Digital Storytelling as Racial Justice: Digital Hopes for Deconstructing Whiteness in Teacher Education

March, 2016

Source: Journal of Teacher Education, Volume 67, Issue 2, March/April 2016
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This study examines the utilization of digital storytelling by teacher educators of color to pedagogically deconstruct Whiteness in a predominately White, urban-focused teacher education course.

The authors deconstruct four academic years of digital stories produced in a mandatory diversity course in an urban teacher education program and illustrate how digital storytelling itself promotes a critical self-revelation that confront Whiteness in White teacher candidates.
The authors intentionally highlight three digital stories as case studies to highlight the impact of the digital storytelling process on the emotionality of Whiteness.

The authors argue that digital storytelling is a racially just way of having White teacher candidates self-reflect on their own Whiteness in a multitude of ways.
The authors found four ways in which White teacher candidates can reflect on their own Whiteness:
(a) Ending emotional distancing
The authors asked the teacher candidates to do a culminating project about their learning journey through the digital storytelling course, because they were interested to investigate White privilege. By doing so, the participants considered the larger system of race, specifically Whiteness, and how it might have influenced how they view the world, their role as a teacher, and how they may interact with their urban schools and urban students of color. The authors argue that the process of digital storytelling arrested the participants' emotional distancing of race and racism.

(b) Debunking colorblindness
The authors found that the digital stories in the course became a repository documenting the teacher candidates’ emergence from colorblind ideology into critical awareness of a racialized society, including a racial critique of their own Whiteness.

(c) Engaging emotions: Analyzing Emotions to Understand Whiteness
The authors argue that Whiteness has many emotional elements, one of which is White resistance. They note that this resistance that nonetheless maintains Whiteness because it positions White emotionalities above the emotionalities of others. The emotional resistance that surfaces among Whites during interracial race dialogues ends up expressing itself in ways that ultimately stops the dialogue. The authors argue that acknowledging this phenomenon, digital storytelling becomes a place for White teacher candidates to engage and process their emotions before emotionally reacting via resistance.

(d) Sharing the burden of race
Finally, the authors argue that ending emotional distancing, debunking colorblindness, and re-engaging emotions all are avenues that promote self-interrogations of Whiteness through digital storytelling. These avenues also show ways through which Whites can share in the burden of race. The authors suggest that this process provides teacher candidates and teacher educators a way to dismantle the hegemony of Whiteness. They argue that Whites need curricular inclusions of Whiteness and pedagogical ways to self-interrogate their own Whiteness. 

Updated: Nov. 08, 2018