Deepening the Learning

Intersectional Experiential Activities to Address White Supremacy


  • Elizabeth King Keenan Southern Connecticut St Univ
  • Shuei Kozu Southern Connecticut State University
  • Hunter Mayhew Southern Connecticut State University
  • Evelyn Saiter-Meyers Southern Connecticut State University
  • Caliyah Meggett Southern Connecticut State University
  • Paige Reynolds Southern Connecticut State University



Racism, White supremacy, anti-racism, cultural wealth, social work education


Graduate students of multiple racial identities in predominantly White institutions enter social work programs with a wide range of knowledge about and experiences of White Supremacy, particularly the ways in which structural forms of racism continue to inflict harm, block opportunities, and perpetuate wealth inequities. In addition, White students are often challenged to grasp the ways they have been socialized to participate in perpetuating White Supremacy. This wide range of knowledge and experiences makes it likely that students will experience a range of emotions and defensive resistance necessitating skillful pedagogical design and facilitation of class interactions. Intentional use of theoretical frameworks with experiential activities can deepen self-awareness and understanding of the systemic nature of White Supremacy (Okun, 2010). In this manuscript, four students and two instructors discuss their learning experiences within a course addressing White Supremacy for students of multiple racial identities in a predominantly White institution. Post-course dialogue amongst these multiracial authors identified six core areas of learning when examining intrapersonal, interpersonal, and structural racism, cultural wealth of BIPOC peoples, and anti-racism actions. Two primary implications for education are: Weave conceptual frameworks with interpersonal experiential activities throughout the course design, and attend to interactional power dynamics during class meetings.


Acevedo-Garcia, D., Noelke, C., & McArdle, N. (2020). The geography of child opportunity: Why neighborhoods matter for equity. First findings from the Child Opportunity Index 2.0.

Aragon, A. (2018). Achieving Latina students: Aspirational counterstories and critical reflections on parental community cultural wealth. Journal of Latinos and Education 17(4), 373-85.

Barocas, H. A., & Barocas, C. B. (1979). Wounds of the fathers: The next generation of Holocaust victims. International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 6(3), 331-340.

Bernal, D. D. (2002). Critical race theory, Latino critical theory, and critical raced-gendered epistemologies: Recognizing students of color as holders and creators of knowledge. Qualitative Inquiry, 8(1), 105-126.

Burghardt, S., DeSuze, K., Bryant, L.L., & Vinjamuri, M. (2018). A guide for sustaining conversations on racism, identity, and our mutual humanity. Cognella Academic Publishing.

Center for Urban Education. (n.d.). Equity and student success.

Collins, P. H., & Bilge, S. (2016). Intersectionality: Key concepts. Polity Press.

DeGruy, J. (2005). Post traumatic slave syndrome: America’s legacy of enduring injury and healing. Uptone Press.

Fuller, L. (2016). Don’t feel White privilege? It might be political. Radical Pedagogy, 13(1), 39-53.

Garran, A. M., Aymer, S., Gelman, C. R., & Miller, J. L. (2015). Team-teaching anti-oppression with diverse faculty: Challenges and opportunities. Social Work Education, 34(7), 799-814.

Goalcast. (2017, April 3). 25 Maya Angelou quotes to inspire your life.

Harro, B. (2013a). Cycle of socialization. In M. Adams, W. J. Blumenfeld, C. Castañeda, H. W. Hackman, M. L. Peters, & X. Zúñiga (Eds.), Readings for diversity and social justice (3rd ed., pp. 45-52). Routledge.

Harro, B. (2013b). Cycle of liberation. In M. Adams, W. J. Blumenfeld, C. Castañeda, H. W. Hackman, M. L. Peters, & X. Zúñiga (Eds.), Readings for diversity and social justice (3rd ed., pp. 618-625). New York: Routledge.

hooks, b. (2003). Teaching community: A pedagogy of hope. Routledge.

Jones, C. P. (2000). Levels of racism: A theoretic framework and a gardener’s tale. American Journal of Public Health, 90(8), 1212-1215.

Jones, P. (2009). Teaching for change in social work: A discipline-based argument for the use of transformative approaches to teaching and learning. Journal of Transformative Education, 7(1), 8-25.

Kendi, I. X. (2016). Stamped from the beginning: The definitive history of racist ideas in America. Bold Type Books.

Ladson-Billings, L. (1996). Silences as weapons: Challenges of a Black professor teaching White students. Theory into Practice, 35(2), 79-85.

Metzger, M. W., & Khare, A. T. (2017). Fair housing and inclusive communities. Grand Challenges for Social Work Initiative Working Paper No. 24. American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare.

Miller, J., & Garran, A.M. (2017). Racism in the United States: Implications for the helping professions (2nd ed.). New York: Springer Publishing.

Miller, R. A., Howell, C. D., & Struve, L. (2019). “Constantly, excessively, and all the time”: The emotional labor of teaching diversity courses. International Journal of Teaching & Learning in Higher Education, 31(3), 491-502.

Mosher, D. K., Hook, J. N., Captari, L. E., Davis, D. E., DeBlaere, C., & Owen, J. (2017). Cultural humility: A therapeutic framework for engaging diverse clients. Practice Innovations, 2(4), 221-233.

Okun, T. J. (2010). The emperor has no clothes: Teaching about race and racism to people who don’t want to know. Information Age Publishing.

Phan, P., Woods, D. R., Vugia, H., Chu, M., Wright, P., & Jones, T. (2009). Teaching note: A social work program’s experience in teaching about race in the curriculum. Journal of Social Work Education, 45(2), 325-333.

Pinderhughes, E. (2017). Conceptualization of how power operates in human functioning. In E. Pinderhughes, V. Jackson, & P. A. Romney (Eds.), Understanding power: An imperative for human services (pp. 1-23). NASW Press.

Racial Equity Tools (n.d.). Racial equity.

Robinson-Perez, A., Marzell, M., & Han, W. (2020). Racial microaggressions and psychological distress among undergraduate college students of color: Implications for social work practice. Clinical Social Work Journal 48(4), 343-350.

Sensoy, O., & DiAngelo, R. (2017) Is Everyone Really Equal? An introduction to key concepts in social justice education (2nd ed.). New York: Teacher’s College Press.

Shirts, R. G. (2013). Starpower: Director’s instructions. Del Mar, CA: Simulation Training Systems.

Sue, D. W. (2010). Microaggressions in everyday life: Race, gender, and sexual orientation. Hunter Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Tew, J. (2006). Understanding power and powerlessness: Towards a framework for emancipatory practice in social work. Journal of Social Work, 6(1), 33-51.

Thurber, A., & DiAngelo, R. (2018). Microaggressions: Intervening in three acts. Journal of Ethnic & Cultural Diversity in Social Work, 27(1), 17-27.

tmckinney. (2020, May 27). *Some* of the ways people practice and reinforce White supremacy.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health. (2018). National CLAS Standards.

Yosso, T. J. (2005). Whose culture has capital? A critical race theory discussion of community cultural wealth. Race, Ethnicity and Education, 8(1), 69-91.

Young, I. M. (2004). Five faces of oppression. In L. M. Heldke & P. O’Connor (Eds.), Oppression, privilege, and resistance: Theoretical perspectives on racism, sexism, and heterosexism (pp. 37-63). McGraw-Hill.