though this is unthinkable and reprehensible, that gasp evokes the sense that feminism is really a private cult whose members are usually white. Such black students may feel estranged and alienated in the class. Furthermore, their skepticism about the relevance of feminism may be regarded contemptuously by fellow students. Their relentless efforts to link all discussions of gender with race may be seen by white students as deflecting attention away from feminist concerns and thus contested. Suddenly, the feminist classroom is no longer a safe haven, the way many women s studies students imagine it will be, but is instead a site of conflict, tensions, and sometimes ongoing hostility. Confronting one another across differences means that we must change ideas about how we learn; rather than fearing conflict we have to find ways to use it as a catalyst for new thinking, for growth. Black students often bring this positive sense of challenge, of rigorous inquiry to feminist studies. Teachers (many of whom are white) who find it difficult to address diverse responses may be as threatened by the perspectives of black students as their classmates. Unfortunately, black students often leave such classes thinking they have acquired concrete confirmation that feminism does not address issues from a standpoint that includes race or addresses black experience in any meaningful way. Black women teachers committed to feminist politics may welcome the presence of a diverse student body in classrooms even as we recognize that it is difficult to teach Women s Studies to black students who approach the subject with grave doubt about its relevance. In recent years, I have been teaching larger numbers of black male students, many of whom are not aware of the ways sexism informs how they speak and interact in a group setting. They face challenges to behavior patterns they may have never before thought important to question. Towards the end of one semester, Mark, a black male student in my Reading Fiction English class, shared that while we focused on African American literature, his deepest sense of awakening came from learning about gender, about feminist standpoints. Rispondi 1. A che cosa si riferisce l autrice quando parla di conflitti, tensioni e ostilità? 2. Perché molto spesso gli studenti neri abbandonano i corsi di Women s Studies? 3. Sottolinea nel testo gli aggettivi e i sostantivi con cui l autrice descrive se stessa. unità 8 | Il pensiero delle donne in educazione e le pedagogie femministe | 273