Thursday, July 29, 2010

my two cents

I'm watching President Obama on The View. He just said that yes, there are still differences in society, but the important thing is for us to treat each other right, and try to see life through other people's eyes.

The problem with that? That we can not think our ways into someone else's experience. We have to learn about the lives of others in order to understand them.

I tell my students over and over again that understanding is not an attitude, but that it has to be based in knowledge. Students may come into an Ethnic Studies class thinking that they have the right attitude, but when they leave they say that "never knew what it was like before".

We live in a society where one version of the world (predominantly white, heterosexual, and male) is held up as an all-encompassing truth. What we need to learn are three things:

1. White, heterosexual, and male people think that they know what the world is like, because their own image, and attitudes that support it, is reflected back at them wherever they turn.

2. There are pockets of knowledge among other groups that rarely rise to the surface of our collective culture. If they do, those images are often produced by the dominant culture, for dominant culture consumption.

3. We need to learn to be sensitive to the experiences of individuals in both dominant groups and underrepresented groups, through conversation.

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