colorblind sameness
Image courtesy of Jimmy for Premise of Ed.

Multicultural education is more than a trend in education, with 40 years of teachers embracing this philosophy. Its aims are to create a learning environment that increases learning for all students and to create equity. This sounds great, but in practice efforts fall short.

To find out how teachers think about and integrate multicultural education into their curriculum, Angelina Castagno conducts a year-long study in an urban school district in Utah. By interviewing teachers and administrators, and observing classes, board meetings, and district-level professional development, her research critiques multicultural classroom practices.

Castagno argues that attempts to incorporate multicultural education occur through what she calls “powerblind sameness” and “colorblind difference.” These effectively reinforce whiteness — “a pervasive ideology justifying dominance of one group over others” — which affirms power and inequality, promotes avoidance of social change, and legitimates the status quo. Many adopt the term “multicultural education” as a description of generally “good” teaching. What actually occurs is that this practice waters down a teaching method intended to disrupt power and transforms it into something palatable, easy, and structurally compliant. As a result, Castagno writes, “There is a tension between what multicultural education should be and what it actually is, and this tension is centrally mediated by whiteness.”

Read the full article here:

Angelina E. Castagno, “Multicultural Education and the Protection of Whiteness”, American Journal of Education, 2013


Monica Saralampi is a graduate student in Sociology at the University of Minnesota who studies consumption, social movements, stratification/marginalization, gender and sexuality.