Disrupting an Epistemology of White Ignorance through writing a Racial Autobiography


  • Jennifer de Saxe Victoria University of Wellington
  • Alex Ker Victoria University of Wellington


white ignorance, co-conspirator, racial contract, white supremacy, race, whiteness


White students who enter university having few experiences engaging with race and white supremacy are likely limited in their ability to perceive and understand structural white ignorance and racial bias towards Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC). As a result, these students and their professors tend to gloss over the insidious ways that hegemonic whiteness is upheld within the university setting. Such failure to critically examine structural whiteness misses opportunities to confront an epistemology of white ignorance, the Racial Contract, and their connection to sustained racial domination. Throughout this article, we argue that students can work towards identifying and disrupting white ignorance and hegemonic whiteness within the university setting by critically reflecting upon their own experiences of race and racism through writing a racial autobiography. We use this assignment to illustrate what it might mean for students to ‘become’ co-conspirators within and beyond the university classroom.