Assistant Professor in the College of Education at East Carolina University (ECU)

Dr. Benjamin Blaisdell is an assistant professor in the College of Education at East Carolina University (ECU), where he teaches courses on diversity and the social foundations of education. His scholarship examines race and racism in education from a critical race theory (CRT) perspective and draws on critical and performance ethnography to highlight the interplay between structural racism and teacher practices. His goal is to use research as a means of engaged scholarship to promote teacher agency and racial literacy. His most recent publications specifically focus on an equity coaching—an approach to research and professional development that uses CRT analysis directly with teachers and administrators to collaboratively analyze and combat complicity in white supremacy. His work develops racial spatial analysis to examine schools as racial spaces—where white supremacy controls freedom and access but also where that oppression is hidden and normalized—and models how CRT research can be a form of insurgent practice to disrupt the racialization of school space. Dr. Blaisdell is also Treasurer of the Critical Race Studies in Education Association (CRSEA), co-chair of the College of Education Diversity Committee at ECU, and a member racial equity community groups such as the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP and the Campaign for Racial Equity in Our Schools. As with his scholarship, he uses a critical, collaborative approach to working with fellow educators and community members to address issues of institutional and structural racism.

Title: Equity Coaching: A Collaborative Approach to Reenvision Racialized Educational Space

Abstract: U.S. schools and classrooms are racial spaces (Blaisdell 2016), where white supremacy—a system that perpetuates white dominance and non-white subordination on a daily basis via a wide range of cultural, economic, and political practices—affords white people greater freedom of expression and increased access to educational resources. Even in racially integrated schools, attempts to intervene in this system are often met with white discourse, a race-evasive discourse that uses a variety of rhetorical tools (e.g. appeals to discomfort) to support and legitimize white advantage. Based on 10 years of ethnographic work in integrated public schools, Dr. Blaisdell will share examples of complicity in white supremacy and of white discourse. He will also discuss how equity coaching, a collaborative approach to research and professional development rooted in critical race theory (CRT), can be used to challenge that complicity and discourse by raising schoolwide racial literacy. Equity coaching draws on CRT to uncover taken-for-granted school practices that continue to segregate students. It also centers the voices of teachers of colour in order to reframe dominant narratives (e.g. around discomfort) and disrupt the power of white discourse. Dr. Blaisdell will also discuss the implications of equity coaching for higher education settings by making connections to his experiences as co-chair of his college diversity committee and his current study of the experiences faculty of colour at predominantly white institutions (PWIs).