They Put It in the Yearbook, but with a Smiling White Kid: Encoding the Weakness of Children and Native Americans, and the Whitewashing of the Message

  • Cathrine Ryther


This chapter examines the encoding of colonizing power asymmetries in a US first grade classroom, in two acts. The perspective of the white children in the classroom is taken as they witness their teacher’s behavior toward the lone visibly ethnically different child in the classroom. While the visibly different child sleeps, he is placed in a trash can by the teacher. Upon awakening, he is unable to get out without the teacher’s help. Meanwhile, the other children sit frozen, horrified, and silent at the teacher’s domination. Later, the other children are invited to sit in the trash can in a playful event that whitewashes the oppressiveness of the teacher's act. The event is photographed for the yearbook, capturing these children’s co-option into the colonizing regime.

Related Further Reading

  1. Brayboy, B. M. J. (2005). Toward a tribal critical race theory in education. The Urban Review, 37(5), 425–446.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Cavarero, A. (2009). Horrorism. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Rains, F. V. (2003). To greet the dawn with open eyes: American Indians, white privilege and the power of residual guilt in the social studies. In G. Ladson-Billings (Ed.), Critical race theory perspectives on the social studies: The profession, policies, and the curriculum (pp. 199–227). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.Google Scholar
  4. Thompson, A. (2009). There are no sheep in post-structuralism. In R. D. Glass (Ed.), Philosophy of education (pp. 193–201). Urbana, IL: Philosophy of Education Society.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cathrine Ryther
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Education and CommunicationJönköping UniversityJönköpingSweden

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