Author Bio

Angelina Snodgrass Godoy is the Helen H. Jackson Chair in Human Rights and founding Director of the Center for Human Rights at the University of Washington in Seattle.


Across the disciplines, universities increasingly incorporate course offerings focusing on human rights in which students examine problems that disproportionately affect communities of color. Instructors often assume our teaching about these issues contributes to the cause of social justice by spotlighting the problems themselves, but this research challenges that assumption. Based on interviews with students of color enrolled in social justice courses at a U.S. public R1 university, this article explores the ways students described their experiences as a form of epistemological racism rooted in the privileging of academic perspectives, themselves laden with legacies of exclusion, over ways of knowing rooted in communities´ experiences of injustice. The author traces the ways in which traditional epistemologies exalt the individual over the community, assume objectivity is incompatible with embodied experience, and privilege reflection over action, producing friction between students’ experiences as members of minoritized social groups and the expectations of them at the university. The article concludes with practical suggestions from students themselves and invites readers to examine our own embeddedness in structures that exclude.

Included in

Education Commons