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Theory in Action Paper

Critical Multicultural Education in Church


Jean Morales

EDUC 651
Antonette Aragon, PhD
April 30, 2016

Theory in Action Paper

Critical Multicultural Education in Church


POPULATION
Christian institutions, groups, and individuals have been agents in the systems of
oppression and agents in movements of liberation. The latter are underplayed in most
academic texts due to the reality that progressive Christianity, in our mainstream media
continue to be overshadowed by the right-wing Christian movements. Movements that project
a Christian identity that exemplify institutional socialization and perpetuate oppressive
dominant culture and normativity. This project is both a response to and a declaration against
this unfortunate portrayal of the Christian faith. The focus of this project is to reconceptualizing Outpour Covenant Churchs new member class, specifically the unit on race and
justice. Its aim is to educate Christians of the multi-level realities of racism as well as to
empower individuals to become agents of justice as part of their faith practice.
The population the class addresses are potential members of the church. The church is
currently made up of 80% ethnic minorities (of which 90% is Asian American); most everyone
(sans their children) in the congregation is college educated or currently in college; and
approximately 10%-15% of the congregation does not yet identify as Christian but is exploring it
as a possible way of life. The new member class addresses a segment of this population, people
who are seeking to become owners and stakeholders of the churchs vision and mission (i.e.
members).

Theory in Action Paper

GOALS
Learning Goal for the Project
It is the overall hope that at the end of the membership class for Outpour Church,
learners may be able to: 1. Paraphrase in their own words the three core values of Outpour; 2.
Deduce whether or not to become a member based on the expectations and benefits of
membership; and 3. Identify and create a strategy(ies) for areas of growth in the learners own
spiritual practice and journey. For the purposes of this paper, we will be focusing in on
Outpours second core value: Pursuit of Reconciliation. Reconciliation is a core Christian belief;
it is the pursuit of healing, justice and peace between people groups, places of oppression and
hostility. As Christians it is our conviction to lift up those who have been undermined,
victimized, and/or facing hardship due to injustice. Because the topic of reconciliation is broad,
for this project, we will focus and explore reconciliation in light of race disparities as a paradigm
for all other disparities that exist in our society.
Learning Objectives for the Project
At the end of the project, the learners will be able to:
1. Paraphrase the Pursuit of Reconciliation value in their own words
2. Demonstrate a knowledge regarding race in America in terms of systems that oppress
and privilege
3. Demonstrate an understanding of how the Christian worldview influences reality and
the systems within.
4. Demonstrate self-awareness through:
a. Evaluating implications of applying reconciliation in their own lives

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b. Determining if their values align with Outpours value to pursue reconciliation


Addressing Broader Societal Issues
The right-wing Christian movement continues to be the dominant Christian voice in
American society. Within many right-wing Christian movements, many fervently believe that
White people are the true Israelites, that Blacks are subhuman, and that Jews are the issue of
Satan Like many post-millennial religions, Christian Identity proclaims that God gave the
Constitution of the United States to the White Christian Founding Fathers and only White
Christian men can be true sovereign citizens of the Republic (McLaren, 1999, p. 25) For the
broader American population, this unfortunate voice is the Christian voice. As mentioned
above, this voice needs to be tempered and called into account. Many Christian groups
throughout history have fought to end oppression and injustice, but their legacy is forgotten in
light of faith-based portrayals in todays American media. Implementing a training like this, is
one small step to reclaiming the progressive Christian voice. If all churches would consider
educating their members regarding race in terms of structures and patterns, not individual
acts and people (DiAngelo & Sensoy, 2010, p. 98) as part of the core DNA for membership,
ideally it would perpetuate a population of change agents. At the very least, we would
populate (if not repopulate) the progressive Christian perspective and hopefully give rise to an
alternative Christian voice in mainstream media. This is incredibly relevant today as politicians
tout their religious values to incite ethnocentric and xenophobic voters support. An alternative
Christian message need to be put forth not only to prevent the perpetuation of oppressive
crimes against humanity, but to also stand in defense of the faith. It would be a terrible

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misrepresentation to associate the Christian God with racist and xenophobic practices that
propagate a dominant and fear-driven hegemony.

THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
There are multiple underlying theories that influence the design for unit 2 of our
membership class Pursuit of Reconciliation. The two main theories that are utilized in this project
is the idea that multicultural education is relevant to all people (not just the oppressed) and the
idea that multicultural education needs to lead to social action. The theories not only impact what
is being taught, but asks us to consider how we are teaching it. Implementing these two theories
will cause a drastic shift from our current content from superficial concern about racism in the US
towards one that gives perspective-altering frameworks and specific ideas on how to engage the
problem of race in America.

Multicultural education for all


Neito and Bode emphasize that multicultural education need be pervasive, classified as
basic education and available to all. It benefits that dominant group by creating a more accurate
sense of reality and preventing any subconscious or conscious view of being more superior than the
minority group. Similarly for the minority group, multicultural education informs them to stymie
any sense of inferiority that may have been developed in a racist society (Nieto & Bode, 2007). The
emphasis on helping provide both groups, dominant and minority, a clear sense of reality is also the
aim of the Pursuit of Reconciliation module for our membership class. It is part of the membership
class because it is basic to our church to understand the reality of race in America. No matter a
persons background, if they are interested in joining Outpour, then they must reflect upon and

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align with the values that racial injustice exists, is pervasive on many levels, and that as Christians
we are called to be agents that disrupt and topple this unfortunate reality.
Exposing all perspective members to the issue of race includes debunking several myths that
are seductive and associated with a racist reality. These myths are: 1) Racism only exists as
individual acts; 2) People earn their success in America (myth of meritocracy); 3) That being
colorblind is enough to address the issue of Racism. Each of these myths are countered with
aspects and tenants of critical race theory.
First, we endeavor to help our participants realize that racism exists not only on individual
levels, but on societal, institutional, and even epistemological levels. The most disturbing and
difficult to really unmask is the epistemological level where what we understand as truth is
colored by the racist history and society that we emerge from (Scheurich & Young, 1997). In
essence we cannot escape or rise above the racist message that has interwoven into our cultural
fabric. However, it is this designers contention that awareness can help us continue to perpetuate
racism. If race exists on multiple levels of society then the myth of meritocracy is indeed
threatened. An understanding of racism as a system of advantage presents a serious challenge to
the notion of the United States as a just society where rewards are based solely on ones merit
(Tatum, 1992, p. 6). It is our hope that participants can recognize meritocracy not only as a

myth, but begin to question and change personal practices that have grown out of this belief,
particularly when it had to do with impressions and stereotypes they have placed on others.
Lastly, with the two former myths addressed, we want to highlight the failing of the
colorblind strategy. Viewing all people as equal when reality so very clearly points to the
opposite is not helpful and even hurtful for progress against racism. Equal is not the same is
useful here. It means treating everyone in the same way will not necessarily lead to equality;

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rather, it may end up perpetuating the inequality that already exists (Nieto & Bode, 2007, p. 157).

Simply ignoring the problem by not seeing it does not make the problem go away. In fact, it
renders those who are hurting and victimized voiceless. Instead, to seek equality, .we should
look much more carefully at how the socially constructed notion of race functions to destroy
educational equality in our public schools (Burkholder, 2007, p. 29) and in society. Addressing
these three myths overtly will be new to our curriculum and potentially difficult for participants
belonging to the white majority. However, in creating this re-design, we stand with Nieto and Bode,
with the belief that this type of module is needed and necessary for all members of our church.

Empowering Participants as change agents


Banks and Banks detail the Social Action approach to multicultural education in the
tenth chapter of their book Multicultural Education: Issues and Perspectives which states A
major goal of the social action approach is to help students acquire the knowledge, values, and skills
they need to participate in social change so that marginalized and excluded racial, ethnic, and
cultural groups can become full participants in U.S. society (pp. 252-253). It is the hope of our
module as well to equip participants with the knowledge, values and skills they need to be agents of
justice. In our module we hope to equip participants with the following: 1) Models for racial
identity development and 2) suggestions for cultural responsiveness. Each of these tools are
supported by various methodologies and models which we will detail.
The process of racial identity development is one that is still being developed for our
module. We are considering two types of inputs: a) Race/Ethnicity identity models and b) stories
and testimonies from antiracists or experts in critical race theory. For our module, we have not yet
identified which models to provide to our participants. However, under consideration are Atkinson,
Morten and Sues Racial and Cultural Identity Development Model: Five Stage model, Helms model

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for White Identity Development, and Kitano Daniels model for Ethnic Identity. It is our desire to
provide participants with either a suggested model or multiple models to help give language to
their ethnic identity journey. Additionally, we will utilize storytelling as another input either from
individual testimonies in person on written. We believe that experiential knowledge contained in
testimonies also help to ground the participant in what it may look like to face racist injustice and to
stand against it (Ladson-Billings, 1998). Including White antiracist stories are especially helpful.
After reading articles written by antiracist activists describing their own process of unlearning
racism, White students often comment on how helpful it is to know that others have experienced
similar feelings and have found ways to resist the racism in their environments... Learning about
White antiracists can also provide students of color with a sense of hope that they can have White
allies (Tatum, 1992, pp. 16-17). We believe that incorporating these two inputs may empower our
participants towards practical action against racism.
As part of empowerment, we acknowledge that we are hoping to create a culturally responsive
cohort of participants. With this in mind, we acknowledge that the end goal is not to create a
community that is an oasis of sensitivity (Nieto & Bode, 2007, p. 47) which is akin to
colorblindness and impractical to social change. But instead to creating the courage and confidence
to have difficult discussions regarding the issue of race with those who are different. It is our hope
that we would model this throughout the module by giving room for the participant to share their
own experiences and knowledge on the subject. A central role of the culturally and linguistically
responsive teacher is to support students learning by helping them build bridges between what
they already know about a topic and what they need to learn about it (Villegas & Lucas, 2007, p.
29). This is also in line with this designers personal humanistic/transformative approach to

adult education. Where the curriculum is student-centric, utilizing student experiences, and

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allowing student freedom to grow and experience transformation at their own pace (Merriam
& Bierema, 2014). It is the hope of this module to provide participants with frameworks
understanding racism as it affects their identity and how they engage the world as well as
provide space for participants to build bridges between their experience, the knowledge
inputs, and their plan of action for the future.

PLAN OF ACTION & IMPLEMENTATION


The membership class consists of 4 sessions. Each core value embodies a session the
final session focuses on integration of all 3 core values and learner reflection and personal
application. It is our aim to re-conceptualize the content of the entire membership class by
summer of 2017. This summer, we will focus on redeveloping the content related with
Outpours second core value and second session: Pursuit of Reconciliation. Figure 1.0 details
the implementation timeline.
The current design of the membership class does not focus on Outpours core values but
rather the history of the church and its afiliation to the denomination. This is ineffective in
accomplishing the goals of the classsessions focusing on each core value is much more
effective. The content design of each session will incorporate the following aspects: 1.
Theoretical Models and relevant current events; 2. Scriptural basis; 3. Denominational
alignment; 4. Self-reflection; and 5. Paragons and plan for personal application. Aspect 1 for
the Pursuit of Reconciliation session will be entirely new. As mentioned above, we would like to
employ two theories that stem from multicultural education: that multicultural education is for
everyone and that multicultural education needs to lead to social action. We plan to utilize the
Scheurich and Young model as well as Lipsitzs article The Possessive Investment in Whiteness

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Figure 1.0 Timeline for Membership Class Redesign

10

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to help debunk myths related to racism and to further the argument that multicultural
education is for everyone. Models for race/ethnicity identity development, live testimonies,
and excerpts from Becoming and Unbecoming White edited by Clark and ODonnell will help
participants conceptualize their part in becoming agents against racism. These sources help to
accomplish learning objectives 2 (Demonstrate a knowledge regarding race in America in terms
of systems that oppress and privilege) and 4a (Demonstrate self-awareness through evaluating
implications of applying reconciliation in their own lives). This additional input, in this
designers opinion, incredibly relevent to help move participants understanding of race
realities in America beyond superficial levels.
Limitations
As mentioned above, the term Reconciliation does span all areas of injustice.
However, our session is limited to only the topic of race and race-based injustice. Additionally,
given that a teaching session is only 3 hours, the content in this topic will also be limited. So
the session will feel more like a survey promoting awareness and not necessarily cross-cultural
competency. A way to address this obstacle is to commission a spin-off class (e.g. membership
2.0 class) for participants to deepen their learning in these subjects. This is where crosscultural competency and methods of advocacy can be explored further.
Additionally, there may be potential pushback regarding the content, depending on how
willing the leadership team is to accepting racism beyond the individual level. However, it is
this designers opinion that this redesign will be a welcome change. Mainly because it provides
language for the reality that many congregants are already experiencing. Providing these

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models may be helpful for their own communication of their experience to those who belong to
the white majority.
Sustainability and Assessment
Once the redesign is rolled out, feedback from participants, leadership, and participant
mentors will be collected. The feedback will solicit satisfaction, competency, and suggestions
for improvement. Additionally, one year out from the class, participants will again be assessed
regarding any personal or corporate applications they have implemented because of the class.
The plan is for the membership class to be adjusted per the feedback and launched annually.
The hope is that the class will remain a staple of the churchs education program as it is one of
the only formal vehicles where parishioners can hear overtly the values and mission of the
church. It is this designers hope that this redesign will begin creating cohorts of people willing
to be agents fighting injustice and eventually create a movement by and within the church as a
whole.

REFERENCES
Banks, J. A., & Banks, C. A. (2013). Multicultural Education: Issues and Perspectives. New York,
NY: John Wiley & Sons.
Burkholder, Z. (2007). Because Race Can't Be Ignored. Education Week, 29-31.
Clark, C., & O'Donnell, J. (1999). Becoming and Unbecoming White. Westport, CT: Bergin &
Garvey.
DiAngelo, R., & Sensoy, O. (2010). "Ok, I Get it! Now Tell Me How to Do it!": Why We Can't Just
Tell You How to Do Critical Multicultural Education. Multicultural Perspectives, 97-102.

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Ladson-Billings, G. (1998). Just what is critical race theory and what's it doing in a nice field like
education? International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 7-24.
Lipsitz, G. (2013). The Possessive Investment in Whiteness. In M. Adams, W. J. Blumenfeld, C. (.
Cataneda, H. W. Hackman, M. L. Peters, & X. Zuniga, Readings for Diversity and Social
Justice (pp. 77-85). New York, NY: Routledge.
McLaren, P. (1999). Unthinking Whiteness, rethinking Democracy: Critical Citizenship in
Gringolandia. In C. Clark, & J. O'Donnell, Becoming and Unbecoming White (pp. 10-55).
Westport, CT: Bergin & Garvey.
Merriam, S. B., & Bierema, L. L. (2014). Adult Learning: Linking Theory and Practice. San
Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Nieto, S., & Bode, P. (2007). Multicultural Education and School Reform. Boston, MA: Allyn &
Bacon.
Scheurich, J. J., & Young, M. D. (1997). Coloring Epistemologies: Are Our Research
Epistemologies Racially Biased? Educational Researcher, 4-15.
Tatum, B. D. (1992). Talking about Race, Learning about Racism: 'The Application of' Racial
Identity Development Theory in the Classroom. Harvard Educational Review, 1-25.
Villegas, A., & Lucas, T. (2007). The Culturally Responsive Teacher. Educational Leadership, 2833.