This article explores parallel findings from two critical ethnographies (Miller in Whiteness, discourse, and early childhood: an ethnographic study of three young children’s understandings about race in home and community settings. University of South Carolina, Columbia, 2012; Nash in Blinded by the white: foregrounding race and racism in a literacy course for preservice teachers. University of South Carolina, Columbia, 2012) of white early childhood teacher educators using a critical race stance as they researched race and racism in two contexts: an early childhood education course and home and community settings with the author’s own three young children. In each context, the researchers/authors found that participants used discourse to both resist and reify racism. The authors share these findings, offering implications and questions for critical reframing of the socially and historically located meanings of race and racism in early childhood education and teacher education.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
I received IRB approval from my university to conduct the study before beginning to collect data.
The findings related to the African American student are described elsewhere (Nash 2012).
I received IRB Approval from my university in August of 2009. All participants willingly volunteered to participate in the study. All person and place names for Study B are pseudonyms.
Discourses of blackness and whiteness, primary in both studies, (rather than discourses about other people of color or marginalized societal groups) may have been the result of the geo-political context of the Southeastern region where our studies took place.
Item 12 on a pre/post racial attitudes questionnaire. Responses are from the post-questionnaire.
Aboud, F. (1988). Children and prejudice. Cambridge, MA: Basil Blackwell.
Aboud, F. (2003). The formation of in-group favoritism and out-group prejudice in young children: Are they distinct attitudes? Developmental Psychology, 39(1), 48–60.
Alexander, M. (2012). The new Jim Crow: Mass incarceration in the age of color blindness. New York: New York Press.
Applebaum, B. (2005). In the name of morality: Moral responsibility, whiteness and social justice education. Journal of Moral Education, 34(3), 277–290.
Ausdale, D. V., & Feagin, J. (2001). The first R: How children learn race and racism. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
Aveling, N. (2006). ‘Hacking at our very roots:’ Rearticulating White racial identity within the context of teacher education. Race, Ethnicity, and Education, 9(3), 261–274.
Baron, A. S., & Banaji, M. R. (2006). The development of implicit attitudes: Evidence of race evaluations from ages 6 and 10 and adulthood. Psychological Science, 17(1), 53–58.
Bell, D. A. (1995). Who’s afraid of critical race theory? University of Illinois Law Review, 89(3), 893–910.
Bishop, R. S. (1991). Mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors. Perspectives: Choosing and Using Books for the Classroom, 6(3), 24–28.
Bissex, (1980). Gnyx at work: A child learns to read and write. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Blanchett, W. (2006). Disproportionate representation of African American students in special education: Acknowledging the role of white privilege and racism. Educational Researcher, 35(6), 24–28.
Bonilla-Silva, E. (2013). Raicsm without racists: Colorblind racism and the persistence of racial inequality in the United States (4th ed.). Maryland: Rowland & Littlefield Publishers.
Boutte, G. S. (2007). Teaching African American English speakers: Expanding educators and student repertoires. In M. E. Brisk (Ed.), Language, culture and community in teacher education. London: Routledge.
Boutte, G. S., & Johnson, G. (2013). Do educators see and honor biliteracy and bidialectalism in African American language speakers? Apprehensions and reflections of two grandparents/professional educators. Early Childhood Education Journal, 41(2), 133–141.
Boutte, G., Lopez-Robertson, J., & Powers-Costello, B. (2011). Moving beyond colorblindness in early childhood classrooms. Early Childhood Education Journal, 39(5), 335–342.
Boykin, W. (1994a). Harvesting culture and talent: African American children and education reform. In R. Rossi (Ed.), Educational reform and at-risk students (pp. 243–273). New York: Teachers College Press.
Brooks, K., Schiraldi, V., & Ziedenberg, J. (1999). School house hype: Two years later. San Francisco: Justice Policy Institute and Children’s Law Center, Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice.
Brown, D. F. (2003). Urban teachers’ use of culturally responsive management strategies. Theory into Practice, 42(4), 277–282.
Brown, A., & Brown, K. (2010). Useful and dangerous discourse: Deconstructing racialized knowledge about African–American students. Educational Foundations, Winter-Spring, 11–26.
Boykin, W. (1994b). Harvesting culture and talent: African American children and education reform. In R. Rossi (Ed.), Educational reform and at-risk students (pp. 243–273). New York: Teachers College Press.
Carspecken, P. (1996). Critical ethnography in educational research: A theoretical and practical guide. New York and London: Rutledege.
Carter, D. J. (2008). On spotlighting and ignoring racial group members in the classroom. In M. Pollock (Ed.), Everyday anti-racism: Getting real about race in school (pp. 230–234). New York: New Press.
Corsaro, W. (2004). The sociology of childhood (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press.
Creswell, J. (2007). Qualitative inquiry & research design. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Cross, W. E., & Vandiver, B. J. (2001). Nigrescence theory and measurement: Introducing the Cross Racial Identity Scale (CRIS). In J. G. Ponterotto, J. M. Casas, L. M. Suzuki, & C. M. Alexander (Eds.), Handbook of multicultural counseling (2nd ed., pp. 371–393). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Delgado, R. (2000). Storytelling for oppositionists and others: A plea for narrative. In R. Delgado, & J. Stefancic (Eds.), Critical race theory: The cutting edge. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
Delgado, R., & Stefancic, J. (2011). Critical race theory: An introduction. New York/PA: New York University Press/Temple University Press.
Delpit, L. (2012). Multiplication is for white people: Raising expectations for other people’s children. New York: The New Press.
Denzin, N. (2003). Performance ethnography: Critical pedagogy and the politics of culture. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Denzin, N., & Lincoln, Y. (2005). The Sage handbook of qualitative research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Derman-Sparks, L., & Ramsay, P. G. (2006). What if all the kids are white? Anti-bias multicultural education with young children and families. New York: Teachers College Press.
Durden, T. R., Escalante, E., & Blitch, K. (2014). Start with us! Culturally relevant pedagogy in the preschool classroom. Early Childhood Education Journal, 1–10.
Dyson, A. H., & Genishi, C. (2005). On the case: Approaches to language and literacy research (an NCRLL volume). New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Earick, M. (2009). Racially equitable teaching: Beyond the whiteness of professional development for early childhood educators. New York: Peter Lang.
Fanon, F. (1952, 1967). Black skin, white mask (C. L. Markmann, Trans.). New York: Grove Press.
Ford, D. (2013). Recruiting and retaining culturally different students in gifted education. Waco, TX: Prufrock Press.
Foster, M. (1997). Black teachers on teaching. New York: New Press.
Gangi, J. (2008). The unbearable whiteness of literacy. Multicultural Review. Spring issue. Retrieved from www.mcreview.com.
Garrett, J., & Segall, A. (2013). (Re)Considerations of ignorance and resistance in teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 64(4), 294–304.
Gee, J. P. (2011). Language and learning in the digital age. New York: Routledge.
Haddix, M. (2014). Preparing teachers to teach other people’s children while homeschooling your own: One black woman scholar’s study. In B. Kabuto & P. Martens (Eds.), Linking families, learning and schooling: Parent researcher perspectives. New York: Routledge.
Harro, B. (2000). The cycle of socialization. In M. Adams, W. Blumenfeld, C. R. Castaneda, H. Hackman, M. Peters, & X. Zuniga (Eds.), Readings for diversity and social justice (pp. 15–21). New York: Routledge.
Jackson, T. (2011). Which interests are served by the principle of interest convergence? Whiteness, collective trauma, and the case for anti-racism. Race, Ethnicity, and Education, 14(4), 435–459.
Kabuto, B., & Martens, P. (Eds.). (2014). Linking families, learning and schooling: Parent researcher perspectives. New York: Routledge.
King, J. (1991). Dysconscious racism: ideology, identity and the miseducation of teachers. Journal of Negro Education, 60, 133–146.
Kuby, C. (2013). Critical literacy in the early childhood classroom: Unpacking histories, unlearning privilege. New York: Teachers College Press.
Kunjufu, J. (2006). An African centered response to Ruby Payne’s poverty theory. Chicago: African American Images.
Ladson-Billings, G., & Tate, W. (1995). Toward a critical race theory of education. In A. Dixon & C. Rousseau (Eds.), Critical race theory in education: All god’s children got a song (pp. 11–30). New York: Routledge.
Ladson-Billings, G. (2009). The dreamkeepers: Successful teachers of African American children (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Ladson-Billings, G. (2011). Asking the right questions: A research agenda for studying diversity in teacher education. In A. Ball & C. Tyson (Eds.), Studying diversity in teacher education, (pp. 339–362). New York: Rowan & Littlefield Publishers.
Lensmire, T. (2013). The limits and dangers of McIntosh’s ideas about white privilege. Retrieved from http://hepg.org/blog/107.
Lensmire, T., McManimon, S. Tierney, J. D., Lee-Nichols, M. E., Casey, Z., Lensmire, A. et al. (2013). McIntosh as synecdoche: How teacher education’s focus on white privilege undermines antiracism. Harvard Educational Review, Fall. Retrieved from http://hepg.org/her/issue/234.
Leonardo, Z. (2002). The souls of white folk: Critical pedagogy, whiteness studies, and globalization discourse. Race, Ethnicity, and Education, 5(1), 29–50. doi:10.1080/13613320120117180.
Leonardo, Z. (2009). Race, whiteness, and education. New York: Routledge.
Long, S. (2004). Passionless text and phonics first: Through a child’s eyes. Language Arts, 81(5), 41.
Long, S., Volk, D., Baines, J., & Tisdale, C. (2013). ‘We’ve been doing it your way long enough’: Syncretism as a critical process. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 0, 1–22.
López, A. (Ed.). (2005). Post-colonial whiteness: A critical reader on race and empire. Albany, New York: State University of New York.
López-Robertson, J., Long, S., & Turner Nash, K. (2010). First steps in constructing counter narratives of young children and their families. Language Arts, 88(2), 93–103.
Lynn, M., & Dixon, A. (2013). Handbook of critical race theory in education. New York: Routledge, Chapman, and Hall.
Madison, S. (2011). Critical ethnography: method, ethics, and performance. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Martens, P. (1996). I already know how to read: A child’s view of literacy. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Marx, S. (2006). Revealing the invisible: Confronting passive racism in teacher education. New York: Routledge.
McIntyre, A. (1997). Making meaning of whiteness. Exploring racial identity with white teachers. Albany: State University of New York Press.
McIntyre, A. (2008). Participatory action research. Los Angeles: SAGE Publications.
Miles, M., & Huberman, M. (2004). Qualitative data analysis. London: Sage Publications.
Morrow, L. M., Rueda, R., & Lapp, D. (2009). Handbook of research on literacy and diversity. New York: The Guilford Press.
Miller, E. (2012). Whiteness, discourse, and early childhood: An ethnographic study of three young children’s understandings about race in home and community settings. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina.
Miller, E. T. (2014). Discourses of whiteness and blackness: An ethnographic study of three young children learning to be white. Ethnography and Education.
Moll, L., Amanti, C., Neff, D., & Gonzalez, N. (2005). Funds of knowledge for teaching: Using a qualitative approach to connect homes and classrooms. Theory into Practice, XXXI(2), 132–141.
Mun Wah, L. (Producer). (2012). The color of fear [Motion picture]. Available from StirFry seminars and consulting, 2311 8th Street, Berkeley, CA 94710.
Nash, K. T. (2012). Blinded by the white: Foregrounding race and racism in a literacy course for preservice teachers. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina.
Nash, K. T. (2013). Everyone sees color: Toward a transformative critical race framework of early literacy teacher preparation. Journal of Transformative Education, 11(3), 151–169.
Nash, K.T. (in press). Anti-racist interventions in early literacy: Interrupting white discourse about african american children. Perspectives & Provocations, 3(3).
National Council of Educational Statistics. (2013). Fast facts. Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/.
Nieto, S. (2011). Affirming diversity: The sociopolitical context of multicultural education (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Person.
Noblit, G. W. (2004). Reinscribing critique in educational ethnography: Critical and postcritical ethnography. In K. DeMarrais & D. Lapan (Eds.), Foundations for researcher: Methods of inquiry in education and the social sciences (pp. 181–202). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Paris, D. (2012). Culturally sustainable pedagogy: A needed change in stance, terminology, and practice. Educational Researcher, 41(3), 93–97.
Perry, T., Steele, C., & Hilliard, A. (2003). Young, gifted, and black. Boston: Beacon Press.
Peshkin, A. (1988). In search of subjectivity—One’s own. Educational Researcher, 17(7), 17–21.
Picower, B. (2009). The unexamined whiteness of teaching: How white teachers maintain and enact racial ideologies. Race, Ethnicity, and Education, 12(2), 197–215.
Powers-Costello, B., Lopez-Robertson, J., Boutte, G., Miller, E., Long, S., & Collins, S. (2012). Teaching for transformation: Responsive program planning and professional development aimed at justice and equity in urban settings. In A. Cohan & A. Honigsfeld (Eds.), Breaking the mold of education for culturally and linguistically diverse learners: Innovative and successful practices for the 21st century (Vol. 2). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Education.
Race Matters for Juvenile Justice. (2013). Dismantling racism. Retrieved from http://www.rmjj.org/home.
Race, the Power of an Illusion. (2009). Retrieved from www.pbs.org.race. July 1, 2009.
Roediger, D. (2007). The wages of whiteness: Race and the making of the American working class. London, UK: Verso.
Rogers, R., & Mosley, M. (2006). Racial literacy in a second-grade classroom: Critical race theory, whiteness studies, and literacy research. Reading Research Quarterly, 41(4), 462–495.
Rogoff, B. (2003). The cultural nature of human development. New York: Oxford University Press.
Scott, K., & Blanchett, W. (2011). Research in urban educational settings: Lessons learned and implications for future practice. Washington, DC: Information Age Publishing.
Seidman, I. (2006). Interviewing as qualitative research. New York: Teachers College Press.
Shannon, K., & Shannon, P. (2014). At home at school: Following our children. In B. Kabuto & P. Martens (Eds.), Linking families, learning and schooling: Parent researcher perspectives. New York: Routledge.
Sleeter, C. (2004). How white teachers construct race. In G. Ladson-Billings & D. Gillborn (Eds.), The Routledge Falmer reader in multicultural education (pp. 163–178). New York: Routledge.
Smagorinsky, P. (2008). The method section as conceptual epicenter in constructing social science research reports. Written Communication, 25(38), 389–405.
Souto-Manning, M. (2011). Challenging the text and context of (re)naming immigrant children: Children’s literature as tools. In B. S. Fennimore & A. L. Goodwin (Eds.), Promoting social justice for young children: Facing critical challenges to early learning and development (pp. 111–124). New York: Springer.
Stephensen, M. (Producer). American promise. Retrieved from http://www.americanpromise.org/#/intro.
Tatum, B. (2003). Why are all the black kids sitting together in the cafeteria? (5th ed.). New York: Basic Books.
Thandeka. (2011). Addressing inequality through conflict resolution in Portland, OR: Learning to be white. Retrieved from http://whitestudiesblackstudies.wordpress.com/2011/09/14/learning-to-be-white-thandeka/.
The Children’s Defense Fund. (2014). State of America’s Children.
Thomas, J. (1993). Doing critical ethnography. Newbury Park: SAGE Publications.
Thompson, A. (2003). Tiffany, friend of people of color: White investments in antiracism. Qualitative Studies in Education, 16(1), 7–29.
Trainor, J. (2005). ‘My Ancestors didn’t own slaves:’ Understanding white talk about race. Research in the Teaching of English, 40, 140–168.
Valdés, G. (1996). Con respeto: Bridging the distances between culturally diverse families and schools: An ethnographic portrait. New York: Teachers College Press.
Vasquez, V. (2008). Negotiating critical literacies with young children. Mahhaw, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Volk, D. (2004). Mediating networks for literacy learning: The role of Puerto Rican siblings. In E. Gregory, S. Long, & D. Volk (Eds.), Many pathways to literacy: Young children learning with siblings, grandparents, peers, and communities. London: RoutledgeFalmer.
Vygotsky, L. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological Processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2007). The condition of education 2007 (NCES 2007-064). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. U.S.
What a Doll tells us about Race. (2011). Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=7213714.
Willis, A., Montavon, M., Hall, H., Hunter, C., Burke, L., & Herrera, A. (2008). Critically conscious research. New York: Teachers College Press.
Winans, A. (2010). Cultivating racial literacy in white, segregated settings: Emotions as site of ethical engagement and inquiry. Curriculum Inquiry, 40(3), 475–503.
Children’s and Young Adult Texts
Black all Around by Patricia Hubbell.
Africa is not a Country by Margi Burns Knight.
DeShawn Days by Tony Medina.
Princess Brianna by Yaba Baker.
Before there was Mozart by Lisa Cline Ransome.
Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson.
Meet Danrita Brown by Nikki Giovanni.
One by Kathryn Otoshi.
Monster by Walter Dean Myers.
The Absolutely true diary of a part time Indian by Sherman Alexie.
The house on mango street by Sandra Cisneros.
Pinned by Sharon Flake.
The Jacket by Andrew Clemets.
We would like to acknowledge Susi Long, PhD, Michele Foster, PhD and Zach McCall, PhD for their feedback on this manuscript.
Rights and permissions
About this article
Cite this article
Nash, K.T., Miller, E.T. Reifying and Resisting Racism from Early Childhood to Young Adulthood. Urban Rev 47, 184–208 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11256-014-0314-5
- Early childhood
- Teacher education
- Preservice teachers