Blog #3 (skits, etc.)

What will I bring to our presentation? This is what I've been thinking about regarding our skits/presentation about race/ethnicity in the classroom:

I've had some more time to reflect on race/ethnicity/difference in the classroom. I was first thinking about how to best approach multi-culturalism in the classroom from the perspective of the teacher. One example I had was when teaching Romeo and Juliet to a group of ninth graders, I made some comment about how there were many things we could no longer relate to from that period in time. I said something like "really--who here has grown up with servants and nannies?", and one of my Haitian students, who rarely spoke without prompting, raised his hand and said "I did." And he proceeded to share how his family had been quite well off in Haiti before the earthquake and they lived in a big house with a whole staff of servants. Abiola further clarified for me that because wages are so low, it was very common for even families of modest means to have servants and nannies. So-- I learned that day that I can't make assumptions about other people's backgrounds--even though the place I live and work are working class areas, it doesn't mean that everyone has the same experience.
But-- I also don't feel like I should beat myself up for not knowing that. I can't know every detail of every culture BUT I am happy to learn from anyone willing to share their culture. I think the key is that I can say, as the teacher, thank you for sharing that--I learned something today--I see that you have great things to share with us and I hope you will share again. I think that is ok. Just mutual respect.

This led me to think about an experience that I had as a student in kindergarten--something I didn't share with anyone until this past year. When I was five, we were having a conversation in my kindergarten class about New York, and I raised my hand to say something (I always had something to say...) about my grandmother who lived in Brooklyn. My family is Ukrainian and we call our grandmothers Baba so I started my sentence by saying "My Baba..." and my teacher immediately interrupted me to say "What kind of baby talk is that?! 'My Baba..??'" and then she continued to berate me by saying "you are supposed to be so smart--you can read--and yet you use a word like Baba!" so I never finished that sentence. On reflection as an adult, I think she thought I using baby talk for a bottle or blanket or something? I don't know... but the point is she never found out what I was trying to say and I felt completely humiliated. I never told my parents or anyone until this past year when my four younger kids were telling me how kindergarten was just fun and games (they never went to kindergarten...) and I told them, no, it was in kindergarten that I learned to not share anything about my family, culture, language or religion because it was not ok to be different from everyone else. I know I was the only Eastern European person in my school, so even without knowing anything about my culture, she needed to listen to me finish my sentence so she would have figured out who I was speaking about. It was just a general lack of respect for me as a person and anything that was different... (Sorry for that cathartic rant... really I felt so much better when I told my kids about it and they said they totally understood how I felt because maybe to most people it doesn't sound like a big deal but at least they could relate...)

In general, I think that we need to continue to promote understanding of each other as much as we can...really listening to what other people have to say even if that hasn't been our experience. At my last job (FedEx in Newark), my black and Hispanic male co-workers finally convinced me that the reason they got tickets when I didn't was because I am white, not because I'm cute. Conversations at that job were eye-opening to me because I didn't have to deal with racism on a daily basis as they did. However, those conversations (like our skits) have to be for the purpose of both sides trying to hear the other, assuming good intent on both sides, which sometimes seems impossible .

Another thing that is impossible in the current climate: altering the standards that I have been hired to teach. The days when teachers could close the door and do our own thing are over. My lesson plans are posted on-line for all administrators to view and they can walk in at any time to see that I am focusing on the Common Core State Standards. I know that teachers take the blame for many educational problems, including the imposition of a particular discourse in writing and speaking. But the common core standard for language states that students must "demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking." (CCCS 11-12.LS.1) There are many things I don't agree with in public education--the focus on "control" and the lack of individualized education and the focus on one-size-fits-all standards and tests--and that is why I homeschooled my kids for 10 years. But homeschooling doesn't pay very well and I believe the only way I can make a difference for my students is to work within the system and keep my job.

Finally, what is the way our presentation can be more connected? I think we would like to have a panel of teachers, administrators and students share things that work in multi-cultural classrooms. That could definitely include video chatting during the presentation so that we could include a larger range of experiences. Or we could tweet out questions during our presentation. It would definitely enrich our presentation to get as many perspectives as possible. Looking forward to working with the group on this.

On a More Germane Tip

Here go Ta-Nehisi Coates givin it to Shelby Steele this week on This Week.

Here go Jimmie Baldwin in fisticuffs with Willie F Buckley at Tab.

The abovementioned juxtaposition (while the second vid a li’l long) is an illustration of just how li’l’s changed re race and racism in this country, and how attitudes’re the x-factor.

As for Me, Tempie, Vincent, and Eloy’s project (and no diss E, not sure which yours!), our assemblage to the occasion of race and language, or whatever we’re calling it, (whatever!) IMO must focus on attitudes and them serving as the frameworks for all our name calling and fingerpointing, demonizing and stigmatizing. I’m charging y’all to question y’all biases towards certain variants of language, and check them: linguistic democracy is contingent on our abilities to do what I just said, I say.

(There’s no reason why no one can’t just speak how they wanna, especially when no one language ((pun intended)) automatically transferable without familiarity with a type of nomenclature. Because if English was good like that, we’d all just know it know it the way we know to do other things just because. And since no one dont, it lends itself to scrutiny; this isn’t to say either that one language better than another; or a dialect; or a genre: all this mean is that equality not just a matter of pigment, but also linguistics. It be when we start examining how fucked up everyone’s language is, and how disproportionate identification of differences is, and how exaggerated they are, do we begin to expose and dispel prejudices about language across groups.)

There’s mad stuff we can do on an enthographical tip, though that might may be extra. Someone has to, though. (Not it!)

Except that might not do what we really want it to do. Think–again: attitude salience is what’s important if we want to, at all, make legit other folks’ Englishes. Mad scholarship already out there that legitimize and justify other folks parlance might be helpful, as well as examples of effective code meshed language, and/or even nonstandard English speaking, both oral and written. (And I know of tons, so–this blog, for one.) Another lightbulb might be to hear what the streetz have to say–i.e., interview folks–bout they languages and see if linguistic dubiety is even a thing. If so, may we be able to afford them linguistic peace with they and theirs. Because. That’s the way love goes. 


On a More Germane Tip

Here go Ta-Nehisi Coates givin it to Shelby Steele this week on This Week.

Here go Jimmie Baldwin in fisticuffs with Willie F Buckley at Tab.

The abovementioned juxtaposition (while the second vid a li’l long) is an illustration of just how li’l’s changed re race and racism in this country, and how attitudes’re the x-factor.

As for Me, Tempie, Vincent, and Eloy’s project (and no diss E, not sure which yours!), our assemblage to the occasion of race and language, or whatever we’re calling it, (whatever!) IMO must focus on attitudes and them serving as the frameworks for all our name calling and fingerpointing, demonizing and stigmatizing. I’m charging y’all to question y’all biases towards certain variants of language, and check them: linguistic democracy is contingent on our abilities to do what I just said, I say.

(There’s no reason why no one can’t just speak how they wanna, especially when no one language ((pun intended)) automatically transferable without familiarity with a type of nomenclature. Because if English was good like that, we’d all just know it know it the way we know to do other things just because. And since no one dont, it lends itself to scrutiny; this isn’t to say either that one language better than another; or a dialect; or a genre: all this mean is that equality not just a matter of pigment, but also linguistics. It be when we start examining how fucked up everyone’s language is, and how disproportionate identification of differences is, and how exaggerated they are, do we begin to expose and dispel prejudices about language across groups.)

There’s mad stuff we can do on an enthographical tip, though that might may be extra. Someone has to, though. (Not it!)

Except that might not do what we really want it to do. Think–again: attitude salience is what’s important if we want to, at all, make legit other folks’ Englishes. Mad scholarship already out there that legitimize and justify other folks parlance might be helpful, as well as examples of effective code meshed language, and/or even nonstandard English speaking, both oral and written. (And I know of tons, so–this blog, for one.) Another lightbulb might be to hear what the streetz have to say–i.e., interview folks–bout they languages and see if linguistic dubiety is even a thing. If so, may we be able to afford them linguistic peace with they and theirs. Because. That’s the way love goes. 


Blog #3 Putting It All Together

It was great coming together with my group, Race/Ethnicity and Identity, last Tuesday. When we started we were a bit undefined, but together and with the help of Dr. Zamora, we left feeling as if we had a stronger sense of direction and purpose for our group presentation and final project. We want to divide our presentation into two parts. The first dealing with the issue of how we define/perceive ourselves/our identities and the second dealing more with how society defines/perceives us. We identified resources and activities that will help us put our ideas all together.

Over the weekend, I found some wonderful resources on microaggression. What it is. When the term was coined. Examples. Advocacy. I also watched several episodes of Finding Your Roots and feel that I have identified a few that will open the doors to a great classroom discussion.

I don't feel that we hashed out individual roles or tasks yet within the group as this week was more of a finding mission. I feel once we all bring our resources to the table on Tuesday and organize our plan, we will each have a more clearly defined role within the group. I feel like we are extremely collaborative as there has been some great sharing over the week. I'm looking forward to sitting down and putting everything into place!


BLOG #3

As you are all already aware, my group’s mission is to explore the role of race and ethnicity in the classroom:  how does a person’s racial and cultural background affect his/her learning (specifically writing- which in my opinion goes hand-in-hand with reading also), his/her relationship with others, his/her overall educational and personal development?  As a teacher, I have realized over the years that this exploration is crucial; anything and everything a child learns is directly defined in terms of that child’s personal identity.


My specific role in the overall group presentation will be to bring this in-class experience to the work that my group mates and I do and the information/ideas, etc. that we present.  We have decided to approach our exploration in a number of different ways- just one facet of our plan is to conduct interviews with students, parents, teachers, and administrators.  I think I know my kids.  It will be very interesting to hear them open up truthfully (we hope haha) about their relationships with the written word.  I’m also going to be working on creating a series of lesson plans about race and ethnicity , facilitating students’ journey toward self- discovery and actualization.  These will be lessons that can be actually brought to life in the high school classroom and can be taught in conjunction with an existing curriculum on their own as a mini-unit (most likely in a language arts or social studies class).  This “teachers’ toolbox” will be my contribution to our digital omnibus.

Identity and me 2015-02-22 18:29:00



Working twice as hard..........It is funny, I had heard this phrase growing up quite a few time, but it never really stuck with me until 8th grade. I was sitting in my Spanish class and the teacher had placed in the movie Selena for the day. A part came up where Selena's father was speaking to her and told her that she isn't Mexican enough for Mexicans or American enough for the Americans. She had to work twice as hard to get half the respect from either side. That scene kept playing in my head all day for reasons that I was unsure of. I realized that in many ways I felt the same way. I was not Hispanic enough for my Spanish friends, not street savvy enough for my neighborhood friends, not smart enough to be tracked in the academic track. I was more than a boy without a country; I was a boy without a tribe.

In the abstract, the phrase "working twice as hard" can seem general and trivial. What does it actually mean? How does it actually play out? Well, it manifests in me in one simple way. If I am not perfect, I have no value or worth. While others could get away with mispronouncing a word, I would notice that I seemingly always got corrected in such a harsh way. Phrases like "O you can't speak English"would regularly get thrown at me.  This caused me to desperately want to be perfect. In many ways, this was a good thing. It motivated me to achieve excellence. However, having this standard placed on me was tiring. I typically overload myself and I now realize it is because my desire to succeed in as many things as possible. I don't ever want there to be a doubt about my ability. As time went on and I matured, I became more comfortable with who I am and my capabilities. To put it more bluntly, I stopped giving a damn about what others thought of me. Now, I admit that my own insecurities creep up every once in a while, but I have found that by focusing on bettering myself and helping others those voices I call insecurities go away.

While I do feel that I need to work twice as hard, I also acknowledge my own privilege, which is being a male. It became very apparent to me that in the work place my efforts, contributions, ideas were taken more seriously than those of my female colleagues. Now, can I prove that there is active sexism going on? No, I can not. However, I don't think it is conscience or observable if just glanced at. That is what makes biases so dangerous. They, our biases, can hide deep in the sub-subconscience and corrupt the actions of even the most well intentioned of people. I suppose this post sounds morbid, butI truly believe that with awareness solutions can emerge that help us build a more equitable world.

P.S. Not my third post. That is upcoming :)

Quaffing, Superheroes, 50 Shades–Thesis Christ!

Spent tha wknd quaffing and game playing. (I also watched a film that’s basically bout how fickle people are.) This’s a good quaff if you don’t quaff like that, too. Or. These days I’m an apprehensive one of those, a gamer. For me to get lost in them is nothing (nothing!), and that’s no bueno, capiche? Actually became awake to it when an XBOX 360 unexpectedly came into my life after a friend jacked her ex’s for me, and I got Batman. I went HAM for a week. I’m HAM-man.

In truth, tho: these days there’s just so much more I’d rather do, like read a book I feel like, I feel like. (And arrest plans for sp break a-coming.) (And here’s what I’m currently poring.) Unless I don’t mean that, really, and it’s laundry I mean. And: for real, though: I’m about my laundering. That and my films. Speaking of, saw 50 Shades this weekend. Buh. It was OK, as in there was enough soft porn-age to hold my interest for two hours. That and the geriatric biddies with their commentary to my right and left had me rolling on the inside. Otherwise: not something I’d’ve braved brick temps for if it wasn’t for my friend and sushi; duh. Also: watch y’all fish, y’all.

But anyway: this week in race has me thinkin lotz bout my thesis. It currently involves the new cadre of nonwhite superheroes and heroines (though it’ll be paired down to just one and their linguistic patterns by the time i start any legit writing) and code meshing. I’m curious about ethnoracial identity and how these characters perform who they are both physically and linguistically. I’m skeptical, particularly, of what informs diversity, especially race and ethnicity in a historically exploitative media culture such as ours. And not just that, but also what our biases are when it comes to superheroes and how they behave. Like: Obama as a black as president gets mad slack for his hip-ness, sometimes, and why: because he’s the prez and so the prez has to be hidebound to a historically problematically white presidential script? how’re we defining whiteness and presidency is a better question, or “are”. or’re we defining them sorta ipso facto-ly?

Obama as a black body of respectability is the basis for my thesis, essentially: with black Sam Wilson, who’s historically been Cap America’s Right Hand man, succeeding him as Cap America, and Thor now a woman, it’s important I feel for us to be skeptical and doubtful of who claims authority over how they represent themselves. That or we just continue to let The Powers define it for us, making it so that we can never fully be who we want to be, however exclusive or fringe-y or complex that is. Same thing goes for our voices–here’s to code meshing.