It seems that every time I come back from my ECS 110 class, I have something I need to get down in words! Not only does that class make me think while I am there, but I also catch myself noticing things throughout my daily life that, as my prof would say, “make me go hmmm…”
I have a couple hmmmm moments that I’d like to address today:
1. I have read or heard that “the field of education is dominated by white, middle-class females” too many times to count. But for some reason, when I saw this familiar statement in our last reading, something just clicked in my head and it said: Hey… Was I unknowingly steered towards this career path because I am a white, middle-class, female? Have my identity, my previous experiences, and society’s views of me slowly pushed me towards being in the Faculty of Education today?
I have to say, this thought made me rather uneasy and troubled! I like to think that I made the decision to pursue this path because I was born to be a teacher. I have always felt a subtle tugging towards teaching and realizing that society may have influenced this decision honestly ticked me off a little bit!
Thinking about it now, people experience this every day (and in much more offensive aspects than a simple nudge in the direction of a career choice). Aboriginal people are automatically assumed by many to be drug or alcohol abusers, Asian students should be exceptionally smart and concerned with school, men should be buff and women petite, etc, etc, etc. The list never ends. And these assumptions can end up steering us away from our own path if we aren’t careful! If you hear from others what you “are” or should be enough times, you have a good chance of becoming it.
Granted, IF society did push me towards a teacher education program, I have nothing but thanks to give! There is no doubt in my mind that I am exactly where I should be in the world. On the other hand, though, I can think of numerous times when I was very subtly persuaded to choose a different career path because, “I am so smart and could do anything, why would I want to bother being a teacher, of all things?” and that clearly didn’t change anything, did it? So I will stick to my opinion that nothing could have stopped me from becoming a teacher, simply because it is my biggest dream and goal. 🙂
2. The second thing that got my mind’s gears turning was a comment a classmate had regarding our discussion about whiteness and white privilege. She noticed that when people are telling stories that involve people of an ethnicity other than Caucasian, they will actually link that person to their race. For example: “I saw a lady fall down in the street, and 3 Chinese women came and helped her up.”
The question she posed was: Why does it matter if the women were Chinese and why does this always end up slipping into our language, presumably unconsciously?
While I agree that these statements are blatantly pointing out the race of the stories’ subjects, and positioning them as ‘other’ to the norm, I can also see the other side of things as well.
If the speaker had just said “women,” I can guess that people will automatically picture these women as white. And while this is a troubling realization, it can’t be blamed, because white people have been systematically placed and understood as the norm.
So… is the speaker actually just trying for accuracy of the story to avoid the listener’s assumption of the subjects as white? Are they trying to portray another race in a positive light (which, I would argue is difficult to fight against, when criminals’ ethnicities are very pointedly acknowledged on the news…)? Or is this a racist act, whether intentional or unintentional?
What do you think? Is this wrong to be linking people with their race, or is it an attempt to get our heads to see someone of a colour other than white?
Just something to think about…