Race Matters : When Middle/High School Teachers Engage in Participatory Activist Research on the Power of Stories to Disrupt Racism
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
College of Education and Human Services
Teacher Education and Teacher Development
Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair
This study represents a four-month segment within the ongoing work of The Race Matters Alliance; a group that I cofounded several years before beginning this dissertation with four other white, middle/high school teachers and several students of color in an effort to open a space to speak about race at our predominantly white school. Using participatory activist qualitative research methods, we documented this segment of our work that focused on the disruption of racism within five areas: (a) school culture, (b) faculty/student communication, (c) individual and institutional stories, (d) curriculum, and, (e) fear of disrupting the status quo. We explored the following questions: How does a group of teachers grow into race collaborators, allies, and activists as they work in opposition to the institutional and individual racism that characterizes their school environment? And what change processes are a group of teachers able to put in motion within themselves and their school as they work together to open a space to speak about race?
The findings showed that the work of aspiring allies cannot be done alone and is facilitated by participation in: (a) white teacher affinity groups, (b) cross-cultural/interracial race conversations, (c) the sharing of personal stories, (d) interactions with students of color and outside organizations to assist in amending whitewashed curriculum, and (e) disclosure of personal fears of retribution to build racial resiliency. The findings emphasized the power of race stories to foster interracial relationships, which, in turn, have the capacity to disrupt racism. This implies that interracial relationships, forged through the sharing of existing stories and the making of new ones rooted in cooperative anti-racist efforts, hold promise for an increase in the development of more effective race allies and for the emergence of more socially just schools.
Marsili, Janice M., "Race Matters : When Middle/High School Teachers Engage in Participatory Activist Research on the Power of Stories to Disrupt Racism" (2021). Theses, Dissertations and Culminating Projects. 709.