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Teachers' stories on race, racism and race relations in a primary school in KwaZulu-Natal.

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This study explored teachers‟ stories on race, racism and race relations at a primary school in KwaZulu-Natal. Internationally, race is a complex and challenging issue. A qualitative research design was used. The research methodology was narrative inquiry. Data was collected through individual interviews with 6 teachers: 3 females and 3 males. The participants were from three race groups designated as Indian, African and Coloured. The theoretical framing was Critical Race Theory and the theory of oppression. The study revealed the complex ways in which race and race relations play out at one desegregated school despite education legislation and policies that have been promulgated in South Africa to address racism at individual and institutional levels. The study identified key themes: who holds power?; „a monster that lurks in the dark‟; institutional racism at play; teacher emotionality and racism; and strategies of oppression, resistance and coping. A common experience that emerged is the exclusion and marginalisation of minority group teachers by the dominant group, evident in their everyday experiences at the school. Everyday racism is experienced by teachers as repetitive and accumulative, serving to maintain power in the school. The study revealed that the power of the dominant group is embedded in institution through the rules, norms and habits of the school. Institutional racism at the school allows those in power to limit opportunities and information to target groups. Teachers seem powerless in the face of institutional racism. Often oppressive practices reflect the intersection of race, gender, language and religion. This study highlighted that teachers take up multiple subject positions in the face of oppression. The stories of the teachers reflect that their experiences of racism and race relations at the school evoke strong emotions which include anger, hurt, fear, suspicion and vulnerability. This study contributes to the body of literature that has used Critical Race Theory to show how racism and race relations operate in schools. This study points to the need for further research into the de-racialisation of schools in South Africa in their various permutations. Research is needed to examine the complex ways in which teachers live, challenge and conceptualize racism in their individual, unique ways and within their situated contexts.


Thesis (M.Ed.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2012.


Race discrimination--Kwazulu-Natal., Education, Primary--KwaZulu-Natal., Racism--KwaZulu-Natal., KwaZulu-Natal--Race relations., Theses--Education.