Yosso *, T. J. (2005). Whose culture has capital? A critical race theory discussion of community cultural wealth. Race Ethnicity and Education, 8(1), 69–91. doi:10.1080/1361332052000341006
The article proposes a framework, justification and argument for a need for critical race theory in education. I could not agree with the article more but the article also did good work in defining traits and aspects of marginalized people that can be leveraged in the classroom. The article goes to great lengths to explain and articulate ways in which the dominant system is oppressive and then list traits that students of color bring to the classroom that can be leveraged for greater success. The main critique is simple in that the system is built for the dominant culture which then causes it to devalue, bias and even criticize marginalized cultures. The individuals who identify with these cultures then are forced to give parts of themselves, their past or their history in order to succeed in the dominant system. The antithesis would be what the article presents which is to value the perspectives of students of color and all of the strengths and assets that they bring into the classroom. If these traits can be leveraged then they can catalyze great successes in the classroom while keeping the identity and culture of students intact.
The article does a great job of justifying and then identifying the purpose of critical race theory in education but I wonder how the authors could have further elaborated what they expect of teachers in the classroom. I agree in full with everything that the article articulates but I question it in practice. I do not question that it will work, rather I question what it looks like. I have been on a personal journey for over two years to build my culturally responsive teaching toolbox and skillsets and still feel like I am lacking in major ways. I think that we have identified mindsets and justifications for culturally responsive teaching but not all of the methods that are needed. I would ask the authors to next begin to identify key things that one would observe a teacher doing in a classroom to be deemed “culturally responsive”.
The lack of culturally responsive techniques and practices actually leads me to my, not critique, but hurdle I see in implementing CRT in classrooms across the nation. Our country still suffers from an industrialized view of education. From teacher preparation to student learning we see the whole process as an assembly line that we send individuals through, hoping that they fit the mold to head out of the other end successful and “intelligent”. In order to stymie the current cultural deprivation theory that runs rampant throughout schools and the districts that support them, we must change the way we prepare our teachers and leaders in education. The current preparation method looks to have teachers streamline their activities, grading and assessment while focusing little on the population they will teach. I wonder what it will take to reform the “teaching teachers” process so that we have candidates that enter the classroom seeking to understand their own biases and operating systems while connecting and affirming their students. To implement CRT in education we must start at the source which is the teacher preparation colleges.
This brings me to my topic for possible research. I have long thought that if teachers were immersed in their communities and fully understand both the local and larger socio-political context of where they teach they would be better educators. This article seem to lend support and urgency to this belief and my instinct to explore it in my own context. I personally know that the most effective teachers that I have seen know their kids extremely well and take intentional steps to steep themselves in the student experience. I believe one of my avenues for research may certainly pertain to discovering the value of building context both around the community and of the experience of the student.