Let's talk race

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

  1. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    Jun 17, 2020

    The other problem with the “What is your race or ethnicity?” question is that it doesn’t fit for everyone. Again, my school is very diverse. Many of my students are mixed ethnicities. I’ve had Asian/Black students, Asian/Caucasian, Black/Latino... so the question gets much more complicated to answer and I imagine creates a dilemma for many. This question always rubs me the wrong way too for this reason. Very rarely is choosing more than one choice an option. If so many forms are going to continue asking this, multiple choices should always be an option.

    Also, “white” people are very rarely asked to explain their origin, just the color of their skin. White can mean Russian, Australian, Finnish, or Irish, all of which are very different cultures. I wouldn’t even really know what to answer if asked this question, other than “American” because my heritage is so mixed and the list is very long - and yet we expect others, especially Asians and Latinos, to do this regularly.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2020
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  2. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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  3. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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  4. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Those are great links, Caesar. I have quickly realized over the past few weeks the importance of listening to learn.
     
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  5. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    Right. I don't think people who say that understand how they're coming across. I saw someone post about it the other day and I was thinking to myself she just said it because she thinks that's what she's supposed to say. The black person who she was talking to didn't reply because I think she just figured this person was clueless.
     
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  6. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Jun 18, 2020

    So you are biased about the possibility of other people being biased? You assume to know what she is really thinking and judge based on your own bias.
     
  7. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Jun 18, 2020

    One of the things on the micro-aggression rather made me laugh. Let me explain: it was the comment about purse-clutching/moving fast when moving past a black man.

    Story: So yesterday I respond to a Facebook marketplace ad and go to pick up the item. I'm a white lady, but I had been having quite the day (drove three hours round-trip that morning to get fingerprinting from one of the few places not closed due to COVID fingerprinting teachers who aren't necessarily in the district, never had put on make-up or brushed my hair and fairly looked like a hot mess). The item exchange was at an apartment complex, and I was having trouble locating the door addresses. Anyway, this gentleman (who is black) is totally watching me with some suspicion as I wander around looking like a crazy lost homeless person. (Husband is in security, so I know what to look for when you're being watched). I smiled, apologized for everything, and asked for help understanding the apartment address system and he was absolutely helpful and we had a good laugh.

    But it was some interesting insight into how others feel when being watched suspiciously.
     
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  8. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Groupie

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    My mom told us young that it may not be right, but people treat you differently dependent upon how you look/dress. Trying to get her point across that you should always look your best. I didn't always follow her advice, but after many years, I realized from experience, she was right.
     
  9. creativemonster

    creativemonster Comrade

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    Jun 18, 2020

    One thing that hasn't come up with in this conversation yet, so I'll mention it. Grading. I have looked at my class grades and looked at who is succeeding, who is struggling, and where are the obstacles that might be school based, even classroom based obstacles. My question for myself is: am I helping all of my students gain access to the material. African American males in my HS classes have different needs than African males, and different than my Latina females and on and on. There is something going wrong when whole districts (such as mine) have historically high suspension rates for one group of students (such as African American) and hey - it seems to mirror our society's incarceration rates. I can't control that - but I can look at my own grading practices, and my teaching practices. And yes, these have shifted with time. My district is turning more and more toward "mastery grading" Did the kid master the standard, is different than did the kid get the assignment to me on time and neatly typed up. I'm also very aware that my district seems to be finally having to face the white flight that has affected our schools since ...for as long as I know about. And is that fear of non whites, or is it fear of less than high standards? This second one I can control. I just try to narrow it down to what is in front of my nose, cause everything else is too overwhelming.
     
  10. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Jun 19, 2020

    District admin are being told (once again) to “keep an eye on suspensions” for our African American population.

    Sigh.
     
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  11. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    Jun 19, 2020

    I don’t think any teacher is specifically saying, this child has — color skin, I should fail/suspend them. Sure, there could certainly be bias happening, but there could also be legitimate reasons why the child is failing or being suspended. Teachers or admin being told “don’t fail these kids” or “don’t suspend these kids” only encourages letting students slip through the cracks in other ways. It promotes policies where students (of any race) can cuss out a teacher, be sent to the office, and then be sent back five minutes later because “they won’t do it again,” with no other consequence. It also promotes passing a child who cannot read to the next grade level with C average grades. It’s not leveling the playing field, and it’s not promoting equity, to ignore the problems without addressing the causes.

    Rather than just simply not suspending, or not giving failing grades, districts should look at why this pattern is happening. Are there social/emotional lessons or study skill lessons that need to be explicitly taught in class? Can a mentoring or tutoring program be established? Do these students have what they need at home, such as food, shelter, and positive relationships? These actions actually address the problem, rather than ignoring it exists.

    YTG, not saying this is your school at all. I’ve definitely seen schools where it happens though.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2020
  12. mrsammieb

    mrsammieb Devotee

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    Jun 19, 2020

    I agree. But I still wear jeans everyday to work.
     
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  13. creativemonster

    creativemonster Comrade

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    Jun 19, 2020

    "but I can look at my own grading practices, and my teaching practices. And yes, these have shifted with time. My district is turning more and more toward "mastery grading" Did the kid master the standard, is different than did the kid get the assignment to me on time and neatly typed up."
    Yes - looking at the reasons that I might have control over - what obstacles can I help clear. That isn't saying don't give fail marks - just see what I can do to help student achieve success.
     
  14. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Jun 19, 2020

    Shouldn't that be standard for all students and equally applied?
     
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  15. creativemonster

    creativemonster Comrade

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    Jun 19, 2020

    Absolutely! And I need to look carefully at my students who are not meeting the standards and what the reasons might be. This might mean I see that wow what might I do differently to reach these students? And yes, I need to bring into account that sometimes the material or I as teacher, might be culturally biased in one way or another. If I see that x percentage of a specific group isn't achieving success, that is not an fluke - That is something that I need to address.
     
  16. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Jun 19, 2020

    What if their culture is one in which men don't respect women and you are a woman? How do you correct that? What if they don't respect you because of your color?
     
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  17. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Groupie

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    Jun 19, 2020

    You get treated really differently by the police if you are wearing Harley Davidson shirt with jeans than if you are dressed in teacher attire. I noticed a huge difference in banks too. I dressed several styles throughout the years.
    I'd dress up for school and some events ( including shopping at 1 point in my life.) If I went on a Poker Run, I'd dress differently.
    It is so nice to be old b/c now I truly don't care. I dress modestly now and do not bother with make up, but I think age has its privileges. People are usually really nice to me in public. Maybe I remind them of their grandma. :)
     
  18. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Jun 19, 2020

    Something I want to work on is relationship building with our African American families. The ones I’ve met throughout my career seemed to have a negative view of the school system.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2020
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  19. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Jun 20, 2020

    This practice is actually arguably illegal under the Civil Rights Act, even though it may be well intentioned. https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/tviassgn.html

    It is tricky, though. Theoretically as a principal you're supposed to be safe by evenly distributing the races among whatever classes you have, but what if you have two classes and two minority students of a race? Are you *truly* supposed to separate them because of the law?

    And of course, there's the way the law is actually written -- assignments to classrooms must be done "without regard to race". But if they are done that way and randomly put all the minority students into a single classroom, the principal would be foolish to allow that to stand, especially if it's happened before.

    What this all means is that while the ideal would be to not treat any differently by race, in practice this isn't a good idea. Claiming to do such can allow systemic discrimination to creep in. For example, a number of decades ago when integration was first occurring, a number of fire departments started modifying their tests for certification to include vocabulary tests that included words well beyond what a firefighter would actually need, in a rather transparent effort to exclude minorities (who, at the time, were not often educated as well). What this kind of history means is that when someone says they're "color-blind", it's often viewed as a code, or excuse, for racism.

    So, my approach is to be honest. Do I see race? Of course. And I examine my decisions with regard to my own possible biases on race, and try to limit the effect of those biases.
     
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  20. Guitart

    Guitart Companion

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    Jun 20, 2020

    I'm sick of a lifetime of race/ethnicity questions. They have always made me uncomfortable.
    I'm what the old western movies would call a half-breed. I don't fit neatly into a race or ethnicity. I could be part Mexican. I know my great grandmother was Native American. I always answer "white" but the truth is that I'm brown.

    I have heard that in 50 years, the majority of the US population will be brown like me. This can't come soon enough. Once we are all brown, then maybe people will figure out your culture defines who you are - not your race or skin color.

    I seldom post links but I really like this site. The pic is special too. It reminds me of my wife's mom and our kids:
    https://theracecardproject.com/the-difference-is-culture-not-color/
     
  21. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Jun 21, 2020

    I keep thinking about the students being all put together. Still bothers me, and then I think how it's parent request. I'm not sure how to balance those ideas. I understand that self-segregation is desirable in some circumstances, but it seems there's a line here that could be crossed if no one is careful.

    My last school did a thing where all the ELL students per grade were put into a single class. Granted, this somehow meant like 2-3 kids in the grade and it certainly didn't look racial and it helped a school that was juggling responsibilities.

    But again, when does it go too far?
     
  22. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I think there is a difference between putting ALL of the kids of a same race/cultural/special needs group in one class and putting at least two kids or a small cluster of the same group into one class.

    As I already mentioned, my former principal made an effort to make sure that every student in a class had a peer in the class who "looked like" him or her. This wasn't to segregate by race and was instead intended to make sure that no one felt isolated, alone, or like the odd person out. Never did it mean that ALL students of a particular group were together in one class. It just meant that the priority was making sure that no one was alone rather than making sure that every class had someone from a particular group (therefore making the students in the class more comfortable as opposed to the adults who put them there). In multiple schools where I've worked, there were often clusters of students from a particular group (special ed or ESOL), but, again, this never meant that ALL students from that group were put together in a single class. They might be spread over 3 out of 6 classes, for example. It was about making sure that no one was the lone student of that group within a single class, as well as thinking about best servicing students needs (a good teacher match and scheduling, for example).

    I don't think this was going too far because it was all about what was best for the students. I think it goes too far when the decision is not about what is best for students but becomes about what is best for the adult decision-makers, or what will make them the most comfortable. If a school finds themselves putting all students of a particular group in a single class, then this likely signals one of two things - either a low population of that particular group or a systemic issue. If the population of a given group is large enough and the students' best interest is being considered and the students STILL all end up in one class, then there is a problem with the mindset of the admin or teachers or both.
     
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  23. Pi-R-Squared

    Pi-R-Squared Groupie

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    Jun 26, 2020

    I teach in a rural poor 99.9% white school The few black students here grew up in the community so they're treated like the white kids. It's very country here so I had to get accustomed to the culture. Hunting, fishing, 4-wheelers, chewing tobacco, and pick-up trucks... If I mentioned BLM, most of the students would roll their eyes....
     
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  24. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Jun 27, 2020

    I have heard and read opinions on both sides when it comes to the Black Lives Matter vs All Lives Matter camps. Sounds like your group, PI, would be in the All Lives Matter Camp.

    Morgan Freeman (I agree with some things he says and absolutely disagree with some of his other opinions) said in the past that he doesn't believe in Black History Month or any such "month" to single out a group. The discussion could be summarized as he is a man. He isn't a "black" man and the interviewer isn't a "white" man. They are men who have different skin colors. Until our society sees each other as men and women, "humans", we will never get past race issues. Now he isn't oblivious to think that there aren't racist people on both sides, but his opinion is as long as you keep dividing people can't come together.

    Anyone who has read my opinions in the past on diversity know that I believe this constant focus on "diversity" does more harm to our country than good. I will also reiterate that does not mean that I don't celebrate other's cultural traditions with them or judge those things as wrong, but I look at the person based on what makes us all similar.

    With all the talk about diversity, our society has become worse and worse about accepting others ideas and opinions unless they are the "right" ideas and opinions. They have become more harsh and judgemental under the guise of diversity and acceptance.
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2020
  25. MntnHiker

    MntnHiker Rookie

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    Jun 27, 2020

    Well Morgan Freeman is one person. He doesn't speak for the entire Black community, and the vast majority of the Black community who has spoken out publicly on this (plus people I have spoken to privately) disagree with that sentiment. I have nothing against Morgan Freeman, but I don't think we should take one person's take on an issue and extrapolate that out to meaning that's the only way to tackle an issue, especially a huge one like systemic racism. And I do agree that the issue with something like Black History Month is that people tend to teach a couple Black poets or something to "check off a box" during that month and then move on and never discuss it again. That isn't how we should handle it at all; it should be an integrated and regular part of our curriculum.

    There is not really a discussion or argument of right vs. wrong. It isn't a difference of opinion. If someone is racist, that's wrong. Full stop. "Diversity" has not been the issue at all. It isn't dividing people. People being racist is leading to Black and Brown people dying. Literally. That is the issue. The issue is that "seeing each other as just humans" sounds great but only applies to white people. That is the issue. The issue is that Black people are being killed, set on fire (it just happened to a woman in Madison, WI - you can Google for the article) and having police called on them for absolutely no reason due to the color of their skin. To say otherwise is just turning a blind eye to what is happening in this country. It is absolutely not being "divisive" to point out the huge systemic racism problem we have and do everything we can to fight it.
     
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  26. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Jun 27, 2020

    I didn't say that Morgan Freeman represents all black people, but you know that.

    I will step back out of this discussion because it is painfully obvious that there will be no real discussion going on, especially if what I said is being falsely represented.
     
  27. MntnHiker

    MntnHiker Rookie

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    I am not quite sure then why you specifically singled out Morgan Freeman and posted a whole paragraph of what you said he said. It comes across as you wanting to show that one Black man agreed with your opinion and you are holding it up to say "See, even a Black person thinks this way." That is how it comes across. I am not quite sure what your intention was otherwise. Morgan Freeman also did this https://www.nme.com/news/film/morga...s-experiences-racism-social-platforms-2682978

    If you want to step out of the conversation, that's your decision. But these are the hard conversations that have to take place right now. We need to get uncomfortable and talk about this. I know for one, I am not going to back down and be silent about this issue. If you think you are being "falsely represented," then you could clear up what you meant and continue the conversation.
     
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  28. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Jun 27, 2020

    I just finished reading The Hate U Give. I followed it up with the movie. In it, the main character (who is Black) is talking with her (white) boyfriend. He basically says that he doesn't see color. She responds by saying that if he doesn't see her Blackness, then he doesn't see her. This is a fictional story, of course, but that particular sentiment seems to be what I'm seeing and hearing in the real world. While a person's race might not matter to you (generic you), it does matter to others and is a significant part of their personal identity. To deny people their own identity is violence.
     
  29. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Jun 27, 2020

    I may be misinterpreting, but I didn't understand what a2z said about what Morgan Freeman said to be advocating for being color blind, which is how it seems that others interpreted it. I wholeheartedly agree that we need to value people for who they are, and at this moment in time, race is a a huge part of some people's identity, including many Black people. I understood the comment more to mean that, a century or two down the road or so, wouldn't it be nice if there no longer was a dominant race and all people were truly treated as equals? White, European-American culture wouldn't be the dominant culture. People would still be appreciated for their individuality, which could include race, but people would all value each other as fellow humans. While skin color or race may be part of a person's identity, it wouldn't signal their worth as being any different than anyone else's worth. Isn't that what this is all about anyway? I would hope that, a century or two from now, those who come after us are no longer having to use the phrase "Black Lives Matter" because everyone will intuitively know that they do.

    Maybe I misinterpreted, or maybe I'm off-base, but I'm trying here, instead of sitting quietly and lurking. If I said anything that seems insensitive or wrong, feel free to correct me. But please be kind when doing so.
     

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