I Don’t Really Know What to Do with Whiteness | A Conversation with AnaLouise Keating

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In Teaching Transformation: Transcultural Classroom DialoguesDr. AnaLouise Keating presents an antiracist pedagogy that is invitational rather than oppositional. Director of the Multicultural Women’s and Gender Studies doctoral program at Texas Women’s University, Keating has written and edited many works, including Transformation Now! Toward a Post-Oppositional Politics of Change and (co-edited with Gloria E. Anzaldúa) this bridge we call home: radical visions for transformation. In our conversation below, we discuss her invitational stance to teaching and to life (how imposing our views on students does not work), the difficulty of defining and dealing with “whiteness” (not to be equated with “white” people), the practice of teaching through dialogue, and the importance of teaching concepts like race contextually and in their full historical complexity, so as to not inadvertently reinforce simplistic notions or race or existing racial hierarchies. Keating also shares her desire to hold onto paradoxes, her approach to teaching students to write questions, how reading and books have benefited her teaching and life, and how she does not have all the answers but is still learning. I am grateful for how this book has complicated my own understanding of racewhiteness, and other categories of identity, and has exhorted me toward an ever more skillful and dialogical pedagogy. While I think the book has relevance for teachers engaging such matters in any discipline, I especially recommend it for those teaching the same subjects that Keating’s examples come from, multicultural writing and literature.

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