Once upon a time during my high school teaching practicum, with grades between K9-12; as teacher candidates we are expected to have observation days. Observation days are when a student teacher sits in a classroom and observes all aspects of what takes place in the classroom, whilst another teacher is teaching. Of course me being the butterfly who likes to wonder with a wild heart, I enjoyed going to various classrooms to gain a varied, and a multi-faceted experience. English Language Arts is one of my specialized teaching areas. I decided to connect with a teaching fellow, who was teaching a black history course. I can’t remember the exact name of the course. As I sat to watch and learn, one of the students said: “sir, what do you know about black people, when you are white?” Of course there were back and forth exchanges between students, but even as the questions may have caused offence to the teacher, we both agreed that it was a question that was coming from the lens of curiosity. It could even be questions that expand towards larger issues of race, racial integration or not, culture, social and economic status, school community, surrounding neighbourhoods, and even the professional practice, with the duty to care.
The student said: “sir, what do you know about black people, when you are white? #ShaziBlogTweet
I remember responding to the student, and even as I did the entire class listened. Maybe it was because my skin color was not white, and the students felt that they could relate to me? I told them that a person can have white, black, brown, or any shade / tone of skin color, it doesn’t mean that they don’t know anything, or have not learned black history. Maybe a teaching professional has learned more about black history than a colored student. More respectful terms as follows: a person of color, or someone belonging to a radicalized background. The students did listen to some degree, but I realized the amount of respect that is needed especially in a classroom, where racial tensions will and can arise.
But today even as I write and have been writing through previous blog posts, I wonder why a person has to prove that he / she values inclusion, diversity, when one is enveloped in white skin as opposed to colorful? Or even me – belonging to a racial minority category. Why do I have to constantly prove and justify this? The need to constantly prove and justify, only makes us loose respect of those who think otherwise of us. it also makes me realize that racial tensions sprout from all sides, even the one who feels the racial prejudices. To believe that racial integration and acceptance can take place, it must come from all. I think and hope that society and generational growth may have learned enough to know that we have made progress from Civil Rights Movement.
The need to constantly prove and justify, only makes us loose respect of those who think otherwise of us. #shaziBlogTweet
Reflection: Whilst I strongly do feel that we do begin to loose respect when we are continually opposed – opposition does exactly the opposite of one seeks to do, thus the very word – opposition, opposed. However, we all have and possess our human dignity, which is why we must try to have hope and faith in humanity, and those who do seek to continually build human bridges: For my next blog post, I hope to share images of a diverse book collection that are wonderful teaching and learning resources for educators, as well as individuals who would like to expand their reading lists. Thank you for taking the time to read, share and comment!
My thoughts to share with love & kindness! 🙂
Notes: These thoughts were originally hand-written on Decemeber 17th, 2019