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The racist dilemma in intercultural education – a Catch 22 situation

“Could somebody please help me with my whiteness – that elusive form […] Whiteness is so fucking unfair, so boring, so overdetermined and fake, so tight, so ridiculous. I am sick of going to work where the professors are white and the custodians are black, […] most of the students are criminal justice majors, and everyone thinks that’s a big victory for diversity. I hate this racist world” (Chris Cuomo).

By providing a reading, an interpretation of cultures and stereotypes within educational contexts one conceptually disrupts white privileged identities and thereby deepens the cracks in supremacist structures. Still, as a white person approaching other cultures and writing about it is fraught with white racist uncertainties. Thus, entering the other cultural realms is problematic. Especially, since most of the time educators are not socio-ontologically or existentially linked to any of the subaltern voices and bodies constituting the social environment of these societies – In my case: I am German and I am white.

“For a white person to write about African-American life and popular culture would be colonializing and disingenuous” (George Yancy). This quote evokes feelings of guilt and apprehension – an anxiety that in the process of analyzing pieces of culture, any white or supremacist and privileged voice might eventually assume and exert oppressive powers over other cultures again. Thus, we need to be careful to put our voices and intercultural education into a place that processes, digests and exposes cultural phenomena like racism, supremacy and hegemony. I recommend following Sartwell’s advice and try to remain visible in all processes by fostering a rather autobiographical voice, instead of disguising it with a particularly divine academic tone.

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