Speaking the unspeakable: the role of speech in a pedagogy of critical whiteness

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Building on the call to racialise Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory of development, this paper examines the role of speech in the development of counter-hegemonic white identity. Through a Vygotskian lens, I argue that naming racism as white supremacy, valuing emotion as knowledge, preparing for discomfort, and designing increased opportunities for student discourse on the subject of race advances students’ and teachers’ critical race consciousness, and provides an initial framework for deconstructing hegemonic white identity. I argue that Vygotsky’s understanding of the unity of speech and thinking, contribute to a pedagogy of critical whiteness, and function foundationally, transculturally and cognitively. While the role of speech and theory of discomfort are formative of critical race consciousness, they are not a panacea, but potentially keys to unlock other possibilities of enacting white identity as a student and as an educator in the context of schooling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)76-89
Number of pages14
JournalWhiteness and Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • classroom discourse
  • critical pedagogy
  • Critical whiteness studies
  • speech
  • Vygotsky


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