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Open Access Publications from the University of California


Welcome to the Berkeley Review of Education, a peer-reviewed interdisciplinary journal published online and edited by students from the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley. The Berkeley Review of Education engages issues of educational diversity and equity within cognitive, developmental, sociohistorical, linguistic, and cultural contexts. The BRE encourages submissions on research and theory from senior and emerging scholars, practitioners, and policy-makers. To submit a paper, please click on "Submit article to this journal" in the side bar.



Nice to Whom?: How Midwestern Niceness Undermines Educational Equity

While U.S. schools grapple with persistent racial inequities, we argue that niceness, a socioemotional way of being that privileges whiteness, regularly impedes “equity” and “diversity” efforts in K-12 and teacher education settings. In the Midwest, niceness is uniquely rooted in a historical “obsession with public civility” (Cayton & Gray, 2002) that advances whiteness through a “demure white supremacy” (Cleveland, 2021), particularly in education. Here, the authors theorize Midwestern educational niceness, a regionally produced and enacted phenomenon “nicely” instantiated by the predominantly overwhelmingly white, Midwestern teacher workforce that actually stymies equity efforts. The authors conceptualize the ways whiteness through niceness works through a number of other phenomena including color evasiveness (Annamma et al., 2017; Bonilla-Silva, 2003), white fragility (DiAngelo, 2018), and emotionalities of whiteness (Matias, 2016). Countering the insidiousness of Midwestern educational niceness will require a recognition that this regional form of niceness and equity are incommensurate.