Tuesday, February 11, 2014

How to tackle Racisme and Stereotyping?

I am still reading this awe-inspiring book about teaching by Lou Anne Johnson. Here's a bit in the book which discussed about racism I would love to share.

Humans are all part of the same tree

Light came to me when I realized I did not have to consider any racial group as a whole. God made them duck by duck, and that was the only way I could see them - Zora Neale Hurston

Dialogue between Lou Anne and one of her student

     "I just wanted to thank you." he said, "because you weren't afraid to make me do my homework. All the other teachers are afraid of me because I'm a big black man. They act like they think if they make me mad, I'll hurt them." As he spoke Dante's eyes filled with tears. Watching him, I felt my own tears rising.
     "So what do you do when those teachers act like that?" I asked.
     "I act like I'm going to hurt them." Dante tried to laugh, but his chuckle turned into a cough that stopped just short of a sob.
     For a split second, I nearly laughed myself, because it sounded funny. But I quickly realized that Dante's remark was not funny at all. Those teachers were prompting Dante to act as though he intended to hurt them. Whether intentionally or not, they were manipulating him into fulfilling their stereotype of black men as angry and violent. To fear a child simply because of his or her skin colour is the same as saying, "I know you are inherently violent simply because of who you are. It is only a matter of time before your true nature revealed."

Adult's attitude towards children's behaviour

A good thought from a friend of mine about teacher's attitude towards student's/ children's behaviour. This is related with what we are talking about: stereotyping. A gentle, well thought-out and straight to the point reminder important for all teachers, parents and adults to take note so we don't stereotype adults as being better and superior than children for whatever reason it can be.

The issue with children always right is true and is a side effect of those who believe the opposite of strict disciplinary through punishment etc. Basically capital punishment is one side, the opposite is children always right.

In the event of our global change, we MUST stay away from opposites and find the middle. Since the children are able to show emotional dilemma at such a younger age, we need to implement proper solution like having a equal-level or status conversation and talk between teacher and student especially parents. Children in this state can show brighter growth if given the same level of respect as an adult. In the case of rude children who don't give respect at the same time is hurting someone (teacher or other student_ physically, mentally or emotionally and can't be reasoned with RESPECTFUL (not oppressing esp. from the teacher) conversationg, should be dealt with a reasonable form of capital punishment.

At the end of the day, it depends on the rationale thinking capacity of teachers, not everyone have the ability of making the right decision. I've had great teachers I will always remember and horrible teachers who contributes only to my decline. Therefore we should see teachers mistakes constructively and work towards progression (from teacher perspective and society perspective). Unfortunately our society is not very forgiving, we have the capacity, we just need good examples/ influences for us to incline towards becoming more constructive.

Battling prejudice only comes from oneself as an ongoing self-treatment

My solution to purging my prejudice and stereotype was to meet and talk to as many successful and educated black and brown men as I could. I sought them as mentors for my students. I befriended them in the school lunchroom and during community activities - not simply as research subjects but as human beings. After several weeks I knew I had made some significant progress in minimizing my racial prejudices when I met a black man I didn't like at all. Disliking that man was pivotal in my rehabilitation. Prior to that meeting, I would have compelled to like him or to act as though I did, in order not to appear to be prejudiced.

After nearly twenty years of ongoing self-treatment, I feel free to like or dislike anybody I meet, of any skin colour or ethnic background, based on the way that person treats me - and especially the way that person treats children and animals. I don't pretend there is no violence in the world. I try to keep my distance from anybody of any colour who appears to be drunk, stoned, sociopathic, or potentially dangerous. But I don't expect any particular person to be violent simply because of his or her origin.

We need to always remind ourself and others in regards to this matter. We can't afford to sink ourselves in the fight between races instead we have to be the one either avoiding or even better, preventing such demeaning issue from escalating. Are we ready? Maybe not, yet we have to be.

*Racisme is like a time bomb in Malaysia, waiting to explode just to burn everyone in the vicinity. It doesn't matter what colour you are, the fact is if we don't battle prejudice, it's going to instigate battles where we will all lose.

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