“Color Does Not Equal Consciousness”: Educators of Color Learning to Enact a Sociopolitical Consciousness

Jan. 01, 2019

Source: Journal of Teacher Education, Volume: 70 issue: 1, page(s): 65-78
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This study is based on an initiative for increasing college and career readiness for Black and Latino male high school students in New York City.
From data that include 58 total hours of participant observations from 24 educators of color, written documentation from culturally relevant education–professional development (CRE-PD) activities, and transcripts of six group interviews, the authors examine these educators’ work to further their own sociopolitical consciousness in relation to increasing Black and Latino male students’ college and career readiness. They explore how secondary educators of color utilize pedagogical tools and practices in attempting to support their Black and Latino male students’ navigation of particular inequities related to college knowledge and access.

Research Questions
The authors consider the following research questions:
  1: In what ways do these educators work with and for Black and Latino male students to further their sociopolitical consciousness and college readiness?
  2: How do educators approach overcoming barriers to college access and readiness for their Black and Latino male students?
  3: To what extent are these educators able to enact their sociopolitical consciousness in their pedagogy?

The authors report that twenty-two of the 24 participants in their study explicitly indicated that they recognize issues related to limited transition knowledge, or information about transitioning from secondary to postsecondary opportunities, for Black and Latino males.
These participants also discussed using their experiential knowledge to support students individually and pushing for systemic changes at their schools.
They also found that another key aspect of using experiential knowledge as a pedagogical tool in educating Black and Latino males involved participants being vulnerable and exposing their fears and concerns for students.
The authors noted that the PD sessions provided space for the participants to discuss and critically analyze the ways in which they use their personal backgrounds and knowledge of the broader social context of college with their Black and Latino students.
The CRE-PD was a space in which they could openly talk about the ways in which their attempts to be culturally responsive might have unintentionally resulted in alienating students from college going conversations.
Thus, the sociopolitical consciousness of these teachers was both questioned and enhanced through the course of the PD. By critically discussing how they encourage college access and success for Black and Latino males with one another in the CRE-PD, participants were able to meaningfully reflect on their own practice and consider approaches that might more effectively engage their students.
The authors note that a sociopolitically conscious educator will understand the real and perceived barriers students of color envision when considering postsecondary educational possibilities. They found in their study that based on their knowledge, 10 of the 24 participants constructed lessons and activities designed to help Black and Latino male students challenge structures that have historically marginalized them.

The authors make a number of recommendations for inservice educator PD including moving beyond introducing constructs of CRE in PD sessions to having educators evaluate their culturally relevant practices, providing multiple opportunities for PD that convenes educators from various schools, and supporting spaces in which educators of color deliberately discuss CRE together while evaluating one another’s pedagogy. 

Updated: May. 26, 2019