Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Race Panel

We were so fortunate to have a panel of our own students talking about "race."  The students had many insights.  One was that those who have to navigate different racial worlds never feel quite right anywhere.  For example, some students emigrated from another country like Mexico.  So, in the US they are considered Hispanic and they do not feel that they fit in, but in Mexico they are considered white and they do not feel that they fit in there.

Along these lines, students spoke about how their master status often becomes their minority status.  That is, other people (usually those from the majority) only see them as black or Asian or whatever their minority status is.  This takes away the student's individuality.  Sometimes this results in the student being forced to speak for their whole minority group.  It also results in many of the students feeling pressure to represent their minority group or live up to an ideal that is more pressure than those in the majority have to experience.

Also students talked about the racial prejudice that lies just below the surface; sometimes it comes out from another student in a class of their, or their own parents or school teachers and administrators.  A third conclusion that I drew from the panel was the diversity within different groups.  Many people assume that all blacks are the same or all Hispanics are the same, but really there is a great deal of diversity within each group and this is another reason that stereotypes are ignorant and don't hold up.

Finally, I think there was an emphasis on empathy.  Multiple students talked about the need to develop empathy for those from other races. I really like that idea.  Empathy is an aspect of sociological mindfulness.  Here is a Ted Talk from a sociologist called "A Radical Experiment in Empathy."

Here are some notes from the presentation:

Brian A
Not white – Q: What are you?  Is Hispanic a race?
Did difficulty start as early as 1st grade?

Surprised by racism at SHS
Walking to football game car yells “chinks”
“You’ll bring dishonor to your family”  Q: did these people think they were joking with you?

Security at OHare said “Ni Hao.  Oh sorry – Konnichiwa”


Lack of media representation

Yellow fever is real

At home I get shamed for not being Asian enough – not knowing Mandarin

It creates a major insecurity.

Farhab, jr.
Born in Dubai.  Believed US would be a land of opportunuity
Not blonde, blue eyed.
4th graders were cruel.
Spent 6 months in elementary school but English had an accent.
I was different.  Egyptian.  Muslim.
People make me feel less than them.  My mom wears a head scarf and speaks less English.  The Cashier at Kohls made a nasty comment about my mom that she didn’t understand but I did.
A friend of mine got stopped by a car and asked if she had a bomb in her backpack.
One time as a joke – I was asked if I was going to bomb the school.
Things like this are uncomfortable to talk about but we must if we move forward.
Country talking about banning Muslims and being deported.
The US has given me many opportunities but it is really hard.

Emily jr.
Asian American.  Adopted from birth.  Lao an possibly Korean.
Grew up in Irish - Italian family.  Corned beef and Italian food.
Always felt like a white American.
Entering SHS was hard because other people saw me as Asian.
Often I felt not Asian enough to be Asian, but others were making me feel not white.  As I got older I had to pick what my identity would be. 
My parents couldn’t understand why it is such a big deal for me.
I have spoken at conventions and spoken word to talk about what it means to be Asian and white.

Charles Raymond Sullivan “Chuckey”
Grew in Houston TX, a fairly diverse city – not segregated like Chgo.  Kids at SHS don’t understand what different races look like.  We are not diverse.  I heard an SHS kid say that they feel like a minority because there are so many white kids at our school.
There are so many little things that we say that  are offensive like :
Affirmative Action
You act so white
People want to be something more –
White kids don’t understand what it is like.
On Lacrosse – 10/12 games Ive been called the N-word by other teams.
Have to be socially aware.
Be socially mindful of everyone’s experience.

December 16, 2015

Shukran  Born in Baghdad, Iraq.   Fled Bombing in 2003 to small city.  Survived there living simply.  Survived a bombing.  Came to America as a refugee and on a work visa.  Truth is I received a lot of discrimination, especially when I wore the Hijab.  I didn’t know English. I learned to ignore them.  Still kids around SHS bring up politics, like Trump.  Being a Muslim in America, there’s an underlying responsibility that I have to disprove the things people say about Islam.  It’s a hard responsibility.

Abel  I’m a senior repping South Asians.  Identify as   .   1997 Moved from Southern India, very rural and conservative Christian.  Got fat as a kid – thought it was a sign of wealth.  Watched American news as a kid and that made my parents really scared because the news was always bad stuff.  Kidnappings and murders and stuff.  My parents made me live inside all the time.  This made me feel isolated from the other kids. People ask if I converted.  Christianity has been in India since 52 AD.  People ask where I am from, but I say here.  At SHS there’s less bullying, but there are microaggressions.  People always assume I am Hindu or vegetarian.  People ask where I am from?  I say Illinois.  They say, no where were you born?  I say Illinois.  Finally I realize that they want to know my ancestory.  It is about being privileged and ignorant.
Q:  Examples?

Nicole  Filipino, only sibling born in US.  11 people in my mom’s family.  Very family oriented.  My parents moved to US for better education for their family.  Had about 11 people living in house together at first until they moved to BG.  I was taught to remember my roots ad values growing up.  But by 1st grade I was telling my parents that I don’t want to be Filipino.  I had more white friends and started to lose sight of my own past and values.  Wanted to convert and have a bar and bat mitzvah and …People always wanted to know what I was?  Hawaiian?  Half-Chinese?   Etc…People didn’t know I was Filipino.  I learned about Tiger moms which applied to my grandmother.  I was forced to wake up and practice my math and reading.  I felt like I had to meet a standard of all Asians being smart and excelling at school.  I wanted to be a Doctor.  It was hard to accept that I wasn’t a straight A student and I feel embarrassed meeting friends’ families because I’m either not white enough or not smart enough for the Asians.   Been told that I was exotic and different looking.  Doesn’t sound bad, but makes me feel like I don’t belong in America.

Mariel - White American but from Singapore.  I’m Singaporean.  Growing up in Singapore, there was a lot of discrimination against me.  In Singapore, my group is called ungmo  “Red haired monkey”.  Its really derogative but used by the government officially.  Used in newspapers.  As a Singaporean, I always saw the US and Europe as monsters and barbaric.  My mom was never promoted.  Discrimination is legal.  My friend Yasmine told me that she could not be my friend anymore because I was not her type of friend.  I couldn’t go to public school and I couldn’t live in certain areas.  White medical expenses were different.  Color of skin made you a target.  I had to sign forms saying that if I was kidnapped, I would not hold them responsible.  People wanted to take their picture with me because I was a commodity – not a person.  In Singapore, the xenophobia has gotten worse.  My parents moved here to get away.  We had to get away from the Xenophobia.
Q:  what was yasmine? 

Athena – Dad is white, mom is Pakistani, I have two mixed race siblings.  A boy in gym class used to ask me questions like if I pick cotton.  By high school it became more like micro-aggressions such as you are whitest black girl who I ever met.  Not a positive thing to call someone a different race than what they are.  The way you speak is not a race.  Microaggressions with police, I am part of a group called peer jury.  I listen to cases in BG and Wheeling.  First time I went to peer jury in Wheeling, they assumed that I was one of those on trial.  They sent me out to wait with the defendents.  The officer said oh I thought you were one of them.

Brian  When I was younger, the stereotypes came from friends and I tried to laugh it off but it made me feel ostracized.  It gave me tougher skin.  I believe that in this school racism is still a huge issue, sometimes microaggressions or worse.  There’s a bubble in SHS that prevents a lot of SHS from understanding that racism is still prevalent.  White students may walk away from a group of Hispanic students.  One experience that I never told anyone about was that at SHS there’s so few Hispanic students that I hang out with mostly white kids.  I was called to my dean and I was accused of drug dealing.  I was searched and degraded simply because I am Hispanic.  SHS has tried to accommodate minorities, but the help they are giving makes me feel like I can’t succeed without their help.

Q:  Microaggression-
Assuming that all people like you are related to you.
Assumptions about my hair – whether its real or a weave.
Touching hair without asking.
Nicknames – offensive
Hijab questions like what’s in there.  Questions that skirt controversial issues
People assuming that  I speak for all people like me.
Someone assuming that my uncle was someone from Sodexho
People assuming that I am a spokesperson for all people.
Pressure to live up to different standards.

Q:Examples of stereotypes and expectations within each group?  Effects on you?

Q: Examples of difficulties living in predominantly white area?

Per 2

Charles Raymond Sullivan “Chuckey” – Grew up in Texas.  I had a nickname called “niggertard” because of my hairdo.  Black and white kids would go at each other.   There was a cross burned into the field at school.  So when we moved here, my mom wanted to find somewhere else to move because SHS had so little black people.  My mom wanted me to come to SHS because of the academics.  My first day of school, I met a jewish kid.  Never met a Jewish kid before.  He assumed that I would be good at football.  Other people say you don’t sound like a black person.  I’m first black person to play lacrosse.  I hear racial slurs all the time on the field.

Brianna – Always had to learn about racism.  Had to learn that I might be seen differently because of my color.  I saw microaggressions but only realized it later.  I went to a private Christian school in Northbrook.  It was a low-key racist but one day, someone wrote “Nigger” on my little brother’s (4th grade) picture in the hallway.  In middle school people assumed that I would be friends or related to the other black kids at school.  Other times kids told me I talked white or called me oreo.
Internalized racism ??
By sophomore year I was a part of Sush’s minority girls group and I educated myself and I learned to be more proud of who I was. I am afraid of the racism and my little brother.
White people don’t have to learn about race issues.
My parents tell my brother to act a certain way – don’t act too goofy, don’t wear your hood,

Athenamom is white, dad is Pakistani.  Really resents the term Oreo.  Language - I speak the way I speak. Called terms like cotton picker in middle school.  Won’t shop at Nordstrom's because they profile me.

Julie – called nerd because I am Asian.  Stereotypes. Called chinks but I was the only Chinese person and there were whites with us, but didn’t matter.
Rarely were Asians on TV or in music videos.  Feels pressured from Asians to hang out with other Asians,… Taiwanese but feel pressure to be Chinese. Even a teacher insulted me by (wrongly) telling me about being Taiwanese.  Took a long time to adapt to American culture but then I was told I was too Asian to be American and too American to be Asian.

Shukran – Born in Iraq, moved to US 7 yrs ago.Lived a normal girls life in Iraq.  Very sheltered – indoors.   Made fun of for my nose – because I’m Arab and I have a large nose. Tried to embrace the good side of my culture.  Tried to be more Arab than Muslim.  Aladdin , belly dancing. Embraced math. Been called camel jockey, turban head, terrorist. Arabs are different from Muslims – less conservative,

Justin– Growing up here (only 1.7%) is different. Parents have to tell us certain things like dress a certain way, talk a certain way.  By middle school, learned that didn’t matter, because were still calling me things.  Reduced to being only “black” and nothing else. And people made fun of me for that.
Q: being reduced to black and nothing else, even as a good thing is still bad right?  Oreo and white washed are not compliments.  “acting white” is not a compliment. I can be black and good at art or black and smart. I was told by another kid that I was too black to do art, but I worked really hard to get here.  People joke about stuff but that’s bad.  Even more dangerous are interactions with police, security.  I have been carded by SHS security  to see if I went here. It was rough to see because I grew up here and I felt disrespected. And people think that racism is over. Some people think the Nword is passé but I cussed my friend out because it’s not cool.  But in jr high I would’ve brushed that off and not really said anything because I just wanted to be liked.  Recently during Ferguson and Trayvon Martin people called them coded names like thug.  It makes me think about how others think of me and I wonder if they think of me that way.  President of BASS black association of students.  We talk about different issues and stuff going on.  Fridays after school. 

Jenny C- mixed child, mutt, box of chex mix. Grandpa is purely Puerto Rican, also Assyrian, France, Poland Ukraine.  Mom’s side is lighter than dad’s. I used to have darker skin, plus dark hair but my mom is really light – hair and skin.  Sadly I used to think I was adopted.  When my Grandma died, I knew she was Polish but then found out I was Ukrainian.  Found out my real last name was C**-V****, but my grandpa dropped the V**** and changed the name and changed his bday. People ask what I am, I say Puerto-Rican and people say then you have to speak Spanish to be Latina.  Difficult to navigate family people because different skin and different cultures.  Makes it really difficult for me to know who I am.  Made it hard for me to go through different friend groups.  Now I have friends who are a mix of everything.  This year I am finally embracing who I am. Holidays are a hodge-podge: Assyrian meatballs, Puerto Rican rice and beans.  But still struggle with self-esteem.  Don’t like the question “What are you?”  Instead  ask “what’s your ethnic background?”

Jessica P
Mexican.  Born here, but called beaner.  People don’t understand how much damage they are doing.  Mom here for 20 years legally.  Dad here (legally) for 18years??, but
A woman at mom’s work was mad at my mom and called immigration on her but they found my dad instead.  And I felt like it was my fault – I opened the door that day.  My dad told me how he crossed the border, and it was awful,
Being Hispanic I am surrounded by white people and it is intimidating.  My dad is hard working and often the employee of the month.

Puerto Rican and Guatemalan, but just recently found out that.  Older sister is half white and we look nothing like each other.  Growing up we didn’t like each other, and no one ever knew we were sisters.  A saleslady didn’t believe we were sisters and it’s frustrating to have to explain that she is my sister. That is just one example.  Something else I face on a daily basis, as a manager at my store, is the idea that because I am Hispanic I can’t be successful.  Customers ask to speak to a manager but sometimes that’s me!  Sometimes I have another employee with me who is white and older and they insist that she is the manager. We can be successful just anyone else can.  Don’t judge a book by its cover. 

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