Mohanty – On Race and Voice: Challenges for liberal Education in the 1990s

Mohanty, Chandra. “On Race and Voice: Challenges for Liberal Education in the 1990s.” Cultural Critique. 14 (1989-1990): 208. Print.

In this article, Mohanty studies two classroom sites – a Women’s Studies class and workshops of “diversity” for upper level mostly white administrators. She looks at discourses of difference and argues that educational practices are shaped and reshaped in these sites and cannot be seen as static and “transmitting already codified ideas of difference” (184).

Mohanty mainly questions what is necessary to enact an effective  liberatory pedagogy within the restrictions of the liberal academy with pressures such as,  “professionalization, normalization, and standardization, the very
pressures or expectations that implicitly aim to manage and discipline pedagogies so that teachers behaviors are predictable (and perhaps controllable) across the board” (193). She concludes that such a pedagogy requires that people of color and progressive  white people use their individual and collective voices to challenge the commodification and domestication of Third World people.

Cultures  of dissent are also about  seeing the academy  as part of a larger  sociopolitical  arena which  itself domesticates  and manages Third World  people in the name of liberal  capitalist  democracy.  The  struggle to transform  our institutional  practices  fundamentally  also  involves  the grounding of the analysis  of exploitation and oppression in accurate  history  and theory,  seeing ourselves  as activists  in  the academy-drawing  links between movements for social  justice and our  pedagogical and  scholarly endeavors and expecting and demanding action  from ourselves, our colleagues, and our students at numerous levels (207).

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Corkery – Rhetoric of Race: Critical Pedagogy Without Resistance

Corkery, Caleb. “Rhetoric of Race: Critical Pedagogy without Resistance.” Teaching English in the Two Year College 36.3 (2009): 244-57. Print.

In this article, Caleb Corkery explicates how he uses rhetorical theory and critical pedagogy in his composition classroom. Corkery uses rhetoric as a non-threatening lens and shows his students how racial arguments have been asserted and defended throughout U.S. history. The goal is to demonstrate that racial identities are in fact constructed. Through this approach, Corkery asserts that he helps to position his students along side the author and text which allows the necessary emotional distance to “properly” engage with the text. Corkery suggests that targeting white students and/ or white identity, or “subordinate students” is a set up for failure – a mutually beneficial inquiry should be the goal.

Using rhetoric provides the text to interrogate and ensures a focus on language:

Composition instructors are in a unique position to connect the inspiration for critical pedagogies to individual awareness. Applying rhetorical skills to the arguments that have historically divided races in this country forces white students to reconcile, on their own, the evolving construction of white supremacy with the “unraced” status of whites today. A critical approach that centers on rhetorical theory is also more appropriate for a writing course, as might argue Soles, Harris, and O’Dair, who warn that critical pedagogies in composition courses neglect their duty to language study (in Beech 182).

hooks – “Holding My Sister’s Hand: Feminist Solidarity”

hooks, bell. “Holding My Sister’s Hand: Feminist Solidarity.” Teaching to Trangress: Education as the Practice of Freedom. New York: Routlege, 1994. 93-110. Print.

In this essay, hooks examines issues of race and gender within the feminist movement. She is careful to put relations between black and white women in the U.S. within the context of racial oppression under the institution of slavery and beyond where black women were still subservient to white women as domestic servants. hooks maintains that the strained and distrustful relationships between black and white women then continues to have an impact on relations between these groups within feminist movements.

hooks stresses the importance of women of color and white women confronting and addressing racism in feminist settings (109-110). Collective, honest confrontation and dialogue about race and reciprocal interaction and the willingness to deal with racist assumptions, and mutual fears are key factors in establishing positive relationships between the groups (108).

hooks insists that even in the midst of racism in feminist settings, women of color should actively try to find ways to take part in discourse. [How does this mesh with issues of distrust and fears about appropriation 104-105.]

If revitalized feminist movement is to have a transformative impact on women, then creating a context where we can engage in open critical dialogue with one another, where we can debate and discuss without fear of emotional collapse, where we can hear or know one another in the difference and complexities of our experience, is essential (110).

Majors – “‘I wasn’t Scared of Them, They Were Scared of Me’: Constructions of Self/ Other in a Midwestern Hair Salon

Majors, Yolanda J. “‘I Wasn’t Scared of Them, They Were Scared of Me’: Constructions of Self/ Other in a Midwestern Hair Salon.” Anthropology and Education Quarterly. 35.2 (2004): 167-188.Print.

In this article Yolanda Majors applies the theoretical frameworks of critical discourse analysis, critical race theory, and Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) to ethnographic data from an African American hair salon in the mid-West. In her analyses, Majors shows the ways in which African American women use African American women’s literacies and Black discourse practices to individually and collectively negotiate and create meaning, construct and read social texts, construct their own counter-texts that challenge dominant narratives and beliefs, and create dialogic spaces for themselves to engage in these practices.

She uses data from the salon that features a narration from Darlene who assumes several roles – “counselor,” “teacher,” “master stylist,” and “storyteller.” Majors focuses on the ways that Darlene’s narration of a social text helps her to forge her own identity in the midst of a cross-cultural interaction. Darlene’s talk reflect’s her racialized, gendered, and social class position.

The dialogic interaction created between Darlene, her employees, and her clients as she tells her storyis in line with Mikhail Bakhtin’s (1981) view of dialogicality where readers are considered authors and reading is a dialogue between a previously created text and a reactive text created by the reader (182). On this point, Majors says,

Such a perspective transforms the traditional concept of reading into a contingent dialogic process, in which the reader becomes a border-crosser in doing her/ his imaginary scholarship in the process of reading. (182)

Majors asserts that her analyses provides a insight as to how educators can make room for the literacies and discourse practices that African American women use in community-based settings in “academic” settings as well:

The identities people construct through their adoption of these language varieties are viewed as impediments to their academic learning – as personal skins to be shed in acquiring passports to success. This illustration of Shoptalk disrupts such assumptions and offers a more grounded view of the role of language variation in achieving literate skills (Lee and Majors 2003).