Oct 30, 2016 You piqued my curiosity with your comment about the different culture and things that would be misinterpreted. Could you please fill me in. I love to learn the differences. OK, but remember, I'm originally from MO, the son went to KU, we live in NJ, rural, close to the PA border, and I have family in Arkansas, Florida, and Texas. What I shared with him was mostly because he had never taught in an urban area, nor has he taught outside of a very white community. Please don't jump down my throat over the terminology - I wanted my son to understand some things I have learned over the years, through my personal experiences. Even though the Civil War is seldom considered in NJ, there are vestiges of resentment towards "Northerners" in some areas. Coming from a pretty white suburban area, I wanted to him to understand black family culture and make-up as I have experienced. This mostly deals with the fact that many of these are matriarchal families, with all of the decisions made by a woman who is working to support her family. I have found these women to come on strong if they feel they are protecting/advocating for their children. They rule the roost, they are authoritative, sometimes abrasive, and sometimes they come on strong. I wanted my son to understand that family structure, since it is not what he had experienced up to this point. I wanted him to know that while at no time would he ever call a black person the N word, between themselves blacks use that word about other blacks fairly routinely, which was a shocker to me. My parents came from the South, and worked hard to make sure that any bias they had grown up with would not be present in either of their daughters, so when I experienced this in the school I currently work at, I was offended for the student who was the recipient of that N word, but surprised to find in black culture, among teens, I was alone in my naive way of never using that word, because I was told that blacks using it with other blacks is acceptable, and they found it annoying when that word offended me - they were best of friends and that is how they talk to each other. The other culture represented heavily in his district is Hispanic. They tend to have a different family culture, where the men have the final say, even as the women often make all of the day to day decisions. In meetings about students, the man often does the talking, but day to day, it is mom who makes the decisions, because the children are considered her responsibility. I reminded him that many of the ELLs that he would be working with were born in this country, something he knows, but hadn't experienced. In my experience, blacks tend to rank themselves and others based on how dark they are. Being lighter skinned is desirable and gives them some status. Please remember that I am a science teacher, so I see skin color differently. Only dark skinned Africans walked out of Africa to populate the world. Skin color changed in response to varying climates and amount and intensity of the sunlight. So I find the whole "status" based on skin color offensive, but I have seen it, so shared with my son. Although many consider most Hispanics closer to being "white", in truth they are closer to being considered "people of color" and that results in some conflicts between Hispanics and blacks. If in doubt about how to address a black person if the subject of race comes up, I always ask how they would prefer to be addressed. Some want African-American, some will tell you they are Jamaicans, but most prefer the term blacks. Among the blacks that I work with, they take great pride in owning the highest priced sneakers that give them status, but they are very careful when they wear them not to get creases on the top. Many times they will sell or trade for better sneakers, and it is one form of status among the teens I work with. It seems to be a way of "wearing" your bank balance on your feet, therefore your status. These students love it if you can identify the sneakers they are wearing, but will not hesitate to tell you that your shoes are junk, because only certain labels interest them. I understand that this is a social hierarchy I don't understand well, and that my son might understand even less. Many of the poorer students I have worked with basically carry their belongings with them all day, at all times, and will never willingly entrust it to anyone else. Think backpack. They don't trust their belongings to others, including teachers. Just my observation. Where my son is, there are many more affluent blacks, not quite as many affluent Hispanics. Just an observation and the result of some solid research. Most of the time, there is no racial barrier, but there are still some differences. I work with many students who are being raised by grandparents or other extended family members. Some of this, in my personal experience, is the result of a parent being incarcerated. It tends to be the males, which means there are some real reasons that it tends to be matriarchal family structure. Many of his students might not have great bank accounts, but that doesn't diminish their potential, and they want what we all want - respect, recognition for accomplishments, and the chance to choose a better future for themselves. In my experience, the South honors the Civil War, while I doubt that my son has ever been around anyone who gave it much of a second thought, except in academics. I wouldn't want him to disrespect all that others hold dear - period. Finally, I wanted him to know a little something about what it means to be a red-neck before speaking about something he knows/knew nothing about. The final thoughts that I gave him revolved around having true respect for families that are not the same as the one he grew up in. I want him to understand that some of the black mothers I have met are fierce in regards to their authority and their children, while sweet as pie in the rest of their lives. I thought that knowing someone having a face to face loud discussion with you may very well not be personal - I always hope he will see both sides of any coin or relationship. Now before there is a lot of criticism for what I gave to my son, realize that for there to be any distinctions is not only foreign to me, but also to my son. I tried to encapsulate some of my life experiences, to help him on his journey. I have relatives that still keep the Confederate flag in a place of honor, even as publicly it is facing some ridicule in the South, considered a flag of hate. I would prefer that he stay out of that kind of controversy without a lot more experience living there. I raised him to respect all cultures, even if we weren't exposed to many of them. I just wanted to remind him that despite cultural differences, all parents want certain things for their kids. What they want may vary due to social norms or culture, but every parent has some dream that includes success for their child or children. Personally, I am in awe of matriarchal families, and the women who make them work, and that crosses many cultures. I wanted my son to respect that social norm as well, and not assume that he was "still in Kansas" so to speak. I hope that this last lesson from mom does not offend others. I am just like the women I admire - I have dreams of his continued success, with friends and a work family that will enhance his life. That makes me just like every other mother. By the way, we were sitting in a Popeye's Chicken store while having this discussion. It was so different from ours here in NJ, and examples of all these different kinds of families and relationships were walking in and out of the door, sharing meals with family, and several of the cultural differences playing out before our eyes. I'm a mom and a teacher, and on that night, I was both. I am sure that others could make this list far more complete. I would welcome your input!