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Rational Fears or Provocative Fears? (Critical Race Study Discourse)

This is an excerpt from Critical Race Studies in Physical Education by Tara B. Blackshear & Brian Culp.

“I wish Ms. Rossdale was white like you, Ms. Christina.”

Critical Race Study Discourse

  1. How should Christina address this situation? What are the critical issues at play in this case study?
  2. Negrophobia is fear and aversion to Black people and Black culture. The phobia is fed by the brute caricature that Black men are savage, violent predators who target helpless victims, in particular white women. (Visit the section on the brute caricature compiled at https://ferris.edu/jimcrow/brute/.) Would you consider the behaviors and actions of Ms. Rossdale characteristic of this phobia, or do you feel these behaviors and actions are indicative of something else? In what ways might negrophobic caricatures have informed Christina’s approach with Rashad?
  3. Reflecting on this case study and how it ended, how do you think you would respond to the resource officer and assistant principal?
  4. Alfonzo, at the end of this case study, turned to Christina and remarked that he wished that Ms. Rossdale was a white person like Christina. What is your interpretation of Alfonzo’s assessment? What implications do you think this statement has for the promotion of racial equity and justice in teaching physical education? Are there any negative consequences to Alfonzo’s statement?
  5. Conduct research on the concept of “Black joy.” With a partner or a group, present to each other a two- to five-minute synopsis of what you found. Brainstorm strategies on how you would promote this concept for the benefit of your students in physical education.
  6. What do you think the impact of Ms. Rossdale’s actions will be on the students in this case study and Christina? Identify teaching behaviors, school policies, and physical education practices that contribute to the school-to-prison pipeline.
  7. After reading this case study, what recommendations do you have for Ms. Rossdale? Christina? Rashad? Henderson Middle School?

References and Suggested Resources

Blackshear, Tara B., and Brian Culp. 2021. “Transforming PETE’s Initial Standards: Ensuring Social Justice for Black Students in Physical Education.” Quest 73 (1): 22-44. https://doi.org/10.1080/00336297.2020.1838305.

Cooper, Brittney. 2020. Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower. New York: Picador.

Fanon, Frantz. 2008. Black Skin, White Masks. New York: Grove Press.

Ferris State University. “Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia.” www.ferris.edu/HTMLS/news/jimcrow/.

Painter, Nell Irvin. 2010. The History of White People. New York: W.W. Norton.

Smiley, CalvinJohn, and David Fakunle. 2016. “From “Brute” to “Thug”: The Demonization and Criminalization of Unarmed Black Male Victims in America.” Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment 26 (3-4): 350-366. https://doi.org/10.1080/10911359.2015.1129256.

Yancy, G. (2016). Black Bodies, White Gazes: The Continuing Significance of Race in America. 2nd ed. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

More Excerpts From Critical Race Studies in Physical Education