There is No Race in the Schoolyard

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McGill University
Curriculum and Instruction
EDEC 248
Lerona Dana Lewis

THERE IS NO “RACE” IN THE SCHOOLYARD  less work done with race in all-white or almost all-white settings  research focused on interracial relations not racial meaning  research only acknowledges importance of race in settings where racial minorities are present  “should be arguing that everyone in this social order has been constructed… as a racialized subject”  often white’s lack of understanding of their own roles as racial actors that stand as roadblock to further progress towards racial justice  research treats race as a variable but ignores it as a product & process of schooling Methods and Setting  ethnographic study of elementary students  how social world is constructed by people, how they are continually striving to make sense of the world & assigning meanings/interpretations to events  how students made sense of concept of race, own racial identities, role of race in their daily lives & impact of race on opportunity structures  school = white suburb; homogenous community in diverse metropolis; middle to upper middle class; median family income over $50 000; 2% of families live below poverty line; 82% white; 480 students  data collected during 1997-1998 school years; 2 days/ week  participant observation in 4/5 grade classroom, school yard, staff lunch room, main office, PTA meetings, staff meetings, etc.  formal & informal interviews with parents & students & school staff Findings  the (ir)relevance of race and multiculturalism at Foresthills Elementary o principal unclear of why she would study race at a white school o one Black child was misreading what she was experiencing as being racially motivated o race was not perceived or understood to be important there o when talked about race, primarily in relation to “others” o multicultural activities are standard  Black History Month, etc. o posters taken down as soon as the month was over o “race” and “multiculturalism” = code words for Black o parents wanted students to be colourblind so they would think of everyone as the same  colour consciousness at Foresthills o kids didn’t want t
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