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ERIC Number: ED519726
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 325
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1242-7827-8
"Gentle Doses of Racism": Racist Discourses in the Construction of Scientific Literacy, Mathematical Literacy, and Print-Based Literacies in Children's Basal Readers
van Belle, Leah Allison
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Michigan
Basal readers have long been problematized for a lack of diversity among the characters and experiences represented in the text selections. Building on this, and informed by critical theory, critical race theory, and Bourdieuian perspectives, this dissertation examines racist discourses in a set of third grade basal readers. In order to explore the guiding research question of "How are African American represented in literacy curriculum materials?", I engaged in a critical discourse analysis of the 119 stories and informational text selections contained in the basal readers. The results of this research illustrate the ways in which these basal readers present discourses that reproduce White, middle-class privilege, while marginalizing people of color, particularly working-class African Americans. These racist discourses, persistent across the textbook selections, present ethnic and class-based differences in school based forms of knowledge and capital: cultural, symbolic, social, and economic. These forms of capital are linked to literacy competencies constructed in school contexts: print-based literacy, scientific literacy, and mathematical literacy. In sum, Whites are presented as largely academically successfully, print-literate, scientifically literate, mathematically literate, financially savvy, and middle-class. This contrasts with the representation of African Americans as largely working-class individuals who engage in labor that does not require or build these multiple literacies. Furthermore, Whites are positioned as gatekeepers to institutions and knowledge related to print-based literacy, science, mathematics, and money. Following these findings, I provide heuristics that I developed as frameworks to guide the critical analysis of children's texts; the goal is for these to serve as tools not only for teachers themselves, but also for teachers to support children in developing critical literacy skills. Furthermore, I provide suggestions for how a multiliteracies perspective can challenge the authority granted racist classroom materials. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Elementary Education; Grade 3
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A