Racism is defined by Tara Yosso in her study, “Whose Culture Has Capital? A Critical Race Theory Discussion of Community Cultural Wealth”, as “a system of ignorance, exploitation and power used to oppress African Americans, Latinos, Asians, Pacific Americas, American Indians, and other people on the basis of ethnicity, culture, mannerisms, and color” (72). In history, we tend to see racism within the “black/white dichotomy”, but this two-way understanding of racism does not allow for the multiplicity of oppression that is experienced by many others. I believe this is a fitting place to start as I hope to analyze just some of the research surrounding how students of color, particularly 2nd generation immigrants of various countries fair in the education system as well as how they might experience college as a 1st generation college student.
The first half the book delved into the idea of creating a safe space to talk about potentially sensitive issues like homophobia. One sugesstion was to allow students to have the ability to writing in public private ways (41). I bellieve that this could have a very impactful effect on students as I've seen in in my praxis.
There are time where we will journal and share or just journal and look at the journals separately, but both are important to have students feel like their stories are important enough to be shared but not at the risk of their privacy. Sometimes hsaring can feel uncomfortable and intrusive. We don't know the sensitivity levels of everyone in the class. Giving the optin to share their insight or not is useful for building the kind of classroom that understand their is value in sharing but not to the extent that it is damaging to the student.
Though I feel this chapter from Delpit was extremely impactful as far as what a “warm demander” looks like and acts like, the beginning of this chapter really captivated me. Delpit talks about how important teachers are for students, but makes a distinction between teachers who teach at students from “more privileged backgrounds” vs students “who are not a part of the mainstream” (72). This distinction is something that I’ve been thinking about a lot as a first generation college student.
For me, one of the hardest things about coming to college was the level of academic rigor that was demanded of me. Mostly it was difficult to see myself struggling in these classes (that I had never experienced in the poorly funded high school that I came from) and see students who had been in private schools all their life not struggle. There was a difference and I think Delpit point it out. Both in her story about her daughter’s experience playing softball and her reframing of Gloria Ladson-Bilings words, Delpit says that in comparison to these privileged kids who can “manage to perform well in school in spite of poor teachers”, low income and culturally diverse students “depend upon schools to teach them whatever they need to know to be successful.
Today's lesson plan was focused on Micro Aggressions since it was a topic that we wanted to go more indepth with the week before but didn't have enough time. We sat in a circle and watched the video "I, too, am Havard" and I could see some head of the students nod and empathize with the students from Havard.
We finished the video and talk about our own experiences with micro agressions that eventually lead to the entire group of students dicussing the concept of light-skinned versus dark-skinned and beauty. After several stores about being commented on for being "pretty for a dark-skinned girl" from the girls in the group had provoked the other co-facilitators to ask the boys if they ever experienced a micro agression regarding the tone of their skin specifically. One, A.K., had his head held down the entire time and when we asked him about it, he spoke up and said "I hate when people do that." We questoned what he meant and he continued, "I just hate when people say things like that".
Something that I personally had been grappling with since I became a Dorm President in my sophomore year (officially becoming a part of the sga assembly), is how SGA promotes itself as an inclusive group on campus to focus on democratical partcipation within the college. SGA has always had a tension between allowing students to explore what self governance mean to them (for example, getting students to want to come to plenary) vs pushing the idea of self governance on to the students (for example, closing the dining halls and library during plenary).
Personally, I've found that the majority of people who become involved with SGA are consistent, meaning the same people run for different SGA positions and the same people become elected, every year. Something that we talk about in our group today was the fact that SGA meeting and the assembly (who are supposed to come to the SGA meetings) are not representative of the campus (ethnicially, socio-economically, etc.) to the point where any people from particular affinity groups or other area of campus feel they are not welcomed to SGA meeting and that they are forced to come to plenary out of guilt.
Our idea for this project would be to have some outlet to practice multicultural education with students on campus to dscuss the following (but not limited to) questions:
One aspect of the readings that I latched onto was the idea that we need to know our students to create a curriculum that blends their interests, experiences, and backgrounds in order to engage with them in learning. Understanding our view points is critical to creating a course that is successful in not just explaining a particular topic, but also in supporting active and aware individuals.
In “Un-standardized Curriculum”, Sleeter states, “…rather than starting curriculum with the textbook or the standards; she [Kathy] stared by identifying a rich theme that was significant to the lives of the children and their families in which subject matter content could be anchored.” (116). I can’t help but play the cynic, but I wonder how most teachers can do that.
There is the issue of not knowing your students from the beginning of the year as I, to my knowledge, know most schools change teachers every year or two years. Building a curriculum or even a lesson plan should revolve around the students’ background, but logistically, that’s hard to know right off the bat. And even later in the year, the teacher would have to make a very decided effort in knowing the students to find ways of catering to them in teaching. As I don’t really know the logistics of some types of schools, I’m not sure how much flexibility the teacher has day by day as far as lesson plans.
I would like to investigate first generation college students for my inquiry project. I’m considering narrowing the topic to first generation college students who are 2nd generation immigrants because there are a lot of reasons why someone would be considered a “first generation” student. This was the first problem I encountered with my topic; how to define first generation. Some first generation college students are first generation because their parents never had the money for college. Some might be the first because their parents “didn’t work hard” in school when they were in high school. Some are first generation because their parents never had the opportunity (in the case of immigrant families). Each of these cases are unique and lend to individual experiences that are not shared with other first generation college student. I’ve also run into the issue of whether I’m including first generation college students who attend community college, 2 year colleges, or 4 year colleges. I believe this distinction might be important in the long run, but I’m still trying to think if it is important now. I’m most definitely sure that I will focus on the bridge between high school and college because to me, this has been the most challenging experience.
My first praxis meeting was this past Friday the 28th. Every Monday me and the other co-facilitators meet to create a lesson plan for the students and on Fridays we go and lead the after school program. My praxis is located just on the outside of Philadelphia. We, the facilitators and I, first went to one of the classrooms to try to rally up the students who normally attend this program. The conversation we walked in on between the students and the teacher was a conversation on why white people think that their hair is better than black people. From this first impression, I already got the sense that there are racialized tensions in the school I was coming into.
During the program, we had 7 students attend: 2 boys and 5 girls. Our main activity for the day was about how we make assumptions about people based on their appearance. We gave them printed picture of people from all walks of life and called out statements like “choose the person you are most likely to hire”. The question that left me most uneasy was the response we got for “choose the person you believe is a part of the LGBT community”. One of the students, Judith, said that the male she picked was displaying feminine qualities. One of the facilitators questioned her asking “well are they feminine qualities or are these just attributes that society believes are feminine”, hinting at the social construction of femininity. Judith was adamant about that the qualities that the person she picked were in fact feminine, missing the point completely.
As a tour guide now, part of my general introduction is stating where I’m from. If the people on my tour have never been to California or have very little knowledge of the state, I tell them I was born in Pomona—which is true—to which they jump and say, “oh, Scripts College? Harvey Mudd?” and I say “sure”.
Though most college towns are similar, the people on my tour never take into consideration that I could have been born and grew up in the part of Pomona that wasn’t the picture of middle class suburbia they think of. I grew up on the side of Pomona with the indoor swap meet, family own car washes, and graffiti tagged on the walls of grocery stores. I currently live in the neighboring city of Ontario where the population is predominately Mexican/Latino along with pockets of Vietnamese and Black families. You might even consider us working class or below that.
My mother is Colombian (emigrated at age 16) and my father is Mexican (emigrated at age 15). They met in high school, fell in love, had me, fell out of love, and I’ve had a rocky relationship with my father ever since. Despite the fact that both my parents are Latino, speak fluent Spanish, and understand Mexican and Colombian culture from the “motherland”, I am pale, speak very mediocre Spanish, and understand little of my heritage.
The Boler Chapters were interesting to think about. The role of emotion in the classroom has always been an interesting subject for me. I’ve always found that the classes that that had more emotional tension, classes I’ve been upset about the discussion or felt like I spoke from the heart very often have been the most rewarding and I was never really sure why that was. In the chapter 7 reading, the idea of empathy and testimonial readings as more than passive, but as an active was to both identify emotions in the classroom and recognizing that “I am not you, and that empathy is possible only by virtue of this distinction”. Boler makes a strong distinction between pity and empathy saying that pity is about your own vulnerabilities, not about the other person, which makes it seem useful that empathy be brought in the classroom for education. Often I feel like when I speak with my feelings in class that the only person who benefits is myself, almost therapeutically, but if students practice empathy then we can grow together in acknowledging emotions. Empathy explores beyond just what emotions are being expressed but also asks why they are being expressed.
If feel like this chapter made an important distinction for me about why empathy and active emotions are vital for a class, not only to understand each other, but also to understand power relationships that cause those emotions and that not all experienced are experienced the same.