On “Studying” Race

What does it mean to study something?

I mean, if something is mentioned in passing, does that mean it’s been studied in a class?

If something is not the direct topic of a paper or an assignment but is implied, does that count? Is that better than nothing?

I ask because I’m in the process of collecting data from a survey on race in ELT, and one of the questions I’m asking is whether or not race was covered as a topic during the participants’ training.

Now, not all of these participants are people I know (which is probably good), but most of them are fellow alumni of my MA program. Some at different years than I was there, but still, many of us overlapped.

And I wonder, what does it mean to someone to have “studied” race? Because in my current program, even if the class isn’t about race (none have been), race comes up as a specific topic in every class, as well it must in education. We dig into it and chew it over.

Yet I wonder if the implication of race is enough for some to consider a topic studied, handled, examined. I think people’s general discomfort with race means any hint of it feels significant, but for someone like me who wants to really research the topic, the majority of discussions that could be considered racial were really about “culture” and rarely about the lived experiences of racialized people.

Do I blame them for this? Not really. I don’t even really blame the programs. I just think my data analysis is going to have to account for this, and that further studies may inquire as to what, exactly, is studied about race in TESOL preparation programs.

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