Identity and me 2015-02-24 14:19:00

Another day....


It sucked missing class. I was  told what I missed, and I am very excited for the class vision we have created. As I stated in my other blog I want to interview a variety of people and get their impressions about living as a minority in a majority world. A few of the people I will interview have expressed mixed issues with their identities. The blogs of group mates seem to indicate that they also dealt with similar issues that some of the people I plan to interview dealt with. I was very moved reading their blogs, and I can personally relate to those issues. Being denied our identity is something that, I believe, is traumatizing to the core of a human being. We all crave for a sense of feeling wanted and a place where we belong. While these struggle, in theory I see my project as extending that conversation and allowing us to reflect at what others experienced and perhaps find some common trends that can help us learn why these feelings persist in minority communities and more importantly what we can do to fix it. I have already reached out to a few people I am interested in interviewing and have received positive responses thus far.  I am very interested in seeing how their dialect affected their acceptance in their community. Are you acting white? Are you a coconut? Etc....After I am done with this portion I will push myself create monologues that bring these themes to the masses.

Blog 3: Enlightened

I am excited to be in my group working on The Politics of Language--Discourses of Race and Ethnicity. Doing this sort of research surrounding race is very enlightening and cathartic. For my "Why You Actin White" piece, my inner-voice that works when I am trying to sleep (which is a healthy one, it's my process) is strongly urging me to do a monologue or a narrative about my experience with literacy and my need to maintain "performance identities". Initially, I was angry with my community for denying my membership, and I still am. However,  I am learning to connect my experiences with deeper meanings than being just a victim, I did not realize my experiences were also the product of "cultural mistrust". According to Terril (1981), cultural mistrust theory is the inclination among African Americans to mistrust whites with the most evident areas of education and training, business and work, interpersonal and social relations, and politics and law. 

By doing just a little bit more reading on race and identity this past week, I uncovered why race relations are so dynamic in how it shapes the beliefs of our the victim and the oppressor. The perceived image of  me "acting white" because of the way that I enunciated my words, how I wore my clothes, as well as my economic status were false to me. The fact that I was bused to a gifted and talented school all through elementary school, and then later my attending catholic high school, as a member of an all black urban community--theoretically, I was "white privilege". 

When I started jotting things down, I remembered peers in my neighborhood having prejudice against those of us who lived in single /two family homes, opposed to the projects or subsidized row houses they lived in. Again, my neighborhood was a mix of middle class to working poor. I lived in an area that on one street it looked semi-suburban. Then you turned the corner and the next street was plagued with drug dealers, dilapidated houses, and poverty. The elementary school they attended mimicked this same social injustice. So that"mistrust" for the dominant culture was extended to me, since I was afforded similar opportunities and privileges of the dominant group. 

In turn, it is the same "cultural mistrust" that I employ when I have negotiations with my 17 year old son, on navigating public spaces as a young black man. An AHA moment is in order.... This project is really showing me the perversity of racism. On the other hand I was enlightening to discover that my son has a different perspective on prejudice in his generation that differ from the attitudes of mine. I engaged in an impromptu conversation with him about race, which I sadly did not record because, I wanted to keep the integrity of his answers, without shoving a recording device in his face. I realized then that the conversations we had in the past were really from my standpoint on race, which made it that much more important. 

For his generation (Gen Y), he says that prejudice for them is an outward display of one's own ignorance that has no inward bearing on the person being stereotyped. Everyone in his environment has an "urban attitude". They all dress like urban kids. He said you will find white kids who wear their pants "saggin". You will also find Black and Latino kids who only wear Abercrombie and Fitch. Nothing is exclusive to one culture. This is due mainly to the premise that kids identify more with figures they see in music and television. So parents are working hard to afford their kids the luxuries of clothing and technology, no matter their socioeconomic status. "Poor kids can look rich, and kids with money may look poor, because they just don't buy into the mainstream high-end fashion. They may choose to dress like a skate boarder, with ripped jeans and worn out sneakers.White girls wear hair extensions and weaves. It is about individual choices."

To him, kids are more individualistic rather than identifying with race. They have more prejudices being identified as Emo, Cutters or suicidal; things that are psychological in nature. His peers are actually looking for ways to form their own identities against cultures of any kind. " Sometimes the Haitian kids say don't call me black. The Cuban kids, don't want to be mistaken for Puerto Rican. Every one is proud of their own heritage apart from the broader cultures".  

I asked him to describe a time when he felt discrimination. He said, there are times the police will roll up on a bunch of black kids walking home from school, but they don't mind it. He feels that is the nature of being black, these things are just inherent. "We learned to expect and accept it. We live in a equally diverse community, so I don't feel threatened." But, at the same token he understands my perspective on "performance identity" because if he ventures into a predominately white area, things may be different. However, in his immediate environment "performance identities" just means you are afraid to be yourself, so it's a negative. This clearly signifies that the discourse regarding race is situational in this discourse community. I also want to investigate if this is the beliefs of his peers or just the way that I have taught him to view things from both sides of the coin. He has always been wise beyond his years. 

These issues need to be brought to the forefront and my hopes are to convey that in my monologue or spoken word essay. My only disclaimer with my monologue is that my sleep-state self is much smarter than my awake self. I am a little bit nervous about performing for my project, and really the execution. I have never done this before. Writing this piece has to have so much meaning, but the inner self says do it.


  

Blog #3

What will my part be in my groups presentation?
The part in which I will be taking within my groups presentation is to interview two of my teachers within my building, another teacher within our school district and a principle who has studied in China concerning education.  I have also listened to a couple of videos by Principal Kafele on how we as teachers need to "Close the Attitude Gap. What is the Attitude Gap? The relationship between teachers and students. One of the key elements is having a relationship between the student and the teacher. The teacher has to ask themselves, Do I Know My Student/Students?
  • How do I learn as a student?
  • How do they process information towards learning?
  • Compassion- Do I care about them?
  • Do I have a re-pore with my students?
  • Do I know what their needs and aspirations are?
  • What do I know about them?
  • What keeps them motivated to excel?
  • What keeps them inspired to want to learn?
  • What do you know about their experiences and reality?
  • What do you know about their goals and aspirations?
  • What are his/her challenges and obstacles?
  • Do I believe in my student/students?
There are more questions to be asked . But you are able to get the feel as to which direction we need to go as teachers.
The gap between the student who has the will to learn and the student who does not have the will, the drive to learn. Why is that and what can I (teacher) do to help that student to have that zeal?
I want to show this video as well as ask these questions to our students in our class. I want us to think about the question is education a race and ethnicity problem or is it a problem in which we have not connected to the students who have not a drive to learn?
As a teacher , we need to change our mind set on how do I get this kid to be hungry for success,desire for success and to want success.I NEED TO CONNECT WITH THAT STUDENT!!!!
I hoping to inform our class on ways in which we as educators can "Close the ATTITUDE Gap and the achievement gap will follow.

Blog # 3 – Race, Ethnicity, & Identity

After our conversation/workshop on Tuesday, our group made great progress. We left class feeling like we had a sense of what we wanted to do. We had direction as to what we wanted to focus on for our project. It was suggested by Dr. Zamora to use the show Finding Your Roots as one of our main sources, so we discussed the different ways we could show that to the class. We talked about maybe showing an entire episode or somehow editing parts that we feel have to do more with what we want to say.
Our project will be mostly collaborative, so we didn’t really go over who is doing what in a specific way yet. We discussed that our project will focus on how we perceive/identify ourselves as individuals and then seeing how others perceive us.
We also talked about microaggression and we talked about incorporating that into our project. We briefly brainstormed about some of us sharing personal experiences with microaggression and the possibility of sharing that to the class somehow, but this is an idea that I felt still need to be developed.
Our group homework was to watch a few episodes of Finding Your Roots and throughout the week we have emailed each other and share articles, different texts and ideas that we might use as part of our project. Some of what was shared over the week had to do with microagression, identity and voice. On Tuesday, we’ll talked about how can we link everything and where else do we want to go with this project.



Writing Race & Ethnicity 2015-02-23 23:39:00

02/23/15

I am in the Race, Ethnicity and Identity group and I am happy with my placement.  I feel like I fit into more than the other groups.  I was interested in finding out how people view themselves in terms of their identity. Our group will be starting out with depicting an episode of "Finding Your Roots". We will create a conversation around the show. As for my role in the group, I am not sure yet.  Our group is working collaboratively where we are all working on one product rather than each of us creating some separate project. We are each working together to contribute ideas and any thoughts we may feel are important or relevant to our final project.

My group will also interview people and ask them specific questions pertaining to our project.  We don't have the questions down pact as of yet but there will be a series of questions.  I was thinking that recording these interviews and displaying them to the class would be good for a visual aspect.  I think that a paper and pen interview would be kind of boring.  I think that we will have all of this figured out by next class.

Blog #3

What will your part be in your group presentation?
In response to this question, I am in the Race and Identity group. We're not exactly sure yet exactly who's doing what and that is what we will be figuring out next week, but we're pretty much going to do everything as an entire group working together, instead of individual projects. We all agreed that we can do something much more effective and extensive if we do this together. Our planning for this project this week is gathering up all of our ideas on how we want to do our presentation and who's going to do what. When we meet tomorrow, we will all determine that. There were some people in the group who had specific "Microagression" situations happen to them, and we have to decide how we want to incorporate that into our presentation. It may be a discussion, or that can possibly be used within the skits that we plan on doing. For this presentation, I think we will all pretty much have the same part because we're focusing on the "How do you precede your self" and than go into "How do you precede others". Most likely to start as an introducton, were going to introduce the, "Finding your roots" and decide what formative questions we can use to deliberate a discussion within the classroom. We're all not still 100% clear on who's exactly doing what, but going from what we discussed last week, it seems as if everyone is going to have an even shared role in this group and we will all be participating in each aspect; even the skit. This week we will figure out exactly how our presentation to go, what finding roots episode we will look at, the questions forming from that, the skit, and any other essential information that we may come upon. 

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!