I shared my perspective on what may cause these deeply held racial beliefs that underlie racial tension and prejudice and my suggestion to help alleviate this.
After listening to my classmate discuss this and his perspectives, I realized that I am missing an important piece of the equation: In order for the healing of wounds from heavy life baggage, one has to want to change and be ready to change.
The conversation will continue next Wednesday, so I'm interested to hear more about this idea and others. Stay tuned, folks. However, that's not what this post is solely about. After class, I had an hours long conversation with some classmates on this topic and about how teachers approach "hate speech" in their classrooms, especially concerning homophobic hate speech. It was a great conversation, and I left it feeling better knowing that there are other colleagues of mine that are on the same wavelength when it comes to these issues. The only question I had left was why aren't these conversation happening more often?
I'm taking a diversity class, and these issues of specific beliefs and values regarding different races and sexuality are just now being discussed in earnest after three weeks. I can only imagine, then, how often this comes up in a school. To get a take from the inside, I called up a friend teaching in a racially diverse system and asked her how often these conversations happen with students or with other teachers. Her response? "Never. No one's touching [these issues] with a pole."
The more we are aware of the cultural values and biases we hold, the more we can do ensure that our students are being treated as fairly as possible. With that said, there has to be darn good reasons to leave some of our students exposed to alienation over something that's really not their fault, and I'd like to hear them.