Monday, September 7, 2015

Johnson Reflection

I found this reading from Privilege, Power, and Differences by Allan G. Johnson to be very enlightening and pertinent given present day issues of racially charged violence and debates.

Johnson speaks about the discomfort that individuals experience when they discuss issues such as "white privilege". Throughout the piece, Johnson takes his readers through his own journey of discomfort, and he remarks on the common trends that occurs when people try to have these discussions. 

Although I technically am a "person of color", I also struggle through this discomfort as a Latino. For instance, I often feel very connected with my students given that I share similar backgrounds and experiences with many of them. More than 85% of my school identifies as Black and/or Hispanic/Latino. Whether it is the way I look, my age, or even the music I listen to, I can often relate to my students in many ways. However, in many ways I cannot. I was fortunate to be born into a family in which my parents stressed the importance of college. I was given an opportunity to go to a boarding school and play a college sport. While we never lived a glamorous life, my parents made sure we always had food on the table. On the other hand, many of my students have never had the opportunity to leave Providence. College is not a reality for many of my students. In many ways, I can be a role-model for my students, but I often feel disconnected from them in others. 

Additionally, Johnson speaks about the “defensive” reaction that many Caucasians feel when the conversation about “white privilege” comes about. I have been in numerous conversations and seen these responses. More often than not, one group feels that they are being attacked. “I didn’t create this system,” and “I worked hard. I had no privileges,” are common responses. In order for these conversations to create meaningful change, I believe that all participants need to be more reflective. If we realize that we are not attacking a specific individual and that we are all a part of this societal problem, then we can try to resolve some issues. 

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