Being the minority

Being white and trying to reflect upon what it means to be someone of less privilege is difficult. It’s difficult not like a particularly difficult math problem, but difficult in that I can never personally see through the eyes of one less privileged. I, being male, white, and have been raised not in poverty, but in an affluent city with all my basic necessities taken care of, have little in my history to know what it’s like to truly be poor, prejudiced, or worse. I can read all the books, see all the films, listen to the music, and experience the culture. It’s still not the same. I do, however, need to evaluate myself.
I spent time in Korea, where I was the minority. The difference between being a minority in the States and being a (white) minority in Korea was that in Korea I wasn’t treated poorly, I was treated much better. I was treated better than I was when I had lived in the states. I was gawked at (being peculiar in skin color and height), but more than that, I was treated as celebrity, a peculiar outsider. I grew close to my fellow Korean (and other expat) teachers, and was part of a teacher community. I too, grew as a person and as a teacher. It was a unique experience, one that will help me in many ways, but I still need to understand the dynamics of what it means to be a teacher in a diverse classroom.

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2 thoughts on “Being the minority

  1. I think that being able to reflect honestly on your own experience is just as valuable as having gone through adversity yourself. Reflecting on your privileges in the context of race and privilege/power in society can help you better understand the flip side of those who were oppressed or marginalized. Why is being white akin to being a celebrity in Korea? What does that say about the hierarchy of race? What kind of privileges did you have growing up that someone of a different race or gender or socio-economic background didn’t have? Why? What did that mean for those who have and those who have not? Its like Howard said in the chapter we read in Why Race and Culture Matter in Schools: “If a teacher is truly interested in arriving at a space of equitable teaching, reflection, and analysis, a commitment to both racial awareness and cultural competence should be a lifelong process…consist[ing] of listening to the stories, experiences, histories, struggles, and setbacks of marginalize groups” (119).

  2. Even though you have never been on the tough end of being a minority doesn’t mean that you can’t find a way to connect in a diverse classroom. Not saying it will be something that comes easily or naturally having a lack of personal experience, but just in the essence of you reflecting on your experiences, and recognizing you haven’t ever had a challenging diverse experience of your own, shows that you will be a compassionate role model in a diverse classroom.

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