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Presentation on theme: "WHO AM I? WHO AM I? WHO AM I? WHO AM I? WHO AM I? WHO AM I? WHO AM I?"— Presentation transcript:

[These notes represent the comments I would make if I were to give this presentation to a group of my colleagues.] Our identity changes with every major life experience. “Who am I?” is the question we return to frequently throughout our lives. And our students are struggling with this question every day. I suspect, that unless you are teaching a civics, psychology, or other social sciences class you do not often take the time to really consider your own identity. Lets take a few moments to explore who you are. WHO AM I? WHO AM I? WHO AM I? WHO AM I?

2 “I am _____.” 1 _____________________________
Complete the Following Sentence: “I am _____.” “I Am _____.” List as many different descriptors as possible. 1 _____________________________ 2 _____________________________ 3 _____________________________ 4 _____________________________ 5 _____________________________ 6 _____________________________ 7 _____________________________ 8 _____________________________ 9 _____________________________ 10 ____________________________ Lets start with a quick little self-reflection activity. On a scrap of paper, or just in your mind, list as many descriptors that will finish the statement “I am _____.” [wait a few minutes for people to list and discuss their items.] The things you list here can tell you a lot about your view of the world. The things we don't list tell us a lot about ourselves as well.

3 Where did you list your RACIAL IDENTITY?
Where is your race? So, what level of importance did you give your race? Or did you list it at all? The tendency of white people to not acknowledge their racial identity, or to acknowledge it very low on their list, is not a result of guilt. Basically this is the result of white people being able to live a life that doesn't remind them of their race. This life experience is very different from the experience of anyone who is a member of a “minority” group.

4 Identity Development and Race With Discussion Questions and Topics
Title Slide: Identity Development and Race Identity Development and Race With Discussion Questions and Topics I want you to take away from this presentation a sense of how your life has been clearly affected by your race (what ever your race may be). I created this presentation and began exploring these issues in a structured way while taking a class through Alverno College. Most of the information I will share came from the primary text for that course, “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” by Beverly Daniel Tatum. I highly recommend this book...hopefully I will get you interested enough to pursue this topic more. Prepared by Carney A. Lentz as a part of the course Issues in Diversity (ED 698) – Alverno College, Spring 2006

5 What is Identity? Racism First, a brief note about identity.
There are two very common ways of looking at identity.

6 I Am My Relationships Son Teacher Co-Worker Husband Employee Brother
Church Member Friend Father Uncle First of all there is the way we see ourselves. Basically, we see ourselves as an individual. We define ourself by the relationships and the roles we play in the world. Our present is informed by our past and we are living it with some ideal of the future in our minds. We have passions and interests, hobbies and talents. If we are having a full life, we feel as though we are part of a community. But when we encounter the wider world it doesn't know all of this about us. Son-in-Law

7 I Am What the World Tells Me I Am
Gender Race Profession Discrimination Sexuality I Am What the World Tells Me I Am Education Level Income Level Height The world sees me and reflects what it sees back at me. However, the mirrors that reflect us are the human beings we encounter. Humans do not make very good mirrors; it often happens that one trait is focused on and reflected. If a particular physical trait is reflected a large number of times at the same person it becomes part of that person's identity. Regardless of the supposed positive or negative characteristic of a given trait, having only one physical or character trait focused on can have a negative impact. A “positive” trait becoming the focus of a person can make that person flat and one-dimensional. We have all met the athletic student who has taken no time or effort to develop his mental capacity. He is completely focused on his sport(s). What happens to this student when he doesn't make it on the pro sports team? A “negative” trait being reflected repeatedly forces the student to internalize negative feelings about himself. For example, there is currently a joke going around school about a larger student being the mile runner on the track team. Yes, the student started this joke on the school tv program. He has learned that when it comes to the topic of his size it is much easier to be the butt of jokes. Eye Color Weight

8 Two Issues: 1. Most adolescents struggle when they are trying to discover who they are because they don't want to be categorized. “I am an individual.” “You don't know me.” “Don't put me in a box.” This conflict between who I say I am and who the world around me tries to tell me I am can be very problematic for adolescents and adults alike. 1. Adolescents often respond very negatively to being categorized, regardless of their race. The categories a person can be labeled with are far more extensive than race. Students frequently become entrenched in one aspect of their identity in a misguided attempt to assert their identity they become adamant about being members of a particular group. This might be part of the reason we see so many cliques and exclusionary groups in students of this age. These groups are based on religion; lifestyles such as goth, punk, heavy metal, and straight edge; participation in a particular athletic event; and friendships founded at a much younger age. Another interesting trait of adolescents going through this mental struggle is that they are very quick to categorize others in the same way they are avoiding being categorized. 2. Racism, sexism, ageism, etc., etc. We exclude or get excluded based on so many superficial criteria. 2. Some children avoid the devastating effect of having an external trait affect them negatively. These are all of the “isms” that get thrown around today.

9 According to Audre Lorde the mythical norm is: White Thin Male Young
These categorizations and “isms” come about in part because of the “mythical norm” that exists in America. According to Audre Lorde the mythical norm is: White Thin Male Young Heterosexual Christian Middle or Upper Class The small amount of people who fit this description can go through life feeling as though they will always win. And those of us who don’t fit this description take part in the maintenance of this mythic ideal. The most extreme result of this system is that racism is encouraged, supported, and continues to go strong.

10 But I’m Not Racist!! I am certain that none of you are actively pursuing an ideology of racial superiority. There is, however, more to racism than that.

11 There is more to it than prejudice.
Racism There is more to it than prejudice. Active Racism - acts of bigotry, blatant discrimination, violence, derogatory statements Passive Racism - just going along with the jokes, exclusionary hiring, exclusion of diverse people from curriculum, avoiding difficult discussions about race What we have done a good job of removing from the realm of acceptable behavior in our country is active racism. Blatant acts of violence and prejudice are almost always immediately called as such. The progress made to discourage passive racism has been much less encouraging. And this is particularly troubling because it is through passive racism that stagnation occurs. The situation that many “minority” groups find themselves in today is very similar to that of their parents. The same lack of opportunity and inability to be seen as an individual still exists.

12 Racism is... prejudice plus power. Anyone can hold a stereotype,
but not everyone has the power to act on that stereotype. “Prejudice plus power” is the way racism needs to be defined. As individuals our power might be severely limited even if we are white. We do, however, have the power to challenge passive racism when we see it. We have the duty to acknowledge the unseen, un-thought of ways that our whiteness has benefited us. You need to be aware of both individual and institutional racism.

13 Daily Effects of White Privilege:
I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed. I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race. I can arrange to protect my children most of the time from people who might not like them. I can swear, or dress in second-hand clothes, or not answer letters without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, the poverty, or the illiteracy of my race. I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group. I can remain oblivious of the language and customs of persons of color, who constitute the world's majority, without feeling in my culture any penalty for such oblivion. I can easily buy posters, postcards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys, and children's magazines featuring people of my race. If my day, week, or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether it has racial overtones. How many of these are true for you? These items are from Peggy McIntosh’s article, “Whit e Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” For a minority child, many of life’s experiences mirror these. They are unable to find people who look like them to associate with. They are unable to find people who look like them portrayed in a positive light in the media. It is because of encounters like this that children quickly become aware of their racial differences. This awareness has a drastic impact on their entire life.

14 Five Stages of Racial Identity Development
Based on the “Psychology of Nigrescence” by William Cross 1. Pre-Encounter The dominant culture surrounds the child and he/she can begin to absorb messages about the minority group. 2. Encounter An experience or group of experiences causes the child to become aware of the impact of racism on his/her life. 3. Immersion/Emersion The adolescent tries to surround himself/herself with people and experiences related to the racial identity that has been brought to the surface. Some are misled by the cultural stereotypes prevalent in the media. This is the path of identity development that many black students follow. In our community the minority students we work with might have a difficult time coming into contact with role models and people who can help them develop an identity that fully incorporates his/her race. 4. Internalization The individual begins to incorporate a more fully developed understanding of the “minority” group into his/her identity. 5. Internalization-Commitment The individual has fully integrated his/her ethnic heritage into a single identity. He/she becomes able to be an emissary, someone who can respectfully share his/her uniqueness without crushing the uniqueness of another.

15 What Does This Mean For Our District?

16 Data compiled from the “Post-Graduation Intentions” survey.
District Statistics Graduating Class of 2003: % Non-White 88.70% White Graduating Class of 2004: 5.03% Non-White 94.97% White Graduating Class of 2005: 3.57% Non-White 96.43% White Three Year Average: 6.48% Non-White 93.52% White Obviously, there is a very small percentage of our population that is non-white. If you want to see the numbers broken down further, please see the diversity statistics spreadsheet. The small percentage of non-white students does not remove our responsibility to promote understanding and counteract racism. Data compiled from the “Post-Graduation Intentions” survey.

17 Are we adequately addressing the needs of our non-white students?
Concerns Are we adequately addressing the needs of our non-white students? Are we appropriately countering the active and passive racism that exists among our white students? Are we addressing any passive racism that exists in the institution (such as hiring practices, curriculum available, and resources available)? What resources (both people and texts) for those who wish to continue the study of racial issues? When instances of racial harassment/discrimination occur, is the response appropriate and thorough? Perhaps we can have a brief discussion about the things we are doing well and the things we need to work on. These questions are just the beginning of a dialog that should be ongoing in the district and in the classrooms. For example, there is a very limited acknowledgment of racial issues in the resources available in the district.

18 From the Student Handbook Harassment & Discrimination Policy
It is the goal of the Mauston School District to provide a harassment and discrimination free environment through our schools. All forms of harassment, including bullying, sexual or racial harassment, are unacceptable. Any student who feels that they are being harassed should contact a staff member. Forms are available for documentation of a harassment complaint or discrimination. Violation of this policy may result in notification of parents and/or guardians and/or law enforcement officials; suspension from school pending parent/student conference with school administration; expulsion from school. Right now this is the only official word that exists about race. Certainly, it is important to have a policy and procedure in place for handling harassment and discrimination complaints. There should, however, be more to the discussion. If you review the professional training sessions that teachers are required to attend, there is a lack of any sessions that would allow for a discussion of racism as a topic.

19 Racial Identity Development
A Model of White Racial Identity Development From the work of Janet Helms Contact An event, or encounter will trigger the individual to notice that their whiteness has benefited him/her. Disintegration The white person encounters further examples of how their whiteness has been a benefit. Reintegration The passive racism inherent in the world draws the individual back into a passively racist role. Many people get stuck in this phase. Pseudo-Independent As you continue to explore the issue of racism you might find yourself working through these stages. An understanding of racism as a system of advantage based on race has been achieved. But the individual has no idea what to do about it. Sometimes manifests it self as “the guilty white liberal.” Immersion/Emersion The white person actively seeks out a new role. It can be difficult to find but there are historic and contemporary examples of white people who actively campaigned against racism. Autonomy Active challenging of racism and the development of a network of allies is a sign that an individual is ready to promote understanding and acceptance of diversity.

20 We should use the power of language to encourage positive change.
What Now? Keep the discussion going. In her book The Opposite of Fate, Amy Tan talks about the power of language: “I worry about the power of language: that if one says anything enough times—in any language—it might come true.” (page 287) Perhaps the way we can make some progress in counteracting racism is by encouraging a discussion of this issue among staff, students, and parents. We should use the power of language to encourage positive change.

21 References Tatum, Beverly Daniel. “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” Mcintosh, Peggy. “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” (available through EBSCOhost) Heilbroner, Robert L. “Don't Let Stereotypes Warp Your Judgments.” (available through EBSCOhost)


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