Friday, May 25, 2007

I Just Don't Get It

Honestly. I just don't get it. I think I never will. Makes no sense.

What am I talking about? I'll tell you what: Racism.

I just don't get it.

So what if someone looks different or has a different culture. Cultures can be completely different. But not in a better/worse way. Just different. Is it that people are scared of people they don't understand or relate to? If so, why?! WHY?!?!

Why do people feel that they are better than others based solely on color and nationality? WHY?! I lived in Georgia for a while. It was HORRIBLE down there. Everywhere you turned you saw it. It was suffocating at times. I worked at a summer camp in Georgia one summer. It was a predominantly Af.Am camper based, at 85% white staffed. The staff people were mean to the Af.Am. campers! C'mon now! Why work at that camp if you a prejudiced a**? The white campers were mean, too. So sad to see a 10 year old being that cruel.

It's not as bad in the North... At least, not as out there in the open. Not as blatant. I feel reluctant saying "not as bad." Maybe it is.

I love the school I teach at. It's 60%, or more, Af. Am. Then there's a large population of Indians (from India, not Native Americans) and Koreans. There are also some white, Hispanic, and misc. kids thrown in there. As far as I see, the 80% white staff is completely accepting of all kids and all cultures. The kids respect each other, the parents do, too. For instance, I had only one white boy, with 6 other boys of a wide array of nationalities: Af.Am, Jamaican, Korean, and Puerto Rican. The kid doesn't even realize he's the only white kid. It doesn't phase him at all. We are constantly having talks about how everyone is unique and different, and they are all equally awesome and wonderful. I want them to realize how important it is to view all people as equals.

My reason for this sudden outburst? ... I was accused of being racist today. I was shocked into complete silence. I had no words to speak. It came out of nowhere, and was completely unfounded. I'm still in shock over it. Especially b/c it came out of someone I never expected it out of. Someone I thought I had a good relationship w/.

After my initial shock, my next feeling was utter anger. But I handled it by saying that I'm sorry that they got that impression, and that that is really far from the truth. In my opinion, I'm one of the least prejudiced people out there.

I must admit that on one hand, I realize that I shouldn't be that upset. Because of the world we live in, I think Af.Am. are used to discrimination. It's very sad. And I think that at times people misconstrue things and see racism where it really isn't. Some people would say that Af.Am. people are "pulling the race card." I think that's hogwash. I think that, like I said, they are used to society putting them down. It's the human instinct to see that negative they've lived w/ for so long.

I think of it kind of like this. As a young teacher, I can tell a lot of people look down on me b/c of my age. They don't view me as a serious educator, and don't accept my reasonings and convictions. I'm so used to it, that someone may say something completely innocent, but I immediately read something negative into the comment. I think it's human nature. Unfortunate, but true.

So I'm trying not to be upset. I'm not so much mad at the person, as I am at society.

I know racism is a touchy subject. I hope no one reads something into this that I don't mean. Hopefully I was coherent enough to relay my true thoughts... But it is late. So who knows. So, if you do read something negative into this, please know it was not meant.

***Side note***
I know I haven't been asking question lately. More like venting! I'll put up some Q's as soon as P-T conferences are over Tuesday.


'liya said...

Hmm was it a colleague that said that, a parent or a friend? You're school sounds a bit like mine with such a diverse student population and I wouldn't want it to be any other way too, it's great to be able to go to school with so many different people and learn from each other - your students are lucky to have someone so understanding as you.

About "pulling the race card," it's interesting that whenever I call upon a black student in class the student often says "Ms., you're picking on me because I'm black" though it's always said in a joking way and everyont in the class laughs. Even if the student IS joking, it still bothers me. I don't call on students because of their skin colour, I call on them if they're talking (and I always tell them that) !! Then I usually go into a long story about how I'm probably more "black" then they are till the point where they regret making the comment.

~*SilverNeurotic*~ said...

I find it really scary that we are still dealing with these same issues, so far into history. It doesn't seem like a very good chance it'll end very soon either, and that's what makes it even worse.

A.J.Reams said...

This was just an issue in my daughters 5th grade class. A black male student blamed the white male teacher for being racist. The boy said that it was because he was black that he wasn't allowed to go out for recess. My daughters teacher was so shocked that this boy called him a racist. There are 28 kids in this classroom and 8 of them are black. The teacher pointed out to him that 7 of those kids were able to play outside.

I will also mention that the teacher did a bit of "flipping out." He loudly explained how you don't accuse people of being a racist just because you didn't get what you wanted.

This boy didn't do his homework, was goofing off in class and was disrespectful to a teachers aide. This was the reason he had to stay in during last recess...not because he was black.

Donna Rey said...

I challenge you to look into your own lives at what your definition of prejudice is. Does your family drink Coke or Pepsi? Have you always cleaned the bathroom with Scrubbing bubble and anything else would be terrible? Have you never questioned why dad will only buy Ford vehicles or mom will only use Pillsbury flour? Maybe you just do these things now becasue your parents always did. Now Imagine your children. Will they drink Coke or Pepsi?
I would imagine that many of the things you say and do on a daily basis, that were taught to you from a young age could be construed by someone else as prejudice. For example: One day I said "Indian giver" to someone. A co-worker who happend to have a small amount of Native American background in her said, "I don't like that" with a look of contempt on her face as if I had just killed 10 children. Ok all of the sudden my mind races to a place it has never gone before. Where did the saying "Indian giver" come from? I really don't know but when I really think about it, it was probably something derogatory to Native Americans. But I have heard it from a very young age and never questioned where it came from untill it offended someone. Does that make me racist? I don't think so, it makes me a little ignorant for not questioning what was taught to me, but not really racist unless I was fully intending it to mean something derogatory.
So I submit this for you to think about, consider it the missing question from this post. Are all things that are said and done that offend poeple really racisim or could it be inbread/inlearned ignorance on the part of the speaker? Or could it be ignorance or inbread learning on the part of the offended person?
Could we try to be a little more tolerant of each other, and try to understand a little bit more of where someone might be coming from before they are labeled racist or prejudiced. We all have prejudice, that is how we make the majority of decisions in our lives. Unfortunately sometimes the prejudice is completely unfounded and sometimes it is based in fact or at least partial fact. We could all stand to take a little bit of time and think about how we feel about other people. I certainly did when my co-worker brought my ingnorance to light as well as when I considered caring for my daughter as my own, she is bi-racial and neither is the same race as myself.

twilite said...

Hi Abby!

Sorry you're misunderstood. I know and can vouch you're not, though we've only met virtually...from your writing, you do not betray such! So to hell with such unkind and nasty remarks!

Remember, the lips and mouth and mind belongs to the one who said this...unfortunately the one who sprout such is a racist herself/himself. How would she know what a racist is if she is not one!!!!

We live with discrimination every day. In some parts of the world, there is this 'hate American' this not discrimination?

Man loves to ignite that is volatile especially spilling out thoughtless words.

The war of words kills more than guns and powder!

Praying for're one great person and friend of everyone! Take care. Cheerio!

Mother of Invention said...

I hope they realize the truth about you...and don't worry about being a young will be closely scrutinized for awhile..sure, but after they see the neat stuff you do, you will have their respect. They just need to see you in action.

Becky L said...

abby-- i remember you calling and crying to me about this. i hope things have smoothed over some.

Skittles said...

I was born and raised in the South and was there during the Civil Rights movement, integration, everything. With all that though I felt something was wrong with racism.

I was 21 when I moved to Michigan and to my surprise racism IS prevalent here, too.. just not as openly in the South.

I just finished reading Marcia Clark's book about the OJ trial so when you said "race card" that reminded me of that.