Why the Handshakes Matter: The Violence of Whiteness in the Classroom

Form Follows Function

There are a couple videos circulating right now of teachers greetings their students as they come in the door. One is of a Black male teacher, Barry White, in Charlotte, North Carolina greeting his nearly exclusively Black students. The other is of a white female teacher, Jerusha Willenborg in Wichita, Kansas doing the same with her class of nearly exclusively Black students.  One of these is much more positive than the other! One is the expression of a shared experience and a shared culture. One is not. One is, probably, a well-intentioned attempt at building relationships that ends up doing what so many other white teachers do, perpetuate whiteness through appropriation and only serves to further entrench white supremacy in our schools. .

So let’s get the easy stuff out of the way first. Nobody. Let me say that again, NOBODY is mad that Ms. Willenborg is trying to build…

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