Decolonial pedagogy toward a practice of critical compassion: White students deconstructing white innocence via a family portrait assignment

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John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


A decolonizing standpoint in community psychology is discussed in relation to the Family Portrait Assignment—a pedagogical tool developed and implemented to facilitate white students’ decolonial thinking. The Family Portrait Assignment contributes to the limited of decolonial pedagogical tools in community psychology. Through a critical discourse analysis of student's essays, I discuss how decolonial thinking, including a critical sociohistorical examination of colonialism, racism and whiteness, was facilitated. Decoloniality as the disruption of white innocence, an ideological construct embedded within systems of power that sustain structures of whiteness, guides the analysis of student's essays. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how the Family Portrait Assignment facilitated white student's decolonial thinking, specifically their process of engaging with and disrupting white innocence. A discussion of decoloniality in community psychology pedagogy, theory, research and action concludes this paper.