Sociocultural Aspects At the beginning of this semester, I went into a classroom without the intentions of it having any impact of my life. What I did not know was that this course held not only a vision for the future but also answers to my past. Growing up, I was influenced by a society that was inhabited almost entirely by whites. For that reason only, I have been completely unaware of any bias or unfair treatment to minority and female students. Because of this upbringing, I found many incidences discussed in class quite unbelievable. However, my views on our society and the educational system have been broadened which leads me to believe that the teachers of the future now have the key to a fair, unbias education for each student that enters the school. I was also fortunate this semester to engage in mentoring a young African-American student named James.
Although this assignment was geared toward working with a student from a different culture in order to examine the differences in our lives as well as our values, I think that it was very fortunate for not only my experience but also for the students experience that we shared so many of the same hurdles growing up. The death of a sibling as well as the experience at multiple schools as the new student are just a few of the ways in which James and I were quite similar. As many people know, dealing with issues like this can be quite hazardous to how a young child develops into a functioning adult. Because James and I are linked based on our past, we were able to share with each other more honestly than we have before. With that, we grew from one anothers experiences and found the answers to our past with and through each other.
As I said before, the course discussions and lectures that I experienced had a dynamic impact on my personal beliefs and values. Honestly, I hardly ever had an ounce of belief in the books we read and discussed or even the topics brought up for lecture. I would walk out of the classroom each day either upset at the way people in the class viewed the educational system or the way that they portrayed the minority students being treated. I realize now that I was stubborn to the fact that there are societies other than the one I grew up in tat have it far worse than I have ever seen or even imagined. The way that I took the lectures was as a classroom made almost entirely of minority students blaming all of the problems concerning the educational system on the upper middle class.
Having grown up in an upper middle class household and neighborhood I felt defensive yet took it upon myself not to verbalize my thoughts, being very concerned that one might take my comment not as defense but as a prejudice remark. During class discussion I was able to listen to how the other students reflected on racial injustices. When I first listened to what others had to say, I can remember thinking how lucky I was that I did not live as a minority in our society. I have never had to live day to day waking up scared of what might happen to me simply because of my skin color or the things my family takes pride in. However, simply because I was raised among people who were all the same as me and had the same beliefs does not mean that it was always a good thing.
In fact, I see a lot of my up bringing completely different now. For example, I was always among people who did not have to watch what they said in effort to avoid offending someone. So, when a racial comment was said among my peers or even my family, I never thought twice about it. I also made comments of my own. I never had to worry about a minority being next to me or within hearing distance so I never considered the consequences of throwing around racial comments.
The class time I have spent with everyone has gotten me to realize that it does not matter if people do not take offense to what you are saying. I have begun to think about the scope of the entire situation and now take into consideration the idea of is what I am about to say able to offend any one that could accidently over hear my conversation?. I began to think about that idea and implement it into my thoughts every day and I am ashamed to say that I have stopped myself from saying my initial intent based on that idea. The fact that I am twenty years old and just now figuring out what is and is not politically correct to state in public is quite appauling to me. Twenty years of good parenting and a supportive environment to grow up happy in is what all families would like to provide for their loved ones but I have began to realize that while I was given those things there was one important piece missing.
This one piece is what many people miss in their up bringing which is why there are still such hostile racists in our nation. My parents grew up in Louisiana through the sixties and the seventies when the state was dominated by African-Americans. Both coming from very conservative southern families, they found themselves looking down on any one else who did not have the money that their families had. At that time, with money came respect and leadership. My mother and father were both introduced to African-Americans in their schools while in middle school. Their parents were very racist and verbally attacked the idea of having African-Americans in their schools.
My father adopted the beliefs of his family and did not like the idea either. My mother, however, tried to be open minded about the entire situation while at the same time watching her boyfriend (my father) verbally and physically abuse those African-Americans. Unfortunately, one day my mother was frightened so horribly that she drifted to the side of her family and soon-to-be in-laws. My mothers school, Green Acres Middle School, had been integrated for about five months when a group of African-American girls began to verbally abuse the group of popular white girls. My mother was included in this group and was picked on more simply because her family was known for having money. The verbal abuse continued for days until my mother finally got fed up and spoke back to them telling the girls to leave them alone. Apparently, that really upset the group of African-American girls to the point that they began to get physical.
Their mentality was that they were not about to be pushed around by a spoiled white girl like their ancestors had been in the past. So, one Friday afternoon the group of African-American girls shoved my mother into the bathroom and pinned her against the wall. One proceeded to lift a small pocket knife out of her back-pack and hold it against my mothers throat. They threatened her violently and held the knife so close to her neck that my mother thought they cut her multiple times. The girls did not actually cut her but they did leave marks on and around her neck. When they left the bathroom, my mother sat there crying and in such shock that something like that could have happened to her.
My father, in an attempt to put those niggers in their place, rounded up many of his friends, the popular football players and jocks, and went after the group of African-American boys who claimed to be the boyfriends of the girls that did that to my mother. The physical nature of that day is one of great pride for my father because he claims that he was defending my mothers honor. However, it is a day of horrible memories for my mother because she only remembers the hatred in those girls eyes as they held her against that wall. As I grew up, I only heard that story and many quite similar from my father about how the African-Americans came in and tormented the whites. Of course, in school I was taught about the segregation and the hard times that the African-Americans went through but none of those lectures about what happened to them could make up for what my mother went through.
I have always been very firm in the belief that those girls had no reason to hold my mother against the wall even if she would have looked them all in the eye and called them niggers. Now, I know that might come off sounding a bit racist but I can assure you that it is not. If a group of white girls would have held a black girl to the wall in a bathroom with a knife to her neck simply because she called them honkies or anything to that extent, I would not accept that as right either. Color is not an issue to me in these types of situations. It is the simple act of hatred that gets to me. So, I feel that the stories told to me about the African-Americans and their violent acts against my parents and their society is a thought that still lingers in my mind when the issue of racism comes up.
I have many opinions that many feel are backwards. For instance, many African-Americans that I come in contact with that choose to talk with me about racial issues find that it s the white person that is holding them back. There is so much tension between whites and African-Americans today and it is unnecessary. I can admit that there are still whites with backward views that the blacks are less people than them but there are also those blacks who feel that every white person is to blame for their short comings as citizens. So, there is a very sketchy issue at hand in my mind. I can not understand why some African-Americans can still blame white people for what happened to their ancestors and I can not understand why some white people can still share the same views of their ancestors and hate a human simply because of their skin color.
This belief of mine is something that I had to find for myself. Although racial issues were never a part of our every day conversations, when it was talked about, all that I heard were negative acts done by the blacks to the whites. I know now that I wasnt told the whole story about what happened in their school but I overcame my parents guidance to continue their thinking through me. This is why I feel that our class discussions have helped me to see both sides of the story and make my own beliefs for my life. I suppose that I was lucky in a many aspects of my life. I always went to the best of schools and I can not remember having any bias or racist teacher.
That could be for many reasons though. I have wondered throughout the semester whether or not acts of racism really did take place in my classroom. Although I have read about racial issues and have heard the discussions within our classroom, I honestly do not feel that I can relate to that occurring in any of my classrooms. Then again, I am very nave and if it did occur, I hardly noticed it at all. I lived in a part of town where whites were dominating. In fact, I can only remember three or four black families living in our neighborhood and they all had beautiful, enormous houses and played with the white children as if there were no differences.
Although I can not remember racial injustices within the classroom, I do remember one incident that has always affected the way I treat African-Americans when I meet them or simply spend time with them. It was a summer afternoon and all of the children in the neighborhood were playing in a park across the street from our homes. There were about seven white children and one black child. We were all playing together very calmly when a child that we did not recognize walked to the park and started playing with us as if we knew him. We continued to play until lunch time came and then we all went to our homes to eat, expecting to meet again soon after. So, after lunch I went back to the park and began to play with the one black child and two other white children that were already back.
A little while later the other children crossed the street and among them was the new boy. When they reached the park, the new boy stopped and said that he would not touch the sad again until the black boy got out of it. We all seemed shocked and looked to the black boy to see what he was going to do. He did nothing but stand there looking at this new guy that was judging him based on his skin color. The new boy continued to lash out racial comments until the black boy s eyes began to water.
This continued for what seemed like hours in my mind and all I could do was look at the black boy and see his tears fall because of hateful comments by another boy. Finally, the black boy got up and was going to walk home when I went to catch up with him. When I finally matched his pace and walked beside him as if he were my equal, he looked at me and the look I received still runs through my mind as if it happened yesterday. Here was a child that wanted to spend his day playing at the park with his friends and was forced out because of one child calling him names he had no right to call him. I knew that this childs parents both worked and never came home until the sun went down so I invited him over to my house to play basketball.
The whole afternoon we played basketball and video games at my house until his parents came home. Every day after that he would come over and play with me and my big sister and other children began to come over when they saw us playing on our court. Although I was only six years old, I knew that this child was discriminated against because of his skin color and I didnt care that he was black. He was safe and free of all discrimination when he was at my house. I can not remember seeing him at the park any time after that incident took place. Looking back, I can see how devastating one persons actions can be for another. Before I started this semester in our ALD class, I hardly ever thought about that incident but because of the issues we talked about, I had many days when this boys face was all I could think about. I am sad that this happened to the boy but I feel that this memory is what opened my eyes to the realization that these things really do happen.
I know that I do not touch much on the aspect of teachers and their relations with the children during our class discussions. This is simply because I have no desire to teach or even work with children. I do intend on having children of my own however and I enjoyed taking the time to listen to the future teachers in our classroom discuss how they will handle the situations. If all teachers in our society would hold the same beliefs that the students in our classroom hold then I would have no problems or worries sending my children to school to be educated. However, there will always be a thought in my mind that my children might be taught racial and bias views by the actions of their teachers.
I have never been witness to any racial mistreatment to students throughout my own experiences but I have, however, been witness to the mistreatment to students based on the gender. When reading Failing At Fairness I had many memories of high school when both males and females were discriminated against because of their genders. The book that we read by Myra and David Sadker was based more around the ways that girls were mistreated in the schools but there was one chapter that did deal with the mistreatment of the boys. I can remember several instances during my sophomore year in high school when the boys would be picked on by the teacher. Josh Taylor was a boy in my tenth grade English class and we were very good friends.
In fact, we dated at one point and one day we walked into class together about five minutes late and our teacher, Mrs. Lightfoot, looked at me as I made my way to my seat and then fixed her eyes on Josh who was not a trouble maker at all. As he made his way to the last open desk in the classroom Mrs. Lightfoot asked him why he was late. Of course Josh could not think of any good reason why he was late so he stated that we were caught up in a conversation with our friends in the hallway.
Our teacher did not like that excuse very much so she proceeded to tell him to stay after class. Throughout the class, Josh was the first to be called on for any question and he only knew the answer to one of them. Mrs. Lightfoots intentions were not to challenge him intellectually but to make him look like a fool in the classroom in front of his peers. So, Josh stayed after class like he was told and Mrs. Lightfoot made him stay there until the next class bell rang and then he was allowed to go. The thing that got to me was not that he was picking on Josh, even though that did get to me.
It was odd to m …