Teaching for Social Justice: Examining the White Savior in Sports-Related Films

by Luke Rodesiler and Katherin Garland

This video presents a brief explanation of the white savior trope and practical ideas for using sports-related films to help students critically examine how white saviors are portrayed in relation to Black characters.

Luke Rodesiler is an associate professor in the School of Education at Purdue University Fort Wayne and a former public high school English language arts teacher. Through his research and scholarship he explores the role of sports and other popular cultures in literacy teaching and learning, nontraditional forms of teacher professional development, and media literacy education. He is the author of Bringing Sports Culture to the English Classroom: An Interest-Driven Approach to Literacy Instruction (Teachers College Press, 2022) and a co-editor of Developing Contemporary Literacies through Sports: A Guide for the English Classroom (National Council of Teachers of English, 2016).

Katherin Garland is an associate professor of education at Santa Fe College. Her work is centered on media as culturally relevant pedagogy and supporting preservice and practicing teachers’ uses of media literacy education and critical media literacy pedagogy. To this end, her publications are focused on theory-to-practice methods for preparing students to be critical media readers. For example, as co-editor of the anthology, Stories of Sports: Critical Literacy in Media Production, Consumption, and Dissemination (2021), she and her colleagues examine whose stories are told and why, and how media is produced to educate, inform, and persuade. Likewise, as co-chair of NCTE’s Assembly on Computers in English and a member of the Initiative for 21st Century Literacies, she provides engaging ways for practitioners to support others in analyzing, evaluating, and producing culturally relevant texts, such as media.