I was browsing pinterest for student teaching ideas when I came across the picture above. I started reading the words plastered across her face, and I become very irritated. Trust me, I wish racism was a thing of the past-or simply never existed to begin with- but it does and the way society is trying to ‘stop’ it is making it worse. I am writing on this picture because what we are calling racism these days, start in classrooms.
I will tell you something about me, I hate generalizing. I believe it makes people weak, incompetent, and lets them create excuses to believe that people (or my case, the teacher) are not talking about them. I am a Caucasian female and I have had my car broken into a plethora of times; had my driver’s license, laptop, and social security number stolen. I have been accused of stealing and mall cops checked my bag. I have been stared at and judged when I walked into a room. In high school I was told they did not have enough space for me in the Spanish class (which I needed three consecutive years of to get into college) because they wanted to put a Hispanic English Language Learner in my spot so he could pronounce things correctly to the class. So, I find it dishonest and hurtful that this poster is basically saying ‘There is racism because white people never get treated like black people’.
This is going to sound cliché and I know it does not help racism end, but, black, brown, yellow, red- they are just skin colors. They have nothing to do with your capability of learning. They have nothing to do with how smart you are. I have said this and will always say this: I do not dislike you because the color of your skin-I dislike you because you make excuses because the color of your skin. This is where teachers come in.
You spend most of your early life in a school. Teachers become somebody in a position of trust and they need to believe in you. Now, I am not talking for every white teacher in the world, because there are racist teachers, (but let me also add in, there are black teachers racist against whites) but as teachers, it is not our job to be colorblind- being colorblind does not stop racism- we need to know our students backgrounds, where they come from, who they are as a person, so we can guide them on the way to achievement.
Personal experience: I teach color guard. It is a section of the marching band where you spin weapons and flags, and dance. There was a black-skinned girl on the team and she was good. Never hated her, never judged her, always tried to be her friend. Next thing I know, she is throwing a fit because she thinks I was being ‘racist’ towards her because I was talking about how good my dinner was last night. Sounds absurd, but yes- I told her I had chicken and waffles for dinner and she accused me of being a racist. A) I eat Chinese food- and I am not a racist. I eat Italian food- and I am not a racist. How is it that I eat chicken and waffles and I am a racist. B) I find out that she is involved in an all black sorority and an all black church. She CHOOSES to have all black friends. Which behooves me because that is not the ‘white’ people segregating them. That is them segregating themselves. Racism will end when we do not have to have BET and all black churches, all black sororities, and clubs that only black people can join. (I am generalizing African-Americans simple because the story I told was about a black girl. This goes for EVERY race).
Essentially, my fear is that parents at home are teaching their children that they are going to grow up a certain way because of their skin color. (Ex: a black child will not make it into college because they are black so they might as well not even try) So, in teachers defense I think some kids do not try simply because where they came from tells them there is no hope.
I know that other factors come into play with poverty and underqualified teachers and those are not to go unnoticed ,that is just not the topic I am trying to deal with here.
Overall, this poster really hit a nerve in my body. I have known teachers that would post this up in their classroom- and that is not okay. It separates race more. Tells the white students that nothing bad will ever happen to us and that we are superior, and it tells minorities that bad things are going to happen to them and that they are inferior. No, the student is the creator of his or her own path and teachers need to help with that path. And if they see a student struggling and that student tries to blame it on the color of their skin, the teacher cannot be scared or embarrassed to have a conversation with that kid. Excuses weaken people and for example when I hear “You just hate me ’cause I’m black” I am appalled. If those words are ever spoken to me in a classroom there is going to be a serious talk happening right after.