Sometimes Leaving Means Staying: Race and White Teachers’ Emotional Investments”

Zeus Leonardo | Education | Teachers College Yearbook, 2019

Emotional praxis is not a phrase usually associated with teaching and teacher education. Yet when race enters educational spaces, emotions frequently run high. In particular, Whites are often ill-equipped to handle emotions about race, either becoming debilitated by them or consistently evading them. Without critically understanding the relationship between race and emotions—or, simply, racialized emotions—teachers are unprepared to teach one of the most important topics in modern education. This chapter addresses this gap in education and teacher training by surveying the philosophical, sociological, and burgeoning literature on emotion in education to arrive at critical knowledge about the function and constitutive role it plays in discourses on race. Specifically, the argument delves into white racial emotions in light of the known fact that most teachers in the United States are White women. This means that our critical understanding of emotion during the teaching and learning interaction entails appreciation of both its racialized and gendered dimensions, and attention to both race and gender becomes part of emotional praxis. Finally, the essay ends with a proposal for an intersubjective race theory of emotion in education.