The International Journal of Critical Pedagogy

Understanding Stubborn Inequities: A Critical Lesson in History

Leslie Ann Locke, Elizabeth Getachew


The K12 teaching corps in the U.S. remain majority White, while student demographics are and will continue to be much more racially and ethnically diverse. This discrepancy is linked to lower academic outcomes for students from marginalized groups. Through the application of elements of Critical Race Theory, particularly the concepts of critwalking and of movement building, as well as Critical Whiteness Studies, we have created a professional development exercise for K12 educators. The exercise is focused on the normalization and institutionalization of racism in the U.S. and centers a timeline history that exposes the systemic, historically-rooted, and legalized ways that the nation has, over time, denied access and opportunity to individuals from marginalized groups. In this manuscript, we detail the professional development exercise, focusing on how we consider it to be both pedagogical critwalking and movement building. The timeline exercise intends to help equip educators to not only understand the history that created and supports institutionalized racism and other forms of marginalization in the U.S., but also to challenge it in their classrooms and schools today. That is, we want educators to recognize their role in disrupting Whiteness and the larger system of White supremacy. We do this by first exposing K12 educators to evidence that shows that institutional racism has been normalized in the U.S. and can be demonstrated through a historical review of policies and practices. We then encourage K12 educators to use the knowledge gained from this exercise to challenge traditional, deficit views by linking the historical patterns of a lack of access and opportunity to the disparities they see in their classrooms today and in U.S. society and institutions at large.


history; racism; timeline; critwalking; movement building

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