Citation
Critical rightness studies : whiteness in college algebra

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Title:
Critical rightness studies : whiteness in college algebra
Creator:
Nishi, Naomi W.
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
Publisher:
University of Colorado Denver
Publication Date:
Language:
English

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Degree:
Doctorate ( Doctor of philosophy)
Degree Grantor:
University of Colorado Denver
Degree Divisions:
School of Education and Human Development
Degree Disciplines:
Education and human development
Committee Chair:
Matias, Cheryl E.
Committee Members:
Allen, Brenda J.
Shannon, Sheila M.
Talbot, Robert M.

Notes

Abstract:
Whiteness is present and performed when whites are discussing race and racism. It is also working when race isn’t being discussed in STEM college classrooms. As this dissertation shows, white students in college algebra participate in white racial bonding, committing racial microaggressions and what I coin nanoaggressions against Students of Color. White students also perform whiteness through their hoarding class resources and forcing Students of Color to earn inclusion through a host of unspoken rules and whiteness norms. This study uses critical portraiture to richly demonstrate what whiteness and racism looks and feels like in a college algebra class and the consequences of this whiteness for Students of Color. I conclude by questioning the necessity of algebra as a gatekeeper course for STEM majors and offer implications and recommendations to dismantle this whiteness.

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University of Colorado Denver
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Auraria Library
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Copyright Naomi W. Nishi. Permission granted to University of Colorado Denver to digitize and display this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.

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Full Text
CRITICAL RIGHTNESS STUDIES: WHITENESS IN COLLEGE ALGEBRA
by
NAOMI W. NISHI
B.S., Michigan Technological University, 2001 M.A., University of Denver, 2005
A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy Education and Human Development
2019


©2019
NAOMI W. NISHI
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


This thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy degree by Naomi W. Nishi has been approved for the Education and Human Development Program by
Cheryl E. Matias, Chair Brenda J. Allen Sheila M. Shannon Robert M. Talbot
Date: May 18, 2019


Nishi, Naomi W. (PhD, School of Education and Human Development)
Critical Rightness Studies: Whiteness in College Algebra Thesis directed by Associate Professor Cheryl E. Marias
ABSTRACT
Whiteness is present and performed when whites are discussing race and racism. It is also working when race isn’t being discussed in STEM college classrooms. As this dissertation shows, white students in college algebra participate in white racial bonding, committing racial microaggressions and what I coin nanoaggressions against Students of Color. White students also perform whiteness through their hoarding class resources and forcing Students of Color to earn inclusion through a host of unspoken rules and whiteness norms. This study uses critical portraiture to richly demonstrate what whiteness and racism looks and feels like in a college algebra class and the consequences of this whiteness for Students of Color. I conclude by questioning the necessity of algebra as a gatekeeper course for STEM majors and offer implications and recommendations to dismantle this whiteness.
The form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication.
Approved: Cheryl E. Marias
IV


DEDICATION
I dedicate this dissertation to Mariah, Quentin, Dila, and other Students of Color sitting college algebra who wonder why their white classmates don’t hear them. May you be heard, valued, and recognized for your brilliance. And may whites start problematizing themselves.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
This dissertation study has been approved as exempt by the Colorado Multiple Institutional Review Board (COMIRB), Protocol Number 17-0138.
I want to start by acknowledging myself. I recognize this may be seen as tacky or problematic, especially as a white woman studying whiteness. Yet, I believed in myself, encouraged myself, and did the work, even when no one else was around. I did this work while raising my small kids (including being pregnant, birthing, and nursing Benjamin), working as a full-time professional, and steadily publishing and presenting at top conferences. Although many inspired and encouraged me, I drove myself through it all. Professor Linda Mizell said to me in the first semester of this doctoral program that for her, grad school was a gift she gave to herself. I echo and add on to this sentiment to say, grad school was a gift and a burden I gave to myself.
When I first started working on my application to this doctoral program, Barack Obama had just been elected to his second term. As I finish, our 45th President is moving toward the end of his first term (none too quickly). I still sometimes wonder if it has just been a terrible dream, but then I remember, what is true now was true before the 45th took office: heteropatriarchal white supremacism has been the rule of this land since it was stolen from Native Americans and we enslaved Africans. So, I acknowledge the time in which I am writing this dissertation.
I am thankful to my husband and life partner, Brian, for things like taking the kids when I had class or needed to write, but more for engaging with me as I began questioning and disrupting norms, not only within society but those that were present within our own histories and family. I was reminded when entering this program of the high rate of divorce for PhD students and faculty, but admittedly I didn’t think that could be me or us. Now I realize that we are not necessarily special, but I recognize that the difference is and will be not only our love and
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commitment to each other and our children, but also our willingness to acknowledge and resist the hegemony and oppression in our world and in ourselves and to continue to resist it in all places, including in and with each other.
To Linus and Benny, up until this point, you have not known me when I wasn’t a PhD student. You will also probably not remember much of me as a PhD student when you are grown. But know that you have made my experience in this journey meaningful in a way that would not be possible without you. I know you will take my work and my life and do more for humanity and social justice than I could dream.
I am thankful to my faculty advisor, Dr. Cheryl Matias, for indoctrinating me into academe in so many ways and encouraging me to join the scholarly dialogue even before I was sure I was ready. Thank you for your guidance and support. Dr. Shannon, thank you for your teaching and guidance, particularly related to ethnography. Your stories and advice echo in my head as I do this work. Dr. Allen, thank you for your support and mentoring of me in so many capacities. I have learned so much about higher ed and diversity leadership from you. Dr. Talbot, thank you for providing your insight as a science educator to ensure that this work is meaningful outside of race and whiteness studies.
To my hermanxs in the Core 5: Roberto Montoya, Geneva Sarcedo, Danielle Walker, and Mariana Del Hierro. As I’ve said before, I would have gone through this program, and all the pain and joy in it just to know each of you. I have learned more from each one of you than the sum of every formal part of this academic exercise. I feel stronger and more hopeful knowing that we are always here to support, question, and love each other in solidarity. I love ya’ll.
Vll


To Amanda Parker, my academic soul mate, it’s hard to put into words how important your friendship is to me and has been to my academic journey, but suffice it to say that you are my forever friend and I’m looking forward to writing our book together, when we are both PhDs.
I wish to thank and acknowledge others in the School of Education and Human Development for their support. This includes Dr. Barbara Seidl and the Teacher Education faculty group for providing me funding and support for my dissertation project. Also, thank you to Dr. Dorothy Garrison-Wade for your support and encouragement when I needed it most.
Thank you to Dr. Manuel Espinoza for always being there and for your sage wisdom and advice whenever I needed it. To Dr. Amy Ferrell, thank you for your constant warmth and friendship. Thank you to Dr. Luis Poza for your Spencer guidance and encouragement when I would run into you on the comer. Thank you to Dr. Linda Mizell for teaching the most critical and difficult course in my PhD experience; you inspire me still. I also want to acknowledge Gary Olsen for his support of this project and the insight and trust he provided me that made it possible to do this important work.
I want to also acknowledge my mentors and supporters, Dr. Denise Pearson and Dr. Andrea Herrera. You were there for me when I really needed your support and encouragement, and I cannot thank you enough.
Certainly, it takes a village for Naomi to get a PhD, and I am so thankful to my boss and friend, Lynette Michael for your support, feedback, listening ear, accompanying me to meet with university counsel, deleting emails demanding my firing ©, and always, always going to bat for me. I cannot thank you enough. Thank you to our ORS leader and figurehead, Bob Damrauer, for your confidence in me and all the insight you have shared with me around what it really means to be faculty leader.
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I am thankful to my parents, Tom and Lois Marshall for always supporting me and listening to me even when it challenged and/or offended them. I love you so much and I never underestimate how you raised me to seek social justice and equity always. Thank you to Anne-Marie Nishi, my other mother, for supporting me, taking the kids when I needed to write, reading all of my publications, and continuing to encourage me throughout. Thank you for always being my cheerleader.
Lastly, I want to acknowledge everything I learned and the truths uncovered in this dissertation process and I end these acknowledgements with a quote from my concluding chapter:
“Only once we have held the weight of the whiteness and racism experiences in the classroom are we ready to genuinely center Students of Color and their experiences, not as the problem, but as the solution.”
IX


TABLE OF CONTENTS
ABSTRACT...............................................................iv
TABLE OF CONTENTS.......................................................x
CHAPTER.................................................................1
I. INTRODUCTION.........................................................1
Statement of Problem..................................................1
Positionality.........................................................2
Terminologies.........................................................4
Overview of the Dissertation.........................................12
II. WHITENESS IN HIGHER EDUCATION......................................14
Whiteness in the college classroom...................................15
Whiteness in policies and programs...................................18
Whiteness in Campus Culture and Climate..............................20
III. LITERATURE REVIEW.................................................24
Background and Context...............................................24
Literature Review Methodology........................................28
Literature Synthesis.................................................29
Math Racialization & The Deficit Perspective.......................31
Stereotyping and Stereotype Threat.................................33
The Co-construction of Math and Racial Identity....................37
Promising Practices................................................40
Methodological Trends................................................43
Calls for Further Research...........................................44
x


Literature Review Conclusions.......................................46
IV. HISTORIOGRAPHY....................................................48
Western Urban University (WUU)......................................48
Department of Mathematics...........................................50
WUU’s Equity Scorecard..............................................51
College Algebra.....................................................52
Math Tenure-Track Faculty...........................................53
V. THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK.............................................56
Critical Race Theory................................................56
Critical Whiteness Studies..........................................61
Settler Colonialism.................................................65
Anti-Deficit Achievement Framework..................................66
Concluding Framework................................................66
VI. METHODOLOGY.......................................................68
Portraiture.........................................................69
Ethnographic methods................................................70
Narrative Inquiry...................................................72
Hermeneutic Phenomenology using a Hermeneutics of Whiteness.........74
Procedure...........................................................78
Limitations.........................................................82
VII. WHAT’S YOUR NAME AGAIN? THE PAIN OF FALSE EMPATHY................85
\ III. COLLEGE ALGEBRA................................................93
The Classroom.......................................................93
xi


IX. WHITE RACIAL BONDING
108
The Bros................................................................110
The Heathers............................................................113
TheBesties..............................................................117
X. MARIAII. DII.A. AM) QUENTIN...........................................125
Mariah..................................................................126
Quentin.................................................................133
Dila....................................................................138
XI. WHITE RACIAL PERFORMANCE.............................................144
Racial Nanoaggressions..................................................145
Coupon Sharing........................................................146
Did you say something?................................................148
If I don’t see you, you’re not there..................................150
Behind your back......................................................151
Critical Rightness Studies..............................................156
Thou shalt not correct me.............................................158
Thou shalt not surprise me............................................161
Thou shalt prostrate thyself for white classmates.....................163
Thou shalt only act confident if thou art a white man.................165
Thou shalt not get upset if thou aren’t white.........................167
Placating Whiteness.....................................................170
XII. WHITE HOARDERS.......................................................176
Class...................................................................176
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MyMathLab.........................................................182
Calculators.......................................................184
Laptops & Tablets.................................................189
XIII. A LOW KEY EXISTENTIAL DREAD..................................195
XIV. IMPLICATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS..............................205
Implications and Recommendations for Theory.......................205
White Racial Bonding............................................205
Racial Microaggressions.........................................206
Whiteness as Property...........................................208
Dis/Ability Critical Race Theory (DisCrit)......................209
Implications and Recommendations for Methodology..................210
Implications and Recommendations for Practice.....................212
Acknowledge norms of whiteness and racism in STEM...............214
Teach race vocabulary and concepts in higher education..........216
Provide support to Students of Color and particularly Women of Color.217
Incorporate sufficient resources................................219
Stop making everyone take algebra...............................220
Continue research in whiteness in Higher Education and STEM.....221
REFERENCES.........................................................224
APPENDIX...........................................................243
A: SAMPLE IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW QUESTIONS.............................243
B: DIAGRAM OF COLLEGE ALGEBRA CLASSROOM............................244
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I. INTRODUCTION
Whiteness is at work everywhere. Yoon (2012) offered the construction, whiteness-at-work, describing, “Whiteness exists at every level of conversation.. .Whiteness is put into motion in a given moment among two or more people” (p. 608). Although several scholars have looked at how whiteness1 is operating in the higher education classroom, especially when race is a topic of discussion, few have focused on how whiteness is at work in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) where race is usually not an explicit topic of conversation. In this dissertation, I use portraiture to answer the question: How does whiteness work in a college algebra class? Within this question, I specifically look at how whiteness is performed and enacted in the algebra classroom. To do this, I used a portraiture methodology (Lawrence-Lightfoot & Davis, 1997) to examine an algebra class to respond to this question. The title of this dissertation, “critical rightness studies” (S. Shannon, personal communication, May 22, 2017) is a tongue-in-cheek reference that came from algebra classroom observations where Eve seen how whiteness plays in to determining who is considered “right” or has the correct answer when it comes to algebra in the classroom.
Statement of Problem
Traditionally, the racial disparities seen in success rates in college Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) have been labeled the achievement gap, which inadvertently positions Students of Color as the problem and cause of the gap (Harper, 2010). Yet, scholars in Critical Race Theory (CRT) in Education have shown that the disparities are in fact a result of racism and white supremacy (Ladson-Billings, 2006; Martin, 2006; Yosso, 2005). But scholars
1 To symbolically reverse the racial hierarchy in my research I opt to use lowercase lettering for white and whiteness, and to capitalize "People of Color” and recognize it as a proper noun along with Black or Brown as do Matias and Newlove (2017b] and Nishi (2018],
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are just beginning to focus on how racism and whiteness are operating in STEM college classrooms. For those that are, they have tended to look at more advanced STEM courses (Harper, 2013; McGee & Martin, 2011) and those at high performing institutions (Museus & Liverman, 2010) where whiteness is arguably more visible.
However, one particular STEM area of concern regarding racial equity is college algebra, which has received far less attention. College algebra is a gatekeeper course for students who want to major in a STEM discipline. Typically students need to pass or test-out of college algebra, especially if they want to major in math, but also if they want to major in engineering or computer science, and often for majors like biology and chemistry. Thus examining inequity, the causes of disparity, and indeed racism and whiteness within college algebra can yield great returns in identifying barriers in algebra manifested by whiteness. This is because, although it is a lower-level college STEM course, algebra is a key access point to STEM, and as such can and does serve as a bifurcation in the STEM pipeline that flows Students of Color away from STEM disproportionately, as I discuss in this dissertation.
Positionality
I am a straight, white, upper-middle class, cis-gender woman from rural, northern Michigan. Certainly, I experience more privilege than marginalization given these positionalities. However, as a woman, having gone to an engineering university for my Bachelor’s degree, I am no stranger to sexism and marginalization, particularly within mathematics.
To illustrate, I share a short narrative: I’ve always been good at math and fairly confident in my math skills. However, in seventh grade, my class took a math placement test to determine who in my class would go into algebra the next year and who would be relegated to basic math. When the scores came back, mine was right on the edge where I could have been placed in either
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class. My white, male math teacher at the time sorted through the students whose scores were in the fuzzy middle area and placed the boys (in my same score category) in algebra, and the girls (including me) were placed in basic math for a year of being reminded how to do long division. Yet, that same year, the entire eighth grade cohort was given a math assessment test for the state of Michigan that had no direct bearing on the students, meaning how I scored would not have any direct effect on me. Four eighth graders scored exceptionally on this test. We were given certificates from the state and our picture was taken for the local paper. I still have a copy of this picture, and noted then and now that I was the only girl in the group of four and I was also the only student in basic math; the three other math awardees were boys and all were in algebra.
More of the same sorts of stories followed when I went to Michigan Technological University as a biology major turned business major turned technical communication major. I hit all “the girl majors” as one of my male friends casually noted when I was switching to my final major. I share these experiences briefly, because I have experienced what it is like to be assumed deficient in math because of a particular identity. Yet, People of Color in math classes certainly experience marginalization through racism and whiteness that is both more enduring and intense, especially for Women of Color, whose intersectional identities work in what Collins (2009) refers to as a matrix of domination. In this way these marginalized identities are compounded to create a unique and intersectional system of oppression (Crenshaw, 2009).
I am currently a Critical Whiteness Studies (CWS) motherscholar2 As such, I am critical and focused on how whiteness works, particularly in higher education and the classroom. As a white, CWS scholar, I have a complex relationship with whiteness. I am critical of whiteness and
21 refer to myself as a "motherscholar,” coined by Matias (2016b] because I do not separate my identities or work as a mother and a scholar.
3


yet complicit with it in that I benefit from whiteness as a white person. But yet, as a CWS scholar, I am working to recognize, disrupt, and dismantle whiteness. I do this work both in myself and in the world, particularly within education.
Being a white, whiteness scholar, gives me some strengths and weaknesses. Having recognized and worked against whiteness in myself and those close to me, I am intimately familiar with whiteness. But, of course, in the way that whiteness is normalized in our systems and everyday interactions (Allen, 2004), I’ve been raised and trained to assume whiteness is natural (Thandeka, 1999). Thus working to see it as not only unnatural but insidious in its promotion of white supremacism will always take intentional work on my part. As a white person, I must continually hold myself suspect for as white, whiteness scholar, Ricky Lee Allen suggests, “The best a white person can be is a white anti-racist racist” (2004, p. 130). Terminologies
As this study looks at race and whiteness, it is necessary to look at definitions of these as well as other clarifications and distinctions around race. To begin, I define race. Race is a sociopolitical construction devised by those Europeans who identified themselves as white (Feagin, 2006; Massey & Denton, 1993; Nishi, Matias, & Montoya, 2015; Omi & Winant,
2015). White supremacy is the driving force of race and the creation and separation of races that place whites in a role of superiority. Thus all systems and structures are racialized in that there are assumptions of white supremacy that drive them and normalize whiteness. Leonardo (2013) argues that beyond being a social construction, race is also a narrative, a driving narrative that (with its inherent white supremacism) manifests in the rules, reasoning, relationships, and structure of a society. But, lest we think race is static, Omi and Winant (2015) remind us that race is constantly contested and remade. Thus, the only constant, when it comes to race, is that
4


those deemed “white” are considered superior. As Nishi, Matias, Montoya & Sarcedo (2016) describe, “race is not real, but at the same time it has real consequences, because of the meanings and power that white Americans have assigned to it” (p. 11).
Based on this definition of race, it is important to note that because race is a historically-situated system of oppression, racism can only be perpetuated by white people against People of Color, despite many white people’s thinking that racism is prejudice against any other people based on skin color (Bonilla-Silva, 2014). In fact, because race was designed for the purposes of white supremacism, race and indeed racism only work one way... to promote whites and oppress People of Color (Nishi, Matias, Montoya, & Sarcedo 2016). Thus, there is a fundamental difference between a Black person distrusting white police officers and a white person refusing to hire Black or Brown people.
As this study focuses on whiteness, I delve into this concept. Critical Whiteness Studies (CWS) (Allen, 2004; Leonardo, 2009) seek to identify and deconstruct white supremacism in systems and structures to ameliorate violence and symbolic violence (Leonardo & Porter, 2010; Bourdieu, 1991) enacted against People of Color. So, within CWS, what is this thing called whiteness? Nishi, Matias, Montoya, & Sarcedo (2016) offer us a simple explanation, saying, “we define whiteness as the ideology that works to normalize and promote white supremacy” (p.2). Cabrera, Franklin, and Watson (2016) describe whiteness as “a normative structure in society that marginalizes People of Color and privileges White people” (p. 18). Yet, instead of asking if whiteness is an ideology or a social structure or a racial discourse (as Leonardo (2009) describes), it is more helpful to think of whiteness as both/and.
These definitions of whiteness may lead some to think then whiteness is synonymous with white people or white people’s thinking, but Leonardo responds, with a delineation:
5


“Whiteness is a racial discourse, whereas the category of ‘white people’ represents a socially constructed identity, usually based on skin color... Whiteness is not a culture but a social concept” (Leonardo, 2009, 169-170).
There are multiple ways that whiteness works. Cabrera, Franklin and Watson (2016) describe “3 central components of whiteness discourse: unwillingness to name contours of systemic racism, avoidance of identifying with a racial experience, and minimization of US history with racism” (p. 18) To expand on these contours, Cabrera et al, key in on what Bonilla-Silva (2014) describes as colorblind racism, where whites argue that they don’t see race or don’t think that racism still exists in a variety of claims and semantic moves that mask and deny that they benefit from whiteness and white supremacy. This denial ultimately reinforces white supremacy, because how can one dismantle or even interrupt something when they don’t think it exists?
In discussing whiteness and its relationship to white supremacy and racism, Matias (2016a) offers us a useful model.
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WHITE SUPREMACY
investment
privilege
naturalization
identity
emotionalities
racialization
as property
coloniality
colorblindness
historically produced
wealth
white gaze and surveillance victimization in reverse racism rhetoric entitlement authority
Determiner of what is and is not racism
People of color
Racism
Dynamics of Racism
racial microaggression policing surveillence marginalization disembodied eurocentricism stereotype threat dehumanization job discrimination achievement gap oppression inequitable education racial battle fatigue racialization counter story racial stereotypes internal racism
forever foreigner language assumption model Minority submission of docile body internalized inferiority
shade indicates DuBois' veil
Figure 1: “Operations of Power in Institutionalized White Supremacy’’ (Matias,
2016a, p. 185)
In her model, Matias (2016a) suggests that white supremacy impacts whites by whiteness and impacts People of Color by racism. Although the model shows a separation of the impact of white supremacy on whites and People of Color, it breaks them apart for clarity, for of course enactments of whiteness usually by whites are what are felt by People of Color as racism.
Matias (2016a) goes on to outline the multitude of ways that whiteness works, including the contours identified by Cabrera, Franklin, and Watson (2016) above, but in addition identifies white privilege (McIntosh, 1997), where whites accrue substantial everyday benefits for being white in a white supremacist society. Whiteness as natural (Roediger, 1999) suggests that the superiority of whites and their privilege is natural or meritorious. ’Whiteness as Property (Harris, 1993) refers to whites treating their whiteness as property where they have the right to enjoy it, take advantage of it, and most importantly exclude others (People of Color) from it.
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Certainly in this discussion, we get a sense of the insidious nature of whiteness but also detect its malleable and slippery nature (Nishi, Matias, & Montoya, 2015). Ellsworth (1997) tell us that “[whiteness is] always more than one thing and never the same thing twice” (p. 266). Leonardo (2013) concurs, elaborating, “[whiteness] is fluid, multiple, and constantly changing” (p. 88). In fact, the only constant that we can count on when it comes to whiteness is that it is always maintaining and promoting white supremacy. In this way, it is as Roediger (1994) poignantly declares, “Whiteness is not only false and oppressive, it is nothing but false and oppressive” (p. 13; emphasis in original).
Matias (2016a) shows, whiteness does impact People of Color, certainly in its enactment as racism, but whiteness can also be internalized by People of Color, manifesting in self-hate, inferiority complexes, or dependency for instance. This internalization of whiteness by People of Color is not only harmful to the person internalizing whiteness, but also impacts other People of Color when folks in their community or other Communities of Color enact whiteness. A specific example of this can be found in colorism. Colorism is the stratification of skin color that privileges lighter-skinned People of Color or People of Color with straighter hair (Hunter, 2007). However, even though colorism may yield benefits, the ultimate benefactors of whiteness are always white people (Leonardo, 2013; Matias, 2016a). Because, even if colorism does afford some benefits to lighter skinned People of Color, like validation/appreciation of beauty, it all serves to reify a white standard of beauty.
I spend time complicating whiteness in this way to better elucidate the ways that it works, but also to segue into a discussion about race and ethnicity and the meaning I ascribe to them in this dissertation. Certainly, race and ethnicity are often conflated in social science research. Although many national surveys have begun listing the demographic option, ‘Hispanic (non-
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white),’ in acknowledgement that ethnicity generally refers to one’s place of origin, race and ethnicity are often assumed to be the same thing when reported. For instance, often in the scholarship, we realize that the label, ‘Hispanics,’ especially when talking about the achievement gap, refers to Brown-skinned Hispanics. In this dissertation, when I refer to Latinx3 groups, I am referring specifically to Brown people. I do realize that all people who identify as Latinx, including whites, face marginalization in the USA, especially in the extreme anti-immigrant and English-only climate in which we find ourselves, but for the purposes of this dissertation, my focus is on race.
Similarly, I need to complicate and clarify those who identify with Native Americans and/or indigenous populations. Although scholars acknowledge that Native Americans and Indigenous people are considered People of Color and have certainly been disenfranchised within education systems (Brayboy, 2005), the numbers of self-reported Native students is often so low that data is thrown out or left un-reported because the numbers don’t allow for significance, particularly in quantitative data (Shotton, Lowe, & Waterman, 2013). Yet, because this study uses a qualitative portraiture methodology, any Native students’ roles and experiences will be included in the data, interpretation, analysis, and portraits. Yet, I also want to complicate Native and indigenous identity in recognizing that some Latinx people consider themselves indigenous and some do not. Or, for instance, in the poor, rural area of northern Michigan where I grew up, community members who could qualify for public benefits given their Native heritage often still state that they were white on forms, foregoing government benefits to claim whiteness in an extremely white place.
31 use the term Latinx to refer to Latino and Latina people, and those who are gender nonconforming in this ethnic and racialized group.
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Patel (2015) situates Native American identity within Settler Colonialism (Wolfe, 2007; Tuck & Yang, 2012) and Whiteness as Property (Harris, 1993) frameworks, showing how white supremacist notions like the ‘one drop rule’ and blood quantum rules work to extinguish Native American peoples while increasing other People of Color populations to serve as workers or as enslaved Americans in our incarceration system. Tuck and Yang (2012) agree showing how settler colonial practices and mindsets only ever seek the erasure of Native peoples. In this way, whiteness and settler colonialism are inseparable but also hold a unique form of violence for Native and Indigenous people.
Lastly, I want to also address and complicate the racial identity of Asian or the racial category that is often referred to as Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs). As I note in the literature review below, since AAPI students as a larger group have a STEM success rate that is on par or better than whites, their racialized experiences or marginalization and their multiplicity of identities is often ignored (Museus & Kiang, 2009). This ‘lumping’ of AAPI people into one racial category is particularly problematic because certain ethnic groups within this category, like Pacific Islanders and Southeast Asian Americans, tend to have lower rates of academic success (Museus, 2009; Museus & Kiang, 2009). In considering AAPI people as an aggregate, there is the harmful effect of propagating the model minority myth. As Museus and Kiang (2009) define it, “The model minority stereotype is the notion that Asian Americans achieve universal and unparalleled academic and occupational success” (p. 6). They go on to show how perpetuating this myth reinforces the myth of post-racial meritocracy (Bonilla-Silva, 2014) where whites then turn to other People of Color in regard to the achievement gap and say, ‘well, they did it, why can’t you?’ But, Museus & Kiang (2009) also show the harms that befall ethnic groups within the AAPI aggregate because the myth suggests that AAPI people are all the
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same and are all successful. These harms then include the invisibility of AAPI groups in the literature and in the classroom. When all AAPI people are considered successful in STEM disciplines, they are not provided the support and resources that some AAPI students may want and need (Museus & Kiang, 2009).
Certainly, as this study focuses on race and particularly whiteness, it is important to complicate and blur racial identities to not continue marginalizing People of Color in these ways but also, in recognition of our ascriptions of race and whiteness and their constant flux. Bonilla-Silva (2014) offers a conversation on racial categories where he suggests that in the USA we are moving toward a “triracial order” (p. 228). This order includes three groups: “Collective Black,” “Honorary White,” and “White” (p. 228). In this order, whites continue to operate at “the apex of the racial hierarchy” (Matias, Viesca, Garrison-Wade, Tandon, & Galindo, 2014, p. 290). Honorary whites are allowed certain racial privileges although never on par with whites. However, the honorary white designation can be swiftly removed by whites, through actions like travel bans or fear mongering in the media. Thus honorary whites are never safe nor fully in the white club. The collective Black group remains at the bottom of the racial hierarchy and includes not only Black people, but Hmong Americans, Filipino Americans, and Reservation-bound Native Americans. Interestingly, Bonilla Silva (2014) suggests that light-skinned Latinos, Japanese and Korean Americans, and Asian Indians are/will be considered honorary whites, and some “assimilated (urban) Native Americans [and] a few Asian-origin people” (p. 228) will be considered white. While I note that Bonilla-Silva’s triracial order is controversial and contested, especially in its reinforcement of a problematic Black/white binary (Alcoff, 2003), it is still useful to consider the complex nature of the fictive, yet powerful construction of race and related experiences.
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Overview of the Dissertation
In what follows, I offer an overview of whiteness in higher education. Given that this study seeks to contribute to the larger scholarship in this area, I offer some background on the area and highlight some of the identified gaps within this field. I then provide a comprehensive literature review based on the question: What barriers to racial equity exist in the college mathematics classroom? I framed my literature review in this way to give context for my own study which focuses on college algebra. I’ve separated my overview of whiteness section from this literature review, simply because the scholarship in the latter has yet to really look at whiteness. However, I will note that Danny Martin, a scholar in race and math education has called for studies on whiteness in math education (2009; 2013). Additionally, Martin (2017) served as a Discussant of a symposium on Interrogating Whiteness in Mathematics Education featured at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting. Thus, this area is at its inception, and the merger of these fields is truly up and coming.
Following this landscape of the literature, I share a historiography on the site of this proposed study. This historiography gives history, background, and context on the Western, Public, Urban Research University (WUU) and its campus, which is shared by three institutions. I also offer a discussion of WUU’s Mathematics Department, its history, and trajectory. Here, I discuss how whiteness has operated within the larger department.
My theoretical framework offers background on the theories and approaches that make up my framework, including Critical Race Theory (CRT), Critical Whiteness Studies (CWS), Settler Colonialism, and an Anti-Deficit Achievement Framework. I also describe how I will apply my hybrid framework in the study.
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To elucidate my methodology using Portraiture (Lawrence-Lightfoot & Davis, 1997), and my use of critical ethnography, narrative inquiry, and hermeneutic phenomenology within Portraiture (Ohito, 2017), I describe my procedure following a description of these methods. I conclude the section with a pilot portrait from my spring 2017 college algebra observations. I then offer several portraits and analyses in the concluding chapters, along with a discussion of implications and a call for future research.
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II. WHITENESS IN HIGHER EDUCATION
Higher education was founded on white supremacy. Although “the ivory tower” is a
biblical reference, it has become synonymous to the whiteness within higher education,
particularly for race scholars. As Wilder (2013) describes, many of our nation’s first colleges and
universities were built using the labor of enslaved Africans, and/or, as in the case of Georgetown
University, enslaved people were sold to fund the institutions. Early American colleges and
universities were also used strategically in the colonization of the United States, and seizing of
native land (Patel, 2015; Wilder, 2013). Certainly the foundation of higher education was in
collusion with white supremacy and the institution of slavery. But, so too was the very
intellectual development of many core academic disciplines. Although colonization and
globalized white supremacism influenced and drove academia world-wide (Allen, 2001; Mills,
1999), American studies in Religion, Philosophy, and Science were steeped in white supremacist
ideology. This racist grounding was unique in American studies given the intertwining of the
sciences and morality. As Winfield (2007) explains,
While American scientists embraced the idea of objectivity, they were less than diligent in their efforts to evaluate the morally presumptive direction of their investigations. The combination of science and morality afforded the perfect vehicle for new theories about education (p. 51).
Given the moral authority that early white scholars ascribed to themselves, white supremacy laid at the roots of higher education mores.
Along with these racist suppositions, People of Color were of course prevented from attending institutions of higher education. But, starting in 1837, Quakers began the first Historically Black College or University (HBCU) (Cheyney University). These early HBCUs were created by white missionaries as Christian outreach. Yet later in the 1800s HBCUs were
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developed as trade schools that served to make the case for the intellectual inferiority of Black people (Gasman & Hilton, 2012).
I offer this brief history of American higher education to show the stronghold of white supremacy in every facet of higher education from its inception. Cabrera, Franklin, and Watson (2016) tell us “these institutions historically were not created to be inclusive, and struggling with this history is critically important to moving toward more inclusive environments and disrupting the assumptions of Whiteness that guide them” (p. 61).
Given this, I delve into some specific areas of whiteness in higher education where scholars are disrupting this whiteness. Since higher education has a discipline-specific and siloed nature, it is no wonder that early Critical Whiteness Studies (CWS) in higher education have been uneven and kept mostly within the delineated research categories in higher education. For instance, most CWS studies are positioned in Student Affairs (considered co-curricular) or Teacher Education (this is within one specific curriculum/classroom environment for pre-service teachers). Recently, the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) commissioned a monograph on “Whiteness in Higher Education” that shows the spotty coverage of research in this area and calls for its continued development (Cabrera, Franklin, & Watson, 2016). Thus I offer a review of literature below that categorizes the research in this way, but argue that there is a danger in keeping CWS within its silos since it is highly relevant across higher education, its structure, and its communities.
Whiteness in the college classroom
Whiteness has been studied in the higher education classroom, somewhat disparately. Teacher education has been one area in the examination of whiteness. Sleeter (2001) explored the challenges of confronting whiteness in a largely white teacher candidate base and trying to
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cultivate the candidates to teach and engage a culturally diverse student base. Cheryl Matias has cultivated the most significant body of literature in CWS as it applies to Teacher Education. Matias (2015) specifically looks at whiteness and the white emotionality that largely white female teacher candidates use to deflect racial discomfort and deny white supremacy and their role in it. This work has included looking at white teacher candidates’ drive to be white saviors to Students of Color (Matias, 2013; Matias, 2016a) and to fetishize friends and Students of Color in their white alliance fantasies (Matias, 2015). Along these same lines, Matias and Zembylas (2014) looked at how white teacher candidates cover their disgust for People of Color, and particularly their students, with a thin veil of caring and pity. This body of research focuses on the impact of these white teacher candidates’ neurosis and disingenuous intentions on their eventual Students of Color. It offers perspective on how white emotionality plays out in the college classroom when any white students are confronted with racial realities. When white students are asked to consider race and racism, they are defensive, they use accusatory proclamations, such as “I’m not a racist!” or “I never owned slaves!” Especially white women use their emotionality and white tears to re-center whiteness and themselves in the classroom (Boatright-Horowitz, Marraccini, & Harps-Logan, 2012; Matias & Nishi, 2017).
One unique study of whiteness looked at a white instructor in a math education classroom who was implementing an equity curriculum. In this study, Brewley-Kennedy (2005) examined how whiteness worked in a math education classroom, particularly through white women’s silence and avoidance of conflict.
Other literature has looked at the semantic moves (Bonilla-Silva, 2014) that white students use in the classroom to “reason” their way out of the implications of racism. Allen (2008) examined how largely white students in the college courses he taught used these moves to
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concoct race-evasive (Annamma, Jackson, & Morrison, 2017; Frankenberg, 1993) cases. Allen noted that when he would begin discussing whiteness, his students would ask “What about poor white people?” as a diversion to defer to socioeconomic status and skirt discussions of race. Similarly, Leonardo and Zembylas (2013), have looked at white students’ use of “white intellectual alibis” to excuse themselves from any role they might have in racism. These students use these alibis as would someone accused of a crime, arguing that someone else did it (e.g., KKK members are racist, so I am not). Nishi, Matias, Montoya, and Sarcedo (2016) tracked and debunked these alibis and similar semantic moves in their dismantling of commonly used whiteness questions to derail conversations in the college classroom about race. Reason and Broido (2005) also advocate for addressing whiteness comments in the classroom or on campus to disrupt and resist the normalcy of whiteness ideology.
Outside of the Education discipline, Warren (2001), assessed the performance of whiteness in an introductory college cultural performance course. Through his ethnography, Warren deconstructs the whiteness in theatrical performances of white students as they used cultural appropriation (through stereotyping and commodification of People of Color) and fictions embedded in whiteness to literally perform whiteness.
Even though there is relatively little literature and research examining whiteness in the college classroom, there is even less that look at the enactment of whiteness in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) college classroom. This gap is understandable, because certainly whiteness is more clearly assessed and deconstructed when it is a topic of discussion in a course or in an interview. One exception is the Brewley-Kennedy (2005) study discussed above, but again this was looking at a math education course, not a math content
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course. A math education focuses on teaching mathematics and related pedagogy; it is a course for pre-service K-12 teachers.
Whiteness in policies and programs
In their 2016 report on whiteness in higher education, Cabrera, Franklin, and Watson state “a racially unaware institutional policy will be guided by the hidden assumptions of Whiteness” (p. 95). This is based on Critical Race Theory’s (CRT’s) tenets that tell us that racism and whiteness are both permanent and normalized (Bell, 1992). The point being any program or policy developed by whites (or a largely white group) in these United States will be imbued with whiteness and will sustain white supremacy, and this of course includes our institutions of higher education. Given the white supremacist history of higher education described above, we can assume that unless whiteness is being actively acknowledged and resisted, the status quo will be whiteness (Cabrera, Franklin, & Watson, 2016). Given this premise, we look to the scholarship for examples of how whiteness is promulgated in college policies and programs.
Although touted as a policy that gave great benefits to People of Color, Affirmative Action as a policy is a type of interest convergence. Interest convergence is a CRT theory developed by Bell (1980) where policies or programs that benefit People of Color are only enacted when white people benefit from them as much or more. Affirmative Action was such a policy and emerged as the USA was continuing to work for prestige in the after-effects of the Cold War and going into the Vietnam War (Dorsey & Chambers, 2014). Dorsey and Chambers argue that Affirmative Action is an example of Interest Convergence and Whiteness as Property (Harris, 1993) in that the convergence of interests is indeed temporary and once interests diverge, whites work to seize any benefits accessed by People of Color in the period of interest
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convergence. Dorsey and Chambers describe this resulting seizure as imperial reclamation, where whites work to re-draw the property lines of their whiteness to ensure that only they may enjoy all of the benefits of their whiteness. Harris (1993) describes this whiteness as property as the merging of white identity and property owners from a time where only whites could have and enjoy property (which included enslaved Africans and stolen land) to a point where whiteness itself has become property in the “inalienable right” of a white person to use and enjoy their whiteness and exclude others from it. Pierce (2012) also noted this imperial reclamation and suggested that we were seeing a backlash of whiteness even during the interest convergence period where whites, and particularly white men went out of their way to exclude the People of Color they thought were being forced on them. White women have been noted as the primary beneficiaries of Affirmative Action, particularly in higher education, yet Unzueta, Gutierrez, and Ghavami (2010) found that white women shifted their arguments around Affirmative Action depending on whether they saw themselves as beneficiaries or victims of the policies. Unsurprisingly, their arguments shifted within these beliefs to best preserve and promote their own egos. For instance, if a white woman saw herself as a beneficiary of Affirmative Action, she would argue that the policy gave her access in a discriminatory society. But, if she saw herself as a victim of Affirmative Action, she argued that People of Color were getting access when she was more qualified.
In addition to how whiteness has worked within Affirmative Action, we can see how whiteness has also worked to dismantle Affirmative Action, even though it had a hand in its creation through Interest Convergence. But in the next generation of higher education policy and programming, around diversity, Iverson (2007) found in a discourse analysis of college and university diversity plans that Students of Color were positioned as a commodity for white
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students. Nishi (2017) found evidence of this sort of commodification of Students of Color in her discourse analysis of college and university videos on Inclusive Excellence, and additionally suggested that Inclusive Excellence was a continued form of Interest Convergence where access and benefits for Students of Color could only be discussed if they were in the same breath as the benefits of Inclusive Excellence for the (white) current student body.
Outside of diversity-specific programming, Nishi (2016) suggests that placement testing and remedial education assignments in higher education are a continuation of the racialized tracking systems seen in high school. Tracking is the process of racially segregation within racially diverse schools, where mostly white students are filtered into upper-level advanced placement courses, and Black and Latinx students are filtered into lower-level or even special education courses (Oakes & Guiton, 1995; Tyson, 2011). This continued tracking process feeds white students into selective universities under the guise of meritocracy and feeds Students of Color into open access colleges or out of higher education all together (Camevale & Strohl,
2005; Nishi; 2016).
Returning to this section’s opening comment, we must remember that higher education was created for and by white people to promote white supremacy. When we recognize that the trajectory of higher education has done little to combat its orientation and racist creation, we must be suspicious of every system within higher education and the whiteness that drives it. Because, after all, as Gillbom (2008) reminds us, the purpose of educational policy is to sustain and promote white supremacy.
Whiteness in Campus Culture and Climate
Campus culture and climate are not the same thing. The culture of a campus consists of its history, priorities, traditions, and the oft-unspoken rules, norms, and etiquette that serve to
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reify the foundational attributes of an institution (Cabrera, Franklin, & Watson, 2016; Kuh & Whitt, 1988). Cabrera et al. (2016) reminds us that “the culture of a campus is deeply rooted in.. .its historical legacy” (p. 54). I share this to reiterate the strong ties between history and culture.
A campus’s climate then is the feeling that community members have about that campus, their sense of things. Whether one feels comfortable or safe at a campus gives someone a sense of campus climate. Climate is often gauged with surveys and reports from particularly students in terms of how they are experiencing college and the campus (Cabrera, Franklin, & Watson, 2016).
In their discussion of these differentiated experiences in college spaces, Cabrera et al. (2016) describe, “The path a white student takes across campus may be different psychologically from that of a student of color because of the various prejudicial or discriminatory instances that may occur” (p. 56). We can see then how a campus culture can affect the climate as perceived by different students. On the flipside, we can also see how a campus climate can have an ultimate impact on the campus culture.
Whiteness pervades campus culture and climate, particularly at predominantly white institutions (PWIs). Gusa (2010) suggests that this pervasion of whiteness manifests in white institutional presence (WIP). WIP consists of four framing features: white ascendancy, monoculturalism, white blindness, and white estrangement. White ascendancy refers to the thinking and acts of mostly white people that affirm white superiority. Monoculturalism refers to the belief that all people should conform to white norms and thinking. White blindness, similar to Bonilla Silva’s (2014) colorblindness refers to white peoples’ denial of racial privilege and power structures and the related benefit they receive. White estrangement refers to white people
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finding ways to segregate themselves, isolating themselves from People of Color on a campus. Harper and Hurtado (2007) found that, given the historic segregation of higher education that the isolation of Students of Color in these environments is cast as natural. It is important to distinguish between white students choosing to isolate themselves and Students of Color being forced into isolation. The former is choosing racial comfort in white spaces (Cabrera, Franklin,
& Watson, 2016). The concept of racial comfort for whites lends itself to the discussion around “safe space” on campuses. As Leonardo and Porter (2010) describe, safety, especially in conversations about race is a falsehood for People of Color. Whereas for whites, safety in these conversations means being comfortable, this racial comfort for whites manifests in a violence for People of Color where they are frequently attacked.
At PWIs, there is a plethora of exclusively white spaces. Majority-white fraternities, by their nature are exclusive, and thus provide enclaves for white men. In these enclaves, whiteness and white supremacist attitudes are often nurtured. It is not a coincidence then when news reports expose racially-themed parties that stereotype Black people or Mexicans. Nor should we be surprised when videos are released on YouTube of white fraternities singing songs with racial slurs and racist language, as we saw out of the University of Oklahoma (Cabrera, Franklin, & Watson, 2016; Cabrera, 2018).
The nurturing of whiteness in these white spaces happens through white racial bonding (Sleeter, 1994; 1996), defined as the communicative practices and rituals in which white people engage each other to affirm whiteness and white norms. One example of this bonding is whites telling racist jokes in white-only company. Cabrera (2014a; 2018) interviewed white college men and found that they engaged in racist jokes or used racial slurs when in all-white groups. These men argued that they could not tell these jokes or say these slurs in front of People of Color
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because ‘they were too sensitive.’ This behavior exemplifies what Picca and Feagin (2007) describe as frontstage/backstage white performances, where when they are frontstage (in front of People of Color) whites refrain from explicitly racist speech, but when they are backstage (with only whites) they more freely share their racism as a form of bonding. Cabrera (2014a; 2014b; 2018) suggests that this sort of racial joking and bonding is particularly prevalent among white, male students in their position of hyperprivilege.
In this way, these white spaces, such as white fraternities are hotbeds of whiteness and the promotion of white supremacist values. And, yet, this whiteness in inherent across all of campus. Even the cultural centers or groups created to center Students of Color are constantly under threat and resisting the white norms that are the standard. If we imagine whiteness geographically and thermodynamically, we can envision a campus map that is mostly yellow, showing an adequate/normalized amount of whiteness, certain spaces turning orange, perhaps white fraternities and sororities blazing red, and small specks of green in the Ethnic Studies department and the Office of Diversity and Inclusivity. I close this chapter by returning to Gusa (2010) who reminds us of the consequences of whiteness: “Whiteness as atmosphere, Whiteness as background, Whiteness as a normative culture is a pervasive problem within institutions of higher education. This normative Whiteness minimizes the experiences of people of color and marginalizes communities of difference” (p. 78). Along with the experiences of People of Color being minimized by whiteness, so too are their feelings, voices, and humanity.
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III. LITERATURE REVIEW
As I sought to understand how whiteness operates in the college STEM classroom and particularly in college algebra, I conducted a literature review on that related to racial equity within the college math class. In what follows, I offer background and context for the literature review, my methodology in conducting the review, a synthesis of the literature reviewed, methodological trends, implications for further research, and conclusions.
Background and Context
Racial and gender equity in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines is a key concern in higher education. In 2011, President Obama set several goals to boost college degrees in STEM, and particularly STEM teaching degrees and engineering degrees (Handelsman & Smith, 2011). As part of the “STEM for All” initiative, the Obama Administration prioritized research and the development of active learning approaches that would better engage and retain “underrepresented minorities” and women, and invested millions of dollars in grant programming through the National Science Foundation to these ends (Handelsman & Smith, 2011).
But, despite the priority to ameliorate the achievement disparities seen amongst underrepresented minorities and women in STEM, research and corresponding solutions have yet to make a substantive impact. According to the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), in 2013-2014, only 7.2% of Bachelors degrees in STEM were attained by Black students, 9.5% by “Hispanics”, .5% by Native Americans, and 2.7% by mixed race students. This is compared to the 67% attained by whites and 13.1% by Asian students. And the percentages go down for Black, “Hispanic,” Native American, and mixed race students as we look at Masters degrees conferred and then again for doctorates conferred in STEM (U.S.
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Department of Education, NCES, 2015). Women overall, in the same timeframe, earned only 31% of STEM degrees (U.S. Department of Education, NCES, 2015) despite women’s overrepresentation in college degrees conferred overall.
This degree disparity has been blamed on what has commonly been known as the achievement gap. Researchers, policy-makers, and educators have long analyzed and assessed the achievement gap in STEM within American K-12 education, and subsequently in remedial and collegiate STEM programming (Ladson-Billings, 2006). The achievement gap is considered the discrepancy in test scores, particularly between white and Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) students and Black, Latinx, and Native students (Ladson-Billings, 2006).
Ladson-Billings (2006) offers a historical and Critical Race Theoretical perspective on how the achievement gap should more accurately be referred to as the educational debt owed by whites to Black people because of the long history and repeated disenfranchisement of Students of Color in the P-20 educational system. This disenfranchisement began with denying and criminalizing of education for Black people during the U.S. enslavement of Africans. Then Black people were continually marginalized and oppressed through Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), which legally demanded separate but equal but resulted in only separate.
This oppression in education has continued into today’s resource-scarcity in schools with large populations of Black and Brown students and racialized tracking (Diette, 2012; Tyson, 2011). Racialized tracking refers to the trend of Black, Latinx, and Native students being systematically funneled to lower-level courses, while white and AAPI students are more likely to be placed or steered toward upper-level courses (such as Advanced Placement and Honors courses), including STEM courses. Campbell (2012) found that Black girls were particularly susceptible to teachers steering them away from advanced math courses based on teacher bias.
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Teachers’ racial bias is of particular concern for Students of Color given that the math faculty at all levels are overwhelmingly white (Martin, 2009). At the high school level, white mathematics teachers are not sufficiently trained to recognize their own biases or their implications for Students of Color in their classrooms (Brewley-Kennedy, 2005). The implications for white teacher bias lie in the inherent deficit thinking that accompanies bias and racism (Harper, 2010). For instance, as it relates to math, a study by Bol and Berry (2005), showed that secondary math teachers attributed the achievement gap to student characteristics, such as work ethic and parental support. However, there is no evidence that student characteristics of this sort vary by race. This deficit-thinking by high school math teachers embodies what Bonilla-Silva (2014) refers to as cultural racism, where the cultural and traditional beliefs and practices of People of Color are suggested to be at fault for their oppression and disenfranchisement. This cultural blaming ignores the racism inherent in the accusation and instead purports a colorblind perspective (Bonilla-Silva, 2014), or what Annamma, Jackson, and Morrison (2017) refer to as color evasion in part to avoid ableist language.
All of the factors described above contribute to the racial disparities in college STEM preparation. According to ACT, of those high school students who took the ACT test in 2016, only 25% of African Americans, 29% of American Indians, and 42% of Hispanics were deemed college-ready in mathematics. This is compared to 64% of whites and 80% of Asian4 students (ACT, Inc., 2016). Thus, racialized outcomes of K-12 education correspond with an overrepresentation of Students of Color being placed in remedial math when they head to college
4 As discussed, this statistic groups all AAPI students into the category of Asian, which ignores certain AAPI groups that are disproportionately placed in lower-level math courses through testing.
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(Nishi, 2016). This is troublesome given that only 33% of students referred to remedial math complete the sequence and only 20% of those who complete their remedial math courses can pass their first college-level mathematics course (Bailey, Jeong, & Cho, 2009).
Yet, the disparity we see in STEM college degrees by race is not fully explained by the disparity manifesting in high school. Even college Students of Color who were high-performers in high school perform worse than their white high-performing peers in college (Steele, 2010). The stakes are high when it comes to college algebra. Those students who do pursue STEM college degrees must usually complete a series of math requirements, the first of which is generally college algebra unless they test out. Success in this gatekeeper course is essential to students seeking a degree and a career in a STEM discipline. Given that college algebra is a critical juncture in success and given the racial and gender disparities in STEM degrees, I conducted a literature review to gamer responses to the research question: What barriers to racial equity exist in the college mathematics classroom?
What is equity? Unfortunately, the definition of equity is often assumed in policy documents and the literature. Sometimes it is used interchangeably with the term, equality and refers to offering the same opportunity for everyone (Gutierrez, 2007). Yet this is an overly simplistic interpretation in that it ignores the historical and structural oppression that sets groups of people at different starting points in such a way that the same or “equal” opportunity still advantages groups, like white people and men (Brewley-Kennedy, 2005). When researchers make equity synonymous with equality, they are also overlooking the discrepancies in access -access to resources, cultural capital, and even ways of thinking (Cobb & Hodge, 2002). Thus, for the purposes of this literature review, I define equity as fair and direct access to mathematical educational outcomes through culturally appropriate pedagogy, environment, and assessment.
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To borrow from Gutierrez (2007), equity is akin to justice where students can achieve their individualized academic and career goals, related to math, and are supported fairly in their endeavors. I also position the work toward equity as a continual struggle, from a Critical Race Theory (CRT) perspective. The permanent nature of racism is a core tenet of CRT (Bell, 1992) and suggests that the work toward racial justice and equity will never be done but must always continue. This continued struggle for equity is as needed in math education as anywhere. Literature Review Methodology
To conduct my initial literature search, I used two search engines: Google Scholar and the universal search engine at my University library. Materials in my search included scholarly, peer-reviewed articles and books, although notably almost all of the books that were ultimately included in my search were edited compilations of chapters written by a variety of scholars. The library search engine gathered sources from the major educational journals to which the library subscribed. Google Scholar captured additional sources, so using them both allowed for a comprehensive search.
In terms of limitations, I chose to initially include only books and articles published in 2000 or later. Choosing this time period kept the focus on the most current scholarship and scholarly dialogue. Also, the selected time period occurred immediately after Lubienski (1999 & 2002) conducted a survey of mathematics education research and a comprehensive literature review on equity and mathematics education in the US. Lubienski’s work outlined the research landscape in math equity in education up to the turn of the century. I did include literature in the review that was published earlier than 2000 in cases where I found formative work (defined as foundational or framing scholarship) and/or where older literature explained concepts discussed in the current literature.
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At the start, the search focused on racial equity in mathematics education, as it has not been substantially covered in the academic literature (Lubienski, 2002). Thus, the original search terms centered around “college algebra + race” but given the small yield of literature based on specific searches, the search included terms such as “math equity.” I reviewed the literature abstracts (published after 1999) yielded in these searches. Of those, I read the articles that focused on or could be easily applied to college math students and looked at racial equity within the classroom.
Although originally the search focused on race and racial equity, I included gender equity literature in terms of its intersection with race, which was noted in some articles. For instance, gender and mathematics researcher, Jo Boaler (2002) suggested that racial and ethnic equity researchers in mathematics education should be wary of the lessons learned in gender equity research. Boaler notes that previous research on women and math offered unintended deficit messages that some women internalized, which lead them to assume they should not or would not be very good at math.
Another search strategy that developed the depth of the review was to comb the reference lists of the relevant articles, and to then include those articles listed that met the inclusion criteria discussed above. I also identified scholars who seemed to have a body of work focused on racial equity in math education and conducted searches on them to make sure all relevant articles were considered. These methods yielded approximately 40 scholarly articles, books, or book chapters reviewed and synthesized below.
Literature Synthesis
Within the literature that focuses on equity in math education, there was a shift in approach around the turn of the century. Whereas literature in the 80s and 90s focused largely on
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gender discrepancies in math achievement, the research that did focus on ethnicity or race (ethnicity was the preferred term/focus) largely defined them as categories rather than looking at race as a social construction (Martin, 2009). This simplistic categorizing of students by race/ethnicity suggested an inherent, biological deficiency in Black, Latinx, and Native students who consistently scored lower on standardized math tests and fueled the deficit-focused literature that has been contested by scholars in the 2000s and 2010s (Harper, 2010; Martin, 2009). An additional trend in earlier literature, as identified by Lubienski (1999), was the dearth of intersectional equity research in math education. Lubienski, in her survey of math education literature from 1982 - 1998 found that that while 15% of articles addressed ethnicity, class, or gender; only 4.65% addressed two or more of these groups, and 1.3% addressed ethnicity and gender (p.10).
In 2002, the journal Mathematical Thinking and Learning released a special issue, entitled “Diversity, Equity, and Mathematical Learning” This issue resulted from meetings held in 1999 at Vanderbilt University and 2000 at Northwestern University where math educators came together to discuss issues of equity and diversity. These meetings and subsequently this special issue marked a shift in the scholarly approach and literature, featuring calls for resisting stereotyping and deficit-thinking in math education research (Boaler, 2002), a call for more intersectional research (Lubienski, 2002), and a call for success-focused research on African Americans (Nasir, 2002).
Examining this special issue and the subsequent literature on equity and math education following the turn of the century, I identified several themes. These are math racialization, the deficit perspective, stereotyping and stereotype threat, the co-construction of math and racial identity, and promising practices. These themes were prioritized in the literature and in many
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cases marked the start of a new branch of research in math equity related to higher education. Given my research question, I focus particularly on race (including intersectional work with gender) and how it relates to the college classroom.
Math Racialization & The Deficit Perspective
The field of mathematics, as with most other STEM fields, has been dominated in US history by white men. As a Black mathematician, Martin (2009) describes his first alienating experiences as a graduate student in mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley. Among these experiences, the Dean of his college declared in a university article that aside from one outlier, “there were no truly great Black mathematicians in the world” (p. 296). This example alludes to how mathematics and subsequently math education are racialized fields (Martin, 2009; 2013) but have not been acknowledged as such. This racialization occurs when, in recent history, solely white men are believed to have developed the mathematics field. The field then reflects their priorities, their needs, and their ideologies. The math field thus positions white men as the math experts. In essence, it racializes the field by making it white. Yet, as with other STEM fields, white, male experts and authorities still tout math education as being a value-free and objective study, accessible to all (Martin, 2009).
Aside from the isolating experiences that Martin (2009) describes in a field where no one looks like him or shares his racialized experiences, there are other consequences for Students of Color. When math as a field is built upon invisible white norms, there are a number of implications for those Students of Color who then do not fit. In a racialized and white-normalized field like Math, when there are discrepancies in the success of white students and most Students of Color, researchers tend to focus on race to ask what is wrong with Students of Color that they are so bad at math?
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Along with looking particularly at Black and Brown students as the problem, this framing also simplifies race into a category that assumes the problem is implicit in the Learners of Color. It also suggests this deficit is a result of group inferiority. Martin (2009), uses a critical theoretical approach and narrative synthesis to suggest that this categorization and biological association of race takes an absolutist view of math where the ultimate goal becomes trying to make Students of Color more like whites (and some groups of AAPI students) to be good at math. Boaler (2002), based on her research portfolio and literature review of gender equity and math education, cautions race equity researchers to “walk a fine and precarious line between lack of concern on the one hand and essentialism on the other” (p. 128). She argues that within equity research, historically, the dominant group’s success in math is considered a natural attribute of the group and when the marginalized group (Students of Color in this case) is successful in math, their success is attributed to the teaching strategies that worked for them. Even more concerning is when members of the marginalized group who are aware of the research that says they are inherently bad at math, accept this ascription, and wonder why they are being made to learn math if they are inherently bad at it. These consequences of essentialism are a danger in all equity research and apply to racial equity and consequences for Students of Color (Boaler, 2002).
Essentialism goes hand in hand with deficit thinking, which postures Students of Color as the problem in math education, rather than problematizing the failing system. This deficit thinking then turns to stereotypical discussions of cultural and even biological explanations (Harper, 2010; Martin, 2013), both of which are inherently racist (Bonilla-Silva, 2014). In 1903, Sociologist, W.E.B. Dubois provocatively asked of Black people, “How does it feel to be a problem?” (1999, p. 164). This statement can be sardonically applied today as math education researchers have looked to solve the problem of Students’ of Color relatively low math
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performance. When Students of Color see no People of Color as experts in math, and at the same time feel like they are seen as a problem by math educators and researchers, it is easy to see how this might discourage particularly Black and Brown students from endeavoring to be mathematicians. Additionally, for Students of Color who do go on to advanced mathematics courses, they may decide to leave when they are mistreated as ‘the only’ Student of Color, as I discuss below.
Relatedly, a longitudinal, survey-based study found that students tend to leave the sciences due to a “perceived lack of social value or relevance to improving conditions for their communities” (Hurtado, Newman, Tran, & Chang, 2010, p. 7). Though Students of Color choose to leave STEM majors at higher rate than whites, their initial interest in STEM degrees is on par with whites. This was found in a comparative analysis of college environments where Black and Latinx students were interested in STEM majors as much as whites in higher performing institutions, but graduated with degrees 24% less than whites (Museus & Liverman, 2010).
The racialization of the fields of math and math education have served both to normalize and reify white expertise and at the same time cast Students of Color, and particularly Black, Latinx, and Native students at the other end of the spectrum, in a deficit. When the factors discussed and this deficit perspective pushes these Students of Color away from math, a vicious cycle continues and math continues to be white.
Stereotyping and Stereotype Threat
Deficit thinking around Students of Color and performance in math frequently leads to dangerous and culturally racist stereotypes of these students (Harper, 2010). This does not only focus the attention that might be used to support Students of Color and to remedy systems that fail them on what the students are doing wrong (Harper, 2010), but it also hinders their
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performance. As Steele and Aronson (1995) showed in their ground-breaking work on Stereotype Threat, when African American students took a test that was said to measure their intellect, they performed worse than when they took the same test and were told that it did not measure intellect. Steele and Aronson (1995) suggest that stereotype threat is thus enacted when a group (African Americans in this case) are aware of a negative stereotype and due to the additional pressure to prove the stereotype wrong through their performance, they actually perform worse. Stereotype threat has been tested and shown in other groups, such as women (of all races) and math performance (Logel, Peach, & Spencer, 2012; Spencer, Steele, & Quinn, 1999) and whites and women and athletic performance (Stone, Chalabaev, & Harrison, 2012; Stone, Lynch, Sjomeling, & Darley, 1999).
Stereotyping affects more than just test performance. It can affect decision-making as well. For instance, a regression analysis of community college student data showed that students who report being nervous about taking algebra tended to take algebra courses with fewer meetings per week even though algebra courses with more meeting times per week have been shown to promote student success (Gallo & Odu, 2009). So, when Students of Color feel the extra pressure of having to combat stereotypes in math classes, they may choose courses with less class meetings even if more class meetings have been shown beneficial.
Once in class, stereotypes continue to take their toll on Students of Color. Using a literature review and story-telling approach, Harper (2013) suggests that due to the dearth of Black students found in STEM courses, and especially upper-level STEM courses, the Black students in those classes are subjected to “onlyness,” where they are highly visible and treated as an exception to other Black students. They are also subjected to negative stereotypes where both students and instructors project on them a sub-standard level when it comes to STEM. These
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projections are based on the culturally racist stereotype: Black and Brown students are not naturally good at math. In his article, Harper (2013) shares a story of a large college math class, where the professor allowed the three students who scored highest on the previous exam to leave class early. When a Black student (among the three) got up to leave, the professor asked where he was going, assuming that he could not possibly have scored at the top of a math exam. Relatedly, an interview-based study of high-achieving Physics Students of Color showed that these students commonly had been told by faculty advisors to change to a non-STEM major or faculty had willfully ignored the contributions by Students of Color in their classes (Fries-Britt, Younger, & Hall, 2010).
The isolation and stereotyping of Students of Color in STEM courses, including math, often manifest in racial microaggressions (Yosso, Smith, Ceja, & Solorzano, 2010) such as that described by Harper (2013) above. Racial microaggressions are slights or small offensive comments to People of Color based on their race. These can be small demeaning utterances or can be meant as compliments, e.g., a white student tells a Black student, “Wow, congratulations!
I never thought you would ace the final exam!” Other racial microaggressions include whites staring at Black students in the classroom, choosing not to sit in empty seats next to Black students, or mistaking one Black student for another (Harper, 2013). These microaggressions serve to further dismiss and disenfranchise Students of Color and serve as a constant reminder that they do not belong in STEM. This also keeps stereotype threat “in the air” (Steele, 1997, p.613), which continually affects performance (Steele, 2010).
Students of Color employ several strategies to ward off the stereotype that they are bad at math. For instance, in interview-based research with academically successful Black math and engineering students, McGee and Martin (2011) identified several defense mechanisms or acts
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employed by these students against white stereotyping. For instance, Black students reported smiling a lot, excessively nodding in class so the instructor would know they understood, avoiding discussions about their personal life, and prominently displaying their textbook when walking into advanced math or engineering classes to avoid being asked if they were in the right class. Black and Brown college students who persevere in STEM or math majors find that they have to continually prove themselves in every subsequent course in their discipline (Fries-Britt, Younger, & Hall, 2010; McGee & Martin 2011). Once they have successfully completed a math course, proving to their professor and fellow students that they are good at math and/or they are talented engineers, they must go back to the start in the next course they take. They must again combat the same assumptions that they do not belong in an advanced math/engineering class.
As mentioned above, researchers have found that these toxic climates for Students of Color are particularly found at high-performing predominantly white institutions (PWIs).
Museus and Liverman (2010) found that at high-performing institutions, institutional climate is associated with persistence for Students of Color in STEM, and that those climates at PWIs are particularly detrimental to the persistence of Students of Color in STEM.
To summarize, the racist stereotype that Students of Color are not good at math follows these students throughout their college career and impacts them in a variety of ways. These include the effects of stereotype threat on test-taking and decision-making, as well as the racial microaggressions born by Students of Color that are based on these stereotypes. These effects of stereotyping follow Black and Brown students through their college math courses and careers and demand continued resistance and strategies to combat the ever-present stereotypes.
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The Co-construction of Math and Racial Identity
The salience of math identity in math student success has emerged in the research, particularly in relationship to social identities, like gender (Boaler, 2002; Lesko & Corpus, 2006) and race (Cobb & Hodge, 2007; Martin, 2006; Martin, 2007; McGee & Martin, 2011). Based on his ethnographic research of Black parent and student experiences with math, Martin (2006) describes:
Mathematics identity encompasses the dispositions and deeply held beliefs that individuals develop about their ability to participate and perform effectively in mathematical contexts and to use mathematics to change the conditions of their lives. A mathematics identity encompasses a person’s self understandings as well as how they are constructed by others in the context of doing mathematics, (p. 206)
Given this definition, which includes both self-perception and the perception of others, we see how negative math stereotypes and the racial microaggressions that communicate and reinforce them can negatively impact the math identities of Students of Color. The co-construction of math and racial identities is particularly prominent in the math classroom where there is a constant negotiation of these identities that often affirm positive math identities for white and some AAPI students and degrade the math identities of many Students of Color (Martin, 2006).
Researchers define the development or essence of these identities differently. When it comes to identity construction, Martin (2007) subscribes to Cornell and Hartmann’s (1998) definition, which involves boundary, perceived position, and meaning. Here, boundary refers to indicators that determine who is a part of a cultural group and who is an outsider. Perceived position is one’s place within a power structure. Meaning is then one’s understanding of the groups, group power structure, and one’s position within them. This understanding of identity is
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very relational in that identity and related interpretations are developed and challenged in relationship and engagement with others (Martin, 2007).
Cobb and Hodge (2007) offer a parallel definition and describe identity development as the interplay of normative identity, core identity, and personal identity particularly within the mathematics classroom, where normative identity is a student’s sense of fit within the math learning norms established in the classroom, personal identity is a more temporary perspective of who a student is in the math classroom and core identity is a somewhat more permanent perspective of who a student is and who they want to be. As Cobb and Hodge (2007) state in their theoretical chapter, “People reconstruct their core identities as they attempt to reconcile who they are and who they want to be with participation in particular groups and communities” (p. 170). Nasir (2002) offers an aligned but slightly more dynamic perspective on identity, based on her research on African American community-based math learning through observing the playing of dominoes and basketball and interviewing players. She suggests, “identity as being constructed by individuals as they actively participate in cultural activities" (p.219). She goes on to describe the inextricable link between identity, learning, and goals where learning contributes to identity development and goal-setting, and identity development to further learning and goalsetting in terms of aspirations. Nasir also captures the identity negotiation that contributes to learning when the learner is able to participate in meaning-making and contribute to the learning community. Although researchers have yet to look at this identity negotiation explicitly, Nasir’s discussion suggests that if Students of Color are not given full agency in meaning-making and identity negotiation in math education, which the literature asserts they generally are not, they may be stunted in their identity development and learning.
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Of course, I would be remiss to discuss race and racial equity and to focus only on Students of Color as if racialized experiences happened in a vacuum. To metaphorically draw on Newton’s well-known Physics law: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, we must also be cognizant of how whites are benefiting from the marginalization of Students of Color. The inverse of the negative stereotypes and stigmas discussed are cast on to white students to promote a more positive math identity in what McGee & Martin (2011) refer to as stereotype lift, which works to boost white performance (Walton & Cohen, 2003; McGee & Martin, 2011). Stereotype lift places a wealth of positive assumptions on white students, and particularly white men that they are naturally good at math and they are creators and knowers of math. These positive ascriptions with which whites walk into the math classroom grant them full confidence and agency in the development and negotiation of math identity and meaning making, which then, according to Nasir (2002) promotes enhanced learning and related aspirations and goals.
As discussed, racial identity can work to marginalize or promote a student’s learning and math identity but racial identity works in concert with other forms of identity as well. For instance, gender identity has also been shown to affect one’s math identity positively or negatively depending on how one identifies, as Nosek, Banaji, & Greenwald (2002) describe in their aptly named article, “Math = Male, Me = Female, Therefore Math f Me.” The math identity research seems to agree that a student’s math identity is impacted by access, others’ perceptions (including stereotypes and microaggressions), their own experiences, and the meaning and level of internalization that any of these factors produce.
Given the intersectionality and interplay of these identities: math, racial, gender, and others that may suggest, based on stereotypes, that one should or should not be good at math
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(e.g., class, first generation status, native language, ability, nationality, etc.), researchers have identified what they describe as a co-construction of identities (Boaler, 2002; Lubienski, 2002; Martin, 2007; Nasir, 2007). We can certainly make suppositions based on the research focusing on race and those focusing on gender that these intersections ultimately promote white men and marginalize Women of Color. But unfortunately, despite Lubienski’s (1999) call for more intersectional equity research in math education, most literature still tends to focus on race or gender and not both.
Promising Practices
Based on the research on race in mathematics education or more specifically, college mathematics, several scholars have suggested practices that may allow us to move toward racial equity in the college math classroom. Strayhorn (2010) found that when Students of Color were engaged in STEM research at the undergraduate level, they were more likely to persist in that same STEM discipline. Others found that Students of Color in STEM benefitted from having STEM Mentors of Color (Griffin, Perez, Holmes, & Mayo, 2010; Harper, 2013). Although not a collegiate project, The Algebra Project famously worked with Black youth and other Students of Color to educate them in algebra. This project, led by Bob Moses, gave access, focused attention, and Mentors of Color to many Children of Color whose needs were not being met by their public schools (Moses, R., Kamii, M., Swap, S.M., & Howard, J., 1989). However, it is worth noting that Martin (2013) has critiqued The Algebra Project for what he suggests is an approach that tries to make Children of Color more like white children instead of working with their own cultural capital and knowledge base.
Another promising intervention is developing and using multicultural education approaches to develop curricula and instruction that is more culturally appropriate for
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traditionally underrepresented students (Ladson-Billings, 1995). When the math materials and questions are relatable to Students of Color and include their various contexts, they are then able to see themselves and better engage in math learning. For instance, it is important to consider and include the context and realities of underrepresented students when creating math story problems so that Students of Color and other marginalized groups can relate to and better understand the questions. When the questions are developed based on white, male, and middle-class realities, students who do not identify with those groups have less access (Ladson-Billings, 1995).
On a broader scale, the Center for Urban Education (CUE) out of the University of Southern California has developed a Diversity Scorecard that consists of a process for assessing and intervening within higher education systems, structures, policies, and practices toward equity, and particularly racial equity (Bensimon, 2004). Key to this process is the development of equity-mindedness (Malcolm-Piquex & Bensimon, 2017). As Felix, Bensimon, Hanson, Gray, and Klingsmith (2015) describe,
The characteristics of equity-mindedness are as follows: (a) being race conscious in a critical way, as opposed to color blind; (b) being cognizant of structured and institutional racism as the root cause of inequities as opposed to deficiencies stemming from essentialist perspectives on race or ethnicity; (c) recognizing that to achieve equity it may be necessary to treat individuals unequally as opposed to treating everyone equally; and (d) being able to focus on practices as the source of failure rather than student deficits
(p.28).
Equity-mindedness looks at racial disparity and resists a deficit perspective that focuses on Students of Color as a problem, in line with Harper’s (2010) anti-deficit framework.
The Community College of Aurora (CCA) worked with CUE to complete a Diversity Scorecard and focused particularly on CCA’s disparity in success rates of Black and Latinx students versus white students in algebra (Felix, Bensimon, Hanson, Gray, Klingsmith, 2015). CCA faculty developed their equity-mindedness and reviewed the algebra syllabi, algebra
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teaching practices, and racial diversity of algebra faculty to identify and implement interventions towards equity in college algebra. One example of a possible intervention was to discuss and educate algebra faculty on the language of their syllabus to change the tone from warning students about the ways they could fail toward showing them the ways to succeed.
Beyond developing culturally relevant and responsive materials for students, researchers have found that basing math curricula and instruction around Communities of Color promotes better learning. Nasir (2007) found that in an African American community, people of all ages were using advanced mathematical thinking in their strategies for dominoes and basketball, which were widely played games in that community. Similarly, one teacher working with researchers, based a math module on gardening for a largely Latinx community after visiting homes and conducting interviews with the students’ families to better understand their lived experiences and math applications (Civil, 2007). This application served for more effective math learning.
Beyond a multicultural education approach, critical thinking can be employed to engage and liberate marginalized students (Freire, 1993). For instance, one teacher in a largely working class, Mexican immigrant community assigned his class a math problem to identify how many four-year scholarships could be provided with the amount it cost to build and maintain a B-2 Bomber. This compelled the students to use math to then critique and question the tax money being spent on B-2 Bombers when many of the students were trying to figure out if they would be able to afford college (Gutstein, 2007).
In integrating these culturally appropriate pedagogies into the math classroom, Students’ of Color realities are in a sense validated. Yet, these practices do not directly address the racism and stereotyping that is happening in the classroom.
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Methodological Trends
When it comes to equity, and racial equity in particular, in mathematics education, the literature has moved from responding to the question: W ho is bad at math and why are they bad at math? to What are the barriers to math learning for Students of Color and what strategies work to overcome them? (Boaler, 2002; Harper, 2010; Martin, 2009). As described, several critical scholars have re-directed the scholarly trajectory and resisted the former trend of making Students of Color the problem.
As mentioned, prior to 2000, little literature focused on race or ethnicity and mathematics education and even less looked at race or ethnicity intersectionally with identities such as gender or class (Lubienski, 1999 & 2002). Those scholarly articles and books that did highlight race or ethnicity and math education tended to focus on ethnicity (often in lieu of race) as a category of people at the lower side of the achievement gap (Martin, 2009). This earlier body of literature included largely quantitative studies and non-critical qualitative studies that tended to place low-achieving groups in math like Students of Color or women in these unquestioned categories and then assumed that the problem for these groups was their inherent mathematical inferiority (Boaler, 2002; Martin, 2009).
Then, around the turn of the century, several critical scholars in mathematics education emerged, including Danny B. Martin and Na’ilah Nasir who applied critical theoretical analyses to the previous literature that focused on race/ethnicity and mathematics education. In concert with these analyses, these and other researchers produced more qualitative research, particularly that which relied on in-depth, semi-structured interviews and ethnography. This research examined the experiences of Students or Learners of Color and looked at the teaching and learning systems that were failing these students instead of problematizing Students of Color.
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Harper (2010) led a next wave of researchers in proposing an anti-deficit achievement framework, and researchers such as McGee and Martin (2011) began to focus on the strategies of Students of Color that did persist and were successful in college mathematics. Others began using qualitative methods (interviews and content analysis) to study college climates where Students of Color were attaining STEM degrees at representative rates in a comparative analysis with institutions whose graduation rates for Students of Color in STEM stagnated (Museus & Liverman, 2010). These methodological adaptations in the last 17 years have served to more critically assess and promote equity in the way defined at the start of this literature review.
Calls for Further Research
Given these recent shifts in the literature around racial equity in college math, there are significant gaps and calls for further research in the literature that clearly outline how scholars should move forward. Scholars in math education and in race and education have made solid steps toward understanding the experience of math Students of Color and particularly those seeking STEM degrees. We better understand the barriers Students of Color face such as having to prove themselves in math class after math class (McGee & Martin, 2011) and being isolated and stereotyped (Harper, 2010) and the strategies they use to combat such barriers. We also better understand what supports Students of Color to succeed and persist, such as peer-mentoring between Students of Color (Harper, 2013), supportive college environments (Museus & Liverman, 2010), and strong math identities (Cobb & Hodge, 2007; Martin, 2006; Martin, 2007; McGee & Martin, 2011; Nasir, 2002).
This important research centers successful Students of Color and their experiences. This line of research should continue, as McGee and Martin (2011) suggest, "Considering the preponderance of research highlighting Black failure, there is a significant gap in understanding
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success among Black students in the academically competitive and socially valued STEM disciplines" (p. 1351)
Yet at the same time, as researchers focus on the experiences and successes of Students of Color, we also need to problematize whiteness in the math classroom. Through both empirical and critical theoretical scholarship, we need to better understand how whiteness is operating in math education. What practices and norms are privileging white students while marginalizing and oppressing Students of Color? The call for examining whiteness or racism in math education are made by Martin (2009 & 2013) and McGee and Martin (2011). Martin (2009) highlights this, saying, “Given the inadequate approaches, and lack of attention, to race in mainstream mathematics education research, it is not surprising that there has been no systematic study of Whiteness and its relationship to mathematics participation, opportunity to learn, and achievement” (p. 306). Thus, the study of whiteness in college mathematics is sorely needed.
Classroom ethnographic methods and a portraiture methodology would respond well to these calls, including those by Strayhom (2010) who suggests that methods that offer thick description and perhaps employ phenomenology would meet current needs. This lingering need may be due to a lack of ethnographers within the field of math education or focused on it. In addition to this call for more targeted research on math learning interactions, Martin (2009) and McGee and Martin (2011) also call for identity-focused research that works to better understand the development and negotiation of math identities along with racial identity.
Although Lubienski (1999) called for intersectional research on equity in math education, her expectation has not been realized. The great majority of literature reviewed on racial equity in college mathematics since 2000 has largely focused only on race. Not only have scholars tended to choose to look at race alone, many have chosen one particular race, and that has
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predominantly been African American or Black students (see Harper, 2013; McGee & Martin, 2011). This focus is a positive advancement, given the anti-deficit approach and Black-success focus by these articles, but the larger body of research does seem to be at risk of polarizing race in terms of Black and white (leaving out research that includes other Students of Color) and ignoring the race and gender intersections, in particular. Racial identity and gender identity are not separate. Indeed, gender identity is racialized and racial identity is gendered in the United States (Daniels, 1997; Collins, 2009). Thus there are a number of opportunities for researchers to focus on the experiences of various races and the intersections of race and gender in the college mathematics classroom. Unfortunately, despite Lubienski’s (1999) call, intersectional identities including race and gender have not yet been studied intersectionally in college mathematics. More broadly, Riegle-Crumb & King (2010) have looked at interest in STEM majors at the intersections of race and gender, but verify in their own literature review a dearth of intersectional research in STEM education by both race and gender.
Literature Review Conclusions
I return to my guiding literature review question: What barriers to racial equity exist in the college mathematics classroom? The barriers I discovered very much overlapped with the opportunities for improving racial equity. The overarching barrier to racial equity in college math is the mathematics field itself, and the invisible but accepted white norms. These white norms manifest in different ways through the K-12 system and into higher education courses. One prominent manifestation is that of stereotype threat that keeps Students of Color in an almost surveilled state (Foucault, 1977) where the looming stereotypes result in microaggressions, deficit perspective, and barriers to positive mathematics identities. A substantial body of literature theorizes the co-construction of math and racial identity and the connection to learning
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and aspirations that rely on identity. Relatedly, there are several promising practices to promoting and sustaining racial equity in college math. However, given the nascence of the research, more verification especially through qualitative research is necessary before we confidently offer solutions.
The research landscape of race and equity in college mathematics is in its adolescence. Along with the gaps and calls noted in this review, the literature search was much broader than originally planned to respond adequately to the research question. The search moved outside of the literature focused on mathematics in higher education and delved into that oriented toward K-12 education. Also, the review incorporated numerous sources on broader STEM learning research. Although I did find answers to my question, such as the racialization of math education, the effects of stereotypes and stereotype threat, and the hindrance of math identity development for Students of Color, I discovered even more gaps and questions that the scholarship must pursue to offer an adequate response to my question. Yet, given the development and critical approach that is now steering the field of equity in mathematics education, I have great confidence that we will heed these calls and continue the struggle.
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IV. HISTORIOGRAPHY
In what follows, I offer a historiography of the western, public, urban, research university and campus where I conducted this study. This is to offer context and background for the study, but also to offer a case for why college algebra at this particular university demands such a study and critique.
Western Urban University (WUU)
Western Urban University (WUU) is a public urban research university with two campuses. The Urban Campus is a shared academic campus in a downtown western city and is also home to another state university and a community college. The second is a medical campus, located approximately 10 miles away from the city center in a suburban area. Although these two campuses were originally separate institutions within their University system, they were consolidated and accredited as one university in 2004. For the urban campus, the consolidation changed its reputation from a teaching-focused university to a research university.
Prior to the consolidation, the urban campus was the original urban university and was established in 1912 as an extension center for the University system, but then was named a university in 1973, when the Governor called for an amendment to the state constitution that would allow the university system to establish additional campuses (Zuboy, 2013). Shortly thereafter, the state built the urban campus to which WUU, and the two other state higher education institutions located.
Given the whiteness focus of this project, it is worth discussing the history of the shared urban campus. It was established in 1858 by Georgian gold miners who settled there when gold was first discovered in that area. In fact, the campus gets its name based on the Latin term for gold, aurum (Gallegos, 1991). In 1916, Latinx immigrants and citizens began moving to the
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western city and settled into the neighborhood. A local Catholic Church was built in 1926 and became the hub of the Latinx community. Yet, as the city was developing, there was a growing desire among city and state leadership to create a higher education campus downtown to allow for the development of an educated workforce. In 1969, the then Governor developed the Urban Higher Education Center (UHEC) Board, which called a special bond election to fund the development of the campus site. Despite lawsuits and organizing by over one hundred Latinx families that resided in the area, the bond passed, and the Latinx residents were evicted and/or relocated around the city (Gallegos, 1991). Today, the state offers a displaced community scholarship to students attending one of the three institutions on the campus who can prove that they are a former resident of the displaced community or the child or grandchild of a former resident. This serves as an underwhelming recognition of the destruction and academic gentrification inflicted upon a once vibrant Latinx and working class community. This history is relevant from an equity standpoint, because it contextualizes the discussion around recruiting and retaining Students of Color at WUU, and particularly Latinx students in a sad and racist irony when we consider that the classrooms in which we want these students to learn are on the same lands that were taken from their families. And, of course, the same argument must be made for native students, as the land that the city and campus now occupies belongs to the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes (Davidson, 2013).
Just prior to the development of UHEC, the then city center (what later became WUU) in 1965 enrolled over six hundred students, with 25% of them graduate students (Abbott, 1999), operating out of the former city tramway center, and what is today occupied by a fancy, historic hotel and a Center for the Performing Arts. Yet today, WUU is one of the largest research
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universities in the state with 18,000 students, and awarding the most graduate degrees in the state. On the urban campus, the academic disciplines are broken into seven schools or colleges. Department of Mathematics
The Department of Mathematics is located within the School of Science and Liberal Arts (SSLA), the largest school or college on the urban campus. An early SSLA Dean noted that the math department was problematic when he assumed the Deanship. While lower-level math courses were in high demand by students, the research-level faculty seemed focused on the more advanced coursework geared for aspiring engineers (Zuboy, 2013). The Dean worked with an eventual new chair to create a focus in the department on applied math.
Currently, the department offers a BS in Mathematics, and an MS and PhD in Applied Mathematics. The Department boasts 18 tenured or tenure-track professors, three of whom present as women, and all of whom present as white, except for one Assistant Professor who presents as an AAPI man. Yet, none of these faculty members teach the lower level math courses nor seem directly involved. So, although there has been a shift in math to applied mathematics, it is unclear that the former Dean’s original concern has been directly addressed.
The Math Department is responsible for all of the algebra courses offered at the university. This includes MATH 112: College Algebra. Successful completion of MATH 112 is required for most STEM BS degrees at WUU, although many STEM majors test out of MATH 112 when they first enroll at WUU. During the academic year, there are around 8-13 sections of MATH 112 offered per semester with 25-30 students in each class. Suffice it to say, hundreds of WUU students enroll in MATH 112 each semester.
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In terms of racial demographics, WUU has seen slight increases in its Students of Color since 2001, with the exception of Latinx students, who have more than doubled their percentage of the student body population, as shown on the following chart:
Fall 2001 Fall 2016
Asian American 8% 10%
African 4% 5.6%
American
Hispanic 8% 17.4%
Native American 1% 1.8%
Figure 2: The percentage of the total WUU student population by Ethnic Minority Group (Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness, 2003; 2016)
WUU’s Equity Scorecard
In 2014, WUU worked with the Center for Urban Education (CUE) out of the University of Southern California to produce an Equity Scorecard Report (University of Colorado Denver & Center for Urban Education, 2014). This report highlighted where WUU was falling short in terms of graduation and retention rates for underrepresented Students of Color, and particularly African American, Native American, and Latinx students. The report pinpointed MATH 112 (college algebra) as concerning in terms of racial equity around student success and persistence. For instance, in fiscal year 2013, the percentage of students enrolled in MATH 112 who earned the grade of D, F, or I(ncomplete) was 28.9%. However the percentage of African Americans earning a D,F, or I was 36.7 for African American students and 36.1% for Hispanic students (University of Colorado Denver & Center for Urban Education, 2014, p. 29). The report also found that even when looking only at students with ACT scores that were 18 or above (which corresponds with college readiness in math), African American, Hispanic, and Native American students still had slightly higher rates of DFI grades.
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African American and Hispanic students are also referred to remedial math classes at higher rates than other students (University of Colorado Denver & Center for Urban Education, 2014). If they do choose to take remedial courses, they must enroll elsewhere for that instruction as WUU is not legally allowed to offer remedial or developmental courses. According to the WUU’s State Department of Higher Education (2014), “[Remedial] courses are usually offered by a community college. They may be offered by four-year institutions on a cash funded basis” (p.l) This is except for WUU and another Masters-level four-year institution that shares a campus with WUU. It is unclear why there are laws prohibiting WUU from offering remedial courses, but it is likely part of a larger contract between institutions of higher education to keep them differentiated.
College Algebra
Peter is a Senior Instructor in the mathematics department and oversees the algebra program, including its instructors. According to Peter, approximately 12 years ago, the math department tried to implement the Accuplacer placement test to raise the standards of readiness for students in MATH 112. The department wanted to raise the standards because they were concerned that most of the students taking college algebra were not coming in with the math skills necessary for the course to move fast enough to meet the course outcomes by the end of the semester. The courses were in a sense “watered down” (P. Peters, Personal Communication,
April 3, 2017). Once the test was implemented, the demand for MATH 112 based on those who placed into it plummeted from filling 12 sections a semester to two. Given this drastic drop in demand for MATH 112 along with concern that students were taking algebra at other places and some walking away from WUU altogether to institutions that did not have placement tests and remedial requirements, the math department got rid of the placement test after four years.
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Although the demand for MATH 112 is back up, given that any admitted student can now take it, the DFI rates have been an ongoing concern. DFI (grades of D, F, or Incomplete) rates peaked at 48% in the fall of 2015. But around that same time, WUU received a grant to integrate and train their Teaching Assistant Coaches in active learning techniques. Peter, as the instructional lead for College Algebra and his team developed around 40 active learning activities and began implementing these into all courses. Peter attributed the much improved DFI rate of 35% in the spring of 2016 to these active learning endeavors alone.
Although the math department has seen a significant decline in DFI rates as of late, there is still concern that with the large number of under-prepared students enrolling in algebra, the course is still not able to cover all the material and meet the learning outcomes identified. There has been some discussion of re-implementing a required placement test, but that is on hold as the department currently has had an Interim Chair ” (P. Peters, Personal Communication,
April 3, 2017).
To contextualize this discussion of DFI rates, nationally, only 50% of students pass college algebra with a grade of A, B, or C (Ganter & Haver, 2011). So, even at their worst, WUU’s DFI rates were on par with and are now better than the national average. This tells us that there is a broader crisis in math education and preparation, and as shown, Students of Color suffer the largest educational consequences.
Math Tenure-Track Faculty
Although tenure-track faculty do not teach college algebra, they do still serve as the academic leads of the department, where they not only supervise the algebra instructors, but they also set the tone for what is valued when it comes to math and math education. This tone is relayed through supervision and leadership, but also through professors’ teaching and mentorship
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of the entire TA team, as well as many of the instructors. For instance, Peter received his Master’s degree from the Math department before he became an instructor. Given this role of tenure-track faculty, I interviewed a senior member of the math faculty to better understand their priorities and culture. As mentioned, there is a lack of racial diversity amongst the tenure-track mathematics faculty in that they are all white with the exception of one newer AAPI Assistant Professor. Now certainly, as discussed in the literature review, we know that math experts are typically white men and the field as most understand it has been developed by and for white men. But, at the same time, to have an almost all-white faculty in a substantial department at an urban and racially diverse university is notable. When looking at the Math department’s hiring process, there has been at least one incident of racial discrimination that came when the department was interviewing an AAPI candidate for a tenure track position and one faculty member suggested they not hire the candidate because the students wouldn’t be able to understand them. This is particularly interesting given that there are multiple tenure-track faculty in the department whose first language is not English, but they are all white. This is worrisome in itself, but more broadly, when the math faculty have discussed the racial diversity of their group, some tend to dismiss the argument of the importance of having a racially diverse faculty and argue instead that they should just hire “the best mathematician.” Of course the ambiguity of the phrase, “the best mathematician” sends my mind back to Danny Martin’s 2009 article (mentioned above) where, upon coming to Berkeley as a Black graduate student in math, Martin was greeted with his Dean making the public statement that “there were no truly great Black mathematicians in the world” (p. 296). Thus, when leaders in the field easily make such statements, the term “best mathematician” becomes racially coded as white.
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One last thing to note was that in my faculty leadership interview, I came to understand that the college algebra students are not seen by the math tenure-track faculty as “our students.” When tenure-track faculty talk about “our students,” they are referring to those students who are declared math majors. I confirmed that most students who are math majors test out of algebra. Therefore, the math department professors do not claim algebra students as their own, and I get the sense that college algebra and its students are seen more as a necessary evil or problem. In light of these layers and attitudes, we start to see a picture of college algebra as the Black and Brown thorn in the side of an enwhitened math department who are only truly interested in hiring and grooming the best (white) mathematicians. I also want to note here that the home of algebra at WUU has been somewhat contested, where the more general student experience group has made an argument that they should oversee algebra. Yet, the leaders of student experience at WUU are also white men, and have done little to no work to understand college algebra nationally, nor at WUU. Given the work and research that Peter has invested in college algebra and students’ experience, I think that any remedies within including any that result from this dissertation should be developed within and in collaboration with Peter and the Math Department.
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V. THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
This dissertation responds to many of the calls identified in the literature review. I employed an anti-deficit achievement perspective as Harper (2010) called for to disrupt the perspective that Students of Color are a problem in STEM. I focused on how whiteness is at work in the college algebra classroom, which Martin (2009 & 2013) and McGee and Martin (2011) identified as a gap in Mathematics research. I considered and incorporated intersectionality, which Lubienski (1999) highlighted was overlooked in the vast majority of mathematics research. I employed ethnographic methods to study the day-to-day classroom interactions, which Martin (2009) insisted was necessary to understand how racism/whiteness works in the mathematics classroom. I also continued the work that looks at the relationship between and negotiation of math identity and racial identities among a diverse college class, since Nasir (2002) and Cobb and Hodge (2007) have shown that strong math identity is so necessary for all students, but that Students of Color have additional barriers to these identities in the traditional classroom given the whiteness and racism they face.
I employed multiple, complementary theories and approaches in my framework for this project. The project is rooted in Critical Race Theory (CRT), but I took a Critical Whiteness Studies (CWS) approach. Below, I define these theories/approaches and discuss how I employed them in the project and subsequent analyses.
Critical Race Theory
CRT was originally developed in legal scholarship to fill the gap in critical legal studies that neglected race and racism within the law. According to DeCuir and Dixson (2004), the tenets of CRT include counterstorytelling (Matsuda, 1995; Solorzano & Yosso, 2002), the permanence of racism (Bell, 1992), whiteness as property (Harris, 1993), interest convergence
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(Bell, 1980), and the critique of liberalism (Crenshaw, 1988). Intersectionality (Crenshaw, 2009) is also acknowledged as a tenet. Although many of the foundational works in CRT cited above were cast in legal scholarship, CRT has moved firmly into the field of education as well (Ladson-Billings, 1998; Lynn, 1999), though it has certainly been met with resistance especially within urban teacher education (Matias, Montoya, & Nishi, 2016).
Arguably, the crux of CRT is the permanence and normalcy of racism, particularly in US society. Bell (1992) argues, and his CRT theories support, that despite the continuing resistance to racism and the civil rights gains by People of Color that racism and white supremacy will remain the rule of the land. This is due to the constant work of whites to maintain their power and promote and maintain white supremacy in manifold ways. One of the strategies that supports and maintains whiteness is its normalization (Delgado, 1995). As Taylor (2009) elaborates, “White supremacy is the background against which other systems are defined.. .it is all-encompassing and omnipresent” (p. 4). This invisibility and omnipresence of white supremacy then makes whiteness a powerful and damaging tool wielded under a cloak of normalcy and deniability. Given this, my critical ethnographic perspective will work to make whiteness and white supremacist norms visible and in high relief. I will highlight and deconstruct the way whiteness is working.
I use the other tenets identified above to help make racism and white supremacism visible, and I briefly describe them here. Counterstorytelling and countemarratives (Solorzano & Yosso, 2002) are methods employed in CRT to center and highlight the voices and perspectives of People of Color in resistance to the dominant stories and narratives that ultimately support white supremacy. Given that I am white, I will not position my ethnographic descriptions as counterstories, but since I will be conducting in-depth interviews with Students of Color, I will
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work to preserve their narratives in the dissertation and position them as counternarratives. Yet, as I am using an anti-deficit perspective, Harper (2010) instructs that an anti-deficit application of CRT views Students of Color as “experts in their experiential realities” (p. 71) who use a variety of strategies to resist whiteness and racism on a daily basis.
Bell’s theory of Interest Convergence suggests that policies and initiatives within the United States that benefit People of Color and particularly Black Americans will only be accepted when white people benefit as much, if not more, from the same policies or initiatives (Bell, 1980). Within higher education, Affirmative Action is an example of Interest Convergence (Dorsey & Chambers, 2014). Although touted or accused as a policy to give higher education access to People of Color, in reality, white women and their white families have been the largest beneficiaries of Affirmative Action (Harper, Patton, and Wooden, 2009). Yet, as Dorsey and Chambers (2014) point out, the perceived benefits to whites under Affirmative Action have not been enough to prevent the steady dismantling of Affirmative Action. In fact, they suggest that cases like those at the University of Michigan (Gratz v. Bollinger (2003) and Grutter v. Bollinger (2003)) and the more recent Schuette v. BAMN (2012) signal not only Interest Divergence, but indeed an “imperialistic reclamation period” (Dorsey & Chambers, 2014, p. 72), where whites work to not only seize the benefits provided to People of Color but actively work to demote and destruct Communities of Color as a consequence for what whites perceive as the unearned privileges provided to People of Color during the period of Interest Convergence. Certainly, Interest Convergence has been shown in policies and larger structures, but the scholarly literature has not looked for traces of Interest Convergence in interpersonal relationships. I suggest that Interest Convergence may also be a mechanism discoverable in the classroom, as a microcosm of
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the interest convergence - interest divergence - imperial reclamation that Dorsey and Chambers (2014) point out in structures and policy.
The CRT concept, Whiteness as Property, is derived from Harris’s (1993) work. She equates white skin to a form of property, rooting it in the history of slavery where Black people were themselves considered property. She traces this concept through its evolution to today where whiteness itself is treated as property, particularly in the shared sense that both whiteness and property are based on “a right to exclude” (p. 1714).
In terms of a critique of liberalism (Crenshaw, 1988), Neoliberalism includes what seems to be the newest and most masked version of whiteness and racism. Shrouded in claims that everyone is equal and that liberals don’t see race, a critique of liberalism includes a calling out and indictment of color evasion (Annamma, Jackson, & Morrison, 2017). These white liberal concepts are insidious in the sense that they masquerade as utopian concepts while in actuality they are simply ignoring the reality of whiteness and racism and invalidating the lived consequences of People of Color.
In addition to watching for the enactment of these CRT concepts in a college algebra course, I also consider intersectionality (Crenshaw, 2009). This concept looks at the effect of multiple identities and their ascribed roles in society to determine the ultimate value of a person. These hegemonic systems of race, gender, class, ability, etc. work to create a compounded effect that promote wealthy, white, Christian, cisgender, heterosexual men as most valuable and cast poor, Black, Muslim, LGBTIQ+ women as the least valuable, for example. Patricia Hill Collins (2009) refers to these intersectional identities as a matrix of oppression, referring to the way that the compilation of marginalized identities produce compounded oppression. To illustrate this using a legal premise, Crenshaw describes, “A study of rape dispositions in Dallas, for example,
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showed the average prison term for a man convicted of raping a Black woman was two years, as compared to five years for the rape of a Latina and ten years for the rape of an Anglo woman” (2009, p. 228). Thus, to only consider a student’s race in this study would be to deny the intersectionality of people’s identities and the hegemonic systems that inform societal value and de-humanization. However, I will consider race and whiteness first as the focus of this study, and consider other social constructions like gender as they are related to, and there is interplay with race.
Certainly as the grounding theory of this study, this discussion of CRT offers my framing perspective and informs my interpretations and analysis. For instance, given that Delgado (1995) shows us that whiteness is normalized and indeed omnipresent, during my project, I worked to understand how whiteness is normalized in the classroom and in the interactions of students, the instructor, and the teaching assistant. As Harris (1993) explains that whiteness functions as property, I considered what I saw in the classroom and in interviews using that frame. I asked, how is whiteness being used to exclude? How is it being enjoyed by whites? What privileges and advantages are whites experiencing? How are Students of Color being excluded from and by whiteness? I worked to understand classroom routines, the way knowledge is created and lauded, and who was credited with being right and assumed to be right, and how that squared with CRT’s tenets.
As I discuss in my methods below, I drew on the experiences, counterstories (Solorzano & Yosso, 2002), and countemarratives (Preston, 2013) of Students of Color in the classroom to make sense of the course experiences. How did they experience, internalize, and resist normalized and permanent racism and how did that impact the classroom in turn?
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CRT encourages transdisciplinary approaches (Nishi, Matias, Montoya, & Sarcedo,
2016). So, embracing this, when I saw themes that didn’t seem to be appropriate as a CRT application, I used complementary approaches discussed below and I returned to the literature and scholarship and integrate other theories/approaches to make sense of what I saw and to square it with my larger framework.
Critical Whiteness Studies
Although Critical Whiteness Studies (CWS) has only been named as such for a relatively short duration, they have been in effect for over a century. The first of what scholars consider CWS was published by Sociologist, W.E.B. DuBois in his seminal book, The Souls of Black Folk (1903), and subsequent work. DuBois not only vividly describes the experience of Black people during reconstruction, but also begins to critique whites and their whiteness. As DuBois (1999) described, Black people have been forced to develop a double consciousness where they are able to see and understand their experiences as Black people but are also able to understand and navigate whiteness and the white world. On the flipside, DuBois (1999) also developed and offered the concept of the veil describing how white people were blinded to not only the experience of Black people but their own whiteness. In his essay, “The Souls of White Folks,” DuBois writes,
High in the tower, where I sit above the loud complaining of the human sea, I know many souls that toss and whirl and pass, but none there are that intrigue me more than the Souls of White Folk. Of them I am singularly clairvoyant. I see in and through them. I view them from unusual points of vantage. Not as a foreigner do I come, for I am native, not foreign, bone of their thought and flesh of their language. (2003, p. 45)
Certainly, Afro-Caribbean Psychiatrist, Frantz Fanon, was also an early critic of whiteness,
especially in the way he psychoanalyzed the impact of racism and white supremacy on Black
people as well as white people. In fact, he was one of the first to look at how Black people
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enacted whiteness on each other as they imbibed constant messages and ideologies of white superiority and Black inferiority (Fanon, 2008). Beyond this, Fanon (2008) also highlighted and analyzed “the white gaze” (p. 95) and inadvertently the whiteness within that gaze and its consequences for Black people.
Also early on, Black, American novelist and social critic, James Baldwin (1985) reflected on and critiqued whiteness, defining it as “a particular shallowness of mind, an intellectual and spiritual laxness, a terror of individual responsibility” (p. 18). Baldwin’s work looked at the insidious nature of whiteness, as well as its detrimental impact to People of Color and whites (2000).
Yet, whiteness studies (minus the C for critical) is often credited to white, feminist, scholar, Peggy McIntosh whose now well-known piece, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” (2001), which outlined small everyday white privileges that white people receive, such as not being followed in a department store or having a Band-Aid or makeup match white skin tone. Although McIntosh had not been the first to offer insight into whiteness, as a white scholar, she did seem to pique the interests of other whites into the topic, which Leonardo (2013) notes is not surprising since white people tend to prefer to hear messages about whiteness from white people.
This history on the development of CWS describes the lineage that most CWS scholars acknowledge. However, it is worth noting that elements of CWS have also developed in other areas as well. For instance, Harris’s (1993) concept of whiteness as property is considered a tenet of CRT certainly but is considered CWS as well.
I share this brief history of CWS to orient the reader, but also to draw a contrast within whiteness studies. Leonardo (2013) describes two different sorts of whiteness studies: a white
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whiteness studies and a Black whiteness studies. The former is a whiteness studies designed by
whites for whites to be used by whites. The reasoning for a white whiteness studies falls into this
reasoning, since whiteness and racism is a white problem, white whiteness studies should hold
the solution. But yet, when we are reminded of Audre Lorde’s famous quote, “The master’s tools
will never dismantle the master’s house” (2007, p. 110), we realize that when whites take the
lead in issues of racial justice, we end up focused on the superficial, like Band-Aid color and not
focused on the consequences of whiteness that are experienced by People of Color. It’s as
Cultural Anthropologist, Bianca Williams poignantly said, “I don’t have a problem because I am
Black, I have a problem because you’re racist.” (B. Williams, personal communications, May 5,
2017). Thus Black whiteness studies focuses on whiteness to resist the consequences of
whiteness for People of Color. Additionally, a Black whiteness studies recognizes the foundation
of the field as being formed by People of Color, i.e., DuBois and Fanon, where as a white
whiteness studies would likely trace CWS back to McIntosh. As Leonardo (2013), affirms,
It seems that Whites have not been taking heed of [Whiteness] scholarship, and it took White scholars and public figures to repeat or appropriate the message of intellectuals of color in order for Whites in general to assimilate the insights. This is not surprising. Whites are more accommodating when they hear the same message from a white messenger, which preserves white comfort zones and inevitably feelings of safety, (p. 85)
Among the critiques of CWS is that they center whites and whiteness when the more dominant
field of CRT has worked to center the stories and experiences of People of Color. This is a fair
critique, especially given the slippery and evolving nature of whiteness to re-create itself to best
promote the interests of white supremacy at every opportunity (Nishi, Matias, & Montoya,
2015). Yet, Leonardo (2013) makes the case that when it comes to race studies, People of Color
have always been centered, and in non-critical studies this is often because white is not
considered a race, and because People of Color have been considered “the problem,” harkening
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back to when DuBois provocatively asked of Black people, “How does it feel to be a problem?”
(1999, p. 164). Based on this background, Leonardo suggests, “The discursive move that locates
Whiteness at the center of race analysis comes with the purpose of being critical of it, not
recentering it in the usual manner” (2013, p. 91). In alignment with Leonardo’s framing, and
stepping back to look at CWS as a whole, Apple (1998) describes the essential approach:
The most important component of doing Critical Whiteness research: understanding the adverse effects of racism on minoritized students. In the absence of this consideration, this form of inquiry becomes Critical Whiteness for White people, which inadvertently recenters Whiteness and White privilege (p.67)
It is on this note that I describe my merging of CWS with CRT. As explained, the CRT tenets are the guiding theories of this study. CRT frames my approach in this study as well as the interpretations and analyses. Yet, within this CRT framing, CWS defines my focus. Thus, as I observe and interview participants, I will be looking at how whiteness is working (Yoon, 2012) and the enactments and performances of whiteness. However, to stay grounded in CRT, as I work to understand how whiteness is working, I bring it back to the impact that whiteness has on People of Color and their experiences and voices within these enactments of whiteness. So, for example, when I observe a white student use a racial microaggression against a Student of Color, I deconstruct the whiteness in this interaction using scholarship. I then focus on the toll that microaggression takes on People of Color, both in conveying the experience of the Student of Color on the receiving end of the aggression (based on conversations I have with them) and other consequences, according to the literature. Looking to the literature for the impact of whiteness is important because as Yoon (2012) describes, “[whiteness] may not yield immediately observable effects” (p. 590).
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Cabrera (2018) recently offered a critique of CRT, arguing that CRT has lacked a theory to race and racial formation. I find that the way I define and discuss theories of race, racism, and whiteness, that I offer a clear focus within in CRT. My use of CWS in particular fills the gap in CRT that Cabrera notes.
Settler Colonialism
To really understand racism, whiteness, and white supremacism in the United States, it is also crucial to understand settler colonialism (Tuck & Yang, 2012; Wolfe, 1991). Tuck and Yang (2012) describe the unique and violent nature of settler colonialism when the colonizer comes to stay. Certainly, colonization in any form is violent in every way (Fanon, 1963), but when, in the case of the US, the white Europeans colonizers stay or settle, this is done through genocide and the elimination of native peoples (Tuck & Yang, 2012). As we know from US history, the genocide of indigenous people from the country was the white European strategy from the start, but we can see today how settler colonialism still works to erase native people and culture.
Patel (2015) draws on Settler Colonialism and Harris’s theory of Whiteness as Property (1993) to frame the institution of higher education today as “white entitlement to property” (p. 657). She describes how whites feel threatened when there are too many People of Color in a University, which results in their backlash against People of Color. Patel highlights their moves to erase native people from the institution from a settler colonial lens and at the same time work to enslave other People of Color, and particularly Black Americans or cast them in servitude, as is consistent with whites’ property entitlement, this property including the stolen land the institution is built on and the very bodies of People of Color therein.
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Anti-Deficit Achievement Framework
In 2010, Shaun Harper laid out what he described as an Anti-Deficit Achievement Framework. The crux of his approach was that researchers employing this framework should center the achievements of Students of Color. He recommended this approach rather than continuing to look at Students of Color as the very problem for the existence of the achievement
gap-
This study of course focuses on and problematizes whiteness in a college algebra course,
so it is not immediately clear how this framework can fit within my larger conceptual
framework. However, Harper describes the framework in relation to CRT below:
Instead of relying on deficit-laden reinforcements of minority student underachievement from the education and social science literature, an anti-deficit inquiry recognizes students of color as experts on their experiential realities and empowers them to offer counternarratives concerning their success in STEM fields (Harper, 2010, p. 71)
This description describes how I hold the experiences of Students of Color in this study, in in-
depth interviews, and in my descriptions of Students’ of Color role in the critical incidents and
portraits that are illustrated in this dissertation.
Concluding Framework
Cabrera (2018) offered a critique of CRT, suggesting that CRT is lacking a theory of racialization, such that definitions of race that allow for ‘reverse racism’ severely stifle the power behind many of the tenets of CRT. Cabrera urges CRT scholars to instead adopt and describe their theories of racialization. I thus employ multiple theories and frameworks to fill this vital
gap-
In review, this study will be rooted in CRT and Settler Colonialism as complementary in a co-constructed theoretical framework. It will be grounded in Settler Colonialism and CRT’s
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tenets, and they will be core to both my epistemological and ontological functions. Within this theoretical underpinning, I will focus on whiteness, employing the CWS that I’ve described to guide me. I will return to the theoretical framework in the portraits that I ultimately interpret and critically analyze. I will align my analysis and discussion with Harper’s (2010) Anti-Deficit Achievement framework, lest I reinforce the whiteness I am working to highlight and dismantle.
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VI. METHODOLOGY
Qualitative methodology and discussions of such are in constant motion and evolution. The labels, approaches, and epistemologies in which they are grounded are also in constant flux and they fluctuate within each discipline and sub-discipline. I begin my articulation of my methodology with this premise as I approach the daunting task of nailing down my methodology. Within this flux, I bear in mind the words of Anzaldua (1990), “Necesitamos teorias [we need theories] that will rewrite history using race, class, gender, and ethnicity as categories of analysis, theories that cross borders, that blur boundaries—new kinds of theories with new theorizing methods” (p. xxv). Within this, Anzaldua calls us to develop and evolve theories and methods that are most conducive to discovering and portraying marginalized realities and perspectives. Naturally these theories and methods are often suspect in the traditional and recognized realms of research that continue to rely on fictive objectivity and a singular truth. To refute these fictions, Solorzano and Yosso address them directly in their description of a critical race methodology: “A critical race methodology in education challenges White privilege, rejects notions of “neutral” research or “objective” researchers, and exposes deficit-informed research that silences and distorts epistemologies of people of color” (Solorzano & Yosso, 2002, p. 26).
As this study’s methodology is indeed a critical race methodology, I operate and move through the multiple truths and realities believed and experienced by teachers and learners in a course together.
In this project, I use portraiture (Lawrence-Lightfoot & Davis, 1997) as my overarching methodology, and under this framework draw on methods in ethnography, narrative inquiry, and hermeneutic phenomenology (Ohito, 2017). In what follows, I offer a discussion describing these methods and my use of them. I then close with a description of my methodological procedure.
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Portraiture
To answer my research question of how does whiteness work in a college algebra course, I employ portraiture. Lawrence-Lightfoot and Davis (1997) in their foundational book on portraiture, describe it as,
a method of qualitative research that blurs the boundaries of aesthetics and empiricism in an effort to capture the complexity, dynamics and subtlety of human experience and organizational life. Portraitists seek to record and interpret the perspectives and experience of the people they are studying, documenting their voices and their visions— their authority, knowledge, and wisdom.” (Lawrence-Lightfoot & Davis, 1997, p. xv)
Portraiture, then, is a “blending of qualitative methodologies” (Dixson, Chapman, & Hill, 2005,
p. 17). Ohito (2017) describes portraiture as a methodological hybrid that draws from
hermeneutic phenomenology, ethnography, and narrative inquiry. The foci of portraiture
includes context, voice, relationships, emergent themes, and the aesthetic whole (Lawrence-
Lightfoot & Davis, 1997). Lawrence-Lightfoot (2005), as the founding portraiture
methodologist, describes how portraiture seeks to present a version of an experience, where,
similar to portraitists painting a picture, the model or subject will see a version of themselves that
does not perfectly reflect them as they see themselves, but offers a version of themselves as
discovered and seen by the artist. In this way, the portraitist is working to reveal a version of the
model she, as the artist, sees but is also including herself in the portrait in what she includes and
what she does not. As Dixson describes, “the portrait represents, in part, the portraitist’s vision or
seeing of the subject.” (2005, p. 112).
Although this methodology may not seem like the best fit for my research question, given that my research question demands a critical race approach and a fierce critique of whiteness while portraiture comes across as almost passively interpretive at first blush, I argue that it is an ideal fit. In terms of the alignment between portraiture and CRT, several scholars have conducted
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CRT research using portraiture. Most notably, Chapman (2005) uses CRT and portraiture to study a racially diverse ninth grade classroom with a white female teacher. Although Chapman does critique the teacher, she does it in dialogue with the teacher and students and works to center the experiences of Students of Color in that climate.
Thus, the final product of this research includes several portraits including narratives, critical incidents, and analyses from the algebra class. These portraits express how whiteness is performed and impacts participants in the course by illustrating what the performances of whiteness look like and what the consequences of whiteness feel like. In alignment with Ohito (2017), below I describe how I employ ethnography, narrative inquiry, and critical hermeneutic analysis in my portraiture.
Ethnographic methods
The critical ethnography of the algebra class is core to this project. I was what Espinoza terms “an unusually observant participant” (M. Espinoza, Personal Communication, November 4, 2016) in the class.
I drew on Carspecken’s (1996) “five stages for critical qualitative research” (pp. 41-43) to direct my field methods. In stage one, I began sitting in the class sessions without participating to be as unobtrusive as possible with the exception of introducing myself to the class and briefly explaining what I was doing, in addition to sharing my disclosure statement in fulfillment of my Colorado Multiple Institutional Review Board (COMIRB) approvals. This unobtrusive stage was essential to building trust with students as well as building their comfort with me observing. I took jottings during this stage, and compiled my written field notes along with a reflection immediately after the class observation.
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In stage two: “Preliminary Reconstructive Analysis” (Carspecken, 1996, p.42), I began to identify patterns or structures in the class and assigned preliminary meanings to remarkable trends or deviations that I was observing. My initial analysis and meaning-making happened as I was observing the class and led to where and on whom I focused my attention and tried to capture examples of the trends I was seeing as are described in the resulting chapters.
I further analyzed my field notes by chunking them and developing and assigning codes to the chunks. I used a Constant Comparative Analysis (CCA) (Strauss & Corbin, 1998) to assign the coded chunks to themes.
Carspecken’s (1996) stage three is “Dialogical data generation” (p.42). In this stage, the researcher begins a dialogue with those she is studying. In the latter half of the class, I began talking with students and inviting them to lunch or coffee for a more in-depth interview.
Carspecken’s stages four and five, “Discovering systems relations” (p. 42) and “Using system relations to explain findings” (p.43), respectively look more at the analysis and interpretation of the ethnography. At this point, I diverged slightly from the five stages since I specifically used a hybrid of critical analysis and interpretation methods outlined in the sections below.
My methods drew on critical ethnography employed by Warren (2001) in his examination of an introductory Communications course. In his study, Warren explicitly focuses on the performance of racial identity and the performance of culture in a college Communications course. He focuses on the representation of race and culture, as well as racial stereotypes reinforced in the course. Given my pilot observation experiences, and the literature focused on the co-construction and negotiation of math identity along with racial, gender, and
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other identity construction and negotiation, I incorporated into my methods the way that Warren “[watches] for Whiteness” (p. 93).
Because I conducted in-depth interviews with students of diverse racial identities and genders, I was cognizant and reflective of my own identities and how they might impact the interviews. As Dunbar, Rodriguez, and Parker (2012) suggest, People of Color given their histories of oppression by whites may be suspicious or distrustful of white interviewers.
Similarly, Ortiz (2005) recommends extra mindfulness, and even management of masculinity (or femininity) when interviewing people of different genders and the dynamics inherent in such.
The way I managed this was at times performing particularly femininity to allow both men and women to feel comfortable. For instance, one man (student) explained to me that he needed to postpone our interview because his wife had come home the day before saying she wanted a divorce. I used a consoling tone to tell him I was sorry and assure him that we could reschedule the interview if and when he felt ready. He went on to disclose more about his marriage with me as I nodded sympathetically. This man’s expectation of me as a woman was to be consoling/sympathetic and I provided this in an effort to maintain our connection.
Narrative Inquiry
Chase (2011) suggests, narrative is unique, “as meaning making through the shaping or
ordering of experience, a way of understanding one’s own or other’s actions, or organizing
events and objects into a meaningful whole” (p. 421). In terms of ordering, Clandinin and
Connelly (2000) suggest that those employing narrative inquiry consider what they describe as
the four directions of any inquiry: inward and outward, backward and forward. By inward we mean toward the internal conditions, such as feelings, hopes, aesthetic reactions, and moral dispositions. By outward, we mean toward the existential conditions, that is the environment. By backward and forward, we refer to temporality - past, present, and future, (p.50)
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I thus draw on these four directions to craft the resulting portraits, moving from past to present and back again or making intuitive sense of things based on past experiences and then looking at the meaning being created outside of my own but still with me. I make these creative choices in the portraiture to best tell the story and allow the reader to experience whiteness in college algebra.
To analyze using narrative inquiry, it’s important to ask: “What is the point of [each] story?” (Mishler, 1986, pp. 236-237; Richmond, 2002, p. 3) and assess the dominant narratives and countemarratives (Preston, 2013; Solorzano & Yosso, 2002) present. Solorzano and Yosso (2002) describe the idea of countemarrative as part of a larger Critical Race Methodology where the researcher resists a majoritarian story or master narrative (Matsuda, 1995) with a counterstory or countemarrative. As they describe, “a majoritarian story is one that privileges Whites, men, the middle and/or upper class, and heterosexuals by naming these social locations as natural or normative points of reference” (Solorzano & Yosso, 2002, p. 28). This work then will offer a critique of the majoritarian stories as well as offer countemarratives.
These master narratives (Matsuda, 1995) and countemarratives will then be analyzed in light of their relationship (Chase, 2011). Richmond (2002) suggests that in conducting a narrative analysis, four categories be used to analyze core narratives and their relationship: orientation, abstract, complicating action, and resolution. Thus, I use a narrative approach to code and analyze my observations and experiences in the algebra class and then describe both the critical experiences and analyses in narrative form. Kahn (2011) does this eloquently in his ethnography of a small private preparatory school in his narratives around privilege in his book by the same name. As a former student and now teacher at the same school, Kahn weaves his
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observations, interviews, and personal experiences into a narrative to show how privilege is learned, taught, and operates among a new generation of wealthy American children, contrasting dominant and counternarratives. Also, like Kahn, I employ analysis and break my portraits into critical themes more heavily in the last chapters of this dissertation. Kahn does this strategically, as do I to spend the early chapters orienting the reader to the setting and the people involved in the study.
Hermeneutic Phenomenology using a Hermeneutics of Whiteness
Certainly, analysis and interpretation suffused the entirety of the project. Even as I was observing sections of MATH 112,1 was deriving meaning and analyzing norms in the classroom. As Emerson, Fretz, and Shaw (1995), describe, “We insist that data do not stand alone; rather analysis pervades all phrases of the research enterprise - as the researcher makes observations, records them in fieldnotes, codes these notes in analytic categories, and finally develops explicit theoretical propositions.” (p. 144)
Yet, although this analysis will be ongoing and both formal and informal, I do want to offer some structure and thinking into how I analyzed and interpreted the mass of data that I accumulated. Throughout this project, I created field notes, which were reflective write-ups of observations. I also transcribed all in-depth interviews where the student or teacher agreed to be recorded (one student asked to not be recorded). To begin the formal analysis of these, in alignment with Emerson, Fretz, and Shaw’s (1995) recommended methods for analysis, I reviewed all data, chunked it, and coded it using a Constant Comparative Analysis (CCA) (Strauss & Corbin, 1998). I would chunk the data by pulling it into meaningful sections (some were as small as a sentence clause and some were multiple paragraphs), where I saw something relevant to my research question or when I would notice a trend. After identifying a chunk, I
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would then assign it a code or codes based on what it seemed to be an example of. Using CCA, for each new chunk, I would compare and contrast the chunk to previous chunks in determining the codes I assigned or if it called for the creation of a new code. This maintained consistency in the coding. I completed this process, using Dedoose, to allow me to easily compare and analyze codes as I looked for trends and mapped them to my theoretical framework. I then drafted theoretical memos on the themes I identified and grounded them within my framework and the literature.
Traditionally, educational researchers have neglected to identify and describe their hermeneutic approach in analysis and interpretation. Yet as some in the discipline work to devalue critical theoretical work and even qualitative work that includes a critical theoretical bent, as this study will, it is wise to discuss one’s hermeneutical approach. It is as Allen (2015), notes, “Meaning does not emerge from data as if by magic. It is honed out of active hermeneutical processes that are driven by historical imaginations and objective effects researchers may or may not be conscious of’ (pp. 8-9)
Thus, I employed critical hermeneutics in my analysis and development of the narrative themes from the data. When examining practices in education, hermeneutics cannot be avoided (Gallagher, 1992), for what are we doing in education that does not call for thoughtful interpretation? Beyond thoughtful, my analysis is critical, for as Gallagher suggests “Interpretation, to the extent that it is not critical, that is, to the extent that it is naively unreflective and ideological, is reproductive interpretation” (1992, p. 241). Thus, as critical hermeneutics seeks change and emancipation in power structures to interpret in such a way that one reproduces the same power structures would indeed reinforce hegemony. To echo this, Solorzano and Yosso (2002) suggest that “Methodologies that dismiss or decenter racism and its
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intersections with other forms of subordination omit and distort the experiences of those whose lives are daily affected by racism” (2002, p. 31-32).
To return to Allen (2015), when looking particularly at whiteness, we can assume that most non-critical hermeneutics employed are not only hegemonic but support white supremacy. Thus, employing “a critical hermeneutics of White supremacy” (Allen, 2015, p. 9) is necessary to deconstruct racism and whiteness, which I did intentionally. Similarly, Leonardo (2016) describes this stance as a hermeneutics of whiteness. To put it more plainly, in acknowledging Bell’s (1992) permanence and normalcy of racism, since we know white supremacy is normalized in higher education, I interpreted interactions, identity performance, and statements through this critical hermeneutical lens.
As Gallagher (1992) suggests, a critical hermeneutical approach is one of suspicion and a highly skeptical perspective. Critical hermeneutics recognizes that education unchecked reproduces ideologies and hegemonic norms that are initially in place. A hermeneutics of whiteness then acknowledges what Matias and Newlove (2017a) refer to as an enwhitened epistemology. They describe this epistemology as espousing Mills’ (2007) concept of an epistemology of ignorance placated by whites but now emboldened in the Trump presidential era. This enwhitened epistemology then assumes former iterations in the performance of white supremacism and evolution of whiteness, such as abstract liberalism (Bonilla-Silva, 2014).
These racially-biased epistemologies (Scheurich & Young, 1997) create an insidious form of epistemological framing, employed heavily by the Trump administration and the media. Cabrera, Franklin, and Watson (2017) also draws on Mills’ 2007 concept in describing whiteness as an epistemology of ignorance, describing this as,
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The epistemologies of ignorance represented a willful aversion to the human suffering caused by systemic White supremacy, which has a twofold effect. First, if ignorance is bliss, then racial ignorance allows White people to remain racially blissful (or at least not complicit in racial oppression). Second, it allows the contours of contemporary systemic racism to remain un-interrogated and therefore remain in place” (Cabrera, Franklin, & Watson, 2016, p. 21).
In employing Mills’ 2007 epistemology of whiteness, these authors (Cabrera, Franklin, & Watson, 2016; Matias & Newlove, 2017a) show us the epistemological framing of whiteness and its consequences for People of Color in the continued hegemonic nature of whiteness. Thus, I apply a hermeneutics of whiteness in my use of portraiture, seeking to disrupt and prevent in aiding this reproduction of enwhitened epistemology.
Given this discussion of my epistemological and hermeneutical stand-points, I engaged in Heideggerian Phenomenology (Heidegger, 1962). This sort of phenomenology relies on several distinguishing factors. Ontologically, this hermeneutic approach draws from an interpretivist framework, which accepts that there is not one but many realities, and thus does not seek any one reality or Truth (Denzin & Lincoln, 2000; Laverty, 2003). Epistemologically, this hermeneutic phenomenological approach embraces the relationship between researcher and participant, and includes the researcher’s experiences and historicality in the research (Laverty, 2003). In this way, my approach rejects the process of bracketing, where the researcher tries to suspend her biases in her research. Certainly, I acknowledged my experiences and biases and looked at how they related or didn’t relate to the critical incidents and narratives I saw and heard from participants. I did this by holding my salient identities, discussed above, in mind throughout this study and in my analysis. I analyzed my own words in my interviews (coding and chunking them along with the voices of my interviewees). I also analyzed my reflections related to my ethnographic observations. Given that I am white, I also discussed my analyses and findings with
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other colleagues, and particularly Race Scholars of Color, who at times, identified biases or areas that I had overlooked.
A final factor in this approach is the cyclical nature of hermeneutic phenomenology (Kvale, 1996). Laverty (2003) describes this cycle as “spiraling through a hermeneutic circle as occurring when one has reached a place of sensible meaning, free of inner contradictions, for the moment” (p. 25). Thus, although for clarity I am describing this process as linear, in actuality, it emulated a spiral process of interpreting, understanding, and knowing.
To merge these sub-methods and particularly my hermeneutic phenomenological approach with portraiture, I return to Lawrence-Lightfoot and Davis (1997) where they describe the application poignantly, saying,
In portraiture, the researcher - the artist - interprets the subject of the portrait internally by searching for coherence in what she observes and discovers. The research represents that interpretation through the construction of the portrait intentionally employing aesthetic aspects in order to convey meaning (p. 30).
Within this quote, we see how ethnography, hermeneutic phenomenology, and narrative are
woven together in portraiture to offer an aesthetic whole to the reader who then brings their
experiences and understanding to bear on the portrait (Lawrence-Lightfoot & Davis, 1997).
Below, I describe the procedure I used to employ my portraiture methodology.
Procedure
In this study, I employed a portraiture methodology of an introductory algebra course at Western Urban University (WUU). I sat in a semester’s worth of classes and recitations for that course. The main study was conducted in one section of a MATH 112: college algebra course at WUU in the Fall of 2017.1 was given access by the lead algebra Senior Instructor, Peter, for MATH 112 to conduct initial observations of courses. As a pilot, I sat in my first course in the
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Fall of 2016, then a next course in Spring of 2017. I did have Colorado Multiple Institutional Review Board (COMIRB) approval for the Spring 2017 observations in addition to the Fall,
2017 course. As such, although the resulting chapters focus on the Fall 2017 course and students, I do draw on my fieldnotes from Spring of 2017 where they add contrast. Throughout these course observations, I continued to cultivate my relationship with Peter by providing reports and best practices from the literature to aid the work of him and his team as they continued to improve learning for all algebra students. Additionally, I reviewed all materials (artifacts): syllabus, homework sets, application sets, study guides, etc. to serve as contextual information to my observations.
In his classes, Peter and Chen (the Teaching Assistant (TA)) frequently asked students to fill out “exit tickets” at the end of class. In these exit tickets, students described how they were doing, what types of problems they understood, where they were having trouble, etc. Peter and Chen provided me copies of these exit tickets. These exit tickets included student names, gave me a sense of how they were doing on a class-by-class basis to aid my understanding of what I observed.
For the participant observations, I sat in the course meetings of one section of the MATH 112 course taught by Peter and Chen. While in the class meetings, I was a participant observer, mainly observing the larger group when the instructor or TA was lecturing and moving around to different tables to observe group interactions. I note that I considered myself a participant observer, because at various points I did intervene and engage with students and the instructors during class, although for the most part, I tried to ‘blend in’ while I observed to have the least impact on other participants.
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During the course observations, I took jottings by hand in a notebook. Immediately, upon conclusion of a class, I wrote a reflection of my class observations. Then, within 24 hours of the class observed (and usually immediately after class), I reviewed my jottings and post-class reflection and translated all of this data into field notes for that observation. These field notes were produced digitally and stored on a secure server.
I looked for opportunities to conduct in-depth interviews with students involved in critical incidents and trends to better understand their perception and experience in particular classes. I began by emailing students mid-way through the course asking if they would be interested in my interviewing them, but after getting only a couple of responses, I resorted to trying to catch students before or after class or during the break to ask if they’d have time for an interview over coffee or lunch, depending on the time of day we chose. With permission and informed consent, I audio recorded all interviews (except one where the student was uncomfortable with me recording) and transcribed all recordings and stored the transcriptions on a secure server.
As this study focuses on race and whiteness specifically, while I was conducting observations, I identified and noted how participants present racially, based on phenotypes and names. Additionally, with Peter’s permission, I asked all students in their exit tickets near the end of the class how they identify racially as well as their gender identity5, so that I would not base racial and gender identity on my interpretation alone. Additionally, when I conducted the in-depth interviews with students based on incidents witnessed during class, I asked interviewees
51 made a class announcement before the exit tickets were passed out, explaining why I was asking about their racial and gender identities (so I didn’t make false assumptions], and that if anyone was uncomfortable responding, to simply leave their exit ticket blank, and that was no problem.
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how they identified racially to confirm my own identifiers. This is also because most of the interviews happened before I was able to inquire through the class exit tickets.
I used these methods to document students’ and instructors’ racial and gender identities as an additional data point. I want to be clear that accuracy around racial or gender identity is not possible, nor necessary for a couple of reasons. First, this study is framed around the understanding that race is socially constructed and is not inherent or biological. Secondly, whiteness as it is defined in this study, can be performed by anyone, including a Person of Color. Of course, that said, racial microaggressions as I’m defining them cannot be wielded against a white person, thus I could foreseeably mis-identify and ultimately mis-read a situation that involved microaggressions if the receiver of the micro-aggression was white but I mistook them as a Person of Color, thus the importance of asking people to identify as well. To offer a current example of this. Senator Elizabeth Warren recently released a video discussing her Native American ancestry that she’d ‘confirmed’ through genetic testing. Yet, Elizabeth Warren presents as white and was raised white, along with all the inherent benefits and privileges therein. So, although, if I were to interview Senator Warren for my study, she might conceivably discuss her Native American ancestry as a part of her identity (particularly before the backlash she received for the video), it would not be appropriate for me to ignore my interpretation of her being white for the purposes of this study. I would need to consider both data points in a portrait of her.
Because I am interested in carrying out this work with and in service of the college algebra community, I held meetings/interviews with Peter, the course instructor every other week. With his permission and consent, I audio record these discussions and had them all transcribed. During these conversations, I shared what I was seeing and what I’d noticed in class
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and asked him questions around his reactions and perspectives on my observations. I did this for a couple of reasons: the first being that I wanted my observations and work to be useful to the course instructor as he himself is working to improve the college algebra experience for all students. The second reason was to include the voice and perspective of the instructor, as another swath of paint to use in my portraiture. I also interviewed the TA for the course, Chen, following the course and had a very candid discussion with him about what I saw in the course, seeking his perspective on my observations and themes.
When the course had ended, I reviewed all field notes and interview transcripts and coded them using Constant Comparative Analysis (CCA) (Strauss & Corbin, 1998) in Dedoose, a qualitative analytic software. Using CCA and Dedoose, I reviewed my data line by line, chunked the data and and assigned codes to the chunks. These codes were assigned based on how a certain data chunk compared to those coded before it in determining whether it was given a previously assigned code or if it instead called for a new code. These codes, along with their chunks of data were then analyzed and sorted into themes. After the CCA was complete, I made sense of the themes using a critical hermeneutics of whiteness. Based on this sense-making, I then used my data to create the portraits, which included narratives, analysis, and reflection. Limitations
In terms of scope, the data collection, including a review of course materials, class observations in fieldnotes, and transcriptions or notes (when not recorded) of in-depth interviews, was contained within one semester (approximately 15 weeks). This course period represented the entirety that this learning community was together. The data included, coded, and analyzed in this study included field notes, interview transcripts with students, and interview transcripts from conversations with the Instructor, which occurred approximately every other
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week, and the TA. Course materials including the course syllabus, exit tickets, and other relevant artifacts were collected and analyzed as well.
This study and its results are not generalizable nor conclusive. Portraiture offers narratives and related analysis that recognize the uniqueness of the situation and the learning community. Also, given the close ties of the researcher to the research and the research participants, this was not an objective study. However, this study does have larger implications, in that it offers insight into how whiteness works in one college algebra course and offers perspective and even considerations to instructors of college algebra and other similar STEM courses for how to recognize, manage, and resist whiteness in their classrooms.
To manage interviewer bias and other effects, including social desirability or stereotype threat or lift, I focused all interviews mainly on incidents I observed. I began each interview with a set of questions (see Appendix A), where I was careful to allow the student or instructor to answer without knowing my thoughts. I designed the opening questions to be open and nonleading and was cognizant of this when interviewing. The second half of the interview was more conversational where I began to share with the person being interviewed more about my study, why I was doing it, and what I was seeing. This led to far more candid conversations, particularly with Students of Color when they realized that I, although I am white, wasn’t looking for them to affirm or accept white norms.
One other limitation of this study is who chose to be interviewed. Although, I invited white men who made up “the Bros,” none of them agreed to be interviewed. All of the Students of Color I invited for an interview, verbally, accepted and these interviews were much longer and insightful than those with white participants. The white women that I interviewed offered me what felt like the nice white liberal scripts expected of them when it came to discussing race in
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their in-depth interviews. Thus, my resulting chapters are limited in their understanding of how and how much the white students in the class understood or felt about whiteness.
The following chapters offer the resulting portraits and analysis of this dissertation study. I begin by offering a portrait of one of the pilot algebra classes I sat in on before I conducted the formal dissertation project. I then provide a chapter with a portrait of the algebra class. I describe how the course operates and how the initial student groups formed. I then go on to describe the three students groups that I focused this dissertation on and offer some initial analysis of the whiteness and white racial bonding (Sleeter, 1994; 1996) in these groups. I then offer a description of the three Students of Color who were part of the mostly white groups described in chapter nine. I go into detail on who these students are and their perspectives on their college algebra experience. I do this to center these Students of Color and their experiences in the concluding chapters that illustrate and analyze other elements of whiteness in the college algebra class. Aside from Chapter Seven, I focus the resulting chapters on the Fall 2017 semester of College Algebra, where I observed every class session, including lecture and recitation (except one when I was gone for a conference) and interviewed many of students, as well as the instructor (every other week) and the Teaching Asssistant after the course had ended. I do draw on previously observed courses from my pilot when they are useful to offer a holistic portrait.
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VII. WHAT’S YOUR NAME AGAIN? THE PAIN OF FALSE EMPATHY
(A PILOT)
In what follows, I offer a portrait, including narrative, analysis, and reflection based on my class observations from spring 2017. This portrait is significant in the way that it shows the quickness that whiteness shows up in a STEM college course, the precedent that whiteness sets, and the damage it does to the trust and experience that Students of Color often have.
On the first day of their college algebra class, 28 students sat in their hexagon-shaped tables with four to five students at each. The Teaching Assistant (TA), Chen6, stared intently at the classroom computer, perched on a podium at the front of the room. Chen, a small, thin man with dark eyes and hair wore a long thin beard and mustache, along with longer hair that was thinning on top. His name along with his appearance, suggested he was biracial (AAPI and white)7. He could likely pass for white if not for his name and longish facial hair.
Chen’s water bottle and notes lay on the table closest to him, where no one but me sat, as his papers and bottle seemed to have signaled an invisible tape saying “Teachers Only: Do not sit here.” As if on cue, Peter, the course instructor glided through the door and moved up to the front of the class to check in with Chen and set his materials on the Teachers-Only table. Peter, glancing at his watch, urged Chen to begin the class. And, with that, Chen using his teacher’s voice welcomed the group of now quieted students to College Algebra. After introducing himself along with Peter, Chen then directed the students to form a circle around the perimeter of the room. Jan, a 20-something white female student raised her hand to ask a few requisite questions
6 All names in the portraits are pseudonyms.
7 All race identifications in this pilot are based on my interpretations of how they presented, since no interviews were conducted in this study.
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on whether or not they were returning to their seats and whether or not she should take her book bag and was assured by Chen that they would return to their seats and she could leave her bag.
All of the students, Chen, Peter, and I stood in a circle looking interested and slightly anxious around what would come next. Chen then explained the exercise: “In this class, we want to know your names and we want to say them correctly. So we’ll go around and each say our names in a loud voice and the class will repeat each name back so we get it right... My name is Chen Wu,” said Chen boldly. “Chen Wu,” echoed the group. The white male student next to him abbreviated his response, saying “Tyler Anderson.” “Tyler Anderson,” we replied. The rest of the students followed suit: “Iris Wang,” “Elsa Marshall,” “Jamie Cooper...” each reverberating as the large group reflected the names back to their owners.
There were only two Latino students standing together on the far side of the circle. The shorter of the two had on a backwards hat, jeans, and a t-shirt. He had a friendly and interested expression on his face. When it was his turn, he stated, “Juan Martinez,” projecting his voice just slightly to be heard but not enough to seem like he was yelling. “Juan Martinez” we replied and Juan smiled slightly.
As the students went around calling out their names, Chen, was busy checking off students on his attendance list. When we were done, Chen excused us to return to our seats. His brow was furrowed as he tried to figure out who he’d missed in attendance. Amidst the bustle of students returning to their seats and situating themselves, Chen called out, “Is John here?” Chen paused as he looked back at his sheet to identify the student in question’s last name. “Is John.. .Martinez here?” Juan, who had not responded to John, looked up abruptly as he recognized his last name. “Here!” he called out with a smirk on his face seemingly waiting for Chen to realize the mispronunciation of his name after the exercise we’d just completed to
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prevent the very same. “Oh, thanks John,” replied Chen not looking up from his attendance sheet as he added a final check mark next to Juan’s name. Juan’s smile dropped as he realized his TA was not going to realize the mistake, and sat back down quietly at his table.
In this narrative, we see the class TA make a simple mistake in mispronouncing Juan’s name. Yet, as Kohli and Solorzano (2012) explain, “For many Students of Color, a mispronunciation of their name is one of the many ways in which their cultural heritage is devalued” (p. 454). When we apply CRT and CWS to this narrative, we understand that this mispronunciation is indeed a racial microaggression. Racial microaggressions are defined as “subtle insults (verbal, nonverbal, and/or visual) directed toward People of Color, often automatically or unconsciously” (Solorzano, Ceja, & Yosso, 2000, p.60). These aggressions are likened to “death by a thousand paper cuts” (Kattari, 2018, p.l) where one alone is a nuisance but not significantly damaging, yet when a Person of Color is subjected to them repeatedly, daily and even hourly, which they are, it wounds the soul and can result in racial battle fatigue (Smith, Hung, & Franklin, 2011) where the conditions include psychological and physiological stressors and accompanying health issues (Sue et al, 2007).
To understand how the mispronunciation of a Latinx name is a racial microagression, it is helpful to look at how the act is symbolically violent (Bourdieu & Passeron, 1990). The mispronunciation of a Spanish name or the name of a Person of Color “pathologizes cultural values/communication styles” (Sue et al., 2007, p. 278) and works to normalize white/Anglo language and people. When we remember the history of the United States, where indigenous people were given new, anglicized names by white Christians as part of the larger settler colonization (Wolfe, 2006) of the US and the genocide of indigenous people and their culture (Zitkala-sa 1921), we better understand the insidious history of name-changing, where it was
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Full Text

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CRITICAL RIGHTNESS STUDIES: WHITENESS IN COLLEGE ALGEBRA by NAOMI W. NISHI B.S., Michigan Technological University, 2001 M.A., University of Denver, 2005 A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy Education and Human Development 2019

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ii © 2019 NAOMI W. NISHI ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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iii This thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy degree by Naomi W. Nishi has been approved for the Education and Human Development Program by Cheryl E. Matias, Chair Brenda J. Allen Sheila M. Shannon Robert M. Talbot Date: May 18, 2019

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iv Nishi, Naomi W. ( PhD, School of Education and Human Development ) Critical Rightness Studies: Whiteness in College Algebra Thesis directed by Associate Professor Cheryl E. Matias ABSTRACT Whiteness is present and performed when whites are discussing race a nd racism . It is also shows, white students in college algebra participate in white racial bonding, committing racial microaggressions and what I coin nanoaggressions against Students of Color . White students also perform whiteness through their hoard ing class resources and forcing Students of Color to earn inclusion through a host of unspoken rules and white ness norms. This study uses critical portraiture to richly dem onstrate what whiteness and racism looks and feels like in a college algebra class and the consequences of this whiteness for Students of Color. I conclude by questioning the necessity of algebra as a gatekeeper course for STEM majors and offer implication s and recommendations to dismantle this whiteness. The form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication. Approved: Cheryl E. Matias

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v DEDICATION I dedicate this diss ertation to Mariah, Quentin, Dila , and other Student s of Color sitting in college algebra who wonder why their white valued , and recognized for your brilliance. And may whites start problematizing themselves.

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vi ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This dissertation study has been ap proved as exempt by the Colorado Multiple Institutio nal Review Board (COMIRB), Protocol Number 17 0138 . I want to start by acknowledging myself. I recognize this may be seen as tacky or problematic, especially as a white woman studying whiteness. Yet, I be lieved in myself, encouraged myself, and did the work , even when no one else was around . I did this work while raising my small kids ( including being pregnant, birthing, and nursing Benjamin), working as a full time professional, and steadily publishing an d presenting at top conferences. Although many inspired and encouraged me, I drove myself through it all. Professor Linda Mizell said to me in the first semester of this doctoral program that for her, grad school was a gift she gave to herself. I echo and add on to this sentiment to say, grad school was a gift and a burden I gave to myself. When I first started working on my application to this doctoral program, Barack Obama had just been elected to his second term. As I finish, our 45 th President is moving toward the end of his first term (none too quickly) . I still sometimes wonder if it has just been a terrible dream, but then I remember, what is true now was true before the 45 th took office: heteropatriarchal white supremacism has been the rule of this l and since it was stolen from Native Americans and we enslaved Africans . So, I acknowledge the time in which I am writing this dissertation. I am thankful to my husband and life partner, Brian, for things like taking the kids when I had class or needed to w rite, but more for engaging with me as I began questioning and disrupting norms, not only within society but those that were present within our own histories and family. I was reminded when entering this program of the high rate of divorce for PhD students are not necessarily speci al, but I recognize that the difference is and will be not only our love and

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vii commitment to each other and our children, but also our willingn ess to acknowledge and resist the hegemony and oppression in our world and in ourselves and to continue to resist it in all place s , including in and with each other. student . You will also probably not remember much of me as a PhD student when you are grown. But know that you have made my experience in this journey meaningful in a way that would not be possible without you. I know you will take my work and my life and do more for humanity and social justice than I could dream . I am thankful to my faculty advisor, Dr. Cheryl M atias, for indoctrinating me in to academe in so many ways and encouraging me to join the scholarly dialogue even before I was sure I was ready. Thank you for your guidance and support. Dr. Shannon , thank you for your teaching and guidance, particularly related to ethnography. Your stories and advice echo in my head as I do this work. Dr. Allen, thank you for your support and mentoring of me in so many capac ities. I have learned so much about higher ed and diversity leadership from you . Dr. Talbot, thank you for providing your insight as a science educator to ensure that this work is meaningful outside of race and whiteness studies. To my hermanxs in the Core 5: Roberto Montoya, Geneva Sarcedo, Danielle Walker, and Mariana Del Hier r o pain and joy in it just to know each of you. I have learned more from each one of you than the sum of eve ry formal part of this academic exercise. I feel stronger and more hopeful knowing

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viii To Amanda Parker, my academic soul tant your friendship is to me and has been to my academic journey, but suffice it to say that you are er, when we are both PhDs. I wish to thank and acknowledge others in the School of Edu cation and Human Development for their support. This includes Dr. Barbara Seidl and the Teacher Education faculty group for providing me funding and support for my dissertation project. Also, thank you to Dr. Dorothy Garrison Wade for your support and enco uragement when I needed it most. Thank you to Dr. Manuel Espinoza for always being there and for your sage wisdom and advice whenever I needed it. To Dr. Amy Ferrell , thank you for your constant warmth and friendship. Thank you to Dr. Luis Poza for your Sp encer guidance and encouragement when I would run into you on the corner. Thank you to Dr. Linda Mizell for teaching the most critical and difficult course in my PhD experience; you inspire me still . I also want to acknowledge Gary Olsen for his support of this project and the insight and trust he provided me that made it possible to do this important work. I want to also acknowledge my mentors and supporters, Dr. Denise Pearson and Dr. Andrea Herrera. You were there for me when I really needed your suppor t and encouragement, and I cannot thank you enough. Certainly, it takes a village for Naomi to get a PhD, and I am so thankful to my boss and friend , Lynette Michael for your support, feedback, listening ear, accompanying me to meet with university counsel , deleting emails demanding my firing , and always, always going to bat for me. I cannot thank you enough. Thank you to our ORS leader and figurehead, Bob Damrauer, for your confidence in me and all the insight you have shared with me around what it reall y means to be faculty leader .

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ix I am thankful to my parents, Tom and Lois Marshall for always supporting me and listening to me even when it challenged and/or offended them. I love you so much and I never underestimate how you raised me to seek social justic e and equity always. Thank you to Anne Marie Nishi, my other mother, for supporting me, taking the kids when I needed to write, reading all of my publications, and continuing to encourage me throughout. Thank you for always being my cheerleader. Lastly, I want to acknowledge everything I learned and the truths uncovered in this dissertation process and I end these acknowledgements with a quote from my concluding chapter: class room are we ready to genuinely center Students of Color and their experiences, not as the

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x TABLE OF CONTENTS ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ .................... iv TABLE OF CONTENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. x CHAPTER ................................ ................................ ................................ ........................ 1 I. INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 1 Statement of Problem ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 1 Positionality ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 2 Terminologies ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 4 Overview of the Dissertation ................................ ................................ ...................... 12 II. WHITENESS IN HIGHER EDUCATION ................................ ................................ 14 Whiteness in the college classroom ................................ ................................ ............ 15 Whiteness in policies and programs ................................ ................................ ........... 18 Whiteness in Campus Culture and Climate ................................ ................................ 20 III. LITERATURE REVIEW ................................ ................................ ......................... 24 Background and Context ................................ ................................ ............................ 24 Literature Review Methodology ................................ ................................ ................. 28 Literature Synthesis ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 29 Math Racialization & The Deficit Perspective ................................ ....................... 31 Stereotyping and Stereotype Threat ................................ ................................ ....... 33 The Co construction of Math and Racial Identity ................................ .................. 37 Promising Practices ................................ ................................ ................................ 40 Methodological Trends ................................ ................................ ............................... 43 Calls for Further Research ................................ ................................ .......................... 44

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xi Literature Review Conclusions ................................ ................................ .................. 46 IV. HISTORIOGRAPHY ................................ ................................ ............................... 48 Western Urban University (WUU) ................................ ................................ ............. 48 Department of Mathematics ................................ ................................ ....................... 50 ................................ ................................ ........................... 51 College Algebra ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 52 Math Tenure Track Faculty ................................ ................................ ........................ 53 V. THEORE TICAL FRAMEWORK ................................ ................................ ............. 56 Critical Race Theory ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 56 Critical Whiteness Studies ................................ ................................ .......................... 61 Settler Colonialism ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 65 Anti Deficit Achievement Framework ................................ ................................ ....... 66 Concluding Framework ................................ ................................ .............................. 66 VI. METHODOLOGY ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 68 Portraiture ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 69 Ethnographic method s ................................ ................................ ................................ 70 Narrative Inquiry ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 72 Hermeneutic Phenomenology using a Hermeneutics of Whiteness ........................... 74 Procedure ................................ ................................ ................................ .................... 78 Limitations ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 82 FALSE EMPATHY .............. 85 VIII. COLLEGE ALGEBRA ................................ ................................ .......................... 93 The Classroom ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 93

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xii IX. WHITE RACIAL BONDING ................................ ................................ ................ 108 The Bros ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 110 The Heathers ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 113 The Besties ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 117 X. MARIAH, DILA, AND QUENTIN ................................ ................................ ........ 125 Mariah ................................ ................................ ................................ ....................... 126 Quentin ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 133 Dila ................................ ................................ ................................ ........................... 138 XI. WHITE RACIAL PERFORMANCE ................................ ................................ ..... 144 Racial Nanoaggressions ................................ ................................ ............................ 145 Coupon Sharing ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 146 Did you say something? ................................ ................................ ....................... 148 ................................ ................................ ....... 150 Behind your back ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 151 Critical Rightness Studies ................................ ................................ ......................... 156 Thou shalt not correct me. ................................ ................................ .................... 158 T hou shalt not surprise me ................................ ................................ ................... 161 Thou shalt prostrate thyself for white classmates ................................ ................. 163 Thou shalt only act confident if thou art a white man ................................ .......... 165 ................................ ........................ 167 Placating Whiteness ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 170 XII. WHITE HOARDERS ................................ ................................ ............................ 176 Class ................................ ................................ ................................ ......................... 176

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xiii MyMathLab ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 182 Calculators ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 184 Laptops & Tablets ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 189 XIII. A LOW KEY EXISTENTIAL DREAD ................................ .............................. 195 XIV. IMPLICATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS ................................ .............. 205 Implications and Recommendations for Theory ................................ ...................... 205 White Racial Bonding ................................ ................................ .......................... 205 Racial Microaggressions ................................ ................................ ...................... 206 Whiteness as Property ................................ ................................ .......................... 208 Dis/Ability Critical Race Theory (DisCrit) ................................ .......................... 209 Implications and Recommendations for Methodology ................................ ............ 210 Implications and Recommendations for Practice ................................ ..................... 212 Acknowledge norms of whiteness and racism in STEM ................................ ...... 214 Teach race vocabulary and concepts in higher education ................................ .... 216 Provide support t o Students of Color and particularly Women of Color ............. 217 Incorporate sufficient resources ................................ ................................ ........... 219 Stop making everyone take algebra ................................ ................................ ...... 220 Continue research in whiteness in Higher Education and STEM ........................ 221 REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 224 APPENDIX ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 243 A: SAMPLE IN DEPTH INTERVIEW QUESTIONS ................................ ................ 243 B: DIAGRAM OF COLLEGE ALGEBRA CLASSROOM ................................ ........ 244

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1 I. INTRODUCTION Whiteness is at work everywhere . Yoon (2012) offered the construction, whiteness at work exists at every le hiteness is put into motion in a given moment among two or more people (p. 608). Although s everal scholars have looked at how white ness 1 is operating in the higher ed ucation classroom, especially when ra ce is a topic of discussion, few have focused on how white ne ss is at work in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) where race is usually not an explicit topic of conversation . I n this dissertation, I use portraiture to answer the question: How does w hite ness work in a college algebra class? Within this question , I specifically look at how white ness is performed and enacted in the algebra classroom . To do this, I use d a portraiture methodology (Lawrence Lightfoot & Davis, 1997) to examine a n algebra class to respond to th is que stion . The , personal communication, May 22, 2017) is a tongue in cheek reference that came from algebra classroom observations where whiteness p answer when it comes to algebra in the classroom . Statement of Problem Traditionally, the racial disparities seen in success rates in college Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (ST EM) have been labeled the achievement gap , which inadvertently positions Students of Color as the problem and cause of the gap (Harper, 2010). Yet, scholars in Critical Race Theory (CRT) in Education have shown that the disparities are in fact a result of racism and white supremacy (Ladson Billings, 2006; Martin, 2006; Yosso, 2005) . But scholars 1 To symbolically reverse the racial hierarchy in my research I opt to use lowercase lettering for Brown as do Matias and Newlove (2017b) and Nishi (2018).

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2 are just beginning to focus on how racism and whiteness are operating in STEM college classrooms. For those that are, they have tended to look at more advanced STEM courses (Harper, 2013; McGee & Martin, 2011) and those at high performing institutions (Museus & Liverman, 2010) where whiteness is arguably more visible. However, o ne particular STEM area of concern regarding racial equity is college algebra , which has r eceived far less attention . College algebra is a gatekeeper course for students who wan t to major in a STEM discipline. T ypicall y students need to pass or test out of college algebra, especially if they want to major in math, but also if th ey want to major in engineering or computer science, and often for majors like biology and chemistry . Thus examining inequity , the cause s of disparity , and indeed racism and whiteness within college algebra can yield great returns in identify ing barriers in algebra manifested by whiteness. This is because, although it is a lower level college STEM course, algebra is a key access point to STEM , and as such can and does serve as a bifurcation in the STEM pipeline that flows Students of Color away from STEM disproporti onately, as I discuss in t his dissertation . Positionality I am a straight, white, upper middle class , cis gender woman from rural, northern Mi chigan. C ertainly , I experience more privilege than mar ginalization given these positionalities . However, as a wom an, having gone to an engineering university for my Bachelor s degree, I am no stranger to sexism and marginalization, particularly within mathemati cs. To illustrate, I share a short narrative: and fairly confident in my math skills. However, i n seventh grade, my class took a math placement test to de termine who in my class would go into algebra the next year and who would be relegated to b asic m ath. When the scores came back, mine was right on the edge where I could have been placed in either

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3 class. My white, male math teacher at the time sorted through the students whose scores were in the fuzzy middle area and placed the boys (in my same score category ) in algebra, and the girls (including me) w ere placed in b asic m ath for a year of being reminded how to do long division. Yet, that same year, the entire eighth grade cohort was given a math assessment test for the state of Michigan that had no direct bearing on the students , meaning how I scored would not have any direct effect on me . Four eighth graders scored exceptionally on this test. We were given certificates from the state and our picture was taken for the local paper. I still have a copy of this picture, and noted then and now that I was the only girl in the group of fou r and I was also the only student in b asic m ath; the three other math awardees were boys and all were in algebra. More of the same sorts of stories followed when I went to Michigan Technological University as a b iology major turned b usiness major turned t e chnical c ommunication major. I hit one of my male friend s casually noted when I was switching to my final major. I share these experiences briefly, because I have experienced what it i s like to be assumed deficient in math because of a particular identity. Yet, People of Color in math classes certainly experience marginalization through racism and whiteness that is both more enduring and intense, especially for W omen of C olor, whose intersectional identities work in what Collins (20 09 ) refers to as a matrix of domination . In this way these marginalized identities are compounded to create a unique and intersectional system of oppression (Crenshaw, 2009 ) . I am currently a Critical Whiteness Studies (CWS) motherscholar 2 . As such, I am c ritical and focused on how whiteness works, particularly in higher education and the classroom. As a white, CWS scholar, I have a complex relationship with whiteness. I am critical of whiteness and 2 identities or work as a mother and a scholar.

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4 yet complicit with it in that I benefit from whiteness as a white person . But yet, as a CWS scholar, I am working to recognize, disrupt, and dismantle whiteness. I do this work both in myself and in the world, particularly within education. Being a white, whiteness scholar, gives me some strengths and weaknesses. Having recognized and worked against whiteness in myself and those close to me, I am intimately familiar with whiteness. But, of course, in the way that whiteness is normalized in our systems and everyday interactions (Allen, 2004) d trained to assume whiteness is natural (Thandeka, 1999). Thus working to see it as not only unnatural but insidious in its promotion of white supremacism will always take intentional work on my part. A s a white person, I must continually hold myself suspec t for as white, whiteness scholar, Ricky Lee Allen The best a white person can be is a white anti racist racist 2004 , p. 130 ) . Terminologies As this study looks at race and whiteness, it is necessary to look at definitions of these as well as other clarifications and distinctions around race . To begin, I define race. Race is a sociopolitical construction devised by those Europeans who identified themselves as white ( Feagin, 2006; Massey & Denton, 1993; Nishi, Matias, & Montoya, 2015; Omi & Wina nt, 2015 ) . White supremacy is the driving force of race and the creation and separation of races that place whites in a role of superiority. Thus all systems and structures are racialized in that there are assumptions of white supremacy that drive them and normalize whiteness. Leonardo (2013) argues that beyond being a social construction, race is also a narrative, a driving narrative that (with its inherent white supremacism) manifests in the rules, reasoning, relationships, and structure of a society. But , lest we think race is static, Omi and Winant ( 2015 ) remind us that race is constantly contested and remade . Thus, the only constant, when it comes to race, is that

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5 s Nishi, Matias, Montoya & Sarcedo (2016 ) describe Based on this definition of race, it is important to note that because race is a historically situated system of oppression, racism can only be perpetuated by white people against People of Color , d any other people based on s kin color (Bonilla Silva, 2014). I n fact , because race was designed for the purposes of white supremacism, r ace and indeed racism only work whites and oppress People of Color (Nis hi, Matias, Montoya, & Sarcedo 2016). Thus, there is a fundamental differenc e between a Black person distrusting white police officers and a white person refusing to hire Black or Brown people. As this study focuses on whiteness, I delve into this concept. Critical Whiteness Studies (CWS) (Allen, 2004; Leonardo, 2009) seek to iden tify and deconstruct white supremacism in systems and structures to ameliorate violence and symbolic violence (Leonardo & Porter, 2010; Bourdieu, 1991) enacted against People of Color . So, within CWS, what is this thing called whiteness? Nishi, Matias, Montoya , & Sarcedo define Cabrera, Franklin, and Watson t Yet, instead of asking if whiteness is an ideology or a social structure or a racial discourse (as Leonardo (2009) describes ) , it is more helpful to think of whiteness as both/and . Th e s e definition s of whiteness may lead some to think then whiteness is synonymous

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6 ocially 170 ) . T here are multiple ways that whiteness works . Cabrera, Franklin and Watson (2016) describ e 3 central components of white ness discourse: unwillingness to name contours of systemic racism , avoidance of identifying with a racial experience , and minimiz ation of US (p.18) To expand on these contours, Cabrera et al, key in on what Bonilla Silva (2014) describ think that racism still exists in a variety of claims and semantic moves that mask and deny that they benefit from whiteness and white suprema cy. This denial ultimately reinforce s white exists? In discussing whiteness and its relationship to white supremacy and racism, Matias (2016 a ) offers us a useful model.

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7 2016a, p. 185) In her model, Matias (2016 a ) suggests that white supremacy impacts whites by whiteness and impacts People of Color by racism. Although the model shows a separation of the impact of white s upremacy on whites and People of Color, it breaks them apart for clarity, for of course enactments of whiteness usually by whites are what are felt by People of Color as racism. Matias (2016 a ) goes on to outline the multitude of ways that whiteness works , including the contours identified by Cabrera, Franklin, and Watson ( 2016) above, but in addition identifies white privilege (McIntosh, 1997 ), where whites accrue substantial everyday benefits for being white in a white supremacist society. Whiteness as n atural (Roediger, 1999) suggests that the superiority of whites and their privilege is natural or meritorious. W hite ness as P roperty (Har ris, 1993) refers to white s treating their whiteness as property where they have the right to enjoy it, take advantage of it, and most importantly exclude others (People of Color) from it.

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8 Certainly in this discussion, we get a sense of the insidious nature of whiteness but also detect its malleable and slippery nature (Nishi, Matias, & Montoya, 2015). Ellsworth (1997) tel l (p. 88). In fact, the only constant that we can count on when it comes to whiteness is that it is always maintaining and promoting white supremacy. In this way, it is as Roediger (1994) nothing but false and . Matias (2016 a ) shows , whiteness does impact People of Color , certainly in its enactment as racism, but whiteness can also be internalized by People of Color , manifesting in self hate, inferiority complexes, or dependency for instance. This internalizatio n of whiteness by People of Color is not only harmful to the person internalizing whiteness, but also impacts other People of Color when fol ks in their community or other Co mmunities of C olor enact whiteness. A specific example of this can be found in colo rism . Colorism is the stratification of skin color that privileges lighter skinned People of Color or People of Color with straighter hair (Hunter, 2007). However , even though colorism may yield benefits, the ultimate benefactors of whiteness are always wh ite people (Leonardo, 2013; Matias, 2016 a ). Because, even if colorism does afford some benefits to lighter skinned People of Color , like validation/appreciation of beauty, it all serves to reify a white standard of beauty. I spend time complicating whiteness in this way to better elucidate the ways that it works, but also to segue into a discussion about race and ethnicity and the meaning I ascribe to them in this dissertation. Certainly, race and ethnicity are often conflated in social science resea rch. Although m any national surveys have begun listing the demographic option, -

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9 , race and ethnicity are often assumed to be the same thing when reported . For instance, often i n the scholarship, we gap, refers to Brown skinned Hispanics. In this dissertation, when I refer to Latinx 3 groups, I am referring specifically to Brown pe ople. I do realize that all people who identify as Latinx , including whites, face marginalization in the USA , especially in the extreme anti immigrant an d English only climate in which we find ourselves , but for the purposes of this dissertation, my focus is on race. Similarly, I need to complicate and clarify those who identify with Native Americans and/or i ndigenous populations. Although scholars acknowledge that Native Americans and Indigenous people are considered People of Color and have certainly been disenfran chised within education systems (Brayboy, 2005) , the numbers of self reported Native students is often so low that data is thrown out or left un significance, particularly in quantitative data (Shotton , Lowe, & Waterman, 2013) . Yet, because will be included in the data, interpretation, analysis, and portraits. Yet, I also want to complicate Native and indig enous identity in recogni zing that some Latinx people consider themselves indigenous and some do not. Or, for instance, in the poor, rural area of northern Michigan where I grew up, community members who could qualify for public benefits given their Native heritage often still state that they were white on forms, foregoing government benefits to claim whiteness in an extremely white place. 3 I use the term Latinx to refer to Latino and Latina people, and those who are gender nonconforming in this ethnic and racialized group.

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10 Patel ( 2015 ) situates N ative American identity within Settler Colonialism (Wolf e , 2007; Tuck & Yang, 2012 ) and Whitenes s as Property (Harris, 1993) framework s , showing how white American peoples while increasing other People of Color populations to serve as workers or as enslaved Americans in our incarceration system. Tuck and Yang ( 2012 ) agree showing how settler colonial practices and mindsets only ever seek the erasure of Native peoples. In this way, whit eness and settler colonialism are inseparable but also hold a unique form of violence for Native and Indigenous people. Lastly, I want to also address and complicate the racial identity of Asian or the racial category that is often referred to as Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) . As I note in the literature review b elow, since A API students as a larger group have a STEM success rate th at is on par or better tha n whites , their racialized experiences or marginalization and their multiplicity of identities is often ignored (Museus & Kiang, 2009). AAPI people into one racial category is particularly problematic because certain ethnic groups within this category, like Pacific Islanders and Southeast Asian Americans , tend to have lower rates of academic success (Museus, 2009; Museus & Kiang, 2009). In cons idering AAPI people as an aggregate, there is the harmful effect of propagating the model minority myth. As Museus and The model minority stereotype is the notion that Asian Americans achieve universal and unparalleled academic and show how perpetuating this myth reinforces the myth of post racial meritocracy (Bonilla Silva, 2014 ) where whites then turn to other People of Color in regard t o the achievement gap and say, we ll, they did it, But, Museus & Kiang (2009) also show the harms that befall ethnic groups within the AAPI aggregate beca use the myth suggests that AAPI people are all the

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11 same and are all successful. These harms then include the invisibility of AAPI groups in the literature and in the cla ssroom. When all AAPI people are considered successful in STEM disciplines , they are not provided the support and resources that some AAPI students may want and need (Museus & Kiang, 2009). Certainly, as this study focuses o n race and particularly whiteness, it is important to complicate and blur racial identities to not continue marginalizing People of Color in these way s but also , in recognition of our ascriptions of race and whiteness and their constant flux. Bonilla Silva (2014) offers a conversation on racial categories where he suggests that in the USA we are In this order, whites cont inue to operate at the apex of the racial hierarchy ( Matias, Viesca, Garrison Wade, Tandon, & Galindo, 2014, p. 290) . Honorary whites are allowed certain racial privileges although never on par with whites . H owever, the honorary white designation can be swiftly removed by whites, through actions like travel bans or fear mongering in the media . T hus honorary whites are never safe nor fully in the white club. The collective Black group remains at the bottom of the racial hierarchy and includes not o nly Black people, but Hmong Americans, Filipino Americans, and Reservation bound Native Americans. Interestingly, Bonilla Silva (2014) suggests that light skinned Latinos, Japanese and Korean Americans, and Asian Indians are/will be considered honorary whi tes, and (p. 228) will be considered white. While I note that Bonilla triracial order is controversial and contested, especially in its reinforcement of a problematic Black /white binary (Alcoff, 2003), it is still useful to consider the complex nature of the fictive, yet powerful construction of race and related experiences .

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12 Overview of the Dissertation In what follows, I offer an overview of whiteness in higher education. G iven that this study seeks to contribute to the larger scholarship in this area, I offer some background on the area and highlight some of the ide ntified gaps within this field. I then provide a comprehensive literature review based on the question: What b arriers to racial equity exist in the college mathematics classroom? I framed my literature review in this way to give context for my own this literature review, s imply because the scholarship in the latter has yet to really look at whiteness. However, I will note that Danny Martin, a scholar in race and math education has called for studies on whiteness in math education ( 2009; 2013 ) . Additionally, Martin (2017) se rved as a Discussant of a symposium on Interrogating Whiteness in Mathematics Education featured at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting . Thus, this area is at its inception , and the merger of these fields is truly up and com ing. Following this landscape of the literature, I share a historiography on the site of this proposed study. This historiography gives history, background , and context on the Western, Public, Urban Research University (WUU) and its c ampus , which is shared by three institutions . I also offer a discussion of WUU , and trajectory. Here, I discuss how whiteness has operated within the larger department. My theoretical framework offers background on the theories and approach es that make up my framework, including Critical Race Theory (CRT), Critical Whiteness Studies (CWS), Settler Colonialism, and an Anti Deficit Achievement Framework. I also describe how I will apply my hybrid framework in the study.

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13 To elucidate my methodo logy using Portraiture (Lawrence Lightfoot & Davis, 1997), and my use of critical ethnography, narrative inquiry, and hermeneutic phenomenology w ithin Portraiture (Ohito, 2017), I describe my procedure following a description of these methods. I conclude t he section with a pilot portrait from my spring 2017 college algebra observations. I then offer several portraits and analyses in the concluding chapters, along with a discussion of implications and a call for future research.

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14 II. WHITENESS IN HIGHER EDUCATION biblical reference, it has become synonymous to the whiteness within higher education, particularly fo r race scholars. As Wilder (2013 ) describes, many of our nation universities were built using the labor of enslaved Africans, and/or, as in the case of Georgetown University, enslaved people were sold to fund the institutions. Early American colleges and universities were also used strategically i n the colonization of the United States, and seizing of native land ( Patel, 2015 ; Wilder, 2013 ). Certainly the foundation of higher education was in collusion with white supremacy and the institution of slavery . But, so too was the very intellectual develo pment of many core academic disciplines. Although colonization and globalized white supremacism influenced and drove a cademia world wide ( Allen, 2001; Mills, 1999), American studies in Religion, Philosophy, and Science were steeped in white supremacist ide ology. This racist grounding was unique in American studies given the intertwining of the sciences and morality. As Winfield (2007) explains, While American scientists embraced the idea of objectivity, they were less than diligent in their efforts to eval uate the morally presumptive direction of their investigations. The combination of science and morality afforded the perfect vehicle for new theories about education (p. 51). Given the moral authority that early white scholars ascribed to themselves, whi te supremacy laid at the roots of hi gher education mores . Along with these racist suppositions, People of Color were of course prevented from attending institutions of higher education. But, starting in 1837, Quakers began the first Historically Black Coll ege or University (HBCU) (Cheyney University). These early HBCUs were created by white missionaries as Christian outreach. Yet later in the 1800s HBCUs were

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15 developed as trade schools that served to make the case for the intellectual inferiority of Black p eople (Gasman & Hilton, 2012). I offer this brief history of American higher education to show the stronghold of white supremacy in every facet of higher education from its inception. Cabrera, Franklin, and Watson these institutions histori cally were not created to be inclusive, and struggling with this history is critically important to moving toward more inclusive environments and disrupting the assumptions of Whiteness that guide them Given this, I delve into some specific areas of whiteness in higher education where scholars are disrupting this whiteness. Since higher education has a discipline s pecific and siloed nature , it is no wonder that early Critical Whiteness Studies (CWS) in higher education have been uneven and kept mo stly within the delineated research categories in higher education. For instance, most CWS studies are positioned in Student Affairs (considered co curricular) or Teacher Education (this is within one specific curriculum/classroom environment for pre servi ce teachers). Recently, the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) commissioned a this area and calls for its continued development (Cabrera, Franklin, & Watson, 2016). Thus I offer a review of literature below that categorizes the research in this way, but argue that there is a danger in keeping CWS within its silos since it is highly relevant across higher education, its structure, and its communities. Whiteness in the college classroom Whiteness has been studied in the higher education classroom, somewhat disparately. Teacher education has been one area in the examination of whiteness. Sleeter (2001) explored the challenge s of confronting whiteness in a largely white teacher candidate base and trying to

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16 cultivate the candidates to teach and engage a culturally diverse student base. Cheryl Matias has cultivated the most significant body of literature in CWS as it applies to T eacher Education. Matias (2015) specifically looks at whiteness and the white emotionality that largely white female teacher candidates use to defl ect racial discomfort and deny white supremacy and their role in it. This work has included looking at white to Students of Color (Matias, 2013; Matias, 2016 a ) and to fetishize friends and Students of Color in their white alliance fantasies (Matias, 2015). Along these same lines, Matias and Zembylas (2014) looked at h ow white teacher candidates cover their disgust for People of Color , and particularly their students, with a thin veil of caring and pity. This body of research focuses on n their eventual Students of Color . It offers perspective on how white emotionality plays out in the college classroom when any white students are confronted with racial realities. When white students are asked to consider race and racism, they are defensi ve, they use accusatory use their emotionality and white tears to re center whiteness and themselves in the classroom (B oatright Horowitz, Marraccini, & Harps Loga n, 2012 ; Matias & Nishi, 201 7 ). One unique study o f whiteness looked at a white instructor in a math education classroom who was implementing an equity curriculum . In this study, Brewley Kennedy ( 2005) examined how whiteness worked in a math education silence and avoidance of conflict. Other literature has looked at the semantic moves (Bonilla Silva, 2014 ) that white (2008) examined how largely white students in the college courses he taught used these moves to

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17 concoct race evasive ( Annamma, Jackson, & Morrison, 2017; Frankenberg, 1993) cases. Allen noted that when he would begin discussing whiteness, his students wou socioeconomic status and skirt discussions of race. ole they might have in racism. These students use these alibis as would someone accused of a crime, arguing that someone else did it (e.g ., KKK members are racist, so I a m not). Nishi, Matias, Montoya, and Sarcedo (2016) tracked and debunked these alibis and similar semantic moves in their dismantling of commonly used whiteness questions to derail conversations in the college classroom about race. Reason and Broido (2005) also advocate for addressing whiteness comments in the classroom or on campus to disrupt and resist the normalcy of whiteness ideology. Outside of the Education discipline, Warren (2001), assessed the performance of whiteness in an introductory college cul tural performance course. Through his ethnography, Warren deconstructs the whiteness in theatrical performances of white students as they used cultural appropriation (through stereotyping and commodification of Peop l e of Color) and fictions embedded in whi teness to literally perform whiteness. Even though there is relatively little literature and research examining whiteness in the college classroom, there is even less that look at the enactment of whiteness in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, an d Math) college classroom. This gap is understandable, because certainly whiteness is more clearly assessed and deconstructed when it is a topic of discussion in a course or in an interview. One exception is the Brewley Kennedy (2005) study discussed above , but again this was looking at a math education course, not a math content

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18 course . A math education focuses on teaching mathematics and related pedagogy; it is a course for pre service K 12 teachers. Whiteness in policies and programs In their 2016 report on whiteness in higher education, Cabrera, Franklin, and Watson a racially unaware institutional policy will be guided by the hidden assumptions of Whiteness ) tenets that tell us that racism and whiteness are both permanen t and normal ized (Bell, 1992) . The point being any program or policy developed by whites (or a largely white group) in these United States will be imbued with whiteness and will sustain white supremacy, and this of course inc ludes our institutions of higher education. Given the white supremacist history of higher education described above, we can assume that unless whiteness is being actively acknowledged and resisted, the status quo will be whiteness (Cabrera, Franklin, & Wat son, 2016). Given this premise, we look to the scholarship for example s of how whiteness is promulgated in college policies and programs. Although touted as a policy that gave great benefits to People of Color , Affirmative A ction as a policy is a type of i nterest convergence. Interest convergence is a CRT theory developed by Bell ( 1980 ) where policies or programs that benefit People of Color are only enacted when white people benefit from them as much or more. Affirmative Action was such a policy and emerge d as the US A was continuing to work for prestige in the after effects of the Cold War and going into the Vietnam War (Dorsey & Chambers, 2014). Dorsey and Chambers argue that Affirmative Action is an example of Interest Convergence and Whiteness as Propert y (Harris, 1993) in that the convergence of interests is indeed temporary and once interests diverge, white s work to seize any benefits accessed by People of Color in the period of interest

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19 convergence. Dorsey and Chambers describe this resulting seizure a s imperial reclamation , where whites work to re draw the property lines of their whiteness to ensure that only they may enjoy all of the benefits of their whiteness. Harris (1993) describes this whiteness as property as the merging of white identity and pr operty owners from a time where only whites could have and enjoy property (which included enslaved Africans and stolen land ) to a point where whiteness right white person to use and enjoy their whiteness and exclude others from it. Pierce (2012) also noted this imperial reclamation and suggested that we were seeing a backlash of whiteness even during the interest convergence period where whites, and particularly white men went out of their way to exclude the People of Color they thought were being forced on them. White women have been noted as the primary beneficiaries of Affirmative Action, particularly in higher education, yet Unzueta, Guti é rrez, and Ghavami (2010) found that white women shifted their ar guments around Affirmative Action depending on whether they saw themselves as beneficiaries or victims of the policies. Unsurprisingly, their arguments shifted within these beliefs to best preserve and promote their own egos. For instance, if a white woman saw herself as a beneficiary of Affirmative Action, she would argue that the policy g ave her access in a discriminatory society. But, if she saw herself as a victim of Affirmative Action , she argued that People of Color were getting access when she was more qualified. In addition to how whiteness has worked within Affirmative Action, we can see how whiteness has also worked to disma ntle Affirmative Action, even though it had a hand in its creation through Interest Conver gence. But in the next generation of higher ed ucation policy and programming, around diversity, Iverson (2007 ) found in a discourse analysis of college and university diversity plans that Students of Color were positioned as a commodity for white

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20 students. Nishi (2017) found evidence of this sort of commodification of S tudents of C olor in her discourse analysis of college and university videos on Inclusive Excellence, and additionally suggested that Inclusive Excellence was a continued form of Interest Conv ergence where access and benefits for Students of Color could only be discussed if they were in the same breath as the benefits of Inclusive Excellence for the (white) current student body. Outside of diversity specific programming, Nishi (2016) suggests t hat placement testing and remedial education assignments in higher education are a continuation of th e racialized tracking systems seen in high school. Tracking is the process of racially segregation within racially diverse schools, where mostly white stud ents are filtered into upper level advanced placement courses, and Black and Latinx students are filtered into lower level or even special ed ucation courses ( Oakes & Guiton, 1995; Tyson, 2011). This continued tracking process feeds white students into sele ctive universities under the guise of meritocracy and feeds Students of C olor into open access colleges or out of higher education all together (Carnevale & Strohl, 2005; Nishi; 2016). er education was created for and by white people to promote white supremacy. When we recognize that the trajectory of higher education has done little to combat its orientati on and racist creation , we must be suspicious of every system within higher educat ion and the whiteness that drives it. Because, after all, as Gillborn (2008) reminds us, the purpose of educational policy is to sust ain and promote white supremacy . Whiteness in Campus Culture and Climate Campus culture and climate are not the same thing. The culture of a campus consists of its history, priorities, traditions, and the oft unspoken rules, norms, and etiquette that serve to

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21 reify the foundational attributes of an institution (Cabrera, Franklin, & Watson, 2016; Kuh & Whitt, 1988). Cabrera et al . (2016) reminds us that of a campus is deeply rooted culture. pus, their sense of things. Whether one feels comfortable or safe at a campus give s someone a sense of campus climate. Climate is often gauged with surveys and reports from particularly students in terms of how they are experiencing college and the campus (Cabrera, Franklin, & Watson, 2016). In their discussion of these differentiated experiences in college spaces, Cabrera et al . (2016) describe, takes across campus may be different psychologically from that of a student of color because of the various prejudicial or discriminatory instances that We can see then how a campus culture can affect the climate as perceived by different students . On the flipside , we can also see how a campus climat e can have an ultimate impact on the campus culture. Whiteness pervades campus culture and climate, particularly at predominantly white institutions (PWIs). Gusa (2010) suggests that this pervasion of whiteness manifests in white institutional presence (WIP ). WIP consists of four framing features: white ascendancy, monoculturalism, white blindness, and white estrangement. White ascendancy refers to the thinking and acts of mostly white people that affirm white superiority. Monoculturalism refers to the belie f that all people should conform to white norms and thinking. White blindness, similar power structures and the related benefit they receive. White estrangemen t refers to white people

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22 finding ways to segregate themselves, isolating themselves from People of Color on a campus. Harper and Hurtado (2007) found that, given the historic segregation of higher education that the isolation of Students of Color in these envir onments is cast as natural. It is important to distinguish between white students choosing to isolate themselves and Students of Color being forced into isolation. The former is choosing racial comfort in white spaces (Cabrera, Franklin, & Watson, 201 6). The concept of racial comfort for whites lends itself to the discussion around conversations about race is a falsehood for People of Color . Whereas for whites, safe ty in these conversations means being comfortable, this racial comfort for whites manifests in a violence for People of Color where they are frequently attacked . At PWIs, there is a plethora of exclusive ly white spaces. Majority white f raternities, by thei r nature are exclusive, and thus provide enclaves for white men. In these enclaves, whiteness and white supremacist at titudes are often nurtured. It is not a coincidence then when news reports expose racially themed parties that stereotype Black people or Mexicans. Nor should we be surprised when videos are released on YouTube of white fraternities singing songs with racial slurs and racist language, as we saw out of the University of Oklahoma (Cabrera, Franklin, & Watson, 2016 ; Cabrera, 2018 ). The nurturin g of whiteness in these white spaces happens through white racial bonding (Sleeter, 1994 ; 1996 ), defined as the communicative practices and rituals in which white people engage each other to affirm whiteness and white norms. One example of this bonding is whites telling racist jokes in white only company. Cabrera (2014 a ; 2018 ) interviewed white college men and found that they engaged in racist jokes or used racial slurs when in all white groups. These men argued that they could not tell these jokes or say t hese slurs in front of People of Color

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23 because describe as frontstage/backstage white performances, where when they are frontstage (in front of People of Color ) whites refrai n from explicitly racist speech, but when they are backstage (with only whites) they more freely share their racism as a form of bonding. Cabrera (2014 a ; 2014b ; 2018 ) suggests that this sort of racial joking and bonding is particularly prevalent among whit e, male students in their position of hyperprivilege . In this way, these white spaces, such as white fraternities are hotbeds of whiteness and the promotion of white supremacist values. And, yet, this whiteness in inherent across all of campus. Even the cultural centers or groups created to center Students of C olor are constantly under threat and resisting the white norms that are the standard. If we imagine whiteness geographically and thermodynamically, we can envision a campus map that is mostly yellow, showing an adequate /normalized amount of whiteness, ce rtain spaces turning orange, perhaps white fraternities a nd sororities blazing red, and small specks of green in the Ethnic Studies department and the Office of Diversity and Inclusivity. I close this chapter by returning to Gusa (2010) who reminds us of t Whiteness as atmosphere, Whiteness as background, Whiteness as a normative culture is a pervasive proble m within institutions of higher education. This normative Whiteness minimizes the experiences of p eople of c olor and marg inalizes communi Along with the experiences of People of Color being minimized by whiteness, so too are their feelings, voices, and humanity.

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24 III. LITERATURE REVIEW As I sought to understand how whiteness operates in the colle ge STEM classroom and particularly in college algebra, I conducted a literature review on that related to racial equity within the college math class. In what follows, I offer background and context for the literature review, my methodology in conducting t he review, a synthesis of the literature reviewed, methodological trends, implications for further research, and conclusions. Background and Context Racial and gender equity in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines is a key concern in higher education. In 2011, President Obama set several goals to boost college degrees in STEM, and particularly STEM teaching degrees and engineering degrees (Handelsman & Smith, 201 1 Administration prioritized research and the development of active learning approaches that would better engage and retain underrepresented minorities and women, and invested millions of dollars in grant programming through the National Science Foundation to these ends (Handelsman & Smith, 201 1 ). But, despite the priority to ameliorate the achievement disparities seen amongst underrepresented minorities and women in STEM, research and corresponding solutions have yet to make a substantive impact. According to the U.S. De partment of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), in 2013 2014, only 7.2% of Bachelors degrees in STEM were attained by Black students, 9.5% by Hispanics , .5% by Native Americans, and 2.7% by mixed race students. This is compared to the 67% attained by white s and 13.1 % by Asian students. And the percentages go down for Black, Hispanic, Native American, and mixed race students as we look at Masters degrees conferred and then again for doctorates conferred in STEM (U.S.

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25 Department of Education, NCES, 2015). Women overall, in the same timeframe, earned only overrepresentation in college degrees conferred overall. This degree disparity has been blamed on what has commonly been known as the achievement gap. Researchers, policy makers, and educators have long analyzed and assessed the achievement gap in STEM within American K 12 education, and subsequently in remedial and collegiate STEM programming (Ladson Bill ings, 2006) . The achievement gap is considered the discrepancy in test scores, particularly between white and Asian American Pacific Islander ( AAPI ) students and Black, Latinx, and Native students (Ladson Billings, 2006). Ladson Billings (2006) offers a h istorical and Critical Race Theoretical perspective on how the achievement gap should more accurately be referred to as the educational debt owed by white s to Black people because of the long history and repeated disenfranchisement of Students of C olor in the P 20 educational system. This disenfranchisement began with denying and criminalizing of education for Black people during the U.S. enslavement of Africans. Then Black people were continually marginalized and oppressed through Plessy v . Ferguson (1896) , which legally demanded separate but equal but resulted in only separate . resource scarcity in schools with large populations of Black and Brown students and racialized tracking ( Diette, 2012; Tyson , 2011). Racialized tracking refers to the trend of Black, Latinx, and Native students being systematically funneled to lower level courses, while white and AAPI students are more likely to be placed or steered toward upper level courses (such as Advanced Placement and Honors courses) , including STEM courses. Campbell (2012) found that Black girls were particularly susceptible to teachers steering them away from advanced math courses based on teacher bias.

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26 Students of Color given that t he math faculty at all levels are overwhelmingly white (Martin, 2009). At the high school level, white mathematics teachers are not sufficiently trained to recognize their own bias es or their implications for Students of Color in their classrooms (Brewley Kennedy, 2005). The implications for white teacher bias lie in the inherent deficit thinking that accompanies bias and racism (Harper, 2010). For instance, as it relates to math, a study by Bol and Berry (2005), showed th at secondary math teachers attributed the achievement gap to student characteristics, such as work ethic and parental support. However, there is no evidence that student characteristics of this sort vary by race. This deficit thinking by high school math t eachers e mbodies what Bonilla Silva (2014 ) refers to as cultural racism, where the cultural and traditional beliefs and practices of People of Color are suggested to be at fault for their oppression and disenfranchisement. This cultural blaming ignores the racism inherent in the accusation and instead purports a colorblind perspective (Bonilla Silva, 2014 ) , or what Annamma , Jackson, and Morrison (2017 ) refer to as color evasion in part to avoid ableist language . All of the factors described above contribute to the racial disparities in college STEM preparation. According to ACT, of those high school students who took the ACT test in 2016, only 25% of African Americans, 29% of American Indians, and 42% of Hispanics were deemed college ready in mathematics. Th is is compared to 64% of white s and 80% of Asian 4 students (ACT, Inc., 2016). Thus, racialized outcomes of K 12 education correspond with an overrepresentation of Students of Color being placed in remedial math when they head to college 4 As discussed, this statistic groups all AAPI students into the category of Asian, which ignores certain AAPI groups that are disproportionately placed in lower level math courses through testing.

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27 (Nishi, 2016). This is troublesome given that only 33% of students referred to remedial math complete the sequence and only 20% of those who complete their remedial math courses can pass their first college level mathematics course (Bailey, Jeong, & Cho, 2009). Yet, the dis parity we see in STEM college degrees by race is not fully explained by the disparity manifesting in high school. Even college Students of Color who were high performers in high school perform worse than their white high performing peers in college (Steele , 2010). The stakes are high when it comes to college algebra. Those students who do pursue STEM college degrees must usually complete a series of math requirements, the first of which is generally college a lgebra unless they test out. Success in this gate keeper course is essential to students seeking a degree and a career in a STEM discipline. Given that c ollege algebra is a critical juncture in success and given the racial and gender disparities in STEM degrees, I conducted a literature review to garner r esponses to the research question: What barriers to racial equity exist in the college mathematics classroom? W hat is equity? Unfortunately, the definition of equity is often assumed in policy documents and the literature. Sometimes it is used interchangea bly with the term, equality and refers to offering the same opportunity for everyone (Gutiérrez, 2007). Yet this is an overly simplistic interpretation in that it ignores the historical and structural oppression that sets groups of people at different star advantages groups, like white people and men (Brewley Kennedy, 2005). When researchers make equity synonymous with equality, they a re also overlooking the discrepancies in access access to resources, cultural capital, and even ways of thinking (Cobb & Hodge, 2002). Thus, for the purposes of this literature review, I define equity as fair and direct access to mathematical educational outcomes through culturally appropriate pedagogy, envir onment, and assessment .

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28 To borrow from Gutiérrez (2007), equity is akin to justice where students can achieve their individualized academic and career goals, related to math, and are supported fairly in their endeavors. I also position the work toward equi ty as a continual struggle, from a Critical Race Theory (CRT) perspective. The permanent nature of racism is a core tenet of CRT (Bell, 1992) and suggests that the work toward racial justice and equity will never be done but must always continue. This cont inued struggle for equity is as needed in math education as anywhere. Literature Review Methodology To conduct my initial literature search, I used two search engines: Google Scholar and the universal search engine at my University library. Materials in my search included scholarly, peer reviewed articles and books, although notably almost all of the books that were ultimately included in my search were edited compilations of chapters written by a variety of scholars. The library search engine gathered sour ces from the major educational journals to which the library subscribed. Google Scholar captured additional sources, so using them both allowed for a comprehensive search. In terms of limitations, I chose to initially include only books and articles publis hed in 2000 or later. Choosing this time period kept the focus on the most current scholarship and scholarly dialogue. Also, the selected time period occurred immediately after Lubienski (1999 & 2002) conducted a survey of mathematics education research an d a comprehensive literature review on equity and mathematics e ducation in the US landscape in math equity in education up to the turn of the century. I did include literature in the review that was published earlier than 2000 in cases where I found formative work (defined as foundational or framing scholarship) and/ or where older literature explained concepts discussed in the current literature.

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29 At the start, the search focused on racial equity in mathematics educati on, as it has not been substantially covered in the academic literature (Lubienski, 2002). Thus, the original search specific searches, the search include d term abstracts (published after 1999) yielded in these searches. Of those, I read the articles that focused on or could be easily applied to college math students and looked at racial equity within the classroo m. Although originally the search focused on race and racial equity, I included gender equity literature in terms of its intersection with race, which was noted in some articles. For instance, gender and mathematics researcher, Jo Boaler (2002) suggested t hat racial and ethnic equity researchers in mathematics education should be wary of the lessons learned in gender equity research. Boaler notes that previous research on women and math offered unintended deficit messages that some women internalized, which lead them to assum e they should not or would not be very good at math. An other search strategy that develop ed the depth of the review was to comb the reference lists of the relevant articles, and to then include those articles listed that met the in clusion criteria discussed above. I also identified scholars who seemed to have a body of work focused on racial equity in math education and conducted searches on them to make sure all relevant articles were considered. These methods yielded approximately 40 scholarly articles, books, or book chapters reviewed and synthesized below. Literature Synthesis Within the literature that focuses on equity in math education, there was a shift in approach around the turn of the century. Whereas literature in the 80s and 90s focused largely on

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30 gender discrepancies in math achievement, the research that did focus on ethnicity or race (ethnicity was the preferred term/focus) largely defined them as categor ies rather than looking at race as a social construction (Martin, 2009). This simplistic categorizing of students by race/ethnicity suggested an inherent, biological deficiency in Black, Latinx, and Native students who consistently scored lower on standardized math tests and fueled the deficit focused literature that ha s been contested by scholars in the 2000s and 2010s (Harper, 2010; Martin, 2009). An additional trend in earlier literature, as identified by Lubienski (1999), was the dearth of intersectional equity research in math education. Lubienski, in her survey of math education literature from 1982 1998 found that that while 15% of articles addressed ethnicity, class, or gender; only 4.65% addressed two or more of these groups , and 1.3% addressed ethnicity and gender (p.10) . In 2002, the journal Mathematical Thin king and Learning released a special issue, in 1999 at Vanderbilt University and 2000 at Northwestern University where math educators came together to discuss i ssues of equity and diversity. These meetings and subsequently this special issue marked a shift in the scholarly approach and literature, featuring calls for resisting stereotyping and deficit thinking in math education research (Boaler, 2002), a call for more intersectional research (Lubienski, 2002), and a call for success focused research on African Americans (Nasir, 2002). Examining this special issue and the subsequent literature on equity and math education following the turn of the century, I identi fied several themes. These are math racialization, the deficit perspective, stereotyping and stereotype threat, the co construction of math and racial identity , and promising practices. These themes were prioritized in the literature and in many

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31 cases mark ed the start of a new branch of research in math equity related to higher education. Given my research question, I focus particularly on race (including intersectional work with gender) and how it relates to the college classroom. Math Racialization & The Deficit Perspective The field of mathematics, as with most other STEM fields , has been dominated in US history by white men. As a Black mathematician, Martin (2009) describes his first alienating experiences as a graduate student in mathematics at the Uni versity of California, Berkeley. Among these experiences , the Dean of his college declared in a university article that aside from example alludes to how mathematics and subsequently math education are racialized fields (Martin, 2009; 2013) but have not been acknowledged as such. This racialization occurs when, in recent history, solely white men are believed to have developed the mathematics field. The field then refl ects their priorities, their needs, and their ideologies. The math field thus positions white men as the math experts. In essence, it racializes the field by making it white . Yet, as with other STEM fields, white , male experts and authorities still tout ma th education as being a value free and objective study, accessible to all (Martin, 2009). Aside from the isolating experiences that Martin (2009) describes in a field where no one looks like him or shares his racialized experiences, there are other conseq uences for S tudents of C olor. When math as a field is built upon invisible white norms, there are a number of implications for those Students of Color who then do not fit. In a racialized and white normalized field like Math, when there are discrepancies i n the success of white students and most Students of Color , researchers tend to focus on race to ask what is wrong with Students of Color that they are so bad at math?

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32 Along with looking particularly at Black and Brown students as the problem, this framing also simplifies race into a category that assumes the problem is implicit in the Learners of C olor. It also suggests this deficit is a result of group inferiority. Martin (2009), uses a critical theo retical approach and narrative synthesis to suggest that this categorization and biological association of race takes an absolutist view of math where the ultimate goal becomes trying to make Students of Color more like white s ( and some groups of AAPI stud ents) to be good at math. Boaler (2002), based on her research portfolio and literature review of gender equity and of concern on the one hand and essentialis the group and when the marginalized group ( Students of Color in this case) is successful in math, thei r success is attributed to the teaching strategies that worked for them. Even more concerning is when members of the marginalized group who are aware of the research that says they are inherently bad at math, accept this ascription , and wonder why they are being made to learn math if they are inherently bad at it. These consequences of essentialism are a danger in all equity research and apply to racial equity and consequences for S tudents of C olor (Boaler, 2002). Essentialism goes hand in hand wi th deficit thinking, which postures S tudents of C olor as the problem in math education, rather than problematizing the failing system. This deficit thinking then turns to stereotypical discussions of cultural and even biological explanations (Harper, 2010; Martin, 2 013), both of which are inhere ntly racist (Bonilla Silva, 2014 ). In 1903, Sociologist, W.E.B. Dubois provocatively asked of Black people ow does it feel to be a researchers have looked to solve the problem of S tudents of C olor relatively low math

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33 performance. When Students of Color see no People of Color as experts in math, and at the same time feel like they are seen as a problem by mat h educators and researche rs, it i s easy to see how this might discourage particularly Black and Brown students from endeavoring to be mathematicians. Additionally, for Students of Color who do go on to advanced mathematics courses, they may decide to leave when they are mistreated discuss below. Relatedly, a longitudinal, survey based study found that students tend to leave the sciences due to a Hurtado, Newman, Tran, & Chang, 2010, p. 7) . T h ough Students of Color choose to leave STEM majors at higher rate than white s, their initial interest in STEM degrees is on par with white s. This was found in a comparative analysis of college environments where Black and Latinx students were interested in STEM majors as much as white s in higher performing institutions , but graduated with degrees 24% less than white s (Museus & Liverman, 2010). The racialization of the fields of math and math education have served both to normalize and reify white expertise and at the same time cast Students of C olor, and particularly Black, Latinx, and Native students at the other end of the spectrum, in a defic it. When the factors discussed and this deficit perspective pushes these Students of C olor away from math, a vicious cycle continues and math continues to be white . Stereotyping and Stereotype Threat Deficit thinking around Students of Color and performanc e in math frequently leads to dangerous and culturally racist stereotypes of these students (Harper, 2010) . This does not only focus the attention that might be used to support S tudents of C olor and to remedy systems that fail them on what the students are doing wrong (Harper, 2010), but it also hinders their

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34 performance. As Steele and Aronson (1995) showed in their ground breaking work on S tereotype Threat , when African American students took a test that was said to measure their intellect, they performed worse than when they took the same test and were told that it did not measure intellect. Steele and Aronson (1995) suggest that stereotype threat is thus enacted when a group (African Americans in this case) are aware of a negative stereotype and due to th e additional pressure to prove the stereotype wrong through their performance, they actually perform worse. Stereotype threat has been tested and shown in other groups, such as women (of all races) and math performance (Logel, Peach, & Spencer, 2012; Spenc er, Steele, & Quinn, 1999) and white s and women and athletic performance (Stone, Chalabaev, & Harrison, 2012; Stone, Lynch, Sjomeling, & Darley, 1999). Stereotyping affects more than just test performance. It can affect decision making as well. For instanc e, a regression analysis of community college student data showed that students who report being nervous about taking algebra tend ed to take algebra courses with fewer mee tings per week even though algebra courses with more meeting times per week have been shown to promote student success (Gallo & Odu, 2009) . So, when S tudents of Color feel the extra pressure of having to combat stereotypes in math classes, they may choose courses with less class meetings even if more class meetings have been shown benefici al. Once in class, stereotypes continue to take their toll on Students of Color . Using a literature review and story telling approach, Harper (2013) suggests that due to the dearth of Black students found in STEM courses, and especially upper level STEM co urses, the Black an exception to other Black students. They are also subjected to negative stereotypes where both students and instructors project on them a sub standard level when it comes to STEM. These

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35 projections are based on the culturally racist stereotype: Black and Brown students are not naturally good at math. In his article, Harper (2013) shares a story of a large college math class, where the profe ssor allowed the three students who scored highest on the previous exam to leave class early. When a Black student (among the three) got up to leave, the professor asked where he was going, assuming that he could not possibly have scored at the top of a ma th exam. Relatedly, an interview based study of high achieving Physics S tudents of C olor showed that these students commonly had been told by faculty advisors to change to a non STEM major or faculty had willfully ignored the contributions by S tudents of C olor in their classes (Fries Britt, Younger, & Hall, 2010). The isolation and stereotyping of S tudents of C olor in STEM courses, including math, often manifest in racial microaggressions ( Yosso, Smith, Ceja, & Solórzano, 2010 ) such as that described by Har per (2013) above. Racial microaggressions are slights or small offensive comments to People of Color based on their race. These can be small demeaning utterances or can be meant as compliments, e.g., a white ions! white s staring at Black students in the classroom, choosing not to sit in empty seats next to Black students, or mistaking one Black student for another (Harper, 2013). These microaggressions serve to further dismiss and disenfranchise S tudents of Color and serve as a constant reminder that they do not belong in STEM p.613), which continually a ffects performance (Steele, 2010). Students of C olor employ several strategies to ward off the stereotype that they are bad at math. For instance, in interview based research with academically successful Black ma th and engineering students, McG ee and Marti n (2011) identified several defense mechanisms or acts

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36 employed by these students against white stereotyping. For instance, Black students reported smiling a lot, excessively nodding in class so the instructor would know they understood, avoiding discussio ns about their personal life, and prominently displaying their textbook when walking into advanced math or engineering classes to avoid being asked if they were in the right class. Black and Brown college students who persevere in STEM or math majors find that they have to continually prove themselves in every subsequent course in their discipline (Fries Britt, Younger, & Hall, 2010; McGee & Martin 2011). Once they have successfully completed a math course, proving to their professor and fellow students tha t they are good at math and/or they are talented engineers, they must go back to the start in the next course they take. They must again combat the same assumptions that they do not belong in an advanced math/engineering class. As mentioned above, researc hers have found that these toxic climates for S tudents of C olor are particularly found at high performing predominantly white institutions (PWIs). Museus and Liverman (2010) found that at high performing institutions, institutional climate is associated wi th persistence for Students of Color in STEM, and that those climates at PWIs are particularly detrimental to the persistence of Students of Color in STEM. To summarize, the racist stereotype that S tudents of Color are not good at math follow s these studen ts throughout their college career and impact s them in a variety of ways. These include the effects of stereotype threat on test taking and decision making, as well as the racial microaggressions born by Students of Color that are based on these stereotype s. These effects of stereotyping follow Black and Brown students through their college math courses and careers and demand continued resistance and strategies to combat the ever present stereotypes.

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37 The Co construction of Math and Racial Identity The salie nce of math identity in math student success has emerged in the research, particularly in relationship to social identities, like gender (Boaler, 2002; Lesko & Corpus, 2006) and race (Cobb & Hodge, 2007; Martin, 2006; Martin, 2007; McGee & Martin, 2011). B ased on his ethnographic research of Black parent and student experiences with math, Martin (2006) describes: Mathematics identity encompasses the dispositions and deeply held beliefs that individuals develop about their ability to participate and perform effectively in mathematical contexts and to use mathematics to change the conditions of their lives. A constructed by others in the context of doing mathematics. (p. 20 6) Given this definition, which includes both self perception and the perception of others, we see how negative math stereotypes and the racial microaggressions that communicate and reinforce them can negatively impact the math identities of S tudents of C olor . The co construction of math and racial identities is particularly prominent in the math classroom where there is a constant negotiation of these identities that often affirm positive math identities for white and some AAPI students and degrade the ma th identities of many S tudents of Color (Martin, 2006). Researchers define the development or essence of these identities differently. When it definition, which invol ves boundary, perceived position, and meaning . Here, boundary refers to indicators that determine who is a part of a cultural group and who is an outsider. Perceived he

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38 very relational in that identity and related interpretations are developed and challenged in relationship and engagement with others (Martin, 2007). Cobb and Hodge (2007) offer a parallel definition and describe identity development as the interplay of normative identity , core identity , and personal identity particularly within the mathematics classroom, where normative identity fit within the math learning norms established in the classroom, personal identity is a more temporary perspective of who a student is in the math classroom and core identity is a somewhat more permanent perspective of who a student is and who they want t o be. As Cobb and Hodge (2007) state in their theoretical chapter, (p. 170). Nasir (2002) o ffers an aligned but slightly more dynamic perspective on identity, based on her research on African American community based math learning through observing the playing of dominoes and basketball and interviewing players. She suggests, constructed by individuals as they active ly participate in cultural acti v ities " (p.219) . She goes on to describe the inextricable link between identity, learning, and goals where learning contributes to identity development and goal setting, and identity d evelopment to further learning and goal setting in terms of aspirations. Nasir also captures the identity negotiation that contributes to learning when the learner is able to participate in meaning making and contribute to the learning community. Although discussion suggests that if Students of Color are not given full agency in meaning making and identity negotiation in math education, which the literature asserts they generally are not, they may be stunted in their identity development and learning.

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39 Of course, I would be remiss to discuss race and raci al equity and to focus only on Students of C olor as if racialized experiences happened in a vacuum. To metaphorically draw on Newt known Physics law: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction , we must also be cognizant of how white s are benefiting from the marginalization of Students of Color . The inverse of the negative stereotypes and stigmas discussed are cast on to white students to promote a more positive math identity in what McGee & Martin (2011) refer to as stereotype lift , which works to boost white performance (Walton & Cohen, 2003; McGee & Martin, 2011). Stereotype lift places a wealth of positive a ssumptions on white students, and particularly white men that they are naturally good at math and they are creators and knowers of math. These positive ascriptions with which white s walk into the math classroom grant them full confidence and agency in the development and negotiation of math identity and meaning making, which then, according to Nasir (2002) promotes enhanced learning and related aspirations and goals. m ath identity but racial identity works in concert with other forms of identity as well. For negatively depending on how one identifies, as Nosek, Banaji, & Greenwald (2002) describe in The math identity (including stereotypes and microaggressions), their own experiences, and the meaning and level of internalization that any of these factors produce. Given the intersectionality and interplay of these identities: math, racial, gender, and others that may suggest, based on stereotypes, that one should or should not be good at math

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40 (e.g., class, first generation status, native language, ability, nationality, etc.), researchers have identified what they describe as a co construction of identities (Boaler, 2002; Lubienski, 2002; Martin, 2007; Nasir, 2007). We can certainly make suppositions based on the research focusing on race and those focusing on gender that these intersections ultimately promote white men and marginalize Women of C inters ectional equity research in math education, most literature still tends to focus on race or gender and not both. Promising Practices Based on the research on race in mathematics education or more specifically, college mathematics, several scholars have su ggested practices that may allow us to move toward racial equity in the college math classroom. St rayhorn (2010) found that when Students of C olor were engaged in STEM research at the undergraduate level, they were more likely to persist in that same STEM discipline. Others found that S tudents of C olor in ST EM benefitted from having STEM Mentors of C olor (Griffin, Perez, Holmes, & Mayo, 2010; Harper, 2013). Although not a collegiate project, The Algebra Project famously work ed with Black youth and other Students of C olor to educate them in algebra . This project, led by Bob Moses, gave access, focused attention, and M entors of C olor to many C hildren of C olor whose needs were not being met by their public schools (Moses, R., Kamii, M., Swap, S.M., & Howard, J., 1989). However, it is worth noting that Martin (2013) has critiqued The Algebra Project for what he suggests is an approach that tries to make Children of C olor more like white children instead of working with their own cultural capital and knowledge base. Another promising intervention is developing and using multicultural education approaches to develop curricula and instruction that is more culturally appropriate for

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41 traditionally underrepresented students (Ladson Billings, 1995). When the math mate rials and questions are relatable to Students of C olor and include their various contexts, they are then able to see themselves and better engage in math learning. For instance, it is important to consider and include the context and realities of underrepr esented students when creating math story problems so that S tudents of C olor and other marginalized groups can relate to and better understand the questions. When the questions are developed based on white , male, and middle class realities, students who do not identify with those groups have less access (Ladson Billings, 1995). On a broader scale, t he Center for Urban Education (CUE) out of the University of South ern California has developed a D iversity S corecard that consists of a process for assessing and intervening within higher education systems, structures, policies, and practices toward equity, and particularly racial equity (Bensimon, 2004) . Key to this process is the development of equity mindedness (Malcolm Piquex & Bensimon, 2017) . As Felix, Bensi mon, Hanson, Gray, and Klingsmith (2015) describe, The characteristics of equity mindedness are as follows: (a) being race conscious in a critical way, as opposed to color blind; (b) being cognizant of structured and institutional racism as the root cause of inequities as opposed to deficiencies stemming from essentialist perspectives on race or ethnicity; (c) recognizing that to achieve equity it may be necessary to treat individuals unequally as opposed to treating everyone equally; and (d) being able to focus on practices as the source of failure rather than stu dent deficits ( p.28) . Equity mindedness looks at racial disparity and resists a deficit perspective that focuses on deficit fram ework. The Community College of Aurora (CCA) worked with CUE to complete a Diversity S students versus white students in algebra (Felix, Bensimon, Hanson, Gray, Kling smith, 2015). CCA faculty developed their equity mindedness and reviewed the algebra syllabi, algebra

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42 teaching practices, and racial diversity of algebra faculty to identify and implement interventions towards equity in college algebra . One example of a po ssible intervention was to discuss and educate algebra faculty on the language of their syllabus to change the tone from warning students about the ways they could fail toward showing them the ways to succeed. Beyond developing culturally relevant and responsive materials for students, researchers have found that basing math cu rricula and instruction around C o mmunities of C olor promotes better learning. Nasir (2007) found that in an African American community, people of all ages were using advanced mathematical thinking in their strategies for dominoes and basketball, which were widely played games in that community. Similarly, one teacher working with researchers, based a math module on gardening for a largely Latinx community after visiting homes to better understand their lived experiences and math applications (Civil, 2007). This application served for more effective math learning. Beyond a multicultural education approach, critical thinking c an be employed to engage and liberate marginalized students (Freire, 1993). For instance, one teacher in a largely working class, Mexican immigrant community assigned his class a math problem to identify how many four year scholarships could be provided wi th the amount it cost to build and maintain a B 2 Bomber. This compelled the students to use math to then critique and question the tax money being spent on B 2 Bombers when many of the students were trying to figure out if they would be able to afford col lege (Gutstein, 2007). In integrating these culturally appropriate pedag ogies into the math classroom, S of C olor realities are in a sense validated. Yet, these practices do not directly address the racism and stereotyping that is happening in the classroom.

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43 Methodological Trends When it comes to equity, and racial equity in particular, in mathematics education, the literature has moved from responding to the question : W ho is bad at math and why are they bad at math ? to W hat are the barriers to ma th learning for Students of Color and what strategies work to overcome them? (Boaler, 2002; Harper, 2010; M artin, 2009). As described , several critical scholars have re directed the scholarly trajectory and resisted the former trend of making S tudents of C olor the problem. As mentioned, prior to 2000, little literature focused on race or ethnicity and mathematics education and even less looked at race or ethnicity intersectionally with identities such as gender or class (Lubienski, 1999 & 2002). Those schol arly articles and books that did highlight race or ethnicity and math education tended to focus on ethnicity (often in lieu of race) as a category of people at the lower side of the achievement gap (Martin, 2009). This earlier body of literature included l argely quantitative studies and non critical qualitative studies that tended to place low achieving groups in math like S tudents of C olor or women in these unquestioned categories and then assumed that the problem for these groups was their inherent mathem atical inferiority (Boaler, 2002; Martin, 2009). Then, around the turn of the century, several critical scholars in mathematics education to the previous literat ure that focused on race/ethnicity and mathematics education. In concert with these analyses, these and other researchers produced more qualitative research, particularly that which relied on in depth, semi structured interviews and ethnography. This resea r ch examined the experiences of S tudents or L earners of C olor and looked at the teaching and learning systems that were failing these students instead of problematizing S tudents of C olor.

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44 Harper (2010) led a next wave of researchers in proposing an anti de ficit achievement framew ork, and researchers such as McG ee and Martin (2011) began to focus on the strategies of S tudents of C olor that did persist and were successful in college mathematics. Others began using qualitative methods (interviews and content a nalysis) to study college climates where S tudents of C olor were attaining STEM degrees at representative rates in a comparative analysis with institutions whose graduation rates for Students of C olor in STEM stagnated (Museus & Liverman, 2010). These methodological adaptations in the last 17 years have served to more critically assess and promote equity in the way defined at the start of this literature review. Calls for Further Research Given the se recent shifts in the literature around racial equity in college math, there are significant gaps and calls for further research in the literature that clearly outline how scholars should move forward. Scholars in math education and in race and education have made solid steps toward understand ing the experience of math Students of C olor and particularly those seeking STEM degrees. We better understand the barriers S tudents of C olor face such as having to prove themselves in math class after math class (Mc G ee & Martin, 2011) and being isolated and stereotyped (Harper, 2010) and the strategies they use to combat such barriers. We also better understand what supports Students of Color to succeed and persist, such as peer mentoring between Students of Color (H arper, 2013), supportive college environments (Museus & Liverman, 2010), and strong math identities (Cobb & Hodge, 2007; Martin, 2006; Martin, 2007; McGee & Martin, 2011; Nasir, 2002). This importa nt research centers successful Students of C olor and their experiences. This line of research should continue, as McG ee and Martin (2011) suggest, "Considering the preponderance of research highlighting Black failure, there is a significant gap in un d erstanding

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45 success among Black students in the academically com petitive and socially valued STEM disciplines" (p. 1351) Yet at the same time, as researchers focus on the experiences and successes of Students of Color , we also need to problematize white ness in the math classroom. Through both empirical and critical the oretical scholarship, we need to better understand how white ness is operating in math education. What practices and norms are privileging white students while marginalizing and oppressing Students of Color ? The call for examining white ness or racism in mat h education are made by Martin (2009 & 2013) and McGee and Martin (2011). Martin (2009) highlights this, mathematics education research, it is not surprising that there has been no systematic study of Whiteness and its relationship to mathematics participation, opportunity to learn, and white ness in college mathematics is sorely needed. Classroom ethnographic methods and a portrai ture methodology would respond well to these calls, including those by Strayhorn (2010) who suggests that methods that offer thick description and perhaps employ phenomenology would meet current needs. This lingering need may be due to a lack of ethnograp hers within the field of math education or focused on it. In addition to this call for more targeted research on math learning interactions, Martin (2009) and McGee and Martin (2011) also call for identity focused research that works to better understand t he development and negotiation of math identities along with racial identity. Although Lubienski (1999) called for intersectional research on equity in math education, her expectation has not been realized. The great majority of literature reviewed on raci al equity in college mathematics since 2000 has largely focused only on race. Not only have scholars tended to choose to look at race alone, many have chosen one particular race, and that has

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46 predominantly been African American or Black students (see Harpe r, 2013; McGee & Martin, 2011). This focus is a positive advancement , given the anti deficit approach and Black success focus by these articles, but the larger body of research does seem to be at risk of polarizing race in terms of Black and white (leaving out research that includes other Students of Color ) and ignoring the race and gender intersections, in particular. Racial identity and gender identity are not separate. Indeed, gender identity is racialized and racial identity is gendered in the United St ates (Daniels, 1997; Collins, 200 9 ). Thus there are a number of opportunities for researchers to focus on the experiences of various races and the intersections of race and gender in the college 99) call, intersectional identities including race and gender have not yet been studied intersectionally in college mathematics. More broadly, Riegle Crumb & King (2010) have looked at interest in STEM majors at the intersections of race and gender, but ve rify in their own literature review a dearth of intersectional research in STEM education by both race and gender. Literature Review Conclusions I return to my guiding literature review question: What barriers to racial equity exist in the college mathemat ics classroom? The barriers I discovered very much overlapped with the opportunities for improving racial equity. The overarching barrier to racial equity in college math is the mathematics field itself, and the invisible but accepted white norms. These wh ite norms manifest in different ways through the K 12 system and into higher education courses. One prominent manifestation is that of stereotype threat that keeps S tudents of Color in an almost surveilled state (Foucault, 1977) where the looming stereotypes result in microaggressions, deficit perspective, and barriers to positive mathematics identities. A substantial body of literature theorizes the co construction of math and racial identity and the connection to learning

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47 and a spirations that rely on identity. Relatedly, there are several promising practices to promoting and sustaining racial equity in college math. However, given the nascence of the research, more verification especially through qualitative research is necessar y before we confidently offer solutions. The research landscape of race and equity in college mathematics is in its adolescence. Along with the gaps and calls noted in this review, the literature search was much broader than originally planned to respond a dequately to the research question. The search moved outside of the literature focused on mathematics in higher education and delved into that oriented toward K 12 education. Also, the review incorporated numerous sources on broader S TEM learning research. Although I did find answers to my question, such as the racialization of math education, the effects of stereotypes and stereotype threat, and the hindrance of math identity development for Students of Color , I discovered even more gaps and questions that the scholarship must pursue to offer an adequate response to my question. Yet, given the development and critical approach that is now steering the field of equity in mathematics education, I have great confidence that we will heed these calls and continu e the struggle.

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48 IV. HISTORIOGRAPHY In what follows, I offer a historiography of the western, public, urban, research university and campus where I conduct ed this study. This is to offer context and background for the study, but also to offer a case for why college algebra at this particular university demand s such a study and critique. Western Urban University (WUU) Western Urban University (WUU) is a public urban research universi ty with two campuses. The Urban Campus is a shared academic campus in a downtown western city and is also home to another state university and a community college. The second is a medical campus, located approximately 10 miles away f rom the city center in a suburban area . Although these two campuses were originally separate institutions within the ir University system, they were consolidated and accredited as one un iversity in 2004. For the urban c ampus, the consolidation changed its r eputation from a teaching focused university to a research university. Prior to the consolidation, the urban c ampus was the original urban university and was established in 1912 as an extension center for the University system , but then was named a univers ity in 1973, when the Governor called for an amendment to the state constitution that would allow the university system to establish additional campuses ( Zuboy , 2013). Shortly thereafter, the state built the urban campus to which WUU , and the two other sta te higher education institutions located. Given the whiteness focus of this project, it is worth discussing the history of the shared urban campus. It was established in 1858 by Georgian gold miners who settled there when gold was first discovered in that area. In fact, the campus gets its name based on the Latin term for gold, aurum (Gallegos, 1991). In 1916, Latinx immigrants and citizens began moving to the

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49 western city and settled into the neighborhood. A local Catholic Church was built in 1926 and became the hub of the Latinx community . Yet, as the city was developing, there was a growing desire among city and state leadership to create a hig her education campus downtown to allow for the development of an educa ted workforce . In 1969, the then Governor developed the Urban Higher Education Center (U HEC) Board, which called a special bond election to fund the development of the campus site. Despite lawsuits and organizing by over one hundred Latinx families that re sided in the area, the bond passed, and the Latinx residents were evicted a nd/or relocated around the city (Gallegos, 19 91). Today, the state offers a d isplaced community s cholarship to students attending one of the three institutions on the campus who can prove that they are a former resident of the displaced community or the child or grandchild of a former resident. This serves as an underwhelming recognition of the destruction and academic gentrification inflicted upon a once vibrant Latinx and working c lass community. This history is relevant from an equity standpoint, because it contextualizes the discussion around recruiting and retaining Students of Color at WUU , and particularly Latinx students in a sad and racist irony when we consider that the clas srooms in which we want these students to learn are on the same lands that were taken from their families. And, of course, the same argument must be made for native students, as the land that the city and campus now occupies belongs to the Cheyenne and Ara paho tribes (Davidson, 2013). Ju st prior to the development of U HEC, t he then city center (what later became WUU ) in 1965 enrolled over six hun dred students, with 25% of them graduate students (Abbott, 1999), operating out of the former city tramway c enter , and what is today occupied by a fancy, historic hotel and a Center for the Performing Arts. Yet today, WUU is one of the largest research

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50 universities in the state with 18,000 students, and awarding the most graduate degrees in the state. On the urban ca mpus, the academic disciplines are broken into seven schools or colleges. Department of Mathematic s The Department of M athematics is located within the School of Science and Liberal Arts ( SSLA ), the largest school or college on the urban c ampus. A n early SSLA Dean noted that the math department was problematic when he assumed the Deanship. While lower level math courses were in high demand by students, the research level faculty seemed focused on the more advanced coursework geared for aspiring engineers ( Zuboy, 2013). The Dean worked with an eventual new chair to create a focus in the department on applied math. Currently, the department offers a BS in Mathematics, and an MS and PhD in Applied Mathematics. The Department boasts 18 tenured or tenure track p rofessors, three of whom present as women, and all of whom present as white , except for one Assistant Professor who presents as an AAPI man . Yet, none of these faculty members teach the lower level math courses nor seem directly involved. So, although ther e has been a shift in math to applied mathematics, it is unclear that original concern has been directly addressed. The Math Department is responsible for all of the algebra courses offered at the university. This includes MATH 112 : College A lgebra . Successful completion of MATH 112 is required for most STEM BS degrees at WUU , although many STEM majors test out of MATH 112 whe n they first enroll at WUU . During the academic year, there are around 8 13 sections of MATH 112 offered per s emester with 25 30 students in each class. Suffice it to say, hundreds of WUU students enroll in MATH 112 each semester.

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51 In terms of racial demographics, WUU has seen slight increases in its Students of Color since 2001, with the exception of Latinx studen ts, who have more than doubled their percentage of the student body population, as shown on the following chart: Fall 2001 Fall 2016 Asian American 8% 10% African American 4% 5.6% Hispanic 8% 17.4% Native American 1% 1.8% Figure 2 : The percentage of the total WUU student population by Ethnic Minority Group (Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness, 2003; 2016) WUU In 2014, WUU worked with the Center for Urban Education (CUE) out of the University of Southern California t o produce an Equity Scorecard Report (University of Colorado Denver & Center for Urban Education, 2014). This report highlighted where WUU was falling short in terms of graduation and retention rates for underrepresented Students of Color , and particularly African American, Native American, and Latinx students. The report pinpointed MATH 112 ( college algebra ) as concerning in terms of racial equity around student success and persistence. For instance, in fiscal year 2013, the percentage of students enrolled in MATH 112 who earned the grade of D, F, or I(ncomplete) was 28.9%. However the percentage of African Americans earning a D,F, or I was 36.7 for African American students and 36.1% for Hispanic students (University of Colorado Denver & Center for Urban Education, 2014, p. 29). The report also found that even when looking only at students with ACT scores th at were 18 or above (which corresponds with college readiness in math), African American, Hispanic , and Native American students still had slightly higher rates of DFI grades.

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52 African American and Hispanic students are also referred to remedial math classes at higher rates than other students (University of Colorado Denver & Center for Urban Education, 2014). If they do choose to take remedial courses, they must enroll elsewhere for that instruction as WUU is not legally allowed to offer remedial or developmental courses. According to the WUU by a community college. They may be offered by four year institutions on a cash f unded basis (p.1) This is except for WUU and another Masters level four year institution that shares a campus with WUU. It is unclear why there are laws prohibiting WUU from offering remedial courses, but it is likely part of a larger contract between ins titutions of higher education to keep them differentiated. College Algebra Peter is a Senior Instructor in the mathematics department and oversees the algebra program, including its instructors. According to Peter , approximately 12 years ago, the math depa rtment tried to implement the Accuplacer placement test to raise the standards of readiness for students in MATH 112 . The department wanted to raise the standards because they were concerned th at most of the students taking c ollege algebra were not coming in with the math skills necessary for the course to move fast enough to meet the course outcomes by the end of the P. Peters , Personal Communication, April 3, 2017). Once the test was implemented, the d emand for MATH 112 based on those who placed into it plummeted from filling 12 sections a semester to two. Given this drastic drop in demand for MATH 112 along with concern that students were taking algebra at other places and some walking away from WUU al together to institutions that did not have placement tests and remedial requirements, the math department got rid of the placement test after four years.

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53 A lthough the demand for MATH 112 is back up, given that any admitted student can now take it, the DFI rates have been an ongoing concern. DFI (grades of D, F, or Incomplete) rates peaked at 48% in the f all of 2015. But around that same time , WUU received a grant to integrate and train their Teaching Assistant Coaches in active learning techniques. Peter , a s the instructional lead for College A lgebra and his team developed around 40 active learning activities and began implementing these into all courses. Peter attributed the much improved DFI rate of 35% in the spring of 2016 to these active learning endeav ors alone . Although the math department has seen a significant decline in DFI rates as of late, there is still concern that with the large number of under prepared students enrolling in algebra, the course is still not able to cover all the material and me et the learning outcomes identified. There has been some discussion of re implementing a required placement test, but that is on hold as the department currently has had P. Peters , Personal Communication, April 3, 2017). To contextualiz e this discussion of DFI rates, nationally, only 50% of students pass college algebra with a grade of A, B, or C (Ganter & Haver, 2011). So , even at their worst, WUU with and are now better than the national average. This tells us that there is a broader crisis in math education and preparation, and as shown, S tudents of Color suffer the largest educational consequences. Math Tenure Track Faculty Although tenure track faculty do not teach college algebra, they do still serve as the academic leads of the department, where they not only supervise the algebra instructors, but they also set the tone for what is valued when it comes to math and math education. This tone is relayed through supervision a nd leadership, but also through teaching and mentorship

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54 of the entire TA team, as well as many of the instr uctors. For instance, Peter received his Master s degree from the Math department before he became an instructor. Given this role of tenu re track faculty , I interviewed a senior member of the math faculty to better understand their priorities and culture. As mentioned, there is a lack of racial diversity amongst the tenure track mathematics faculty in that they are all white with the except ion of one newer AAPI Assistant Professor . Now certainly, as discussed in the literature review, we know that math experts are typically white men and the field as most understand it has been developed by and for white men . But, at the same time, to have a n almost all white faculty in a substantial department at an u rban and racially diverse process, there has been at least one incident of racial discrimination that came when the department was interviewing an AAPI candidate for a tenure track position and one faculty understand them . T his is particularly interesting given that there are multiple tenure tra ck faculty in the department whose first language is not English, but they are all white . This is worrisome in itself , but more broadly, when the math faculty have discussed the racial diversity of their group, some tend to dismiss the argument of the impo rtance of having a racially diverse faculty and 2009 article (mentioned above ) where , up on coming to Berkeley as a Black graduate student in math, Martin statements as white .

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55 One last thing to note was that in my faculty leadership interview, I came to understand that the college algebra students are not seen by the m ath tenure When tenure declared math majors. I confirmed that most students who are math majors test out of algebra. Therefore, the m ath department professors do not claim algebr a students as their own, and I get the sense that college algebra and its students are seen more as a necessary evil or problem . In light of these layers and attitudes, we start to see a picture of college algebra a s the Black and Brown thorn in the side of an enwhitened math department who are only truly interested in hiring and grooming the best (white) mathematicians. I also want to note here that the home of algebra at WUU has been somewhat contested, where the m ore general student experience group has made an argument that they should oversee algebra. Yet, the leaders of student experience at WUU are also white men, and have done little to no work to understand college algebra nationally, nor at WUU. Given the wo rk and research that Peter has invested in college algebra dissertation should be developed within and in collaboration with Peter and the Math Department.

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56 V. THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK This dissertation respond s to many of the calls identified i n the literature review. I employ ed an anti deficit achievement perspective as Harper (2010) called for to disrupt the perspective that Student s of Color are a problem in STE M. I focus ed on how white ness is at work in the college algebra classroom, which Martin (2009 & 2013) and McGee and Martin (2011) identified as a gap in Mathematics research. I consider ed and incorporated intersectionality , which Lubienski ( 1999 ) highlighted was overlooked in the vast majority of mathematics research. I employ ed ethnographic methods to study the day to day cla ssroom interactions, which Martin ( 2009 ) insisted was necessary to understand how racism/whiteness works in the mathematics classroom. I also continue d the work that looks at the relationship between and negotiation of math identity and racial identities among a diverse college class , since Nasir ( 2002 ) and Cobb and Hodge (2007 ) have shown that strong math identity is so necess ary for all students, but that Students of Color have additional barriers to these identities in the traditional classroom given the whiteness and racism they face . I employ ed multiple, complementary theories and approaches in my framework for this project . The project is rooted in Critical Race Theory (CRT ) , but I took a Critical Whiteness Studies (CWS) approach. Be low, I define these theories/ a pproaches and discuss how I employ ed them in the project and subsequent analyses. Critical Race Theory CRT was or iginally developed in legal scholarship to fill the gap in critical legal studies that neglected race and racism within the law. According to DeCuir and Dixson (2004), the tenets of CRT include counterstorytelling (Matsuda, 1995; Solórzano & Yosso, 2002), the permanence of racism (Bell, 1992), white ness as property (Harris, 1993), interest convergence

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57 (Bell, 1980), and the critique of liberalism (Crenshaw, 1988) . I ntersectionality (Crenshaw, 2009) is also acknowledged as a tenet . Although many of the founda tional works in CRT cited above were cast in legal scholarship, CRT has moved firmly into the field of education as well (Ladson Billings, 1998; Lynn, 1999), though it has certainly been met with resistance especially within urban teacher education (Matias , Montoya, & Nishi, 2016). Arguably, the crux of CRT is the permanence and normalcy of racism, particularly in US society. Bell (1992) argues, and his CRT theories support, that despite the continuing resistance to racism and the civil rights gains by People of Color that racism and white supremacy will remain the rule of the lan d. This is due to the constant work of white s to maintain their power and promote and maintain white supremacy in manifold ways. One of the strategies that supports and maintain s white ness is its normalization (Delgado, 1995). As Taylor (2009) elaborates, encompassing and p. 4). This invisibi lity and omnipresence of white s upremacy then makes white ness a powerful and damaging tool wielded under a cloak of normalcy and deniability. Given this, my critical ethnographic perspective will work to make white ness and white supremacist norms visible and in high relief . I will highlight and d econstruct the way white ness is working. I use the other tenets identified above to help make racism and white supremacism visible, and I briefly describe them here. Counterstorytelling and counternarratives ( Solórzano & Yosso, 2002) are method s employed i n CRT to center and highlight the voices and perspectives of People of Color in resistance to the dominant stories and narratives that ultimately support white supremacy. Given that I am white , I will not position my ethnographic descriptions as countersto ries, but since I will be conducting in depth interviews with Students of Color , I will

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58 work to preserve their narratives in the dissertation and position them as counter narratives . Yet, as I am using an anti deficit perspective, Harper (2010) instructs th at an anti deficit application of CRT views Students of Color who use a variety of strategies to resist white ness and racism on a daily basis. theory of Interest Convergence suggests that policies and initiatives within the United States that benefit People of Color and particularly Black Americans will only be accepted when white people benefit as much, if not more, from the same policies or ini tiatives (Bell, 1980). Within higher education, Affirmative Action is a n example of Interest Convergence (Dorsey & Chambers, 2014). Although touted or accused as a policy to give higher education access to People of Color , in reality, white women and their white families have been the largest beneficiaries of Affirmative Action (Harper, Patton, and Wooden, 2009). Yet, as Dorsey and Chambers (2014) point out, the perceived benefits to white s under Affirmative Action have not been enough to prevent the steady dismantling of Affirmative Action. In fact, they suggest that cases like those at the University of Michigan ( Gratz v. Bollinger (2003) and Grutter v. Bollinger (2003)) and the more recent Schuette v. BAMN (2012) signal not only Interest Divergence, but i Dorsey & Chambers, 2014, p. 72), where white s work to not only seize the benefits provided to People of Color but active ly work to demote and destruct Communities of C olor as a consequence for what white s percei ve as the unearned privileges provided to People of Color during the period of I nterest C onvergence. Certainly, Interest Convergence has been shown in policies and larger structures, but the scholarly literature has not looked for traces of Interest Conver gence in interpersonal relationships . I suggest that Interest Convergence may also be a mechanism discoverable in the classroom, as a microcosm of

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59 the interest convergence interest divergence imperial reclamation that Dorsey and Chambers (2014) point o ut in structures and policy. The CRT concept, W hite ness as P . S he equates white skin to a form of property, rooting it in the history of slavery where Black people were themselves considered property . She traces this concept through its evolution to today where white ness itself is treated as property, particularly in the shared sense that both white ne ss In terms of a critique of liberalism (Crenshaw, 1988) , Neoliberalism includes what seems to be the newest and most masked version of white ness and racism. Shrouded in claims that , a critique of liberalism includes a calling out and indictment of color evasio n (Annamma, Jackson, & Morrison, 2017 ) . These white liberal concepts are insidious in the sense that they masquerade as utopian concepts while in actuality they are simply ignoring the reality of white ness and racism and invalidating the lived consequences of People of Color . In addition to watching for the enactment of these CRT concepts in a college algebra course, I also consider intersectionality (Crenshaw, 2009). This concept looks at the effect o f multiple identities and their ascribed role s in society to determine the ultimate value of a person. Th e s e hegemonic systems of race, gender, class, ability, etc. work to create a compounded ef fect that promote wealthy, white , Christian , cis ge nder , heter osexual men as most valuable and cast poor, Black, Muslim, LGBT IQ + women as the least valuable , for example . Pa tricia Hill Collins (2009 ) refers to these intersectional identities as a matrix of oppression , referring to the way that the compilation of marg inalized identities produce compounded oppression. To illustrate this using a legal premise, Cre n

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60 showed the average prison term for a man convicted of raping a Black woman was two years, as compared to five years for the rape of a Latina and ten years for the rape of an Anglo woman ( 2009, that inform societal value and de humanization. However, I will consider race and whiteness first as the focus of this study, and consider other social constructions like gender as they are related to , and there is interplay with race. Certainly as the gro unding theory of this study, this discussion of CRT offers my framing perspective and inform s my interpretations and analysis. For instance, given that Delgado (1995) shows us that whiteness is normalized and indeed omnipr esent, during my project, I work ed to understand how whiteness is normalized in the classroom and in the interactions of students, the instructor, and the teaching assistant. As Harris (1993) explains that whitene ss functions as property, I consider ed what I saw in the classroom and in int erviews using that frame. I ask ed , how is whiteness being used to exclude? How is it being enjoyed by whites? What privileges and advantages are whites experiencing? How are S tudent s of C olor being excluded from and by whiteness? I worked to understand cla ssroom routines, the way knowledge is created and lauded, and who was credited with being right and a ssumed to be right, and how that square d with As I discuss in my methods below, I dr e w on the experiences, counterstories ( Solórzano & Yosso, 2002) , and counternarratives (Preston, 2013) of Students of Color in the classroom to make sense o f the course experiences. How did they experience, internalize, and resist normalized and permanent racism and how did that impact the classroom in turn?

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61 CRT encourages transdisciplinary approache s (Nishi, Matias, Montoya, & Sarcedo, 2016). So, embracing this, seem to be appropri ate as a CRT application, I use d complementary approaches discussed below and I return ed to the literature and scholarship and integrate other theories/approaches to make sense of what I s aw and to square it with my larger framework. Critical Whiteness Studies Although Critical Whiteness Studies (CWS) has only been named as such for a relativ ely short duration, they have been in effect for over a century. The first of what scholars consider CWS was published by Sociologist, W.E.B. DuBois in his seminal book, The Souls of Black Folk (1903), and subsequent work. DuBois not only vividly describes the experience of Black people during reconstruction, but also begins to critique whites and their whiteness. As DuBois ( 1999 ) described, Black people have been forced to develop a double consciousness where they are able to see and understand their exper iences as Black people but are also able to understand and navigate whiteness and the white world. On the flipside, DuBois ( 1999 ) also developed and offered the concept of the veil describing how white people were blinded to not only the experience of Blac k people but their own whiteness. High in the tower, where I sit above the loud complaining of the human sea, I know many souls that toss and whirl and pass, but none there are that intrigue me more than the Souls of White Folk. Of them I am singularly clairvoyant. I see in and through them. I view them from unusual points of vantage. Not as a foreigner do I come, for I am native, not foreign, bone of their thought and flesh of their language. (2003, p. 45) Certainly, Afro Caribbean Psychiatrist, Frantz Fanon, was also an early critic of whiteness, especially in the way he psychoanalyzed the impact of racism and white supremacy on Black people as well as white people. In fact, he was one of the first to look at how Black people

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62 enacted whiteness on each other as they imbibed constant messages and ideologies of white superiority and Black inferiority (Fanon, 2008) . Beyond this, Fanon (2008) also highlighted and analyzed the white gaze and ina dvertently the whiteness within that gaze and its consequences for Black people. Also e arly on , Black, American novelist and social critic, James Bald win ( 1985 ) reflected on and critiqued whiteness , defining it as ar shallowness of mind, an intellectual and . insidious nature of whiteness, as well as its detrimental impact to People of Color and whites (2000). Yet , whiteness studies (minus the C for critical) is often credited to white, feminist, scholar, Peggy McIntosh whose now well known 2001 ), which outlined small everyday white privileges that white people receive, such as not being foll owed in a department store or having a Band A id or makeup match white skin tone. Although McIntosh had not been the first to offer insight into whiteness, as a white scholar, she did seem to pique the interests of other whites into the topic, which Leonard o (2013) notes is not surprising since white people tend to prefer to hear messages about whiteness from white people. This history on the development of CWS describes the lineage that most CWS scholars acknowledge. However, it is worth noting that element s of CWS have also developed in other areas as well. whiteness as property is considered a tenet of CRT certainly but is considered CWS as well. I share this brief history of CWS to orient the reader, but also to dr aw a contrast within whiteness studies. Leonardo (2013) describes two different sorts of whiteness studies: a white

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63 whiteness studies and a B lack whiteness studies. The former is a whiteness studies designed by whites for whites to be used by whites. The r easoning for a white whiteness studies falls into this reasoning, since whiteness and racism is a white problem, white whiteness stud ies should hold will never d ismantle 2007, p. 110 ), we realize that when whites take the lead in issues of racial justice, we end up focused on the superficial, like Band Aid color and not focused on the consequ ences of whiteness that are experienced by People of Color I am B. Williams, personal communications, May 5, 2017). Thus Black whiteness studies focuses on whit eness to resist the consequences of whiteness for People of Color . Additionally, a Black whiteness studies recognizes the foundation of the field as being formed by People of Color , i.e., DuBois and Fanon, where as a white whiteness studies would likely trace CWS back to McIntosh. As Leonardo (2013), affirms, It seems that White s have not been taking heed of [ White ness] scholarship, and it took White scholars and public figures to repeat or appropriate the message of intellectuals of color in order for Whites in general to assimilate the insights. This is not surprising. Whites are more accommodating when they hear the same message from a white messenger, which preserves white comfo rt zones and inevitably feelings of safety. (p. 85) Among the crit iques of CWS is that they center whites and whiteness when the more dominant field of CRT has worked to center the stories and experiences of People of Color . This is a fair critique, espec ially given the slippery and evolving nature of whiteness to re create itself to best promote the interests of white supremacy at every opportunity (Nishi, Matias, & Montoya, 2015). Yet, Leonardo (2013) makes the case that when it comes to race studies, Pe ople of Color have always been centered, and in non critical studies this is often because white is not considered a race, and because People of Color harkening

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64 ow does it feel t (1999, p. 164) Whiteness at the center of race analysis comes with the purpose of being critical of it, not recentering it in the usual manner (2013, p. 91). stepping back to look at CWS as a whole, Apple (1998) describes the essential approach : T he most important component of doing Critical White ness research: understanding the adverse effects of racis m on minoritized students. In the absence of this consideration, this form of inquiry becomes Critical Whiteness for White people, which inadvertently recenters Whiteness and White privilege (p.67) It is on this note that I describe my merging of CWS with CRT. As e xplained, the CRT tenets are the guiding theories of t his study. CRT frame s my approach in this study as well as the interpretations and analyses . Yet, within this CRT framing, CWS defines my focus. Thus, as I observe and interview participants, I will be looking at how whiteness is working (Yoon, 2012 ) and the enactments and performances of whiteness. However, to stay grounded in CRT , as I work to understand h ow whiteness is working, I bring it back to the impact that whiteness has on People of C olor and their experiences and voices within these enactments o f whiteness. So, for example, when I observe a white student use a ra cial microaggression against a S tudent of C olor, I deconstruct the whiteness in this interaction using scholarship . I then f ocus on the toll that microaggression takes on People of Color , both in conveying the experience of the S tudent of C olor on the receiving end of the aggression ( based on conversations I have with them ) and other consequences, according to the literature. L ooking to the literature for the impact of whiteness is important because as Yoon (2012) describes , whiteness ] may not yield immediately observable

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65 Cabrera (2018) recently offered a critique of CRT, arguing that CRT has lacked a theory to race and racial formation. I find that the way I define and discuss theories of race, racism, and whiteness, that I offer a clear focus within in CRT. My use of CWS in particular fills the gap in CRT that Cabrera notes. Settler Colonialism To really u nderstand racism, whiteness, and white supremacism in the United States, it is also crucial to understand settler colonialism (Tuck & Yang, 2012 ; Wolf e , 1991 ). Tuck and Yang ( 2012 ) describe the unique and violent nature of settler colonialism when the colonizer comes to stay. Certainly, colonization in any form is v iolent in every way (Fanon, 1963 ), but when, in the case of the US, the white Europeans colonizers stay or settle , this is done through genocide and the elimination of native peoples (Tuck & Yang, 2012 ). As we know from US history, the genocide of indigenous people from the country was the white European strategy from the start, but we can see today how settler colonialism still works to erase native people and culture. Patel ( 2015 ) draws on S ettler C olo roperty (1993) to frame the institution of higher education today 657) . She describes how whites feel threatened when there are too many People of Color in a Uni versity , which results in their backlash against People of Color. Patel highlights their moves to erase native people from the institution from a settler colonial lens and at the same time work to enslave other People of Color, and particularly Black Amer icans or cast them in servitude, as is institution is built on and the very bodies of People of Color therein.

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66 Anti Deficit Achievement Framework In 2010, Shaun Harper laid out what he described as an Anti Deficit Achievement Framework. The crux of his approach was that researchers employing this framework should center the achievements of Students of Color . He recommended this approach rather than continuing to look at Students of Color as the very problem for the existence of the achievement gap. This study of course focuses on and problematizes whiteness in a college algebra course, so it is not immediately clear how this framework can fit within my larger conceptual framework. However, Harper describes the framework in relation to CRT below: Instead of relying on deficit laden reinforcements of minority student underachievement from the education and social science literature, an anti deficit inquiry recognizes students of color as experts on their experiential realities and empowers them to offer counte rnarratives concerning their success in STEM fields (Harper, 2010, p. 71) This description describes how I hold the experiences of Students of Color in this study, in in depth interviews, and in my descriptions of Student s of C olor role in the critical i ncidents and portraits that are illustrated in th is dissertation. Concluding Framework Cabrera (2018) offered a critique of CRT, suggesting that CRT is lacking a theory of y stifle the power behind many of the tenets of CRT. Cabrera urges CRT scholars to instead adopt and describe their theories of racialization. I thus employ multiple theories and frameworks to fill this vital gap. In review, this study will be rooted in CR T and Settler Colonialism as complementary in a co constructed theoretical framework. I t will be grounded in Settler Colonialism and

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67 tenets, and they will be core to both my epistemological and ontological functions. Within this theoretical underpinn ing, I will focus on white guide me . I will return to the theoretical framework in the portrait s that I ultimately interpret and Anti Deficit Achievement framework, lest I reinforce the whiteness I am working to highlight and dismantle.

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68 VI. METHODOLOGY Qualitative methodology and discussions of such are in constant motion and evolution. The labels, approaches, and epistemologies in which they are grounded are also in constant flux and they fluctuate within each discipline and sub discipline. I begin my a rticulation of my methodology with this premise as I approach the daunting task of nailing down my methodology. Necesitamos teorías [we need theories] that will rewrite history using race, cla ss, gender, and ethnicity as categories of analysis, theories that cross borders, that blur boundaries new kinds of theories with new Anzaldúa calls us to develop and evolve theories and methods that are most cond ucive to discovering and portraying marginalized realities and perspectives. Naturally these theories and methods are often suspect in the traditional and recognized r ealms of research that continue to rely on fictive objectivity and a singular truth. To r efute these fictions, Solórzano and Yosso address them directly in their description of a critical race methodology: A critical race methodology in education challenges White privilege, rejects exposes deficit informed research (Solórzano & Yosso, 2002, p. 26) . As this study methodology is indeed a critical race methodology, I operate and move through the multiple truths and realiti es believed and experienced by teachers and learners in a course together. In this project, I use portraiture (Lawrence Lightfoot & Davis, 1997) as my overarching methodology, and under this framework draw on methods in ethnography, narrative inquiry, and hermeneutic phenomenology (Ohito, 2017). In what follows, I offer a discussion describing these methods and my use of them. I then close with a description of my methodological procedure.

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69 Portraiture To answer my research question of how does whiteness wo rk in a college algebra course , I employ portraiture. Lawrence Lightfoot and Davis (1997) in their foundational book on portraiture, describe it as, a method of qualitative research that blurs the boundaries of aesthetics and empiricism in an effort to cap ture the complexity, dynamics and subtlety of human experience and organizational life. Portraitists seek to record and interpret the perspectives and experience of the people they are studying, documenting their voices and their visions their authority, k Lightfoot & Davis, 1997, p. xv) Portraiture , then, p. 17). Ohito (2017) describ es portraiture as a methodological hybrid that draws from hermeneutic phenomenology, eth nography, and narrative inquiry . The foci of portraiture include s context, voice, relationships, emergent themes, and the aes thetic whole (Lawrence Lightfoot & Davis, 1997). Lawrence Lightfoot ( 2005 ) , as the founding portraitu re methodologist, describes how portraiture seeks to present a version of an experience, where, similar to portraitists painting a picture, the model or subject will see a version of themselves that does not perfectly reflect them as they see themselves, b ut offers a version of themselves as discovered and seen by the artist. In this way, the portraitist is working to reveal a version of the model she , as the artist, sees but is also including herself in the portrait in what she includes and what she does n ot. As Dixson describes, 2005 , p. 112). Although this methodology may not seem like the best fit for my research question , given that my research question demands a cri tical race approach and a fierce critique of whiteness while portraiture comes across as almost passively interpretive at first blush, I argue that it is an ideal fit. In terms of the alignment between portraiture and CRT, several scholars have conducted

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70 C RT research using portraiture. Most notably, Chapman (2005) uses CRT and portraiture to study a racially diverse ninth grade classroom with a white female teacher. Although Chapman does critique the teacher, she does it in dialogue with the teacher and stu dents and works to center the experiences of Students of Color in that climate. Thus, the final product of this research include s several portraits including narrative s, critical incidents, and analyses from the algebra class. These portraits express how whiteness is performed and impacts participants in the course by illustrating what the performances of whiteness look like and what the consequences of whiteness feel like. In alignment with Ohito (2017) , below I describe how I employ ethnography, narrative inquiry, and critical hermeneutic analysis in my portraiture. Ethnographic methods The critical ethnography of the algebra class is core to this project. I was what Espinoza (M. Espinoza, Personal Communication, November 4, 2016) in the class. I dre 43) to direct my fie ld methods. In stage one, I bega n sitting in the class sessions without participating to be as unobtrusive as possible with the exception of introducing myself to the class and briefly explaining what I was doing, in addition to sharing my disclosure statement in fulfillment of my Colorado Multiple Institutional Revie w Board (COMIRB) approvals . This unobtrusive stage was essential to building trust with students as well as building their comfort with me observing. I took jottings during this stage, and compile d my written field notes along with a reflection immediately after the class observation .

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71 Carspecken, 1996, p.42), I bega n to identify patterns or structures in the class and assign ed preliminary meanings to remarkable trends or deviations that I was observing. M y initial analysis and meaning making happened as I was observing the class and led to where and on whom I focused my attention and tried to capture examples of the trends I was seeing as are described in the resulting chapters. I further analyzed my field notes by chunking them and developing and assigning codes to the chunks. I use d a Constant Comparative Analysis (CCA) (Strauss & Corbin, 1998) to assign the coded chunks to themes. this stage, the researcher begins a dialogue with those she is studying. In the latter half of the class , I began talking with students and inviting them to lunch or coffee for a more in depth interview . interpretation of the ethnography. At this point, I diverge d slightly from the five stages since I specifically used a hybrid of cr itical analysis and interpretation methods outlined in the sections below. My methods dre w on critical ethnography employed by Warren (2001) in his examination of an introductory Communications course. In his study, Warren explicitly focuses on the performance of racial identity and the performance of culture in a college Communications course . He focuses on the representation of race and culture, as well as racial stereotypes reinforced in the course. Given my pilot observation experiences, and the literature focused on the co construction and negotiation of math identity along with racial, ge nder, and

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72 other identity construction and negotiation, I incorporate d into my methods the way that Warren Because I conducted in depth interviews with students of diverse racial identities and genders, I was cognizant and reflective of my own identities and how they might impact the interviews. As Dunbar, Rodriguez, and Parker (2012) suggest, People of Color given their histories of oppression by white s may be suspicious or distrustful of white interviewers. Similarly, Ort iz (2005) recommends extra mindfulness, and even management of masculinity (or femininity) when interviewing people of different genders and the dynamics inherent in such. The way I managed this was at times performing particularly femininity to allow both men and women to feel comfortable . For instance, one man (student) explained to me that he needed to postpone our interview because his wife had come home the day before saying she wanted a divorce. I used a consoling tone to tell him I was sorry and assu re him that we could reschedule the interview if and when he felt ready. He went on to disclose more about his marriage with me consoling/sympathetic and I provided this in an e ffort to maintain our connection. Narrative Inquiry In terms of ordering, Cla ndinin and Connelly (2000) suggest that those employing narrative inquiry consider what they describe as the four directions of any inquiry: inward and outward , backward and forward . By inward we mean toward the internal conditions , such as feelings, hope s , aesthetic reactions, and moral dispositions. By outward, we mean toward the existential conditions, that is the environment. By backward and forward, we refer to temporality past, present, and future. (p.50)

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73 I thus draw on these four directions to cr aft the resulting portraits, moving from past to present and back again or making intuitive sense of things based on past experiences and then looking at the meaning being created outside of my own but still with me. I make these creative choices in the po rtraiture to best tell the story and allow the reader to experience whiteness in college algebra. To analyze using narrative inquiry, he point of [each] hler, 1986, pp. 236 237; Richmond, 2002, p. 3) and assess the dominant narrative s and counternarrative s (Preston, 2013 ; Solórzano & Yosso, 2002 ) present. Solórzano and Yosso (200 2) describe the idea of counter narrative as part of a larger Critical Race Methodology where the researcher resists a majoritarian story or master narrative (Matsuda, 1995) with a counter story or counter narrative. As they describe, Whites, men, the middle and/or upper class, and heterosexuals by naming these social locations as natural or n (Solórzano & Yosso, 2002, p. 28). This work then will offer a critique of the majoritarian stories as well as offer counternarrative s . These master narratives (Matsuda, 1995) and counter narratives will then be analyzed in ligh t of their relationship (Chase, 2011). Richmond (2002) suggests that in conducting a narrative analysis, f our categories be used to analyze core narratives and their relationship: orientation, abstract, complicating action, and resolution . Thus, I use a na rrative approach to code and analyze my observations and experiences in the algebra class and then describe both the critical experiences and analyses in narrative form. Kahn (2011 ) does this eloquently in his ethnography of a small private preparatory sch ool in his narratives around privilege in his book by the same name. As a former student and now teacher at the same school, Kahn weaves his

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74 observations, interviews, and personal experiences into a narrative to show how privilege is learned, taught, and o perates among a new generation of wealthy American children , contrasting dominant and counternarratives . Also, like Kahn, I employ analysis and break my portraits into critical themes more heavily in the last chapters of this dissertation. Kahn does this s trategically, as do I to spend the early chapters orienting the reader to the setting and the people involved in the study. Hermeneutic Phenomenology using a Hermeneutics of Whiteness Certainly, analysis and interpretation suffuse d the en tirety of the project. Even as I was observ ing s ection s of MATH 112 , I was deriving meaning and analyzing norms in the classroom. As Emerson, Fret z, and Shaw (1995), describe, analysis pervades all phrases of the research enterprise as the researcher makes observations, records them in fieldnotes, codes these notes in analytic categories, and finally develops explicit Yet, although this analysis will be ongoing and both formal and infor mal, I do want to offer some structure and thinking into how I analyze d and interpret ed the mass of data that I accumulate d . Throughout this project, I create d field notes, which were reflective w rite ups of observations. I also tran scribed all in depth in terviews where the student or teacher agreed to be recorded (one student asked to not be recorded) . To begin the formal analysis of these, in review ed all data, chunk ed it , and code d it using a Constant Comparative Analysis (CCA) (Strauss & Corbin, 1998). I would chunk the data by pulling it into meaningful sections (some were as small as a sentence clause and some were multiple paragraphs) , where I saw something relevant t o my research question or when I would notice a trend. After identifying a chunk, I

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75 would then assign it a code or codes based on what it seemed to be an example of. Using CCA, for each new chunk, I would compare and contrast the chunk to previous chunks i n determining the codes I assigned or if it called for the creation of a new code. This maintained consistency in the coding. I completed this process, using Dedoose, to allow me to easily compare and analyze codes as I looked for trends and mapped them to my theoretical framework. I then draft ed theoretical memos on the themes I identified and ground ed them within my framework and the literature. Traditionally, educational researchers have neglected to identify and describe their hermeneutic approach in an alysis and interpretation. Yet as some in the discipline work to devalue critical theoretical work and even qualitative work that includes a critical theoretical bent, as this study will, it is wise to discuss hermeneutical approach . It is as Allen ( 2015), hermeneutical processes that are driven by historical imaginations and objective effects 9) Thus, I employ ed critical hermeneutics in my analysis and development of the narrative themes from the data. When examining practices in education, hermeneutics cannot be avoided (Gallagher, 1992), for what are we doing in education that does not call for thoughtful inter pretation? Beyond thoughtful, my analysis is critical, for as Gallagher suggests Thus, as critical hermeneutics seeks change and emancipation in power structures to interpret in such a way that one reproduces the same power structures would indeed reinforce hegemony. To echo this, Solórzano and Yosso (2002) suggest that Methodologies that dismiss or decenter racism and its

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76 intersections with other forms of subordination omit and distort the experiences of those whose lives are daily affected by racism (2002, p. 31 32) . To return to Allen (2015), when looking particularly at white ness , we can assume that most non critical hermeneutics employed are not only hegemonic but support white supremacy. to deconstruct racism and white ness, which I did intentionally. Similarly, Leonardo (2016) describes this stance as a hermeneutics of whiteness . To put it more plainly, in acknowledging racism , since we know white supremacy is normalized in higher education, I int erpret ed interactions, identit y performance, and statements through this critical hermeneutical lens. As Gallagher (1992) suggests, a critical hermeneutical approach is one of suspicion and a highly skeptical perspective. Critical hermeneutics recognizes t hat education unchecked reproduces ideologies and hegemonic norms that are initially in place. A hermeneutics of whiteness then acknowledges what Matias and Newlove (2017 a ) refer to as an enwhitened epistemology . They describe this epistemology as espousin epistemology of ignorance placated by whites but now emboldened in the Trump presidential era. This enwhitened epistemology then assumes former iterations in the performance of white supremacism and evolution of whiteness, suc h as abstract liberalism (Bonilla Silva, 2014 ) . These racially biased epistemologies (Scheurich & Young, 1997) create an insidious form of epistemological framing , employed heavily by the Trump administra tion and the media. Cabrera, Franklin, and Watson (2 white ness as an epistemology of ignorance, describing this as,

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77 The epistemologies of ignorance represented a willful aversion to the human suffering cause d by systemic White supremacy, which has a twofo ld effect. First, if ignorance is bliss, then racial ignorance allows White people to remain racially blissful (or at least not complicit in racial oppression). Second, it allows the contours of contemporary systemic racism to remain un interrogated and th Watson, 2016, p. 21). white ness, these authors (Cabrera, Franklin, & Watson, 2016; Matias & Newlove, 2017 a ) show us the epistemological framing of white ness and its consequences for People of Color in the continued hegemonic nature of white ness. Thus , I apply a hermeneutics of whiteness in my use of portraiture , seeking to disrupt and prevent in aiding this reproduction of enwhitened epistemology. Given this discussion of my epistemo logical and hermeneutical stand points, I engage d in Heideggerian Phenomenology (Heidegger, 1962) . This sort of phenomenology relies on several distinguishing factors. Ontologically, this hermeneutic approach draws from an int erpretivist framework, which accepts that there is not one but many realities, and thus does not seek any one reality or Truth (Denzin & Lincoln, 2000; Laverty, 2003). Epistemologically, this hermeneutic phenomenological approach embraces the relationship between researcher and participant, and Laverty, 2003 ). In this way, my approach rejects the process of bracketing, where the researcher tries to suspend her biases in her research. C ertainly, I acknowledg ed my experiences and biases and look ed at how they relate d or relate to the critical incidents and nar ratives I saw and hear d from participants. I did this by holding my salient identities, discussed above, in mind throughout this study and in my analysis. I analyze d my own words in my interviews (coding and chunking them along with the voices of my interviewees) . I also analyzed my reflections related to my ethnographic observations. Given that I am white, I also discussed my analyses and findings with

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78 other colleagues, and particularly Race Scholars of Color, who at times, identified biases or areas that I had overlooked. A final factor in this approach is the cyclical nature of hermeneutic phenomenology (Kvale, 1996) . ic circle as occurring when one has reached a place of sensible meaning, free of inner contradictions, for the linear , in actuality, it emulate d a spiral process of interpreting, understanding, and knowing. To merge these sub methods and particularly my hermeneutic phenomenological approach with portraiture, I return to Lawrence Lightfoot and Davis ( 1997 ) where they describe the application poignantly, saying, In portraiture, the researcher the artist interprets the subject of the portrait internally by searching for coherence in what she observes and discovers. The research represents that interpret ation through the construction of the portrait intentionally employing aesthetic asp ects in order to convey meaning (p. 30). Within this quote, we see how ethnography, hermeneutic phenomenology , and narrative are woven together in portraiture to offer a n aesthetic whole to the reader who then brings their experiences and understanding to bear on the portrait (Lawrence Lightfoot & Davis, 1997). Below, I describe the procedure I use d to employ my portraiture methodology. Procedure In this study, I employ ed a portraiture methodology of an introductory a lgebra course at Western Urban University (WUU) . I sa and recitations for that course. T he main study w as conducted in one section of a MATH 112 : college algebra course at WUU in the Fall of 2017 . I was given access by the lead algebra Senior I nstructor , Peter , for MATH 112 to conduct initial observations of courses . As a pilot, I sat in my first course in the

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79 Fall of 2016, then a next course in Spring of 2017. I did have Colorado Multiple Institutional Review Board ( COMIRB ) approval for the Spring 2017 observations in addition to the Fall, 2017 course. As such, although the resulting chapters focus on the Fall 2017 course and students, I do draw on my fieldnotes from Sprin g of 2017 where they add contrast. Throughout these course observations, I continue d to cultivate my relationship with Peter by providing reports and best practices from the literature to aid the work of him and his team as they continue d to improve learni ng for all algebra students . Additionally, I review ed all materials (artifacts): syllabus, homework sets, application sets, study guides, etc. to serve as contextual information to my observations. In his classes, Peter and Chen (the Teaching Assistant ( T A ) ) frequently asked students to ets, students describe d how they were doing, what types of problems they understood , where they were having trouble, etc. Peter and Chen provided me copies of t hese exit tickets. These exit tickets include d student names, gave me a sense of how they were doing on a class by class basis to aid my understanding of what I observed . For the participant observations, I sat in the course meetings of one section of the MATH 112 course taught by Peter and Chen . While in the class meetings, I was a participant observer, mainly observing the larger group when the instructor or TA was lecturing and moving around to different tables to observe group interac tions. I note that I considered myself a participant observer, because at various points I did intervene and engage with students and the the least impact on other participants.

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80 During the course observations, I took jottings by hand in a notebook. Imm ediately, upon conclusion of a class, I w rote a reflection of my class observations. Then, within 24 hours of the class observed (and usually immediately after class) , I review ed my jottings and post class reflection and translate d all of this data into field notes for that obs ervation. These field notes were produced digitally and stored on a secure server. I look ed for opportunities to conduct in depth intervi ews with students involved in critical incidents and trends to better understand their perception an d e xperience in particular classes . I began by emailing students mid way through the course asking if they would be interested in my interviewing them, but after getting only a couple of responses, I resorted to interview over coffee or lunch, depending on the time of day we chose . With permission and informed consent, I audio record ed all interviews (except one where the student was uncomfortable with me recording ) and transcribe d all recordings and store d the transcriptions on a secure server . As this study focuses on race and whiteness specifically, while I was conducting observations, I identified and note d how participants present racially, based on phenotypes and names. end of the class how they identify racially as well as their gender identity 5 , so that I would not base racial and gender identity on my interpretation alone. Additionally, w hen I conduct ed the in depth interviews with students based on incident s witnessed during class, I ask ed interviewees 5 I made a class announcement before the exit tickets were passed out, explaining why I was asking uncomfortable responding, to simply leave their exit ti cket blank, and that was no problem.

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81 how they identified racially to confirm my own identifiers. This is also because most of the interviews happened before I was able to inquire through the class exit tickets. a s an additional data point. I want to be clear that accuracy around racial or gender identity is not possible, nor necessary for a couple of reasons. First, this study is framed around the understanding that race is socially constructed and is not inherent or biological. Secondly, whiteness as it i s defined in this study , can be performed by anyone, including a Person of Color. white person, thus I could foreseeab ly mis identify and ultimately mis read a situation that involved microaggressions if the receiver of the micro aggression was white but I mistook them as a Person of Color , thus the importance of asking people to identify as well . To offer a current examp le of this . Senator Elizabeth Warren recently released a video discussing her Native presents as white and was raised white, along with all the inherent benefits and pr ivileges therein. So, although, if I were to interview Senator Warren for my study, she might conceivably discuss her Native American ancestry as a part of her identity (particularly before the backlash she received for the video) , it would not be appropri ate for me to ignore my interpretation of her being white for the purposes of this study. I would need to consider both data points in a portrait of her. Because I am interested in carrying out this work with and in service of the college algebra community , I held meetings/interviews with Peter, the course instructor every other week. With his permission and consent , I audio record these discussions and had them all transcribed . Du ring these conversations, I share d what noticed in class

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82 and ask ed him questions around his reactions and perspective s on my observations. I did this for a couple of reasons: the first being that I want ed my observations and work to be useful to the course instructor as he himself is working to improve the college algebra experience for al l students. The second reason was to include the voice and perspective of the instru ctor, as another swath of paint to use in my portraiture. I also interviewed the TA for the course, Chen, following the course and had a very candid discussion with him about what I saw in the course, seeking his perspective on my observations and themes. When the course had ended, I review ed all field notes and interview transcripts and code d them using Constant Comparative Analysis (CCA) (Strauss & Corbin, 1998) in Dedoose, a qualitative analytic software . Using CCA and Dedoose , I review ed my data line by line , chunked the data and and ass ign ed c ode s to the chunks . These codes were assigned based on h ow a certain data chunk compared to those coded before it in determining whether it was given a previously assigned code or if it instead call ed for a new code. These codes, along with their ch unks of data were then analyzed and sort ed into themes. After the CCA was complete, I made sense of the themes using a critical hermeneutics of whiteness. Based on this sense making, I then use d my data to create the portraits, which included narrative s , a nalysis, and reflection. Limitations In terms of scope , the data collection, including a review of course materials, class observations in fieldnotes , and transcriptions or notes (when not recorded) of in depth interviews , was contained within one semester (approximately 15 weeks). This course period represented the entirety that this learning community was together. The data included, coded, and analyzed in this study include d field notes, interview transcripts with students, and interview transcrip ts from conversations with the I nstructor, which occurred approximately every other

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83 week , and the TA . Course materials including the course syllabus , exit tickets , and other relevant artifacts were collected and analyzed as well. Thi s study and its results are not generalizable nor conclusive. Portraiture offer s narratives and related analysis that recognize the uniqueness of the situation and the learning community. Also, given the close ties of the researcher to the research and the research participants, this was not an objective study. However, this study does have larger implications, in that it offer s insight into how whiteness works in one college algebra course and offer s perspective and even considerations to instructors of co llege algebra and other similar STEM courses for how to recognize, manage, and resist whiteness in their classrooms. To manage interviewer bias and other effects, including social desirability or s tereotype threat or lift, I focus ed all interviews mainly o n incident s I observe d . I began each interview with a set of questions (see Appendix A), where I was careful to allow the student or instructor to answer without knowing my thoughts. I designed the opening questions to be open and non leading and was cogni zant of this when interviewing. The second half of the interview was more conversational where I began to share with the person being interviewed more about my study, why I was doing it, and what I was seeing. This led to far more candid conversations, par ticularly with Students of Color when they realized that I, although I am white for them to affirm or accept white norms . One other limitation of this study is who chose to be interviewed. Although, I invi ted ro of Color I invited for an interview, verbally, accepted and these interviews were much longer and insightful than those with white participants. The white women that I interviewed offered me wh at felt like the nice white liberal scripts expected of them when it came to discussing race in

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84 their in depth interviews . Thus, my resulting chapters are limited in their understanding of how and how much the white students in the class understood or felt about whiteness. The following chapters offer the resulting portraits and analysis of this dissertation study. I begin by offering a portrait of one of the pilot algebra classes I sat in on before I conducted the formal dissertation project. I then provide a chapter with a portrait of the algebra class. I describe how the course operates and how the initial student groups formed. I then go on to describe the three students groups that I focused this dissertation on and offer some initial analysis of the whiteness and white racial bonding (Sleeter, 1994; 1996) in these groups. I then offer a description of the three Students of Color who were part of the mostly white groups described in chapter nine. I go into detail on who these students are and their perspectives on their college algebra experience. I do this to center these Students of Color and their experiences in the concluding chapters that illustrate and analyze other elements of whiteness in the college algebra class. Aside from Chapter Seven, I focus the resulting chapters on the Fall 2017 semester of College Algebra, where I observed every class session, including lecture and recitation (except one when I was gone for a conference) and interviewed many of students, as well as the instructor (e very other week) and the Teaching Asssistant after the course had ended. I do draw on previously observed courses from my pilot when they are useful to offer a holistic portrait.

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85 VII. (A PILOT) In what follows, I offer a portrait, including narrative, analysis, and reflection based on my class observations from spring 2017. This portrait is significant in the way that it shows the quickness that whiteness shows up in a STEM college course, the prec edent that whiteness sets, and the damage it does to the trust and experience that Students of Color often have. On the first day of their c ollege a lgebra class, 28 students sat in their hexagon shaped tables with four to five students at each. The T eachin g A ssistant (TA) , Chen 6 , stared intently at the classroom computer , perched on a podium at the front of the room . Chen , a small, thin man with dark eyes and hair wore a long thin beard and mustache, along with longer hair that was thinning on top. His name along with his appearance, suggested he was biracia l ( AAPI and white) 7 . H e could likely pass for white if not for his name and longish facial hair. lay on the table closest to him, where no one but me sat, as As if on cue, Peter, the course instructor glided through the door and moved up to the front of the class to check in with Chen and se t his materials on the Teachers Only table . Peter, voice welcomed the group of now quieted students to College Algebra . After introducing himself along with Peter, Chen then directed the students to form a circle around the perimeter of the room. Jan, a 20 something white female student raised her hand to ask a few requisite questions 6 All names in the portraits are pseudonyms. 7 All race identifications in this pilot are based on my interpretations of how they presented, since no interviews were conducted in this study.

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86 on whether or not they were returning t o their seats and whether or not she should tak e her book bag and was assured by Chen that t hey would return to their seats and she could leave her bag . A ll of the students, Chen, Peter , and I stood in a circle looking interested and slightly anxious arou nd what would come next. Chen then explained each say our names in a loud voice and the class will repeat each name back so we get it right My name is Chen Wu white male student next to him as the large group reflected the names back to their owners . There were only two Latino students standing together on the far side of the circle . The shorter of the two had on a backwards hat, jeans, and a t shirt. He had a friendly and interested slightly to be heard but not enough to seem like he was yelling. Juan smiled slightly. As the studen ts went around calling out their names, Chen , was busy checking off students on his attendance list. When we were done, Chen excused us to return to our seats. His s John here? Chen Juan, who had not responded to John, looked up abruptly as he he called out with a smirk on his face seemingly waiting for

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87 as he added a final check mark next t was not going to realize the mistake, and sat back down quietly at his table. name. Yet, a s Kohli and Sol ó rzan o (2012) explain mispronunciation of their name is one of the many ways in which their cultural heritage is devalued (p. 454). When we apply CRT and CWS to this narrative, we understand that this mispronunciation is indeed a racial microaggression. Racial microaggressions are defined as ubtle insults (verbal, nonverbal, and/or visual) directed toward People of Color , often ó rzano, Ceja, & Yosso, 2000, p.60). These aggressions are likened to where one alone is a nuisance but not significantly damaging, yet when a Person of C olor is subjec ted to them repeatedly, daily and even hourly, which they are, it wounds the soul and can result in racial battle fatigue (Smith, Hung, & Franklin, 2011) where the conditions include psychological and physiological stressors and accompanying health issues (Sue et al, 2007) . To understand how the mispronunciatio n of a Latinx name is a racial microagressio n, it is helpful to look at how the act is symbolically violent (Bourdieu & Passeron , 1990 ). The mispronunciation of a Spanish name or the name of a Person of C Sue et al. , 2007 , p. 278 ) and works to normalize white /A nglo language and people. When we remember the history of the United States , where indigenous people were given new, anglicized names by white Christians as part of the larger s ettler colonization (Wolfe, 2006 ) of the US and the genocide of indigenous people and their culture (Zitkala sa 1921) , we better understand the insidious history of name changing, where it was

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88 used not only to disrespect but indeed to dehumanize People of Color and disappear Native Americ ans and Native culture (Tuck & Yang, 2012 ) . The anglicizing of a Spanish name is an en act ment of whiteness, and more specifically a normaliz ation of whiteness. In fact, racism and whiteness are often enacted through slights around language or nationality ( Kohli, 2009) and this has been illustrated in the literature when teachers mispronounce the names of Students of Color or even tease or allow the teasing of students if th nglo names (Kohli & Sol ó rzano, 2012). To understand t he significance of the racial microaggression s in the narrative, I should explain that this scenario occurred at a western , state university (Western Urban University) where the Spanish names of landmarks are commonly mispronounced in English by white, Eng lish speaking residents (Shannon, 1995) . For example, one local street near t he university is Zuni, a word with a Spanish pronunciation referring to a particular indigenous tribe of people. Yet, the English speaking locals will correct those who pronounce the word in Spanish to insist that Zuni be pronounced with a long I . The anglicizing of Spanish words , the re naming of an indigenous tribe, and the de valuing of the Spanish language, including English only rules in the local public schools, serve as constant reminders to Latinx and/or Indigenous people in this community that their language and they themselves are less valuable. This surmounts to what Shannon (1995) describes as the hegemony of English , where the dominance of the English language in the United States diminishes other languages as well as those people that speak them. I argue that this is particularly true and indeed amplified when English speakers are white and Spanish speakers are People of Color . I should pause here to address that the TA in our narrative , Chen, is biracial , and he himself does not possess a traditionally English name.

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89 Chinese name. But, we must remember that racial microaggressions and othe r performances of whiteness are not restricted to enactments by white people. In this narrative, we see that Chen, a Man of C olor is unknowingly performing whiteness and perpetuating a racial microaggression against Juan. Delgado ( 2009 ) describes this phen omenon of People of Color participating in whiteness and racism to partake in some of its benefits, acknowledging whiteness benefits belong to white people. The mispronunciation of names belonging to People of Color is a commonplac e racial microaggression as Kohli and Sol ó rzano (2012) show. But, what makes the narrative above extraordinary is the exercise led by the TA meant to affirm the names and diverse identities of the students that immediately ame. This interaction reveals what Delgado (1996) describe s as false empathy White [person] believes he or she is identifying with a person of color, but in fact is doing so 12) For example, i n their article, Matias and Zembylas (2014) look at how white teacher candidates offer rhetoric of care, pity, or empathy for their Students of Color as a façade for the literally less savo ry emotion of disgust. Although I would stop short of describing Chen as disgusted by his Students of Color , he does show his hand, so to speak, in this interaction by not really caring about recognizing his ethnographic book on Mexican American students in a largely Latinx school in Houston, TX that authentic care by teachers must be followed up by action. It is not enough for teachers to say they care, they must show they care. Otherwise, the experience of Students of Color in schoo

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90 wo rds and actions are not aligned. He has said names are important, but he has shown they are not. I argue, that this contradiction is more significant and likely more painful for Juan than if Chen had not done the exercise and had simply mis s name right off the bat. Many Latinx students with Spanish names have had teachers mispronounce or even change their names to common Anglo nicknames using the t (Kohli & Sol ó rzano, 2012). Yet, to refer to these implicitly cast Latinx people (in this case) as less American. But when Chen went out of his way to garner perhaps a small amount of trust or convey validation of his Students of Color in the naming exercise , to t hen immediately render the principle meaningless through his mistake was a way to turn the knife. seemed as if he was ready to laugh it off as soon as Chen corrected him self, but when Chen, un phased, repeated the wrong name, Juan seemed to realize that this was just another teacher who his smile vanished as he took his seat. As I reflected on this narrative and the analysi s, I reflected on my role in the interaction. paying attention to their interaction , and certainly Chen did not seem to see anything notable in the interaction. B ut, as a participant observer, I could have easily asserted myself into the apologize and might have offered some validation to Juan to have the mispronunciation ack nowledged and corrected. Yet, I found myself quieted by the illusion of the objective researcher, not able to use my voice, lest I taint my subjects . I share this reflection and

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91 critique of m y role to illustrate how I also learn ed from and resolv ed to incorporate myself into this experience and my research. In my more formal dissertation project, I work ed against this notion of my proper role as researcher and included myself and my role as a part of the critical narratives as a strength to the humanizing research in which I engag ed . I offer this brief portrait to preface those from the more formal dissertation project to show how quickly, subtly, and destructively whiteness can impact Students of Color. I also offer it to you, the reader, to giv e a sense of what whiteness looks like in a STEM class. In this portrait, no one discussed race and nothing explicitly racist happened. Yet, as described, this experience was significant in how it shows the power of what Delgado & Stefancic (1996) refer to as the normalization of whiteness. All things associated with whiteness, including the English language and pronunciations ( Huber, 2011 ) are normalized and rendered invisible . This is so much so that when a Teacher of Color ( in this instance ) incorporates an exercise to work against the norm of whiteness , he instead ends up reaffirming and emphasizing the power of that norm. This portrait gives an example of how whiteness serves as a powerful norm in the classroom, particularly at Predominantly White Insti tutions ( PWIs ) or what Matias (2012) aptly (p. 141). Beyond this, the portrait also illustrates the speed at which whiteness is established in this College Algebra class. As noted in the narrative , th is critical incident occurred during the first exercise in the first day of class in the Spring 2017 semester of algebra. Before the class had gone through the syllabus and learned what this class was about, at least one Student of Color, Juan, learned wha t this class was about . There is an astonishing level of subtlety in this demonstration of whiteness. Arguably, Juan and I were the only people who saw what was going on and understood its implications. Although, the other Latino student that Juan sat next to, Miguel, likely heard, understood, and

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92 as well . This subtlety makes the microaggression even more insidious. To demonstrate this, i magine Juan getting upset , or even staying calm , and explaining to especially when Chen had just said name pronunciation was important. Chen and the rest of the class would likely have stared at Juan as if he was from another planet, as if they had no idea what he was anything by it and that Juan was overreacting. This would have serve d as a follow up Instead, Juan stayed quiet, likely understanding that speaking up would result in more harm to him. This is how whiteness works to silence People of Color in many situations. People of Color choose their battles realizing that the consequences for them will compound if they point out racism , if not all, of their lives. I offer some hypotheticals here to allow you, dear reader, to understand how whiteness works and what it looks like. White readers, in particular, ma y have difficulty seeing how the subtle interactions and comments (and not all are subt le ) I describe below are manifestations of whiteness. But, I ask you to accompany me through this exploration of whiteness in College Algebra, to make what is normal, st range, and what is acce pted, unacceptable .

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93 VIII. COLLEGE ALGEBRA College algebra, as a gatekeeper course for students pursuing a STEM degree, is a pivotal experience and serves as a filter for students for whom it is required for their STEM degree . Students of Color are often disadvantaged walking into their first college math class based on their subpar K 12 education. But, regardless, their experience in early college math courses can be critical to their decisions to persist or seek alternatives . If we are serious about pursuing equity in STEM disciplines, we have to understand the whiteness at work in these early STEM classes. In the remaining chapters I respond to the research question: How does white ness work in a college algebra class? And in so doing, I offer a next step in the vital work toward equity and racial justice in higher education. Algebra class looked like, felt like, and to introduce you to the students and instructors in the class . In alignment with Kahn (2011), these resulting chapters move from light to heavy in terms of analysis to better orient and prepare the reader and ease them into the recognition of whiteness. This chapter then is meant to orient you , the reader, and provide you context before I provide portraits and analysis that build on this in the proceeding chapters. To aid you in understanding class dynamics, Appendix B is an image of the layout of the classroom, including whe re the students who were the focus of my study sat for most of the class. The Classroom I got to GenEd Building about 10 minutes before class. Leaving the warm, sunny August day outside to enter into the slightly cooler building, I climbed the wide but wor n stairway up several floor s, noting the lit, buzzing vending machines and stealing a quick glance. I briefly consider ed whether or not to purchase a snack for class. Deciding against it, I navigated my way

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94 through the maze of halls past a paper sign with a room number and arrow pointing to the left. The renovation that had been happening in the GenEd Building over the summer was clearly still underway wit h areas blocked off by plastic yellow tape. You could see wires and piping hanging from the ceiling; th e speckled white panels had all been removed. The hallway walls were mostly there the previous week painting as quickly as possible before the start of the sch ool year, but led to the College Algebra classroom, I saw students milling about outside the door . Most were standing, some talking on phones waiting for th e class before theirs to let out. s tudents started to move into the room before all the previous students had made it out. When we got in I sat at a table in the b ack left corner near the door, which felt discrete. At the front of the room, a white male instructor was discussing upper level Physics courses with a student (a white woman with purple hair); a white man with long hair waited his turn behind her to ask h is question. The algebra s tudents came in and sat at seats without much talking. The room was set up with rows of long, slender, rectangular tables. The walls were completely bare although they looked worn and not like they had recently been painted. In th e front, was one white board covered largely by a pull down screen. The room was shabby with mismatched plastic bucket chairs; the kind that left what I thought was an obscene looking moisture mark on the seat when you stood up, or maybe that was just me. T he room was warm to start and stuffy and became increasingly warmer and stuffier as the class went on . It seemed that in the interior reconstruction project, the HVAC system had not

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95 been a priority. As if to evince this, soon the HVAC fan system picked up and it sound ed like there was a n air plane taking off in our midst. This would happen semi regularly throughout the course and at least once per class session. The Teaching Assistant ( TA ) , Chen, walked in. As descri bed in the False Empathy chapter, Chen was a biracial (white and AAPI ) man. He was petite with longish hair, a matching long beard, and a friendly demeanor. Chen looked quizzically at the p hysics instructor, still standing in front , talking with his studen t . After a brief pause, Chen asked the physics instructor if this was his room, and the Physics guy said he was just leaving. Chen then turned to the sitting College Algebra. Are you here for College A studen ts nodded, laughed slightly, and a couple of yeses could be heard. Chen then asked them to unsettle and group the rectangular tables in threes to form bigger square tables. I stood up in the back and pulled a chair out from a table. Two white men nodded at each other and picked up the table in front of me and moved it forward to touch the table in front of it. As the students were re settling themselves at their now much larger , more square table s , the instructor, Peter , walked in. Peter was a tall white ma n with glasses. He had a friendly face and demeanor and had a noticeably loud cheerful laugh that he used frequently, including when he seemed nervous or unsure of something. Peter wore jeans and a button up short sleeved plaid shirt most of the time. He a and easily and Having worked together in multiple algebra classes, Peter and Chen had a thoughtful orientation routine. Pe ter , as a long time College A lgebra instructor liked to move students around to various groups, mixing and remixing the students and having them d o small ice -

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96 breakers or other activities to get them to know each other so that they could ultimately choose a small group that they would continue to work with for the rest of the course. To start this grouping process, Chen asked the groups at their table to discuss five things ll taking College A lgebra together. After giving them a few minutes to discuss, Chen brought the group s back together and asked a membe r from each group to report out by way of introducing their th two white women, a Latina, and an AAPI woman, they identified that in addition to all liking music and all having played sports in high school, they all were born in the US. At a table with three white women and the only Black woman in the class, Maria h, Mariah rose to report back for their group after all other groups had reported. Mariah work a pink cardigan, which matched her shiny pink backpack. Her thick and voluminous curly hair was parted in the middle and just touched her shoulders. She began sp eaking in a barely audible Frances and Coby Kathy group member partly to Mariah Kathy Mariah Peter asked her to speak up once with no noticeable difference in volume, Mariah finished her report and took her seat. Peter then had them count off by eight and re formed them in new groups of about four. he goals of a college education? into their discussions more easily this time and then were brought back together to report out.

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97 Middle Eastern 8 Amber, a sel f described Asian woman who then went on to talk about planning to go to grad school. Without reshuffling the groups, Chen asked the groups a follow up question to discuss: opinions about learning. At one table, Dila, a Middle Eastern woman and premed major disclosed that she Heather A., a white woman , sharing of the Middle Eastern woman around her concerns. Heather B., a nother white woman jumped in and offered a quick diatribe on the importance of networking. Peter re grouped the students once more and asked them a Mariah Mariah spoke loud enough and the airplane level wind tunnel HVAC system in the room was on a break , so she could be heard Peter I love that! The value of making mistakes is to Chen then took over the class to lead them in the naming exercise. I should note that while I did send an earlier iteration of the False Empathy portrait above on the naming exercise 8 There were five women in h ijab that identified racially as Middle Eastern.

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98 to Peter before this class, I never spoke to Chen about it . Regardless, t his exercise was quite similar to that described in the earlier pilot section, although notably, Chen did not give his announced that he needed to take attendance b ut that it would be reverse attendance. He instructed that everyone get up from their seats and stand in a larger circle around the room. paused, looking thoughtful, and then corrected himself. last name first and then everyone can repeat the name back. Peter , jumped in suggesting that we all clap after we sa id back. Veronica Veronica Veronica some folks forgetting and then trying to catch the clap. We continu ed on, Harrison, Evan ; Chow, Amber . The five, brown skinned Middle Eastern women in hijab stood scattered throughout the one of them , they would each say her Khepri only sp eaking students crisp echoing back dissolved into a smashing of the first and last names and mispronunciation of the vowels and emphases, making them completely undecipherable. I stood in the circle embarrassed by the group and myself as we butchered each and every Arabic name the women offered us. Three of the women shared the same name, Aanisah , and we missed it each time. pronunciation of the Arabic names, I was concentrating on both hearing how the names were pronounced and tr ying to pronounce them, and my attempts were dismal. I was not paying attention to how hard the rest of the group was working to say the names. In retrospect, it would

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99 have been telling for me to have paid attention to see if the others seemed to be puttin g forth an effort. we were really cruising. And, with that, all students were dismissed from the awkward circle to return to their perhaps slightly less awkward small groups. Around this time, Chen gave the class a short break. Some chose to stay in their seats, searching in their bag for a snack, some immediately and almost automatically picked up their phones to see what entertainm ent their social media worlds could offer them within the bounds of a five minute break, and still others strolled out of the class. Mariah decided to go out for the r mly and I returned a Hi w ith a warm and thankful smile of my own. The two hour class was set up in two parts. For the first hour, the students had recitation and worked in small groups almost exclusively. The second part, although it was still heavy on group work also included lectures from Peter . Recitation was generally intended as the application portion of the class; students would work together on topics that had been introduced during lecture in the c lass prior. I found Peter to be a good lecturer ; he would offer anecdotes and break down procedures carefully as he walked through them, usually offering several examples for each type of problem . A perpetual white board documenter, Peter would stand at the board, with a black dry erase marker in hand, writing equations, graphs, and other scenarios. Often he would fill up the entire board with algebraic content and then step back to see what he could erase so he could continue writing. Alt hough Peter did resort to a rather traditional didactic appr oach to delivering the

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100 algebra content, he continuously engaged with the students, never moving to a next step of a formula before checking for questions or to query the class for what they though t the next step or answer should be , or gauging if they understood by giving a quick thumbs up/thumbs down/ thumbs in the middle survey . I observed Peter teach three different college algebra courses while piloting and then running my full dissertation proj ect (with interviews). In each of these courses, his instruction was similar, as were the racialized responses of the class. When Peter would ask the class what they thought an answer was for one of his examples, generally a number of white women in the cl assroom would shoot their hands straight up in the air. As Peter would scan them and prepare to c all on one of them, a white man would often shout out the answer. Peter , would look at the couple of eager white women students apologetically and if the white m a n blurter had it right, repeat his answer back to the class and move on . The Students of C olor in the class were less likely to raise their hands and even less likely to shout out the answer without being called on. In one cla ss, I recognized that one L atinx man, Juan, from our false empathy portrait always knew what type of problem something was , be it a quadratic or a polynomial, etc . Peter tended to ask students what type of problem they were talking about. After revealing the answer to a problem in t he class, Peter mentioned, Juan knew every time. He would mutter the answer m except me. As the white women r aised their h ands and a white m a n (usually the same one each time) shouted his answer ( undeterred as t o whether it was right or wrong), Juan would quietly answer. I did find it strange that no one ever seemed to hear Juan except me. But, regardless of who could hear him, whenever Peter asked for the type of problem they were discussing, Juan

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101 would quietly reply with the correct type of problem. At the same time that he would answer the question, the mostly white women in the class would raise their hands, and then if a white man had an idea, he would call it out before Peter could call on one of the white women. Sometimes, r in which case, Peter would call on a raised han d white woman who would answer. Sometimes, no one would raise their hand, no one would shout out the answer, in which case, you just had Juan, answering the question quietly in the silence. In these cases, Peter would pause looking at the group, not hearin Peter would answer the question right, yet again. In the final algebra class that I focused this study on, this trend continued with some exceptions. When Peter would ask a question, it would be mostly white women that would raise their hands. One particular white man in the back, Ethan , would often offer an answer loudly. If he was right, the white women, near the front would lower their hands. If wrong, Peter would then call on one of the white women. A few weeks into th e class, Aanisah , a Middle Eastern woman, began calling out answers as well, and was often able to beat Et han to the punch. Although Peter did seem uncomfortable with students shouting out answers when the mostly white women were diligently following the unspoken college class etiquette, he to manage the answer blurting. When we discussed it, he mul led over how to manage the blurters. We discussed and both agreed that calling on people to spread out those that were answering would be stressful for some o f the more introverted students. The class met twice a week for about two hours each time, with re citation (the portion of class focused on practicing lessons learned during lecture) , largely led by Chen and t hen lecture

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102 and some more group work in the second hour led by Peter . In the second class, the students came in and for the most part re formed t he same groups they had created initially. This included a group of four white women in the front center table and a group of four white men in the back right corner , including Ethan , who , as mentioned, tended to shout out answers during the lecture. Chen and Peter began the recitation with a community norm setting exercise. Chen kicked it off, explaining that to work together effectively they wanted the class to come up with norms that would allow them to work well together . Each group was given a flip cha rt sheet with an adhesive strip. A member of each group took the marker and started writing the group In one group with mostly Middle Eastern women (two of whom were named Aanisah ), one white woman, Jennifer, had taken the mark Aanisah Aanisah . Ethan had taken the marker and the guys were laughing a nd asked Mike . Ethan Mike , nodding toward the table next to them, where two Women of Color, a white woman, and a white man r e Ethan Brody , who was Ethan laughed throughout. Bob , a quieter white man with a full beard and short hair, sat grinning at the rest of the group. When Chen brought the group back together, each of the note takers from the table s not everyone learns at the

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103 red Amber , a self described Asian woman 9 Tony , a self described Latino man who presented as white 10 . I was amused at his almost annoyed tone as he insisted that his fel low classmates be on time, not necessarily be cause it was disrespectful to the group, but rather Tony Jennifer, the lone white woman at her table of otherwise Middle Eastern women in hijab, style cut off jean coup le of languages floating around, w Notably, up to this point, the Middle Eastern women had been speaking English in their group. Jennifer seemed to be referring to her group members as native Arabic speakers, and just the p otential of her group speaking Arabic in front of her was enough for Jennifer to suggest and insist on an English only agreement. Jennifer went on to share others community norms Each gr oup hung their community norms sheets on the wall next to their table. To close the discussion, Chen asked if there were any other community norms someone had thought of. munity Peter 9 Most students identified their race and gender on an exit ticket near the end of the course. Amber identified as an Asian woman. 10 I had assumed Tony was white until I saw in his exit ticket that he identified as Latino.

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104 gain with a smattering of claps, most of them one beat after their commitment. Peter moved the class on to play two truths and a lie with a set of algebra problems, where as a group, the students had to decide that out of the three equations/answers or statements they were given on cards, which were the two true and which was a lie. As they finished this exercise, Peter announced a ten minute break. Jennife r, the white woman from the otherwise Middle Eastern group, went up to talk to Peter , then left the room and I never saw her in class again. Presumably, she dropped the course. The Middle Eastern women spoke Arabic for the rest of the class session to each other. classroom to communicate particularly with him and Chen. Also, he ha d thought that Khepri, a Middle Eastern woman in hijab who spoke English only had offered it as a group commitment. I told him that it was the white woman who was there on the first day and never came again . Peter seemed surprised by this. When it came tim e for class three, I walked up the stairs to the fourth floor of the GenEd building, I noticed that folks had been there working on the renovation. There were still wires hanging from the ceiling where the white , speckled panels might have otherwise covere d them, but this time there were lights (almost like track lighting ) hanging precariously from the wires in the ceiling. Some of the flooring seemed new when I mounted the platform on the fourth floor, but then all the flooring was ripped up by the time I got to the elevators. As I passed the

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105 bathroom, I saw Mariah , the sole Blac k 11 student in the class filling up her water bottle at the drinking fountain. She finished filling it as I passed and followed me to the classroom. I held the door for her behind me and she thanked me. I saw a little table left in the back of the room with two empty chairs and settled in the one closest to the center of the room. The room was really loud again like a wind tunnel or an airplane hangar due to the aforementioned, i mprovised HVAC as they upgraded the building s aesthetics . When I looked up, I noticed Mariah was standing in the middle of the classroom, looking at the table she had sat at the previous two times in the front left side of the class. The group included Am ber (an AAPI woman ) and the same two self described white women ( Frances and Coby) . However, this time, there was another student, Dila , a M iddle E astern woman who had been absent for the previous class . There were four chairs at the table and all were occupied. Mariah stared at the table for a moment, seemingly trying to decide if she wanted to pull up another chair and join her old group, but then changing her mind, she turned around and found a seat a t the end of a table near the back left with three Middle Eastern women and one white woman. Min, an AAPI woman , came in and joined them shortly thereafter . None of the women at the front table noticed that Mariah was standing there looking at their table and her occupied seat, nor that she was absent from the table at any point. Hanging on the wall next to them were their group commitments that they had made together during the previous class with the names of the two white women, Frances and Coby, the AA PI woman, Amber , and Mariah . 11 Mariah identified as Black and Mixed Race.

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106 This portrait demonstrates the beginning experie nce of the class, and how groups were initially formed. At the start of each course, Peter and his TA (Chen in this class) would mix students up and have them sit in different gro ups, with the hopes that they would get to know each other and know who they wanted to work with. I observed the group mixing exercises for two different algebra courses, and in both the students generally just stayed in the same groups they ended up in af ter the last mix up. In this last class, that was true except for Evan and Brody (the white men who were roomates) who ended up together in the back table with Mike and Bob (also white men) and eventually Quentin (an AAPI man) after Bob dropped the class. The other in the very front, later joined by Dila , a self described Middle Eastern woman . Several of the women in this group later remarked on how they thought that their choice to all sit in the very front of the class indicated that they were going to work hard and were serious about the class. Certainly, early on the white students in particular began communicating to some of the Students of Color that they d id not belong. These signals included mispronunciation of the pushing the only Black student, Mariah out of her group, with no bilingual group only speak English in her presence. around and stealing ideas for community norms from the group next to them, which included two Women of Color. The white women in the front of the class self congratulated themselves for sitting in the front of the room because they were committed, hard working students, and the sole

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107 white woman in a group of self descri bed Middle Eastern women was laying down the English only norm, which as discussed above in the pilot chapter , is a performance of whiteness. Delgado (2009) describes how People of Color are pressured to conform to whiteness norms and participate in racis t systems to even participate in higher education, particularly as faculty. Cabrera, Franklin, and Watson (2016) also describe how whiteness pervades higher education including through the communication and policing of whiteness norms on campus and through out the institution. This orientation to the College Algebra class offers a glimpse of how these whiteness norms are established and how white people remind People of Color of those norms in subtle and not so subtle ways. In what follows, I hone in on three students groups that were the focus of this dissertation. I begin by describing the groups and the white racial bonding practices that I observed, I then offer portraits of three different Students of Color who were in t hese mostly white groups and discuss their backgrounds and experiences in the class and their groups . I spend a chapter devoted to these Students of Color to center them in this study . I then move into a critical whiteness analysis including portraits unde r several themes that show ho w whiteness worked in the class and conclude with implications and recommendations in the final chapter.

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108 IX. WHITE RACIAL BONDING There were three student groups that I focused on in this study. These groups were almost all white with each having a Student of Color in the minority. As the groups formed, and began working together, they exhibited white racial bonding in various ways that I describe below. This chapter then better introduces you, the reader, to these mostly whi te student groups and helps you to understand how they engaged in white racial bonding. White racial bonding (Sleeter, 1994 ; 1996 ) has been defined in the literature as the communications/interactions between white people related to race, particularly thos e that are racist or disparaging toward People of Color (Cabrera, 2018; Fasching Varner, 2013; Sleeter, 1994 ; 1996 ). Sleeter first coined the term to refer to how white people would use coded racial/racist language to form a relationship related to solida rity in whiteness. Fasching Varne r (2013) looked at how white pre white people to form whiteness agreements about People of Color and in so doing cultivate white racial bonding. Cabrera (2018) s howed how white college men used racist jokes and the n word in their white racial bonding with one another. These scholars in examining the dynamics of white racial bonding, discussed the importance of frontstage/backstage performance (Picca & Feagin , 200 7 ) related to racist utterances toward bonding. For instance, Cabrera talks at length about how the white guys in his study would use the n word or tell a racist joke only in front of all white audiences (or friends) backstage. These same white men would r efrain from such jokes and slurs publicly or when People of Color were present (o r frontstage). Before discussing the white racial bonding I observed, I share some of the comments from my interviews with white students where they employed whiteness in the ir reasoning.

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109 When I interviewed white students from the class and asked them about race and racial dynamics, they offered me explanations largely rooted in naturalization (Bonilla Silva, 2014) or other color evasive ( Annamma, Jackson, & Morrison, 2017 ) logics. For instance, when I asked to race, she replied, the background of where they came from, that depicts on who they want to sit with. If you come from a looked at through gender or racial. Where you come from can affect where you who you think you should be with. Silva (2014) describ es as naturalization, where white reasoning offers that racial segregation and separation ju st happen s , not because of racism, but because people naturally want to be around people of the same race. Additionally, Kathy tries to use race evasive language, s comes from that creates difference, not race. Heather A., also a white woman in the class, expressed similar sentiments, saying, was particularly interesting given that she did not know any of her algebra classmates when they chose groups in the class. This revealed her creation of fictions to evade a discussion of race and racism. Heather offered other color evasive reasoni ng later in her interview. When I asked her if race had said considered [race] offered me an explanation around not thinking about race, shortly thereafter, Heather

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110 contradicted herself when she pinpointed who in her group was not white, when I asked her if race had anything to do with classroom experience. I guess, like, wider is not technically white do with learning or par ticularly math learning, then betrays herself shortly thereafter when she In the following portraits I describe the white racial bonding I saw in three different groups that were mostly white: The Bros, The Heathers, and The Besties. Yet, my descriptions look at a different type of white racial bonding, unique to the literature, where the white students are participating in white racial bonding but not discussi ng race or telling racist jo kes. However, I identify this white racial bonding as such given the exclusionary nature of these relationships to Students of Color who were in the same groups. This perspective is also unique, given that my observations of this bonding were all front sta ge (Cabrera, 2018 ; Picca & Feagin, 2007 ) . The Bros When I began coding my field notes and interview transcripts, I created a code that I named bro ness. This bro ness referred to an exclusionary bonding practice among st white men. It used humor, teasing, sarcasm, and dissing to delineate who was a Bro and who was not. I never coded anything as bro ness when there was only one white man. In every instance, it was when there were two or more white men. But, at the same tim e, just having more than one white ness. Not all white men were considered bros, but M en of

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111 C olor and women were never included in these bro ness practices, and in fact these rituals usually worked to explicitly exclud e Men of C olor and/or women. As mentioned, one table in the back right corner of the class (see Appendix B) began as a table of all white men: Ethan , Mike , Brody , and Bob . As the class began, Ethan took on the lead of the group. Ethan was a thin, pale guy with shaggy blond hair that he eventually cut short. He wore t shirts and cargo shorts until it got chilly and then he wore cargo pants. Ethan performance included him answering questions during the lecture without raising a hand, but al so tak ing the lead during group work, although this often came in the form of Ethan working on his own and just calling out answers to the rest of the group as he went through a worksheet . Brody was Ethan Ethan Brody wore his hair short and tended to opt for collared shirts and jeans or corduroys. As Ethan exuded great confidence at the beginning of the course, Brody did not and relied heavily on Ethan for answers to their group work as well as Ethan social cues. Whereas, Ethan and Brody seemed like they were 18 or 19, Mike was a slightly older (early 20s) white man from Iowa who was reserved but seemed confident. Consistently wearing a baseball cap, t shirt , and basketball shorts or pants, he was the only one to question Ethan as the class progressed and Ethan various questions developed a track record of not being reliable. Mike then became the go to person at the table to answer questions for the rest of the group. Bob was the quietest and most reserved of the group. Also a white man, h e had dark short hair with a matching beard. Although he would chat with the rest of the guys and sometimes laugh at Ethan to work by himself a page or so beh ind the rest of the group. Bob struggled the most with the material in the group and ended up dropping the class a third of the way through the semester.

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112 As shown in the group norm setting exercise, the table of white men joked around and would frequently joke amongst each other rather than do the ir assignment. Yet, at the same time, their confidence in their knowledge of the algebra material never wavere d . If Peter or Chen ever came over to the table to see if they needed help or to nudge them to get on t ask, they would , unbothered , One day during recitation, the group was given a group assignment to complete in class. The first task was to identify the type of equations Che Brody Mike Ethan stated. Mike mulled it over and affirmed that it was. Ethan sighed. Brody chuckled in re sponse. Brody , working on a homework problem on his calculator, showed Ethan responded . Mike , throwing Brody a bone , pointed at his calculator and offered another way of solving the problem. Ethan , turning back to his homework set, ag oniz ingly uttered, Ethan good at these types , surprised at being spoken to as all the white men had ignored my presence until this point (around five weeks into the class) Ethan guard. I was used to being c ompletely ignored by the white men unless one of them made a joke or would curse and shoot me a sly glance or smile, which I would generally smile back or chuckle at as if on automatic 12 . 12 I note my response, because as a white woman in my late 30s, growing up in the Midwest, and especially having gone to an engineering university that was majority white men, I have been trained to affirm white men and make them feel comfortable. As I reflect on my minimal reactions with the Bros, I did find myself in a negotiation. As a researcher, I wanted the

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113 Ethan , you Ethan replied Ethan , breezily. Chen, noticing another hand up, nodded, and moved on to the next table. Brody , happy at is phone out and took a picture of half his face s safe to say that Bob dropped the class, s aid Ethan , looking up. Brody in response. Yet, sitting in Bob , but ignored in all of these antics, was Quentin , a brown skinned man , self described as being of Asian and Balinese de s cent , whose thick, wavy black hair hung shoulder length. Quentin , who usually skipped recitation and would just c ome for lecture had joined the bros gr oup a couple classes after it had started, and had begun sitting in Bob Bob had seemingly given up and stopped coming to class. The Heathers As if they were the more f the class was a table of initially all white women, Heather A., Heather B., Heather C., and Veronica . I named this group, the Heathers, in reference to the 19 89 cult classic film, Heathers , starring Wynona Ryder , Shannon Do herty, and Christian Slater. The film is a dark comedy about a popular clique of four white girls three of whom are named Heather in an Ohio high school who are ruthlessly cruel toward other students, considered outcasts in school. Veronica, the lone non H eather in the group, participates in the murders of the most popular Heather and other popular students, making them appear as suicides. groups to b e comfortable with me and to forget that I was there, which they often seemed to do. But, I also sometimes questioned whether my slight smiling at their antics was complicity and even affirmation in their white racial bonding.

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114 Setting aside the suicide/ murder angle bonding I observed . Like that of the bros, this bonding was racialized and exclusionary, meaning you had to be a white woman to be part of the Heathers. I also chose the term to highlight what seemed to be the superficiality of the white bonding or white white women in this algebra group shared a common bond in their white woman n ess that did not necessarily reflect a true affinity or care for one another, but rather a shared agreement that being white women, they would respect and engage with one another, as I describe below. Heather A. , who I quoted above as not thinking race had anything to do with algebra experience , was a b usiness major and was the initial leader of the gr oup. At an average height , Heather wore her dishwater blonde hair in a messy bun. She wore large glasses, baggy sweatshirts, and faded jean s that reminded me of a cute girl mouse character from a kids cartoon. Heather A. was the white woman equivalent of Ethan at the table. She was the one to report out o n any of the group activities, and she would offer unsolicited h elp or advice to her group, and particularly the other white women . But also like Ethan , although she performed great confidence in the class, she was described by Peter as being weak in terms of her a lgebra skills. Sitting next to Heather A. was Heather B . An architecture major, s he had platinum blond hair, also usually up in a messy bun , b ut the kind messy bun that looked like she had worked . She wore expensive workout clothes to class, a la LuluLemon 13 . She also came into the class lacking a lot of the skills needed for the algebra prerequisites and for the 13 Lululemon is a high end br and of athletic apparel.

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115 class . However, unlike Heather A., she rarely assumed she was right when it came to the group work. If Heather A. was the Ethan of the table, then Veronica was the Mike . Although quiet at the start of class, Veronica eventually became the go to person in the gr answer was right. Veronica had straight brownish blond hair that she wore down. Generally wearing cardigans and jeans, Veronica was older than most at the table, having completed a hool, but returning to college to get a degree in accounting toward a more productive and lucrative career shift. Veronica spoke with vocal fry at a distracting level that rivaled Kim Kardashian. To clarify, vocal fry or creaky voice is when a person uses a low vocal register and emits air in their voice when talking giving it a creaky sound . Vocal fry has been critiqued mostly in women as a way that they change their voices to emit more authority or to talk with a more masculine tone (Henton & Bladon, 1988 ; Yuasa, 2010) . Heather C. was a platinum blond that sat at the far end of the table. Her algebra skills were average in the group, although she missed class quite a bit and would often disengage from the work being done by the group. She wore her hair in a ponytail and generally wore fitted t shirts and skinny jeans. Like the B ros, the Heathers had their own form of white women bonding that you seemingly had to be both white and a cis gender woman to participate in fully. It too included jokes, and partic ularly inside jokes for the group. But, the bonding also relied on a sort of self deprecating teasing of oneself, particularly related to algebra. You were allowed to be in the white woman group and good at algebra, but you needed to temper any confidence you had in this group by talking about how hard it was. You had to commiserate about your algebra

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116 experience with the other white women. This bonded the women in the sense that it allowed someone like Veronica , who had strong algebra skills and whose confi dence grew as class went on to relate to the Heathers who really were struggling in the class. They would thus create a faux mutual struggle together. One day, I ended up getting over to class 15 minutes early. Heather A. and Heather B. were sitting on a b ench across from class. They both had notebooks out and Heather A . had a calculator. They were working on a problem set for class, but it was hard to tell how much they were working together. I walked up and stood next to them. Veronica came up shortly the reafter and stood across from them. They greeted her and the three began discussing the problem set vaguely, which included them each agreeing that the problem set was hard with Veronica citing specific problems she had trouble with, although she had completed it alone b efore class. After this initial discussion, what seemed to become an obligatory intro conversation for the white women around the struggles of algebra, the women turned to discussing calc ulators. Heather A., frustrated, talked about having to go to buy a cheap calculator work. Veronica A. continued her calculator saga, saying that in high school she gave her friend her calculator and then her friend never gave it back. Veronica smirked, and suggested that she find her friend and trade cal culators with her now. Having all shared their calculator history, Heather B. s hifted the conversation to pens Veronica jumped in describing how there was a store that sold that kind of pen in it. Heather A. talked about being in a class with a group of Asians who were all using these pens.

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117 Heather B. smirked when Heather A . reference was derogatory or a t least was mocking AAPI students, as if implying they were all the same right down to their pens. Similarly to the way that Quentin joined the B ros group , a few classes into the course, Dila , a woman who i dentified herself, racially as Middle E astern and a woman of Kurdish de s cent, joined The Heathers table. She had missed a couple of classes because her sister had gotten married in another state, but then she had moved from another table of women (also mostly white) to join the all white table. I t was Dila who had been sitting in Mariah seat the day that Mariah stared at them for half a minute before seeking a new group. Dila , as she shared with me later, they all sat in the front and seemed like they were all good at algebra. Yet, the way that I came to understand the Dila engagement in the group were different, given that she was identified as a Woman of C olor as soon as she sat across from the white women . This was confirmed in my interview with Heather The Besties Aside from the B ros table and the table, the other group that I watched most closely was the table that Mariah moved a week after she lost her seat in her original group. This group for most of the course consisted of Kathy , Haley , Roby , and Mariah . Mariah was a mixed race woman who identified as Black and Nati ve American Kathy was a shy white woman with long blond hair that she wore down or sometimes with a piece in the front twisted and clipped with a barrette on the side. She al ways wore heavy make up and eye liner. On the inside of her wrist, she had a semi c olon tattoo. The semi colon is

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118 a symbol for those who have been suicidal or are close to someone who has been. The semi colon references a choosing to go on in regard to life, where as a period would signal the end (Seko & Le wis, 2018 ) . Kathy was very skil led at algebra. Peter told me that she had gone in to the online course and completed the first 10 weeks of homework before we had even gotten to the second week of class. Haley was also a white woman with auburn hair that was usually pulled up in a messy b un. She worked on campus and was usually wearing t shirts o r jackets with the WUU logo or mascot on it. Haley also wore heavy make up. And, Haley also had a tattoo on her inner wrist, which in her case was a little heart. Haley was perpetually late for cla ss, but never seemed bothered that she lost points when she came late for recitation. Haley seemed to grasp the algebra content fairly well, particularly when she worked with Kathy on class assignments or quizzes in class . Also in this group was Roby . Roby was a Latinx man who presented as white 14 . Roby was Haley Roby were low coming into the class, and whereas in the beginning of the course, Haley would check in with him to help him along in whatever assignment they were working on, as the class progressed, he just worked alone as Kathy and Haley worked ahead. Roby eventually stopped coming and dropped the class. Kathy had been in the same original group that Mariah was in, but when Dila and a new white woman took their seats during the third class, Mariah chose a new group where Kathy was since Kathy had also been displaced. Mariah continued to follow Kathy . When she came into 14 Although I had originally assumed Roby was white, Peter told me that Roby was Latinx, which he had surmised based on his last name. Roby dropped the class before I was able to ask him how he identified racially.

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119 class, if Kathy was t here, Mariah would sit next to her. If one group was small one week and Peter asked for volunteers to join a different group, when Kathy would volunteer, so would Mariah . Kathy did not show the same affinity for Mariah , and this is what made it particularl y painful when Kathy and Haley started to become friends. It felt like the closer Kathy and Haley became, the more they alienated and isolated Mariah . This was likely because Haley ignored or was dismissive of Mariah from the beginning. Whereas Kathy seeme d to tolerate Mariah to work with her, Haley never even tried. So, when Kathy and Haley became friends it was directly at Mariah White racial bonding, as Sleeter ( 1994 ; 1996 ) describes , is how white people us e coded racialized language to denigrate People of Color and form white solidarity in service of white supremacy . When the Heathers and Veronica were discussing their skinny pens, Heather A. pens. Sleeter illustrates white racial bonding by describing a white woman neighbor approaching her and trying to initiate white racial bonding with Sleeter (herself a white woman) , in the following eform, commenting that she is glad Donna Shalala will be sending w elfare mothers to work since too many of them like to stay ( Sleeter, 1996, p. 262 ). Sleeter goes on to describe how f a racially coded word like , affirming what a problem these Black welfare mothers were. To contrast, Sleeter (1996) argues that her wh ite neighbor would not have made the same comment if Sleeter had been a Black woman . Similarly, to unveil the racism and white racial bonding by the Heathers, we can consider that

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120 accompanying smirks by the Heat hers and Veronica would si mply not have happened if Faith, Am be r, or another of the AAPI people in their class had been standing in the group as well. The Heathers were comfortable with this discussion only when they were backstage space (Cabrera, 20 1 8; Picca & Feagin, 2007 ) , only in earshot of white ears, mine included . Beyond this more explicit description of white racial bonding (Sleeter, 1994 ; 1996 ) amongst the Heathers, the portraits ab ove illustrate what Matias (2014 hite fictive on Thandeka ( 1999 ), Matias shows that white people create a bond or affinity not based on real care, love, or friendship, but rather on the shared white identity that is rooted in a white shame based on from one another. Matias and Allen ( 2013 ) show that white people will withhold love from each other if they are not engaging in practices like color evasive racism ( Annamma, J ackson, & Morrison, 2017 ) and other subtle or not so subtle racist practices that exclude People of Color and uphold the White Hegemonic Alliance (Allen, 2008 ). The Heathers did not seem to really care about one another or develop friendships that would go beyond the classroom walls, but they did perform this friendship, or white fictive kinship (Matias, 2014) when they saw each other. I suggest that these portrai ts not only offer another example of how white fictive kinship or white racial bonding (Sleeter, 1994 ; 1996 ) operate in the classroom as a powerful form of whiteness, but I also highlight another dynamic of these white relationships. In most of the litera ture, these kinships are built a round white solidarity related to race talk. Matias (2014 ; 2018 ) and DiAngelo and Sensoy (2014) describe white students coming to when one white student, reveling in white guilt, scr eams or emotionally argue s that he or she is not racist . Cabrera (2018) describes the white racial bonding amongst white

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121 college men using racist jokes or use of the n word in all white groups . Yet, in the portraits described above, these white fictive kinships were developed for the most part even without a discussion of race nor obvious white solidarity around color evasiveness. I did not witness racially coded conversations with the exception of the skinny pen description above. However, these white fictive kinships were forming based on the unspoken rules that the Heathers, the Bros, and Besties developed together and used covert tactics to affirm. An important unspoken rule and mechanism for white racial bonding was the mis treatment of the Person of Color who was in their group . For example, whereas the Heathers would greet each other on the regular upon coming into class, Dila would frequently get no acknowledgement as she took her seat. In fact, in the skinny pen conversation, described above, Dila eventually joined the group when she got to class and they were still talking outside the door . She asked Heather A. and Veronica a question, but they continued talking to each other, ignoring Dila and walking into class as Dila followed quietly. In another instance, w hen Heather A. mentioned that she worked at the campus Starbucks, a long conversation ensued where Heather B. mentioned how bad she wanted to work at Starbucks and Veronica nodded along. Heather A. then proceeded to give Veronica and Heather B. tips on ordering their Sta rbucks drinks so they turned out right, like specifying the temperature. Dila was present for this conversation, also nodding along, but was never included in the discussion. On another day when Dila mentioned her career goal of being an Orthodontist, the off as she looked back down at her phone. In fact, Dila brought up wanting to be an Orthodontist more than once when the group was discussing their coursework and a spirations, but the Heathers never engaged her. It felt like they preferred to ignore the audacity of Dila, a Woman of

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122 Colo r, planning to become a Doctor , and they united or bonded together in this performance of whiteness . e racial bonding formed around their mutual self deprecation related to algebra, complaining how hard it was and teasing themselves that they could never get it. They contrasted this self deprecation by also complimenting the other white women on how good they were. One day when the white women were discussing their high was include But a s I discuss in the proceeding chapters, Dila was expected to self deprecate to a greater level whenever she engaged with the Heathers, but I never witnessed them acknowledging her algebra know ho w or paying her a compliment even when she helped them on a problem. Similarly, the Bros formed a white racial bond that rarely engaged , rather isolated , Quentin from their group. The white fictive kins hip (Matias, 2014) was developed through the Bros joking with one another. They would laugh at each other and egg each other on when they were goofing around rather than focusing on their work. These jokes or laughing rarely included or offered Quentin an opportunity to get in on it. Additionally, like th e Heathers, the Bros would the class). While the Bros did not self dep recate nor compliment each other like the Heathers, Quentin did self deprecate, and seemed expected to if and when he wanted to engage with the Bros. Conversely, the Bros self compliment ed , particularly Evan, commenting on having take n Algebra in high scho ol, shouting out answers in the group or class without reserve , boasting

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123 about how he was going to ace the test, his group on an exit ticket . The Besties white racial bonding differed somewhat from th e Heathers and the Bros. Although, they t o o held what Matias (2014 ) described as white fictive kinship like the other white groups, they also seemed to form a lasting friendship. Kathy explained to me that although lass, they had become friends outside of class. class, Kathy wou ld work with Mariah on their worksheets or during activities and help Mariah with a problem if she was asked. But, when she joined the group, Haley seemed to have nothing but disdain for Mariah, ignoring her completely unless Mariah asked Kathy a question, and Haley would just stare at Mariah until Kathy finished explaining something, and punctuate it communicated. Give n the disdain Haley seemed to have for Mariah, as Ka thy and Haley b ecame better and better friends , their treatment of Mariah degraded. It was almost as if as the relationship (white racial bonding) between Haley and Kathy grew, their relationship to Mariah deteriorated. In this way, there was an inverse re lationship; the stronger the white racial bond, the more exclusion and isolation of Mariah occurred. The white racial bonding (Sleeter,1994 ; 1996 ) and white fictive kinships (Matias, 2014) in each of the groups described involved the forming and following of unspoken rules amongst the white students. They were also formed through the exclusion and mistreatment of Students of Color. This, of course, created a negative experience for Mariah, Quentin, and Dila as I descri be

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124 in the next chapter. The three exper ienced the whiteness from the Besties, the Bros, and the Heathers as racism.

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125 X. MARIAH, DILA, AND QUENTIN There is an inherent dilemma in Critical Whiteness Studies (CWS), such as this is, that while CWS is working dismantle and problematize whiteness, it is also centering whiteness . Indeed, whiteness is the focus of this dissertation. Yet, as Leonardo ( 2013 ) reminds us, race studies historically have focused on People of Color, implicitly casting white people and whiteness as non racial. Also, as discussed in the Literature Review, studies focused on race, particularly in college STEM have tended to take a def icit approach and perspective of Students of Color ( Harper, 2010 ). In this way, CWS in STEM are very necessary, but this necessity should not allow us to disregard how CWS can center whiteness, particularly as CRT work has focused on centering People of Co lor. Leonardo encourages scholars in Critical Whiteness Studies to focus their efforts on the experiences and impact of whiteness on People of Color, to 97 ) Sol ó rzano and counter deficit stor Thus I incorporate an Anti deficit Achievement Framework such as Harper (2010) calls for particularly in STEM research, below I construct counter narratives in portraits of Mariah, Quentin, and Dila, as the Students of Color whose experie nces with whiteness were the focus of this study. I should also discuss here that in the course of this research project, I met with the course instructor, Peter, every other week to discuss what was happening in the class. This was to understand his pers pective, but also to share some of the counter narratives below with him. Although Peter listened to these counter narratives and took action on some things toward

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126 , Peter of ten would refute these counter narratives with a deficit perspective. For instance, when I described how the Besties were isolating Mariah, Peter would suggest that this was because her algebra skills were so poor. This was a common justification given for the over representation of Black and Latinx students receiving the grades D,F , I, or W in College Algebra at WUU . Blaming the poor algebra entry skills of these Students of Colors for their lack of success in College Algebra was par for the course. The co unter narratives below show that although it may be true that Students of Color are coming into College Algebra with lower level algebraic skills at a disproportionate rate t just happen . Students of Color are disenfranchised and face racis m in myriad ways in their K 12 education and into higher education, as these counter narratives show. Mariah Mariah openness and vulnerability laid at the heart of her resilience against whiteness and all the other systems working against her. Frankly, s eeing and talking with Mariah gave this study meaning and responsibility on a level for which I felt somewhat unprepared . In truth, observing Mariah in the algebra class was painful. As the only Black student in the class, and given her sweet and accommod ating demeanor, seeing the whiteness that came for her as racism left me outraged . I interviewed Mariah near the end of the semester a couple weeks before she stopped coming to class. Prior to our conversation, I began to think of Mariah as akin to Pecola (1970) The Bluest Eye . In the book, Pecola is a highly vulnerable Black girl who is abused by I made th e

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127 connection between Mariah and Pecola based on what felt like vulnerability to racism in the classroom. I remember one day, after sitting with Kathy and Haley for a few class periods and them largely ignoring her, Mariah came in wearing eye makeu p for the first time with her usually free flowing curly hair in a tight bun on top of her head. Given the heavy makeup that Kathy and Haley wore every day, I worried about Mariah possibly trying to imitate them so that maybe they would include her. After a couple of class periods of wearing eye makeup (and presumably seeing no difference in Kathy or Haley went back to no makeup. However, m y concern for Mariah and my associating her with Pecola kept me from seeing the actual strength in her openness. Her vulnerability was not a weakness like I had thought. T But , I think she understood this and chose openness regardless. Mariah identified as mixed race, specifical ly identifying herself as Black and Native American, but with other racial ancestry as well. She presented as Black and noted herself that she was the only Black student in our algebra class. She was raised in the barrio by a single mother who was an Offic e Manager and who had taken some college courses at a local broad access university for the accounting work she did in her job. Mariah talked at length describing her neighborhood and community: , still very gunshots a lot in the summer. Just from peop le celebrating it being summer I guess, I so you guys are of it is. But in the ba rrio community, but bad things owned businesses, ma and pa

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128 interesting areas. There less of a sensor, you grow up faster, especially if I come from a single parent family. So you do grow up faster, and you do learn to deal with situations that you w I know a lot of those kids at that school went through it even wor se than me. They were directly involved with the gang activity or their families were. Mariah talked about how in her neighborhood, her friends lovingly teased her and called her spoiled, because of all her mom provided for her. Mariah ins isted that she never expected or demanded the things her mom gave her, but instead described how thankful she was. She also contrasted that with friends she had who had gotten pregnant in high school and how she knew that was really hard. Yet, coming from the barrio , at WUU Mariah found herself amongst middle where she was socioeconomically disadvantaged . For instance, in the algebra class, all students were required to purchase and do work in MyMathLab, which housed the class homework a s well as tutorials for the class that were to be completed outside the class. Mariah was unable to get the money for MyMathLab (about $70) until seven weeks into the 15 week course. This meant that she could not complete the homework or access the tutoria ls for half of the class. Mariah was a scientist. Although she was a first semester college freshman, she consistently referred to herself as a scientist, using the word scientist to describe her thinking for me throughout our discussion. Mariah was majori ng in Environmental Science although those closer to her had thought she would be a teacher. As she describes: Well, I took environmental science class last year, and I really, really liked it. I loved it so much. It was so interesting, and I knew I wanted to be some sort of scientist. Everyone relating to them. Like, they always want to play games with me. So they thought I was going to be a teacher. And I thought so too, but I really liked science and yeah, I just

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129 as my family likes to say. It used to be really annoying, but they find it endearing now. I would always butt into a conversation. I would always have either something to say or but they were, like, we love you, b just get you can get paid for asking a bunch of questions and then going and finding answers. Although family and friends outside her place, she was confident, even then, that her nosiness and questio ning came from her inherent identity as a scientist. Although she was just beginning her college journey, majoring in Environmental Science, Mariah was not becoming a scientist through her collegiate pursuits. No, she was already a scientist and wanted a degree so she could have a career mad e up of what she did naturally science. G Placement courses in subjects like English/Writing and Geography, where she noted that she was usually one of the only Students of C olor in the room. When she was in elemen tary school, she was given permission to check out adult level books from the library, since the age appropriate books were not challenging enough for her. Again, folks in her community did not call her e lovingly to tease her ; they were proud of her. She worried about her friends and classmates comparing themselves to her, worrying that they would feel less smart. She explicitly told friends not to compare themselves to her; she d books themselves. Mariah was also an art ist. She would bring her sketch book wherever she went including class until it started to fall apart. She would sketch during class breaks or before class. She told me a story a hatching, which is a

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130 technique used to add depth and dynamic to a drawing. The students were told to draw a pear so drew a face instead, using cross hatching to add dynamic to the face. The teacher got mad when he saw she the technique. Clearly, Mariah was a brilliant young woman. This put her math education experience in stark contrast to the subjects in which she was supported and excelled in. In elementary school, Mariah went to a for profit charter elementary school in one of the poorest areas of the city. The vast major in school, her math education was pitiful, as she described, Unfortunately my really bad teacher was in math or couple of teachers. My middle school teachers were okay they would just hand you a paper and sit at their desk. And you could ask them questions, but you always felt like you were bothering them. So I got used to just trying to figure it out and then no eah, very bad. Not going to sugar coat it. That was very terrible for everyone. I was always teaching this class. Mariah in elementary and somewhat in middle school w ould get all As in school, and, since her Mom knew she was smart, she never questioned what Mariah was learning in school. She did s good at math and had been an a ccountant. One day she gave Mariah a set of problem s to do that should have been easy for a 7 th grader (which t

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131 math classes in high school because she was, like, I know you worked for this C now. As yone and try hard with anyone. Mariah did have a better experience with math education in high school and even spoke about one teacher who was so passionate about math that it was contagious and got the whole class interested. She felt similarly about her college class, and about Peter and Chen. She appreciated how enthusiastic they were about algebra, even if she did find herself lost a lot of the time. As mentioned, Mariah started off the algebra course sitting at a table in the front on the left. When I an explanation that was similar to wha t I described earlier . I can b seat, which happened to be in back. And I just kept sitting there, and the person I think I w ime, and then I started slowly noticing it was {laughs} because my teammates , Kathy and Haley fine. But they were very kind of like there was a bubble around everyone, if that makes to bother them because they just seemed very focused. d the whiteness dynamic of the B esties in the proceeding chapters, but suffice it to say that the B esties, Kathy and Haley ignored and isolated Mariah while she was in t heir group. When I interviewed Kathy , she suggested that this was because Mariah was so far behind. When I discussed what I was seeing with Peter , he also thought that Mariah was working alone because she was so far behind. But I saw real vehemence in the s e whiteness performances between Kathy and Haley . To relate this to algebra, it was like a linear relationship. As Kathy and Haley , so too did their aversion to the Woman of C olor sitting next to th em. Although Kathy had tolerated

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132 Mariah in the early part of the course, Kathy worked to distance herself from Mariah when Haley came into the picture. Their white woman friendship or white fictive kinship (Matias, 2014) demanded sacrifice, and unfortunate ly that sacrifice was civility and dignity to the only Black person in the room. Near the end of the class, there was a day when the trains were running behind and many students were late for class. Kathy and Haley were included in those late . Mariah showe d up to class on time and was sitting alone without her group. Peter , with who m I had been discussing my concerns about the dynamic of Mariah and the B esties seized the opportunity to move t of class. This was the same table had been occupied in the first weeks of class when Mariah , instead of pulling up a chair , just found another group. For the first few classes after Peter had her move back up to her original group, Ma riah shined. She seemed comfortable and talked easily with the women in that group, which included two white women (Coby and Frances) and an AAPI woman , Amber . Mariah described how she felt in our interview: And they were, like, hello again. It was really funny and it was just, like, hi and they were, like, what happened? They were, like, oh, yeah, this person was always sitting there, and so you never sat here. And they were, like, but hi {laughs}. And yeah, it was weird, but it was it made a complete difference because they actually go look over and Amber ion you asked me. I nice that you pretty much went out of your way to help me with this question that I was still figuring out. So it dropped the ering them. Okay, cool. I can even talking to me about their day or including me in the conversation, even things that I and we figured it out. Did you figure this out? And I would be, like, I figured half of it

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133 After a few classes back in the front of the room, Mariah missed a couple of classes be cause she was sick. When she came back to class she fel l way behind, and again she seemed isolated. work on a quiz and Mariah would work separately on her own quiz. Peter was doing this be f Peter eks in when I began observing. One of the first things I noticed was that there were only two Black people (both women) in the class and they were two of three students that worked alone instead of in a group. As I observed, it seemed like it was the choic e of these women to work alone. Perhaps it really was for Black women and if the benefits of working in a group would really be worth the potential and even like ly trauma that the whiteness would bring with it? Peter told me that a couple of weeks before the course was over that Mariah had told him Peter , the deadline for dropping was a couple weeks ago did not attend the final. I never saw her again. Quentin Quentin was a broad set man of average height . He was biracial (white and Asian as he described), but h is brown complexion and shoulder length Black wavy hair made me think he was of Pacific Island de s cent when I first saw him. He wore t shirts or hoodies with

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134 jeans and high top sneakers. When asked his race, he said he thought he was Asian, at least culturally, but then later said he liked to think of himself as racially ambiguous. His mother was white and his Dad was Japanese and Balinese. Quentin joined the B ros table the third week of class. Quentin usually came in halfway through the recitation that preceded the lecture portion of the class. When we talked, he said this be work through it, I work hard at it, I can understand it and I will do better if I try and work On this particula r occasion, Quentin walked in and there was a n extra seat at the end of the B acknowledging Quentin. Quentin sat down, opened his notebook and looked over to see what everyone was working on. The groups had been given worksheets that they were completing together. Peter im a worksheet and the B ros, not paying the slightest bit of attention to Quentin , did not direct him to go get a worksheet too. After waiting to see if anyone would bring Quentin a worksheet or tell him that he needed to get one, I walked to the front of the room, grabbed a copy and handed it to him. Quentin replied sounding genuinely grateful to have received something that might allow him to begin participating. Yet, for the remainder of the class per iod, the B ros largely ignored Quentin. Quentin tried to offer Brody help on a problem a couple of tim es, but Brody, who seemed annoyed by , as I interpreted by his refusal to even look up when Quentin talked to him, would ignore him and instead ask Ethan (his roommate) for help on things.

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135 Quentin was good at algebra and math more g enerally. He liked all math except for . Y et even though Quentin seemed to possess confidence in math, he seemed to question himself in college algebra. When he received one of the higher grades at his table on the first test without studying at all, he was surprised. He explained to me later that s ince he had gotten a 3/10 on the f irst algebra quiz he had resigned himself to not doing very well in the class. Although Quentin liked math and was go od at it , he had not had a positive math education experience in high school. Similarly to Mariah, Quentin was nervous about speaking up in class, but less because he felt like he was bothering the teacher, and more because he was afraid of not looking smart, as he exp lained: experience I had my senior year. When all these other [white] kids are doin g better than behind, so I would have to go into class one on one with my teache Even though Quentin felt intimidated by upper level courses where there was a majority of white kids, he recognized that Black and Brown kids had it worse . He described how many of his friends in high school were Black or Latinx, and how the white teachers treated those students differently. Even white teachers who were nice to Quentin individually would express their , pa rticularly in regard to Black students. He mentioned, African pick better frien

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136 Like Mariah, Quentin was of id of C 12 experience. He detailed moving to a west coast state when he was young, and feeling a bit of culture shock when he was put in a predominantly white school. When Quentin discovered that there was another school down the street that was mostly made up of Black and Latinx students, he tried to r because as a Student of C olor with high standardized test scores, ose the boost that Quentin gave their school. Quentin admittedly started acting out trying to get out of the school. He mentioned cussing out teachers. He sai anybody and I was pissed. And I lived around a lot of those kids and it happened to me, even parents would he he stopped as he reminded himself that his interviewer (me) was after all, white. complexity within the racial category of Asi an American Pacific Islander (AAPI) particularly related to how lumping so many groups into the racial category AAPI ignores and marginalizes the diverse groups within the category and their experiences (Museus, 2009; Museus & Kiang, 2009). This complexity his high school experiences. As noted, although Quentin identified himself racially as Asian, he presented as a Pacific Islander with his B rown complexion and long, dark, wavy hair. He had even used by one school out west who would not let him transfer to another school with more Students of Color as a Student of Color and thus too valuable to the school to let go

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137 spent time with Black and Latinx students in high school. This association with Black and Brown kids Browned Quentin as well i n the eyes of his white teachers, and this affected him. He marginaliz ed and forced to racially negotiate being an AAPI person. Quentin seemed to be racialized by the Bros as Brown or as a Pacific Islander as opposed about Quentin a which is illustrated in proceeding chapters by the B on the first algebra test. Although Quentin was racialized by the B ros from the very beginning, he himself sensed their bro ness, or rather whiteness , very early in the class, and worked to separate himself. Although Quentin usually skipped most of recitation because he pref erred to work out problems on his own, he also seemed to do i t to keep some di stance between himself and the B ros, explaining, think they h ed. Have you ever had about? really the experiences that you get as going to school downtown and lik yed basketball for [an urban high school] and stuff like I got to experience a lot of different ore clique be trying to get into conversation about life or something like that with them so because

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138 now. Quentin clearly saw the masculinized whiteness and white racial bonding (Sleeter, 1994 ; 1996 ) at his table that I refer to as bro ness. This whiteness did not immediately offer him access to the group, to be an i nsider, particularly since the B ros had already created a white male bond or white fictive kinship (Matias, 2014) without having to worry whether or not Que ntin could have any role. So, when Quentin joined their table a few classes into the course, they did not make room for him. He was new and he was not white, so he would remain an outsider unles s he could prove useful to the B ros. Dila Dila was a slender, olive skinned woman with long dark wavy hair, which she usually wore down. Dila was easy going and friendly. She usually wore skinny jeans and tank tops or knit tops depending on how warm it was outside. Dila joined the table during the second we ek of class. Dila laced and went to sit with the B e sties. Shortly thereafter, Dila moved intentionally and unceremoniously to join the table. When D ila joined the white women, she sat in the very front with her back to front of the room. Because of this positioning, she would swivel her seat toward the front to watch Peter when he was lecturing. Dil a identified her race as Middle E astern, and explaine d that she was Kurdish. Although born locally, her parents were both from Kurdistan. Dila was a Biology major, and had wanted to be an Orthodontist. Yet, when we talked, she admitted that she felt like Biology was hard and she to stay in it. Her interests had turned to Public Health, because she

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139 wanted to be in a program and career where she could talk more with people, a job that was more social. Dila was very good at math and algebra in particular. She had taken Algebra I and II, Trigonometry, Geometry, and Math Analysis in high school. She said that Math Analysis in particular covered much of the same material that they were now covering in algebra. When I talked to her, Dila mentioned that she had wanted to join the white wom group because they seemed smart, and she wanted to collaborate with those who could contribute to the group in the way that she knew she could. As she described, I noticed that each of us had something to bring to the table. Everyone had something that they understood, something that they could work with. And when I worked with them it everything. It was like all of us knew something that we could bring to the table. And it working with them. As mentioned, at the start of class , Heather A. seemed to be the leader and was assumed to be the smartest in the group, as Dila and Veronica ( the white woman with vocal fry ) told me in their interviews . Yet, as class went on, Veronica emerged as the new leader when it seemed that she was ac tually Veronica be considered as the lead or acknowledged even for what she knew or could contribute. When I interviewed Dila, in my initial standar d questions, she gave me the kind of answers most (white) folks would have accepted as her genuine experience given what seemed , at first glance, like a friendly relationship between Dila and all the white women at her table . Any casual observer of the tab le would have assumed that Heather A. or Veronica was leading

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140 the group through their worksheet, activities, and quizzes and that the rest were reliant on them . As Dila explained, f why I was interested in the group is because they were so she seemed really smart. I definitely noticed from the beginning that she was somebody that I could work well with. And it that knows something or multiple people that know something, you work better that way. And so yes, I think that has shifted in a way. I remember the f irst couple days Heather A. Veronica is super smart now. We always ask her for help. I feel lik e she knows everyth ing. was really smart at the start o f class , but Veronica is super smart now . This signaled how mart just because you tend to get the right answers to algebra classes. Rather, you are deemed smart if you act like you are smart and you are smart, but it was truly secondary to whether someone acted smart. Returning to my conversation with Dila, as we continued talking , I described my study to her, along with talking about whiteness and the subtle racism I was s eeing in class and in her group. This shifted the discussion and s he offered a more distressed version of what she noticed and experienced in the class: I mean it seems almost like the white people in the class are always more superior, in a are always more inferior. I know personally I have felt more down becau se of who I am, have been called multiple things in the past. People in middle school are just dumb. They implied with little things.

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141 quest ion or make a suggestion. I f she was s t ill ignored, she would pick up her phone and start browsing without batting an eye or sometimes she would turn back to her worksheet and continue working on it alone until she would be ready to try and engage Heather A. and Veronica again . These portraits of Mariah, Quentin, and Dila draw heavily on t heir voices and their interpretations of experiences from the classroom. I offer them as counter stories ( Matias, 20 1 6a ; Sol ó rzano & Yosso, 2002 ) through counter narrative s ( Decuir & Dixson, 2004; Nishi, Matias, Montoya, & Sarcedo, 2016 ) . These counter stories and counter narratives serve as a methodology within CRT to center the voices of People of Color and to refute, or indeed, the master narrative ( Matsuda, 19 95 ) . This master narrative is one with an ideology of whiteness, of racism as we understand in CRT (Sol ó rzano & Yosso, 2002). The master narrative is the framework and rationale upon which the normalization of racism and whiteness (Delgado & Stefancic, 199 6) is draped. The master narrative is the curtain rod that holds the DuBois ian (1999) veil of whiteness. The master narrative and the normalization of whiteness is ultimately working, subtly and explicitly to promote white supremacism. te that within CRT, white people cannot offer a counter story (Nishi, 2018) . W ell intended, anti racist whites , although they may participate in disrupting whiteness norms do not have stories of their own experiences as the targets of racism. When we remem ber that racism is hierarchical and only goes one way (i.e., reverse racism is not possible) (Cabrera, 2018), we can understand that white people cannot share counter stories of their own experiences. Acknowledging this, I worked to center Students of Colo r in the portraits above to

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142 structure them as counter narratives, but still want to complicate and problematize this approach, because I, as the white narrator co constructed the counter narratives. ter narrative below and contrast it with the counter narratives . H ad any casual (white) observer been sitting next to me in that wa s normalized in the classroo m, we would have assumed that Mariah was working alone, because she was just slower and had weak skills in assumed that the Besties weren because they were so focused on their own work. Under this dominant narrative, we would assume that Quentin came in late and kept to himself, because that was how he preferred to work . And th is was how he preferred to work, but Quentin described. Quentin being a loner was directly influenced by the Bros isolating whiteness. With the master narrative, Dila w as friends with the Heathers. Dila and Heather C. (who was in class off and on) would laugh together at Instagram posts. When, more commonly, Veronica and Heather A. were working on a worksheet, the dominant narrative would allow us to believe that Dila wa s working with them too. It would prevent us from seeing how hard Dila their own conversations. was experiencing the

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143 whiteness and sees the Heathers as the same kids in middle school who called her a terrorist;

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144 XI. WHITE RACIAL PERFORMANCE Lawrence ( 2015 ) describes racial performance as it relates to Black people in the U.S., he describes his parents and elders requiring that he ascribe to manners and some level of respectability politics to combat Black stereotypes by whites. At the same time, he and his family were at the front of the fight for civil rights and Black resistance. J ust as racial performance by People of Color has been a means of survival in a world dominated by whites, white racial performance has bee n taught and practiced by whites (Thandeka, 1999 ) as a key form of maintenance of whiteness and white supremacy. Within, the literature, w hiteness has also been described in terms of its performances. Picca and Feagin ( 2007 ) describe race and racist talk a s being frontstage (in front of People of Color) or backstage (with white only audiences). Cabrera (2018) talks explicitly about white performances of racist jokes or use of the n word that white college men use backstage amongst other white men in white r acial bonding rituals (Sleeter, 1994; 1996 ). Nishi, Matias, and Montoya (2015 ) also highlight actual performances of whiteness, spanning from Blackface caricatures in minstrelsy, to the white avatars that are carefully crafted for gaming and social media t oday. W hite racial performances are not restricted to any particular venue. Unfortunately, they permeate all spaces where white people are, and even into some spaces where they are not. In this chapter , I offers portraits that detail the whiteness performances that I saw in the algebra class, including what I refer to as racial nanoaggressions , how the white students decided who was right or smart in their groups, and the different ways whiteness was used to demand that Mariah, Quentin, and Dila pl acate whiteness to earn a small amount of civility as People of C olor

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145 in their white working groups. I finally offer an analysis of these portraits, drawing on theory and the literature. Racial Nanoaggressions As discussed in the earlier chapters, racial m insults (verbal, nonverbal, and/or visual) directed toward People of C olor, often automatically or , p. 60 ). In their article, Solórzano, Ceja, and Yosso identify a variet y of racial microaggressions that Black students had experienced, r anging from being told by white Black to nobody wanting to work with them in the lab and feeling that this was because the y were Black. Sue et al. (2007), within the counseling and psychology literature categorized racial microaggressions as falling into three different categories: microassaults, microinsults, and microinvalidations. Microassaults amount to verbal or nonverba l attacks, like name calling. Microinsults include rude or insensitive comments or behaviors. Microinvalidations are those comments or behaviors that dismiss the experience of People of C olor (Sue et al . , 2007). Incidents I witnessed and describe below in the algebra class could certainly fall into the definitions of racial microaggressions that Solórzano, Ceja, and Yosso (2000) and Sue et al . (2007) describe. Yet, in my observations, the behaviors and comments I witnessed as racial microaggressions operate d a t such a level of subtlety for the most part, that it felt like a new category of racial microaggressions than these scholars had described. Things like avoiding eye contact, starring icily, or not acknowledgin g the comments of Students of C olor co uld e asily be missed. Even the S tudents of C olor that experienced these behaviors, although they were bothered by them, would explain the behaviors away if they came up in conversations with me,

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146 mean it like that Thus, I offer a new category for these subtlest of racial microaggressions, racial nanoaggressions to capture these quiet yet damaging forms of microaggression that are as insidious as the more explicit forms of aggression, and likely contr ibute to racial battle fatigue (Smith, Hung, & Franklin, 2011) as much as microaggressions. Coupon Sharing As mentioned, when Quentin joined the Bros table, he was not warmly welcomed, or welcomed at all. In fact, most days when Quentin arrived in the midd le or near the end of Quentin would sit down. No one would say hello or nod to acknowledge his presence. Usually, Chen or Peter would notice him come in and bri ng him a copy of whatever worksheet the groups experience in K 12 math, where he had developed fear around asking questions lest the teacher or others think he was not a copy of whatever was being worked on from the front of the class. Aside from this, the B ros used a host of nanoaggressions to make it clear to Quentin that time Quentin would sneeze, which I noted happened a few times, no Quentin a quiet but audible bless you when he sneezed, which he usually thanked me for. On one par ticular day, Quentin sneezed and only I responded. Minutes later, Evan sneezed, and three p eople, including the two other B sneezes created a clear contrast between the common courtesy and dignity bes towed to Eva n, a white man, and Quentin, a Man of C olor.

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147 Another day after Quentin had made a com ment on their worksheet to the B ros, and no one had looked up at him, nor responded to him, Peter came over to check on the group and see on whether anyone had any questions about their workshe not respond and instead moved on to a group that had a hand raised for help. rather looked down at his worksheet and continued working. Not interested in his own worksheet, Evan started going thr ough his backpack, pulling out random artifacts he had accrued that week . At one point, he pulled out a receipt from a local to Mike, who jokingly asked if it wa s for male enhancement. Evan laughed and handed a staring at his work of Bob, the white man who fit in and was liked and missed by the B ros. On another day, Evan moved over to sit next to Quentin and across from Mike. I might have wondered if thi s slight change of seats might signal some level of inclusion of Quentin had it not been for Evan who had one ear bud in his right ear only, the ear that was next to Quentin. When Quentin at one point asked Evan a question, only then did Evan remove his re maining ear problem, Evan popped his ear bud back into his right ear and continued his work.

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148 Did you say something? When I interviewed Dila, she asked questions about my study and what I was seeing in the class. I described whiteness to her as well as deficit perspective, and went into how my study was taking an anti deficit perspective by problematizing whiteness and racism instead of Students of C olor. As I talked ab out the subtleties of whiteness performances in the class, Dila, nodding her head knowingly adding The nanoaggression of ignoring was clear to Dila, but she recognized that this was not an individual ized experience, it was a larger trend experienced by Students of C olor . Even though Dila recognized this as a larger trend in whiteness, she had experienced it ced a you were trying to engage with Heather A. and Veronica , and before? Kind of, yes. In a way I feel d But what did this look like in the class? One day, during recitat ion, Dila and the white women were working on a worksheet. Dila, looking up, asked quadratic ? In response, Veronica showed her worksheet to Dila. While Dila was examining how Veronica had gotten her answer, Veronica started discussing a different problem with Heather A. Looking perplexed, Dila looked back up at Veronica she said. Veronica time asking He ather A. Veronica and Heather A. continue d talking to each other , without missing a beat in After waiting a moment, and seemingly

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149 deciding that neither Veronica n or Heather A. were going to talk to her, Dila picked up h er phone to browse or text. After having checked whatever social media, Dila set her phone down and laid her head on the table momentarily. Heather C. asking Dila a question about a problem near the start of the workshe et that Dila had already completed. Dila pulled her head up, grabbed her worksheet and graciously walked Heather C. through the problem. Shortly thereafter, Dila raised her hand looking for outside help, h aving not gotten any from Heather A. or Veronica to a question on her worksheet. Heather B. laughed and the other white women chuckled. Chen offered Dila some advice to get her started on the problem. Before he could leave, Veronica asked Chen to affirm her answer. After responding to Veronica, Chen attempted to move on. Dila stopped him sa and asked Veronica and Heather asked hesitantly, and then proceeded to crouch down and show Dila what he had showed Veronica and Heather A. Veronica suggestion and her voice faded as she noticed that Veronica really need to get an A on the B Veronica out of the blue. Veronica , having no trouble hearing Heather, Veronica .

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150 Veronica laughed referring to having the ty pes of Ray B Veronica gestured toward her worksheet. Both women laughed. Meanwhile, Dila continued to look down at her work, doing it alone. As mentioned, when I intervie wed Mariah, she mentioned that it felt to her like there was a bubble around everyone else in her group. To develop this metaphor, I think that the bub ble Mariah noticed was made of one way glass. Mariah could see in the bubble and understand what w as goin g on, but the B of the bubble , nor cared to . I mean this almost literally. In all the time I observed the B group and Mariah, I could only count a handful of times that anyone in the group looked Mariah in the eye. Before Haley and Roby joined the group and Haley and Kathy became b esties, Kathy would help Mariah with understanding some of the problems, but would never look at Mariah while helping her. When I talked to Peter about what I was seeing, he related to me that Kathy was painfully shy. He said that although he had encouraged Kathy to be more verbal in class, to open up to peo ple. So, there it was, shy Kathy, refusing to engage with Mariah aside from giving Mariah direct responses to her algebra question sans eye contact when Mariah summoned the courage to ask. oup. The two white women became fast friends. Of course, change toward Mariah. If anything, Kathy turned icier to ward Mariah. This isolation of Mariah

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151 felt encouraged by Haley. Haley not only refused to look Mariah in the eye, but seemed to carry a disdain for Mariah that was seemingly inexplicable. This is shown in the following portrait: One day during recitat ion, Peter and Chen handed out W ik ki S tix for a graphing exercise. Wik ki S tix are bright colored, fl exible wax coated pieces of yarn that are made for kids to create things with. My seven year old usually makes a pair of glasses when he gets them that he then wears around. The groups were handed scissors and graph paper along with their W i k k i S tix and to ld to mold the stix to create the curvilinear lines on a sheet of graph paper. Upon receiving their materials, Kathy and Haley both grabbed sets of W i kki S tix and pulled them out of their wrappers. Mariah raised her hand. Haley looked at her and then in a voice coated with annoyance Mariah, glanced at Haley with surprise, but then quickly looked back up at Chen to ask if he had more packages of W i kki S As Chen left, Mariah re ached for a leftover packet of W i kki S tix , set aside by Kathy and Haley, to begin creating her own graphs. After the group had worked at it for a bit, Mariah looked up and explaine d her solution to the group. Haley, with another annoyed look shot toward Mariah, although again not looking at her. Haley looked back down at her graph, shak ing her head. When Seemingly c , and she and Kathy chuckled . Behind your back target of the B

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152 boyfriend , had dropped the class, Kathy and Haley were their own group, sitting side by side in the back left of the classroom, c heerfully chatting or watching YouT of the clo ser groups to Kathy and Haley was the group of brown skinned, self described M iddle E astern women in hijab. After Jennifer, had left the class for good ( after the first class period, the same day she insist ed on English as a group commitment), the Middle Eastern women would largely speak in Arabic to each other . The group was composed of four women, three women named Aanisah, and one woman named Segulah. One day, the class was unusually quiet, all except for the group with the Aanisahs and Segulah. They were working on their problem set, discussing the solutions (in Arabic) at the same volume level they always did. At the end of most classes, Chen and Peter would give out half sheets of paper to each student that they called exit tickets . They would usually have a last algebra problem for the day, ore students left and worked as a touch point between the instructors and the students. After this particular day, in the The next week, after P eter had talked with the Middle E astern women group about being quieter , Peter asked Kathy and Haley to come out into the hall to talk with them. I learned later that h e asked them ab Eastern women group be cause they were giggling and on seen this, but Peter said he would talk with them about keeping their voices down. Kathy and

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153 Ha ley came back into the classroom looking justified. Ironically, during this same class period, Haley and Kathy were looking at a video on one of their phones and laughing at it. When I interviewed Kathy about what had happened, she described it in the foll owing way: f the time when Chen is at the board , figure out what we were supposed to do and th ey kept talking and their phones kept going were doing and not focus on listening to the talking an d the chirping of their phones. he group to turn their phones off. She replied, They left on we yeah. I had missed the class where the Aanisahs and Segulah prompted the exit ticket complains from Kathy and Hal ey when I was out of town for a conference. When I asked Peter usual. conv ersing at a louder of more distracting level. Whether they were louder or not, the Aanisahs and Segulah speaking A rabic had drawn the ire of the B esties and there would be consequences. There is literature looking at how white students ha ve a tendency to g o over their Instructors of C olor when they have a problem in their class instead of addressing their concerns with their instructor directly (Matias, 2016a ). Haley and Kathy demonstrated a similar pattern . Had they been that concerned about being able to hear and learn, they could have easily and respectfully asked the A a nisahs and Segulah if the y could be a bit quieter so that they could hear and work. Instead these white women chose a passive aggressive approach that included

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154 throwing disgusted glances a t the Middle Eastern women for the better part of an hour and working themselves up to a level of frustration that they then vented into their exit tickets, expecting their instructors to deal with their problem, after the class, and when it was no longer a problem. The nanoaggressions described in the portraits above include, a lack of eye contact, igno ring/seemingly not hearing, excluding Students of Color from white group activities or even just inside jokes/discussion , and Surveilling Students of Color . These nanoaggressions were insidious and arguably even more insidious than microaggressions or more overt racism. This is because of their subtlety; the consequences of these nanoaggressions for the Students of Color was not only their isolation, but also came in their self doubt. For instance, when Mariah was were just, lik Mariah, described how the Besties treated her like a bother, but even before she let herself dig into the implications that had for her, s he doubled back to suggest that was just in her head, maybe she was imagining it. in terms of ignoring her, saying O ne time I asked Haley a question and she completely ignored me. And I was just, like, okay ant In this instance, Mariah noted a specific nanoaggression, but then seemed to second guess herself and began to make excuses for Haley. She began to defend Haley, w ho had treated her terribly,

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155 question. The racial battle fatigue that Mariah suf fered in College Algebra was compounded by , and reliving them in a sense to wonder if it was just her or all in her head. As discussed earlier, part of the harm done with racial microaggressions is that when a Person of Color points them out, the white person who wielded the microaggression meets this feedback with an array of white fragility and defensiveness (DiAngelo, 2018 Color pointing out a racial microaggression to a white person. T hese sorts of statements are further microaggressions in that they are what Sue et al. ( 2007 ) refer to as microinvalidations. When the subtlety of racial microaggressions is increased, as I suggest they are with nanoaggressions, if a Person of Color were to point the nanoaggression out to the white aggressor, the white aggressor wou ld not only deny it, as shown above, but they would also frame the suggestion and the Person of Color as ludicrous. Mariah, hints at this above when, in them asked Haley why she was ignoring her, not even bringing race into the conversation, Haley would have quickly spun the story to suggest that Mariah was imagi ning things. This would be another microaggression, as before, but it might also lead to self doubt. This would enhance the dehumanizing effect of the nanoaggressions and amplify it As I interviewed Students of Color, and Mariah, Dila, and Quentin in particular, they seemed relieved when I would describe the whiteness and racism I was seeing and how it was targeting them. They seemed glad for the validation that their white classmates were treating

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156 them poorly because their classmates were racist. They were both glad to have affirmed that they I try not to take Although they shared some self doubt, Mariah, Dila, and Quentin all resisted the whiteness they experienced in these nanoaggressions, by recognizing a stop to the dehumanizing process ome level, Critical Rightness Studies When I was piloting this study, I was sitting in an algebra class and saw a white woman student scold a gender n oncon forming , Student of C olor for being wrong and insisting that they apologize for being wrong. Prior to this, the two had seemed like they were friends even outside of class, and the white woman was speaking in a tone that maybe was joking, but maybe not. The non bin ary student had a smirk on their face through the interaction and apologized to their white inking they were right. Yet, confi dence; throughout the class, this Student of C olor, who was undeniably good at algebra was usually right, and spent a large portion of recitation bringing their white friend up to speed with the latest assignment. The white woman seemed to be less concerned with her friend being wrong in this particul ar instance, but more upset that her friend thought they were right. When I told one of my mentors about this incident, she chuckled and said

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157 (S. Shannon , Personal Communication, May 22, 2017 ) as a tongue in cheek modification The significance of this substitution of whiteness for rightness goes well beyond a pithy turn of phrase. Even in the brief example above, we see the white woman almost explicitly making this argument to her Friend of C olor. As stated, the Student of Color was almost always correct when it came to answering algeb problem with her friend getting an answer right. It was this same Student of C olor ass uming and acting like they were right that was so audacious to the white woman. Thus, when the Student of Color finally got an answer wrong, the white woman w as given her chance to chastise the Student of Color. This Student of Color was performing smartne ss and it was little more than the white woman could bear. Like whiteness, smartness is a social construct, although it is normalized in such a way determined b y metrics , white students who are privileged by these same high stakes standardized tests ( Au, 2016 ). Yet, when we draw on Dis/ability Critical Race Theory (DisCrit) (Annamma, Connor, & Ferri, 2 013 ; Connor , Ferri, & Annamma, 2016 ) to examine these metrics and their implications, we quickly see how subjective they are particularly when we notice how Students of Color are disproportionately referred to lower level courses, special education, or dia gnosed with emotional and cognitive dis/abilities ( Parrish, 2002 ). Leonardo and Broderick (2011) discuss the interconnected oppressive systems of whiteness and smartness , drawing on CWS , CRT, and D is / ability S tudies. They argue that in the same way that wh iteness works as property (Harris, 1993), so to o does smartness. They state,

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15 8 enjoyment and privilege. The contradiction becomes clear when we understand that smartness and whiteness are relations with a denigrated portion: the unintelligent and people of color, respectively. This property only has value as a commodity if there are others who continue to be denied access to its possession. (Leonardo & Broderick, 2011, p. 2221) Beyond the parallels between how whiteness and smartness work as systems of oppression, other dis /ability 15 and race scholars have argued that smartness or intelligence is also cast racially, where white people, and specifically white men, have been the ones to define smartness and intelligence and have a long history of framing People of C olor and women as not smart, unintelligent, and cognitively dis / abled (Annamma, Connor, & Ferri 2013 ; Hayman, 1998 ; Leonardo & Broderick, 2011 ). I show in the following portraits, the unspoken rules of whiteness and rightness, exemplifying the intersection of what these race and dis/ability and DisCrit scholars have argued in terms of the intersections of smartness and whiteness, and the reliance of these t wo oppressive systems (ableism and racism) on each other in the class. Leonardo and Broderick (2011) point So, too, might we ask, What are smart people but people the following rules, I ask and answer the rhetorical question : what are white right people but people who think they are white and right? Thou shalt not correct me. During recitation, the groups would sometimes be g hree algebraic statements, t wo of which would be true 15 I opt to use di s/ability in alignment with Connor, Ferri, and Annamma (2016) to disrupt the focus

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159 and one of which would be false. On one particular day, the Heathers and Dila were working on this type of assignment. They all stared at the paper, testing the equations , some on scratch paper. After a bit of concentrated silence, Veronica reported to the group that the second statement was Veronica and then back do wn at her paper. Veronica frowned and looked back at her paper for the evidence she needed to argue back Dila stayed quiet while Veronica focused. After a moment, Veronica a n expression bewildered at Dila. Dila, who had been patiently waiting for Veronica to work it out on her own, mimicked Veronica . Veronica recovered herself from the mixed shock of being wrong and Dila being right , offered Dila a curt smile, and suggested they move on to the next problem. at her being wrong and Dila being right illustrated her establishment as the smartest at the table. response to Dila being right? This was further supported by both Dila and Heather A. identifying Veronica as the smartest in their group. Even Veronica herself suggested that she thought she was the leader at her table, connoting that she was the best at algeb ra, since the only reason Heather A. had lost her position as lead of the group is because she had not been able to demonstrate her rightness or smartness after her initial performance. One day, Veronica missed class, and the Heathers were forced to r ely on Dila. To question. Dila began explaining to Heather how to complete the problem, but before she could

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160 a continued her explanation only to be Heather B. pursed her lips letting her anger subside to mere annoyance at Dila as Heather A. joined the discussion and gave her take on the problem. Heather B. allowed Heather A. to help her in sorting things out, and once the two Heathers had some clarity, Dila, who had been sitting their with a mystified look, joined back in to finally e xplain, Really the division part is so you A t this concluding remark, Heather B. yawned and Dila returned to the safety of her own worksheet. This interaction showed that regardless of how good Dila was at algebra, she was not allowed to perform smartness in her group. Even in her humblest attempts to help the Heathers or work with them, she was forced to pretend she was confused. The consequence for correcting or acting smart for Dila with the Heathers was their rage or dismissiveness. But Dila saw this, when I talked with her later she shared, I m ean it seems almost like the white people in the class are always more superior, in a are always more inferior. I know personally I have felt more down because of who I am, kind of. In this statement, Dila describes how smartness and superiority are indeed a social construct, not superiority/smartness is interlocked with whiteness. She ends by describing the effect this h as on her, feeling down because of who she is as a Person of Color.

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161 Thou shalt not surprise me The week after the first test, at the end of class, the B ros table received their tests face down on their desks. Evan got a 70 out of 100 and seemed unhappy. He quickly gathered his t hings and l eft the room before any of the B ros could begin a conversation about test grades. grade. After Evan and Brody had shared their test scores, Quentin in g reat anticipation of receiving his own score surprised by this comment in that it seemed that Quentin been to graduate with a college degree. Perhaps his goal was just to complete some college? But that hardly seemed wor th it. At long last, Mike and Quentin received their tests. Mike got the highest score at the table and immediately, igno ring the rest of the group, bega n going through the problems to see where he had lost points. Quentin, upon receiving his test, looked up at Brody with an astonished grin. you Mike, who had also received a score he was happy with, reached over and fist bumped Quentin. Brody at the sa me moment, having not received an answer for his awe struck question, threw his own test in his book bag, and headed toward the door. Quentin and Mike sat there

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162 test. Quentin laughed jubilantly. After a few minutes, Mike packed up his stuff and left. Quentin, as the last person at his table, with a smile on his face, gathered the W i k ki S tix and scissors from the class exercise and returned them to the front of the class. This portrait contrasts those by the Heathers above in that Quentin, as the only Student of smartness at least that was the interpretation by the Bros. Quentin would come in late to almost every class, oftentimes acting aloof when in his group, and making se veral self deprecating comments, related to failing the course or not keep the Bros from feeling insecure, but when I talked with Quentin, he told me that he re ally had thought he was going to fail the test and the class. smart performance. When Quentin would say he was going to fail, Brody, who otherwise tended to ignore Quentin, would l augh or echo comments that affirmed that he also thought Quentin was not smart . This relationship made it a surprise to the Bros, and particularly Evan and Brody when Quentin did decently on the first test, and better than either of them . The surprise at violating his role as the not so aggressive you Brody. They could not sit at a table where the Student of Color than them.

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163 When all these feel like you want to ask quest Oh, it migh spoke to the contrast that Leonardo and Broderick (2011; 2016) highlight as key to social constructs like smartness and goodness, that these constructs are meaningless without the derogatory opp osite, smart and bad, respectively. Of course, this is how whiteness works too, whites position themselves as superior in contrast to their constructed opposite, People of Color, who are then cast by whites as inferior. As Leonardo and Broderick show , thes e systems, including race and smartness do not work independently, instead they rely on each other toward the promotion of white supremacy. Thou shalt prostrate thyself for white classmates Veronica and Heather A. worked most cl osely together. While Heather B. and Heather C. would join them every so often, they tended to work on their own, and also seemed to miss class or come in late fairly frequently. While Dila seemed to socialize with and be closest to Heather C. on a friend level, since Dila had more advanced algebra skills than the rest of the table, with the exception of perhaps Veronica , Dila tried to work on assignments with Veronica and Heather A., when they allowed her to work with them. When Veronica was working with H eather A., it was usually Veronica advising Heather on how to do a particular problem. Heather A. had started the class as the leader of the group , where the whole table, including Dila and Veronica , assumed she knew the most related to algebra. W hen it be came clear that Veronica probably had the most advanced algebra skills, and Heather, while helping her. Veronica and Dila participated in this face saving dance with

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164 Heather. For Veronica , when she was helping Heather A., it had to feel like they were both working together and both contributing to solving problems. When Veronica wanted to correct Heather A., she would ask her a genuine sounding question, implying that Veronica really she had messed up and admit it to Veronica benefit and laugh to break the tension of H Conversely, if Dila and Veronica were working on something together and Veronica Veronica After all, Dila was just lucky to have stolen Veronica When the three women were working together, it was not enough for Dila to have a questioning tone or laugh like Veronica did when she noticed that Heather A. had messed up. Dila, when she noticed something wrong with what Heather A. had done, would screw up her do the problem and noticed her mistake, she would correct the mistake herself and Dila would feign an enlightened look as if Heather A. had just solved the problem for both of them. This example showed how Dila would placate whiteness in fear of repercussion in terms of drawing the ire described above . Similarly, Dila also sprinkled her interactions with Heather A. and Veronica with self deprecation, e.g., announcing that she was stupid to assure Heather and Veronica at algebra than them. Once when they were working on a problem set during recitation looking at different slopes and curves on graphs with corresponding equations, Dila, after studying her own sheet, turned to Veronica

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165 Veronica . All the white women chuckled, including Veronica . Dila, not laughing, sat looking at Veronica expectantly. Veronica Veronica turned to Heather A. with her worksheet to show her. Heather A. continued, to do it right n Veronica need it. Dila, realizing that she would not be receiving any support from Veronica , looked back down at her sheet. Heather C. , who had been working by herself at the other end of the table Dila offered in response to Heather C. help. Dila seemingly engaged in this self deprecation or pr ostrating practices so that she would not be threatening to the Heathers. with the Heathers. Veronica was allowed to perform smartness, but she needed to allow the Heath ers to perform smartness or at least cover any actions that would convey not smartness. Dila received no such concession and in fact, as the only Student of Color in the group, she was expected to perform not smartness as an act of prostration for the Heat hers. Thou sha lt only act confident if thou art a white man lead at the start of class and also offered a performance of whiteness where he assumed he was the best a t algebra without any discussion or evidence of such. During one class period, where I noted that Evan had shouted out answers for eight of the twelve questions that Peter had posed

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166 during the lecture, the groups received a quiz that they were allowed to c omplete together. Evan grabbed his copy from the middle of the table and started writing furiously. As soon as he had a completed a question, he would announce the answer to the rest of the table. The rest of the Bros and Quentin were then supposed to chec one s he was trying to re tool it to work for him. Evan, finishing his quiz and tapping the papers in front of him, said making the rounds, came to the B ros Quentin raised his hand slightly. Chen, not seeing him, but noting that Evan was not working on his quiz anymore said, When you recall that Evan did poorly on the first test with a 70/100 , which he took the next week in his algebra skills; he was arrogantly over confident in his skills . Not only did he assume that he had all the right answers during lecture and then during the quiz, but he also assumed that everyone else needed his help. Early on in the class, when the students were asked about how the class was going in their exit tick interesting particularly because I rarely saw any of the other B help. He would just shout out answers, assuming everyone needed them. This confidence in performance of whiteness /rightness usually needed to be reserved for fear of insulting another white woman, or revealing her as not smart thus damaging the white racial bond (Sleeter, 1994 ;

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167 1996 ) or white fictive kinship (Matias, 2014) , the Bros were comfortable performing brazened confidence in their smartness. These gendered whiteness/smartness rules in algebra were starkly contrasted, but unsurprising given that it is socially acceptable for w hite men to exude confidence, particularly in subjects related to mathematics , as a condition of their hyper privileged position (Cabrera, 2018). Through their mistreatment, one of the whiteness/rightness rules for the S tudents of C olor at the predominantly white tables was that they were never allowed to get upset or to react if one of their w hite class mates was rude , angry, or wielding nanoaggressions against them. Even though Dila, Quentin, and Mariah were bo thered by how they were treated in their white groups, they all hid behavior and emotions that would have communicated this in class, impeccably. In fact, until I was able to interview each of the three and hear from each of them that they had noticed and were upset, I found myself wondering if I was just reading into the whiteness and seeing these nanoaggressions that the Students of C bothered by. None of the three ever showed their cards in class. Period. Yet, Dila, Quentin, and Mariah all used different mechanisms to save face when confronted by nanoaggressions. Quentin would talk to himself or pretend like he was talking to himself whenever he was ignored by the B ros. When working on a problem, he wo uld look up slig htly and pose his query in such a way that if and when the B ros ignored him, he would answer himself quietly, turning back to his worksheet, pretending that he had just been thinking out loud. When Mariah was ignored, she would often sit there expressionle noticed that no one had reacted to something she said . Other times, when she had had enough ,

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168 she would pull out her sketch pad and start drawing. On one particularly bad day, when she was being excluded from the group work, she drew a pi on that day in particular she wanted to just see herself, to remind herself that she was actually there. for myself the Besties had been or mad as she described. She very calmly retreated in to her drawing. Dila, when she was ignored, and when she wanted a break from trying to engage with Veronica and Heather A., would sit back, pick up her phone, and start browsing her social media. from working on an algebra exercise, while clear ly just wanting a break from the constant ignoring or snotty comments from the white women. McGee and Martin (2011) describe how Black students in advanced math classes combat racism and whiteness in class with various strategies, like bringing their textb ook to class and setting it prominently on the ir desk to avoid their white classmates or instructor asking them if In this class, the Students of Color at the mostly white tables had mastered their performances of indifference. When they needed a mini break from the whiteness at their tables they would use these subtle defense tactics. As discussed above related to th e racial nanoaggressions, Mariah, Dila, and Quentin inherently knew that if they spoke up about being ignored or mistreated the white majority at their tables would have made swift moves to

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169 invalidate their experiences and at the same time, ramp up the nan oaggressions in retaliation for the Student of Color daring to call out the whiteness instead of quietly enduring it. To conclude this discussion of whiteness/rightness rules, and the social construction of smartness that is intertwined with whiteness ( Leo ardo & Broderick, 2011), I draw on something Quentin identifies the malleability of constructs like smart and not smart, as he starts to place himself in a different place on But he also acknowledges the reliance that smartness has on the performance and en ds by crediting confidence with his rising level of smartness; he has realized that the performance of confidence in smartness is inseparable from smartness itself. This comment is his fear of asking questions lies solely in his fear of not looking smart. He cannot reconcile for himself how to continue looking smart with asking questions Connor, F erri , and Annamma (2016) at the start of their Di sCrit book, make the more encompassing of diversity and perceived difference, at the same time we question the very norms that create difference. Becoming more enc ompassing includes removing the policing and . This section has identified the unspoken rules of

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170 whiteness/rightness that enforce and police the norms of whiteness and ableism. This naming is a first step to resisting and di ssolving of these oppressive norms. Placating Whiteness In the predominantly white algebra groups discussed, Dila, Quentin, and Mariah found themselves as the only or one of the only People of C olor at their table on the regular. That distinction, as descr ibed, meant that they were the targets of whiteness, which they experienced as racism. Mariah des cribed the experience with the B esties as them being in their own bubble. k he would be friends with t he B ros because they reminded him of the suburban kids he used to pl ay rugby against in high school and shared the following: implied with little things. Dila had noticed the nanoaggressions, particularly from Veronica and Heather A., and for her she was reminded of being called a terrorist in middle school. She thought her classmates still thought that about her, only now they knew better not to say it. Instead they showed it more subtly . In these all whi te or mostly white groups, the Students of C olor were not automatically treated like a person , and the little forms of re spect that they were able to garner, they had to earn by placating whiteness . They were shown that their humanity was not a given I the eyes of their white classmates through the nanoaggressions, by not being granted the basic human dignities of

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171 looking so meone in the eye when being spoken to, being heard and acknowledged when speaking, and being included in group joke or bonding experience s . These racial nanoaggressions communicated to the S tudent of C olor the dubiousness of their humanity in the ey es of the white students. Yet, s ometimes students of C olor were given the opportunity to earn some amount of inclusion in thei r white groups. Whether or not Students of C olor were allowed to earn some amount of inclusion in their groups was first and f oremost ba sed on whether these Students of C olor could offer something of value to their white classmates. Dila and Quentin were among the strongest at their tables in terms of their algebraic skills, so they were allowed to earn some amount of inclusion amongst The Bros and T he Heathers , respectively. Yet , since Mariah lacked the algebra skills t o provide value in the group work, The B esties never accepted her and treated her with more and more disdain as the class went on. Even when Mariah re located back to her or iginal group in the front with the two white women and one AAPI woman , Amber , whereas they initially greeted her warmly, when it to hear her questions anymore, nor look her in the eye when they were talking to her. Quentin and Dila were able to earn some level of inclusion because they could be useful to their white groups. But, this inclusion was not easily granted; it really d id need to be earned , and was always at ri sk of being retracted . Firstly, Students of C olor needed to follow the white rules of engagement to a T and to an extreme. Quentin and Dila were very good at algebra, but they had to be careful not to tout it. It was required that every so often they talk about being stupid or fret about their being afraid they were going to fail. Whether these sentiments were sincere or not did not really matter in terms of the social codes required at their white tables.

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172 In addition to providing value to the white student s , and following the whiteness/rightness rules, S tudents of C olor could also earn some amount of inclusion by socializing with their white group members, particularly if they provided an audience for their white class mates jokes or stories. After the B ros initial shock at Quentin scoring a 78 on the first test, they began to provide Quentin opportunities to engage with them. Because Quentin had gotten a better score than both Evan and Br ody without even studying; the B ros were now much more open to listeni ng to Quentin when he had suggestions or had solved a problem, but beyond this, Quentin was given c hances to socially engage. The B word to get their attention or to make them laugh. One day when Peter was discussing how their lesson applied to financial intere head. Quentin would join in conversations about football or stories about drunk friends at parties. Af ter Qu entin had been accepted by the B ros, it was notable that when Evan put in his ear bud to play a game on his phone mid class, he would put in the ear bud that was away from Quentin, signaling that he was open to hearing from Quentin now, even if it in terrupted his game. One day when Brody and Evan were having difficulty with a certain type of problem, Evan laughed and jokingly elbowed Quentin. Quentin then looke d down to write out a problem. It sounds right,

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173 This small interaction was so markedly different t o those earlier in the semester where Quentin w as ignored and isolated by the B ros bonding moments. Quentin had earned some inclusion with the B ros. He had provided value in terms of algebra smarts, he had followed all the whiteness/rightness rules, and h e ha d worked to socialize with the B ros. His reward came in the end of his sequestration. Although Quentin had earlier told me that he didn friends with the B ros and that he preferred to work by himself, his isolation had ultimately bothered h im enough that he decided to do the work to earn some inclusion despite the whiteness he had to endure . Dila followed the whiteness/rightness rules too, and being strong in algebra, she certainly had value to offer to her group. Yet, it seemed that Veronic a and Heather A., in particular, still had difficulty allowing Dila to participate fully in their work, likely because they found her knowledge threatening to their whiteness . Heather A. especially got upset with Dila when she was right about something, even when Dila did her best not to act like she knew she was right. While it always seemed like Dila was fighting an uphill battle to engage with the group about algebra, she was usually allowed to engage with the group when the y were socializing around topics that did not include algebra or any sort of academics. Dila, in addition to turning to her phone for respite from nanoaggressions also realized that if she brought up a non algebra social topic, she could often get the atte ntion of the white women. One particular time, Dila and Heather A. were arguing over an answer. Well, actually Heather was arguing and Dila was acknowledgement. In response, Heather A. threw her arms up in a V for victory. for the next problem. Looking at a graph on Veronica

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174 Veronica Veronica proceeded to move past Dila to show the Heathers how she did the problem. Dila, who sat on the opposite side of the table f rom the Heathers and could not quite make out what Veronica was showing, sat back in her seat instead. After Veronica had brought the Heathers up to speed, and the class was on break, Heather B. discussed whether or not she would go home for lunch that day after class. Dila, jumped in, every day so I just bring my lunch. d break was over and to continue their work. Veronica took the lead in describing what she did on differently to Veronica white women burst into laughte r at something funny Heather B. had on her phone. Veronica the rest of women, set her worksheet back down and continued on alone. Certainly, this incident didn seemed to have earned with the B ros, but it did show how the white women tended to surveil Dila and keep her in line, to remind her of the rules. Most notably, when she tried to make a joke about not liking Heather A. be cause she was a Scorpio, Dila had gone too far. She was allowed to make jokes, but not if served as a firm reminder that Dila should not question the rightness o f one of the white women. The way Dila earned some inclusion was made clear as she pushed against the boundaries of

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175 S tude nts of C olor were allowed to earn some inclusion , t his did not mean that they were then on equal footing with their white classmates. The surveillance described that reminded Dila of the to feel a part of the gro up right now, but we can take that away at any time. It was a privilege, not a right to engage with The Heathers and The B ros, one that needed to be earned but that was never guaranteed. Admittedly, when I was first coding the descriptions above, I assigne d them the code: some amount of respect, i.e., not being ignored and being looked in the eye when talking to someone, etc. But in this suggestion that Students of the fundamental truths about humanity, particularly as it relates to whiteness (C. E. Matias, personal communication , January 24, 2019 ). Ignatiev and Garvey (1996) most poignantly articulate reason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity . " This statement that arguably is a foundation to Critical Whiteness Studies shows the inherent incompatibility of humanity and whiteness, and indeed their direct conflict/opposition . It would not be possible for the Students of Color in this study to earn their humanity, not simply because the white students performing whiteness would have that same whiteness veil the humanity of People of Color, but because whiteness also deteriorates and dehumanizes white people at the same time that whiteness is trying to dehumanize People of Color. As white people use whiteness to push People of Color away from the beacon of humanity, they are actually pushing themselves away from that same beacon. People of Color stay steadfas t in their humanity.

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176 XII. WHITE HOARDERS Class Before I go on, I want to frame or maybe prime the canvas for the stories shared around resources through a bit of class analysis. As research has shown, socioeconomic status or class as here is tied to race (Hamilton & Darity, 2017; Zaw, Bhattacharya, Price, Hamilton, & Darity, 2017). And many scholars have argued that a racial analysis without an intersectional analysis with class and gender is lacking (hooks, 1995; Collins, 2009; Crensh aw, class imbalance between white students and Students of Color, particularly Black, Latinx, Native, and some groups of AAPI students is not coincidental, but is instead based on the intersecting systems of oppression within American society (Allen, 2008; Collins, 2009; Lipsitz, 1998; Roediger, 1999). This is not to say that white students from poor and working class families, including those who are also first gen eration students, do not face barriers in higher education and in the classroom particularly around accessing resources. Yet, as is shown above, and as I describe below, the access to and distribution of resources in the college algebra course was heavily based on race. Although I did not ask any of the students I interviewed about their socioeconomic status, there were certainly cues that I would argue were noticed by others in the class as well. Heather B. generally wore workout clothes, but they were alw ays top of the line and looked new. She sported brands like Spiritual Gangster or Northface on the regular. For context, Spiritual

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177 Gangster 16 $300. Heather A. on the other h and usually wore oversized sweatshirts and jeans that looked well worn. Heather A. also did not have the top of the line calculator, which was another indicator that she was not particularly wealthy. In that same group was Dila, who lived at home and was a lways well dressed and had the recommended Texas Instruments graphing calculator in hand. Similarly, Veronica was well dressed and sported Ray Ban sunglasses that she and Heather A. discussed one day while ignoring Dila, as described above. Ray Ban sunglas ses are generally $100 $200 a pair. When I interviewed Veronica, she offered a bit more on her background when acknowledging that race played a role in algebra: wou ld, is where I went to high school, which was a super privileged neighborhood. I went to it was called [name of nearby district] neighborhood I grew up in , w Veronica noted that there was connection between class and race. When she describes that her high school was mainly white, she noted that it had a lot of wealth by way of ex panding on it generally wore jeans and high top sneakers that were well worn along with one of three different hoodies. Quentin did not have a calculator at all. On the other hand, Evan and Brody seemed to be well off. The two were roommates and one day were discussing their fish tank with the group. about the pH in the fish tank since some of their fish had died. Are they expensive? 16 nanoaggression in its u se of the term gangster (with its racial connotations), and its co option of the same term by wealthy, white, women within their yoga culture (Nishi & Parker, 2017).

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178 declared, while Brody nodded in lamentation. Given that Brody and Evan had $80 to spend on one fish, it was safe to say that they were more well off than most college students. Since College Algebra was a morning class, it was also notable to see who brought a Starbucks beverage to class. The regulars included Heather B., Veronica, and Heather C. from almost always brought a Starbucks drink. As menti oned, Haley usually wore a shirt with the university logo on it as she was a student employee in Admissions. Kathy was well dressed too and both women looked like they ratio of platinum blonde to charcoal brown streaks she boasted. Both Haley and Kathy both had expensive graphing calculators as well. Mariah did not have a calculator. As discussed earlier, Mariah lived in the barrio with her mom; it was clear that Mariah did not have the money to secure many of the resources she needed for the algebra class. When I interviewed Mariah, I offered to take her to lunch, as I offered the other students I interviewed. Mariah was the only one to take me up on a meal, and as we st ood in line at a local café, she clarified that I planned to pay for our lunches, which I confirmed. During the time I was writing these final chapters, the UN Climate Summit was happening and I was listening to the talks and interviews by climate scienti s ts and environmental activists. I was struck , as I am every year, by the great amount of resources being used indiscriminately by wealthy, western, and largely white countries, and the dire consequences this great exorbitance has on poor countries and Peop le of Color therein. This begs the application of

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179 (1993) CRT concept, whiteness as property in a global sense. As described earlier, this principle refers to whites applying the principles of property to their white skin, namely the right t o own, enjoy, and exclude others (People of Color) from those rights . Yet the resource hoarding that whites do in a global sense goes beyond how we expect our whiteness to be treated as property and extends to the global assumption that our whiteness gives us a right to property and resources outside of the simple, Peggy McInt oshesque, white privileges ( 1997; 2001 ). To explain, Peggy McIntosh is a white feminist scholar who is often credited with the initiation of whiteness studies in her coini ng of the ter . She identified a list of invisible, everyday privileges that benefit white people, such as Band aids being the same color white people not being followed in a retail store, and white people not being considered a credit to their race with any achievement they may have . white audiences, it fell short of capturing the more significant benefits that whiteness and white supremacy yield for white people. Leonardo ( 2009) offers an other McIntosh style list to demonstrate the violent acts o f white supremacy orchestrated b y whites for white benefit to ludes anti miscegenation laws, housing segregation and red lining, anti immigration laws and exclusion acts, etc . Cabrera (2018) argues that white immunity is a bette r concept for describing white benefits from whiteness. And, of course, as mentioned, Harr whiteness as property concept better captures the more significant white benefits of whiteness and their reach. Leigh Patel (2015) looks at these phenomena in higher education institutions and draws on both theories of whiteness as property (Ha rris, 1993) and S ettler C olonialism (Tuck & Yang, 2012; Wolf e, 2006 ) to show how white people have continued to perpetuate a settler ideology

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180 and system in our seizure of both physical and intel lectual property and land . Indeed, this white seizure and hoar ding of resources can be seen globally and in institutions and organizations, but it i s also perpetuated in college algebra. Saito (2015), also converging theories of Whiteness as P roperty and Settler Colonialism eans of protecting settler privilege by distinguishing without Whiteness consider their whiteness property, but they do not acknowledge property without whiteness. So, given the white supremacist and s ettler c olonialism ideology and institutions that a re the rule of this land, now called the US, any property of People of Color, including Indigenous people is not acknowledged as property . Because again, as Saito (2015) shows, based on legal precedent related to manifest destiny, removal of Indigenous peo ple from their land, and those related to desegregation, property is not separable from whiteness. This offers a disturbing context in which I offer the following portraits. ence with the name game and false empathy earlier, there was a larger degree of racial diversity than in the largely white class that was the focus of this dissertation. In the earlier class, there was more than one Person of C olor at every table, with the exception of one table of white women who had one Latina in their group. One day, Peter had the groups conduct an experiment and graph their results. Each group was given several pieces of uncooked spaghetti, some tape, strin g, a paper cup, and a bunch of S kittles candy . They were told to tape the spaghetti on to a desk, attach the paper cup to the other end, measure the length between desk and cup, and see how many S kittles

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181 they could put in the cup before the spaghetti broke. Once it broke, the y were to record the number of S kittles that had done the trick at that spaghetti length . Then they were to reduce the they were supposed to graph the results and would g et an exponential slope in their graph if Upon receiving the instructions and their materials, the groups got to work. As I walked around to the tables to listen in on the discussions, I was struck by the racial and gendered hierarchy I saw developing. At each table, if there was a white man at the table (and at most there was), he was running the experiment. He would tape the spaghetti, and set things up. If there was a white woman at the table, she was in charge of dropping the S kittles in the cup and counting them. If there was a Man of C olor, he served as the scribe and was responsible for If there was a Woman of C olor, she would be responsible for picking up the S kittles and putting them back on the table when the spaghetti broke and the cup spilled to the floor. Any additi onal students and particularly Women of C olor sat and watched the whole thing play out. At one table, the lone Black woman peered under the tab le so she could see what the rest of her classmates were doing on the other side. It was uncanny to me how at each table, every student was in their role, based on white supremacism and patriarchy. This phenomenon played out again and again although never again as clearly as that day. Peter , as the course designer and lead instructor , usually had exercises or mini experiments for the class during recitation. He called these tactivities because of the tactile nature of the exercises. Sometimes they would do experiments like the spaghetti graphing, but often times they would get cards, where they would need to match an equation to its graph. When these were

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182 handed out, if there was a white man at the table, he was most likely to reach for the bag, get out the cards , and get to work. The rest of the group would then join him . At the B ros table, Evan Veronica or Heather A. would take the cards and be gin at their table, and at the B esties table, Haley usually got things started. This was notable, but what was even more notable was that Quentin, Dila, and Mariah, each sat at their respective tables and across or kitty corner from the white student leading the card exercise and so t hey would have to look at the cards upside down and try to participate after first translating what they saw from the reverse side. I never noticed S tudents of C walk a round trying to prompt them to do so Mariah, who would respond that yes, she was fine. Dila would crane her neck to have a better look at the cards. Mariah would sometimes pick up a card that no one was wo rking on, turn it toward her self momentarily, and then gingerly put it back in its place to face the white student leading the exercise , Haley. Khepri, a M iddle E astern woman in a maroon sweater and black hijab, took a picture of the cards that faced away from her and toward her white classmates and viewed them on her phone. MyMathLab In College A lgebra, students were required to purchase a textbook and MyMathLab Access. MyMathLab is a Pearson online product that was used as an online supplement to the alge bra class. MyMathLab access cost ed around $70 and the e book could be bought for around $20. The hard copy was around $80. At the start of class, when Peter had handed out the syllabus, he noted, as he did at the start of every algebra class, that he reali zed that some students st , and given that class started in mid to late August, folks could

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183 September. What Peter mentioned to me later was that if students began completing the homework sets in MyMathLab during the trial period and let it expire by not paying the fee after 15 days, all their work would be lost. This happened to some students, and Peter simply gave them a grade of 80 % for the homework that was lost so that they could continue moving forward in MyMathLab . The fact that Peter would recommend the 15 day trial to students at the start of every semester of algebra was telling and the fact that multiple students would forfeit their account and lose their work every semester showed that these out of pocket costs were a significant barrier for some students. To some, it may seem strange that after paying thousands of dollars in tuition and fees eve ry semester for full time undergraduate students, that then $70 prevents students from fully participating in class. But, when you consider that students who come from working class and lower income backg r ounds are often relying heavily on financial aid or loans for their school costs, which may not cover textbooks and materials, $70 can present a real barrier for a student who cannot easily cover it out of pocket. that s he was doing poorly in the class because her free trial in MyMathLab had run out and she textbook to the next class, so that she could continue working on things. Yet, to find the money to pay for MyMathLab until halfway through the semester. MyMathLab no t only held all of the homework but it also provided tutorials for each section, whic h Mariah needed.

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184 Once Mariah had bought and was in MyMathLab, finding herself half a semester behind in the homework, she told Peter that she thought she better just drop the class. Peter told her that it was too late to drop the course at that point, and so Mariah resigned herself to trying to stick with it for the last weeks. Although Peter had discussed with Mariah whether or not she was ready for college algebra earlier in the semester, Mariah had thought she would be fine once she could get into MyMath Lab. Additionally, when she and Peter discussed dropping the class later on, Mariah men lgebra was the easiest math class, which ass or in our interview, but I have to think that it must have been awful in her first semester of college to fall way behind and to spend weeks trying to get enough money t ogether to buy MyMathLab access. She purchased it only to learn that she atch up and she would effectively fail the course, have lost the tuition money, and lost the $70 she spent on MyMathLab only to realize it was no use. Calculators Calculators, although they were not listed as required materials on the course syllabus, were a necessity in College A lgebra. As mentioned, not any cheap calculator would do. To participate fully in the course, one needed to have or borrow a large and thick graphing calculator of the Texas Instruments (or TI) persuasion. From my own algebra and ca lculus experience in high school and college, I remembered the great advantage there was to having folks who owned their graphing calculators were familiar enough to know the tricks for graphing on them. There always seemed to be new versions coming out. I think I had a TI 82 in high school that I took to college, but the versions would come out what felt like yearly and if you

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185 happened to try and use a different vers ion of calculator than you were used to, you would need to train yourself on how the newer version functioned ever so slight ly differently. The point being that there is a great advantage to owning your own graphing calculator. Additionally, each of the th ree exams in College A lgebra and the final had a calculator portion on them. So, even least for the exams, and likely their homework and quizzes. On a trip to the campus bookstore, I noted that the TI calculators were in the range of $130 $180 per calculator, depending on how fancy a calculator one needed , wanted , or could afford . There were a handful of students who did not own their own graphing calculators. Among them were Mariah and Quentin. Similar to the barrier that not being able to access MyMathLab presented for Mariah, not having a graphing calculator presented a barrier to or, I wanted to open with his experience trying to secure a working writing utensil during one particular class. One day early in the course, not long after Quenti n had started sitting with the B ros, een given a worksheet that the B ros were moving through, with Evan shouting out answers, and Quentin mostly working on his own. It looked like the piece of lead would not stay out of the end of the pencil so that he could write with it. Quentin took his pencil apart about three times , separating the piece of lead, the spring, and the plastic container, inspecting them, and then putting them back together again to no avail. At one point, Quentin got the lead to stick in the end of the pencil but only when he had a quarter inch sticking out of the end of the pencil. He would then write with it gingerly trying not to break the long strand of lead . When that stopped working, Quentin once again took the lead and innards out of the pencil, and tried just writing with the lead. As he was laboring, he kept making

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186 small remarks of frustration , including , ! he would grunt in frustration as his varied repair techniques failed him . While the B ros soared throu gh the exercise, Quentin work ed on his pencil. None of the B ros paid any attention to what Quentin was doing. Finally, Peter began walking around handing out the end of class quiz. When he came to the B ros table, Quentin looked up imploringly and asked hi m if he had an extra pencil, gesturing to his broken one. Peter said yes and headed back up to the front to retrieve a pencil. At this and produced one easily from his back pack . turned to signal to Peter that he now had a pencil. This early incident, along with the interview I had with Quentin illustrated a c ouple of things. One, that the B ros could care les s about him. That day Quentin spent at least 15 m inutes trying to fix his pencil, a ll it would have take n was a casual glance to see and hear that bothered by his distress, nor did they care that he could not work with them on the worksheet. This also showed me how resistant Quentin was to ask for help. He discussed in our interview want to s eem like he . This seemed to carry over to asking for resources like a working pencil as well. Additionally, given all the nanoaggressio ns Quentin had suffered by the B bother them by explicitly asking for a pencil, so ins tead he waited for Peter to come over before asking anyone for help. Some of these same phenomena played out when it came to Quentin lacking a calculator. On the day of the first exam, Chen told the class as recitation started that they should spend the

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187 re citation time doing whatever would best prepare them for the exam. Some groups were using flash cards to practice. Once that was offered as an option by Chen, Haley asked Kathy if she next to Kathy and not consulted by her or Haley, instead of trying to join them, raised her hand and asked if she could go to the l ibrary before the exam. At the B ros table, the group all looked through notes and worksheets individually. Quentin stared at his worksheet for a bit. As Chen walked by, Quentin looked up, ready to ask a question, but Chen spotted a hand up at another table and bee lined for off. Quentin looked around momentarily seemingly trying to decide where he could best seek in closest to Quentin; Evan seemed to be listening to music. After a moment, Que ntin asked repeated Quentin hesitantly. Evan looked down at Quentin looked down at the response, Evan replaced his ear bud and went back to his work. eight rody, frowning slightly, flipped his paper over and offered Quentin his answer. Having sat in multiple College A lgebra exams in previous semesters, I began to panic when I saw Evan offer to let Quentin use his calculator. Peter had a rule that calculators were not

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188 allowed to be shared, and this had been repeated in this class as well. I became very nervous trying to figure out how to intervene, imagining Quentin being accused of cheating or even just remem bered . Luckily, as Peter announced that the first part of the test was a calculator portion that needed to be turned in before students received the rest of the test, he also reminded the class that they could not share calculators, and Quentin and Evan re alized their plan was foiled. to which Brody offered a small sympathetic shrug Quentin concluded as he got up to inquire about a calculator. Quentin pushed himself up from the table and walked three steps toward the front of the class where Peter and Chen were busy figuring out how to distribute the two versions of the test (two were created to deter cheating). Quentin slowed on the last step and turned back around to come back to his group. Brody looked at him curiously Again , the panic pulsed though m e, reminded of the multiple times I had cried when I well on a test without ever having come close to failing . I turned my attention to Peter and Chen, trying to catch their eye to let them know something terrible was happening. Peter and Chen bo th walked back through the class handing out their version of the exam to every other sans calculator for the calculator portion of the test.

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189 As the students quieted and began their exams in earnest. Peter grabbed one of th e spare calculators he had for exams and went and set it next to Quentin. Quentin, looking pleasantly surprised, offered Peter a quick thanks, opened the calculator, and began working furiously. noticed that for the first test S o, I just through I was screwed, he chuckled. And then Peter gave me the calculator because I was happy I have a calculator now. I found one, yes. But, yes, I felt like and I felt like giving up. And I was just going to do it by hand, everything by hand. A nd then he gave m O h, god, this is so much easier, right? In this critical incident, I was struck that Quentin had decided he would rather fail his where asking questions could and did make you look and feel not smart , particularly if you were a P erson of C olor. For Quentin, it was worth failing to not make himself vulnerable or at risk in that way, to say, I need to be In the three semesters of algebra I sat in, I never saw a white student hesitate to ask a question or for help or for a resource that they needed. Quentin hesitated to ask frequently. Mariah did as well; during the same exam, once she came back from the library, she too sat their calculator less, until Peter asked her if she needed to borrow one. Laptops & Tablets In the second half of the algebra course, a researcher at the university who was wo rking with Peter on a federally funded project came to the algebra course to work with the students in testing a computer module she had developed to help students understand functions. The week

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190 prior, the students were sent the Institutional Review Board ( IRB ) approval fo rms via email and asked to bring a laptop or tablet to class. Peter also reminded students to bring a computer in class the week before. When the time came to do the module, several students had remembered to bring a laptop or tablet, some had forgotten, a Mar iah, who had since left the B esties table, sat up in the front with the two white women who each had brought their own laptop and one AAPI woman who had brought a tablet. Mariah, who did not own a laptop, removed her smart phone from her bag and attempted to login to the exercise they were instructed to pull up. Mariah squinted her eyes in concentration as she maneuvered pulling up the link they were given. As she worked, Peter came over and told her that the link woman sitting next to her. Mariah nodded and set her phone down. Coby agreed and tilted her laptop slightly so that Mariah could see what she was doing. The web based exercise allo wed students to move items around on their computer to see the impact it had on other items. This was meant to allow students to understand how functions worked by actually controlling x to see what the result of the function was. Coby moved items around as Mariah looked on. At no point did Coby offer Mariah a turn to play with the program herself. They instead sat ther e in silence as Coby did the exercise. In this way, Mariah would have gotten as much educational value out of watching a video about functions as she received from watching Coby do the exercise. Coby on the other hand was able see how she could control one object and how the other object would then react as a function of x . Similarly, at the table, Heather A. had pulled up the program on her laptop and was working on it. Veronica , who had forgotten her laptop looked on with Heather. Dila who had also forgotten her laptop was looking on with Heather C. Heather C. had trouble loading the

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191 exercise and eventually gave up. Dila then went to stand behind Veronica trying to see what was of minutes, and eventually disengaging, Dila got out her phone and discreetly thumbed through Snapchat. that Veronic a computer, but given the closeness of Veronica Vero nica asked. Heather A. as the exercise pilot wo uld follow Veronica and then the two would discuss what the resulting object movement meant and if that meant it was a function or not . At another table, there was a white man (Charles), who sat next to a white woman (Amber). Across from Charles sat a n AAPI woman (Faith) , and next to Faith sat a Latinx woman (Maria). On the same laptop/function day, both Faith and Maria had brought laptops, and the two white students, Charles and Amber , had not. W hen the class was instructed to pull up the exercise on their laptops, the group realized that with the two Women of C olor having laptops and sitting on the same side that they should rearrange themselves so the laptops could be shared with the two white s tudents. Maria and Amber switched places so that Maria would work with Charles and Faith could work with Amber. Yet, a different scenario played out at this table in terms of resource sharing. Maria placed her laptop in between herself and Charles, and Cha rles took the liberty of playing with the function exercise even more than Maria did. He had effectively take n charge and co s computer.

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192 As has been described, there was racial disparity in terms of who had access to resources to succeed in college algebra, and this was espec ially the case when a Student of Color found themself marginalized by race and c lass. Yet, even in cases where S tudents of C olor did have resources that white students did not have (for whatever reason), the white students were usually not hesitant to ask for or take the resources they needed to succeed and learn . around agency to take and use class resources particularly when seeing the spaghetti exercise, I was struck watching how resources like laptops were racially allocated and what that meant for federally funded research, for which the function exercise was a part believe that all of the students had the results of the exercise connected to their pseu donym . This would not accurately show what the S tud ents of C olor who were not able to try out the exercise the race and gender STEM pipeline is a top priority in US education , this felt like a large and potentially commonplace oversi ght, particularly when the researcher was not considering race from a critical perspective in their project design. As Leigh Patel (2015) describes, they enjoy are due to their inherent superiority a nd/or hard work and that the inverse is true for those who have a lower social status, this logic appears through entitle p. 661). The entitlement and disdain that Patel invokes refers to the whiteness that allows, or rather encourages, w hite students to believe that they are right and that they are smart and that is to be expected and is normal. It also refers to the whiteness that allows for the countless racial nanoaggressions and microaggressions that equate to disdain for Students of Color . A s shown , both the white entitlement and disdain also come into play when it comes to resources. White

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193 students feel entitled to classroom resources, but yet do not seem to think that all students are entitled to those same resources. Certainly, if calculator or their computer that they own , there is clear and unyielding entitlement. Returning to following ru dimentary in algebra : I am white and t his resource is mine, and because it is mine, it cannot be yours. If I am white and you are a Person of C olor, you may not use my resource or even look at it unless I have given you express permission, and even then you may only use my resources as long as you remember that they are always mine, and I can stop your use at any time. On the flipside, if you are a P erson of C olor and own a resource, and I am white, your ownership of the resource is not definite will call this sharing, and my whiteness will even allow me to use your resource more than you for my own be nefit. These parameters are laid out in the way that Saito (2015) and Patel (2015) shows the convergence of W hiteness as P roperty (Harris, 1993) and S ettler C olonialism (Tuck & Yang, 2012; Wolfe, 2006 ) particularly in higher education. Whites with a settle r mindset within a settler colonial structure understand (perhaps unconsciously) that they are the only ones who can truly own property, including land, possessions, intellectual property, and resources. This manifested in the algebra class , not only in t he white student s treatment of their own resources as theirs, the treatment of S C olor resources as also available for their use, but also the seizure of classroom resources for their own benefit first and foremost. Whilst Quentin felt he would be over burdening Peter to ask for a calculator for his test, the white

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194 students who did not have calculators had approached Peter and taken a calculator off the front table and were using them to practice for the test.

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195 XIII. A LOW KEY EXISTENTIAL DREAD As I near the end of this dissertation, I offer what feels like math blasphemy. I have sat in remembering how certain parabolas fit with certain equations and reminiscing about solving word problems in college ruled notebooks with my giant graphing calculator si tting next to me. But the truth is once I had finished three years of high school algebra and then one full year of college calculus, I never used any of my year of Biology classes, or year of Gene ral Chemistry courses, or year of Anatomy, or the Botany class, or Zoology, or Organic Chemistry where I ever used anything more advanced that cross multiplying, which my BioEngineer/Physician father started teaching me in third grade. So, my blaspheme? Wh y do all these students need algebra? Dila wa s dabbling between a career in o rthodontics or health c ommunications. Quentin wan ted to be a business major. And, Mariah was an e nvironmental s a lgebra to be successful, even the two women seeking STEM careers. And, while I have fond memories of my high school and college math classes, what I witnessed Dila, Quentin, and Mariah experience was violent, was whiteness, was racism. And for what? This i hard to justify the violence inherent in that whiteness for Students of C olor when the result is an exercise in futility instead of something usa ble in their lives and careers. Very low key existential dread is infused in math or all STEM majors taking algebra or similar gatekeeper math courses, Mariah , even as a scientist, that reason . So, as she described, she

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196 experienced algebra, and the abuses of white classmates, in the midst of this constant existential dread. n or did I. In fact, Mariah felt like her experience in algebra was in direct contradiction to her orientation as a scientist, as she described and I quote at length, that was the question that would always bother the teacher is why? Why are we doing this? Or why does it work this way? My mom would just be, like, just take it. Accept the formula. But I why. Why does that work? was my problem with math. Like in writing, there is I guess literary devices, people could ask why makes the sentence flow. Look how it changes the meaning of the sentence. There was always a reason for something being that way. Even if you had to dig back into the roots of tha t language of, why did this word get switched out for this? There was always an answer for something. And maybe it was a dumb answer, but so my brain would just be, like, oh, okay, moving on. But for we just with this? It feels dread is infused in math of just I just exist for the sake of existing and not for your Throughout my conversation with Mariah, she mulled over whether she s hould get an algebra tutor or not. Multiple times she seemed to decide that yes, she should get a tutor and that would help her get through algebra, but in this excerpt she voices her concern about a tutor just presenting more of the same, unsatisfying res ponses to genuine questions she had about why this was important and how might she use it in her work as an environmental scientist. Although Mariah found what she perceived as the uselessness of algebra frustrating, she had more or less trained herself to suppress her questions around usability. As she related, Actually in junior year I let go of the notion that math is applicab le to life

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197 She described a passionate math teacher s he had that helped everybody understand the algebra th ey were doing. When he checked in to see if all the students were with him, one kid, Aaron, class down, Mariah explained, bringing the group back to the perce ived pointlessness of algebra and feeling that it was disrespectful to ask the teacher this question, especially since, as Mariah One day, late in the semester, Mariah let her inner scientist out to try and figure o ut what seemed to be a particularly abstruse topic. The topic of the lecture that day was i . Peter introduced the concept, saying one day a mathematician thought to himself, I wonder what would happen if we took the square root of 1 and that this had open ed up a whole new field of math. Peter proceeded to go through several i problems. He ended the lecture asking the students to discuss in their groups the answer to i 8 . As the groups began tossing out answers and discussing, Mariah, looking intrigued and a bit skeptical, raised her hand to call Peter over to ask for more of an explanation on the i concept. i is always the square root of 1. But what is the square root of hesitated a m oment, seemingly confused by her question , i i responded, not knowing where Peter was going with i another hand ra ised at another table. Mariah sat there looking stunned for a moment then turned to her notebook to draw.

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198 By the time of this conversation, Mariah was failing the class. She had just gotten MyMathLab and was determining whether or not she should get a tut or for the class. When I was placing her at a middle school level. He described how that on the same day as the i conversation, Mariah had worked out a problem to where it was 1/(1+1) + 2. At this point, Peter explained. Returning to the i were as asses sed by Peter, Peter had misunderstood what Mariah was asking. He assumed that actually asking what the point was of assi gning a letter to a problem that seemed unsolvable. How could deciding that the square root of 1 was i ever be useful to her or anyone? experience in the class was all the ways that her white classmates , and ev en Peter on this occasion , seemed to assume she was and treated her that way . But, as discussed, Mariah was brilliant. Although she did suffer the pain of being trea or even smart in algebra, she resisted in her reso and blamed her algebra hold up o n the ludicrousness of what she was being taught, along with elementary school math her alge Floating in the void of numbers and now letters and now lines that bounce and wiggle.

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199 ith the existential dread of algebr a was notable, she was not alone in believing she should be learning something valuable in algebra but concluding that algebra was useless . During class one day, Chen came by to check in on one group . Tony, a Latinx man, and moved on to the next group . On a separate occasion, the group exercise of recitation required using a slide rule 17 that each student had constr ucted out of pieces of paper with a band to connect them. The B ros had all constructed their slide rules and were working on t he ac tivity when Quentin came in and sat at the table with them and started doing the worksheet without a slide rule. Peter walked over to check on h ow the group was doing. The B ros had all completed their problem set with their calculators after having pu do the problems with a slide rule so that if you are asked on a test why it works [doing logs], 2 + log5 = x 5 = breezily + log5 = he moved on to check on the next group. Realizing he was missing a slide rule, Quentin walked to the front to retrieve t he pieces for his own slide rule. He returned to his seat and began putting it 17 A slide rule is the precursor to the calculator. It was a mathematical tool used most he avily by mathematicians in the 1950s and 1960s

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200 construction to help him. After a moment of struggling, Quentin asked Evan for help. Evan took the slide rule pieces, put them together, and handed them Mike obliged po ints on his sardonic response. On another day, the B ros and Quentin were working on a worksheet individually. Brody began reciting the answers off his sheet. Peter came to the table as Mike finished. Brody, dropping his worksheet, seized the opportunity with Peter to hat if they asked you how to solve Tha yo My without a calculator. chuckled, and, shaking his head , moved on. One of the key principles of adult education or andragogy is that adults learn best when they understand why they are learning something and what they will be able t o use it for ( Wlodkowski & Ginsberg, 2017 ). Recognizing this, College Algebra falls far short of good

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201 andragogy, in that neither the curriculum of algebra nor the instructional design of the course centers the importance of learning algebra or its applicat ion, nor even offers these substantively in the periphery of the course. students , particularly adult students, learn best when their instruction is designed around four stag es: Concrete experience: the learner experiences/participates in a phenomenon Reflective observation: the learner makes sense of their experience as it applies to them Abstract C onceptualization : The learner makes conclusions around their experience A ctiv e experimentation : Based on these conclusions the learner tests them and applies them to other situations. I n , as a best practice in instructional design, I argue that three out of four of the learning stages are missin g from the very premise of college algebra. The entire curriculum seems to live in abstract conceptualization, without truly progressing to active experimentation, concrete experience, or reflective observation, aside from a couple of tactivities (named for the tactile nature of the activities) that begin to ask students to apply some algebraic principles. Yet, when these algebraic principles are not rooted in the relevance to the any applicatio n is still floating in ambiguity , effective learning is not likely . This becomes extremely frustrating for many adult learners, especially those who naturally want to apply their learning and need to in order to fully

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202 These portraits above show the disconnect between the students and their instructors, 1 i ? and the instructors cannot provide a satisfying answer. Schommer Aikins , Unruh, and Morphew (2015) found that significant epistemological differences between commu nity college students taking a College A lgebra course and their instructor(s) led to higher anxiety and poorer class performance. Among these epistemological discrep ancies was the usefulness of algebra, where instructors believed that algebra was useful for the students in their career goals, and students saw algebra as less useful to them. These same epistemological differences seemed commonplace i n the College A lgeb ra classes I observed, and as illustrated in the conversations As discussed at the outset of this dissertation , higher education in the United States was create d by and for white men, although the labor for creating many of the campuses came through using enslaved Africans (Wilder, 2013 ) . Similarly, algebra was first introduced in colleges in the 18 th century when only elite white men were enrolled (Kilpatrick & Izsak, 2008). Over the years, as public schooling developed in the US, algebra was pushed down and made a responsibility of K 12 system, and still is represented heavily in the Common Core standards today (Kilpatri ck & Izsak, 2008; Tu nstall, 2018). Like ot her institutionalized white, patriarchal norms in higher education, algebra has remained the cornerstone of standards in college and even in high school. Approximately 1/3 of all math enrollments at four year PhD granting institut ions are in college algebr a (Tu nstall, 2018). Algebra has maintained its hallmark status relatively unquestioned, even while math educators have wrung their hands over the dismal success rates of students in college algebra, which lives near 50% , nationally (Small, 2006; Tu nstall, 2018).

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203 Tu nstall (2018) confirms my suspicions (discussed above) on a broader scale, again focusing on four year PhD granting universities , like the site of my study . Most of what is taught in college algebra is not applicable to the students taking college algebra for their academic and career goals. Not only that, but studies have shown that although higher education strives to promote quantitative literacy through algebra and an appreciation for math, many students coming out of college algebra have a mor e negative feeling toward math and its applicability in their lives (Ellington, 2005; Oty, Elliott, McArthur, & Clark, 2000; Tunstall , 2018). College algebra was designed to p repare students for courses in C alculus , but a very small minority of College Alg ebra students ever take C alculus (Dunbar, 2006; Oty, Elliott, McArthur, & Clark, 2000). The majority o f students taking College A lgebra take it because it fulfills a requirement for their major. Additionally, most college algebra students did poorly in hig h school algebra and have anxiety around the course (Herriott, 2006). Many math education scholars are advocating a move not to improve college algebra but instead to exchange it for a quantitative literacy course that is designed to instead meet the needs /goals of students who do not plan , nor do they need, to take calculus (Andersen, 2006; Tunstall , 2018; Tunstall , Melfi, Edw ards, Krause, & Piercey, 2016). I want to impress two points here. The first is that it is a travesty that the S tudents of C olor focused on in this study had to endure whiteness , which they experienced as racism and violence from their classmates , all for a class from which they will likely never use the skills. This is particularly the case for Mariah, who failed the course, a nd will need to take it again or find another course to fulfill her math requirement for her Environmental Sciences degree. The second point is that College A lgebra, as a general requirement is a form of institutionalized whiteness and patriarchy in and of itself . It was created for elite, white men and

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204 then spoon fed to the rest of us as we were allowed into higher education (while we were . Algebra, like whiteness, need not justify it s necessity or usefulness to anyone. Like whiteness, it is accepted and normalized, and very rarely questioned. If and when it is questioned, as I mention at the start of this chapter, it is met with much resistance and considered blaspheme .

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205 XIV. IMPLICA TIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS In what follows, I show the implications and recommendations for this dissertation research and findings. This study made contributions to , and had implications for theory, methodology, and practice. I thus highlight these as well as reco mmendations for next steps . Implications and Recommendations for Theory This dissertation is couched in a multi faceted theoretical framework that was grounded in Critical Race Theory (CRT), Critical Whiteness Studies (CWS), an Anti deficit Framework, and Settler Colonialism. Using these theories and concepts in concert and applying them to new research all owed me to make theoretical contributions and developments. These theoretical contributions also demonstrate implications that naturally point to recommended next steps to further develop and apply theory in CRT, CWS, and Sett ler Colonialism, particularly as they are applied to the higher education STEM classroom. White Racial Bonding As discussed in Chapter IX, White Racial Bonding (Sleeter, 1994; 1996) has been theorized and engaged in the research as both backstage, or in all white groups as Picca and Fe agin (2007) define it. This white racial bonding , as described, has relied on language about race and/or racially coded, denigrating comments about People of Color out of e arshot of People of Color. This thinly veiled racist rhetoric is used by white people to create white solidarity around white superiority and the white hegemonic alliance (Allen, 2008). Fasching Varner (2013) describes how white pre service teachers would punctuate deficit focused comments abou inviting the other white person into white solidarity by casting People of Color as culturally inferior. Cabrera (2018) showed how white college men would use the n word or tell racist jokes

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206 in white only groups to develop and thicken their white racial bonds. These studies vividly showed what white racial bonding looks like backstage (Picca & Feagin, 2007) and relied on the use of racially denigrating and/or racially coded language to invite th e fellow white people into white racial bonding. This dissertation study contrasted and contributed to the concept of white racial bonding in that I showed how white students engaged in white racial bonding frontstage (Picca & Feagin, 2007), i.e., in front of People of Color and without the use of raced or racially coded language. The largely white student groups I described used the mistreatment of the sole Student of Color at their table through nanoaggressions and through the co construction of whiteness /rightness rules. As the Heather s , the Bros, and the Besties nonverbally affirmed the unspoken rules and wielded nanoaggressions against Dila, Quentin, and Mariah, respectively , to communicate to them and each other what the rules were, they developed the white fictive kinships (Matias, 2014) through these more subtle but enduring white racial bonding practices. Given these newly identified stealth white racial bonding practices, further research should be done to show how racial microaggressions or nanoagg ressions are connected and indeed used in white racial bonding (Sleeter, 1994; 1996) . When the research community can better understand these connections and the myriad ways that white people engage in white racial bonding, we can then better understand ho w these white racial bonds and white fictive kinships (Matias, 2014) can be disrupted as we seek to make and deepen cracks in the white hegemonic alliance (Allen, 2008) . Racial Microaggressions The concept of racial microaggressions has been employed and d eveloped most notably within Critical Race Theory (CRT) (Solórzano, Ceja, & Yosso, 2000) and within social work

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207 (Sue et al., 2007). Yet the vast majority of the illustrations of racial microaggressions described te people again use raced or racially coded language in the slight proffered against a Person of Color. In the portraits and analyses offered throughout this dissertation , but specifically within Chapter XI , I coin the concept nanoaggressions to get at the more subtle nature of the aggression I observed . Not only were these nanoaggressions subtler than we tend to understand microaggressions, but again they did not employ racial or racially coded language. Similar to racial microaggressions, racial nanoaggre ssions are small slights exerted against People of Color as small acts of violence or rem inders that People of Color are less human than their white classmates. These nanoaggressions included ignoring, avoiding eye contact, and other isolating moves agains when a Person of Color sneezed. These nanoaggressions are as insidious and harmful as racial microaggressions, and perhaps more so. I suggest this because of the self doubt thes e nanoaggressions planted in Mariah, Dila, and Quentin in particular. They questioned whether or not they were just imagining being ignored. They would hedge any frustrations they had with their white groups, by T his most subtle level of racial aggression is important to research and note in the scholarship on racism, racial microaggressions, and whiteness. These nanoaggressions are key to understan ding how whiteness works and is normalized within the college STEM classroom. Further research on these nuanced and subtle forms of whiteness and racism are necessary to see and understand if we are to develop equity mindedness and dismantle whiteness in college classrooms.

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208 Whiteness as Property Harris (1993) developed the CRT theory, Whiteness as Property to describe how whiteness in the United States is akin to property in that whites can apply the same definitions and laws related to property to their whiteness, including the right to enjoy all benefits of whiteness and the right to exclude People of Col or from whiteness and all its privileges and benefits. Scholars within Settler Colonialism have developed Whiteness as Property to show, based on how European settler colonizers us ed genocide and displacement against indigenous peoples in what is now calle d the United States, land and property was only ever recognized if it was owned by white men (Patel, 2015; Saito, 2015). Saito (2015) further describes how even today property is not recognized in our society unless it is connected to whiteness, or owned b y white people. without whiteness applies to resource entitlement and allocation in a college classroom. From seeing white students take charge to seeing them use any resou rces they wish without question, were steadfast only when the owner was white. The rules of ownership were flexible and even disregarded when Moving forward, I call for continued research that delves into how concepts like resource allocation, ownership, entitlement, and sharing differ by race and are largely dictate d by whiteness. This research will be particularly rich in group work within educational settings. Although more rich, qualitative data will do much to demonstrate how whiteness interplays with these concepts, quantitative research could also lend clarity and perhaps demonstrate to skeptics how whiteness affec t s resources. I envision this as akin to those in the field who were skeptical

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209 of stereotypes affecting students and their learning until Steele and Aronson (1995) quantitatively showed the effects of stereotype threat. Dis/Ability Critical Race Theory (Di sCrit) Dis/Ability Critical Race Theory or DisCrit has shown the inherent intersections of particularly race and ability (Annamma, Connor, & Ferri, 2013; Connor, Ferri, & Annamma, 2016). Leonardo and Broderick (2011; 2016) have shown the implicit links bet ween smartness how smartness also operates as property, as well as how whiteness and smartness are cast against their degraded other, People of Color and People who are not smart, respectively. In this dissertation, I identified how whiteness and smartness not only intersect as oppressive systems but how they also feed on each other and morph in such a way that they are inseparable as phenomena. Students in colleg e algebra could only be smart at algebra if they were white. In fact , whiteness served as a substitution for smartness in many cases. White students who struggled in algebra and performed poorly still performed smartness and considered themselves smart in algebra. Conversely, Students of Color who were strong in algebra and performed better than thei r white counterparts were not considered smart or at least not as smart. In this way, whiteness completely overshadowed performances of smartness. Returning to property only being recognized when owned by white people, smartness operated as property in this way also. P roperty, including smartness as property was only really acknowledged in white people by white people. Smartness had to be connected to whiteness to be realized. Additionally, I noted in this study the phenomenon where if someone was deemed not smart, that was used as a justification for why that person was targeted by racism and whiteness.

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210 This happened particularly with Mariah in my discussions with Peter. When I described to Peter the mistreatment and nanoaggressions suffered by Mariah, he would almost always retort with how far behind she was in algebra, as if being strong algebraically was a reasonable prerequisite for being treated with dignity and humanity. Moving forward, the relationship between smartness or rightness and whiteness should be further explored, particularly in how it operates in college STEM classrooms th at require group work. I described several unspoken whiteness/rightness rules co constructed and maintain ed by the largely white groups I focused on. Further qualitative research to affirm, contrast, or nuance these rules will grow our understanding of how racism and ableism work in concert, particularly in the STEM classroom to determine who is successful and who is not and who has a positive learning experience and who does not. Implications and Recommendations for Methodology Lawrence Lightfoot and Davis (1997) developed the art and science of portraiture methodology as a largely interpretive and holistic approach to a hybrid of ethnographic, narrative, and hermeneutic phenomenological research. Their comprehensive portraits ha ve been deeply empathetic in the way they have striven to portray an aesthetic whole o f their subject. Yet these interpretive portraits were very kind to their subjects, a nd appropriately so, given their research goals to understand a particular community and environment and convey it through portraits. Other portraitists have merged portraiture with Critical Race Theory (CRT), which introduced a clear discussion and critique of power, particularly as it relates to race ( Dixson, Chapman, & Hill, 2005; Ohit o, 2017). Yet, even these CRT portraits that took place in K 12 schools were still deeply empathetic of the white subjects and included and maintained a more

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211 interpretive approach than what I anticipated and realized in my use of portraiture in Critical Wh iteness Studies. Although I did interview many white students and many Students of Color and did empathize with their narratives and counternarratives, in the end my portraits could not be kind to my white subjects without me losing my critique of their pe rformances of whiteness, which given my driving question was penultimate. I did at times feel Sara Lawrence Lightfoot, Esther Ohito, or other more interpretive portraitists and ethnographers on my shoulder telling me to be gentler , as I named my white grou ps the Heather s , the Bros, and the Besties . But, I made these decisions not to spite these white students but instead to avoid sand ing down the sharp and ugly corners of the racism I was seeing. I do believe my use of portraiture in this highly critical, c ritical whiteness study is groundbreaking in the way that I was able to draw on the tools in portraiture to allow my readers sketchi ng a picture of herself, or struggle with Quentin as he tr ies to fix his mechanical pencil to no avail. My portraits allow readers to see exactly how whiteness play s out in the classroom, and not only that but it allows them to feel at some level how whiteness feels for Students o f Color in algebra. I encourage critical whiteness studies scholars as well as other critical scholars with other foci to build on this highly critical use of portraiture, particularly in areas of research where we fully understand how power structur es are playing out and disenfranchising those oppressed by them.

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212 Implications and Recommendations for Practice question. Yet, I understand that for those teaching warns of the whiteness inherent in jumping to conclusions/solutions and focusing on solutions before we really understand how whiteness operates in algebra or STEM more largely. In response to the demand for immediate solutions f or racial disparity in math education, Martin experiences of those who suffer racial injury. In essence, the demand for immediate solutions is a way to resist the r ealities of racism by reducing the harms to simple problems with simple Similarly, within the diversity scorecard framework, developed by the Center for the loop learning, meaning th at instead of jumping into problem solving based on the assumption that a problem is understood, institutional actors have to acknowledge that the problem exists and that the reasons for its existence are Klingsmith, 2015, p. 28). I suggest that sitting with the sort of narratives and portraits shared within this dissertation aligns with this double loop learning as well as the development of equity mindedness (Malcom Piqueux & Bensimon, 2017), discussed in the Literature Review. It is not coincidental that this jumping to solutions that Martin (2009) critiques resembles how counterstories and counternarratives from People of Color have been dismissed as not

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213 rigorous nor productive in the larger dialogue of race in education. Moving past the experiences of People of Color to focus on color evasive ( Annamma, Jackson, & Morrison, 2017 ) solutions that do not center People of Color serve as a bandage that covers but does not heal the racial wound. Thus, I ask rea ders to dwell with these ideas and to sit with these portraits before they start looking for the solutions. Only once we have held the weight of the whiteness and racism experiences in the classroom are we ready to genuinely center Students of Color and th eir experiences, not as the problem, but as the solution. To preface, I offer the following chart to show the connections between the following recommendations and the theory and findings from which they are derived . Recommendation Corresponding Theory and Findings Acknowledge norms of whiteness and racism in STEM Cabrera (2018), Cabrera, Franklin, and Watson ( 2016 ) , and this study show how whiteness is normalized in all aspects of higher education, including the STEM classroom . Teach race vocabulary/concepts in higher education Given calls for equity mindedness in higher education (Bensimon, 2004; Felix, Bensimon, Hanson, Gray, and Klingsmith, 2015; Malcolm Piquex & Bensimon, 2017) and my findings (Chapters IX and X) related to white studen ts and Students of Color lacking understanding of basic racial vocabulary, curriculum should be developed to teach all college students race concepts and language so they are better prepared to engage them. Provide support to Students of C olor Harper (2010), Hurtado, Newman, Tran, & Chang (2010), Martin (2009; 2013) , McGee and Martin (2011), and this study (Chapter XIII) have shown how Students of Color are not equitably supported , particularly in STEM college courses. Incorporate sufficient resources Given theory, such as Whiteness as Property (Harris, 1993) and property acknowledgement connected to whiteness

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214 ( Patel, 2015; Saito, 2015 ) , and my related findings (Chapter XII) , adequate resources should be provided to each student, recognizing that shari ng is understood within a racial context, i.e., if there are not enough resources, Students of Color will go without. Stop making everyone take algebra Math education scholars, including Andersen (2006), Tunstall (2018), and Tunstall, Melfi, Edwards, Kra use, and Piercey (2016) as well as this study (Chapter XIII) show that many if not most of the students taking college algebra do not need many of the skills taught. Instead , a quan titative literacy course should be developed that prepares STEM students wh o do n o t need algebra. Continue research in whiteness in higher education and STEM Martin (2009 & 2013) and McGee and Martin (2011) explicitly call for more research on whiteness in math education. This study contributes to fill the gap identified, but th ere is more needed as outlined in this chapter. Figure 3: Recommendations for practice and their grounding theory/findings Acknowledge norms of whiteness and racism in STEM As I talked with Students of Color in the algebra class , one thing that resounded was that phrases that Mariah, Dila, and Quentin so frequently hedged with were partly due to me being white as the researcher and to deal with what they may have anticipated would be my white defensiveness and fragility. But, even accounting for that, the St

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2 15 too much into the things they felt were white slights or nanoaggressions , them . Given the self doubt that most Students of Color related, talking abo ut race and racism in freshmen e xperience courses and general education classes, but also to continue talking about it in algebr a and STEM courses. I understand the hesitance here. Many folks fea r that if we talk about race, racial disparities , and racism with students in STEM classes (Steele, 1997) , but the truth is Students of Color are already aware of the disparity. already to borrow from the title of They s ee it in who is in their classroom , starting in high school advanced placement courses and carrying through to col lege algebra and into upper level STEM courses. There is a larger danger in not having these discussions and allowing particularly Students of Color to internalize the messages sent in these classes . What if an instructor started the class saying, you kno when I ask a question, white women tend to raise their hands, white men shout out the answer, and Students of Color, even if they know the answer tend to stay quiet. Why do you think that is? And, how do we manage our clas sroom to make it an equitable learn ing experience for all students? For higher education institutions who have made a commitment to educating their students on issues of social justice, why do we exempt STEM faculty from learning this too as well as holdi ng them accountable for addressing it in their classrooms and curricula ? Again hearkening back to the CUE concept of equity mindedness, we need to look at the problem of racial disparity with an understanding and acknowledgement of the racism inherent in t he systems and structures of higher education and to focus our interventions on racial equity within

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216 these systems (Malcom Piqueux & Bensimon, 2017). Thus, we must start with an acknowledgement of whiteness and racism within the systems and norms of higher education. Teach race vocabulary and concepts in higher ed ucation More broadly than acknowledging whiteness and racism in STEM with students, higher education needs to do a better job on educating students (not to mention higher education leaders, staff, and faculty) on racial vocabulary; concepts of race, racism, and whiteness; and related context and history (see Matias & Nishi, 2016 ) . In my interviews with students , and especially Students of Color, I was taken a Certainly, up speak as if asking me if that was the type of answer I wanted . But, the Students of Color, when discussing the This usage was jarring, because it signaled to me that Students of Color did not understand the historical and racist connotations of referring to People of Color as harkening back to Colored only drinking fountains in the segregated South. T his supports my recommendation above. Credit bearing courses that focus on social justice topics, including race and racism for all college students should be required 18 . These courses will allow Students of Color to make sense of the in the context of the US history as well as current race scholarship . I t further positions Students of Color to better resist racism in the classroom, as well as not internalize that racism. 18 that which I am describing.

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217 Of course, Students of Color are not the only students who would benefit from such courses and education. Renowned race scholar, Shaun Harper once gave a presentation where he showed several racist advertisements and made the point that the (white) people who made these ads had college degrees. Not only were they college graduates, but many of them had graduate level degrees. He concluded that higher education was failing its st udents if our graduates had never considered race and racism and what it means in our society and world. Our article whiteness questions asked by students in PhD level education courses. We in higher education need to take seriously our commitments to social justice, diversity, and inclusion, and part of that commitment is the education of all students on race and racism. In doing so, we will curtail the whiteness perfo rmed in the classroom and Students of Color will be empowered. Provide support to Students of Color and particularly Women of Color Along with this education, it is necessary to put supports in place for Students of Color and particularly Women of Color i n higher education. A cademic advisors need to be well versed on issues of race, class, and gender to ensure they are supporting and promoting their Students of Color (Sarcedo & Matias, 2018; Sarcedo, Matias, Montoya, & Nishi, 2016) . In my interviews with P eter and other folks in the Mathematics Department described to some extent in the Historiography , it became clear that there was a disconnect between the sur e which STE M majors required College A lgebra. He thought that for many of the science majors, students only needed three credits of college math. As an Environmental Science major, Mariah was told she needed to take a math course and college algebra was th e easiest math course at WUU. According to Peter, it i

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218 M athematics for the Liberal A Additionally he needed to drop the course by. So, she missed that deadline, and instead received a failing grade for the course. When I asked about it, took college algebra again and passed later on . I later learned that this failing grade would not be replaced if she re took and passed the course. Of course, these disconnects contributed to Mariah concluding her first se mester of college with an F in College A lgebra. As discussed in the historiography, WUU engaged in the CUE Diversity Scorecard for th eir campus and their report honed in on the racial disparity within college algebra amongst other foci. This was a first step that hundreds of institutions of higher education have engaged in with the CUE. However, to be able to do better in terms of racia l equity, it is not enough to have the information . I nstitutions should look at the systems in place that are failing Students of Color disproportionately. For instance, the disconnect between student advising and requirements related to algebra at WUU has contributed to the Students of Col or receiving grades of D, F, I, or W. Aside from data indicating this in the Diversity Scorecard, t his was clearly illustrated within To support Students of Color , institutions need to di g into the experiences of S tudents of Color to then focus interventions on inequity within the systems , structures, policies, and practices . In algebra, these may include the curricula and the equity mindedness (Malcom Piqueux & Bensimon, 2017) and approac h of the instructors and teaching assistants (TAs) . We should promote e quity mindedness and collaboration between support systems like advising and tutoring with instructors/TAs . We should promote equity mindedness , including an understanding of whiteness and racism in the classroom, in the forming and facilitating of small

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219 groups and student dynamics in the classroom. This dissertation speaks most directly to this last support recommendation . Incorporate sufficient resources As Nishi and Walker (2018) argu e , drawing on CRT and Settler Colonialism T heory in line with Patel (2015) and Saito (2015) , whites are incapable of sharing the resources that belong to Pe ople of Color and particularly I ndigenous people without co opting or taking the resources outright. Their argument lies in the history of intellectual property rights law and its alignment with W hiteness as P roperty (Harris, 1993). Nishi and Walker (2018) have shown how I ndigenous art and culture since it is often whites use those art forms . G argument s discussion, we understand that white (settlers) are incapable of sharing resources. W e are then a long way off from white students in algebra dismantling or even checking their own white entitlement to ensure equitable distribution of resources in the classroom. W e need to have sufficie nt resources in STEM classes so that all students can and are able to use the resources required to succeed in learning. We also need to create financial aid policies and funding that allow for all students, but particularly Students of Color from low soci oeconomic backgrounds to access t he resources they need to succeed in the classroom. We know that out of pocket costs disproportionately affect s Students of Color and creates a barrier for this group of students ( Diaz Stong, Gomez, Luna Duarte, & Meiners, 2011 ). Reform is necessary to ensure that all students have things like calculators, MyMathLab access, lab equipment, laptops or tablets, textbooks, etc.

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220 Stop making everyone take algebra re made to take it and as such it acts instead as a barrier for many students seeking STEM degrees who cannot pass this gatekeeper course, again disproportionately Students of Color. I join Tunstall (2018) in calling for colleges and universities to create a quantitative literacy course for those students who are not going on to take calculus for their degrees. And, those creating such a course would do well to focus on the uses and applications of the learning outcomes in that course design. I want to note that one of the hurdles that face those faculty and administrators who want to change a curricular dogma like College Algebra is the siloed nature of Higher Education. Those in control of Mathematics courses generally do not seek out conversations with ot her STEM faculty to find out what skills and applications should be the focus of more general math courses, like algebra has been. Aside from these siloes in higher education that make it difficult to make changes that would lead to more effective learning sues of turfdom and financial incentives that often drive higher education decisions in place of offering the most effective learning. For instance, as mentioned in the Historiography, about 12 years ago, the Math ematics department implemented an Accuplacer placement test and required that all students get an acceptable score before they were allowed to take College Algebra. With the placement requirement in place, enrollments in College Algebra plummeted. The Dep artment went from offering 12 sections of College Algebra to two. After four years, the Department got rid of the Accuplacer test altogether, as WUU officials were worried that student enrollments were suffering since students were choosing to go to other institutions where there was no

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221 placement test requirement. This financial loss to WUU incentivized the Math Department to drop the requi rement. Nishi (2016 ) argues that when it comes to college placement and remedial education, the capital accrued or main tained by institutions and private entities is prioritized before student learning and disproportionately detrimental to Student s of Color. Students of Color are subjected to these introductory tests and remedial education systems more than their white cou nterparts, related to their disenfranchisement through systems like tracking in the K 12 system ( Oakes & Guiton, 1995; Tyson, 2011 ) and high stakes testing (Au, 2016 ). Because of these, the pipeline for many high school graduate s, Students of C olor, flows toward for profit, predatory higher education institutions or away from higher edu cation all together (Nishi, 2016 ). Decision makers in higher education would do well to center students (particularly Students of Color) and student learning instead of maintaining unnecessary Canons like College Algebra for virtually all STEM and non STEM students that also continue to lin e department , of whom we require it , how it will help them in their STEM careers. Continue research in whiteness in Higher Education and STEM When I explain my dissertation topic to folks, they often ask me qu estions that make me flavore d whiteness. But, in truth, and as Cabrera (2018) notes in his book, whiteness, (anywhere) for those who acknowledge and study it is predictable and at times almost boring. I did not find a unique form of algebraic whiteness, but in this study I have give n shape to what whiteness looks like in a course where race is never discussed and in fact avoided , but

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222 never absent . In my field notes, I noted what was happening nationally during the study : Hurricane Harvey h it and caused floods in Houston , Our 45 th Pre sident began his dismantling of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) , Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands were devastated by Hurricane Maria. These hurricane disasters were followed with the 45 th President self congratulating and denial of t he level of disaster and death count, particularly in Puerto Rico. None of these events and crises were e ver brought up by instructors or students in College Algebra that I witnessed . When I asked Peter whether he ever discussed current events in class tha t were likely affecting students. He said no, and that they (instructors) were encouraged no t to discuss such events. I was not surprised by this. Given how algebra was positioned as an litics or race or immigration, any racism and whiteness was also easily overlooked. Given this denial/avoidance of national events and racism , although there was no algebra specific whiteness, I believe that I would see similar forms of nanoaggressions, un spoken whiteness/rightness rules, and white resource hoarding in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Engineering, other Mathematics courses , etc. But, as mine was an initial study in this foray, more studies on whiteness in other STEM disciplines are needed. I do think that the more advanced STEM courses would yield more explicit and vicious forms of whiteness given the competitiveness that grows in these courses as students begin to compete for jobs or spots/fellowships in graduate schools as Harper ( 2010 ), McGee & Martin ( 2011 ), and Martin ( 2009; 2013 2009 ) warning to other STEM scholars, we must focus our attention on better understanding race, racism, and whiteness in the STEM classroom before we try to r esolve it.

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223 Beyond this, it is time that scholars in STEM education and in higher education heed the Theorists and Critical Whiteness Studies scholars and discontin ue looking at People of Color as a problem when it comes to their participation in STEM. To this point, I am increasingly skeptical Instead I would suggest we st

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243 APPENDIX A: SAMPLE IN DEPTH INTERVIEW QUESTIONS 1. How is algebra going for you? 2. 3. 4. Do you like working with your group? 5. Is there a leader in your group? 6. When you have an answer, do you think your group members listened? 7. When you have a question, do any of your group members help you? 8. Who do you like working with in your group most? 9. What race do you consider yourself? 10. I noticed that [x incident] happened in class. What did you think of that? 11. I noticed that you said [x] in class, what did you mean by that? 12. I noticed th at [x person] said [x] to you in class. How did you feel about that? 13.

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244 APPENDIX B: DIAGRAM OF COLLEGE ALGEBRA CLASSROOM