With a rationale informed by the demographic imperative, the resegregation of public schools, and our positionalities as researchers, we understand both the high stakes and the complexity of capacitating White preservice and in-service teachers capable of anti-racist praxis and race-visible teaching and learning in public school classrooms.
Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study
Deploying the framework of colorblind racism, we systematically reviewed race-evasive White teacher identity studies and answered the question: What can we learn from 25 years of research?
In using the method called the synoptic text, we engaged electronic databases, with special emphasis on ERIC EBSCOhost. The simple and general search term “White teachers” conducted using year-by-year parameters provided the most systematic net for capturing relevant studies. In narrowing our focus, we developed the following criteria: (a) White teachers as central topic, (b) analytical emphases on colorblind racism, (c) publication in peer-reviewed journals, (d) use of qualitative and/or narrative research methodologies, and (e) publication date between 1990 and 2015.
Data Collection and Analysis
Our general search yielded 136 (N = 136) peer-reviewed empirical qualitative and/or narrative studies between 1990 and 2015, and after narrowing our criteria, we found 47 race-evasive White teacher identity studies (n = 47, 47/136) that we reviewed here. Each study in the document universe was abstracted by authors, added to a spreadsheet, and categorized by emergent themes.
The following five themes emerged and developed over the last 25 years: (a) racialized silence and invisibility (9/47), (b) resistance and active reconstruction of White privilege (12/47), (c) whiteness in institutional and social contexts (8/47), (d) fertile paradoxes in new research (9/47), and (e) reflexive whiteness pedagogies (9/47).
We believe our literature review identifies the complex contours of White preservice and in-service teachers’ silence, resistance to, engagement in, and pedagogical grappling with racism, whiteness, and White privilege. The importance of pre-service and in-service teachers being able to engage, understand, and challenge these issues becomes critically important at our crossroads in the present, especially given the recent election that bolstered open and tacit White supremacists into power. If White teachers are to engage racism, whiteness, and White privilege, they must do so with as opposed to for their students, in a Freirean sense. If teaching for social justice is important, renewed interest and investment in White teacher identity studies and related whiteness pedagogies is key for the next 25 years.