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Racism and Education: Coincidence or Conspiracy?



Education policy is not designed to eliminate race inequality but to sustain it at manageable levels. This is the inescapable conclusion of the first major study of the English education system using 'critical race theory'. David Gillborn has been described as Britain's 'most influential race theorist in education'. In this book he dissects the role of racism across the education system; from national policies to school-level decisions about discipline and academic selection. Race inequality is not accidental and things are not getting better. Despite occasional 'good news' stories about fluctuations in statistics, the reality is that race inequality is so deeply entrenched that it is effectively 'locked in' as a permanent feature of the system. Built on a foundation of compelling evidence, from national statistics to studies of classroom life, this book shows how race inequality is shaped and legitimized across the system. The study explores a series of key issues including: The impact of the 'War on Terror' and how policy privileges the interests of white people. How assessment systems produce race inequality. Exposes the 'gifted and talented' programme as a form of eugenic thinking based on discredited and racist myths about intelligence and ability. Documents the Stephen Lawrence case revealing how policy makers have betrayed earlier commitments to race equality. Shows how 'model minorities' are created and used to counter anti-racism. How education policy is implicated in the defence of white power. Conspiracy? Racism & Education takes critical antiracist analyses to a new level and represents a fundamental challenge to current assumptions in the field. With a preface by Richard Delgado, one of the founders of critical race theory.
Journal of Education Policy
Vol. 20, No. 4, July 2005, pp. 485–505
ISSN 0268–0939 (print)/ISSN 1464–5106 (online)/05/040485–21
© 2005 Taylor & Francis Group Ltd
DOI: 10.1080/02680930500132346
Education policy as an act of white
supremacy: whiteness, critical race
theory and education reform
David Gillborn*
University of London, UK
Taylor and Francis LtdTEDP113217.sgm10.1080/02680930500132346Journal of Education Policy0268-0939 (print)/1464-5106 (online)Original Article2005Taylor & Francis Group Ltd204000000July 2005DavidGillbornEducational Foundations and Policy Studies, Institute of EducationUniversity of London20 Bedford WayLondonWC1H 0AL020 7612 6811020 7612
The paper presents an empirical analysis of education policy in England that is informed by recent
developments in US critical theory. In particular, I draw on ‘whiteness studies’ and the application
of critical race theory (CRT). These perspectives offer a new and radical way of conceptualizing the
role of racism in education. Although the US literature has paid little or no regard to issues outside
North America, I argue that a similar understanding of racism (as a multifaceted, deeply embedded,
often taken-for-granted aspect of power relations) lies at the heart of recent attempts to understand
institutional racism in the UK. Having set out the conceptual terrain in the first half of the paper, I
then apply this approach to recent changes in the English education system to reveal the central role
accorded the defence (and extension) of race inequity. Finally, the paper touches on the question
of racism and intentionality: although race inequity may not be a planned and deliberate goal of
education policy neither is it accidental. The patterning of racial advantage and inequity is struc-
tured in domination and its continuation represents a form of tacit intentionality on the part of white
powerholders and policy-makers. It is in this sense that education policy is an act of white suprem-
acy. Following others in the CRT tradition, therefore, the paper’s analysis concludes that the most
dangerous form of ‘white supremacy’ is not the obvious and extreme fascistic posturing of small
neo-nazi groups, but rather the taken-for-granted routine privileging of white interests that goes
unremarked in the political mainstream.
Introduction: problems and perspectives
As I write, I try to remember when the word racism ceased to be the term which best
expressed for me exploitation of black people and other people of color in this society and
when I began to understand that the most useful term was white supremacy. (hooks, 1989,
p. 112)
In this paper I consider the role of education policy in the active structuring of racial
inequity. Like bell hooks, my analysis centres on a conceptualization of ‘white
supremacy’ that goes beyond the usual narrow focus on extreme and explicitly racist
*Educational Foundations and Policy Studies, Institute of Education, University of London, 20
Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL, UK. Email:
486 D. Gillborn
organizations. Rather, this analysis focuses on a more extensive, more powerful
version of white supremacy; one that is normalized and taken for granted. Before
examining the evidence for the contemporary manifestation of white supremacist
thought, it may be useful to draw on an historical example that helps to set the scene.
Marcus Wood’s book Blind memory examines the visual representation of slavery in
England and America during the eighteenth and nineteenth century. He begins by
commenting on the case of Thomas Clarkson’s ‘Abolition map’. Produced in 1808,
the ‘map’ was an attempt to chart visually the relationships between all the important
people and events involved in bringing about the abolition of slavery. As Wood states,
the map represents:
…a cartographic fantasy which presents abolition as a series of tributary streams and rivers,
each with the name of a supposed abolitionist attached. The waterways unite to form two
mighty rivers in England and America, and these in turn unite when they flow into the open
sea, presumably the sea of emancipation and spiritual renewal. (Wood, 2000, pp. 1, 4)
Incredibly, not a single slave was mentioned in this ‘map’.
Clarkson’s map provides an object-lesson in the reimagining of history to present a
unified tale of the triumph of white civilizing values over the forces of repression. The
erasure of Black people,1 as an active and ultimately irresistible force for change, is
both obscene and significant. In a similar fashion policy-makers (and many educa-
tionists) tend to imagine education policy as evolving over time, sometimes with
dramatic changes in focus, but always (so policy-makers assure us) with the best of
intentions for all. This sanitized (white-washed) version of history envisions policy as
a rational process of change, with each step building incrementally on its predecessor
in a more-or-less linear and evolutionary fashion. But such an approach is contrary to
the reality of race and politics in England where virtually every major public policy
meant to improve race equity has arisen directly from resistance and protest by Black
and other minoritized communities. Indeed, some of the most significant changes
have come about as the result of bloodshed. The most recent example of this is the
far-reaching changes made to race equity legislation (affecting all public institutions
and every state maintained school) in the wake of The Stephen Lawrence inquiry
(Macpherson, 1999). This Inquiry was only established after years of campaigning by
Doreen and Neville Lawrence in an attempt to bring to justice the white youths who
had murdered their 18-year-old son as he waited for a London bus (and was necessary
because of the failure of the police force—which treated the Lawrences more like
troublemakers than grieving parents). Another notable example in the field of educa-
tion policy is the establishment, in 1979, of a committee of inquiry into the education
of minority ethnic children following growing protests by Black community groups
(see Redbridge Community Relations Council, 1978) and activists (see Coard, 1971;
Dhondy, 1974, 1978). Similarly, ‘multicultural’ education enjoyed a brief boost to its
policy profile following uprisings in Brixton, Bristol and elsewhere in the early 1980s
(see Virdee & Cole, 2000; Figueroa, 2004).
There is a pressing need, therefore, to view policy in general, and education policy
in particular, through a lens that recognizes the very real struggles and conflicts that
Education policy as an act of white supremacy 487
lie at the heart of the processes through which policy and practice are shaped. This is
a radical challenge that calls into question many of the comforting myths that self-
avowedly ‘democratic’ states tell about themselves. But the challenge extends beyond
the realms of policy-making and policy-implementation, and reaches into the acad-
emy. In particular, such a perspective challenges the kind of ‘problem-solving’
approach that has come to typify a great deal of academic work, especially in the tradi-
tions of school effectiveness and management/leadership studies (see Morley &
Rassool, 1999). Here, in the words of Thrupp and Wilmott (2003, p. 4) common-
sense ‘ahistorical, individuated and often monocultural views about the purposes and
problems of schooling’ feed into a kind of uncritical ‘policy science’ (after Grace,
1995) that seeks school-based solutions to school-based problems and totally ignores
existing structural and historic relations of domination. Roger Dale (2001) has criti-
cized a similar tendency in English Sociology of Education where, as Rob Moore
argued, a weak sociology for education (rather than a sociology of education) has
sometimes focused on ‘the internal features of the system … tending to “take” its
problems rather than “make” problems through the external criteria of critical social
theory’ (Moore, 1996, p. 158). As Geoff Whitty (2002) has documented, the election
of a New Labour government in 1997 did nothing to challenge the existing aggres-
sively managerialist policy culture and academic research melieu. As several writers
have argued, notably Michael Apple (1996), Stephen Ball (2004) and Sara Delamont
(2001), there is no such thing as the sociology of education. There are competing (and
excluding) versions and constructions of the discipline, even within a single time
period in a single nation state.
The line of analysis pursued in this paper, therefore, may seem radical (perhaps
even insane)2 but it builds on a growing tradition of critical race scholarship that is
especially strong in the US (Crenshaw et al., 1995; Ladson-Billings & Tate, 1995;
Ladson-Billings, 1998; Parker, 1998; Delgado & Stefancic, 2000, 2001; Essed &
Goldberg, 2002). By applying these perspectives to the English case I hope, first, to
illuminate some of the deeper problems and conflicts at the heart of education policy
and race inequity, and second, to contribute to the ‘iterative project of scholarship
and social justice’ aspired to by critical race theory (Tate, 1997, pp. 234–235).
The main focus of the paper is a reconceptualization of white supremacy and an
examination of the empirical evidence in contemporary English education policy. In
particular, I examine some fundamental questions about who and what education
policy is for. Before looking at the empirical data, however, it is necessary to set out
my understanding of whiteness and the construction of white identities.
Troubling whiteness3
… whiteness is not a culture but a social concept. (Leonardo, 2002, p. 32)
As Rosa Hernandez Sheets (2000, 2003) has argued, focusing on white people (their
sense of self, their interests and concerns) has become such a fashionable past-time
within parts of the US academy that there is a danger of whiteness studies colonizing
488 D. Gillborn
and further de-radicalizing multicultural education. However, the field is extremely
wide. If the guilt-ridden white introspection that Sheets fears is at one end of the spec-
trum, at the other pole lie Marxist analyses that firmly identify whiteness as one more
‘strategy for securing to some an advantage in a competitive society’ (Ignatiev, 1997,
p. 1). The latter position calls for the ‘abolition of the white race’:
Various commentators have stated that their aim is to identify and preserve a positive white
identity. Abolitionists deny the existence of a positive white identity. We at Race Traitor,
the journal with which I am associated, have asked some of those who think whiteness
contains positive elements to indicate what they are. We are still waiting for an answer.
Until we get one, we will take our stand with David Roediger, who has insisted that white-
ness is not merely oppressive and false, it is nothing but oppressive and false. (Ignatiev,
1997, p. 1)4
Alastair Bonnett has argued that this position is considerably weakened by its ‘obses-
sive focus’ on the US and a ‘persistent romanticization of blackness’ that leads the
abolitionist position to a form of class reductionism that is unable to deal with the
complexities of racism in a more nuanced way that takes account of experiences else-
where in the world (Bonnett, 2000, p. 141). One attempt to find a critical, but not
class reductionist, approach to these issues is to be found in the work of Zeus
Leonardo (2002, 2004). Leonardo appropriates concepts from critical pedagogy,
globalization studies and whiteness studies, to argue for a ‘neo-abolitionist’ position.
Leonardo begins by addressing a key problematic in this field; the difference
between ‘whiteness’ and ‘white people’:
‘Whiteness’ is a racial discourse, whereas the category ‘white people’ represents a socially
constructed identity, usually based on skin color. (Leonardo, 2002, p. 31)
This is a vital point. Critical scholarship on whiteness is not an assault on white
people per se: it is an assault on the socially constructed and constantly reinforced
power of white identifications and interests (see Ladson-Billings & Tate, 1995,
pp. 58–60). ‘So-called “White” people’ (Bonnett, 1997, p. 189) do not necessarily
reinforce whiteness any more than heterosexual people are necessary homophobic, or
men are necessarily sexist. However, these analogies are useful because they highlight
the forces that recreate and extend the kinds of ‘unthinking’ assumptions and actions
which mean that very many (probably the majority) of heterosexuals are homophobic
and most men are sexist. It is possible for white people to take a real and active role
in deconstructing whiteness but such ‘race traitors’ are relatively uncommon.
Building on a range of work, in particular Ruth Frankenberg (1993) and David
Roediger (1992), Leonardo discusses some of the defining characteristics of white-
ness (Leonardo, 2000, p. 32). For example:
‘An unwillingness to name the contours of racism’: inequity (in employment, educa-
tion, wealth, etc) is explained by reference to any number of alternative factors
rather than being attributable to the actions of whites.
‘The avoidance of identifying with a racial experience or group’: whiteness draws much
of its power from ‘Othering’ the very idea of ethnicity. A central characteristic of
whiteness is a process of ‘naturalization’ such that white becomes the norm from
Education policy as an act of white supremacy 489
which other ‘races’ stand apart and in relation to which they are defined. When
white-identified groups do make a claim for a white ethnic identity alongside other
officially recognized ethnic groups (e.g., as has been tried by the Ku Klux Klan in
the US and the British National Party in England) it is the very exceptionality of
such claims that points to the commonsense naturalization of whiteness at the
heart of contemporary political discourse (see Swain & Nieli, 2003; Ratcliffe,
2004, pp. 115–117).
‘The minimization of racist legacy’: seeking to ‘draw a line’ under past atrocities as if
that would negate their continued importance as historic, economic and cultural
This is not to say that whiteness is stable nor unambiguous. Indeed, some of the most
striking scholarship in this field has taken as its focus the historically specific, contin-
gent and ‘slippery’ nature of whiteness (Bonnett, 1997). For centuries legislators have
struggled to capture the ‘commonsense’ understandings of race in terms that could
be legally enforced (see Wright, 1997; Ladson-Billings, 2004). In addition, many
groups that at one time or another have been defined as outside whiteness have at
other times been redefined and brought within the privileged group. See, for example,
Karen Brodkin Sacks (1997) How did Jews become white folks? and Noel Ignatiev
(1995) How the Irish became white.
Whiteness as performatively constituted
In critical scholarship it is not uncommon to hear whiteness described as a perfor-
mance. Leonardo (2002, p. 31), for example, cites Henry Giroux (1997) in exactly
this way. Describing whiteness as a performance can operate as a shorthand means of
drawing attention to the importance of actions and constructed identities—rejecting
the simplistic assumption that ‘whiteness’ and ‘white people’ are one and the same
… the critical project that largely informs the new scholarship on ‘whiteness’ rests on a
singular assumption. Its primary aim is to unveil the rhetorical, political, cultural, and
social mechanisms through which ‘whiteness’ is both invented and used to mask its power
and privilege. (Giroux, 1997, p. 102)
However, at risk of seeming pedantic, there is an important distinction to be made
here between performance and performativity: it is a distinction that directly addresses
the power of whiteness and the problems in decentring it.
The idea of likening social ‘actors’ to performers on a stage is far from novel. One
of the most insightful analyses remains that connected with the Chicago school of
symbolic interaction, especially in the work of Howard Becker and Erving Goffman.
The latter, of course, took the analogy as far as describing an entire dramaturgical
analysis of social interaction, including ‘performers’, ‘communication out of charac-
ter’ and ‘front’ and ‘back’ regions, where actors allow different (often contradictory)
faces to be seen by particular associates (Goffman, 1959). However, one of the
problems with such an analysis is the degree to which performers are aware of the
490 D. Gillborn
performance they are giving. One of the most powerful and dangerous aspects of
whiteness is that many (possibly the majority) of white people have no awareness of
whiteness as a construction, let alone their own role in sustaining and playing out the
inequities at the heart of whiteness. In this sense, the dramaturgical over-tones of the
analysis actually underestimate the size of the task facing critical antiracists. As Debo-
rah Youdell argues:
The terms ‘perform’ and ‘performance’ imply a volitional subject, even a self-conscious,
choosing performer, behind the ‘act’ which is performed. (Youdell, 2000, p. 64)
Building on writers like Michel Foucault (1980, 1990, 1991) and Judith Butler
(1990, 1993, 1997), Youdell argues for a particular understanding of how power
operates on and through the creation of different subject identities. Through a metic-
ulously documented and highly sensitive analysis of teenage identity-work in school,
Youdell takes seriously the spaces and possibilities for resistance and subversion.
Crucially, however, her analysis also demonstrates the numerous ways in which
certain identities are strengthened and legitimized through countless acts of reitera-
tion and reinforcement. These processes are not foolproof but their power is enor-
mous, extending even into the most intimate and apparently idiosyncratic of actions
and relationships, including, for example, the particular constellations of heterosexual
desire that are deemed possible across race lines in school (Youdell, 2004). Youdell
terms this the performative constitution of identity.
It is this performative constitution of particular identities and roles that lends
whiteness its deep-rooted, almost invisible status. One of the key points about white-
ness as a performatively constituted identity is that those who are implicated in white-
ness rarely even realize its existence—let alone their own role in its repeated iteration
and resignification.
In the next section of this paper I want to take the key conceptual insights discussed
above and apply them to the field of education policy and race inequity in England. I
view this work as building on two key conceptual pillars: an understanding of critical
race theory that includes elements of critical antiracism elaborated outside the US
(Gillborn, 1995, 2004a, b; Bonnett, 2000; Dei et al., 2004) and critical white studies,
including in particular a notion of whiteness as performatively constituted in numer-
ous discursive arenas including the realms of education policy and classroom practice.
Seeing supremacy
Whiteness has developed, over the past two hundred years, into a taken-for-granted expe-
rience structured upon a varying set of supremacist assumptions (sometimes cultural,
sometimes biological, sometimes moral, sometimes all three). Non-White identities, by
contrast, have been denied the privileges of normativity, and are marked within the West
as marginal and inferior. (Bonnett, 1997, p. 188)
Critical race theory promotes a different perspective on white supremacy than the
limited and extreme understandings usually denoted by the term in everyday
language. ‘White supremacy’ is a term usually reserved for individuals, organizations
Education policy as an act of white supremacy 491
and/or philosophies that are overtly and self-consciously racist in the most crude and
obvious way: organizations that not only claim a distinctiveness for white-identified
people, but add a social Darwinist element to argue for intellectual and/or cultural
superiority, frequently based on a supposedly fixed genetic inheritance. Even after the
genocide of the Nazi era in the previous century, such perspectives continue to be
openly preached by some.5 On both sides of the Atlantic, however, it is interesting
that groups whose neo-nazi pedigree is secure (like the British National Party and the
Ku Klux Klan) have recently tried to reinvent themselves as slicker, more media
astute organizations, calling for a supposed realignment of policy goals and interests
to favour the white majority ‘ethnic’ group and denying that their fascistic past has
any relevance to their contemporary activities. It should also be remembered that,
although mainstream science long ago rejected crude notions of racial genetic sepa-
rateness and superiority (Selden, 1999), it is exactly these beliefs which shaped Herrn-
stein and Murray’s (1994) foray into the New York times bestseller list.6
Such extreme and obviously racist positions are highly dangerous but they are by
no means the whole story. Indeed, there is a danger that their influence on debate
risks obscuring a far more comprehensive and subtle form of race politics—one that
actually exerts a more powerful influence. As Paul Gilroy argued, in relation to the
British case, more than a decade ago:
A tension exists between those strands in antiracism which are primarily antifascist and
those which work with a more extensive and complex sense of what racism is in contem-
porary Britain. … The price of over-identifying the struggle against racism with the activities
of these extremist groups and grouplets is that however much of a problem they may be in
a particular area (and I am not denying the need to combat their organizing) they are excep-
tional. They exist on the fringes. … A more productive starting point is provided by focusing
on racism in the mainstream and seeing ‘race’ and racism not as fringe questions but as a
volatile presence at the very centre of British politics, actively shaping and determining the
history not simply of blacks, but of this country as a whole … (Gilroy, 1992, p. 51)
Critical work on race in the US has moved beyond the ‘commonsense’ superficial
readings of white supremacy as solely the preserve of obviously extreme racialized poli-
tics. Some scholars have penetrated even further the façade of contemporary politics,
to argue that mainstream political parties, and the functioning of agencies like the
education system itself, are actively implicated in maintaining and extending the grip
that white people have on the major sources of power in ‘Western’ capitalist societies.
[By] ‘white supremacy’ I do not mean to allude only to the self-conscious racism of white
supremacist hate groups. I refer instead to a political, economic, and cultural system in
which whites overwhelmingly control power and material resources, conscious and uncon-
scious ideas of white superiority and entitlement are widespread, and relations of white
dominance and non-white subordination are daily reenacted across a broad array of insti-
tutions and social settings. (Ansley, 1997, p. 592)
Of course, this is not to argue that white people are uniformily powerful, as Noel Ignatiev
has argued in relation to poverty among whites; ‘whiteness does not exempt people from
exploitation, it reconciles them to it. It is for those who have nothing else’ (Ignatiev,
1997, p. 1). The growing influence of critical race theory has supported this line of
492 D. Gillborn
analysis but it is a perspective that was present before the advent of CRT in education
(see Sleeter, 1993). For example, this paper began with a quotation from bell hooks
who, writing in the late 1980s, used the term to explicitly critique a central and extensive
form of racism that evades the simplistic definitions of liberal discourse. In particular,
hooks identifies white supremacy as a deeply rooted exercise of power that remains
untouched by moves to address the more obvious forms of overt discrimination:
When liberal whites fail to understand how they can and/or do embody white-supremacist
values and beliefs even though they may not embrace racism as prejudice or domination
(especially domination that involves coercive control), they cannot recognize the ways
their actions support and affirm the very structure of racist domination and oppression that
they profess to wish to see eradicated. (hooks, 1989, p. 113)
This perspective echoes precisely the same critique of liberalism that prompted the
genesis of critical race theory in legal scholarship.
CRT begins with a number of basic insights. One is that racism is normal, not aberrant,
in American society. Because racism is an ingrained feature of our landscape, it looks ordi-
nary and natural to persons in the culture. Formal equal opportunity—rules and laws that
insist on treating blacks and whites (for example) alike—can thus remedy only the more
extreme and shocking forms of injustice, the ones that do stand out. It can do little about
the business-as-usual forms of racism that people of color confront every day and that
account for much misery, alienation, and despair. (Delgado & Stefancic, 2000, p. xvi)
In the remainder of this paper I work from this critical perspective to explore how
contemporary English education policy plays an active role in supporting and affirm-
ing exactly these kinds of racist inequities and structures of oppression.7
Who and what is education policy for?
In previous sections of this paper I have stressed the importance of looking beyond
the superficial rhetoric of policies and practices, in order to focus on the material and
ideological work that is done to legitimate and extend race inequity. When judging
education policy, therefore, it is pertinent to ask some deceptively simple questions.
In view of the restrictions of available space, I will structure the discussion in relation
to three questions that directly address the material consequences of education
policy. These are by no means the only relevant ‘tests’ of equity and policy but they
are among the most revealing and fundamental because they go beyond the expressed
intent of policy-makers and practitioners to examine how policy works in the real
world. First, the question of priorities: who or what is driving education policy?
Second, the question of beneficiaries: who wins and who loses as a result of education
policy priorities? And finally, the question of outcomes: what are the effects of policy?
I will address each question in turn.
As several studies have shown, over the last half-century issues of racism, ‘race
relations’ and ‘race’ equity have featured differently in education policy. From early
Education policy as an act of white supremacy 493
post-war ignorance and neglect (Lynch, 1986), through periods of overt assimilation-
ist and integrationist policies (Tomlinson, 1977; Mullard, 1982), it has been clear
that, although the particular measures meant to address ethnic diversity have changed
from time to time, one constant feature has been a place on the margins of education
policy. Superficially there have been significant changes. For example, during much
of the 1980s and 1990s successive Conservative administrations—reflecting Margaret
Thatcher’s famous assertion that there is ‘no such thing as society’ (Thatcher, 1993,
p. 626)—insisted that the only fair approach was a ‘colour-blind’ perspective that
denied any legitimacy to group-based analyses and claims. John Major, who
succeeded Thatcher as Prime Minister, asserted:
Life is lived, people join in, people belong. Darkness, lightness—that’s a difference losing
significance with every day crossed off the calender. … Few things would inflame racial
tension more than trying to bias systems in favour of one colour—a reverse discrimination
that fuels resentment. An artificial bias would damage the harmony we treasure. Equality
under the law—yes; equality of opportunity and reward—yes. These promote harmony.
Policy must be colour-blind—it must just tackle disadvantage. Faced by British citizens,
whatever their background might be. (Major, 1997, pp. 6–7)
Major’s determination to refuse the significance of raced inequality (reducing ‘race’
to ‘darkness’ and ‘lightness’) was highly significant. The sub-text of his attack on ‘an
artificial bias’ would seem to have been an acceptance of some form of non-artificial
(natural?) bias. In a stark reversal of this language, Tony Blair’s incoming New
Labour administration of 1997 openly named race inequity as an unacceptable
feature of the education system and even cited critical research that had raised ques-
tions about teachers’ role in producing raced inequities in school (DfEE, 1997).
Unfortunately, the tangible outcomes of this approach have mostly concerned grant-
ing funding to a handful of minority ethnic schools on the basis of a distinctive reli-
gious identity, e.g., creating the first state-funded Muslim schools (see Gillborn,
1998, 2001; Figueroa 2004).
A particularly stark indicator of the place of race equity in contemporary education
policy is provided by the Department for Education’s ‘five year strategy’ published
amid a flurry of publicity in the summer of 2004. Running to more than 100 pages,
the document set out Labour’s proposals for the next five years of education policy.
‘Minority ethnic’ pupils are granted a single mention in the text; a 25-word paragraph
headed ‘low achieving minority ethnic groups’ (DfES, 2004, p. 60). The word ‘racism’
does not appear at all; neither do the more sanitized concepts of ‘prejudice’ and
‘discrimination’. In contrast, ‘business’ and ‘businesses’ appear 36 times, and ‘stan-
dards’ appears on 65 separate occasions: the latter equates to an average reiteration
of ‘standards’ once every page and a half. Clearly, the five year strategy prioritized an
official version of ‘standards’ in education, but one could legitimately ask ‘standards
for whom’?
Regardless of the political persuasion of the incumbent political party, therefore,
race equity has constantly to fight for legitimacy as a significant topic for education
policy-makers. This is a key part of the way in which education policy is implicated
in white supremacy.
494 D. Gillborn
Since 1988 education policy in England, under both Conservative and Labour
governments, has been driven by the assertion that ‘standards’ are too low and must
be raised. The dominant measure of standards has been through crude quantitative
data, in particular, students’ performance in high-stakes tests conducted at the end of
their primary and secondary education. These data are published nationally in tabular
form and provide a misleading, but easily reproduced, guide to school ‘standards’.8
These reforms have fundamentally altered how schools operate, placing a premium
on those subjects that will count in the school tests9 and leading to increased selection
and separation of students who are thought to be ‘academic’ in secondary schools
(more on this below).
A good performance in the official statistics is extremely important for schools:
continual ‘under-performance’ can trigger a range of sanctions including, ultimately,
school closure. Not surprisingly, therefore, the proportion of 16-year-olds attaining
the requisite five ‘higher grade passes’ in their high-stakes examinations has consis-
tently risen since the late 1980s. However, students of minority ethnic backgrounds
have not always shared equally in these gains.10 In fact, of the five principal ethnic
categories monitored continuously since the late 1980s, only one group—whites—
have enjoyed consistent year-on-year improvement. The proportion of whites attain-
ing the ‘benchmark’ level (at least five higher grade passes) has risen from 30% in
1989 to 55% in 2004 (DfES, 2005, Table A). Each of the other ‘ethnic’ groups
counted in official statistics have experienced periods where their rate of success has
held constant (as in the case of Indian students between 2000 and 2002) or even
where their success rate has fallen back, e.g., Black students in 1992–1994, and
between 2000 and 2004; Pakistani students between 1992 and 1996, and between
2002 and 2004; and Bangladeshi students in 1998–2000 (DfES, 2005).
On the whole, therefore, minoritized students have not shared equally in the
improved attainments associated with the recent reforms. In particular, ‘Black’
students find themselves even further behind their white counterparts than they were
in the 1980s: in 1989, 30% of white students achieved five or more higher grade passes,
compared with 18% of Black students (an inequity of 12 percentage points); in 2004,
however, the gap was 20 percentage points (with the benchmark being attained by 55%
of white students and 35% of their Black peers: DfES, 2005, Table A). Similarly, Paki-
stani students (who were 11 percentage points behind whites in 1992) have experi-
enced widening inequities of attainment in recent years: in 2004, 37% of Pakistani
students reached the required level, i.e., a gap of 18 percentage points behind whites.
A great deal of official attention is often focused on pupils categorized as of ‘Indian’
ethnic heritage: this group was first recognized separately in official statistics in 1992,
when 38% attained the benchmark level of success. Since then, Indian students have
generally enjoyed greater success than the white group: with 72% achieving at least
five higher grade passes in the most recent survey. This level of attainment is often
highlighted in official press releases and in media coverage: ‘Minority ethnic pupils
make further progress at GCSE’ (DfES Press Release, 24 February 2005).
Education policy as an act of white supremacy 495
Indeed, the attainment of Indian pupils (along with their other ‘Asian’ peers) is
frequently cited as evidence that the system rewards effort and that under achieve-
ment can have nothing to do with racism (neither overt nor unintended):
I’m no educationist, but if you examine the statistics it is certainly difficult to conclude that
our schools discriminate against ethnic minorities, even unwittingly. Chinese and some
other Asian pupils excel, easily outperforming the whites. (Liddle, 2005)
Much has been written in the US about how certain groups are held up as ‘model
minorities’, a stereotype of hard work and success that harms both the group itself (by
obscuring certain other disadvantages, such as higher rates of unemployment) and,
by implication, other less successful groups (whose ‘failure’, it is reasoned, must
surely be their own fault): see Min (2004) and Takaki (1993). This literature is less
well developed in the UK but qualitative research has already established that racism
in schools works differently for different ethnic groups (see Youdell, 2000, 2004). A
more detailed examination of Indian and Chinese attainments is beyond the scope of
the present paper, suffice it to say that their examination success evidences nothing
about an absence of racism in their school experiences (see Bhatti, 2004; Archer &
Francis, 2005, forthcoming). Furthermore, their relative success should not distract
from the much less positive picture that emerges for the other minority groups
counted in official data (above).
A major reason for the different patterns of improvement shown by different groups
is likely to lie in the ways that schools have responded to the pressure to ‘raise stan-
dards’. There is anecdotal evidence, for example, which suggests that some schools
have sought to limit the proportion of minority students they admit and to expel
disproportionate numbers of Black students. By their very nature, such practices
elude official documentation and scrutiny, but it is certainly the case that Black
students continue to be significantly more likely to be expelled from school than their
white peers (as they have since records began: DfES, 2002) and that Black students
are frequently treated more harshly than whites accused of similar offences—a pattern
long established in British qualitative research (Wright, 1987, 1992; Mac an Ghaill,
1988; Gillborn, 1990; Figueroa, 1991; Mirza, 1992, 1999; Nehaul, 1996; Connolly,
1998; Gillborn & Youdell, 2000; Wright et al., 2000; Blair, 2001; Sewell, 2004) and
now even identified in official school inspection data.11
It is also clear that schools are increasingly using ‘setting by ability’ and other forms
of internal selection to separate children into hierarchical teaching groups. This kind
of development is openly advocated by government. For example, the Labour Party’s
1997 election manifesto claimed that setting benefits both high- and low-achieving
students (Labour Party, 1997, p. 7), something that is directly contradicted by the
international research evidence.12 In addition, subsequent policies have further
extended this principle by first, creating advantaged pathways for those designated as
‘gifted and talented’, and second, by increasing the number of specialist schools, each
496 D. Gillborn
with increased provision to choose pupils according to ‘aptitude’ and/or ‘ability’(see
Edwards & Tomlinson, 2002). Wholly predictably, in view of previous research on
the racialized nature of selection to ‘gifted’ programmes, evidence is already emerging
that certain minority groups, especially Black students, are markedly under-repre-
sented in special provision for the so-called ‘gifted and talented’ (Ofsted, 2004, p. 6).
One of the most consistent findings in research on school-based selection processes
is that, when asked to judge the potential, attitude and/or motivation of their students,
white teachers tend to place disproportionate numbers of Black students in low
ranked groups (CRE, 1992; Gillborn & Gipps, 1996; Hallam & Toutounji, 1996;
Sukhnandan & Lee, 1998). These decisions frequently have a cumulative effect
whereby the initial decision compounds inequity upon inequity until success can
become, literally, impossible. For example, where students are placed in low ranked
teaching groups they frequently cover a restricted curriculum; their teachers have
systematically lower expectations of them; and, in many high-stakes tests in England,
they are entered for low ‘tiered’ examinations where only a limited number of grades
are available. In the lowest maths paper, for example, the best available grade is D:
that is, less than the C grade that is commonly accepted as the minimum necessary for
entry into the professions or further dedicated study at advanced level. In a study of
these decisions in London secondary schools, it was Black students who were most
likely to be placed in this situation: two-thirds of Black students in the schools under
study (Gillborn & Youdell, 2000). It is difficult to think of a clearer example of insti-
tutional racism than a test, disproportionately taken by Black students, in which the
highest possible grade is commonly judged to be a ‘failure’. We have to ask whether
such discriminatory processes would be permitted if their victims were white, and
especially, middle class whites. Ernest R. House has noted an identical situation in
the US in relation to the practice of ‘retaining students’, i.e., holding them back a
Americans will support policies that are harmful to minorities that they would not tolerate
if those same policies were applied to majority populations. In education, for example,
Americans are strongly in favor of retention—retaining students at the same grade level for
another year—even though the research evidence overwhelmingly shows strong negative
effects. … Retention programs are applied massively to minorities in large cities, but not
to majority populations. (House, 1999, p. 2)
In relation to the three tests I set out earlier, therefore, the English education system
appears to be a clear case where the routine assumptions that structure the system
encode a deep privileging of white students and, in particular, the legitimization,
defence and extension of Black inequity. In terms of policy priorities race equity has
been at best a marginal concern, at worst non-existent. In relation to beneficiaries the
picture is more complex than usually recognized (some minoritized groups do rela-
tively well), but the most consistent beneficiaries are white students and, in key
respects, Black students’ position is no better than it was when the whole reform
movement began in the late 1980s. Finally, an examination of outcomes clearly shows
that central reform strategies (such as the use of selection and hierarchical teaching
groups) are known to work against race equity but are nevertheless promoted as ‘best
Education policy as an act of white supremacy 497
practice’ for all. These reforms are known to discriminate in practice (regardless of
intent) and are, therefore, racist in their consequences. These three tests of the system
are by no means exhaustive but they are sufficient to establish the education system’s
active involvement in the defence and extension of the present regime of white
supremacy in the contemporary British state.
… white-ness is a state of mind, not a complexion. (Malcolm X, quoted by Hare, 2002,
p. 9)
In this paper I have tried to construct a synthesis of several different arguments in
order to arrive at a new understanding of an old problem. Critical race theory and
critical work on the nature of whiteness offer a potentially important new way of view-
ing familiar issues with a fresh eye. Neither approach, however, is without its weak-
nesses and problems. Quite apart from the internal divisions between scholars
working on different specificities of similar approaches, there are problems in the way
that both perspectives might yet fall prey to the very mechanisms that they seek to
critique. Gloria Ladson-Billings (1998), for example, has pointedly questioned
whether education is too ‘nice’ a field (i.e., too majoritarian, too conservative, and too
self-satisfied) to ever take forward such a radical challenge. Similarly Rosa Hernandez
Sheets warns that whiteness studies threatens to become a ‘movement’ through which
white people recolonize the centre of multicultural education, one of the few spaces
carved out by people of color in the US academy (Sheets, 2000). These are very real
possibilities. But there is also the possibility that, by engaging in work of this kind,
critical scholars can raise new questions, challenge so-called ‘commonsense’ and
disrupt the assumptions that currently shape education (in policy and practice).
This process of radical critique should not be confused with a prophecy of doom.
To identify the complex and deep rooted nature of racism is not to assume that it is
inevitable nor insurmountable (see Ansley, 1997). Neither is such an analysis an
attack on the progress already made in the struggle for greater equity: recognizing
how far we must yet travel, is not to deny that we have already moved. This perspec-
tive, however, insists on recognizing the scale and difficulty of the task ahead. Critical
race theory is frequently accused of pessimism but its recognition of contemporary
white supremacy is intended to advance and inform the struggle for greater equity,
not to detract from it. As Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic have asked:
… is [CRT] optimistic, because it believes that race is a social construction? (As such, it
should be subject to ready change.) And if CRT does have a dark side [sic], what follows
from that? Is medicine pessimistic because it focuses on diseases and traumas? (Delgado
& Stefancic, 2001, p. 13)
Drawing primarily on the work of scholars of color in the US, in this paper I have tried
to build on the insights of both CRT and critical white studies. This approach rejects
the commonsense (white-sense?) view of education policy and the dominant under-
standing of the functioning of education in Western societies. This critical perspective
498 D. Gillborn
is based on the recognition that race inequity and racism are central features of the
education system. These are not aberrant nor accidental phenomena that will be
ironed out in time, they are fundamental characteristics of the system. It is in this sense
that education policy is an act of white supremacy. To revisit bell hooks’ use of the term
white supremacy, the evidence shows that education policy in England clearly acts to
‘support and affirm the very structure of racist domination and oppression’ (after
hooks, 1989, p. 113). I have shown how policy assumes and defends white supremacy
through the priorities it sets, the beneficiaries that it privileges, and the outcomes that
it produces. Far from being the extreme and unhelpful slur that many critics (of both
left and right) assume the term to be, white supremacy is actually a wholly apt
descriptor of the functioning and structure of contemporary education.
Finally, in view of the particular way in which race critical research uses the term
‘white supremacy’, and its shocking connotations for some readers, it may be useful
to add a few words on the question of intentionality. Scholarship on race inequity (in
numerous disciplines and in many nation states) has long argued that a deliberate
intention to discriminate is by no means a necessary requirement in order to recognize
that an activity or policy may be racist in its consequences. This point is made power-
fully by Kimberlé Crenshaw and her colleagues in relation to legal definitions of
racism in the US:
… the dominant legal conception of racism as a discrete and identifiable act of ‘prejudice
based on skin color’ placed virtually the entire range of everyday social practices in Amer-
ica—social practices developed and maintained throughout the period of formal American
apartheid—beyond the scope of critical examination or legal remediation. (Crenshaw
et al., 1995, p. xv)
The situation in Britain is somewhat different. The Stephen Lawrence inquiry defined
institutional racism as:
The collective failure of an organization to provide an appropriate and professional service
to people because of their colour, culture, or ethnic origin. It can be seen or detected in
processes, attitudes and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting
prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping which disadvantage minority
ethnic people. (Macpherson, 1999, p. 28)
This definition deliberately emphasizes outcome and effect over any question of
intent. According to this approach racism may be ‘unwitting’ but what matters is the
outcome. This view was enshrined in the amendments to British race equity legisla-
tion that followed the Lawrence report. For example, the official definition of a racist
incident is ‘any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other
person’ (Home Office, 2000, p. 1).
The amended legislation only became active in 2002 and at the time of writing no
education cases have been tested in court. Nevertheless, early indications are far from
encouraging: education is among the least active of all public services in relation to
the new duties (Schneider-Ross, 2003; Gillborn, 2004c). Notwithstanding the legis-
lation’s uncertain impact on practice, the analysis of The Stephen Lawrence inquiry and
the language of the amended laws remains potentially significant. Finally, for the time
Education policy as an act of white supremacy 499
being at least, in Britain the law has moved well beyond the perennial claim that it is
unfair to talk of racism where no offence was intended. In official terms, in theory at
least, racism has finally been de-coupled from questions of intent. But the conscious
intent of individual people (whether policy-makers or teachers) is more complex than
a simple dichotomy between intended and unintended outcomes.
Work on institutional racism (in the US and UK over more than three decades) has
firmly established that even well-intentioned actions can have racist consequences. In
a preceding paragraph I stated that the forms of institutional racism in education
policy are not accidental: does that mean that they are deliberate? One answer might
be that institutional racism and race inequity are deliberate insofar as (at best) there
appears to be a judgement that their eradication is simply not important enough to
shape the main tenets of education policy: it is possible, of course, that the situation
is even worse than this, and that there has been a judgement that race equity is
dangerous (electorally, where whites might turn to alternative parties) or socially and
economically (where a Marxian/abolitionist analysis would have it that dividing the
working class is a good way of protecting ruling class power). Either way, we know
enough about education policy and practice to go a long way towards eradicating race
injustice in education (funding urban schools to a realistic level; securing testing
regimes that do not unfairly discriminate on racial lines; abandoning selective teach-
ing and grouping; broadening the curriculum; diversifying the teaching force; and
genuinely acting on the results of ethnic monitoring would all be a good start). In
practice, however, high-stakes testing, school performance tables and selection by
‘ability’ are all being used increasingly—despite their known detrimental impact on
Black students. That racist measures are not only retained, but actually extended,
suggests that policy-makers have decided (tacitly, if not explicitly) to place race equity
at the margins—thereby retaining race injustice at the centre.
The evidence suggests that, despite a rhetoric of standards for all, education policy
in England is actively involved in the defence, legitimation and extension of white
supremacy. The assumptions which feed, and are strengthened by, this regime are not
overtly discriminatory but their effects are empirically verifiable and materially real in
every meaningful sense. Shaped by long established cultural, economic and historical
structures of racial domination, the continued promotion of policies and practices
that are known to be racially divisive testifies to a tacit intentionality in the system.
The racist outcomes of contemporary policy may not be coldly calculated but they are
far from accidental.
The ideas in this paper have benefited considerably from discussions with colleagues
and friends in numerous contexts, including the annual meetings of the American
Educational Research Association (San Diego, 2004), the British Educational
Research Association (Edinburgh, 2003), and seminars/meetings in universities and
community halls in various parts of the world. In particular, I would like to thank the
colleagues who made such events possible through the Stephen Lawrence Charitable
500 D. Gillborn
Trust, the Birmingham Race Action Partnership and the Universities of Brighton
(UK), Melbourne (Australia), Tokyo and Osaka (Japan), Roskilde (Denmark) and
Wisconsin-Madison (USA). My thanks to all the participants for their generous,
passionate and committed interchange of ideas and experiences. Finally, a special
thanks to those who have commented in detail on the text of this paper, Michael W.
Apple, Stephen J. Ball, Gregg D. Beratan, Alastair Bonnett, Mike Cole, Paul
Connolly, Gloria Ladson-Billings, Zeus Leonardo, Heidi Safia Mirza, Laurence
Parker, Peter Ratcliffe, Christine Sleeter and Deborah Youdell: I have tried to learn
from their views, all remaining errors are, of course, my responsibility.
1. In this paper the word ‘Black’ is used to signify those groups of minoritized subjects who would
generally identify themselves with the term, and be identified by such a term; most usually
people with family heritages that identify with Africa and/or the Caribbean.
2. My first public presentation of the central ideas in this paper was at a major education confer-
ence in England in the fall of 2003. A prominent white professor told me later that, although
some of my earlier work had been ‘useful’, this talk of ‘supremacy’ meant that I had, in his
words, ‘gone mad’.
3. I use ‘troubling’ here in the way that several scholars, in particular those working in post-struc-
turalist and/or queer theory, have applied the term to a destabilizing, decentring of commonly
accepted assumptions and definitions: after Butler (1990), Horn (2003), Kumashiro (2001)
and Youdell (2000).
4. See also David R. Roediger (1992, 1994).
5. See, for example, the interviews with Matthew Hale and Lisa Turner of the World Church of
the Creator, in Swain and Nieli (2003).
6. For more detail on Herrnstein and Murray’s claims, and the racist pedigree of their sources
(both intellectual and financial) see Lane (1999), Gillborn and Youdell (2000, p. 231) and
Apple (2004, pp. 198–199).
7. For an introduction to the basic tenets of CRT see Delgado and Stefancic (2001). For a consid-
eration of the links between CRT in education and British antiracist thought see Gillborn
8. The annually published data are frequently retabulated by national newspapers and given head-
lines that proclaim them as a guide to the ‘top’ schools, those with the ‘highest failure rate’ and
‘bottom of the league’ (Gillborn & Youdell, 2000, chapter 2).
9. An official survey, for the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA), found that in 2001,
10- and 11-year-olds were spending 49% of their classroom time on English and maths: see
Mansell and Clark (2003, p. 2).
10. The best guide to students’ performance over this time period is the Youth Cohort Study
(YCS), a survey of school-leavers’ achievements and experiences that has been conducted at
least every two years since the late 1980s. The YCS has the advantage of using large, nationally
representative samples but it is far from perfect: sub-samples can become quite small, especially
when trying to simultaneously examine several elements (such as gender, ethnicity and socio-
economic background). Nevertheless, it does offer a snapshot of how certain minority groups
have performed over time.
11. A report by the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) noted that ‘the lengths of fixed-
period exclusions varied considerably in some schools between black and white pupils for what
were described as the same or similar incidents’ (2001, p. 23).
12. See, for example, the reviews offered by Hallam (2002) and Wiliam and Bartholomew (2001).
Education policy as an act of white supremacy 501
Notes on contributor
David Gillborn is Professor of Education and Head of the School of Educational
Foundations & Policy Studies at the Institute of Education, University of
London. He is founding editor of the journal ‘Race Ethnicity & Education’ and
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... Race and racism are well established fields of educational research in the United States and UK (Gillborn, 2008;Leonardo, 2009;Ladson-Billings, 2004). It is my intent to introduce race as an analytical concept (Hübinette, Hörnfeld, Farahani, & León Rosales, 2012) into the discourse and theory within Swedish educational research where it seems to be lacking (Beach & Lunneblad, 2011;Broman, Rubenstein Reich, & Hägerström, 2002;Rubenstein Reich & Tallberg Broman, 2000) and to highlight and examine the social implications of pedagogical practices that contribute to social and cultural inequalities for urban youth of color (Gillborn, 2008). ...
... Race and racism are well established fields of educational research in the United States and UK (Gillborn, 2008;Leonardo, 2009;Ladson-Billings, 2004). It is my intent to introduce race as an analytical concept (Hübinette, Hörnfeld, Farahani, & León Rosales, 2012) into the discourse and theory within Swedish educational research where it seems to be lacking (Beach & Lunneblad, 2011;Broman, Rubenstein Reich, & Hägerström, 2002;Rubenstein Reich & Tallberg Broman, 2000) and to highlight and examine the social implications of pedagogical practices that contribute to social and cultural inequalities for urban youth of color (Gillborn, 2008). ...
... Their transgressions, however trivial, are not a reason to collectively stigmatize or blame ethnic Swedes as culturally deviant. In a racialized social order whites have a structural advantage (Bonilla-Silva, 2005;Gillborn, 2008;Leonardo, 2009a;Wise, 2008). The students at Woodbridge cannot rely on race as a pretence towards structural advantages. ...
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Cultural reproduction of difference and disadvatages of urban youth through the curriculum and pedagogic practices that construct and maintain ideals of Swedishness and white normativity.
... Ο Gillborn (2008), αξιοποιώντας στοιχεία από την ίδια θεωρία, υποστήριξε ότι ο ρατσισμός είναι ριζωμένος στην κοινωνία και ότι οι λευκοί, αλλά και μέλη άλλων ομάδων όταν βρίσκονται σε θέση εξουσίας, έχουν αρνητικές απόψεις και στάσεις έναντι ομάδων τις οποίες θεωρούν κατώτερες γιατί αυτό εξυπηρετεί το συμφέρον τους. Ο ίδιος συγγραφέας υποστηρίζει ότι η εκπαίδευση θα πρέπει να βοηθάει τις μαθήτριες και τους μαθητές να αναγνωρίζουν τον τρόπο που δρουν οι κυρίαρχες ομάδες και να καλλιεργεί αντιρατσιστικές ιδέες και συμπεριφορές Gillborn (2008). ...
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Το βιβλίο αυτό αφορά εκείνη την περιοχή της παιδαγωγικής η οποία έχει ως στόχο της να συμβάλλει στην αντιμετώπιση των ζητημάτων που προκύπτουν από τις κοινωνικές διαφοροποιήσεις. Η περιοχή της παιδαγωγικής που επιχειρεί να δώσει μια επίκαιρη και συστηματικά επεξεργασμένη απάντηση στα σύγχρονα κοινωνικά προβλήματα είναι γνωστή ως πολυπολιτισμική, αντιρατσιστική και διαπολιτισμική εκπαίδευση. Οι τρεις αυτές επιστημονικές παραδόσεις σημαίνουν και σηματοδοτούν διαφορετικά πράγματα για διαφορετικούς ανθρώπους. Γενικά όμως (και αφαιρετικά), θέτουν στο επίκεντρο του ενδιαφέροντός τους τις κοινωνικές διαφοροποιήσεις και θέλουν να βοηθήσουν ώστε να αντιμετωπιστούν οι οικονομικές και κοινωνικές ανισότητες, να εφαρμοστούν παντού τα ανθρώπινα και ατομικά δικαιώματα και να αναγνωριστούν οι πολιτισμικές και ταυτοτικές διαφορές. Αντικείμενο του παρόντος βιβλίου είναι η διαπολιτισμική εκπαίδευση για την κοινωνική δικαιοσύνη. Πιο συγκεκριμένα, αφού παρουσιάζεται και αναλύεται κριτικά η προβληματική γύρω από τις διαφορετικές προσεγγίσεις και απόψεις που σχετίζονται με την πολυπολιτισμική/αντιρατσιστική και διαπολιτισμική εκπαίδευση και με τα προβλήματα με τα οποία συνδέονται, στη συνέχεια το βάρος πέφτει στα διακριτικά στοιχεία της συγκεκριμένης κατεύθυνσης. Ιδιαίτερη έμφαση δίνεται στο να καταστήσουμε σαφές ότι η διαπολιτισμική εκπαίδευση που στοχεύει στην κοινωνική δικαιοσύνη δεν αφορά μόνο τα σχολεία όπου φοιτούν μαθητές και μαθήτριες με διαφορετικά εθνικά, εθνοτικά, πολιτισμικά, γλωσσικά και θρησκευτικά χαρακτηριστικά αλλά το σύνολο των μαθητριών και των μαθητών μιας κοινωνίας. Ως μια συνολική πρόταση που στέκεται απέναντι στις διακρίσεις, στον ρατσισμό, στον σεξισμό, στον ταξισμό και στις οικονομικές ανισότητες, στην καταπίεση, στις άνισες σχέσεις εξουσίας και σε κάθε είδους αυταρχισμό, η διαπολιτισμική εκπαίδευση για την κοινωνική δικαιοσύνη αφορά το σύνολο των μαθητών και των μαθητριών, όπως και το σύνολο των ανθρώπων.
... These are, of course, domains that we recognize can heighten the risks of offending (and victimization). There must be explicit recognition, then, that lower levels of educational attainment can result from access to poorly performing schools in the neoliberal education market, negative teacher perceptions of possible learning outcomes, and institutional racism in curriculum design, teacher assessments, and disciplinary procedures (Gillborn, 2008;Strand, 2021). Furthermore, audit and correspondence studies that send in a job or rental application, matched on all relevant criteria except the racialized names of the applicant, consistently demonstrate a bias against black and other minority ethnic applicants. ...
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... Joining her voice to other scholars, she argues that this apparent positivity is undercut in a number of ways. The discourse suggests that this is a group whose achievements can be held up to lessen the complaints of other supposedly less responsible minority groups (Bradbury 2013;Gillborn 2008). It is a label, as Jatinder points out, largely applied to middle-class minority students, one that overlooks the utility and value of their class-based resources in the field of education. ...
The term “White privilege” has been used to denote specific privileges that White groups possess due to their Whiteness and White identity. In this article, firstly, I outline how, as a conceptual tool, White privilege can only be understood in relation to Critical Race Theory, specifically the notion that racism is central and endemic, through Whiteness as property and interest convergence. Secondly, I analyze the development of White privilege and provide ways forward for the use of the term, and thirdly, I use examples from higher education to outline how White privilege works in terms of the construction of knowledge, the prioritization of gender above race, and the fact that policy making is designed to protect White identities to uphold a hegemonic system of White supremacy.
Amerikan toplumunun ve hukuk sisteminin kendine özgü tarihsel koşulları altında ortaya çıkan Eleştirel Irk Kuramı ırkın hukuk tarafından da inşa edilip şekillendirildiği ve Amerikan toplumunda ve ilk bakışta tarafsız görünen yargı da dahil olmak üzere Amerikan kurumlarında ırkçılığın bir istisna değil aksine toplumun normali olduğu tezlerinden hareketle ırk ve ırkçılık sorunlarının çözümlerinin gerçekte hiç de kolay olmadığını gözler önüne sermektedir. Hareketin tespitine göre Amerika Birleşik Devletleri’nde eşitlik yolundaki tüm önemli atılımlar ancak beyaz elitlerin çıkarları için de uygun oldukları zaman hayata geçirilebilmiştir. Eleştirel Irk Kuramı, mevcut hukuk sistemini ve yargı kararlarını hukukun tarafsız olmadığı tespitinden hareketle eleştirir ve hukukta ırkın oynadığı role dikkat çekmeyi amaçlar. Bu çalışmada Kıta Avrupası hukuk düşüncesinde etkileri ancak dolaylı şekilde görülen Eleştirel Irk Kuramı’nın ortaya çıkışı, temel özellikleri, karşıt öykü anlatıcılığıyla getirdiği metodolojik yenilikler ve başka eleştirel yaklaşımlarla ilişkileri genel hatlarıyla tasvir edilecek, Kuramın teorik ve ampirik çalışmalara etki edebilecek yönlerine dikkat çekilmeye çalışılacak ve nihayet Amerika Birleşik Devletleri dışında da sosyo-hukuki çalışmalara anlamlı bir katkısının mümkün olup olmadığı değerlendirilecektir.
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This article asserts that despite the salience of race in U.S. society, as a topic of scholarly inquiry, it remains untheorized. The article argues for a critical race theoretical perspective in education analogous to that of critical race theory in legal scholarship by developing three propositions: (1) race continues to be significant in the United States; (2) U.S. society is based on property rights rather than human rights; and (3) the intersection of race and property creates an analytical tool for understanding inequity. The article concludes with a look at the limitations of the current multicultural paradigm.
Crenshaw outlines the history and basic tenets of critical race theory. While critical race theory does not have a coherent set of fundamental ideas, scholars of this school of thought typically share two primary interests. First is to understand how white supremacy is maintained and related to legal ideals. Second is to change this state of affairs. Based in Critical Legal Studies, Critical Race Theory challenges elitism and exclusivity in the law. It focuses on the law's racist aspects, particularly the changing trends in racism. For example, colorblindness is now seen as preferable to race-consciousness, despite the fact that colorblindness merely masks the power embedded in such an ideology. Critical Race Theory developed in two prominent ways. First, the student protest at Harvard Law School in 1981 began a new avenue of legal study. Second, the Critical Legal Studies National Conference on silence and race solidified the place of Critical Race Theory in Critical Legal Studies.
In challenging orthodoxy, questioning the premises of liberalism, and debating sacred wisdoms, Critical Race Theory scholars writing over the past few years have indelibly changed the way America looks at race. This book contains treatment of all the topics covered in the first edition, along with provocative and probing questions for discussion and detailed suggestions for additional reading. In addition, this anthology collects writings about various aspect of social theory -- crime, critical race practice, intergroup tensions and alliances, gay/lesbian issues, and transcending the black-white binary paradigm of race. In each of these areas, groundbreaking scholarship by the movement's founding figures as well as the brightest new stars provides immediate entre to current trends and developments in critical civil rights thought.
This thesis is concerned with the constitution of pupil identities within the school context. My central goal is to offer an enhanced understanding of the processes through which inequities within the context of secondary education come to pivot around biographical, cultural and learner identities. The thesis examines existing school ethnography concerned with pupil identities and maps key theoretical movements within the social sciences and humanities concerned with the subject and identity. I suggest that school ethnography has only recently begun to explore fully the interactions of multiple identity categories and the implications of these interactions. I also suggest that the utility of recent theorisations of power and the subject for understanding school-level practices remains under-developed. My analyses of empirical data generated through an ethnography in one London Secondary School offers a response to these limitations. Drawing on the theoretical contributions of Michel Foucault, Pierre Bourdieu, Judith Butler, Jacques Derrida and Robert Connell, my analyses show how the citationallinguistic, bodily, and textual practices of pupils and teachers contribute to the performative constitution of intelligible selves and others. I suggest that while performatively constituted subjects have discursive agency, the intelligibility of performative constitutions is constrained by the historicity of discourse. I demonstrate the significance of the discursive intersections and interactions of identity categories and suggest that identities can best be understood as and in constellations. These constellations open up and close down the possibilities for identities to both become traps and be reinscribed again differently. These analyses add depth to existing understandings of the ways in which identities are constituted, the significance of constellations of identity categories, and the processes whereby educational inequities are sustained.