Thru the Lenz was a youth participatory action project in which a group of urban high school students explored their lives and communities through art, photography, and narrative. Drawing on data from Thru the Lenz, I deploy CRT to reimagine the research space as a place for counter storytelling. Majoritarian stories are stories that invoke and perpetuate white privilege, are based on racist ideology, are pervasive and are told by whites as well as people of color (Solórzano and Yosso in Qual Inq 8:23–44, 2002a). Counter stories are a method and a tool that enable a deeper understanding of the stories the youth co-constructed though their photos and narratives and also challenge the majoritarian stories told about them, their school, and community (Solórzano and Yosso in Qual Inq 8:23–44, 2002a). Specifically, I present the research praxis organized in the form of an emerging counter story based on two key themes: good community and successful school. When constructed using a CRT framework, the students’ stories about their educational experiences provide a strong critique of neoliberal education reform. I conclude with a discussion of the tensions and challenges of engaging in counter story as critical, emancipatory praxis that elucidates the linkages of personal experiences and macro policies (Stovall in Race Ethn Educ 9:243–259, 2006).
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Pseudonyms are used for the high school co-researchers, the neighborhood, and school for confidentiality. All photographs are printed with permission.
The use of “I” designates analytical and scholarly activity conducted primarily by the author of this text and the Principal Investigator. “We” reflects the collaborative work conducted with the graduate student co-researchers or the full research collective, which included the graduate and high school student co-researchers.
Anonymized link for confidentiality.
The landmark 1954 Supreme Court case, Brown versus Topeka Board of Education that determined segregation of public schools based on race to be unconstitutional.
“The achievement gap in the United States refers to the observed, persistent disparity in measures of educational performance among subgroups of U.S. students, especially groups defined by socioeconomic status (SES), race/ethnicity and gender” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Achievement_gap_in_the_United_States).
This research was supported in part by a grant from the METRO-North Portland Neighborhood
Coalition and Blue Moon Camera and Machine. All co-researchers received a Holga camera of their own, film and processing, a journal/sketchbook, and access to art materials.
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The author thanks Adam York for his generous reviews and feedback on earlier drafts of this manuscript. The author is also grateful for the high school and graduate schools student co-researchers who made this research possible.
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Goessling, K.P. Increasing the Depth of Field: Critical Race Theory and Photovoice as Counter Storytelling Praxis. Urban Rev 50, 648–674 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11256-018-0460-2