Racialized communication met with silence in the classroom

Nov 20, 2008

A new article in the journal Communication, Culture & Critique illustrates the ways some college students bear the costs of silence-mediated racialized communication in their everyday classroom activities. Specifically, the essay shows that White privilege enables racially laden communication that regenerates, albeit unintentionally, the social exclusion of American Indian students. Moreover, as the essay argues, this exclusion results not only in myriad unearned stresses for American Indian students but sometimes also in their ultimately abandoning their academic objectives.

Patricia Olivia Covarrubias, M.A., Ph.D., of the University of New Mexico combines interpretive approaches from the ethnography of communication and critical Whiteness theories to draw on data collected from 35 American Indian students in a western U.S. university.

The student accounts reveal that racially charged moments can be and are experienced at complex and multiple levels. For example, one student reveals how a guest speaker made a derogatory comment about American Indians thinking she was White, and no one, including the instructor, corrected the speaker's assumption.

Covarrubias names the arrangement of discriminatory statements with subsequent dismissive silence as "masked silence sequences."

By introducing this concept, the study shows that silence is a powerful communicative phenomenon that affects the perceptions people have of each other as well as their interactions, including the promotion of prejudice and discrimination.

Silence, like all communication, is cultural. Silence garners its meaning from the systems of beliefs and values within which it emerges and occurs. Thus, silence means different things to different people in different times and places. Moreover, failing to understand a people's distinctive meanings and valuations of silence can and does result in preventable misunderstandings, and even discrimination.

Source: Wiley

Explore further: Best of Last Week—Confirmed Earth-sized planet, testing twin paradox w/o a spaceship and news we all peak at 24

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Pseudo-mathematics and financial charlatanism

Apr 10, 2014

Your financial advisor calls you up to suggest a new investment scheme. Drawing on 20 years of data, he has set his computer to work on this question: If you had invested according to this scheme in the past, which portfolio ...

Twitter threats highlight blight of online trolls

Aug 01, 2013

If Twitter is the chirping chatterbox of the Internet, trolls are its dark underground denizens. The collision of the two is driving a debate in Britain about the scale of online hatred and the limits of ...

Peru's capital highly vulnerable to major quake

Dec 09, 2012

(AP)—The earthquake all but flattened colonial Lima, the shaking so violent that people tossed to the ground couldn't get back up. Minutes later, a 50-foot (15-meter) wall of Pacific Ocean crashed into ...

Recommended for you

Not just the poor live hand-to-mouth

4 hours ago

When the economy hits the skids, government stimulus checks to the poor sometimes follow. Stimulus programs—such as those in 2001, 2008 and 2009—are designed to boost the economy quickly by getting cash ...

Math modeling handbook now available

7 hours ago

Math comes in handy for answering questions about a variety of topics, from calculating the cost-effectiveness of fuel sources and determining the best regions to build high-speed rail to predicting the spread ...

Archaeologists, tribe clash over Native remains

8 hours ago

Archaeologists and Native Americans are clashing over Indian remains and artifacts that were excavated during a construction project in the San Francisco Bay Area, but then reburied at an undisclosed location.

Male-biased tweeting

10 hours ago

Today women take an active part in public life. Without a doubt, they also converse with other women. In fact, they even talk to each other about other things besides men. As banal as it sounds, this is far ...

Developing nations ride a motorcycle boom

11 hours ago

Asia's rapidly developing economies should prepare for a full-throttle increase in motorcycle numbers as average incomes increase, a new study from The Australian National University has found.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Crucialitis
not rated yet Nov 20, 2008
That one!

More news stories

Not just the poor live hand-to-mouth

When the economy hits the skids, government stimulus checks to the poor sometimes follow. Stimulus programs—such as those in 2001, 2008 and 2009—are designed to boost the economy quickly by getting cash ...

Male-biased tweeting

Today women take an active part in public life. Without a doubt, they also converse with other women. In fact, they even talk to each other about other things besides men. As banal as it sounds, this is far ...

Archaeologists, tribe clash over Native remains

Archaeologists and Native Americans are clashing over Indian remains and artifacts that were excavated during a construction project in the San Francisco Bay Area, but then reburied at an undisclosed location.

Math modeling handbook now available

Math comes in handy for answering questions about a variety of topics, from calculating the cost-effectiveness of fuel sources and determining the best regions to build high-speed rail to predicting the spread ...