Discussing White Supremacy in Academic Classrooms: Pedagogy of Discomfort?
The 2016 US Presidential election has emboldened ultra-conservative groups worldwide.
In light of the contemporary racially-charged climate, the academic classroom can be a precarious environment to engage in intellectually humble dialogue on racial injustice and racism. In academic spaces the need to satisfy white fragility/guilt often exceeds the need to engage in healthy discussions on racism and white supremacy. Race is, therefore, deemphasized and other social status markers (e.g., gender, class, age) are overly emphasized or are used as proxies for race and possible charges of racism. In such cases, colonizing narratives of groups racialized as non-white are perpetuated via colorblind explanations about social problems, which does little to equip students of the nature of white supremacy in order to resist it.
Dr Adele N. Norris is a lecturer in Sociology and Social Policy program in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Adele’s scholarship uses black feminist methodologies with a focus on social inequalities in relation to rural women and anti-poverty programs, and racism and the criminal justice system. She is currently undertaking research on Indigenous justice issues in partnership with Indigenous scholars and activists to examine the sharp rise of imprisonment among Indigenous women across four nation-states. She is also involved in research investigating forms of resistant knowledge deployed by Indigenous women of West Papua.