On my education

19 03 2014

When people tell me that there’s no such thing as sexism, misogyny, or racism any more- or even that we live in a post-racial world I think about my education.  

I think about how in elementary school we had to learn about the local tribes and do a big project in which I dressed up in an outfit as best as my mom could recreate to be close to the Caddo tribe as she could. I did a little diorama of what their village might have looked like based off of drawings in text books, and even made some kind of flat bread that was similar to something they might have eaten. But no where in my research at ten years old did I come across how they were driven to that area because they were trying to escape the white people’s expansion.  Yet a quick google search tells me that today. (yes I’m old so no the internet wasn’t a thing when I was in fourth grade, or at least not to some one of my socioeconomic standards.)

I think of black history month, where we would read the drinking gourd, and primarily focused on the underground rail road, and how Harriet Tubman was a hero, who I loved because she was so tough she even would hold a gun to her travelers if they thought about going back( I don’t know if that’s true or legend) . And then we learned about Fredrick Douglass and later W.E.B Dubois, about Martin Luther King Jr., but Malcolm X was never mentioned. George Washington Carver was always a favorite to do projects on, because you could always bring some sort of peanut-butter featured snack. 

But when it came to slavery in america, and the trail of tears, it was more or less, it happened and it was bad. Not a lot of detail went into it. I watched 12 Years a Slave and sad to say that I learned more from that movie than I did in school or on my own. When we talked about Abraham Lincoln, he was always painted in a light of a savior. Even though there was the whole 3/5ths law that we kinda pointed out but didn’t put much lecture time into, nor did we talk about Jim Crow. The closest we came to it was reading Maniac Magee in fifth grade and in junior high we read to kill a mocking bird. (Later in high school we read I Know Why The Cage Bird Sings, Black Boy,and I read Black Like Me which my father had some very upsetting things to say about, but that’s another thing entirely.)   

My point being that we didn’t read a variety of authors. When I think of the words, “coming of age” I think of a white boy. That’s the first thing that pops into my head. But at my high school, there were many people of color. Honestly POC might have even been the majority in some classes. And there certainly were many girls, but when we talked about a coming of age story, it was always a white boy. I Know Why the Cage Bird Sings is a coming of age story of sorts, and so is Rubyfruit Jungle (though I understand why, at a conservative school in Texas we didn’t read Rubyfruit)   Any way my point is that there wasn’t any investigation to multiple points of view in my early education, I suppose there was a little discussion in some classes, the first one I remember, was around that book Maniac Magee. And my teacher ended up saying some very racist things about how white people were more advanced in general. And I was confused by that but then did notice that pretty much every single person in that class was white or could pass. And honestly I don’t recall any other discussion on race, pretty much until I got into college, and then again, it was more a revealing of racism and bigotry this time particularly towards Catholics (with the implication of specifically POC Catholics).  The most that we got was a few lectures on Liberation Theology (I was a theology major). 

But even in my collegiate years, too often things were white washed. There was only one Black prof at my school, and he was an adjunct. It was weird going from a diverse public school to suddenly a predominately white college. I took diversity for granted, I didn’t think to consider that when choosing a college. (Though, I did have little choice in what school I went to) 

 

When I think back on the teachers that I had: Four were POC, every single one of my english teachers were women, until senior year of high school. 

 

And granted I know that a lot (everything) that we had to learn was based on curriculum but even so, I find it sad that education (liberal arts in particular) is so stifled and continues to promote the status quo (racism, oppression, marginalization) instead of inviting creativity, ingenuity, and breaking down world views, there needs to be more disruption, more rebellion. 

 

Pretty much there should always be more rebellion.