Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Counseling and Human Development

Degree Program

Counseling and Personnel Services, PhD

Committee Chair

Balkin, Richard

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Washington, Ahmad

Committee Member

Alagaraja, Meera

Committee Member

McCubbin, Laurie

Author's Keywords

whiteness; white fragility; school-counseling curriculum; critical race theory; cultural and racial competence


This study examined the phenomenon of white school counselors and the discussions about race that occur at predominately white schools. Research in the area of predominately white schools and discussions about race is severely lacking (Chandler, 2009; Chandler & McKnight, 2009). Additionally, many researchers and authors reported that conversations about race are either avoided or poorly managed in K-12 schools (Brown & Brown, 2010; Chandler & McKnight, 2009; Lintner, 2004; Burrell & Walsh, 2001; ; Loewen, 2007; Zimmerman, 2004). This points to an even greater importance on school counselors cultivating these conversations with the students at the schools in which they work. ASCA (2012) identified advocacy as a core theme of their national model for school counseling. Included in the advocacy suggested by ASCA is the importance of promoting multicultural and social justice education in schools. This points to the significance of conversations about race in all schools, including predominately white ones. Just like in K-12 classrooms, society has put a high significance on the “color-blind” approach as a way to correct for wrongdoings. Critical race theorists, however, argue that this color-blind approach is not enough in countering white supremacy (Crenshaw et al., 1998; Bell, 1995; Roediger, 1991). Roediger (1991) and Ladson-Billings (1998) both asserted that it is important for white people to understand their whiteness. School counselors can, and should, assist with this process. Utilizing Critical Race and whiteness theories, interviews from seven participants were coded and themes were derived from the data. The six broad themes discovered were lack of knowledge, exposure, prevalence, avoidance, tolerance/competence, and counselor roles. There were 22 sub-themes among these broader themes. Considerations for school counselors and counselor education programs are examined.