Challenging systemic racism in school board meetings through intertextual co-optation

Melanie Bertrand, Carrie Sampson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


In this paper, we apply the concept of intertextuality–which entails a speaker or writer using language from another source–to better understand how a particular discursive strategy can be used to challenge systemic racism and white supremacy. Specifically we examine what we call intertextual co-optation–co-opting another’s words for one’s own purposes–and how this was harnessed by Black community advocates and their supporters in the case of a largely white suburban school district plagued by systemic racism and racist incidents. We employ Sandoval’s concept of meta-ideologizing to demonstrate how intertextual co-optation undermined the ideology of the district’s school board. We analyzed more than 13 hours of videos of school board meetings in this district, in which Black community members and their supporters critiqued the school board’s lack of substantive response to racist incidents. We found 20 instances of intertextual co-optation involving community members using a board member’s words against them. Specifically, this discursive strategy served to (a) expose board members’ hypocrisy and/or (b) discredit board members’ arguments by revealing and refuting unspoken assumptions and false premises. Ultimately, our analysis indicates the potential of intertextual co-optation as a discursive strategy of meta-ideologizing to disrupt dominant ideology and systemic racism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)323-339
Number of pages17
JournalCritical Studies in Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Race
  • intertextuality
  • meta-ideologizing
  • racism
  • school boards

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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