Let's talk race

Discussion in 'General Education' started by mrsammieb, Jun 15, 2020.

  1. mrsammieb

    mrsammieb Devotee

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    I hope that this discussion help each of us as educators to be better about being race sensitive and this will help with healing and understanding to move to equality.
    I work in a mostly white/Indian population. The staff is also mostly made up of white women. This past year I had 18 students 6 black students, 9 white students, and 3 Indian students. Usually when we group students we do try to group the black students together so they have more diversity in the classroom. One of my black students was a major behavior problem. He is school choice and his neighborhood and previous school is very different from my school. It was a learning curve in the beginning. I should also say that one of my white students was also a major behavior problem. He would throw chairs and hide in the classroom, scream and cry. I have always said I don't see race. I just love them and teach them the best I can. But race is there. Is it hard being a black student in a sea of white students? Are there things I should be doing to be a better diverse teacher? I try to read a culturally diverse books that have characters of all colors and backgrounds. I offer different colors of skin tones. In our first grade standards we discuss Martin Luther King Jr, George Washington Carver, and Ruby Bridges. I find it hard to discuss how black people were treated differently. Students do not understand why someone would not be accepted to college because of their skin tone. They do not understand why Ruby was so brave to endure people screaming hateful things at her when she was just their age. I tiptoe over the topic because it isn't comfortable. I feel like I am teaching them to look at people differently. Is that wrong? How can I teach about how the world was so different to such innocent eyes?
     
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  3. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    I discuss diversity with my students whenever possible. I think talking about race is extremely important but I’d feel more comfortable with a curriculum that worked it in more and guided those discussions. You mention that you have first graders who don’t understand racism. I see the same thing in my upper elementary kids. We have an extremely diverse school in a high SES area - black, white, Asian, Middle Eastern... and most are absolutely horrified to learn about racism that occurs/has occurred. But it’s not something they understand or have much experience in. I’ve seen African American students become self conscious during discussions about racism, and I hate that, because it wasn’t something that was on their mind or that they knew about before it was brought up.

    There’s a story in our textbook that talks about a black man growing up in the civil rights era and participating in diner sit-ins and protests, and then being treated very unfairly by police. It is important, but also difficult, to know how to explain these stories because there’s so much history there, and it can be hard to comprehend the text without background information on the history of the time. The story goes into it a bit, but not a ton, and there are comprehension questions but not really any guide for debriefing on the social/emotional aspects of it afterwards. The information can be quite shocking to kids who don’t know these things existed or that they still do exist in many ways. I do my best but many books on race seem to do this, and guiding conversation about the text in a productive direction is key.

    Also I don’t think it’s good to purposely chunk kids of any race in one class! I get the intention behind it, but it sounds too similar to segregation to me.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2020
  4. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    By the way - there’s a well documented lack of diversity in children’s books. When picture books do have diverse characters, they’re often about race, not just everyday life. For example, you can find books about an African American kid’s experience with being poor and black, or an Asian kid who struggles with culture shock when moving to the US. I’m not trying to be judgmental here; one that comes to mind right away is Those Shoes, which is a story I love about an African American boy whose grandma can’t afford the cool shoes. It’s much harder to find books about children of color just being kids - going to the beach, visiting grandma’s house, hanging out with Dad, etc.

    Because of this, I’ve made a point of building an extremely diverse classroom library. I love my library collection. I purposely buy books that have illustrations of diverse children because I think it matters a lot that all students feel represented.
     
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  5. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Yeah, I kind of felt the same way. It just seems weak and kind of assuming. Yeah, most people like having someone like them around, but this seems very "stick with your own kind".

    Different matter altogether, but in a college practicum there was a class in a local elementary that was unofficially organized by religion (or, rather, not that one religion). It was... Weird.
     
  6. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    With the littles, I do a lot of read alouds on the matter. Folktales from different cultures, history picture books, etc.

    Last school was more rural, so largely just white and Latino. I tried to recognize their cultures and introduce others. School before that was more diverse. More racial problems there as a result, but the community and school were pretty good about being proactive in education.
     
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  7. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    I think this is an excellent idea. Picture books are often geared for a certain age range. Through story, they help children to understand the truth at their level. When carefully chosen, these books can be quite helpful.
     
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  8. mrsammieb

    mrsammieb Devotee

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    I never thought about the books with diverse characters do struggle. I love Ezra Jack Keats, his books seem to put children is real situations. But that is something I will keep in my mind for sure as I select books to read aloud.
    As for my school grouping students, I think this came from what few black students we have that a parent wanted to make sure they didn't feel alone. So when grouping students it is something we try to keep in mind as we are grouping them. There were other classes with black students as well, just making sure no one student is all alone. But maybe that isn't the right approach? I am not sure. I feel like I am questioning everything right now and analyzing if it is being racist.
     
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  9. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    Yes, Ezra Keats is a good example of an author who uses diverse characters in normal situations. That’s partly why The Snowy Day has been on the bestseller list for so long. :)
     
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  10. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    I work in a school that is almost 100% white. Our approximately 1% of non-white students are Hispanic, black, or Asian. All of the Hispanic and black students are mixed race or being raised in a white family. Our Asian students are two families, one Indian and one Chinese. Our teaching staff is even less diverse.

    We try really hard to be sensitive to culture and race, but it is a struggle.
     
  11. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3737365/
    The science teacher chimes in to state that I truly don't see "race" in regards to humans, best described by the link above. All humans are descended from those brave individuals who walked out of Africa to colonize an entire world. Cultures, however, are abundant.
     
  12. TnKinder

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    The short answer is yes, but i didn't have that experience until I went to college. Growing up my school district was and still it 75% black. Unless you are at a choice school, your classmates will be mostly black or Hispanic. Going to college was the first time I found myself to be a minority in class, and it was scary and hard. I was always expected to speak for the race. In one class I was asked to give the back perspective for every discussion. I had to constantly explain that we are not a monolith.
    As a teacher, I've taught in classes with lots of diversity and some with no diversity at all. I know its hard to teach little kids about racism but we can begin with teaching about fairness and checking out own biases at the door.
     
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  13. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    This thread reminded me of a conversation I had with a colleague recently.

    I didn’t have an African-American teacher until high school. There are very few in my area.
     
  14. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    Just curious, how many of you have black teachers working in your school? TAs? We have 3 out of 30. Maybe 4 TAs that I know of.
     
  15. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    I don’t think I ever did in k-12, but I grew up in a small, rural town that was 95% Caucasian.
     
  16. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    We have one black teacher who I think isn’t returning next year. But we have a fairly diverse staff, overall.

    I’d like to see a push for diversity among teachers. But it seems like it’s getting there.
     
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  17. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I didn't have a European American teacher until 4th grade, but I also didn't have an African American CLASSMATE until 3rd grade. Asian American classmates would have to wait until junior high. At my current school, most of the teachers are European American but the principal and assistant principal are African American.

    There are a ton of webinars and podcasts out there about how to approach and discuss race. I highly recommend tracking some of them down. Some of them are about selling books and other seminars, so you'll want to vet them for yourselves.
     
  18. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    In my last school, the principal valued making sure that everyone in a class together had a classmate who looked like him or her. It wasn't about grouping by race but about making sure that no one was the lone person of color, religion, etc., if at all possible. At first it seemed odd to me because I'd never been at a school where anything beyond finding a balance of gender and academic achievement was taken into consideration. Now, I see the importance of it. I don't think that it should necessarily be the top priority in class placements, but I don't think it hurts to look a class list over with this in mind before finalizing it.

    I'm White and grew up in a mostly White area (probably 89% White, 10% Black, 1% Other, if I had to guess). I had my first Black teacher when I was in first grade, and she was also the one who first taught me about Martin Luther King, Jr. From what I can remember, my takeaway was that "we're all the same" but times were different back then. I believe that I had my second Black teacher in middle school, first in sixth grade and again in eighth grade. I can't recall having a Black teacher in high school, but I've also forgotten who a lot of my teachers were.

    I've also had a difficult time teaching young children about race. I considered myself lucky a few times over the past handful of years because we departmentalized at my school, and I did not teach social studies. This past year, when I taught social studies again to six and seven year olds, I had a hard time navigating race and racial issues. I experienced some of what was already mentioned in comments above. It was like shining a light on an issue that they didn't even know existed and making some feel self-conscious about it. We got through it, and I think that I was probably more uncomfortable about it than any of the students were. It seems to me that pre-service teacher programs and school PD should now include training on having difficult discussions related to social issues. It's important that we have these discussions, but I believe that many of us probably feel unprepared for it, especially considering that we are all bringing our own lived experiences and perspectives into it, likely without even being aware of that at times.
     
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  19. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Growing up, no Black teachers. Otherwise somewhat diverse: Latino, a few members of native tribes, Asian, Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern, LBTQ... Funnily enough, it always seemed a black teacher popped up in the school after I left.

    I've taught with a few over the years, but never as much as other races.
     
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  20. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    We have one out of 30 teachers.
     
  21. viola_x_wittrockiana

    viola_x_wittrockiana Comrade

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    Especially for the itty-bitties, representation and exposure is the most important aspect of inclusion IMO. Exposure to other races and cultures at an early age prevents some kids from adapting the racist attitudes they'll be exposed to. As much as I dislike the area where I was raised, as an adult, I'm grateful to have grown up in a diverse setting. I had my first muslim classmate in 1st grade, my street of 10 houses had at least 6 different cultures/lifestyles over the years, and my high school had kids from 17 countries.

    With my music classes, I try not to fetishize, but I use my global pop music unit to make sure my kids feel seen. If I had to guess, 1/4 to 1/3 of my classes are children of immigrants or immigrants themselves. I don't go out of my way to teach artists of color, but I make sure they're included in an organic way, not just during February. It'd be shameful not to teach people like Marian Anderson, Mahalia Jackson, John Coltrane, or Jimi Hendrix when teaching genres.
     
  22. Tired Teacher

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    At 1st, I didn't want to touch this subject online b/c I had seen the topic of race turn into a nightmare recently on a teacher FB page. I am so happy to see people civilly discussing the topic.
    Have you read White Fragility? The FB page was filled w/ people who just wanted to argue and resorted to a lot of name calling ( Karen, being commonly used.) Others actually apologized for being born white. A part of me thinks some of them were not really teachers even.
    I grew up during the Civil Rights movement in a southern state. Neighborhoods were segregated partially by relators and unknown ( to me) forces. At a young age, I grew up in a huge all Catholic ( - us and 1 other family), white neighborhood in a city. The residents practiced what they preached, and I did not ever hear a racist word spoken as a young child. Hate of any kind was considered to be against their beliefs. My mom told us that all races were relatives b/c we had come from Adam and Eve. She told us we were part black too b/c of that.
    I had an advantage of a mom who had travelled the world pretty much and had seen some of the evils that went on in the Deep South as a kid which had horrified her. Also, she told us about a small victory too which helped a tiny bit.
    She imparted a lot of empathy for others in us from Day 1. My mom prided herself in self composure which was needed for the Women's Movement. ( Women had to be careful not to show emotion or they were not taken seriously.) I was a kid, but remember how she broke down and cried unconsolably when MLK, Jr was killed. It was maybe 1 out of 7 times I'd ever seen her cry. Riots happened after that and shut down the nearby city for a short time.
    We moved to another totally white town during mid childhood. That is where and when I saw and heard things you wouldn't probably believe. I remember 1x a black man and a white woman came into a restaurant together. It was scary to me ( can't even imagine what it was like for them) and an eye opener what happened. They were travelling and had stopped in the town to get something to eat not knowing what they had stepped into. My dad actually stepped in to help the couple get away safely after a nudge from my mom. My dad was a big guy, gutsy, and always believed in 2nd Amendment rights.
    That was when bussing started in the areas nearby. I wasn't impacted by it, but my cousins were. From the experiences I heard from people, bussing flopped there. All of the white kids were clumped into the same classrooms and called gifted. In their case, blacks resented whites being in their schools and it resorted in a lot of violence. I am pretty sure the same happened in predominately white schools in that area. That is just my experience in 1 place.
    My mom got me my 1st job at 12. ( Maybe it was illegal, but back then no one cared.) It was in the inner city working with 99.9 % children of color. I loved the job and the children so much that I worked there every Saturday and 3 summers until we moved at 15. I saw a whole different type of lifestyle and learned a lot there. I'll never forget that experience and the people I got to know.
    Then I moved to the most culturally diverse city of the time probably. At 1st, there were many races that I had never seen or met before even though we travelled a lot. I was so confused how people could tell the difference between all of the Asian groups and another race. At that time and place, our neighbors were all from diverse groups. I went to school for a short while in a fully integrated school for the 1st time. I lived there a long time.
    It is odd, but that city now has every race you can imagine, but housing is pretty much segregated now.
    I lived there when Affirmative Action was enforced strictly. It led to bad feelings between teachers because the schools were seriously filling quotas w/ minorities and many white teachers who were experienced could not get jobs for about 10 years. They were really unhappy that new teachers would be hired b/c of their skin color. ( I understood part of their reasoning, but I left the area.) I saw both sides of the issue.
    Later, I spent about 13 years in a place where 99.9% of the people were Hispanic. I came to love the culture and people I knew there. At 1st, some things they did, did not make sense to me. After I'd lived there awhile, they made total sense. Some of my values and beliefs changed while living there too. Many of my values already fit in w/ the predominant culture there too to begin with.
    Where I work now is about 50% white. The other 50% are a mixture of too many different races to name them all. People for the most part, seem interested in other cultures here. I am far removed from what is going on in other states now. I see it on the news and have spent time discussing it w/ a few in my " Paranoid Covid" bubble.
    I have no clue what the answers to these problems are right now. I have had good, bad, neutral, and downright ugly experiences happen with the police in my lifetime.
    Near St. Louis, on a road trip, with a young child, I was sexually harrassed, detained for hours, and very fearful of being raped by a white policeman with probable cause that one made up, lied about.
    If it had not been for the grace of God giving me the right words at the right moment, I don't think I'd have gotten away. After that, I contacted 2 lawyers I knew. Both told me I was lucky to have gotten away, but that I had no chance of winning a case b/c of their word vs mine.
    I was too scared to drive home by myself after that experience, and had a small caravan escort me through that area on my way back out. When riots erupted in Ferguson, nearby, it brought back all of those memories.
    It is odd how 1 extreme experience like that can taint your view of police. I think some of the police in that area were just extremely bad people. Where I live now is not like that.
    I can only imagine if you lived there or someplace like there, and had frequent contacts with them. I can understand how people would be very scared and angry. The kindest, most helpful police I ever knew where in the Hispanic area. Just my experience....
    .I am curious too what your experiences have been like with the police. Maybe that is a different thread.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2020
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  23. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I haven’t read all of the thread here. I’ll go back and read it in a bit when I have a little more time. A few things jumped out at me though, and I felt like I had to respond.

    First, I really think that it is worth taking another look at your groupings of students. When you say that you put the black students together to increase or ensure diversity, I really wonder what the word diversity means to you. To me grouping them all together is the opposite of diversity.

    Second, I think that it’s okay to feel uncomfortable with questions about race and addressing race in the classroom. Right now is the time in our history when a lot of people, especially white people, are seeing the system with new perspectives. I myself have been reading and educating myself about anti-racism, particularly as it relates to teaching and education. What I’m learning is that everybody, everywhere, has their own preconceived notions and ideas and beliefs about everything, and not all of those are pretty. Still, we can all work towards the greater good and call out racism when we see it, even in ourselves.

    Finally, I think there’s a big problem with statements like “I don’t see color” and such. For many people, there’s a strong connection between their race and their heritage, background, and cultural identity. When you say that you don’t recognize that their race is anything different from anyone else’s, it can feel like what you’re saying is that you don’t recognize their uniqueness and all the different things that make them special. I suspect that what you’re probably actually saying is that you’re uncomfortable with the issue of race and so you would prefer not to deal with it. Unfortunately, that preference is not generally available to anyone who isn’t white because it comes from a place of white privilege.

    I’m glad to know that so many of us here are doing the work and trying to make our classrooms better for our students. These issues are not easy. I’ve encountered a few things in my own head that need work, and I owe it to myself and my students to do that work, even if it’s uncomfortable or doesn’t feel good. Anti-racism is that process and that work.
     
  24. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    I can't speak for others, but I "see" color only in the context of a continuum within the human race. However, I recognize and appreciate cultures, since I feel that this is more of what differentiates us, gives us a history that makes us unique even as we are all part of one race. Every time I have to mark something that asks about race I answer "prefer not to answer" simply because the question "should" ask what culture I identify with, rather than the color of my skin, if it is actually going to give useful information. Just my opinion, of course.
     
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  25. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Groupie

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    When I was a teen, I was kind of being a smart a##, but when the question asked race, I wrote down, "human." I got the job too. ;)
     
  26. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    I wasn't going to chime in, but this statement really got me thinking.

    Seems to me this is a very darned if you do darned if you don't scenario. Some want to people to be color blind while others want to be noticed for their color. Someone will always be offended whether you say something that shows you recognize their "difference/uniqueness" or offending them when you say you don't see their color but see them as the same.

    But we really know in our country right now, someone is always offended. I think the view we hear most often is the view the media wants us to "feel".

    I'm not saying there are not areas that need improvement in race relations (both ways).

    I grew up in a not very diverse area that became more diverse as I got older due to social experiments which actually did more harm than good. I live in a diverse area and could tell you I would be hard pressed to identify the races and cultures of those I work with without seriously thinking hard about it because I don't think about the person's color or culture. I can tell you who is nasty, sweet, or a suck-up. I do recognize when someone celebrates a different holiday than me or share in some cultural foods that are brought in, but just as I don't categorize them by those things, I don't expect them to categorize me by my race or culture, just my character.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2020
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  27. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    This came up in my book group online. A person said she was "color blind" and a black author said that people of color do not need people to be color blind. They want their color to be seen and acknowledged but they don't want to be judged based on their color. They want to be judged on the kind of person they are.
     
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  28. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    When people say they are "color blind" what they are saying they don't judge the person based on their color.

    If the person of non-color were to acknowledge skin color and have a negative reaction or action to the person because of person of color's action or character, not their skin color, color is used against the non-person of color as the reason. It is a catch-22. Let us not pretend this doesn't happen often.
     
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  29. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    The thing is, scientifically speaking, race truly doesn't exist. Oh, you have your genetic markers and whatnot, but it's such a spectrum with such disagreement that race is indeed more a cultural way of grouping than anything else.

    Is it important to recognize other cultures and any commonly associated colors and biases?. Absolutely.

    I believe most people who claim color-blindness here mostly mean they care more about commonalities. Which is important, but people also understandably want their differences and cultures respected.

    And that balance between commonalities and respect of differences can be hard to achieve.
     
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  30. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    Definitely but I think a lot of people are just throwing the "color blind" term around and not understanding what it means or are just saying it to appease others.
     
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  31. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I want to share my perspective here, not as an educator, just as a person who came from a 100 % "white" country.
    I grew up in Hungary. Our population was almost all white, almost all Hungarians. Any non-Hungarians we came in to contact were other Europeans such as Checkoslovakians, (I know I spelled that wrong), Germans, etc.
    We also had a minority group, the Roma (Gypsies). More about that later.

    I have been taught about racism from text books. In history classes my Hungarian teacher told us about how slavery happened, and the after math in the United States, all the civil rights movements to stop racism, etc. Honestly I don't think any of us got it. It was so far, removed and abstract. My Hungarian history teacher most likely learned this in school and he probably never set foot outside of the Eastern European Block.(we weren't allowed anyways, so it's a safe assumption)
    So we grew up really not knowing what discrimination is. Really. We lived in a society where there was no white privilege, because we were all white. Because it was a socialist country, we didn't even have the riches and poors. It was like if someone had a car, they we more financially stable, most likely, they had the prestige of having a car, but that's it.

    Now, the Gypsies. They are a minority group and they are discriminated against, and I don't want to make excuses, but they really do resist fitting into society. That's all I want to elaborate on. They way we looked at them was that crimes were committed by them, so in the dark you would take a second look (we had no guns, only knives as weapon) and generally speaking you wouldn't date a Gypsy boy, and a Gypsy girl wouldn't date a white girl. (we were all considered Hungarians).
    Having said that my best friend from K-8 was a Gypsy girl.
    I want to add that it probably sounds strange to say we had no white privilage and yet had a minority group. It seemed that the Roma created their culture and they wanted to live by it. The government actually gave them a LOT of financial assistance based on how many kids they had, so most families had 4-10 kids. Our national average was 1.5 kids I think. Out of the 18 years I have lived there I knew 2 families who had more than 2 kids (one was my father's family)

    So fast forward that when I was 18 and came to this country. I have learned about racism and discrimination in real situation. It was nothing lie in the textbooks. The textbooks didn't talk about how it's harder to get a job. harder to compete, everything is harder, so I feel that our education missed that opportunity.
    I feel that in a split second you decide whether you're gong to be accepting of all, or not. Racism is learned, but we had no opportunity to learn about it. I think it's based on how you were raised in general, and my parents must have raised me with the mind set that people are people and you judge them by their character.
    Are there racist Hungarians? of course. We are a very judgmental people lol. but while I do judge a lot of things, I don't judge skin-color. I did marry a Black man and had his daughter. I'm just kinda throwing this out there.

    So I feel that my situation was so different. People in Hungary are watching the news and see all the protests, and they get the reason, they really do understand, but what I don't think they understand is the subtleties that are present every day in the lives of non-white people.
     
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  32. mrsammieb

    mrsammieb Devotee

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    Jun 17, 2020

    I think for me when I say I don’t see color, What I’m really saying is I try to treat everyone equally. I treated my poor behaved black student with the same consequences I did my white poor behaved student. As for the grouping of students not all the Indian or black kids are in one class rather we make sure no one is alone.
    I agree I was scared to start this discussion because there is so much negativity when this topic comes up. But I know there are things I need to do to be a better teacher. So thank y’all for your insights.
     
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  33. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    See, I think the thing is that a lot of us (myself included) have said that and truly believed that. But there are often things we're doing unknowingly where we are not truly treating all students the same. And then there is the question of should we even be treating everyone the same, or should we have a different set of procedures and consequences unique to individual students and their backgrounds. It's a lot to process and consider.
     
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  34. MntnHiker

    MntnHiker Rookie

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    A couple things: I would not group students together by race. I think that is doing the opposite of what you are hoping it does.

    As a white person, I am going to take my cues on things like "not seeing color" from the people it ends up affecting the most: people of color. The consensus is it is not good and even dangerous to say "I don't see color" or teacher "colorblindness." The fact of the matter is we DO see color. It is impossible for someone with sight to not notice someone is white or black or brown when you look at them, so this statement isn't even true. Additionally, I like some of the points that this article from Teaching Tolerance brings up: https://www.tolerance.org/magazine/fall-2009/colorblindness-the-new-racism

    "Such incidents are examples of racial “colorblindness” — the idea that ignoring or overlooking racial and ethnic differences promotes racial harmony.

    Trainers and facilitators say colorblindness does just the opposite: folks who enjoy racial privilege are closing their eyes to the experiences of others. . . .
    As the nation’s demographics shift, the sight of a white teacher leaning over the desk of a brown or black student is likely become more and more common. In order to be effective, teachers will have to learn about the cultural experiences of their students, while using these experiences as a foundation for teaching. The approach is called culturally relevant pedagogy.

    But that is hard to do if a teacher doesn’t see differences as valuable. That means the blinders have to come off.

    Failure to see and acknowledge racial differences makes it difficult to recognize the unconscious biases everyone has. Those biases can taint a teacher’s expectations of a student’s ability and negatively influence a student’s performance. Study after study has shown that low teacher expectations are harmful to students from socially stigmatized groups."

    There is a lot more at the link I posted.
     
  35. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Jun 17, 2020

    Since our students come to us with unique needs, strengths, weaknesses, and baggage, we are tasked not to see them as "all the same", but to meet them where they are at and teach them from that point, trying to give them the skills they will need to be successful. Besides science, I teach ESL and SPED across all grades. I teach students who have deficits, whether it is language or learning abilities, and they are tasked with "fitting in" with a room full of students who lack these same deficits. I am tasked with helping them acquire the skills that will help them to succeed. Obviously these deficits are not a matter of race - they are equal opportunity problems. However, I have had students given to another teacher, before I ever met the child, because the parents didn't trust my "race" to help a child of their "race". Humans have but one race, unlike, say, chimpanzees, who have eight. We have, instead, cultures, or ethnic groups, and teaching ESL, specifically, has made this all the more clear to me.

    Regarding colorblindness, shouldn't we all be looking for the unique qualities that every child brings to the classroom? Are those qualities rooted in the color or their skin, or their culture and life experiences? We should question what preconceived notions we take into the classroom with us each and every time we teach. I will honor cultural difference to my last dying breath, but see races, when humans have only one race, will never work for me.
     
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  36. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Jun 17, 2020

    I would really strongly urge you to avoid digging in your heels on this particular topic. I think that your intent is clear and good, but it doesn’t go deep enough to address the issues of systemic oppression and unconscious bias. There are a lot of excellent books that might help clarify these things better than I can. I recommend starting with Stamped.
     
  37. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Understood, Caesar. I will bow out of this thread.
     
  38. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Jun 17, 2020

    I think when it says "I don't see color", it is kind of like saying, "I don't see gender". If we fail to see the ways that boys and girls have some unique challenges in school, we end up not being everything we can be to our students. If in some situations we remind ourselves that we must not put one gender above the other then maybe for that moment not seeing gender would be helpful.

    Without trying to put ourselves in the shoes of those who are discriminated because of their skin color, we are not able to be much help to the solution of racism. Yes, we need to in one way be "color blind" in treating all races fairly, but we also need to not be "color blind" so we can enter in the pain and challenges of another race such as Black or Hispanic.
     
  39. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    That’s the exact opposite of what I think you should do.
     
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  40. MntnHiker

    MntnHiker Rookie

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    "I don't see color" really comes across like "All lives matter" to me. If a person of color is trying to explain to you the systemic racism they have been through and your response is basically "I don't see color," that can be offensive. It's basically not honoring or acknowledging that their RACE is the reason they have been put through these hardships that we have not been because of our race being white.

    I'm a woman, and if I was trying to get you to understand instances of sexism in my life and you said 'I don't see sex," that would offend me. Because it's basically not be willing to acknowledge that I have a different experience from you (if you are a man) because of my sex and downplaying what I am trying to tell you.
     
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  41. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Jun 17, 2020

    This is exactly it.
     
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