The lecture last Tuesday informed us all about the raw, harsh truth of society today. It reminded us that there is a long history of racism in the world; yet at the same time it is a current affair that lots of people are still having to deal with, today.
We first were told about the different sociological perspective of racism, which showed the many different theories e.g, Group Closure and Ethnocentrism. Next we were told about the hard-hitting case of Emmet Till, a 14 year old boy from a thriving middle class neighbourhood in the south side of Chicago. What happened to him was extremely disturbing and upsetting. It was 1955 when this case occurred, so his jury was all white males and it took them just 67 minutes to wipe all charges from the murderers of an innocent child. It is appalling that cases like this were so prominent in the past with little to no punishment for crimes against black people and such inequality in court.
We have to appreciate the progress we have made from the lynching of 3,959 African Americans between 1877 and 1950 and the offensive “Blackface” that was not only accepted but seen as entertainment. Although we are making progress in some ways, it is not nearly enough. There is still reoccurring and new forms of racism in society today. Some examples of these include “Islamophopia”, racism in politics and police violence. These are all extremely relevant issues happening all around us.
I think it is inevitable that we will come across people in our lifetime using racial slurs, perhaps unknowingly, due to the lack of education of racism. As future teachers, it is not enough to just wait until we witness racism happening and then address it; we must educate and explain that it is not acceptable and try as much as possible to eliminate racism and teach children (and adults) to celebrate diversity.
During the Values class on Tuesday, the class was split into 5 groups, each group receiving the same big brown envelope (or so we thought). We were then all given the same task of thinking of and creating something that we would have found useful as new university students, using only the supplies given to us in the envelopes. However, after opening our envelope and finding a mere pencil, blue tack, rubber band, sticky note and three paper clips, we soon lost hope of our amazing plans of a “google maps” inspired online app for the Dalhousie Building, that could guide you to class. Unfortunately, we resorted to a basic paper version.
Being the nosey person I am, I soon realised that all the other groups had considerably more supplies than our group. I mainly noticed as the other groups had coloured paper that they had so much of, that they had discarded some after making a mistake and just started on a new piece, whereas my group were drawing on the envelope as we weren’t supplied paper. After our lecturer made many sharp comments and “subtle” digs to our group, including during our presentation (we received a solid 1/10), we eventually caught on the deeper meaning that we were being taught. All throughout the task the groups with more supplies were treated with encouragement and respect for their ideas. Whereas, when it got to the groups with less, her whole demeanour changed and we were shown a much colder reaction to anything we said or presented. Even as young adults, her lack of enthusiasm made us feel discouraged and as though we shouldn’t bother as clearly there was something about us she didn’t like. As aspiring teachers we were shown that if we can feel like that, children will be effected even more.
This class showed us that structural inequality can go unnoticed by more privileged people as the groups with more resources were not aware of our disadvantage. Being in a group with little supplies was a powerful, emotional experience as we were genuinely annoyed and confused about our treatment. We need to remember that there will always be children in our care that are from all different types of backgrounds. Some will be used to luxuries and others may only dream of coming home from school to an iPad and a cooked dinner everyday. The world will never be completely equal and secretly most of us don’t want it to be, as this would mean giving up some of our luxuries. However, as in the GTCS values, I think everyone will agree that all schools and societies should show equal care, respect and encouragement to everyone and understand and celebrate diversity.