Whiteness, Critical Race Theory, Critical Incidents, Teacher Preparation

Document Type

Article in Response to Controversy


In this article, we explore our experience walking into the academic school year eager and ready for the challenge of taking up the killing of Michael Brown and the events that followed in Ferguson as a catalyst for important conversations around structural injustice. Through exploration of critical incidents (Hamilton, 2004), we review how our attempts to open dialogue were met with defensiveness and a discourse that relegates the responsibility of engaging in conversations about race and power to educators of color. Echoing Pollock, Bocala, Deckman, and Dickstein-Staub (2015), we found that teachers at all levels may resist the ‘diversity’ aspect of preservice education when they view ‘diversity work’ as extraneous or belonging to others. Through a Critical Race Theory (CRT) perspective, we examine incidents that cut across the different ecological levels (Bronfenbrenner, 2005) in which we work, that is, our classrooms, partner public schools, and university. We use a CRT perspective across levels to explore how Michael Brown’s killing and the events that followed in Ferguson, rather than igniting a shared sense of responsibility among educators across these communities, triggered White students’ and teachers’ defense mechanisms, founded on the need to protect Whiteness as illustrated across the three critical incidents we describe.



Subjects - Topical (LCSH)

Discrimination in higher education; Teachers--In-service training--United States; Teachers--Training of--United States; Minority college teachers--United States; Culturally relevant pedagogy--United States

Geographic Coverage

United States







Included in

Education Commons