Not a ‘Who Done it’ Mystery: On How Whiteness Sabotages Equity Aims in Teacher Preparation Programs

  • Brenda G. Harris
  • Cleveland Hayes
  • Darron T. Smith


This essay interrogates the seeming diversity paradox of multicultural teacher education and its connection to the White world of education. Applying a critical race methodology and concepts from critical whiteness studies and the Black radical tradition, the authors draw from their combined lived experiences as teacher educators at institutions located across the U.S. as an important source of critical knowledge about the White world of education to highlight specific, representative moments of practices typical in many U.S. teacher preparation programs. The authors’ purpose is to critically examine these moments of teacher preparation practices as one way to better understand and push toward ameliorating the mechanisms and modus operandi of Whiteness in teacher preparation and expose how equity-oriented aims are daily sabotaged; it is not to blame individuals or programs or to promote White defensiveness or guilt. For multicultural teacher education to realize its equity-oriented goals, the realities of active complicity in protecting the Whiteness embedded within teacher preparation must be exposed and challenged. The persistent Whiteness in education is not accidentally or coincidentally [re]created behind the backs of individuals and programs—as if it were a kind of “who done it” mystery, despite historical collective cries of [White] innocence.


Multicultural teacher preparation Urban education Racial minority students Whiteness Racial domination 



  1. Au, W. (2017). When multicultural education is not enough. Multicultural Perspectives, 19(3), 147–150.Google Scholar
  2. Baldwin, J. (1962/1993). The fire next time. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  3. Baldwin, J. (1963). A talk to teachers. In J. Baldwin (Ed.), The price of a ticket: Collected non-fiction 1948–1985 (pp. 326–332). New York, NY: St. Martin's Press.Google Scholar
  4. Baldwin, J. (1985). The price of a ticket: Collected non-fiction 1948–1985. New York: St. Martin’s Press.Google Scholar
  5. Bennett, L., Jr. (1972). The challenge of blackness. Chicago: Johnson Publishing Co.Google Scholar
  6. Camper, C. (1994). To White Feminists. Canadian Women's Studies, 14(2), 40.Google Scholar
  7. Cone, J. H. (1987). A Black theology of liberation. Maryknoll: Orbis Books.Google Scholar
  8. Cone, J. H. (2004). Martin and Malcolm and America: A dream or a nightmare. Maryknoll: Orbis Books.Google Scholar
  9. Delgado, R. (1999). When equality ends: Stories about race and resistance. Boulder: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  10. DuBois, W. E. B. (1920). Darkwater: Voices from within the Veil. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications.Google Scholar
  11. Gorski, P. (2009). What we’re teaching teachers. Teaching and Teacher Education, 25(2), 309–318.Google Scholar
  12. Grossman, P., & McDonald, M. (2008). Back to the future: Directions for research in teaching and teacher education. American Educational Research Journal, 45(1), 184–205.Google Scholar
  13. Hartlep, N., & Hayes, C. (Eds.). (2016). Unhooking from Whiteness: Resisting the Espirit de Corps. New York: Sense Publishers.Google Scholar
  14. Hayes, C., & Hartlep, N. (2013). Unhooking from whiteness: The key to dismantling racism in the United States. New York: Sense Publishers.Google Scholar
  15. Hayes, C., Juarez Harris, B., & Hartlep, N. (2016). Stop Showing your Whiteness and Unhook. In N. Hartlep & C. Hayes (Eds.), Unhooking from Whiteness: Resisting the Espirit de Corps (pp. 124–139). New York: Sense Publishers.Google Scholar
  16. Hooks, B. (1989). Talking back: Thinking feminist, thinking black. Boston: South End Press.Google Scholar
  17. Horsford, S. D. (2011). Learning in a burning house: Educational inequality, ideology, and (dis)integration. New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  18. Juárez, B. G. (2013). Learning to take the bullet and more: Anti-racism requirements for White Allies and other friends of the race, so-called and otherwise. In N. D. Hartlep & C. Hayes (Eds.), Unhooking from Whiteness: The key to dismantling racism in the United States (pp. 33–51). New York: Sense Publishers.Google Scholar
  19. Juárez, B. G. (2014). Justice seeking and future teachers for freedom dreams: Considering the possibilities and challenges of teaching to differences in teacher education. In N. E. Johnson & S. A. Wilson (Eds.), Teaching to difference? The challenges and opportunities of diversity in the classroom (pp. 95–110). Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.Google Scholar
  20. Juárez Harris, B. G., Smith, D. T., & Hayes, C. (2016). Just do what we tell you: White rules for well-behaved minorities. In N. Hartlep & C. Hayes (Eds.), Unhooking from Whiteness: Resisting the Espirit de Corps (pp. 107–120). New York: Sense Publishers.Google Scholar
  21. Juárez, B. G., & Hayes, C. (2010). Social justice is not spoken here: Considering the nexus of knowledge, power and the education of future teachers in the United States. Power and Education, 2(3), 233–252.Google Scholar
  22. Juárez, B. G., & Hayes, C. (2012a). An endarkened learning and transformative education for freedom dreams: The education our children deserve. The Journal of Educational Controversy, 6(1), 1–17.Google Scholar
  23. Juárez, B. G., & Hayes, C. (2012b). On the battlefield for social justice: Teaching about differences and its consequences in teacher preparation programs. In C. Clark, M. Brimhall-Vargas, & K. Fasching-Varner (Eds.), Occupying the academy: Just how important is diversity work in higher education? (pp. 183–193). New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Inc.Google Scholar
  24. Juárez, B. G., & Hayes, C. (2014). On being named a Black supremacist and a race traitor: The problem of White racial domination and domestic terrorism in US teacher education. The Urban Review, 46(2), 1–26.Google Scholar
  25. Juárez, B. G., & Hayes, C. (2015). Too Black, yet, not BLACK enough: Challenging White supremacy in U.S. teacher education and the making of two radical misfits. In F. Briscoe & M. Khalifa (Eds.), Becoming critical: The emergence of social justice scholars (pp. 71–94). New York: SUNY.Google Scholar
  26. Juárez, B. G., Smith, D. T., & Hayes, C. (2008). Social justice means just us White people: The diversity paradox in teacher education. Democracy and Education, 17(3), 20–25.Google Scholar
  27. King, J. E. (2005). Black education. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  28. Lee, D. L. (1974). Education. In A. Bontemps (Ed.), American Negro poetry (p. 201). New York: Hill and Wang.Google Scholar
  29. Leonardo, Z. (2005). The color of supremacy: Beyond the Discourse of white privilege. In Z. Leonardo. (Ed.), Critical pedagogy and race (pp. 225–230). Malden, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  30. Leonardo, Z. (2009). Race, Whiteness, and education. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  31. Levine-Rasky, C. (2000). The practice of Whiteness among teacher candidates. International Studies in Sociology of Education, 10(3), 263–283.Google Scholar
  32. Lewis, D. L. (1995). W. E. B. DuBois: A reader. New York: Henry Holt and Company.Google Scholar
  33. Lomax, L. E. (1962). The unpredictable negro. In A. F. Westin, (Ed.). Freedom now! The civil rights struggle in America (pp. 22–25). New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  34. Matias, C. E. (2013a). Check yo’self before you wreck yo’self and our kids: Counterstories from culturally responsive White teachers?…to culturally responsive teachers! Interdisciplinary Journal of Teaching and Learning, 2, 68–81.Google Scholar
  35. Matias, C. E. (2013b). On the “flip” side: A teacher educator of color unveiling the dangerous minds of White teacher candidates. Teacher Education Quarterly, 2, 53–74.Google Scholar
  36. Matias, C. E., & Mackey, J. (2016). Breakin’ down Whiteness in anti-racist teaching: Introducing critical Whiteness pedagogy. Urban Review, 48(1), 32–50.Google Scholar
  37. Rodriguez, L. F. (2012). “Everybody grieves, but still nobody sees”: Toward a praxis of recognition for Latina/o students in US schools. Teachers College Record, 114, 1–31.Google Scholar
  38. Sleeter, C. (2001). Preparing teachers for culturally diverse schools: Research and the overwhelming presence of Whiteness. Journal of Teacher Education, 52(2), 94–106.Google Scholar
  39. Sojoyner, D. M. (2013). Black radicals make for bad citizens: Undoing the myth of the school to prison pipeline. Berkeley Review of Education, 4(2), 241–263.Google Scholar
  40. Solorzano, D., & Yosso, T. (2002). Critical race methodology: Counter story-telling as an analytical framework for educational research. Qualitative Inquiry, 8(1), 23–44.Google Scholar
  41. Taylor, E., Gillborn, D., & Ladson-Billings, G. (Eds.). (2009). Foundations of critical race theory in education. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  42. West, C. (1993). Race matters. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  43. Westin, A. F. (1964). Freedom now! The civil-rights struggle in America. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  44. Wise, T. (2005). White like me: Reflections on race from a privileged son. Brooklyn: Soft Skull Press.Google Scholar
  45. Wright, R. (1957). White man listen!. Garden City: Anchor Books.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.MobileUSA
  2. 2.Urban Education StudiesIndiana University School of Education-IndianapolisIndianapolisUSA
  3. 3.Deptartment of SociologyUniversity of MemphisMemphisUSA

Personalised recommendations