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Abstract

As we have found in our experience as communication educators and scholars, there is a need for educators to understand the implications and impact of whiteness in the classroom. What we argue is typically missing in the basic course is an antiracist pedagogy. An antiracist pedagogy asks educators to understand the power and privilege inherent in whiteness, and asks educators to examine how whiteness affects their classroom, students, teaching strategies and attitudes toward students of color. In this essay, we offer four modifications to the basic course which are consistent with an antiracist pedagogy. The first modification involves re-examining the way cultural communication is approached in the basic communication course through a move from the margins to the center. The second modification explores the danger of turning cultural communication into a study of the exotic cultural other. The third modification explores the ways the rhetoric of individualism reinforces inequality. Finally, we critique the notion that colorblindness is the appropriate way to handle issues of race in our classrooms. We conclude the essay by suggesting ways in which whiteness work is applicable and important in the basic course.