Warriors of the classroom : liberatory teaching practices in low-income settings in Brazil
This study is based on Black female high school teachers’ experiences in Salvador, Bahia/Brazil, as they have adopted African Diasporic curricula and attempted to install counter-hegemonic teaching practices that empower Black and other low-income students. I draw on my experience as a working-class, Black female teacher and on extensive fieldwork with teachers who were recognized by their communities for their commitment to Black liberatory practices and educational activism. Their practices illuminate creative strategies to address issue of race, gender and class within curricula, teaching and classroom’s pedagogical practices. I argue that the educators of this study, although their voices still remain largely invisible within mainstream curricula design, shed light on the ways schooling settings become a “site” of racial scripts and alternative racial alterities. My research has been guided by a multipronged theoretical approach that includes: a) Critical Pedagogy; b) Critical Race Theory (CRT); c) Black Feminist Theory (specifically regarding Black women’s role in creating alternative forms of resistance to address curriculum materials); d) an African Diasporic framework that contextualizes the Brazilian curricula reforms within the global formations of race, class, gender and spirituality. This study is heavily ethnographic and includes a two-year field work in a predominately low-income school, named as Quilombo High. After six months of observation across campus, I worked with five Black female teachers in particular. I also interviewed students, and administrated a survey to students. Archival research helped to provide a historical context in which the curricula reform has been discussed and implemented. I studied the Ministry of Education and the State Department of Education policies designed to carry out the new curriculum legislation, as well as the political landscape in which it took place. This research is part of a larger project that aims to foster and give visibility to alternative pedagogical practices deployed by Black educators to counter hegemonic/white supremacist curricula. It is my contention that such counter-hegemonic practices not only to unveil the insidious system of domination embedded in schooling practices. More imperatively, it brings about a resignification of the classroom as a field of resistance and blackness as transformative pedagogy of activists’ educators across the African Diaspora.