Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Race and Culture: Open and Outward

I Apologize for the long hiatus. Who knew starting a program would allow no free time for blogging ;p There have been so many thoughts going through my mind since last writing I've been putting this off as I'm not sure where to begin. But then I saw this as a Facebook status: Where would I be without opportunity? And that my friend is the question I hope we don't have to answer with Sistema-inspired and other high-quality programs. Because that's what Sistema does: provides for ALL! Giving everyone an opportunity. I know without opportunity, I certainly wouldn't have become a musician or a traveler, both things integral to who I am now. It is usually only when we have people who encourage us, support us, love us, and challenge us to do things and provide the way to do so, that we can have opportunity. And that is why I claim we are an accessible program, not an equitable program, though that too.

I went to a workshop on Saturday called European American Heritage. It was fascinating. We constantly talk about diversity, but ever since we take a standardized test, it is ingrained that European American=white. But why? What other nationality is labeled by such a superficial characteristic-the color of one's skin? NONE, they are place-based. It is with the power of white, like a kudzu vine (Thank you Healing Roots for the analogy), that whites colonize, overtake, are the dominant culture with many times no accounting for others. If I label myself as a European American, it puts whites too in the place-based labeling, not deeming the power. Every time I have discussions of race and culture, it becomes more and more apparent how imperative (not just recommended) these discussions are to EVERY workplace. People of color notice who is in charge, makes decisions, etc. despite if we talk about it or not.

I'm reading a book called Why Are All The Black Children Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? and it talks about multiple instances where the white parent is embarrassed what her younger child said about blacks and responds by shushing them. The author talks about the importance of acknowledging younger kids' questions about race because younger kids notice physical characteristics and it's perfectly natural, not racist. The child's questions will not go away, just unanswered and learned to be unasked. If we can't have open, honest conversations about this, assumptions and dominant culture to take precedence.  It's important to explain to kids people come in different skin colors just like hair. I grew up in a family where colorblindness and egalitarianism were the basic values and I now realize that simply cannot be. We have to acknowledge that whites have been oppressors and the conditions that are White Privilege. Reading enough statistics anyone who says this is simply a class thing is flat out wrong.

As always I'd welcome comments.

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