Blog #1 – Ideas for project…

          As I think about what I would like to do for a project for this class, I envision myself creating some type of social platform when “real world” people can share their thoughts and experiences about their own race and ethnicity. Perhaps it can become a place where people can share positive comments about race and ethnicity. Although I’m still not sure about what exactly I would like to create for this class, I’ve thought about creating a blog, a twitter hashtag, a webpage, or other social media platform where people can find information regarding race and ethnicity and engage in this topic… maybe focusing more in a specific race and ethnicity or simply keeping it open for all. Maybe this way we can find more similarities among our differences… if that makes sense. I’m also thinking about a project where I could maybe include my own personal experiences regarding my own race and ethnicity. This perhaps social media platform could be a place where my classmates could share their own race and ethnicity backgrounds and experiences, this becoming a collaborative project.  

BLOG #1

                I have to say that when I walked into class on Tuesday, I was expecting the kind of experience that Dr. Zamora described as traditional (and somewhat antiquated).  I knew the class would be interesting, but I was not really expecting to have an active role in shaping the course content.  This innovative type of experience, along with the technology component, is something that is also being encouraged at the high school level, and I’ve realized, over the course of the last couple years, that, as a high school teacher, I’m a clinger- I cling to the more traditional class dynamic:  it’s what I was taught, and it’s what I know, it’s in my comfort zone, and I’ve been grasping onto it to within an inch of my life.   However, I’ve been realizing for a while that clinging to the old, comfortable way is not really working anymore.  So when I heard Dr. Zamora explain the dynamics of this course, I was very interested.  I hope that I can take away a number of things from this class: not only the experience of making something that can affect the way race is dealt with in our world, but also a greater insight into incorporating technology, collaboration, and active student participation so my students can accomplish great things too.
                When we were brainstorming in small groups on Tuesday about what exactly that “something” would be, we focused mainly on creating some kind of portfolio or collection in which we all document our own personal experiences with how we communicate, based on our own ethnic, cultural, and familial backgrounds.  One of us said she wanted to maybe develop a family tree or some kind of document about her heritage, kind of along the same lines as the TV shows Dr. Zamora mentioned (“Who Do You Think You Are?” etc.).  This idea really appealed to me.  A couple years ago, my sister started her Master’s and decided to concentrate in Irish history based on my family’s heritage.  She actually had the opportunity to go to Ireland and did extensive research on the development (and eventual forced abandonment) of the Irish language.  I became really interested in how much language is a part of identity as an ethnic, cultural group or race.  The idea that how we communicate, whether it be through writing, or simple everyday conversation, is a result of our own life experiences and, surprisingly, those of our ancestors going back generations and generations, is fascinating.  To develop a vehicle through which we can document the impact of this and showcase the variety of life experiences- and therefore, the variations of communication as a whole, would be really awesome.
                Another idea that personally appealed to me was the idea of creating some kind of educational toolbox or bank for teachers.  I know from personal experience that kids tend to be like me (haha, they cling to what they know and what they’re comfortable with) and so very often, particularly in the district where I teach, the word “diversity” means very little.  Oh, it’s something that is acknowledged and there is “Diversity Day,” but on a day-to-day basis, there is little consideration of what goes on outside the town “bubble,” so to speak.  I think that having some kind of consistent integration of studying various racial and ethnic experiences, across content areas- not just when we read To Kill a Mockingbird (although it iswonderful J)or Night in Language Arts, would be really valuable.
               


Who Do You Think I Am?



          After having our introductory class, I began to think more and more about what I want to get out of this class. When I ask myself the question of what I want to make in this course, the same answer keeps popping up in my head. Race, ethnicity, and background remind me of identities and stereotypes. As a result, I think it would be really interesting to conduct a type of experiment or study. 

          I am very curious to see how much you can tell about a person just based on the way they look. This experiment would require participants to go against the old saying "Don't judge a book by its cover". When people look at me, I think they see a white girl, blonde hair, pretty face, and small figure. But that is just the surface impression. Beyond that, I think people will assume that they know things about myself based solely on my physical appearance. I would like to know what they think and how accurate they are compared to the facts.

Some possible questions that could be asked include:
        ~Do you think you can tell a lot about a person just by looking at them?
        ~What are your impressions of the girl in the picture? 
        ~Do you think this girl excelled in school, or struggled? 
        ~Do you think this girl is financially stable or poverty-stricken? 
        ~What ethnicity do you think this girl is?
        ~Do you think this girl would rather go to the gym or the mall? 
        ~Do you think this girl has a nuclear family, single-parent family, or a blended family?
        ~Do you think this girl is confident or insecure? 
        ~Do you think this girl is mean or nice?
        ~Do you think this girl went to college? 
        ~What career path do you think this girl has chosen?

Obviously, I would not be able to conduct the survey myself if the questions were about me because then the results would be biased and inaccurate. This project would require a friend or family member to show participants pictures of myself and have surveyors fill out their answers. Once enough information is collected, I would analyze the data to show whether majority of participants answered based on stereotypes or did not. 

My goal for this project is not to change how everyone views each other, I think that is unrealistic. My goal is to reveal that stereotypes DO EXIST. This study could educate people on how unreliable their judgments are... "There is more than meets the eye".

Journey Project Ideas

thinking-happy-faceWhat ideas do I have for a project in our writing race class. I have been pondering over this since I left our class on Tuesday. I believe I am going towards either a hypertext  or some sort of video. Something visual  and maybe a pamphlet to go with one of the links.I thought about interviewing educators. I think I will have a better handle on the type of project I would like to proceed with as the class moves further along with ideas.

Since I left our class last Tuesday, I have taken the liberty to address other educators with whom I work with concerning the role race plays in how we learn to write. Some of the responses were interesting;
 *However the question is how do we fix it?
* Can it be fixed ?
* What grade or age should this be done?
* Do our cultures influence communication and writing?
*Does our environment and what we are exposed to also influence communication and writing?

I am still at a stand still with what we can do as a collaborative project concerning our class. There are so many great ideas. As we engage more in class with discussions maybe the light bulb will become a little brighter.

This journey is exciting and I am ready for the ride!


Writing Race and Ethnicity

Starting to blog for Writing Race and Ethnicity. Only thing to report is that I am excited about working on the syllabus so that I can work on something relevant for those of us who work and live in diverse settings. The other interesting thing is that I asked my son Aleksei how race and ethnicity play a role in his writing. And he said "it doesn't--unless I'm writing like Dostoyevsky." It was funny because I thought he was going to say something about his identity as a half-Asian kid, but he went in another direction...

Race Ethnicity and Me

Currently, therefore, I have some general ideas about my project in this class.

A.

I want to do a comparative literature study on Muslin Funeral by Huo Da published in 1988 and James Baldwin’s Notes of a Native Son. The major aspects that I will focus on is the messages presented by narrative and how the racial and ethnical backgrounds influence narrative. Narrative theory, rhetorical theory and racial ethnical writing theory will be collaboratively used in the project.

Although I was taught from kindergarten that there are 55 minority groups in China and heard random tales from my primary school class teacher about her Hui (a Chinese minority group that is mostly distinguished by their islamic belief) student who doesn’t eat meat offered by school cafeteria, it was not until my sophomore year in high school when I met my first minority friend, a Hui Chinese, that my vague impression about race and ethnicity started to emerge. What motivated me to focus more on racial and ethnical problems about reading and writing was a image presented in James Baldwin’s personal Essay Notes of a Native Son:

“I don’t know what was going on in my mind, either; I certainly had no conscious plan. I wanted to do something to crush these white faces, which were crushing me.”

While completely enthralled by this powerful image, I started to think about how the presentation of narrative, language, images are presented as a result of racial and ethnical backgrounds.

B.

I want to do a research on how nationalism and racism are presented in discourses in China and how Chinese diplomatic discourses are written in order to appease the tension between different races and ethnic groups in China.

As a homogenous country, China has the racial and ethnical problem as complicated as the the United States. Racial and ethnical discrimination is also rampant in China as well. As Chinese scholar Yinghong Cheng pointed out in his research From Campus Racism to Cyber Racism: Discourse of Race and Chinese Nationalism, a nationalistic discourse that emphasize on a “racial Purity” and “continuation of Chinese” is continuously presented as patriotism in Chinese education and pop culture.

C.

I want to write a personal narrative about my experience as a Chinese being exposed in a multi-racial, multi-ethnical, multi-cultural environment.

From a part of majority group to a member of minority in a different country, from a racially homogenous country to a immigrant country, all these are overwhelming and amazing experiences for me.


As we start out on our #WritingRace journey

imagesWe have set out on a course to learn together.  You will map it.  Remember – think big (you can design a learning experience that will matter to you), think personal (you can bring your personal passion to the center of learning in this class), think practical (you should think about what you want to make).

Some basic “to dos” for next time we meet in person:

1.  Send me your blog url so I can start to syndicate everyone’s class blog.

2. Send me you twitter address so I can keep track of all of you on our class “backchannel”.

3.  Read and consider the Hack the Syllabus document.  Drop down any comments or notes there – next week we will start a collaborative edit of this document.  Read and consider your Think-Pair-Share 2/3 (initial brainstorming document) from our first class.

4.  BLOG #1:  Write about your growing ideas for a project for this course.  Think of your blog as a journal.  Here you are “writing-to-learn”.  (Often we discover our ideas through the act of writing.)  You can write in any style that suits you, you can use pictures, multimedia, etc.  The medium is more informal than traditional academic writing.  -Please write about your personal sense of what you would like to make in this class.  What would you would like to explore?  -Also, write about your sense of a final collaborative project that the class might aspire to as a whole.  What would be the most powerful way to connect the individual passions to an overall agenda?

Some final comments:

-I am so happy to see our course hashtag coming to life! Don’t be shy.  Jump in there anytime if you feel the inspiration.

-As I read through your Think-Pair-Share (initial ideas) I was struck by how there was consistent emphasis on visual learning (i.e. videos and films as course material, and visualizations to communicate an analysis).  In addition, there seems to be an emphasis on hands-on learning (i.e. making things, either digitally or otherwise).  You also emphasized interactivity as a powerful way to learn, and you all seemed to indicate that you learn when the topic matters to you in a personal way.  Also, some of you mentioned that the act of completion (i.e. a process with a beginning-middle-and-end) was an important part of a learning.  Keep these self-identified learning paradigms in mind as you think about what you want to do.

Some themes have seemed to surface as well: –The role of race in education;  –The issue of race as a personal inquiry (questions of identity); –The role that race plays in how we learn to write (language, power, politics); –Race in popular culture.  I think more categories (or sub-categories) will emerge as you blog for next week.

We all need to discover our shared purpose.  Next week in class we will really start to define that together.  I look forward to it!

Postin Up

On sight. Not because I like Kanye or anything. I do. And: can’t I just say some shit? And: can I just give a shoutout right quick to all of tha teachers them in tha class: kudos and mad props to y’all in y’all resolve, in the trenches. Straight up: some of tha for-realest heartbreakers I know be y’all with the anecdotes you be sharin. That and ipso facto. Forget it.

Anyway: really, though, lookin fwd to buildin and everything else we gonna do in Dr. Z’s class this semester en masse. Mostly: curious to know what and how some of y’all think of race and other related points thereof. Like, if colorblindness is a real thing, or are some people just frontin like they can’t see how black a black person when they see a black person. Or: if “culture of poverty” is a real thing people subscribe to out of laziness or being un-white. I hear culture of poverty and I think hippies and hipsterdom. I hear hippies and/or hipsterdom and I think white folks, but that’s me.

In truth, though–and on my mama–didn’t know what to expect of this class. And: I don’t know, TBH. I’m cool, really, with whatever y’all decide–and if we can get some food up in here on Tuesdays that’d be great.

Fun fact: sharks have babyteeth for skin. They also fight to see who’s born. They’re in utero cannibals like that. That’s like a metaphor for intra-racism if you can dig it.

About me now: is that Your Boy a li’l bias (read: touchy) when it come to tha race stuff–and that’s not just because I’m black–just that me don’t like it when people mean to people. And because I’m black. I’m also white somehow. “Jones” ain’t African.

An aside. I remember one day, here Dad come telling stories. He was a kid and my uncle and him saw a black woman throat cut by two white men in Boston, where they grew up. (Fuckin Boston, yo.) And I mostly remember da part when the police came and he say they just had the woman body just hang over a bucket to avoid more DNA being spilt. Now: that don’t hew to too much to what we talkin bout here with writing race, but it kinda do work as an analogy for random incursions into a random brother or sister’s culture. Like, when someone come talkin bout how “talkin black” (or: brotha talk; or: Ebonics; or: BEV) unacceptable incapable of translating anything worthwhile, coherent, or is nothin but “kill a [n-word]”/”[p]-poppin [behind] [b-word]”/”bang-bang-shoot-em-up,” “drug-dealin” lingo. Stuff is bogus, yo. And messed up.

So. It is my hope that in class this semester we come correct to each other, open the what up something serious, in a spirit of plurality, so that we, if not pulverize these evildoers, can at least stoke a fire. Mo fiya!