Term of Award

2008

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Committee Member 1

Ming Fang He

Abstract

This is a critical inquiry into the stories of three generations of women living in the South. Through the stories my mother, my daughter and I have lived through, I critically reflect on my experience of being a first generation doctoral student growing up in-between the color lines of Black and White and raising a biracial and gay daughter growing up in the deep South. Building on the works of Kincheloe and Pinar (1991), Frantz Fanon (1963), Maria Root (1996), Henry Giroux (1992), Paul Gilroy (1993b), Phillion, He & Connelly (2005), and He & Phillion (2008), I explore the ways in which race, class, gender and place have impacted my life and the life of my daughter as we have struggled to negotiate identities in-between Black and White, and Straight and Gay in the South. To examine issues of internalized racism and heterosexism, I turned to curriculum theory (e.g., Pinar, Reynolds, Slattery & Taubman, 2002) that encompass race, class, gender (e.g., Giroux, 1992), sexual orientation (e.g., Savin-William, 2005) and place (e.g., Pinar, 1991) as well as critical race theory (e.g., Tate, 1997). Through curriculum theory and critical race theory, I explored the racial, socio-political, and cultural facets of lived experiences that were central to understanding the ways in which children are impacted and often imposed by schools and societies. Through autobiographical reflections (Schubert, 1992) and memories (Morris, 1999), I attempt to capture the trials and tribulations of being female, born into poverty and crossing the color and gender lines. Without critical self-reflections, Southerners like myself, my mother, and my daughter might not recognize our own self-loathing and internalized value systems. We might be forever haunted by the ghosts of mythologized Southern history which permeate memories. The challenge to this work was to relive memory and to transform the ruptures of lived experience into pedagogical significance through continual analyses and challenges to values, stereotypes, and biases embedded in my life and in the lives of others. As I turned to critical pedagogy and place-based education (Gruenewald, 2003), I began to recognize situational contexts as places of resistance in seeking to understand internalized values as well as culturally imposed ideologies. I also began to understand the ways in which race, gender, class, sexual orientations, and place impacted the lives of the children who were othered by the mainstream, white, and heteronormative culture. I hope that my inquiry helps tell silenced and counter stories from marginalized individuals like myself, my daughter, and many others. By hearing these stories, I hope that parents, teachers, educators, administrators, and policy makers can realize that silencing those who are different from themselves perpetuates racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia that dehumanize the education of our children and other people's children. I also hope that all educational stakeholders--pre-service and in-service teachers, educators, administrators, educational policy makers, students, parents, and community members ... embodies 3 possibilities, and creates hope, for more fulfilling, more equitable, more humane lives in an increasingly diversifying world (He & Phillion, 2008, p.274).

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