I put a piccy of myself with Ali and Tristen up this week, just so you have something to look at!!! I wanted to have something for you to look at for a change. (I hate having my piccy taken, and Brice loves to take photos. He's always pointing his phone at us. He took one of me and Byron that night too.) Also, this is going to be part 1 of 2. Brice may have sent out an email (I want to say I saw one), but he doesn't remember doing it, and I can't find it. So he chose Chapter 1 today (for the week of October 26 to November first), and I don't think it's fair to ask everyone to read a chapter on Saturday and another chapter for the week of November second. Since there's PLENTY of info in chapter 1, I'm gonna do a part one and a part two for my blog on it.
Anyways, on to Chapter 1. Chapter 1 was actually quite interesting, talking about the roots of the Social Justice Movement and how they intertwined with the Civil Rights Movement of the sixties. I've an interest in History, and have enjoyed several classes in the subject, so this part was enjoyable for me. The book talked about how it came about (even before Brown vs The Board of Education in '54) and how it has changed over the years. The book used a term that I personally am uncomfortable with: assimilation. It talks about how educators wanted to put these new students (new being people of color and women) into the groups that already existed on campuses. It also talks of a homogenous society, where people leave behind the customs and language of where they came from and take up new customs and languages to fit in. And in one sense, I think this is a good thing: In the language arena. I believe that all citizens of the USA should learn to speak English. This is my personal belief, and is in no way indicative of how my RAPP colleagues feel. However, I also think that with friends and relatives, these people should be free to speak whatever language they want, be it English or Spanish or an Indian or African dialect. That's my one nod to fitting in. When it comes to leaving behind the customs that brought you here, I'm adamantly against it. I think that where you came from defines a big part of who you are. So this is something I think we should all keep. Follow the traditions your parents and grandparents started. Do Christmas, or Hanukkah, or Diwali every year. Celebrate your holidays and eat your food and follow those traditions that have been given into your safekeeping. So many educators back in the day strived to assimilate people, and I think that's wrong. Plus, every time I hear the word assimilate it reminds me of Star Trek and the Borg, which is just creepy. So it makes me want to have people in my life that follow different traditions. At my co-op job, they had a big Diwali celebration last week. I went down for some of it, and it was awesome. They read a story, then performed a skit of the story, tuned of course to our business and using our software product. There was music and dancing and food and it was awesome. I thought it was so cool of them to have something like that... Earlier in the year, they had an all American picnic lunch with burgers and hot dogs on the grill and things like potato salad and macaroni salad. It was awesome. (I've been really impressed with my company. It's an awesome place to work.) None of my fellow co-ops went down though, and I thought that was sad.
One thing that life has taught me is to be open minded. You never know who will do what. Life is unpredictable, so live every moment of it. Always do your best, and provide an atmosphere for others where they can do THEIR best. Learn about the cultures of others. This country was built on the premise that whiteness WAS a culture (in one way). I say this because all of the traditions of the white immigrants sort of coalesced into one culture. German and Irish and Scotch and English and French and Spanish all mingled. And Americans created some of their OWN traditions as well. But people of color were not accepted in this culture: they didn't fit in, so they were scorned and worse. In being penalized for the color of their skin, or the accent with which they spoke, they were marginalized, kept away from the "mainstream" culture. So many traditions were lost in this culturalization of America. And slavery put paid to many traditions of African cultures. Tribes sold captured prisoners as slaves, and sometimes whole villages were taken as slaves. Their traditions are now gone, lost forever.
One thing I think we need to encourage immigrants of today to do is to keep the old traditions, as well as forging new traditions here. There is no reason Christmas and Hanukkah should not be able to coexist. Follow your religious traditions, and create new traditions with your families, traditions that they can pass down to their children. Because the little things are often what we're made of. The things our parents did for us, the things our grandparents did for us, those things, little though they may be, make up who we are. And that's my sermon on traditions. (Yes, I got WAY off the path of chapter one, but it was an interesting trip, I hope.)
Another thing Chapter 1 said was that the early movements did not really look at the social structures that perpetrated the inequity of education. Racism at that time was INSTITUTIONALIZED, but the movement did not yet question the structures that higher education was built on. Instead, they focused on adding to the curriculum classes that celebrated the differences of other cultures. In this way, they thought that white students would begin to see the value in marginalized students, and would then accept them into their lives and into their culture. This did not happen, and educators realized there must be something more done to achieve equity.
And I'm going to include a quote this week too, that I really think speaks to what the Social Justice Movement really wants to see happen. The words resonated with me so much, that I wanted to share them. They're from a textbook, Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice Sourcebook by Adams, Bell, and Griffin in 1997. Bell said the following :
Her words are deeply evocative of a society that I may never see here on earth, but hope my children, or perhaps their children, will see. It will take a lot of hard work, but I believe we can bring this ideal to fruition, one person at a time if necessary.