Pulling Back the “Post-Racial” Curtain: Critical Pedagogical Lessons from Both Sides of the Desk

  • Jennifer C. Mueller
  • Joe Feagin


Though popular belief and social science analyses often assert the racial tolerance and liberality of institutions of higher education and the white students who attend them, our research reveals young, educated white students’ everyday lives are anything but racially neutral. We pull back the curtain on these “post-racial” assumptions by presenting journal data collected from white students around the U.S. over many years. Our data documents that racist performances are a normal, habituated part of most white students’ social worlds. Nonetheless, we also find that asking students to research and write about their own lives in the context of instruction that addresses the critical realities of systemic racism can be a powerful educational tool. We explore the limits of mainstream educational and multiculturalism approaches in probing the deep realities of systemic racism; address the challenges of confronting our white students’ deeply embedded racial framing; and characterize strategies progressive, antiracist educators should consider in developing a race critical pedagogy for white students.


White Student White People Critical Pedagogy White Privilege Systemic Racism 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology & Intergroup Relations Program (IGR)Skidmore CollegeSaratoga SpringsUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA

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