Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Race

I don't normally use this blog (or really any of my blogs) as a diarrhetic diary. I don't like to spill my beans or business in public (though I do like to engage in dialogue and, yes, arguing), or get all emotional. But I was called a racist today. Not for the first time. And, of course, being white (with a slight mix that is indecipherable through my physiology) in an Puerto Rican and African-American neighborhood causes a lot of stares and suspicions and presuppositions (from all sides of the racial divides), but rarely have I had people accuse me of being a racist - to my face.

And then I started teaching. And it hurts. Like he++ (for the Holy Season, I'm trying to Lent cursing. Although, I think I'm gonna keep a**. It's just too funny to abandon.)

In one of my classes (that I teach), I was accused of being a racist because the majority of punishments levied were given to the Black students. In the next class, I was accused of being a racist because a majority of the punishments were levied to the Latino students. But this was a couple of months ago. Unfortunately, not much has changed. I still have to give out a lot of detentions. And I largely give them to those who catch my attention. So, whoever is most vocal in the class (in disruptive matters) is going to catch my eye and ire. In the first class, there is more of a mix (although again, the majority of punished is African-American) and the students tend to be more empathetic towards me (if less so to their other teachers, much to my chagrin). In the next, it's still the Spanish-speaking that grab the most attention, and thus, the most punishment.

And, as I'm typing this, I can see real obvious connections between this and law enforcement. Which makes me all the sadder.

Today, I was accused of racism. And I can't do much about it. It's not the type of fight I can engage in during the time it's brought up. And the thing is, I don't believe that a person should have to fight such criticisms, or prove that they're not racist - like Eminem or Michael Rappaport. Their life should testify. You can't say, "Some of my best friends are black and/or hispanic." Or name who, of a different race, you hang with. As a friend of mine said, if you can count the amount of black friends you have, don't bother.

Engaging in race relations - and the discussions that travel alongside it - aren't negotiable. You can't not talk about them. You can't ignore it. But it sure ain't easy, even for us who have been facing it and fighting the good fight our whole lives.

1 comment:

  1. I must confess - the majority of student's I discipline are also Spanish-speaking.

    *heart goes out*

    ReplyDelete

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