Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Education/Leadership in Urban Schools

First Advisor

Abiola Farinde-Wu

Second Advisor

Francine Menashy

Third Advisor

Deborah Bradley


Music education in the U.S. maintains a legacy of cultural hegemony that has historically and systemically benefited the White students it was designed to serve, at the expense of Black and Brown students and teachers. As a subdiscipline concerned with cultural production and reproduction, the persistence of White supremacy within music education contributes to its indefatigability within the broader society.

This study is cast within a theoretical framework that connects critical race theory and critical pedagogy in order to address the ways in which music teachers make meaning of gatekeeping practices mediated within hidden structures of White supremacy. This inquiry utilizes a methodology grounded in critical discourse analysis (CDA) that employs a seven-stage dialectical-relational elucidatory approach (DREA). The purpose of this study is to expose and analyze how White supremacy permeates the professional world of music teachers through professional discourse and gatekeeping apparatus. The findings reveal numerous mechanisms of White supremacy within music education discourse and through dialogue, these became visible to the teachers interviewed. Also discernable within interviews were relationships between music education, professional discourse, and gatekeeping that are connected through four interrelated periods within music teachers’ experiences: PreK–12 schooling, college/teacher preparation, certification, and career.

This study’s implications include the exposure and confrontation of White supremacy and gatekeeping practices and the ways they manifest within social and professional networks, both inside and outside of public-school education.