How did you come to be aware of your own gender? In the post, discuss what difference your understanding of your own identity/positionality might have for you as a becoming teacher.
I can easily recall the day I became more aware of my own gender. When I was in elementary school, guessing about grade one or two, I was outside during afternoon recess with my close group of “girlfriends” at the time. The girls began to talk about another one of our classmates negatively, so I removed myself from the situation and walked over to the group of my male classmates playing soccer across the playground. I was curious as to what they would say if I asked if I could play with them, but I decided not to worry and walked towards them anyways. When I reached the area where they were playing their game, I called over to my friend Jack and asked if I could play. The response I received from one of the males in the other class is something I will never forget. Jack answered, “yes, of course,” but then Ben said to Jack, “why are you letting her play? She’s a girl.” At that moment, I became agitated and wondered why I was being excluded from the game.
It took me a while to realize why I was excluded from the game, I then realized that it was because of my gender. It was all male students playing soccer, so they didn’t want to have a female involved in the game.
As I was doing the reading from this week, I found that I was able to relate my story to the statement from page 108 that states, “but what is emphasized between boys and girls varies.” I realized that sports were always something that was always emphasized with the male students I went to school with, but never the female students. It helped me understand why the boys were so uncomfortable with me joining their game as the only female player.
Another statement that I was able to relate to my story is the one from page 103 that says how the “water is difficult to see while we are swimming in it.” When Jack gave his response to Ben, I was quite upset at what he had said at the time. Now that I am older, I have learned that there may have been a reason for him to say what he had said. Maybe that is all he knew, or perhaps that is how he had been brought up? It may have been hard for him to realize that what he said was wrong because that is maybe all he knew.
In terms of what difference my own understanding of my own gender will be for me as a teacher, I now know that everyone has different experiences that allow them to understand their gender in different ways. It is important that I as an educator am accepting of all of my students and their learning experiences. Just because I learned about my gender one way, doesn’t mean that all my students are going to have the experience like I had. It is also crucial that my students know that I will always be a set of ears and a voice for them always.
For this week’s blog post, you will be writing one or two stories from your life that show how you learned about your own racial identity – that is how you came to be “racialized.”
Connect the story or stories with specific ideas from either the McIntosh or the Solomon et al.. article – or both.
In the post, discuss what difference your understanding of your own racialization might have for you as a becoming teacher. (If you are not planning to be a teacher, consider the implications for other roles you have in your life).
When I was a young child, my racial identity is something I never ever thought about. For my first few years of school, each of my classes consisted primarily of white students. If I remember correctly, it was until I was in grade two that I began to notice that my classroom was becoming more diverse and that more students were entering the class, who were not white. Over the years, I found myself becoming very close with many of the students in my class who had moved to Canada from the Philippines. I was able to develop close friendships with many of them, which gave me several opportunities to learn about my own racial identity.
As I continued to socialize and interact with my diverse group of peers, I found that there were times when I was comfortable, other times when I was uncomfortable, but was unsure why. In Peggy McIntosh’s article titled White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Backpack, one of the statements that resonated with me was the one that said: “I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.” When I first read the statement, I wasn’t sure if I ultimately agreed with it, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. It is a prime example that displays how one can be more comfortable associating themselves with people of their own race some of the time. Realizing soon after, that it was something I could relate to. It made me think about the feeling of uncomfortableness I felt the first time I went to a social gathering that one of my Filipino friends was having with her family and friends for her birthday. When I arrived at the party, I found it difficult to relate and associate myself with some of the other guests that were also there. Everyone seemed so close to one another and spoke a language that I was unable to understand. Through the years, I continued to have the opportunities to attend several cultural gatherings with many of my friends and their families and found myself becoming more comfortable each time. I am grateful for the opportunities I have had and continue to have, which allows me to become more aware of my racial identity.
In terms of my own racialization, I believe that it will significantly impact me as a becoming teacher. I think that educators must be aware of the effects, both positive and negative, that race can play on a person’s well-being. The previous statement can also be related to McIntosh’s article and the point that says: “I will feel welcomed and “normal” in the usual walks of public life, institutional and social.” I must be aware of the problematic conditions some of my students will face because of their race. Still, it is crucially important that I will always strive to ensure that all students will feel welcomed and “normal” in my classroom, despite the colour of their skin. My awareness of my own personal racialization can also be used as a learning opportunity to allow students to become aware of their own racialization. Along with allowing them to openly share their realization of their own racialization with others too.
In his book Plain Racism: The Reaction Against Oklahoma Black Immigration to the Canadian Plains, R. Bruce Shepard discusses the adverse reaction and response that Canada gave to the Oklahoma blacks during their period of immigration to the Canadian Plains before World War I. The journal begins with Shepard categorizing the unhappiness of Canadians when immigrants came to western Canada as “nativism,” which can be defined as “opposition to an internal minority on the grounds that it posed a threat to Canadian national life” (365). The concept of nativism is a prime example of how many people reacted negatively to the mass amount of immigrants that came over to Canada during the time known as the settlement period. Before the blacks arrived in Canada, several countries such as Britain, the USA, and eastern Canada already had preconceived views on the group. Shepard states that he is unsure what caused the negative attitude and prejudice to originate.
Many years ago, a strong history of racism towards the blacks was displayed by white peoples of the North Atlantic. The contacts between the two groups were not favourable, which served as a foundation for many stereotypes to develop, many of which are still in existence today. Immigrants from Britain also contributed to the racism towards the blacks when they moved onto the Canadian Plains. Despite the hatred, prejudice, and stereotypes, many black settlers were successful in their move to Canada. They were also intrigued by advertisements that were posted in the local newspapers that stated that the Canadian government was looking for farmers. Promotional phrases were used as a lure, such as “stating that the Canadian Plains were warmer than Texas” (367). After many black immigrants set foot in Canada, Shepard states how Canadians reacted by a manner of “plain racism” (368). They were portrayed negatively throughout a variety of resources, such as journals, newspapers, etc. This manner of racism led to several strategies being implemented to “decrease black influx” (369). Some of these strategies included decreasing the amount of Canadian literature that arrived in Oklahoma so the people would not be aware of the job demand, and mandatory medical exams were also implemented at the border. As black immigration increased, many newspapers began to write negative things, creating racial phrases such as encouraging the Canadian government to “keep the black demon out of Canada” (373).
Several provinces reached out to Ottawa and recommended that steps should be taken to discontinue the settling of blacks on land in Canada. Following the recommendation of many provinces, a petition was created and was one that the blacks were the least bit happy about. The request was created since the majority of people believed it would be in the best interest of Canada to stop the large groups of blacks from continuing to settle in the country. As the government was urged to make a stop to the blacks from entering into Canada, it was recommended that the country bar the group, since it was legal because the “Immigration Act of 1910 gave the government the power, with an order-in-council, to exclude for a period, or permanently, any race deemed unsuitable for the climate” (379). On August 12, 1911, it was passed that blacks would be barred out of the country of Canada for a total of one year. Unfortunately, the moment was brought to an end shortly after on October 5, 1911, when it was withdrawn due to the fact “that the Minister of the Interior was not present when it had been passed” (379). Shepard states that nativism isn’t a key factor behind the preconceived notions of the blacks since the views were well-developed way before the Oklahoman people got into Canada. Instead, Shepard makes it clear that the way the Canadians acted towards the blacks was a deep and gruesome example of “plain racism” (380).
Where I feel the most at home is at my family’s cabin at Christopher Lake. The title of one of the readings from this week was “The Land Is the Best Teacher I Have Ever Had.” The title of the text deeply resonates with me because I believe that being up at the lake has taught me things that I would not have been able to learn anywhere else. I have been able to learn the history of the land before our cabin was placed, the kinds of animals which lived in our area, and those which continue to today. I cannot say that I will ever finish my learning journey of the land, but I will always continue to inquire, so I can keep feeling as one with the ground, its past, and the life within it. Although I do also live in the city, being up at the lake provides me with feelings of peace, relaxation, quiet, and calmness, which are feelings that I find very hard to find within the busy life of living in the city. Those feelings have helped shape who I am because they have allowed me to gain realization of myself and the emotions I can find through my escape in nature.
When I think of home, I think of being at the cabin and… boat rides on calm sunny days, drinking soda on the deck, having sun-kissed skin, bringing my dogs for a swim around the dock, jumping off of the boat in the middle of the lake, tracking my sandy feet through the cabin, going for long walks in the dewy morning air, and sitting around the firepit laughing until all hours of the night. It is easy for me to say that I could tell many stories about how much I spending time at the lake. If I had to choose my favourite story, it would be one of the ones of my family and I sitting around the firepit. I recall a time in the summer with my family when we were sitting around the fire. We were talking about what the land was like before our cabin was placed on the lot. It was almost like a dumping site with all of the diapers, garbage bags, and other unnecessary clutter that people decided to leave on the land. Yet through all of it, my parents saw potential and decided to move the old farmhouse onto the lot, and make it our own. We continued talking about how we replenished the land with new trees, dirt, grass, and plants and discussed ways on how we can allow the property to bring itself back to its original state before the chaos and neglect occurred. Ideas like continuing to plant more seeds, and allowing the wild plants to grow naturally, will eliminate the visibility and feeling of trauma which the land once faced. With the many moments I have spent around the fire, I have been able to learn stories about my family, the landscape our cabin sits on, its knowledge, along with its past and future.
Thomas King says “the truth about stories is that’s all we are.” He tells a number of different kinds of stories and explores ways that they shape identity and the way we see the world. What stories have influenced the way you see yourself and the world. Tell one or two of these stories and explain their importance.
I began teaching swimming lessons and lifeguarding several years ago. Having a job in aquatics played a significant role in my decision to move away from home to pursue an education degree through the University of Regina. Throughout my many years of being a Swim Instructor, I have established genuine connections and relationships with several of my students. Teaching lessons has helped me learn about different cultures, identities, learning abilities and the diversity that makes up today’s society. I recall one day when I was at the store getting groceries and I saw one of the children I had taught swimming lessons to in the past. She saw me down the aisle and said to her mom: “Look, mom! It’s my teacher from swimming lessons.” I will never forget the look of joy on her face when she ran down the aisle in my direction and hugged me. There is no better feeling in the world than when your students remember you. This story has greatly influenced the way I see myself and the world because it helps me to know that I had a positive impact on that particular swimmer since they remembered their swimming lessons as being both a positive and relationship-building experience. It is not only important for lessons to be a positive experience for the students, but for the parents/guardians, too. Most recently, when I was teaching one of my private lessons, a parent approached me after lessons and spoke highly of how he appreciated my teaching style. He explained how my instructions are both informational and simple at the same time, which is important because it gives one the opportunity for a learning experience without it being overwhelming. This story also influenced the way I see myself and the world because I learned that I am easily able to view and learn the different learning abilities of each person, which in turn plays a role in the influence and interaction I have with many of my swimmers. As a result of building strong bonds and relationships with my swimmers and their parents and guardians, I believe that I am able to provide the same qualities and experience when I become a teacher.