Red Dirt Resistance: Oklahoma Educators As Agents of Change
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This research explores narratives of women educators who work for change in their communities and position themselves as agents of change. Three large themes related to the educators' experiences emerged during the analysis. The first was that conservative spaces required extensive navigation as an educator agent of change. Within this theme are stories of self-silencing, navigating authoritarian boundaries, and the tension of tribal sovereignty and colonialism. The second major theme involved challenges with self-identification as an agent of change and a persistent self-evaluation of their actions in comparison to real models or stereotyped representations of activism. The third major theme, evident through thematic analysis, embodied issues of race and racism. The two white women participants demonstrated elements of embodying and resisting the educator stereotype, "Lady Bountiful" in their efforts to promote equity in education. Meiners' (2015) critiques this Lady Bountiful as a feminized teacher stereotype whose role is to promote assimilation into white, heteronormative, Christian society. Alternatively, the two women educators of color experienced various institutional and explicit racism in their professional lives as agents of change. The intersectionality of race, class, and gender in the women's narratives play out in the larger context of the conservative political ideology in Oklahoma. This research, while calling for the expansion of theorization of teacher activism, also implicates the need to examine the perpetuation of activist stereotypes and influences of activist teacher discourses in teacher education.
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