“I Don't Want to Hear That!”: Legitimating Whiteness through Silence in Schools


Angelina E. Castagno is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Foundations program, College of Education, Northern Arizona University (angelina.castagno@nau.edu).


In this article, I examine the ways in which silences around race contribute to the maintenance and legitimation of Whiteness. Drawing on ethnographic data from two demographically different schools, I highlight patterns of racially coded language, teacher silence, silencing students’ race talk, and the conflating of culture with race, equality with equity, and difference with deficit. These silences and acts of silencing create and perpetuate an educational culture in which inequities are ignored, the status quo is maintained, and Whiteness is both protected and entrenched.[silence, Whiteness, race]