Transforming Resistance: Strategies for Teaching Race in the Ethnic American Literature Classroom
Why are white students unable or unwilling to engage in honest discussions of race and racism? What effective practices and strategies will enable educators to foster transformative learning in teaching antiracism to predominantly white students in the college classroom? How do we transform resistances, evasions, or controversies into “teachable moments”? Finally, how do we use literary studies as a forum to teach antiracism and cultivate commitment to social justice? These questions underlie my teaching and pedagogical research over the past few years. In my essay, I explore these issues and share the preliminary findings of my research.
Focusing on my recent experiences of teaching such courses as “Black Women Writers” and “Asian American Writers,” I demonstrate the ways in which pedagogical strategies can be deployed to unlearn color blindness and enable honest, thoughtful conversations about race and racism in the multiethnic literature classroom. I argue that by practicing an antiracist pedagogy, specifically by cultivating an open, engaged learning space, foregrounding identity constructions through course design and theoretical tools, and managing acts of resistance through collective self-reflections, we may begin to transform student learning about racial justice and cultivate commitment to anti-racism and social change.
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