Fatima Sherif Response Week 2

The article by Ladson-Billings and Tate was written in 1995 and I am still able to read it as though it was written in 2021. To be honest, I am tired. The argument of race existing as a significant factor in determining inequity in the U.S. remains true (Ladson-Billings & Tate, 1995). This fact is evidenced in multiple areas of American life, from education to healthcare but I digress. Critical Race Theory has offered to the discourse a lens that can be used to highlight the racialized experiences and inequities in education (Ladson-Billings & Tate, 1995). In reading Dixson and Anderson (2018) I was reminded of the power of counternarratives. Similarly, I am in full agreement that counternarratives have the ability to combat hegemonic white views that have been reserved as the basis for situating Black people in history and education. However, I also recognize the limitations of focusing solely on counternarratives without using other tenants of Critical Race Theory to unpack the narratives and analyze the insidious nature of how racism operates ( Dixson & Anderson, 2018). Perhaps the reason educators and researchers alike fixate on counternarratives is because so much of the Black story has a. Been told by “other” people and b. The silencing of black people has led to an unquenched desire to be heard and seen as epistemological experts. Thus, is the call to push counternarratives further too much too soon when there is so much more of the story to tell and falsities to combat?

5 thoughts on “Fatima Sherif Response Week 2

  1. Sohini Das (she/her/hers)

    (I am not sure how to start a new post, so I apologize as I am going to post as a reply here)

    Ladson Billings & Tate (1995) called for the use of a Critical Race lens in approaching education. The critical race lens is one that directly challenges an education system rooted in whiteness, property driving racial inequities in all aspects of schooling and education (Ladson Billings & Tate, 1995). I have read this article a few times now in that past 3 years, and each time it is just as compelling, highlights how the need for a critical race lens within education is just as required now, as it was before. In thinking closely on the topic of critical care, I am drawn to the role of counternarratives. Dixon & Anderson (2018) remind us of the importance of counternarratives in recognizing, uplifting, and listening to the stories of BIPOC voices, counter to the masternarrative discourse centering whiteness. As someone coming to the work in schools and educational research, from the field of applied psychology and narrative psychology, I am intrigued by the critique made by Ladson-Billings (2013) and reiterated by Dixon & Anderson (2018). I hear their assertion that the use of counternarratives by critical race theorists must be intentional in drawing upon other constructs of Critical Race Theory when analyzing counternarratives to advance the broader goals of understanding and disrupting how white supremacy and Anti-Black racism operate. However, I believe what is meant by counternarrative must be dissected further. What draws me to counternarratives is actually its inherent existence as resistance to the dehumanization and systemic silencing of Black and Brown voices. Although its analysis is important, I still find that the very existence and abundance of counternarratives as a shift to the violent culture of white supremacy. I would even go further to assert that listening to counternarratives, especially within educational spaces, is central to the journey of instilling critical care with schools.

    I am left with a couple questions/thoughts:
    1. How must counternarratives be integrated in the practices of understanding radical care, fostering care, and building mutual, reciprocal critical care in classrooms, schools, and education?

    2. In another trajectory of my thinking and curiosities, I am interested in the value of restorative justice practices in school to repair harm, but also the component to transformative justice in schools which is required to build critical care structures with the intention of promoting and privileging care in the interactions with youth both structurally and interpersonally. How may the restorative justice work in schools be lacking the transformative components of what’s next? Teachers who may realize their disciplinary practices are rooted in carceral foundations of punishment, may lack the tools and critical knowledge necessary to move towards critical care-based accountability. How can we draw upon critical race theory to support the creation and sustainability of transformative justice within schools?

  2. August Smith

    I am also tired. It absolutely sucks to read stuff from 25 years ago and feel like it’s something that needs to be made into a twitter thread for the world to see.

    Regarding counternarrative: I also feel a similar tension with the importance of counternarrative. On one hand, it offers us access to a truth that has been suppressed for a long time. And finally listening to that truth is a key to liberation, I think. But also, simply listening to a new narrative will not change people’s lived realities. We have seen time and again how whiteness is not moved by Black suffering. So I am wondering if and how counternarrative can be used to change material realities in addition to the epistemological realities it already changes.

    1. Sohini Das (she/her/hers)

      Very true– “simply listening to narratives will not change peoples’ lived realities”. You bring up an important point in how and must counternarratives be operationalized to bring about material shifts in settings, institutions, and beyond. That being said, I don’t want to to disregard that there is great knowledge actually already embedded in the counternarratives of youth that highlight potential avenues of resistance how youth find ways to actually organize material change. And listening to their psychological journeys in doing so is a question I am very interested in– thus, the question remains 1. how do we operationalize counternarratives to bring about both epistemological and material social change? and 2. how can actually listening (using a method of radical listening) to the counternarratives actually serve to evidence inherent strategies of resistance within the networks of Black and Brown youth?

  3. Miguel Rodriguez (He/Him/His)

    Hey Fatima,

    I sighed when I came across the part of your post that said “I am tired”. The feeling is mutual. Your question on “How must counternarratives be integrated in the practices of understanding radical care” is one I feel like we can discuss as a class. I am wondering if there is space to bring this up in class.

    Thank you

  4. Tarilyn Little

    Hey Fatima,

    Just wanted to co-sign your feeling of being tired. I am also tired. I led a wellness event for Black Educators, school support staff and school mental health professionals for the BLM at School Week of Action and this was the resounding emotion expressed by all of them. Tired and frustrated.

    I also find the conversation around narrative and counternarrative particularly interesting as someone that focuses heavily on researching books for programs that primarily serve Black, Latinx and Asian youth. The focus on diversifying the narratives and representation has now given way to a call for these narratives to be written by “own voices” to address questions of authenticity and continued erasure of BIPOC voices. As you have noted, simple narrative shifts are not enough to shift white supremacist thinking or dismantle systemic racism, so I wonder about the benefit of such narratives exclusively for the benefit of BIPOC folx . What if the purpose wasn’t to shift white consciousness, but just to uplift and heal those that have been excluded, misrepresented and marginalized. By us. For us.

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