Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Multi-cultural - My EYE!

Try being the ONLY Black girl in a multicultural class at the grad level... Nah don't do it you might just catch a case...

Peep my thoughts after class the past few weeks....


Rationale for Multicultural Counseling and Self-Awareness
I want to know more about how I can help bridge the gap for minorities in education because that is why I initially became involved in education through Teach for America. When Dr. Moore stated that she has seen “the press” on her son, it made me think about my own one-year-old son. He is the first male in my immediate family born to me; a single parent and the previous comments made about how single parent children are perceived in the school systems as well as society, all struck a deep chord within me. I was almost moved to tears because she echoed my thoughts daily about my own son. How will he be received and perceived in the world we live in if I do not affect change? It also made me think about my minority male students in my High School experience. There I dealt with Asian American, socio-economically challenged White students, Hispanic and of course African American male students. I held to them a higher standard than other teachers and they (the other teachers) wondered what I did to make them behave enough to learn or, at the very least, respect me and I think it is all about expectations. All of the statistics show that the world we live in is a hostile place for minority children and I wonder what this class will give me to add to my arsenal for change.


Power, Oppression and Privilege
This last class has me wondering if I would be able to counsel white people. I was looking forward to the class because I thought it would enable me to see their (the mainstream; white) point of view but I am finding their point of view disturbing to the point of derision. In watching the film in class today, I was appalled at the white man’s (one of two in the room) retorts and his inability to see any other perspective besides his own. It made me think about the fact that I have had to consider how everyone else would react to anything I would say in this class before I open my mouth, which is so unlike me. Me, self-censor? It also made me think how children in my same position (the only black person in the room – in this case the other is in a position of power) must feel daily. Oppressed, repressed unable to fully express themselves, which could curtail their ability to learn tremendously. When the men in the movie expressed how they felt when being followed by or catching sight of pick-up trucks with gun racks on them, I almost broke down into tears. I had to curtail my feelings for the thought of what would my classmates think. Then I had to think about why I reacted so strongly to that sentiment. I have never been in any of those places before. I am not a Black man (or Latino or Asian man for that matter). Then I remembered; I had been in Philly driving on an extremely narrow one-way street in an unfamiliar neighborhood – lost, and as I neared just past the middle of the block, a pick up truck with a confederate flag in the grill forced me back down the block in my little Jetta. I was angry, afraid and did not know how else to feel. I still do not. There is so much more I would like to say here but I am already over my prescribed length.


Racial ID
After the last class I attended, I did not know what to think about the class, or rather where I fit in the class. I didn't want to be the lone black voice or make the only other black person in the room have to tailor the class to fit my minority needs, even if I felt as if I was representative of what the course seeks to stop from happening in our practice - if only for the sake of not wanting to be put on the spot.

Then on January 27, I went to see Dr. Cornell West speak at Howard and I realized that maybe I need to be the voice of dissonance among my like-minded peers. Perhaps it would be helpful for them to know that someone finds their culture and worldviews (if one can call them such) strange and unnatural. Maybe for them to have to explain the subtleties of their culture would make them understand how some people of other cultures feel when confronted with their ignorance.


Poverty*
I did not have to write this journal but I feel compelled to do so after last night’s class. This is not about poverty but about language barriers and perspectives. I was shocked and appalled at the attitudes displayed in class. When I heard one of the students say that she did not think “they” would be able to handle having to learn another language I wondered where I was; this woman I believe was an educator as well! Low expectations breed poor performance in all aspects of a person’s life. Do they not understand this of “those” children? I know that in private institutions children are shipped off to immersion trips so that they are able to hone their skills in other languages; I know this because my daughter goes to one. Why do people believe that minority or low SES children cannot rise to the occasion of learning another language? My daughter loves French and cannot wait for her 8th grade trip to Montreal and her 12th grade trip to Paris. Is she not like the average little Black child in the public school arena? Yes, she is just like them but I expect her to perform at the height of her ability and I always get her personal best. Today, I watched a show on PBS with my son called Maya and Miguel. There was a new student introduced who spoke with American Sign Language and a current student who befriended him who was Hispanic and had an accent. They played out what we discussed in class; the assimilation cycle for the Hispanic young man-Tito, was evident due to his pronunciation of yellow (he said jello), he was embarrassed and didn’t want to be singled out. The young man who didn’t speak at all as well as Tito’s grandmother (who told him “my accent is a part of who I am and I am not ashamed) reaffirmed his worth as a Hispanic young man. I wonder how some of my classmates would handle a student who was born into a way of speaking whether it was Spanish or sign language. Would they be compassionate or condescending, callous or caring?


I will have to put my thoughts up here weekly for you all to get a taste of the attitudes we subject our students/children to daily by a primarily white washed profession that is supposed to be dedicated to "helping"...

I wonder if they are trying to assuage their white guilt with their enrolling in droves to become counselors, all while inflicting major damage to the psyches of our children.

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