Newly Minted

Newly Minted
Right after I was hooded

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Should we be talking about something else?

My students are exceptional. I have one young man who really challenges me to think harder about race and mixed race. He asked me in class the other day why I would be advocating for the addition of another racial identity. He went on to express his concern that our conversations about a mixed race identity further perpetuated ideas of race, which he disagreed with. His feeling is that if race doesn't exist, scientifically at least, why would we "create" another "race" - mixed race? Great question. The conversation continued as each student talked about how they would identify if race did not exist. While my students who identified as white, mixed race, and raceless had little trouble embracing the idea of abandoning race, my students who identified as black resisted. One of my students said he would not abandon race because being a proud black man has been a life goal "who would I be without my race" he asked? "Nothing!" he answered. A fellow student shared his sentiment. "It is our culture, being black is a culture" he said. I am thinking about my own racial identity. I have to admit, I think I am attached to my race in a way that I was not aware of. Giving up my race, and my right to racially categorize myself as I see fit, is particularly important to me. I have to think more about why that is. An immediate guess is that I have become used to being the black girl (brown girl, mixed race girl, biracial girl, Sharon's black daughter) and that is how I know myself. I will have to think about how I would redefine myself without race. (And what the HELL would I study? :) Maybe I am just concerned that, without race, I would not be identifiable at all. This exercise, thinking about abandoning race, is starting to help me understand why my students who identify as white tell me they have no race or culture. I think that in the absence of exceptionality, if we are all the same, defining oneself inside of sameness does not make sense. I will have to really think about that one. Make today great!!!!!

More soon...

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