You Think You Know, But You Have No Idea

An Autoethnography of the Actualization of Privilege

  • Wendy Scott Old Dominion University
Keywords: white privilege, autoethnography, cultural gap, educators


This autoethnography was written as a self-reflection on my actualization of White privilege as a White, middle-income educator with the hopes that my story can illuminate the need for a new approach to close the cultural gap between students and teachers. My methodology was guided by standards set by experts in the field of autoethnography including Ellis, Bochner, Douglass, and Moustakas. I analyzed my journal entries, memos, and working and formal papers, including my dissertation. Then I borrowed from the heuristic tradition to identify patterns. Ultimately, the patterns are reflected in four realizations that I detail in the paper. Our classrooms are increasingly diverse, but our teacher population remains homogenous. Eighty-four percent of teachers identify as White (Feistritzer, 2011). I realized that for me to be an effective teacher, I must stand with my traditionally marginalized students as an ally. This evocative autoethnography does not solve any problems or make any claims, but it is written with the intention to create dialogue focused on creating a more inclusive education system.