Saying One Thing and Doing Another: Whiteness and Education in the Neoliberal Era


  • Samuel Jaye Tanner The Pennsylvania State University in Altoona


Critical whiteness studies, Youth Participatory Action Research, Drama Pedagogy, Multicultural Education


This essay uses students’ consideration of their high school’s mission statement—an equity statement meant to foster multiculturalism—to consider whiteness and education in the neoliberal era.  During 2012-2013, 40 predominately white high school students voluntarily participated in a teacher-researcher project concerning critical whiteness pedagogy. They conducted Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) about whiteness in the fall. Findings from their research were used to write a script that was performed as the high school’s spring play in 2013. The author both facilitated this project and conducted ethnographic research to document the process. An ethnographic, narrative vignette is used to examine students’ critique of the school’s equity statement to consider how ostensible practice of multiculturalism in this high school may actually have contributed to white supremacy by disguising whiteness.

Author Biography

Samuel Jaye Tanner, The Pennsylvania State University in Altoona

Assistant professor of literacy education

Deaprtment of Childhood and Early Adolescent Education