The Urban Review

, Volume 51, Issue 1, pp 123–145 | Cite as

“I Just Love Black People!”: Love, Pleasure, and Critical Pedagogy in Urban Teacher Education

  • Esther O. OhitoEmail author


With concern to critical pedagogy, the concept of love is fairly frequently (ab)used, yet under-theorized. In this exploratory study, I ask: How does a critical pedagogy of love—or critical pedagogical love—look, sound, and feel? Regarding feeling, how does a critical pedagogue engage the sensations of pleasure attendant to love? Lastly, how does the pedagogue invite love and pleasure into the pain-filled field of urban teacher education? Using Black feminist theorizing of love as an analytic filter, I investigate a university-based urban teacher educator’s navigation of the nexus of love, pleasure, and critical (specifically, antiracist) pedagogy. Extrapolating from the resultant narrative portrait, I consider the affordances of a critical pedagogy of love that accesses embodied pleasure, emphasizing how such a pedagogy might present racially marginalized persons—particularly urban teacher educators of Color—with opportunities for reprieve from the suffering that characterizes many of our experiences with/in teacher education.


Critical pedagogy Urban teacher education Feminist theory Black feminism Portraiture 


  1. Ahmed, S. (2004). The cultural politics of emotion. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  2. Ajjawi, R., & Higgs, J. (2007). Using hermeneutic phenomenology to investigate how experienced practitioners learn to communicate clinical reasoning. The Qualitative Report, 12(4), 612–638.Google Scholar
  3. Angelou, M. (n.d.). Touched by an angel. Retrieved from
  4. Berchini, C. N. (2017). Critiquing un/critical pedagogies to move toward a pedagogy of responsibility in teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 68(5), 463–475. Scholar
  5. Bevan, M. T. (2014). A method of phenomenological interviewing. Qualitative Health Research, 24(1), 136–144. Scholar
  6. Bussie, J. (2007). The laughter of the oppressed: Ethical and theological resistance in Wiesel, Morrison, and Endo. New York: T & T Clark International.Google Scholar
  7. Carter Heyward, I. (1982). The redemption of God: A theology of mutual relation. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock.Google Scholar
  8. Chapman, T. K. (2005). Expressions of ‘voice’ in portraiture. Qualitative Inquiry, 11, 27–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Crenshaw, K. W. (1989). Demarginalizing the intersection of race and sex: A Black Feminist critique of antidiscrimination doctrine, feminist theory, and antiracist politics. University of Chicago Legal Forum, 139, 138–167.Google Scholar
  10. Darder, A. (1991). Culture and power in the classroom: A critical foundation for bicultural education. Westport, CT: Bergin & Gravey.Google Scholar
  11. Darder, A. (2002). Reinventing Paulo Freire: A pedagogy of love. Cambridge, MA: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  12. Davis, J. H. (2003). Balancing the whole: Portraiture as methodology. In P. M. Camic, J. E. Rhodes, & L. Yardley (Eds.), Qualitative research in psychology, expanding perspectives in methodology and design (pp. 199–217). Washington, D.C.: APA Books.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dixson, A. D., Chapman, T. K., & Hill, D. A. (2005). Research as aesthetic process: Extending the portraiture methodology. Qualitative Inquiry, 11, 16–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Douglas, T.-R., & Nganga, C. (2015). What’s radical love got to do with it: Navigating identity, pedagogy, and positionality in pre-service education. International Journal of Critical Pedagogy, 5(1), 58–82.Google Scholar
  15. Duffin, M. T. (2006). Portrait of an urban elementary school: Place-based education, School culture, and leadership. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation. Antioch University, Yellow Springs, OH.Google Scholar
  16. Dumas, M. J. (2014). ‘Losing an arm’: Schooling as a site of black suffering. Race Ethnicity and Education, 17(1), 1–29. Scholar
  17. Eros (concept). (n.d.) In Wikipedia. Retrieved June 1, 2016, from Eros_(concept).
  18. Figlerowicz, M. (2012). Affect theory dossier: An introduction. Qui Parle, 20(2), 3–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Freire, P. (1970/1993). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Continuum International.Google Scholar
  20. Freire, P. (1974/2014). Education for critical consciousness. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  21. Frueh, J. (2001). Monster/beauty: Building the body of love. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  22. Gafni, M., & Hamilton, D. M. (2017). Notes from a lover on the pain of Eros. Blog post. Retrieved from
  23. Gallop, J. (1997). Feminist accused of sexual harassment. Durham: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Geertz, C. (1973). The interpretation of cultures. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  25. Gerassi, J. (2001). The true revolutionary is guided by strong feelings of love. Los Angeles Retrieved from
  26. Grande, S. (2011). Confessions of a full-time Indian. Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy, 8(1), 40–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hardy, K. V. (2013). Healing the hidden wounds of racial trauma. Reclaiming Children and Youth, 22(1), 24–28.Google Scholar
  28. Harvey, M., Coulson, D., Mackaway, J., & Winchester-Seeto, T. (2010). Aligning reflection in the cooperative education curriculum. Asia-Pacific Journal of Cooperative Education, 11(3), 137–152.Google Scholar
  29. Hatton, N., & Smith, D. (1994). Facilitating reflection: Issues and research. In Paper presented at the meeting of the 24th annual conference of the Australian Teacher Education Association, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.Google Scholar
  30. Haviland, V. S. (2008). ‘Things get glossed over’: Rearticulating the silencing power of whiteness in education. Journal of Teacher Education, 59, 40–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hayes, C., & Juárez, B. (2012). There is no culturally responsive teaching spoken here: A critical race perspective. Democracy & Education, 20(1), 1–14.Google Scholar
  32. Hill, D. A. (2005). The poetry in portraiture: Seeing subjects, hearing voices, and feeling contexts. Qualitative Inquiry, 11, 95–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hill Collins, P. (2000/2014). Black feminist thought: Knowledge, consciousness, and the politics of empowerment. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  34. hooks, B. (1994). Teaching to transgress: Education as the practice of freedom. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  35. hooks, B. (2000). All about love: New visions. New York: William Morrow and Company.Google Scholar
  36. Hudson, P. J. (2014). The geographies of blackness and anti-blackness: An interview with Katherine McKittrick. The CLR James Journal, 20(1–2), 233–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Jordan, J. (2003). Some of us did not die. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  38. Juárez, B. G., & Hayes, C. (2015). On being named a Black supremacist and a race traitor: The problem of White racial domination and domestic terrorism in U.S. Teacher Education. The Urban Review, 47(2), 317–340. Scholar
  39. Kincaid, J. (1997). Eroticism is a two-way street, and I’m working both sides. In R. Barreca & D. D. Morse (Eds.), The erotics of instruction (pp. 81–93). Boston: University Press of New England.Google Scholar
  40. Lawrence-Lightfoot, S., & Davis, J. H. (1997). The art and science of portraiture. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  41. Lincoln, Y. S., & Guba, E. G. (1985). Naturalistic inquiry. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Liston, D., & Garrison, J. (Eds.). (2004). Teaching, learning, and loving: Reclaiming passion in educational practice. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  43. Loewenberg, J. B., & Bogin, R. B. (Eds.). (1976). Black women in nineteenth century American life. University Park, PA: Penn State University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Luttrell, W. (2010). Reflexive writing exercises. In W. Luttrell (Ed.), Qualitative educational research: Readings in reflexive methodology and transformative practice (pp. 469–480). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  45. Macdonald, R., & Salter, W. (1972). Where is the love. [Recorded by R. Flack, & D. Hathaway] On Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway. [Record]. New York: Atlantic Records Group.Google Scholar
  46. Matias, C. (2016a). Feeling white: Whiteness, emotionality, and education. Boston: Sense Publishers.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Matias, C. E. (2016b). “Why do you make me hate myself?”: Re-teaching Whiteness, abuse, and love in urban teacher education. Teaching Education, 27(2), 194–211. Scholar
  48. Matias, C. E., Henry, A., & Darland, C. (2017). The twin tales of Whiteness: Exploring the emotional roller coaster of teaching and learning about Whiteness. Taboo: The Journal of Culture and Education, 16(1), 7–29. Scholar
  49. McLaren, P. (2016). Life in schools: An introduction to critical pedagogy in the foundations of education. London, England: Routledge.Google Scholar
  50. McWilliam, E. (1996). Touchy subjects: A risky inquiry into pedagogical pleasure. British Educational Research Journal, 22(3), 305–317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Morrison, T. (1987/2004). Beloved. New York: Vintage.Google Scholar
  52. Moseley, A. (n.d.). Philosophy of love. In Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved June 1, 2016, from
  53. Nash, J. (2011). Practicing love: Black feminism, Love-politics, and post-intersectionality. Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism, 11(2), 1–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Ngunjiri, F. W. (2007). Painting a counter-narrative of African womanhood: Reflections on how my research transformed me. Journal of Research Practice, 3(1), Article M4. Retrieved from
  55. Norris, J., Sawyer, R. D., & Lund, D. (Eds.). (2012). Duoethnography: Dialogic methods for social, health, and educational research. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.Google Scholar
  56. Ohito, E. O. (2016). Making the emperor’s new clothes visible in anti-racist teacher education: Enacting a pedagogy of discomfort with White preservice teachers. Equity & Excellence in Education, 49(4), 454–467. Scholar
  57. Ohito, E. O. (2017). Thinking through the flesh: A critical autoethnography of racial body politics in urban teacher education. Race Ethnicity and Education. Scholar
  58. Ohito, E. O., & Deckman, S. L. (2018). Feeling Black and blue in pre-service teacher education: Encountering emotion and embodiment in antiracist teaching. In B. Ahad-Legardy & O. Poon (Eds.), Difficult subjects: Insights and strategies for teaching about race, sexuality, and gender (pp. 129–144). Sterling, VA: Stylus.Google Scholar
  59. Ohito, E. O., & Khoja-Moolji, S. (2016). Reparative readings: Re-claiming black feminized bodies as sites of somatic pleasures and possibilities. Gender and Education, 30(3), 277–294. Scholar
  60. Oyler, C. (2011). An examination of urban teacher education and the public good: Which public? What good? The missing curriculum of racial literacies. In Paper presented at the American Education Research Association Conference, New Orleans, LA.Google Scholar
  61. Paris, D., & Alim, H. S. (2014). What are we seeking to sustain through culturally sustaining pedagogy? A loving critique forward. Harvard Educational Review, 84(1), 85–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Pough, G. D. (2003). Do the ladies run this? Some thoughts on hip hop feminism. In R. Dicker & A. Peipmeier (Eds.), Catching a wave: Reclaiming feminism for the 21 st century (pp. 232–243). Boston: Northeastern University Press.Google Scholar
  63. Rautins, C., & Ibrahim, A. (2011). Wide-awakeness: Toward a critical pedagogy of imagination, humanism, agency, and becoming. International Journal of Critical Pedagogy, 3(3), 24–36.Google Scholar
  64. Shalaby, C. (2013). ‘You must accept them and accept them with love’: The privileged elite and the struggle for educational justice. Journal of Curriculum Theorizing, 29(2), 123–142.Google Scholar
  65. Shim, J. M. (2014). The story of an antiracist project as difficult knowledge: Misalignment between conscious intent and unconscious desire. Journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Curriculum Studies, 10, 1–20.Google Scholar
  66. Shim, J. M. (2018). Working through resistance to resistance in anti-racist teacher education. Journal of Philosophy of Education. Scholar
  67. Sleeter, C. E. (2001). Preparing teachers for culturally diverse schools: Research and the overwhelming presence of Whiteness. Journal of Teacher Education, 52, 94–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Sleeter, C. (2016). Wrestling with problematics of whiteness in teacher education. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 29(8), 1065–1068. Scholar
  69. Somerville, M. (2004). Tracing bodylines: The body in feminist poststructural research. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 17(1), 47–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Spradley, J. P. (1980). Participant observation. New York: Holt. Rinehart and Winston.Google Scholar
  71. Sue, D. W., Capodilupo, C. M., Torino, G. C., Bucceri, J. M., Holder, A. M. B., Nadal, K. L., et al. (2007). Racial microaggressions in everyday life: Implications for clinical practice. American Psychologist, 62, 271–286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. The Black Scholar. (1973). The Black Scholar interviews James Baldwin. The Black Scholar, 5, 33–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. The Combahee River Collective (1977/1995). A Black feminist statement. In B. Guy-Sheftall (Ed.), Words of fire: An anthology of African-American feminist thought (pp. 231–240). New York: Norton & Company.Google Scholar
  74. Villaverde, L. E. (2015). Editors’ notes. International Journal of Critical Pedagogy, 6(1), 2.Google Scholar
  75. White, A. M. (2011). Unpacking Black feminist pedagogy in Ethiopia. Feminist Teacher, 21(3), 195–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Whitehead, T. L. (2005). Basic classical
methods: Secondary data analysis, fieldwork, observation/participant observation, and informal and semi–structured Interviewing. Ethnographically Informed Community and Cultural Assessment Research Systems [working paper]. Retrieved from
  77. Williams, D. G., & Evans-Winters, V. (2005). The burden of teaching teachers: Memoirs of race discourse in teacher education. The Urban Review, 37(3), 201–219. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Educationc/o Denison UniversityGranvilleUSA

Personalised recommendations