Social Justice Issues and Racism in the College Classroom: Perspectives from Different Voices: Volume 8


Table of contents

(20 chapters)

The contributors for this book consist of different voices from students and faculty, by different race/ethnicity, even nationality, as well as feelings and instructions on various perspective on discussing race in classroom. It is important to have a conversation about race in a “safe setting” to prepare our students for a diverse society and workforce.

In this chapter, the author uses the interrelated knowledge base of multicultural education and critical pedagogy to offer possibilities for identity negotiations among students and educators. As an international scholar of color, she also interweaves how her own identity is negotiated by comparing and contrasting her teaching experiences in her home country and in the United States. The author argues that it is important for educators to interrogate their identity and embrace the tensions that arise in the process, in order to enact a critically engaged dialogue in their classrooms.

In this chapter, I discuss my role as a White woman who studies race in the academy. I examine my ability to use my status, including my tenured status, to make change that can have a positive impact on faculty and students of color, especially African Americans. Moreover, I discuss my approach to teaching about race in the classroom. I also explore the limitations of my role and the reactions to my role by both Whites and people of color.

It takes a deep commitment to change and an even deeper commitment to grow.— Ralph EllisonThis quote from Ralph Ellison highlights the complexity of the concepts of change and growth. As faculty, we are constantly called on to facilitate the growth and change of our students through their academic work. This chapter provides a narrative of one faculty member's growth toward understanding and the incorporation of social justice concepts and structures into her classroom.I had my first microbiology test last week and as the professor returned the papers, he made a point to acknowledge the work of one student who received a perfect score. When he called my name and I stood up, I saw confusion on his face…and a look of disappointment…. I guess he didn’t expect a Black female to do well on the test.— Anonymous student

In this chapter, Douglas draws on his experiences in various educative spaces to share how he utilizes his positionality as a border-crossing brotha-scholar to teach about social justice and racism in university classrooms. In sharing how he employs his unique identity to help students negotiate various ideological borders in his courses, Douglas also models how socially just pedagogical practices can emerge out of who we are.

This study features interactions with White students and female colleagues from two regions in the United States. Helm's Racial Identity Model for Whites offers a conceptual lens to understand classroom and workplace dynamics between Blacks and Whites in predominantly White postsecondary settings, regardless of national context. Findings suggest that the quality of experiences with White colleagues and students often reflected the status individuals held in terms of their own racial identity development. These findings promise to inform institutional policy and faculty evaluation practices.

This chapter will provide examples of how Chicano faculty teach and practice social justice in the U.S. college classroom, where subtle forms of racism operate through White privilege, and influence faculty credibility and authority. From a Latino Critical Theory (LatCrit) perspective, the authors address the question, What are the similarities and differences in classroom experiences of Chicano faculty in Predominately White Institutions (PWI) and Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI)? In addressing this question, the authors will provide examples from their teaching experiences at both PWIs and HSIs, and how a Chicana/o-centered social justice perspective can help to mediate and overcome classroom challenges. The chapter will end with a discussion of how a social justice framework is necessary in college classrooms that are becoming increasingly diverse; and recommendations for how PWIs and HSIs can support Chicana/o faculty in endeavors to institutionalize a social justice framework in the college curriculum.

This chapter expresses the need for an increase or reforestation of Black scholarship and examines the complexity of race in a White privileged institution of higher education. It is written with an understanding of Critical Race Theory's counter-narrative benefits and models the power of voice in the classroom of a Black student and a White teacher and their roles in creating a “safe space for race talk” in the classroom.

This chapter discusses the similarities and differences between native research methods and western social science research as it impacts American Indians in the academy. The chapter reflects on the requirements needed by young practitioners and their responsibilities to their tribal communities to produce research that is both informative and available. The chapter contextualizes the discussion in examples of indigenous activism.

College classrooms are an important socializing site, preparing students to critically reflect upon their viewpoints and engage in democratic citizenship and civic leadership. Yet this very notion of educational environment can serve to produce racial inequality and ethnically and culturally blind pedagogical space. In this chapter, the author describes how students articulate their internalized social position and racism in a given college classroom and understands the process by which students’ sense of self is internalized and (re)constructed through the practice of reflective journaling.

This chapter examines the educational perspective of three black, female graduate students within the context of a social justice framework. The US educational system has a long history of racial discrimination, which has created an environment that is in many ways hostile to those who are different. For many students of color, negotiating this culturally hostile environment can lead to feelings of invisibility and isolation. This chapter explores these dynamics and their impact upon an individual’s educational, social, and personal development from the perspective of nondominants in a dominant culture. Through the exploration of our own experiences, we highlight the various coping mechanisms employed by three minority students to deal with the socially constructed hierarchies that exist in the classroom environment as a result of differences across racial and gender lines. It is our hope that this chapter will provide insight to educators who desire to develop a well-balanced classroom experience for all students.

A large body of literature focuses on ways that learning experiences in colleges of education can combat racist stereotypes while promoting cultural competence. However, because limited research investigates how student research projects (e.g., master's theses and doctoral dissertations) can accomplish these same purposes, additional studies are needed. For this reason, the current exploratory mixed methods study addressed the following research question: “How does the racial identity development of doctoral students from colleges of education align with their experiences of conducting dissertation studies focusing on racial and/or ethnic dynamics in schools, universities, or human service agencies?” The research team used well-established scales to measure the racial identity development of Black and White participants. The team also conducted a series of three interviews with each participant to learn about how racial identity statuses contributed to and responded to the experience of conducting dissertation research with a focus on racial and/or ethnic dynamics. Analysis of interview data pointed to the salience of “advocacy” in the experiences of participants. Advocacy connected to doctoral research by affording opportunities for personal advancement and by affording opportunities to promote social change. Further interpretation revealed differences in the importance of the two types of advocacy for White and Black participants, especially in consideration of their racial identity statuses. Despite such nuances, the experience of conducting dissertation research reinforced all participants’ previous commitments to social justice and advocacy, but it did not help them develop more wide-ranging and systematic strategies for working as advocates of social justice.

This chapter examines the importance of social justice courses from a majority student's perspective and outlines some of the difficulties in offering these courses. It discusses the benefits of social justice courses for both minority and majority students and focuses on the challenges of understanding and acknowledging the impact of the types of privilege and power that majority individuals experience. The concept of intersectionality, the compounding of injustice for individuals who have multiple minority identities, is explored. Finally, a four-phase model is proposed that can be used to describe the journey that majority students experience as they begin to understand the impact of privilege both on a personal and societal level.

This chapter highlights the experiences of a professor who taught a cultural diversity class to doctoral students in an educational leadership program. During the course students were engaged in the study of critical educational theory with a component of the course focusing on critical race theory. Some of the examples in this chapter illustrate how educational leaders despite initial difficulty with confronting issues of racism were able to overcome years of mis-education to become educational leaders for social justice. Moreover, the chapter highlights the difficulties and challenges that professors who engage in critical race theory encounter. The chapter pointedly discloses why there is a need for professors to engage students in conversations around racism and social justice.

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International Perspectives on Higher Education Research
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
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