I have read several memes on my facebook page of late talking about negativity and falling into it's cold hard grasp. I have to agree, negativity can consume you. Yanking yourself from its grasp is difficult and I must say that when I have managed it over the last few weeks I have felt creative and content. I have decided that I like feeling creative and content and I while I am willing to recognize the negativity around me, I am going to do my best to remain within the light.
I have a couple of projects that interest me personally and I am going to make the attempt at interesting my students as well. The first is my ever-deepening rabbit hole of how race is viewed by us all; white, black, brown, red and yellow. Why we label ourselves, or more accurately, the ruling class of white males label us all. Which brings up rabbit hole number two; sexism. The recent elections cause me concern even though Oregon seems to be modeling how politics should go. Not to diverge just yet however. Women seem to be the new targets of those who wish to curtail and take away our rights. Gays and Lesbians still hold the top spot and that is where this particular rabbit hole is more inclusive than our new Congress. I could care less about sexual orientation, but it seems that those now in power are provoked by women, gays, and lesbians (yes I just said women twice, in effect). Straight women still have more rights than gays and lesbians solely because of their sexual orientation.
A provocative statement, "I don't see color, I see people."? Really, does that mean that those who see color are not as higher thinking as those who don't? I feel that this phrase is something whites say to profess their lack of racism. I am pretty sure I have said it from time to time, it is has only been brought to my attention recently how racist the phrase is. My lack of understanding what it is like to be thought of in the pejorative is complete. I have felt diminished, often in fact, when treated as a woman teacher instead of as a teacher. I often refer to myself as being a "mama bear" when my students are threatened in some way. Ever see those videos of mother bears defending their cubs? That's me when my students are treated with disrespect, prejudice, etc. think of how adults treat teenagers negatively and that's when the mama bear comes out. On occasion, it has been to my detriment. I am who I am. I'm more careful now about how I mama bear, but she is still there.
Back to the statement, can any of us wipe color off the table? I don't think so, no matter how enlightened you are there are always times when you see color in a friend or colleague. And that is ok, it becomes not ok when you use color to define how you treat people. It also comes into play when some deal with gender. When a male student asserts himself he is rewarded, but when a female student asserts herself in the exact same way she is punished or even worse her assertiveness is chalked up to, "that time of the month," or "she's just being bitchy." For years I have seen this happen around me and when I say anything I am dismissed as being "touchy."
Lately, this treatment of young girls and women has come into the media. The problem now isn't that it is in the public eye, but that education still envelopes itself in the negative when dealing with assertive young women. Actually, Congress and most male politicians also still think in this way. I hazard to say, because he has annoyed me, that Bill Maher has had several discussions on this subject and actually done a very good job. Not a fan of his view on Islam, but that is a whole other story. Oh and Maher brings up another rabbit hole I climbed out of and will likely reenter, Religion.
So, as I emerge from this shallower rabbit hole, I leave you with www.whitenessproject.org a good introduction to what white means.