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Fighting the Elephant in the Room: Ethical Reflections on White Privilege and Other Systems of Advantage in the Teaching of Religion

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Abstract

This article contends that teaching more effectively for diversity requires a radical re-envisioning of pedagogical practice. Drawing on qualitative interviews with religion and theology professors of color throughout the United States, it explores how faculty can re-imagine their teaching by engaging students where they are, acknowledging the reality of oppression, and dealing with resistance. Stressing mindfulness of social location, it provides examples of liberating teaching activities and competences and shows how literary and visual “texts” from the margins and personal metaphors of embodiment can challenge captivities to hegemonic paradigms in the classroom. The article concludes with responses from colleagues who have worked closely with the author. Ethicist Melanie Harris brings Hill's method into dialogue with Womanist pedagogy, and historian of religion Hjamil Martínez-Vázquez reflects on the role of suffering in building a revolutionary/critical pedagogy.

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