The journal of English Language Arts Teacher Educators (ELATE)
Vol. 51, No. 2, January 2019
Valerie Kinloch and Timothy J. Lensmire
Critical race and literacy scholars Valerie Kinloch and Timothy J. Lensmire introduce this issue in a dialogue that addresses the reasons for its creation.
This article critiques a classroom encounter between a Black student, Richard, and a white student, Nick, that complicated the white English teacher, Mr. Turner’s, attempt to facilitate a discussion about racial progress in America. Students positioned their bodies on a continuum between 1, no racial progress since the 1930s, and 10, full racial equity. When Richard positioned himself at the low end of the continuum and Nick located himself on the high end, a disruption occurred after Mr. Turner moved his body toward Nick while verbally validating Richard’s perspective. I argue that the classroom’s affective register was altered by racial melancholia, reopening racial wounds and reproducing whiteness, evoking emotions I call “melancholic affects.”
This article focuses on Mr. Kurt, a white, first-year English teacher in an all-white context who has chosen to teach his students about whiteness, white supremacy, white privilege, and the many ways institutionalized racism is enacted in daily life. I center this article on classroom scenarios that highlight the challenges embedded in dealing with race and whiteness in curriculum and classroom discussion. I conclude with a discussion of how possibilities for antiracist and social justice pedagogies in English education rely on the field’s willingness to embrace a more nuanced conversation, and I offer implications for classroom practice at the K–12 and teacher education levels.
Samuel Jaye Tanner
This article relies on methods of racial storytelling to provoke the field of English education (and teacher education more generally) to see how race is a white problem. Specifically, I tell and make sense of stories from my experiences as a white high school English teacher and English education scholar to wonder about the potential work white people might engage to contribute to better understandings of whiteness and, perhaps, antiracism. I argue that it is time for white people to worry about how mediating race through people of color affects engagement with race, racism, and antiracism in the field of English education.
This provocation begins with an emotionally charged interracial encounter during peak-hour Cape Town traffic. It goes on to consider the manner in which emotional orientations constitute everyday, internal white supremacist structures often camouflaged under the guise of caring. Later, it calls on white educators to earnestly do the work of emotional excavation to avoid the reification, reinforcement, and reproduction of subtle, well-intentioned forms of racism. Ultimately, this piece contends that soulful justice work needs to accompany the social justice investments of white educators.