This episode of IWL is brought to you by cardigans, the uniform staple of interchangeable white ladies everywhere. Today’s essential question: what’s an IWL and why does it matter?
Annie & Hope discuss where the term “Interchangeable White Lady” comes from and what the challenge is for white female teachers working with diverse students. The term original defined as “smiling, 20-something in her Target cardigan standing in front of a Smartboard” in Hope’s blog post The Interchangeable White Lady: An Introduction. In actuality, this label refers to the way students view their teachers. The concept was created in the context that 80% of educators are white women, teaching students of color (stats vary depending on source). Student perception is key. Relationships are crucial. White female teachers need to consider how students perceive them and accept the challenge this creates. It's a challenge to:
- To teach in a culturally responsive way based on the students before us.
- To view our instruction through the lens of traditionally marginalized youth.
- To distinguish ourselves as allies in the fight against institutional racism as we equip young men and women through the power of education.
Annie explains her own reactions to being an IWL. Paraphrases Roxanne Gay’s idea that you don’t need to apologize for being born white or wealthy, but to acknowledge how those traits are favored in society and how they make your movement through life different and often easier (and how you should use that privilege to help others move more easily). Annie also shared her deep, fangirl-like appreciation for the illustrious and fabulous Mary Yu.
Timeless or Terrible: Annie and Hope weigh in on the staples of interchangeable white women everywhere. Today’s topics: