Tuesday, February 9, 2010

What They Said!

My Friends ROCK!!!!!
Me & Keesh Sr. year :)! Click to follow her!

I havent done one of these features in a while- but I think this one is worth posting! While matriculating through the illustrious Spelman College, I was favored to be surrounded by some of the most brilliant, beautiful, colorful women anyone could ever imagine. One person in particular I met my freshWoman year and we immediately developed a bond. We soon moved in together and that bond grew! Ms. Kisha Woods MA.Ed, CRE (Keesh or Choing as we call her! She looks Asian right??!) comes from one of the craziest/hardest backgrounds I've ever heard of. Yet upon meeting her and learning of her background you will find that not only did she survive it, but she surpassed it by leaps and bounds. She has accomplished things that nobody before her has, paving the way for her younger family members to come behind her.

Growing up in the "hood" of Cincinnati, Kisha pressed her way to graduate from high school at the top of her class and 4 years later (while working & attending school FULL time) she managed to graduate from Spelman with honors. As if that wasnt enough, Kisha went on to earn her Masters from Colombia and is now a teacher in DC..She's only 23! I try to surround myself with women who think like me. Going to Spelman was one of the best decisions of my life because I was flooded with a billion to choose from! Kisha is one who I draw inspiration from on a regular. Whenever I think something impossible- I think of Keesh. Whenever I think to be frustrated with what I dont have I think of all Keesh has endured/obtained with very little. When I feel a lazy spirit creeping up- I can think of Keesh for motivation!

BabyKayKs, its so important that your "girls" "fellas" are able to encourage the good in you. If you are surrounded by a bunch of people doing nothing- chances are its gonna be really hard for you to accomplish much without them pulling you down. I am blessed to be able to say that I have some of the most incredibly talented, God fearing, focused friends a girl could ask for. So with that said, Kisha has a blog and this particular entry I believe is important, because it is a subject that many people struggle with dealing with effectively. Keesh being so on point- has exposed the fact that its something she is having to deal with in her classroom! I'd love for you all to take your time and read it & share your comments. TNT BabyKayKs

Difficulty of Racial Discourse in the Classroom
As a graduate of Spelman College, I have become very comfortable with speaking about race in any environment. Before coming to Spelman College, I was not aware that race is a social construct and not a biological factor. In the Spelman College environment, it was enlightening to have racial discourse in the classroom. The professors challenged us to understand our racial identity individually and our racial identity within the context of white America. As a student in Toni Morrison seminar, my head popped, when I read Toni Morrison's, Playing in the Dark. I learned that the presence of blackness is in every arena, although others that are racists attempt to erase every inkling of presence of blackness; their efforts even more enforce the presence of blackness. This is extremely powerful in many ways because no matter how much we try to become color blind to other races, that have been constructed by human beings, our very blindness will only make their race resonate even more.

So as an educator, it is imperative that I do not pretend to be color blind to many color hues that are present within my classroom. I can not be silent about the racism that is covert but breathing in every aspect of the world. But when I chose to talk about race, and its tension, and difficulties, I must approach it in a productive way. Even it is challenging and uncomfortable, we must address it. If I don't address it, I subconsciously demonstrate to my students that racism is alright!

So I have decided to teach the autobiographical novel Kaffir Boy, to of course talk about race, but to build apathy for the importance of education for all of my students. The population of my students is predominantly African American, Hispanic, and a very small percentage of Whites. I spent weeks building background knowledge about the South African Apartheid, and its impacts on the races involved. My one white student, was not present during this introduction, so he was not aware of the content of the book. After his first encounter with the novel, I received a very racist email on his or his father's behalf about their racist opinions concerning Black people and the dominance of Whites over Blacks.

As an educator, I had to ensure that I addressed the issue in a productive way! Of course, there were many thoughts that went through my head upon receiving the email. However, it demonstrated the impact that silence of racial discourse in the classroom and in our communities has on children. Our children are socialized human beings and in many cases educators are left to address the issues of racism in our classrooms. An overarching question should be, "Should teachers be left to fight this battle of racism alone?" So many questions go through my mind: "Is it our job to address race in the classroom?" "At what age?" "How do you continue to conduct the discourse even when there is tension in the classroom?"

Of course I don't have all the answers, but some solutions that I do have is that, you must create a community of learners within your classroom. Building a community is extremely difficult and it is time consuming, but it is a must if racial discourse in the classroom will be productive. Productivity is the key! Racial discourse should not be utilized to insult other races, but we must express our deepest emotions, fears, and thoughts in order to move on to discussing productive ways of dealing with racism. The tension in the classroom is inevitable, but the productivity takes place during and after the tension. Lastly, you have to look yourself in the mirror, physically, spiritually, and personally and face your racist thoughts! You have to face your insecurities in talking about race in general, before you attempt to address them in the classroom. There will be times when you will be uncomfortable, but it is a part of the process.

What will you do as an educator/individual to alleviate racism?

1 comment:

  1. Kanish, words can not explain how thankful and honored I am that you decided to do this write up on me! You know that I am a very behind the scenes type person, and I am extremely humbled by my experiences along with my accomplishments. You know that I do not take compliments well (I know I am working on it) because everything that I have done and everything I am is only because of God's willingness (and lets not forget His ability) to extend his grace, mercy, and favor upon my life. As stated above, I didn't come from much, so I am so very honored and humble that God chose me to do His will. He could have chose anyone else, but he decided to chose me. At times, I tell the Lord that I am not worthy, but Im forever grateful. Also, I am the person partly because of the relationship we have with one another. I still remember FreshWoman year at Spelman, and we clicked! I will never forget sitting in the room with you and Kim as we prayed that I wouldnt have to leave Spelman for financial reasons. Then I was awarded a scholarship to stay! I still remember your mother praying for me (Shout out to Betty McSwain--she can get a prayer through), and your father agreeing to be my father too and he didnt know me! I am so thankful to have you as a friend! I don't use the friend word lightly! I know that I can come to you for prayer, advice, and someone to just laugh with! You were one of the first people I met at Spelman that accepted me, along with my imperfections (being from the hood, speaking ebonics, growing up without both my parents, the list continues). I thank you so much for being a friend, and supporting me throughout the years.

    Love Always,


    P.S. I am not a Choing!