What is not said, is often more powerful than what is spoken about diversity, difference, and identity in U.S. classrooms. Examples are everywhere: Although no students of color may be enrolled in a course at a prominent research university, members of the class do not believe there is such a thing as institutional racism. A handful of women are discussed in course textbooks, all authored by men, but no one thinks it odd that only men have written accounts of women's achievements that appear on the syllabus. Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people do not speak for themselves, either, in the context of the course. Sexual orientation is mentioned in class discussions only in sentences that begin “I’m not gay myself, but .. .. " Other dimensions of students' and teachers' identities- age, weight, ability, social class-are not mentioned at all in the "professional" setting of the classroom. Every day in these and a thousand other ways, silence helps protect the position and privilege of dominant groups in U.S. society.
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