Male of Color Refugee Teachers on Being Un/Desirable Bodies of Difference in Education

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This study draws on racial formation theory and theories of racialized masculinities to situate how two early-career male teachers of color from refugee backgrounds (Hmong and Somali) have made sense of conflicting gendered and racialized expectations in predominantly white and feminized professional spaces. Issues of intersectionality, power, and privilege are explored to critique common white-feminized scripts prevalent in the enterprises of K-12 and teacher education that commonly frame white-dominated teacher diversity initiatives as forms of charity to help and save racialized bodies of difference. The findings reveal how the identities of male teachers of color are distinctly racialized in a feminized profession and predominantly white sociopolitical contexts with significant critiques of teacher diversity initiatives as distinct types of racial projects. As college-educated refugees, the participants have often been lauded by white Americans as high-achieving model-minority teachers who are not only exceptions to their communities but also respectable role models for students of color. However, their racialized identities as refugees and men of color became social liabilities when they challenged dominant norms and racially oppressive practices in spaces dominated primarily by white females in positions of authority and power. The narratives provide insights into how the identities of male teachers of color are constructed, contested, and transformed in different sociopolitical circumstances with implications for practice and theory.

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Equity & Excellence in Education

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