Disrupting Whiteness in Education-Transformational Resistance

  • Kennesha Woods (Iowa State University)
  • Jeanne Connelly (Iowa State University)


Educational equity cannot be gained without a critical analysis of the Whiteness embedded and hidden in our institutions. We will discuss asymmetrical power relationships between teachers and students, which is the Culture of Power. When White teachers are unaware of the Culture of Power, their interactions with multiply marginalized students cause harm and perpetuate inequitable outcomes. This framework of practice, from Delpit (1988), is reinforced by the structures of Whiteness. Whiteness in education involves (1) denial of racism within educational structures and practices, (2) separating today’s conditions and outcomes from legacies of racist policies, and (3) structures and practices that normalize Whiteness (Leonardo, 2002). Educators who ‘go along’ with the status quo are perpetuating Whiteness, even if they are claiming to do culturally responsive work. Our presentation will define types of resistance, including conformist resistance, where educators are motivated by social justice, but they are not critiquing the systems/structures that oppress. When attempts at improving the system fail, these educators place blame on multiply marginalized students, rather than institutions of power. We will provide examples of teachers who are adding acts of transformational resistance to their practice. This resistance critiques of the system and a motivation for social justice.



Published on
04 Mar 2021