Friday, March 26, 2010


This past week during my placement, I had an interesting conversation with one of my students. I don't remember a lot from our conversation, but there is something in particular that struck me. She had colorblindness. Now I don't mean this in the sense that she couldn't see colors, not at all. She is colorblind in the sense of skin color. While I am white, she is black. One day she came up to me and called me 'That's so Raven'. So I asked her if I looked like Raven. Her first response was yes, but then she thought about it for a second and said that I looked like Hannah Montana instead. Here is a little look at how parts of the conversation went.

Me: I don't look like Raven cause I'm too white, right?
T: No, but Raven is black.
Me: But that means I'm too white.
T: No.
Me: What are some differences between me and Raven?
(several differences were given)
T: Your hair is different.
Me: How is my hair different?
T: Well Raven always has her hair up.
Me: Oh, and isn't her hair longer than mine?
T: Yeah.

So why did I point out these particular points of the conversation? Well, this shows just how much skin color doesn't matter to this child. I kept telling her that I was white and therefore could not look like someone who is black because our skin color is so different (this was simply said to gauge what this child thought and not because it matters to me, because it doesn't really). However, this child did not see skin color as the deal breaker on whether I look like Raven or not. The hair is significant because my hair is different than hers. I was expecting her to say something about how the texture of Raven's and my hair is different. But nope, she didn't see it. It was amazing to see how a child who lives in a culture where the majority of people are the same race as her would not see the obvious differences between me, the white girl, and herself. The other reason it surprised me was because white kids would most likely tell me I didn't look like Raven because of my skin color. I know not all white kids would say this, but I have a feeling the majority would even if they didn't mean it in a mean way; skin color would be pointed out. So how come this child can't see the difference between my skin and hers, but many white children I've come into contact with would notice? I don't know.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Being the Minority is a Little Awkward Sometimes

Today during my placement, we had an assembly to celebrate Black History Month at the end of the day. My kids had been practicing the black national anthem for a couple weeks and I was excited to see them perform. Being in a city school, I sometimes feel a little awkward being the minority amongst the students and staff. I don't have any judgments about them, but sometimes I wonder if there's a stereotype that I am judged off of from the older students and  parents. You can tell who really doesn't care that I'm white and who does. If I walk in the school and smile at one of the parents or staff members I see and they smile back or say hi, you know they could really care less what color I am. But then there are those who pretend like I'm not even there; that's always a little awkward. Anyway I'm getting away from my story. I am a little embarrassed to say that I did not know there was such a thing as a black national anthem until two weeks ago, so for all of you that don't know as well, there is. haha! It's a very nice song actually and it has a catchy tune. So when my kids went up and started singing their anthem, I started singing it softly with them from the audience like many of the other parents/teachers/students that were there watching. And then the realization came to me, I won't ever be able to sing that song with the same enthusiasm and passion as those parents were. Suddenly I felt really awkward being white. I felt like I didn't belong and couldn't relate to many of the others in the room. I wondered what the parents thought of me, a little white girl, singing their national anthem and I became conscious of how weird I might seem to them. The feeling of not deserving to share with them in their singing crossed my mind. Now, I don't treat others of different colors any different then I treat people who are the same color as me; at least I try. Given, I feel like I sometimes have to be very careful what I say around certain races so as not to offend anyone by making a comment that could be taken the wrong way, but I don't think of anyone differently because of their color. I don't know if I'm making sense or not, but it just felt awkward for me during the assembly simply because I was the minority and I couldn't share in the feelings of those around me in the same way. Well anyway, the kids sang wonderfully and I loved watching them.

On a side note, most of them have really warmed up to me and are not afraid to come for a hug. This really makes me happy cause they don't get a lot of positive physical touch from teachers, and I am more than happy to give them this show of love. Even some of the boys will come for a hug when I come into the classroom. I would say the only child that seems really unsure of me is the one white child. haha! Although my kids may need a little E.G.R. (Extra Grace Required - "credit to Holly Ritchie") I love them very dearly no matter how I may complain sometimes about the frustrating attitudes.