Beyond Heroes + Holidays

Culture, racism, privilege, barriers, all of these topics have hit close to home for me.

Yesterday my group’s discussion centered around, “Teaching Whites about Racism”.  The author was a white female teacher whom worked with preservice teachers in uncovering their own biases and slowly introducing questions that had her students question the institutional structure that promoted racist behaviors.  I believe as a teacher it is really important to guide students to their own knowledge rather than tell. I myself have been striving (and will continue to) to develop a question-creating repertoire that can foster this type of powerful learning. Having students reflect on their own experiences as Professor Angela Lunda has us do for our cultural self study is an example of this type of guidance.  Guiding someone to their own knowledge can reveal very powerful information to oneself.  I myself called up my mother and began asking questions I never had asked before and reflected openly about my lack of connection to our Indian heritage (Subcontinent Asia Indian).  As a young girl I rejected the connection due to the ignorance I faced in school from peers and even educators.  I shared this story with my group:

When I was in Middle School, from 6th to 8th grade I was the only minority.  By the end of my 8th grade year another girl of Indian descent had moved into the vicinity and was attending my Middle School.  At lunch time we would have a news hour that would run for the classes waiting to go to the cafeteria.  Schoolmates could come make announcements and it would be broadcasted to the entire school.  Student government elections were going on, and this new young Indian girl was running for a position with the future 7th grade class.  My teacher caught my eye and smiled at me in a weird knowing way.  I was a lot surlier back then and responded with a pre-pubescent, “What?”.  He responded, “Isn’t that your sister?”.  A lot of thoughts went through my head, like “WT%” and “How can you think that?  We have different last names and don’t look anything alike”, and most importantly the mantra I would create whenever I was around white people, “Oh we must be brown, we must be related!”  I simply narrowed my eyes and said no.  This man was my social studies teacher.  I couldn’t imagine how he had come to such a position.

This story illustrates one in many examples from my life of inexperience, ignorance, and naivety.  As we all enter into the teaching world, I hope it serves to illustrate the point that we all need to keep our heads and hearts open and be willing to learn alongside our students rather than make preconceived judgements that suit our biases.

{Photo: Shiva, god I was named after


4 thoughts on “Beyond Heroes + Holidays”

  1. Thank you Shivani for sharing your story and reflection on the reading. I love and share your thoughts on guiding students to their own knowledge and will have to work on my own “question-creating”repertoire.

  2. Shivani,

    Wow. The experience you shared was intense, amazing and real. Thank You. You have so much to share with others in this program. Thank you for posting a personal story.

  3. Thank you for sharing Shivani. I can relate to your story that you told in class. I have had similar experiences and still today to some degree. I think it is hard to reach some people that don’t understand. It is unfortunate and I am not sure what to do. I can only hope that it gets better some day.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.