Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies ETDs

Publication Date



This study seeks to understand the racial discourses of teacher education students (TES) in the urban Southwest. This study is needed given the current post-racial or 'we're beyond race' climate in the U.S. (Bonilla-Silva, 2009). This study adds to the discussion of whether or not TES are really 'beyond race.' By critically analyzing TES' racial discourses it is hoped that a deeper understanding can be gained as to how this specific population both conforms and resists current racial discourses in the US. Because discourse reveals how people understand and represent the world, interviewing participants was a key method used in this study. In this qualitative study, 17 participants participated in two 60-120 minute semi-structured interviews. Participants were purposively drawn from a pool of over 150 students enrolled in an elementary teacher education program within a large, urban Southwestern university. Interviews with participants revealed that the racial discourses of TES fell along a spectrum that encompassed Non-Critical/Conformist discourses to Critical/Non-Conformist discourses. Their position along the spectrum depended on many variables that impacted and influenced their racial discourse and ideology such as family, schooling, peers, etc. The other major finding was that the more Critical/Non-Conformist TES experienced what I have referred to as racial witnessing events - i.e. defining moments where an individual experiences a strong event in which they (or someone they care deeply about) were racialized, Othered, and/or treated differently (usually negatively) because of their racial group, racial affiliation, etc. In conclusion TES both conform and resist larger racial discourses. Some TES adhered to problematic racial discourses such as the continued use of stereotypes and colorblind ideologies, while others were more critical and questioned the function of race and racism in the US. This study sheds light on the need for teacher education programs to invest greater time and energy in creating curriculums and programs that would enable TES to better understand the existence of a larger racial hierarchy in society and its impacts on their discourse and ideology. The ultimate hope would be for the disruption of problematic racial discourses and ideologies within teacher education programs across the nation.


race, racism, preservice teachers, teacher education, racial discourse, racial ideology, critical discourse analysis

Document Type




Degree Name

Language, Literacy and Sociocultural Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies

First Committee Member (Chair)

Celedón-Pattichis, Sylvia

Second Committee Member

López, Nancy

Third Committee Member

Lewis, Amanda