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White Gazes of Black Detroit: Milliken v. Bradley I, Postcolonial Theory, and Persistent Inequalities


by Muhammad A. Khalifa, Ty-Ron M. O. Douglas & Terah T. Chambers — 2016

Background/Context: This article employs critical policy analysis as it examines the historical underpinnings of racialized policy discrimination in Detroit. It considers histories, discourses, and oppressive structures as it seeks to understand how policies have been and currently are implemented by Whites in predominantly Black urban areas.

Focus of Study: As we seek to understand how policy is constructed in relationship to predominantly Black communities, we argue that White actions toward Detroit are based on deep-rooted and historical biases, stereotypes, and fears of Blacks.

Research Design: We used critical policy analysis around the famed Milliken vs. Bradley (1974) Supreme Court case to explore 20th century White American behaviors and policy regarding Black urban spaces, specifically in Detroit.

Data Collection and Analysis: We pull from political, educational, and legal literature surrounding Milliken I and critically examine prior research and policies related to the case.

Conclusions/Recommendations: Our analysis suggests that Milliken had a long-term deleterious impact on Black students (and families) in the city of Detroit, including the resegregation of separate and inequitable schools and the (re)entrenchment of White fears and stereotypes about Black Detroiters.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 118 Number 3, 2016, p. 1-34
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 18246, Date Accessed: 10/23/2017 2:09:48 AM

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About the Author
  • Muhammad Khalifa
    University of Minnesota
    E-mail Author
    MUHAMMAD KHALIFA, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development at the University of Minnesota. He has personally worked to address inequities in schools, districts, and various levels of government. His research examines how urban school leaders enact culturally responsive leadership practices. He has recently published in the Teachers College Record, QSE, Urban Review, EAQ, the Journal of Negro Education, and the Journal of School Leadership. He is coeditor of Handbook on Urban Educational Leadership (Rowan & Littlefield), and Becoming Critical: The Emergence of Social Justice Scholars (SUNY Press). In addition to his work using equity audits in urban schools in the U.S., Dr. Khalifa has engaged in school leadership reform in African/Asian countries.
  • Ty-Ron Douglas
    University of Missouri-Columbia
    E-mail Author
    TY-RON M. O. DOUGLAS, Ph.D, is an Assistant Professor in the Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis Department at the University of Missouri-Columbia. His research explores the intersections between identity, community/geopolitical space, and the social and cultural foundations of leadership and education, with an emphasis on Black masculinity/families, spirituality, and community-based pedagogical spaces. Dr. Douglas’ work has appeared in outlets such as The Urban Review, Educational Studies, Teachers College Record, and Race, Ethnicity, and Education.
  • Terah Chambers
    Michigan State University
    E-mail Author
    TERAH VENZANT CHAMBERS is an Associate Professor of K–12 Educational Administration at Michigan State University. Her research interests include post-Brown K–12 education policy and urban education leadership. Specifically, she is interested in the ways within-school segregative policies influence African American students’ academic achievement and school engagement, as well as the price of school success for high-achieving students of color (racial opportunity cost). She has published in journals such as the Journal of Negro Education, Educational Studies, Race Ethnicity and Education, Teachers College Record and the Journal of School Leadership.
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