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Nelson Rodriguez is Assistant Professor of Education in the School of Education at Northeastern University. Nelson's research areas include sociology of education, cultural studies, critical theory, and critical pedagogy. Nelson's current conceptual research in education examines the relationship between the interdisciplinary field known as Critical White Studies and how the latter bears down on questions of schooling and education. His most recent publications include Dismantling White Privilege: Pedagogy, Politics, and Whiteness (Peter Lang Publishing, 2000); and White Reign: Deploying Whiteness in America (St. Martin's Press, 1998). Nelson's research in Critical White Studies and education has produced three new book projects in the area. These are: Whiteness Re-articulated: New Directions in Identity, Pedagogy and Politics (in press, Teachers College Press, Columbia University); What Does a Pedagogy of Whiteness Promise?: Multicultural Education in the Age of Critical White Studies; and The Concept of Whiteness. In addition to his work on race and education, Nelson is working on putting together a new book project where he examines, with colleagues across the country, the challenges that teacher educators face in addressing institutionalized heterosexism and homophobia in teacher preparation programs.

My POE project emerges out of an experiential understanding that white students in general and white student teachers, in particular, have not had the "opportunities" to critically examine institutionalized hegemonic whiteness and white identity. In institutional settings like higher education this lack of opportunity is not surprising. That is, given that such institutions typically work out of a liberal humanist framework, students rarely, if ever, encounter discourses that enable them to consider concepts like race and racism within the framework of institutionalized forms of dominance. Indeed, in my own institutional location of teacher education, most white student teachers consider race as something that is occupied/inhabited by the "Other." Also, for most white student teachers, racism is something that people of color experience but has nothing to do with them. Or, at best, racism is equated with bigotry--with fringe white folk. These types of thinking patterns are found in most of the institutions in the United States, so it is not surprising that most white students in the academy would think this way. What this lack of opportunity means, then, is that white students have not had learning experiences that enable them to "practice" analyzing (talking about) whiteness and white identity by using both the languages of critique and the languages of possibility. This learning lacuna is encapsulated in an insightful comment recently made by a white middle class female student in one of my classes where she pointed out that not only did she find it challenging to talk about whiteness because she had never really done it before, but also when the conversation turned to what it might mean for white students to "rework" their whiteness within the context and concerns for equity and social justice, she hadn't a clue how to even begin/practice that conversation. Thus, the project of practicing "teacher-talk" a la whiteness entails not only processes of deconstruction (language of critique) but also the very practice of the production of discourse itself around what it might mean to rework and live out one's whiteness progressively (language of possibility).

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