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Abstract

Teaching diversity is no longer segregated to ethnic studies departments or to intercultural communication courses. Consequently, many students have become resistant to the idea of spending time--"yet again"--on the issue of race. Communication scholars have described a kind of resistance found frequently in the basic communication classroom and likewise proposed various responses to this resistance. Through a review of the literature and drawing on my ten years of experience teaching diversity in the university, this essay assesses these responses. One source of white student discomfort comes from the increasing visibility of whiteness, so two strategies used to address this discomfort are considered: insuring a safe classroom environment and emphasizing the complexity of student identities. While valuable in some contexts, these strategies ultimately limit the ability of students to understand the power of race in contemporary society. In addition, although many teaching strategies emphasize that racism is a structural phenomenon, most continue to rely on individually based solutions to racism. The essay suggests how students might be motivated to end racism in coalition with others, not out of individual self-interest but out of a genuine desire to create a more socially just world.