Exploring the Implications of White Teacher Identity in a Critical Participatory Action Research Study
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I am convinced that there is an urgent need for transformative work among white teachers in North America in general, and in southern Ontario specifically, that engages them in a critical understanding of their racial identity. This dissertation research project undertakes a possible way to invite teachers into such dialogue. Using critical participatory action research (CPAR) as a methodology, this project focused on developing race consciousness among six white teachers from an independent school in southern Ontario. I led these teachers in a series of workshops that attempted to guide them through an understanding of their white identity in order to observe the possibility of increasing their “race cognizance” (Frankenberg, 1993). I explain the findings by uncovering and analyzing narrative themes that emerged from the data. Throughout this work, I have attempted to honour the words of W.E.B. DuBois (1903), who claimed long ago that “the hands of none of us are clean if we bend not our energies to righting these great wrongs.” The great wrongs he spoke—the wrongs of racism, of white supremacy, of dismissing the import of racial justice work—though long ago, are ongoing, shifting and being perpetuated most notably in places where our youth are being nurtured. The urgency of the work of challenging the complicity and lack of awareness among white teachers is work that I have taken up in this project.