billings: Schofield:
Do you think Scott Brown would support colorblind education? Wexler Middle School as site for research on colorblind theory.
"Race is a social category of no relevance to one's behaviors and decisions," pg. 265
Teachers adamant that race was never considered in any decisions the school made.
Students noticed race, but feared reprimand for mentioning it in front of teachers.
The very words "white" and "black" became taboo.
Students automatically segregated by race when allowed to choose associations.
Conflict reduced
Avoids racial discomfort
Simplifies life
Increased freedom of action Cons:
Ignores cultural differences
Ignores culturally responsive teaching
Doesn't address structural inequalities
Hides racism behind other rationales Example:
"...a White teacher said that she had purposely miscounted votes so that a 'responsible child' (a White boy) was declared the winner rather than the 'unstable child' (an African American girl) who had actually received more votes." pg 272 Nicole: Race is a complicated term that can be defined and thought of in a variety of ways. The way in which individuals view their own racial identity, not how others view them, remains crucial to the decisions they make and how they live their lives. Group Discussion What role do social constructions of race play in the classroom?
Whose social construction of your race is more important in the classroom? Yours or your students'? Conversely, whose construction of the students is more important? The teacher's or their own? (Is "more important" even a good way of thinking about it?)
How can you use this to open up a discussion about racial construction in your class? Frontstage and Backstage Racism

"Backstage Racism: Implications for Teaching"
By Leslie H. Picca and Ruth Thompson-Miller "The Front Stage"

"The Backstage"

How do white students act when they are surrounded by other Whites in a "safe white space?" *This Seminar's Theoretical Framework: Race is a social construct---race has become metaphorical
Critical Race Theory:
1. Racism is the norm, a permanent fixture of American life.
2. CRT uses storytelling and values individual experiences.
3. CRT argues that we need sweeping changes to combat racism (not slow, incremental change).
4. Whites have been the primary beneficiaries of civil rights legislation.
*Citizenship: "the property issue"
*Applying CRT to Education
--"Pedagogical COUNTERMOVES!"
--Warning: to take up CRT in the classroom requires de-situating yourself and embracing discomfort How can we use Critical Race Theory as a framework for understanding this debate between Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren? Is Scott Brown showing us an example of "interest convergence?" Cara: Identity may be fluid for individuals, but as a society our conceptions of race are fixed (socially constructed). As educators, it is our responsibility to bring a critical race theory consciousness to the classroom, since race is "always already present" there. This approach is revolutionary and requires us to reside in the uncomfortable margins.
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