Reterritorializing Locations of Home: Examining the Psychopolitical Dimensions of Race Talk in the Classroom

Justin Grinage


In this paper I theorize how notions of psychoanalytic grief and its connections with sociopolitical characteristics of oppression shape students’ and teachers’ emotional responses to having conversations about race. I posit that in order to have generative exchanges about race in the classroom, curricular approaches should take into account the inherently unsafe and traumatic discourses created by the United States’ violent racial past and, subsequently, institute procedures that enable students to grapple with the difficult emotions that are tethered to it.  Ultimately, reconceptualizing the idea of safety in race talk to account for the presence of racial suffering can lead to productive discussions about race in the classroom.  I conceive of a curricular device that enables students to safely experience unsafe learning through the concept of “home” as a location for cross-racial cooperation, healing, and resistance.  This notion of home can assist students, as well as teachers, in grappling with the racial trauma conjured from talking about race in the classroom.


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