Racial ideology of Latinas Literature Review

Racial ideology of Latinas / Lit. review

Racial Ideology of Latinas in Discourse Analysis

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Racial Ideology of Latinas

Latina Discourse — Fiction and Non-Fiction

In her book Borderlands: The New Mestiza (1999), author Gloria Anzaldua, a self-proclaimed “borderland Chicana,” writes about her experiences living on the border between Texas and Mexico. She describes the experience as being challenging and frustrating because of the conflict of the borderland. She refers to this way of living as being a “marginal person,” existing in a perpetual state of transition and ambivalence. She expresses the frustration of what it is like to have the steady influence of different cultures while lacking the ability or the security to claim one of those cultures for herself. She infuses her expression with both prose and poetry, Mexican-Indian mythology with psychology, and mythology with philosophy to explore the meaning of what it is like to be on a constant quest for racial and cultural identity.

Anzaldua (1999) describes the area where the U.S. And Mexico meet as una berida abierta, a border “where the Third World grates against the first and bleeds. And before a scab forms it hemorrhages again, the lifeblood of two worlds merging to form a third country — a border culture.” This sort of imagery soaks Anzaldua’s text as she analyzes what it means to be a border culture — both literally and ideologically speaking. She describes a border as a place that generally divides an area that is safe and one that is unsafe. It is used to distinguish people — us from them (1999).

The frustration of having a borderline is that it is vague and undetermined, “created by the emotional residue of an unnatural boundary” (Anzaldua 1999). The border is always changing, constantly shifting as people cross over. The border keeps out the forbidden — los atravesados — whom Anzaldua refers to as the “strange” or the “troublesome” who come in the forms of “mongrels” and “mulatos” — the half-breeds as she refers to them. These forbidden people who cross the border are trying to get to “normal.” Normal is a place and it lives on the other side of the Mexican border.

Any border is a dividing line between two cultures, Anzaldua (1999) notes. However, what is interesting to contemplate in Anzaldua’s work is the glaring difference between how Americans see the Mexican border as opposed to the Canadian border. Her work makes one wonder if it is because of the different color of skins — or is it the language that creates such a division between peoples and ideologies? What has made the borderland of the U.S. And Mexico so controversial? Anzaldua’s work points out the obvious fact that the border is not just a simple divide — dividing two lands here and there. It has come to mean much more, but it has become a social, cultural, and psychic border that seeps into both cultures and stands in the way of unification. It is a constant reminder that one is superior to another that one is racially and culturally better. If one tries to cross into the U.S., they may be raped, maimed or killed — shot or strangled. Anzaldua (1999) names the “legitimate” inhabitants as the whites who are in power — and then those who align themselves with the whites. The rest are inferior.

Anzaldua (1999) not only gives the reader an emotional journey in which to contemplate the problem of the U.S. — Mexican border and how it affects personal and cultural identity, but she also gives a historical viewpoint as she discusses the original peopling of the Americas: the first inhabitants came across the Bering Straits and walked south across the continent. The oldest evidence of mankind in the United States — the Chicanos’ ancient Indian ancestors — was found in Texas and has been dated back to 35000 B.C. (1999). In the Southwest of the United States, archeologists have discovered 20,000-year-old campsites of the Indians who migrated through, or permanently settled, the Southwest, Aztlan — land of the herons, land of whiteness, the Edenic place of origin of the Azteca (1999).

Anzaldua (1999) offers a historical account of the Chicano people as well as an intensely passionate account of the formation of Chicano ideology. To live at the border is to be a “half-breed” so Anzaldua (1999) explains — caught in the crossfire of two very different peoples.


Anzaldua, Gloria. (1999). Borderlands: The new Mestiza. Aunt Lute Books; 2nd edition.

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros (1994) is a work of fiction about the clash between Esperanza’s dream — the “American Dream,” which is to own a house of her own, just like the ones she sees on television — and her Mango Street reality. Like Anzaldua (1999) describes in her work Borderlands: The New Mestiza, Esperanza feels like the “half-breed” — not belonging to a race or a class of people who can live in the types of houses that she dreams of living in. She does not want to identify herself in terms of the house she can afford (the one on Mango Street), but the poverty in which she lives keeps her and her family from having the “American Dream” they so fully desire.

In Cisneros’s work — as in Alzadua’s — there is a distinction mentioned between here and there. Esperanza is stuck in the barrio but she wants to go to the other side — outside the barrio. There is where people have the nice houses that she sees on television. It is the nun that Esperanza meets on Loomis Street who points out the here and there to her in a rather ironic scene. The nun teaches Esperanza to be ashamed of where she is living and thus to be ashamed of her people and what she has come to identify herself with. The nun makes Esperanza promise that she will have a “real” house someday, pointing out the glaring difference between her house and the one that she dreams of. Her house isn’t real because it’s not good enough to be considered real.

Cisneros uses the house on Mango Street as a symbol throughout her book. The house is symbolic of status and security as well as overcoming poverty. Furthermore, the house would be a place where she could forge her own identity and it would also be physical evidence that she belonged somewhere. Because Esperanza’s family has moved so much, she has never had a place to call home for any great length of time where she could really develop of sense of place and thus identity within that place. The house is also symbolic of our bodies. Our bodies “house” our souls — our innermost thoughts and feelings. It is the place that stores our memories and therefore a place that is safe and secure. Esperanza’s desire to have a house in Cisneros’s work is really a metaphor for wanting self-acceptance. While literally Esperanza wants a nice house to define herself with, she is metaphorically stating that there is a rejection of her reality house and thus a rejection of who she is.


Cisneros, Sandra. (1994). The house on mango street. Knopf; 1st hardcover edition.

Ana Castillo’s novel, The Guardians (2008), takes places on the El Paso, Texas / Juarez, Mexico border, which is referred to as a “paradise lost” — where family members regularly disappear and women are murdered for their organs or raped by “narcos.” It is a soulless desert, an area where undocumented workers hope to gain access to America, people try to find love, or at least some sort of salvation.

The novel, told from four different perspectives — Regina, a 50-year-old widowed virgin who lives in Cabuche, New Mexico, who is on a quest to find her brother Rafa as he tries to cross the border and join her in the U.S.; Miguel, Regina’s love interest, a leftist high school teacher; Gabriel (“Gabo”), Rafa’s 16-year-old son, a man obsessed with becoming a monk and is, at the same time, tempted by the gang life where he will find some sort of family and security; and lastly, Abuelito Milton, a crabby old man from the El Segundo barrio, who forces his grandson Miguel into action, rescues Gabriel from jail one night, and even flirts with Regina.

Regina is, undoubtedly, the heart of this story. She is a modern heroine who is skeptical of the church and unable to forgive the people who have hurt her most in the world. She is a fierce protector of her property and will go as far as using her rifle to keep infidels as well as wild animals from her rancho. Regina is also, in essence, Gabriel’s mother, in the absence of Rafa, and the challenge of understanding her Christ-like “son” brings up issues having to do with the difficulty of raising a child alone — specifically a teenager. There is also a very strong feeling of family in the novel — especially the idea of what and who makes up a family (it isn’t always those who are related to a person by blood).

The novel opens seven years after Gabo’s mother, Ximena, was murdered by coyotes — or paid traffickers — during an attempt to cross the border. Her mutilated body was found, her organs gone — sold most likely. Because of the fear surrounding this border town and the lure of the other side, all of the characters become consumed with finding Rafa. These people are neglected and abused. Like other fiction works on this topic (such as Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street), The Guardians (2008) is rich in symbolism and flavored with Mexican aphorisms. The novel also shows the reader how complex and perilous border life is when you’re living in between the United States and Mexico.

The book is important when attempting to understand the challenge of the border town life and it is, at the same time, a testament to faith, family bonds, cultural pride, and the human experience in general. “The guardians” in this novel are guarding love and they are guarding their own dignity as people.


Castillo, Ana. (2008). The guardians: A novel. Random House Trade Paperbacks.

Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros (2003) is a novel about identity — and, specifically — what it means to be Mexican. In fact, the overriding theme of the novel is identity with all the references to skin color, language, family and point of origin. The narrator, Lala Reyes, in searching for her place in the world (or her own identity) turns to her roots, her past, and thus her family, for both inspiration and guidance. She refers to the players in her life as Aunty Light Skin, Awful Grandmother and Uncle Old and tells the story of what it is like to grow up in two cultures as well as the challenges of class and racial strife.

Lala’s story is replete with the question “Where does she fit in?” She doesn’t like Awful Grandmother, but over time she comes to realize that the Awful Grandmother is bossy and stubborn and she is a woman who always does what society expects of her. One shouldn’t walk alone, talk to strange men, etc. Lala would like more freedom than the rules her grandmother lives by — for example, she would like to go to college, have a career and live alone before finding a husband.


Cisneros, Sandra. (2003). Caramelo. Vintage.

Cisneros’s (1992) collection of fictional works, Woman hollering Creek: And other stories, is comprised of 22 short pieces, all self-contained, and set in different places — Texas, Chicago, and Mexico, mainly from the 1960s to the late 1980s (with one exception, “Eyes of Zapata,” which is set in the early years of the 20th century.

Cisneros’s 22 stories and sketches are grouped into three sections, each with a story that shares the same title as the section: “My Lucy Friend Who Smells Like Corn,” “One Holy Night,” and “There Was a Man, There Was a Woman.” The stories are all first-person narratives of individuals who have been assimilated into American culture but who feel a divided sense of loyalty to Mexico.

The first section, “My Lucy Friend Who Smells Like Corn,” concerns younger girls of about 11-years of age, growing up in the Mexican barrios of the United States. The girls feel a significant amount of tension between their Mexican heritage and the demands of the American culture. The second section, “One Holy Night,” concerns adolescent girls who are experiencing an initiation or some kind of sudden realization. Finally, the third and the largest section of writing, “There Was a Man, There Was a Woman,” explores the challenges of mature women struggling to act against familial and cultural pressures as well as traditional gender roles.

Some of the major themes of Woman hollering creek are poverty and cultural suppression, the search for self-identity, and the role of the woman in Mexican-American culture. Misogyny, spousal abuse, violence, rape, and the limitations of traditional gender roles are recurring issues for Cisneros’s female characters in her stories. These woman, many who realize the soul-killing restrictions of familial and cultural expectations, struggle toward self-definition and control over their own lives. In several of Cisneros’ stories, the heroines try to escape the patriarchal limits of their culture through education and self-expression.

Border themes are also a major part of this work’s focus as is border crossings — functioning as a metaphor for various characters attempting to cross cultural and artistic boundaries. Cisneros attempts to depict the situation between two cultures — Mexican and American — a sort of cultural borderland.


Cisneros, Sandra. (1992). Woman hollering creek: And other stories. Vintage; 1st vintage contemporaries edition.

Julia Alvarez’s (2010) work, How the Garcia girls lost their accents,” uses fifteen stories to chronicle a Dominican family’s exile in the Bronx. The stories focus on the Garcia daughters’ rebellion against their immigrant elders. The conflict begins within the Garcia family during the point of political and cultural break when the family had to leave the Dominican Republic. The fragmentation of the extended family in 1960 due to immigration lead to a spiraling dissolution of the Garcia nuclear family. As the girls get older and mature, they grow increasingly distant from one another, their parents, and their relatives on the island. Their integration into American culture tears them further apart from their family roots and leaves them badly prepared to deal with their parents’ more traditional perspectives.

Language has a different meaning — both cultural and literary — for each member of the Garcia family. Laura uses assumed idioms recklessly, yet she always effectively communicates what it is she wants to say, even if she mixes up the very certain or specific images. Yolanda would never use words recklessly because she think of herself almost like a poet with highly discriminating literary tastes and notions about the world. Her husband John’s monolingual restrictions annoy her massively and are the impetus for the final break of their relationship, after they finally lose the ability to communicate successfully. The weakening of Sandra’s ability to make sense of language signals her looming mental collapse. This collapse is preceded by the aching fear that she will lose the aptitude to read and reason with language, demonstrating that humanity for her is represented by language itself. Carla’s difficulties fitting into American society and communicating with authorities, such as teachers and the police, come from her restricted English capabilities. For her, language has the power to prohibit and segregate, in addition to the power to connect and smooth the progress of interactions.


Alvarez, Julia. (2010). How the Garcia girls lost their accents. Algonquin Books; reprint edition.

Anzaldua’s book entitled Making face, making soul: Haciendo caras: Creative and critical perspectives by feminists of color (1995) is an anthology of essays and poetry by women of color. In the introduction to this anthology, Anzaldua says that the reader “must do the work of piecing this text together,” (1995) because it is then that the text may communicate a feeling for the “fragmented and interrupted dialogue” (1995) with which feminists, particularly the feminists of color, must compete in the challenge against patriarchal discourse and the problems that it creates — for example, racism, myopia, ethnocentricity, and blatant hatred for women. When the book is read from this perspective, the experience, she notes, will be therapeutic as well as a very distinct experience like no other. There are more academic as well as anachronistic essays by feminists as well as “simpler” works by students, activists and artists who speak on many different topics of feminist interest. Some of the essays combine theoretical essay with poetry and personal narration, which reflects a span of emotion. The book gives thoughts and words to topics that have been, for the most part, excluded.


Anzaldua, Gloria. (1995). Making face, making soul / Haciendo caras: Creative and critical perspectives by feminists of color. Aunt Lute Books; first edition; highlighted.

The bridge we call home: Radical visions for transformation by Gloria Anzaldua (2002) is another anthology with over 80 contributors consisting of academics, artists and activists. The book is modeled after Anzaldua’s book entitled This bridge called my back (1981) and it continues exploring different aspects and challenges when it comes to feminist thought. Contributor and co-editor Keating says that this book isn’t meant to be any kind of commemorative but it sets out “to examine the current states of multicultural feminist theorizing.” This book is much more academic than the previous book but it still consists of poems, letters, essays and stories from contributors of different races, sexual orientation, and nationalities (including men). The writers explore different issues such as sexism, racism and homophobia. Some of the writers include Max Wolf Valero, Shefali Milczarek-Desai, and Evelyn Alsultany. Australian anthropologist Helen Johnson writes that “the Bridge” has given her the opportunity to offer global perspectives on issues of race, gender, ethnicity, and power against the now antiquated white feminists’ utopian ideal of universal sisterhood.


Anzaldua, Gloria. (2002). The bridge we call home: Radical visions for transformation. Routledge; 1st edition.

Moraga and Anzaldua (1981) wrote the forewards to the anthology entitled This bridge called my back: writings by radical women of color. It is a work comprised of writings by authors such as Jo Carillo, Gabrielle Daniels, Nellie Wong, and Genny Lim. All of the works attempt to inform the reader of issues facing women of color in the United States. From “I Paid Very Hard for My Immigrant Ignorance” by Mirth Quintanales to “I Don’t Understand Those Who Have Turned Away From Me” by Chrystos, the writings give voice to some of the more frustrating and angering challenges facing women of color who have felt silenced and ignored because of their color and/or their gender. The book offers a serious challenge to white feminists who made claims to commonality based on “sisterhood.” This book lays the foundation for what is now referred to as “third wave feminism” with its emphasis on race-related subjectivities within the topic of feminism. The book provides the framework for new activist-based coalitions and joins feminism, race, class, and sexuality. It also brings “an intellectual framework” of identities based on race and ethnicity to lesbian and gay studies. Cherrie Moraga adapted the anthology into the Spanish language — Esta Puente, mi espalda; Voces de mujeres tercemundistas en los Estados Unidos.


Anzaldua, Gloria., & Moraga, Cherrie. (1984). This bridge called my back: Writings by radical women of color. Kitchen Table — Women of Color Press; 2nd edition.

Chapter Two: Latinas and Their Talks About Race

In the book Critical Counterstories Along the Chicana/Chicano Education Pipeline, Tara Yosso (2005) notes that Chicana/os are part of the youngest, largest, and fastest growing racial / ethnic “minority” population in the United States, yet on every educational level, they suffer the lowest educational outcomes of any racial / ethnic group. Using a “counterstorytelling” methodology, Yosso (2005) debunks racialized myths that blame the victims for these unequal educational outcomes and redirects our focus toward historical patterns of institutional neglect.

Yosso (2005) uses empirical data as well as theoretical arguments to expose and analyze racism as it functions to limit access and opportunity for Chicana/os students. By humanizing the need to transform our educational system, Yosso offers an accessible tool for teaching and learning about the problems and possibilities present along the Chicana/o educational pipeline.


Yosso, Tara J. (2005). Critical race counterstories along the Chicana/Chicano

education pipeline (Teaching learning social justice). Routledge; 1 edition.

Perez (2009) notes in his book entitled We are Americans: Undocumented students pursuing the American dream, that approximately 2.4 million of children and young adults in the United States under the age of 24 are undocumented. Their parents brought the children and young adults to the U.S. As minors – many not even teenagers yet — and they now account for about one-sixth of the total undocumented population. They are illegal — yet, through no fault of their own, and it is estimated that approximately 65,000 undocumented students graduate from the nation’s high schools each and every year. These graduates cannot legally work and they face many frustrating challenges when it comes to their future (e.g. enrolling in college). For many of them, the United States is the only home they know and English the only language they speak, yet they are treated as foreigners when it comes to finding a job and getting a higher education in order to create a better life for themselves (2009).

Through the stories of 16 students, from seniors in high school to graduate students, Perez (2009) gives the estimated 2.4 million children and young adults a voice in which to be heard. Despite the financial hardship, the unpredictability of living with the real and daily threat of deportation, other restrictions of all kinds, and sometimes discrimination from their teachers — many aren’t just persisting in the educational system, but achieving academically, and furthermore, participating in community service.

Perez (2009) also tackles the topic of social and policy issues regarding immigration reform. He gets rid of the myths about illegal immigrants’ supposed drain on state and federal resources, providing authoritative evidence to the contrary. He convincingly makes the case — on economic, social, and constitutional and moral grounds — for more flexible policies towards undocumented immigrants. If today’s immigrants, like those of past generations, are a positive force for our society, how much truer, Perez (2009) asks, is that where undocumented students are concerned?


Perez, William. (2009). We are Americans; Undocumented students pursuing the American dream. Stylus Publishing.

Solorzano and Solorzano (1995) states in the article entitled “The Chicano educational experience: A framework for effective schools in Chicano communities” that the underrepresentation of Chicanos at each point in the educational and professional pipeline has resulted in both a talent loss to society and a loss of important role models for the next generation of Chicano students who aspire to educational and professional careers. This article (1) explores the educational conditions and related outcomes of Chicanos from elementary school through college, (b) examines the theoretical models used to explain the low achievement and attainment of Chicanos in elementary and secondary schools, and (c) investigates two precollege intervention models called the Effective Schools and Accelerated Schools programs and adapts them for use with Chicano students (1995).


Solorzano, Daniel G., & Solorzano, Ronald W. (1995). “The Chicano educational experience: A framework for effective schools in Chicano communities.”

Hispanic journal of behavioral sciences, 9. pp. 293-314.

Critical race theory (CRT) is a movement that came to be in the 1970s. CRT attempts to transform the relationship between race and power by examining the role of race and racism within the foundations of modern culture. Richard Delgado is one of the founders of critical race theory along with Derrick Bell, Neil Gotanda, Charles Lawrence III, and Cheryl I. Harris. In Delgado’s (1999) book, Critical race theory,


Delgado, Richard. (1999). Critical race theory. Temple University Press; 2nd edition.

Cameron (1997) begins his article entitled, “How the Garcia cousins lost their accents: Understanding the language of Title VII decision approving English-only rules as the product of racial dualism, Latino invisibility, and legal indeterminacy,” explaining that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlaws discrimination in employment based on — among other things — national origin (1997). The adoption by employers of policies requiring workers to speak only English in their place of employment would seem to constitute national origin discrimination against bilingual Latinos, whose Spanish-speaking ability is central to their identity. In this essay, Cameron (1997) seeks to understand why judges hold national origin challenges based on language discrimination in such low esteem. Cameron (1997) argues that three themes drawn from the expanding literature of “LatCrit” (1997) theory help explain these outcomes: racial dualism, the tendency of courts to view civil rights discourse in terms of Blacks and Whites to the exclusion of Browns and other people of color; Latino invisibility, the tendency of legal institutions to make Hispanic litigants and their injuries; and legal indeterminacy, the tendency of the jurisprudential tools of legal reasoning to be ambiguous and manipulable. The author states that understanding judges’ use of language — “phraseology” (1997), choice of metaphor, and silence — offers insights into the values and prejudices that have assigned Latinos and other minorities to second-class legal status. By confronting these values and prejudices, courts and combatants may begin to change them and accord victims of national origin discrimination the respect that they well deserve.


Cameron, Christopher David Ruiz. (1997). “How the Garcia cousins lost their accents:

Understanding the language of Title VII decisions approving English-only rules as the product of racial dualism, Latino invisibility, and legal indeterminacy.” 85

CALIF. L. Rev. 1347. [1997]; I0 LA RAZA L.J. 261 [1998].

In the book Chicana/Latina education in everyday life: Feminista perspectives on pedagogy and epistemology edited by Villenas et al. (2006), feminist definitions of learning and teaching are explored as well as different ways of knowing in education. The contributors of the book are all Chicana/Latina feminist scholars who reinterpret the field of education as inter- and transdisciplinary and connected to ethnic, racial, and womanist scholarship.

In the essay entitled “Negotiating identity amid socio-cultural beliefs and ideology” by Michelle A. Holling (2006), she defines identity as “an individual’s conception of her self which is communicated through the names or labels she attributes to herself, the stories she tells and the experiences she conveys, and involves a process of becoming” (2006). In Holling’s work with Chicana/Latina students she recounts how many of these young women have dichotomous thinking when it comes to identification — and many are plagued with the need to be either “white” or “Mexican.” Holling mentions Anzaldua’s words about being “un amasamiento,” claiming all aspects of one’s identity and abandoning nothing, which allows young women to embrace both aspects of her identity (2006). Instead of viewing being biracial as something that is negative, young women can learn to see it as a privilege to belong to two different backgrounds. When there is a refusal to accept all aspects of one’s identity, one becomes “a woman with a foot in both worlds [who] refuse[s] the split” (Moraga 1983; Hollings 2006; Villenas 2006).


Villenas, Sofia., Delgado Bernal, Dolores., Elenes, C. Alejandra., Godinez, Francisca,

E. (2006). Chicana/Latina education in everyday life: Feminista perspectives on pedagogy and epistemology. State University of New York Press.

Chapter Three: Ideology as Applied To Race

It is easy to dismiss the word discourse as it is often heard as being merely intellectual jargon – -however, Foucault (1972) believes that discourse validates knowledge — that is, we come to know meaning through the avenue of discourse.

Discourse is merely a term that was developed to analyze different systems of thoughts, ideas, images and other symbolic practices that make us who we are. Ideology, a Marxist term, is the ideal term for understanding conflict — both politically and socially, however, it has kept its earliest association with a system of ideas that blinds a person from the truth. Marxist’s term ideology was based on the assumption that all ideas and thoughts were a reflection of a social reality — and especially the economic interests of a dominant group or class of people; historical change was thus the product of social transformations.

Foucault (1972) illustrates that ideas can produce historical transformation — not just reflect them and thus discourse theory tells us that we have to be attentive to very minimal shifts in how ideas are expressed in language. Language — and other types of symbolic exchange — is the main topic of discourse theory. Discourse, of course, refers to very specific patterns of language that tell us something about the individual speaking the language, the culture that that individual belongs to, the network of social institutions that the person belongs to, and even — oftentimes — the most basic assumptions that the individual possesses. Discourse also may give an individual a certain amount of power or authority over other individuals.

Foucault (1972) believes that discourse creates a world, generates knowledge and “truth,” and says something about the individuals who speak it. Discourse is really a world that is un-scientific because we are making the world up in our heads. We do not create this virtual world alone, but rather, we build this world socially through complex relationships and interactions between experience, childhood, and education.

Foucault (1972) posits that discourse doesn’t just make up the world that we live in, but also all the types of knowledge and “truth.” For Foucault (1972) knowledge is not something that exists independently of language. Basically stated, knowledge is not just communicated through language; all language is organized through structures, interconnections, and associations that are built into language. Foucault (1972) would insist that discourse generates truth — that is, particular discourses in particular contexts have the ability to convince individuals to accept statements as true.

Another aspect of Foucault’s (1972) work is that he asserts that when we analyze the discourse a speaker speaks, we can usually tell things about the individual’s gender, sexuality, ethnicity, class position, and even the speaker’s implied relationship to other individuals around him or her.

Particular forms of discourse allow particular types of people to “speak the truth,” or at least they are believed to be speaking the truth when speaking about certain subjects. Discourses therefore can give certain individuals some amount of political, social or cultural power. (Foucault (1972) is especially interested in looking at forms of discourse that now everyone has the right to use, or that require special locations to gain authority.)


Foucault, Michel. (1972). The archaeology of knowledge (L’archeologie du savoir).

London: Routledge

In Christopher L. Pines’s (1993) book Ideology and false consciousness: Marx and his historical progenitors, Pine (1993) says that the concept of “false consciousness” comes from Marx’s theory of social class. The concept refers to the systematic misrepresentation of dominant social relations in the consciousness of subordinate classes. Marx never uses the term “false consciousness,” but he did pay special attention to the related concepts of ideology and commodity fetishism. The theory is that members of subordinate classes — such as workers, peasants, slaves — suffer from false consciousness in that their mental representations of the social relations around them systematically hide the realities of subordination, exploitation, and domination those relations embody. Some of his related concepts to this are mystification, ideology, and fetishism.

Pines (1993) notes that Marx offered an objective theory of class, which was based on an analysis of the objective features of the system of economic relations that constitute social order. An individual’s social class is determined by his or her position within the system of property relations that constitutes a given economic society. Individuals also possess subjective characteristics: thoughts, mental frameworks, and identities. These mental constructs provide the individual with a cognitive framework in terms that the individual understands his or her part in the world and the forces that govern his or her life. An individual’s mental constructs may conform more or less well to the social reality they seek to represent. In class society, there is an inborn conflict of material interests between privileged and subordinate groups. Marx claims that social mechanisms come out in class society that systematically create distortions, errors, and blind spots in the consciousness of the underclass. If those conscious-shaping mechanisms did not exist, then the underclass, always a majority, would very quickly overthrow the system of their domination. So the institutions that shape the person’s thoughts, ideas, and frameworks develop in such a way as to generate false consciousness and ideology.


Pines, Christopher L.. (1993). Ideology and false consciousness: Marx and his historical progenitors (SUNY series in the philosophy of the social sciences). State

Marx’s theory of ideology is presented in The German ideology, including theses on Feuerbach by Marx and Engels (1998). Marx uses the term “ideology” to refer to a system of ideas through which people understand their world. A central theoretical assertion in Marx’s writings is the view that “ideology” and thought are dependent on the material circumstances in which the person lives. Material circumstances determine consciousness, rather than consciousness determining material reality: “The hand-mill gives you society with the feudal lord; the steam-mill society with the industrial capitalist” (1998). A system of ideology plays the role of supporting the class advantage of the dominant class, according to Marx’s theory.

For Marx (1998), ideology itself represents the production of ideas, conceptions, and consciousness — all that men might say, imagine and conceive (1998) and include thinks like politics, morality, law, religion and metaphysics (1998). Ideology is the superstructure of any civilization (i.e., the conventions and culture that make up the dominant ideas of a society).

Marx (1998) argues that the way in which we understand our own lives, the frameworks in which we make and distribute our experience, is fundamental to how we live them. Therefore, our consciousness comes into play in everything that we do, giving it is character as well as purpose.

Central, of course, to Marxism is the understanding of capitalism and that it is an economic system with two major classes. The capitalist class owns and controls all production, capital, and they are perpetually trying to increase their profits. The working class, on the other hand, which is the largest percentage of the population, sell their labor and working abilities for a certain wage. The profits mainly come from paying workers less than the value that these workers add to production (i.e., exploitation). To understand racism is to understand, according to Marx, how capitalism works and the only way to end inequality is to overthrow capitalism.

In the Marxist or class-based analysis of racism, the tendency for the working

Class to be fragmented and divided racially, both in material conditions and ideologically, is dominant. An opposite effect of capitalist accumulation — the break down or racial, ethnic, gender — and other differences — also exists but is not as strong (Marx & Engels 1998).


Marx, Karl., & Engels, Friedrich. (1998). The German ideology, including theses on Feuerbach (Great books in philosophy). Prometheus Books; paperback edition.

Mannheim (2008) offers a more sociological treatment of class-consciousness in his formulation of a sociology of knowledge in the 1930s. The sociological of knowledge attempts to provide a theoretical account of the relationship between knowledge systems and the social conditions within which they emerge; this offers a theoretical framework in terms of which to understand the workings of a system of ideology. Manheim supports the notion that the social position of the bourgeoisie and the proletariat deeply influence the forms knowledge that they embody; and in each case, he argues that these forms of material bias lead to a systematic falsification of social reality.


Mannheim, Karl. (2008). An ideology and utopia: An introduction to sociological of knowledge. Kessinger Publishing, LLC.

In Luke Ferretter’s (2006) book Louis Althusser, he explains that Althusser revolutionized Marxist theory. Althusser’s writings basically changed the face of literary and cultural studies and continues to influence political modes of criticism such as feminism, post-colonialism, and queer theory (2006). Althusser answered the question as to why people think that they have an identity, personality, a soul or spirit which constitutes their fundamental reality in one simple word: ideology. It is ideology that causes individuals whose lives are in reality determined by their insertion in a complex series of social practices to believe that they are free subjects, the origin and source of their thoughts, emotions and actions.

Ideology addresses a person before he or she is even born, as he or she grows up, and throughout his or her life, as an “I,” as a subject, as a site of identity, thought and action. Althusser referred to this as “interpellation”: ideology calls me into being as a subject, as if it were calling me by name in the street (Ferretter 2006). It causes others to see that individual as a subject, although in the reality of the capitalist mode of production, the individual has none of the attributes of that ideological concept.


Ferretter, Luke. (2006). Louis Althusser (Routledge critical thinkers). Routledge; 1st edition.

Althusser’s (2008) theory involves contemplating how individuals are brought into ideology as subjects — why individuals are complicit with the workings of ideology in a certain culture. Althusser (2008) uses psychoanalytic theory to illustrate how the economic structures inheres in the individual as a requisite part of their existence or being. Interpellation is the theory of how this occurs. Ideology “acts” or “functions” in such a way that it “recruits” subjects among the individuals (it recruits them all), or “transforms” the individuals into subjects (it transforms them all) by that very precise operation which he calls interpellation, and which can be imagined along the lines of the most commonplace everyday police (or other) hailing: “Hey, you there!” Althusser (2008) considers, as an example, the Christian religious ideology. In it, he argues, the “subjects” of the ideology — Christians — are addressed or interpellated by the ISA of the Church. They are told that God exists, the God created them, that they are responsible to Him, and how to behave in order please Him. They are even told that God became a human being like them, and that as human beings they will become like God. It is in terms like these that Christians understand themselves and act. Althusser discerns in this system of thought and practice several important aspects of the way in which ideology interpellates individuals as subjects. He argues: “All this ‘procedure’ to set up Christian religious subjects is dominated by a strange phenomenon: the fact that there can only be such a multitude of possible religious subjects on the absolute condition that there is a Unique, Absolute, Other Subject, i.e. God.” (2008).

Althusser’s theory does not represent one single or unified front on the concept of ideology, but rather several strands of his ruminations over some years. The theory contains pieces of several different traditions — from Marx to Comte and Durkheim. He claims that ideology is pre-scientific. To Althusser (2008), philosophy is not simply ideological, or the status of “sheer ideological illusion” (2008) to which the German ideology reduces it. Rather, it is ideological when it simply creates new knowledge based on existing scientific concepts without the development of the new theory.

Althusser (2008) prefers theory to philosophy for the same reasons that Marx criticized Feuerbach as simply interpreting, rather than transforming, history, but this isn’t meant to reduce the status of philosophy. Althusser posits that ideology is like the unconscious. Ideology is an necessary to sustaining life as breathing and people depend on ideology as a wake to make some sense (though limited) of their life experiences. Ideology is not an deviation to consciousness, which provides ideology’s sense of autonomy, but rather an integral part of it embedded and unrecognized in the unconscious. Where particular ideologies may have a history, ideology in general has no history and is eternal, like the unconscious. If ideology is a system of representations, of images that individuals use to create a portrait of the social formation for their own understanding, then ideology, as an imaginary relation, also allows them to imagine an alternative possibility, which is often an alienated form.

Althusser (2008) discusses the ways in which people are always already subjects, by which he means that no one exists outside of the realm — or system — of ideology. Infants are interpellated into the social system at the moment of birth — or, he suggests, even before. But the question then arises: What is a subject? Althusser (2008) believes that the word denotes both “free subjectivity, a center of initiatives, author of and responsible for its actions” (2008) as well as “a subjected being who submits to a higher authority, and is therefore stripped of all freedom except that of freely accepting his submission” (2008). He continues, “This last note gives us the meaning of this ambiguity, which is merely a reflection of the effect which produces it: the individual is interpellated as a (free) subject in order that he shall (freely) accept his subjection, i.e., in order that he shall make the gestures and actions of his subjection ‘all by himself’” (2008).

Althusser (2008) argues that “those who are in ideology believe themselves by definition outside ideology: one of the effects of ideology is the practical denial of the ideological character of ideology by ideology” (2008). He goes on by saying that “It is necessary to be outside ideology, i.e., in scientific knowledge, to be able to say: I am in ideology (a quite exceptional case) or (the general case): I was in ideologyideology has not outside (for itself), but at the same time that it is nothing but outside (for science and reality)” (2008).


Althusser, Louis. (2008). On ideology (Radical thinkers). Verso.

According to Leonardo (2009) in his book Race, whiteness, and education, he states that Althusser’s theory of ideology does not mention race, however, his theory of ideology is useful in the study of race, which is as much a problem at the ideological level as it is at the material (2009). Furthermore, Leonardo (2009) asserts that Althusser’s discourse on ideology enriches debates about race to the extent that his general insights on ideology are appropriate for such an analysis.

Leonardo (2009) discusses the love/hate relationship of ideology, race, and science. He states that on one hand, what is passed off as science — e.g., eugenics — has been used to justify racial hierarchies. Leonardo (2009) suggests that people, especially Americans, are still completely obsessed with “scientizing” racial categories, especially when it is at the expense of blacks — or, more aptly put — to the advantage of whites (2009).

Leonardo (2009) goes on to say that science legitimated the meaningfulness (or lack thereof) of a concept, stigmatizing the study of race as simply ideological and made up, unlike its real counterpart: culture (2009). Race has become an ideological concept without scientific merit, he asserts — and therefore it is not real.

He notes that critical work on race does not only study its real manifestations and declares everything else ghosts of the real; it must critically understand its imaginative (i.e., ideological) dimensions, or how people imagine race in their daily lives. An example Leonardo (2009) uses is white students in education courses on race or multiculturalism and their maintaining of ideological world-views, even in the face of scientific evidence to contradict their beliefs. White students might assert that they must stay out of ghettos or barrios for fear of crime — but also for self-preservation despite the fact that is it scientifically inaccurate and sociologically insignificant to be victimized as visitors of these areas. For many whites, Leonardo (2009) argues, it is not convincing to argue that people who live in ghettos and barrios are the main victims of crime in their own neighborhoods, not the visitor. That is to say that a higher percentage of crime happens to people of color who live in the ghettos or the barrios — not the random white visitor. With that way of thinking, Leonardo (2009) states that whites might as well play the lottery in hopes of hitting the jackpot.

Leonardo (2009) states that in education, race analysis proceeds with “no guarantees.” This, he discerns, suggests the necessity to analyze race in order to undo the relation itself, just as one must be conscious of black and white in order to transcend black and white (2009). If race is going to continue in the United States, it will be a non-essentialist relation or the risks become predictable, he asserts. If race is to be dissolved, there is good reason for ending a relation that has, from the very beginning, transformed education into enlightenment for whites and a burden for people of color.

Leonardo’s (2009) book, overall, deals with issues in critical social analysis of race and education, representing his publications on race, critical social theory, and education from 2002 to 2008.


Leonardo, Zeus. (2009). Race, whiteness, and education. Routledge.

“The unhappy marriage between Marxism and race critique: Political economy and the production of racialized knowledge” (Leonardo 2004) discusses how in education policy theory orthodox Marxism is known for its commitment to objectivism or the science of history. Race analysis is developed in its ability to explain the subjective dimension of racial oppression. The two theories are often at odds with each other. Leonardo’s (2004) article attempts to create a theory by integrating Marxist objectivism and race theory’s focus on subjectivity. As a result, both Marxism and race analysis are strengthened in a way that maintains the integrity of each discourse. This can benefit education policy theory because praxis is the dialectical attempt to synthesize the inner and external processes of schooling (2004).

The article notes that Heidi Hartmann (1993; Leonardo 2004) first argued for a more progressive union in the ‘unhappy marriage’ between Marxism and feminism. Leonardo (2004) argues for a very similar union between race and class analysis in education. He notes that oftentimes when Marxist orthodoxy takes up the topic of race, it reduces race relations to the status of a reflex within class dynamics. This essentially means that orthodox Marxism economizes the concept of race and the specific issues found within themes of racial identity, development, and representation be become subsumed under modes of production — or even worse — as an instance of false consciousness (2004). He states that on the other hand, when race analysis takes up class issues, it sometimes accomplishes this by reifying race as something primordial or fixed, rather than social and historical (2004). Uncritical engagement of class issues within race discourse doesn’t incorporate the historical explanations found.

Leonardo (2004) states that it is now a social scientific fact that class status is one of the strongest, if the strongest, predictors for student achievement. Essentially, there is a positive correlation between the class status of a student’s family and that student’s success in school. He also notes that it is an equally well-acknowledged fact that the working class and the working-poor groups are made up of a disproportionate number of people of color. “In U.S. schools, Latino and African-American students face the interlocking effects of racial, economic, and educational structures. From the outset this establishes the centrality of both class and race analysis to school outcomes and policies designed to address them” (2004).


Leonardo, Zeus. (2004). “The unhappy marriage between Marxism and race critique:

Political economy and the production of racialized knowledge.” Policy futures in education, Vol. 2, No. 3 & 4. Long Beach: California State University.

In Terry Eagleton’s (1991) Ideology: An introduction, he states that John B. Thompson’s definition of ideology (“To study ideology is to study the ways in which meaning — or signification — serves to sustain relations of domination” (1991) ) is probably the most widely accepted definition of ideology, however, he asks if this means that socialists, feminists, and other radicals should come clean about the ideological nature of their own values. (Eagleton (1991) himself offers sixteen definitions of ideology, from ‘the process of production of meanings, signs and values of social life’ to ‘the process whereby social life is converted to a natural reality.’) He states that if the term [ideology] is confined to dominant forms of social thought, then it would be wrong and confusing to come clean about the ideological nature of different values; however, he claims that there may be need for a broader definition of ideology, as a kind of intersection between belief systems and political power (1991). Such a definition, he asserts, would be neutral on the question of whether this ‘intersection’ challenged or confirmed a particular social order (2006). He states that the political philosopher martin Seliger argues for that kind of formulation, defining ideology as “sets of ideas by which men [sic] posit, explain, and justify ends and means of organized social action, and specifically political action, irrespective of whether such action aims to preserve, amend, uproot or rebuild a given social order” (1991). Eagleton (1991) asserts that some of the most productive currents in Marxist theory have straddled the epistemological and sociological definitions of ideology. He ascertains that both the wider and the narrower senses of ideology have their functions, in spite of the fact that they are mutually incompatible. Eagleton’s (1991) own response to the various meanings and definitions of ideology is — very candidly — ‘use what you can’.

Eagleton (1991) gives a very sharp focus to the concept of ideology. He attempts to clarify and refine the notion of ideology. Ideology (1991) acknowledges the pressing contradiction that, in a world that is clearly racked by ideological conflict, the very concept of ideology seems to have been rendered obsolete in postmodern and post-structuralist thinking. Eagleton (1991) posits that the explanation for this demoting ideology has a lot to do with a postmodern skepticism about truth and representation, and with a general reformation of the relations between rationality, interests and power (1991).


Eagleton, Terry. (1991). Ideology: An introduction. Verso.

In Ideology, culture and the process of schooling, Henry A. Giroux (1984) states that there are a number of mediating forces that support forms of resistance among teachers. Informal cultural and ideological factors such as ethnicity, race, world-view, and social class background often generate oppositional attitudes among teachers toward school authority, rules, predefined curriculum structures, and institutionally sanctioned forms of teacher accountability. This means that different individuals and groups of teachers interpret the role of schooling in different terms.

Those modes of opposition aforementioned speak to the importance of certain mediations and the force of creativity among different social groups trying to affirm their individual and collective identities in structures and settings that are predefined for them. Giroux (1984) analyzes a study where the working-class students rejected the middle-class mores of the school, supporting a more fundamental level of some of the basic assumptions of the existing division of labor and power in the dominant society. Though the rejected individualism, conformism, credentials and other elements of the ideology of meritocracy, they supporting ideas of sexism, racism, and anti-intellectualism (1984). Teachers, he claims, find themselves in the same types of situations. Though they may recognize that a lot of the meritocratic ideas about curriculum and pedagogy are imperfect, they support a variety of myths and beliefs about class and power that prevent them from developing insights that point to the political nature of their own practice or to the political source of the structural limitations imposed on them by existing social and economic arrangements (1984).

The confines that undermine recognition of the contradictions that come out in the schooling process are mainly ideological, according to Giroux (1984). They are deep-seated images, beliefs, and values that make the social construction of reality look like an eternal part of the reality of society and schooling. The existential reality of teachers and students is shaped as well by certain structural and social processes at the day-to-day level of schooling. While the practical conditions of the schooling experience are different from school to school, they all share certain features that join them together and to wider societal forces (1984). All school environments create (in non-mechanical ways) certain pressures, constraints, and limits on the nature and feasibility of what students and teachers can do to ‘shape their own reality’ (1984). The size of a class, school authority and how authority rules, community influences, and the ideology and strength of a school board all play a significant role in determining how politically vulnerable human actors might be if they ‘innovated’ or tried something different in their classrooms (1984). The question of the overt and covert ‘rules and meanings’ that govern teacher decision making cannot be left out from consideration when analyzing the relationship of theory to practice, Giroux (1984) asserts.


Giroux, Henry A. (1984). Ideology, culture and the process of schooling. Temple Henry A. Giroux (2010) calls President Barack Obama the “iconic harbinger of hope and a more democratic future” and notes that his speech to the NAACAP in July of 2009 was unlike many of his speeches in that he incorporated many ideological positions that illustrated his commitment to making up for the mistakes of the Bush years was less firm that his previous positions had suggested. He pointed out the evils of racism, bringing attention to the wealth gap, unemployment, rising health care costs, HIV, the housing crisis as well as the effects the economic downturn had on African-Americans. Giroux (2010) notes that the speech became rather conservative, taking a detour to the ideological right, when Obama said “government programs alone won’t get our children to the Promised Land,” and urging black parents to work with their kids so that they remain in school where they should be. He did not mention, according to Giroux (2010), the insidious zero tolerance policies that push so many kids onto the streets or into the criminal justice system. He asked parents to raise expectations for their kids, but he only made a passing reference to prison-industrial complex that imprisons many black youths in staggering disproportionate numbers and to the lack of public services and employment opportunities ravaging many African-American communities (2010).

Giroux (2010) states that the privatizing message of personal responsibility has a long history as a nasty racial code for ignoring a plethora of structural forces that promote discriminatory lending and zoning policies, segregated schools, the diversion of federal funds from much-needed social programs to dysfunctional tax cuts for the rich, the exploitation of people whose economic choices are limited by predatory financial institutions, an economic Darwinism that destroys and vestige of the public good, and corporate-controlled dominant media who endlessly blame poor minorities of color and class for their fate (2010). “The message here is clear: ‘individual initiative’ and ‘personal responsibility’ for the poor, bailouts for the rich” (2010).

Giroux (2010) continues, stating that personal responsibility becomes empty rhetoric in a society that collapses social problems into private issues. He quotes Zygmunt Bauman (“To Hope Is Human”) who said: “Citizens are now abandoned to their own cunning and guts while held solely responsible for the results of their struggles against adversities not of their making” (2010). Those who are poor and vulnerable are seen as superfluous and disposable. Obama’s endorsement of the “tough love” ideology (that is often considered far-righters) suggests to Giroux (2010) that he hasn’t taken his own words to heart. “Black pathology,” he asserts, “given its overbearing power in American history, once invoked, serves, once again, to trump and cancel out those economic, political, and social forces at work to undermine democracy in the United States” (2010). He states that Obama’s idea of hope is less having to do with the ideals of Martin Luther King, Jr. And more to do with the post-racial Huxtable family from the Cosby Show (2010).


Giroux, Henry A. (2010). Politics after hope: Obama and the crisis of youth, race and democracy (The radical imagination). Paradigm Publishers.

Fugitive cultures: Race, violence, and youth (Giroux 1996) begins his book with the Dick Hebdige quote, “In our society, youth is present only when its presence is a problem, or is regarded as a problem.” He contemplates Snoop Doggy Dogg’s front cover on Newsweek along with its headline about black men spreading violence like a social disease through his music. But the article says the violence isn’t just in the music, the violence is an everyday part of life for these people (1996). Who are the potential victims of this music and, in general, this violent lifestyle they lead? White male and female youth, of course. But, Giroux (1996) insists that white youths are not left alone either. They are seen as being generally lazy and not wanting to live up to the potential afforded them by middle-upper class baby-boomers as parents. However, what is often not considered is the fact that jobs aren’t as abundant as they were five, ten, fifteen, twenty years ago. The production of goods shifting to third world countries and corporate downsizing streamlining American businesses has presented dim prospects for the youth of today and their future.

Giroux (1996) states that rethinking the conditions of youth is imperative in order to turn around the very angry discourse of the 1980s and 1990s that turned its back on the victims of the United States society and resorted to both blaming and punishing them for their social and economic problems. He notes that in the states of Michigan and Wisconsin, two states that subscribe to “Learnfare” programs, a single mother is penalized with a lower food allowance if her kids are absent from school (1996). In other states, he says that welfare payments may be reduced if single mothers do not get married (1996). He notes that Mickey Kaus, editor at New Republic, has argued that if welfare mothers refuse to work at menial jobs that are assigned to them that the state should remove their children from their homes (1996). Kaus states that illiterate women can work raking leaves or something menial and trivial. Giroux (1996) discerns that this kind of talk — vicious and callous — has spilled into national discussions about youth and their future. Rather than facing the challenges concerned with economic and social conditions that cripple the U.S.’s youth, leaving many hungry, without shelter and access to a decent education, in unsafe environments, many politicians have turned to repressive institutional reforms (1996).

Giroux (1996) notes that the racial coding of violence is especially powerful and pervasive in its association of crime with black and Latino youths. Black and Latino boys mean dangerous, girls mean welfare. They all mean drugs. They are all suspects (1996). However, Giroux (1996) points out the racism in this using the example of Bob Dole’s attack on rap artists for contributing to violence in the social order. This is the same Bob Dole who is a staunch supporter of the National Rifle Association and who lead the charge in the Senate to repeal the ban on assault weapons (1996).

On that same note, Giroux (1996) points out the pervasive racism in the United States by using the example of — funnily enough — Disney films. Racism in Disney films doesn’t just appear in negative imagery, but is it reproduced through racially coded languages and accents. An example: “Aladdin portrays the ‘bad’ Arabs with thick foreign accents, while the Anglicized Jasmine and Aladdin speak in standard Americanized English” (1996). Giroux states definitively that Peter Schneider, the president of feature animation at Disney, confirmed that Aladdin was modeled after Tom Cruise (1996). Another example can be seen in The Lion King where Scar, the evilest of lions, is depicted as darker in coloring than the good lions. The royal family speak with posh British accents while the despicable hyenas speak through the voices of the likes of Whoopi Goldberg and Cheech Marin (1996).

Whiteness, as a form of racial identity, is universalized through the privileged representation of the middle-class social relations, values, and linguistic practices. Even in such films like Pocahontas, Giroux (1996) asserts that even thought cultural differences are depicted more positively, there is still the suggestion that in the end racial identities must remain separate. “Pocahontas is one of the few love stories in Disney’s animated series in which the lovers do not live together happily ever after. It is also one of the few love stories that brings lovers from different races together” (1996).

Another stark feature in these movies, worth contemplation since these films do teach our youth about their social identities, is that nature and the animal kingdom offer the mechanism for presenting and legitimating caste, royalty, and structural inequality as part of the natural order (Giroux 1996). “The seemingly benign presentation of celluloid dramas in which men rule, strict discipline is imposed through social hierarchies, and leadership is a function of one’s social status suggests a yearning for a return to a more rigidly stratified society” (1996) — perhaps one modeled after the British monarchy of the 18th and 19th centuries (1996). For our nation’s youth, the messages offered to them by Disney’s animated films suggests that social problems such as the history of racism, the genocide of Native Americans, the prevalence of sexism, and the crisis of democracy are simply willed through the laws of nature (1996).


Giroux, Henry A. (1996). Fugitive cultures: Race, violence, and youth. Routledge; 1st edition.

Youth in a suspect society: Democracy or disposability? (Giroux 2009) argues that with the rise of market fundamentalism and the ensuing economic and financial crisis, youth are also facing a major crisis unlike that of any other generation. With the collapse of the welfare state, the nation’s youth are no longer seen as a social investment, but rather, as a troubling and burdensome — and in some cases, disposable — population, especially the poor minority youth (2009).


Giroux, Henry A. (2009). Youth in a suspect society: Democracy or disposability?

Palgrave Macmillan.

Editors Zajda and Freeman (2009) have compiled perspectives on education and policy research that are relevant to progressive pedagogy, social change, and transformational educational reforms in the 21st century. The book very critically looks at the interplay between state, ideology and current discourses of race, ethnicity and gender in the global culture. It draws on recent research in the areas of globalization, equity, social justice, and the role of the State. The authors delve into conceptual frameworks and methodological approaches that could be applied to research covering the State, globalization, race, ethnicity and gender, and analyze existing inequalities due to race, ethnicity and gender and resultant social stratification (2009).

The book illustrates the neo-liberal ideological priorities of education and policy reform, affecting race, ethnicity and gender, and illustrates the way the relationship between the State and education policy affects prevailing styles in education policy as well as reforms in the fields of race, ethnicity and gender (Zajda & Freeman 2009).


Zajda, Joseph., & Freeman, Kassie. (2009). Race, ethnicity and gender in education.

Globalization, Comparative Education and Policy Research, Springer. Volume 6.

Gillborn (1990) states that “multi-culturalism in its present form is little more than a masking ideology with which an artful and ruthless capitalism protects itself” (1990). One of the biggest complaints or criticisms about multi-cultural education, according to Gillborn (1990), is that it tends to be ‘soft’ on racism: that the social, political and economic power relations which have ended in the exploitation of minority groups are not adequately addressed. Such criticisms, he states, have lain behind diverse moves towards establishing a more lively and oppositional form of pedagogy and curriculum, one that is overtly anti-racist (1990). Gillborn (1990) states that there isn’t really a universally agreed upon model of what an anti-racist pedagogy and curriculum should look like, however.

Gillborn (1990) notes that there are key words and phrases that have been altered to reflect the variety of political and education perspectives that have changed over the past twenty to thirty years. Words that were once considered to be very proper are now believed to be insulting and vice versa. Several groups that have struggled for political recognition and social equality have glorified previously derogatory terms — “as has been the case with the Black Power and the Chicano movements in the U.S.A.” (1990).

Gillborn (1990) posits that these changes in what is viewed as acceptable or not have had significant consequences for teachers. When teachers are behind with current trends in wordings, it can reveal a lack of sensitivity and understanding, which makes communities lose their confidence in their child’s education.


Gillborn, David. (1990). Race, ethnicity and education: Teaching and learning in multi-

ethnic schools. Routledge; 1st edition.

Gaine and George (1999) discuss language and notions of superiority and the idea that those with social power, be they defined by sex, ‘race’ or class, tend to reinforce their power with the status of their own language or form of language (e.g. The alleged superiority of English over other languages, and beliefs about a hierarchy of correct and ‘corrupt’ forms of English.

Gaine and George (1999) also discuss girls’ experience of schooling as well as the differences in the educational experiences of boys and girls. There is a three-fold process that is suggested: First of all, that children learn gender identity via the socialization process at home (with media, toys, comics and books); second, that they then go to school with a very rigid idea embedded about what is appropriate behavior for their gender (or not appropriate for their gender); third and lastly, that schools through their organization structures both formally and informally reinforce these stereotypes (1999).

Feminist researches have noted the ways in which schools transmit messages about what is appropriate behavior for girls to take part in. Gaine and George (1999) suggest that teachers assume that boys are more lively, interesting and adventurous, while girls are more likely to conform, be conscientious and quiet. Indeed, quite a few studies report on the great pressure that is put on girls to conform to certain codes of behavior (1999).


Gaine, Chris., & George, Rosalyn. (1999). Gender, ‘race’ and class in schooling: A

new introduction. Routledge; 1st edition.

In Theory and resistance in education, Giroux (2001) offers parents and teachers a vision of schools as democratic public spheres. The book acts as an angry reply to those who wish to vocationalize education for children — especially the working class, blacks, Latinos and other subordinate groups. Giroux (2001) believes that education must engage critical social theory if schools are to become the democratic public spheres that engage parents, teachers and students. The hope that the book offers is that education can become and end rather than a means again and that learning can be a creative act, and public life can be transformed from its current cycle of advertising and consuming to a place of real dialogue and debate about things that matter to the commonwealth.

Theory and resistance in education (2001) was first written at the beginning of the 1980s and attempted to reassert the fundamental political nature of teaching and the importance of joining pedagogy to social change (even in the face of dominant views of education), connecting critical learning to experiences and histories that students brought to the classroom and engaging the space of schooling as a site of contestation, resistance, and possibility. Giroux (2001) notes that at the time of the first publication right wing versions of schooling were heavily indebted to either teaching curricula that mirrored narrow, dominant assumptions about the world, making schools adjuncts of the workplace, or to imposing forms of technocratic rationality upon schools that turned them into testing and sorting models of assessment that reproduced the wide range of inequalities that characterized a larger social order. Students marginalized by class, race, and gender were seldom invited to participate in the educational discourses, pedagogical practices, and institutional relations that shaped everyday lives. Even worse, they were often marginalized and oppressed within such discourses and social formations. While Giroux (2001) states that the force and nature of this legacy has changed, it still exerts a powerful influence upon public and higher education within and outside of North America.


Giroux, Henry A. (2001). Theory and resistance in education (Critical studies in education and culture series). Praeger; Rev Exp edition.

San Juan (2002) states that the racism of sex in the U.S. is another element of the unequal political and economic relations that exist between the races in the American democracy. Women of color may even be conceived as constituting “a different kind of racial formation” (2002), although the violence inflicted against them as well as with familial servitude and social inferiority, testifies more sharply to the sedimented structures of class and national oppression embedded in both state and civil society (2002).

San Juan (2002) goes on to explore the articulations between sexuality and nationalism. “What demands scrutiny is more precisely how the categories of patriarchy and ethnonationalism contour the parameters of discourse about citizen identities” (2002). How the idea of nation is sexualized and how sex is nationalized, according to San Juan (2002), are topics that may give clues as to how racial conflicts are circumscribed within the force field of national self-identification.

Sexuality, San Juan (2002) suggests, unlike racial judgment is not a pure self-evident category. He states that it manifests its semantic and ethical potency in the field of racial and gendered politics. In the layering and sedimentation of beliefs about sexual liberty and national belonging in the United States, one will see ambiguities and disjunctions analogous to those between sexuality and freedom as well as the persistence of racist ideology.


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