Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A Morning Spent in Rumination

This morning, as I tried to pull away from the dream in which I found myself embroiled, I was reminded of something that had made an impression on me weeks ago. The memory of my son and I watching the Battle rounds on The Voice seeped into my consciousness as I waged my own battle to wake up. Finally freed from the dream-like tendrils, I knew I had to write about this memory, and it seemed fitting for today's Slice of Life.

The battle we were watching was between two young men. As the first performance began, I asked my son who he was rooting for. He thought for a moment and then replied, "The guy with the glasses".

What struck me about his response was that the young man was black, but rather than identify him as such, my son first took notice that he was wearing glasses. The reason this struck me was because, in his shoes, my first descriptor would have been his skin color.

I certainly do not want to come off as racist, because I truly am not. I was raised by a Mexican step-father; I had a black uncle growing up (whom I adored); and my matron of honor from my wedding is Japanese.

What my son's response helped me realize is that, even though I don't intend it, the first thing I see is a person's skin color. As an educator, and an overall good human being, I don't want skin color to be the first thing I calculate when I see someone.

I certainly don't want to dismiss someone's racial identity, but I also don't want to define them by what I visually perceive.

While lying in bed ruminating these thoughts, I couldn't help but wonder if children truly are born color-blind? Not in the sense that they do not see the beautiful array of colors that give life contrast, but with regards to skin color. Are children born with prejudicial thoughts towards skin hues, or does growing up in a society that promotes the labeling and categorizing of people based on the color of their skin change their perspective?

This might be a sensitive, maybe even controversial topic to share in a blog post, and some of you might find yourselves offended; though I hope not!

Instead, I hope that society can engage in conversations about cultural perspectives in an effort to recognize our own underlying biases. Much as the dream-like tendrils kept me from waking up this morning, I believe my underlying biases hold me down, preventing me from being fully present and aware of those around me.

Helping me uncover this realization, my son has, once again, been my greatest teacher!



6 comments:

  1. What a wonderful post! I remember as a child being "color blind". My godfather was black and I didn't think much about it.

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    1. Thanks for your kind words, Lynn! And, thank you for sharing your memory :-)

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  2. I do think children are color-blind in the way you described. My own 5 year old daughter has shown me time and time again that she doesn't see people that way. Like your son, she notices other things, but never comments on the color of someone's skin. Interesting (and sad) that they are taught to think that way by... well, by us.

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    1. Hi Dana, thanks for stopping by and sharing your experiences! I would be interested to see if there have been studies done on this :-)

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  3. Not what I expected. How interesting. I'd like to know the answer to your questions too. I wouldn't say I calculate anyone by their color, but I definitely have to make a conscious effort not to describe someone by their race first. I have definitely noticed with my high school students, the color-blindness has completely disappeared. I'm curious to know when that really happens.

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    1. Hi Morgan, somehow I missed your response :-( It have very little experience with students older than Junior High, so your high school perspective is appreciated!

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