Whiteness and privilege

Power of Privilege

Activity: Explore notions of identity, whiteness, race and racism, and their impacts on learning and teaching.

Analysing whiteness opens a theoretical space for teachers and students to articulate how their own racial identities have been shaped within a broader racist culture and what responsibilities they might assume for living in a present in which whites are accorded privileges and opportunities (though in complex and different ways) largely at the expense of other racial groups.
(Giroux 1997, p. 314)

Explore the following Me, My Race & I slideshow.


Consider the impact of past economic advantage/disadvantage on the present.

  • To what extent would the situation described in the clip be similar in Australia?
  • In what way do you benefit from your parents’/family’s opportunities/achievements and or assets?

Race slideshow

Colour blindness

If teachers are to be educators for social justice, it is important to critically deconstruct whiteness, given that it is positioned as the norm against which everything else is measured (Moreton-Robinson 2005).

While the idea of being ‘blind’ to colour seems to appeal to a sense of equality, this form of thinking in education can have serious implications for our students and has been labelled by some as the new racism. The following resource explains why.



Moreton-Robinson, A 2005, ‘Whiteness, epistemology and Indigenous representation’, in A Moreton-Robinson (ed) Whitening race: essays in social and cultural criticism, Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra, pp. 75–88.

Giroux, H 1997, ‘White Squall: resistance and the pedagogy of whiteness’, Cultural Studies, vol. 11, no. 3, pp. 376–389.

Malin, M & Ngarritjan-Kessaris, T 1999, Confronting the deceptions of racism: whiteness, social change and teacher education, paper presented at Australian Curriculum Studies Association conference, Perth, viewed 29 August 2016, <http://www.acsa.edu.au/pages/images/99_malin_confronting.pdf>.