Today, a very important individual came to my class and talked to us about diversity. This individual is the Director of Multicultural Education, Mohammed Bey. Mohammed Bey gave us great insight of how to use our conversation skills to figure out a problem or to help a situation. During his visit here, we played an activity called traffic jam. This activity is where individuals get into two groups. Half of one group stands in a row, facing back to front, but also facing the other half of their group. In those rows everyone is standing on a marked spot. There is also an empty spot between the two facing groups. The goal of this activity is for each group to exchange their spots. After the activity, we read a paragraph that talked about racism and where it still exists and why it does exists.
Then, we had to reflect on a question, “Can you think of a time when someone you knew did something that you viewed to be racially in just or even racist, but the person engaged in the action saw it differently? Describe the differing racial contexts that you believe influenced your and the other person’s contrasting points of view?”
Before I answered this question, I had to think back to a piece of information that is important to recognize, the definition of race and shared racial experiences in the United States of America. Then I thought of an experience that hits home to me. When I was growing up I was taught that all people, no matter what background they came from they are all human beings and they deserve love and respect because everyone is a child of God. And that is why I always see people for who they are and not what their background is.
All my life, I grew up in a catholic school environment and I do not remember a time where there was a diversity problem. My parents and teacher never taught me to discriminate because everyone was equal. But as I was growing up I saw a difference in the way my parents taught me and the way they were brought up. For example, my stepfather never taught me to discriminate against other, but he grew up in a time where segregation was a big issue. He was taught to stick to his “own kind”. My stepfather was in the military and is now a retired police officer. His views on “minorities” are different from mine. I believe he is like this because of the way he grew up and the time he grew up in and also because of the sights and settings he has seen being in the police force. He has seen the bad side of ethnic groups.
Another example is when my stepfather’s daughter married a Puerto Rican and my stepfather did not enter him with open arms. He did not like the idea of his daughter marrying outside her “own kind”. But later the grandchildren came, and he was a little more open minded, but it took a long time for him to accept his new son-in-law. Another example is about my stepsister’s daughter who is dating an African American boy and my stepfather still does not like the idea of mixing the different groups. He has not personally accepted the fact that his grandchild is dating outside her own culture.
Recently, there is a new situation that has occurred, another ethnicity has entered the family some people, like my stepfather, do not support it and he does not care to meet with the young boy, for right now. I believe that some people in my family are having a hard time seeing past what they were always brought up to believe. They only know what their parents taught them and are still stuck on old traditions. It seems to me that they cannot see past the color of the skin, the texture of the hair, or the stereotype marked on them.
A quote that really stood out to me was, “ We see things not as they are, but rather as we are!” I feel that the quote applies to my family because they do not see the true person, but they see what they know.
In the end, my views are different than my parents and I hope that one-day they will be as open minded as I am. This exercise really had me thinking more about this topic than I have already thought about and shows me a different insight of things. As the South Africa trip approaches, I cannot wait to go there with an open mind and to experience and to enjoy the different culture around me.