Critical Race Theory, Interest Convergence, and Teacher Education

Authored by: H. Richard Milner IV , F. Alvin Pearman III , Ebony O. McGee

Handbook of Critical Race Theory in Education

Print publication date:  March  2013
Online publication date:  September  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415899956
eBook ISBN: 9780203155721
Adobe ISBN: 9781136581410


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In this chapter, we discuss Bell’s (1980) interest convergence, a key concept in critical race theory, 1 as a useful analytic and strategic tool to analyze, critique, make sense of, and reform sites in teacher education that we argue should be studied and interrogated to improve policies and practices in the field. The tenet “interest convergence” originated with the work of Derrick Bell (1980), who argued that the Brown v. Board of Education (1954) decision, in which the Supreme Court outlawed de jure segregation of public schools, was not the result of a moral breakthrough of the high court but rather a decision that was necessary. (1) to advance American Cold War objectives in which the United States was competing with the Soviet Union for loyalties in the third world; (2) to quell the threat of domestic disruption that was a legitimate concern with Black veterans, who now saw continued discrimination as a direct affront to their service during WWII; and (3) to facilitate desegregation in the South, which was now viewed as a barrier to the economic development of the region. In other words, the interests of Black civil rights coincided for a brief time with the interests of White elites, thus enabling a decision that benefited the interests of Black people. In Bell’s (1980) words, “the interests of Blacks in achieving racial equality will be accommodated only when it converges with the interests of Whites” (p. 523).

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