Small Pieces of Privilege #1

I have never seen an episode of The Cosby Show.

In Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum’s Why are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria she discusses how her college-age students identify themselves.  The students are given a set amount of time to write down personal descriptors.  The long-and-short of it is that students of color almost always write down a race descriptor while white students almost never do.

One of the first things we do when we see people is decide if they are like or different. Children are especially good at this.  They separate friends into boys and girls, short and tall, old and young, able bodied and not, and  skin like mine or not like mine.  This is not a bad thing.  The bad part comes when they judge based on these things. But I digress, my hope in this series that I am calling “Small Pieces of Privilege” is to examine simple privileges I have in my life.

So I return to the fact that I have never seen The Cosby Show, you know why? At least in part because I didn’t need it.  There were tons of shows on TV with families that looked like (prettier) versions of mine.  There were a million little white girls to choose from.  To the point that there were ones with my same haircut.  I didn’t watch a show about a Black family because there were lots of White families to chose from.

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3 thoughts on “Small Pieces of Privilege #1

  1. Anne,

    I did watch the Cosby show, and Welcome back Kotter, and many others that included people not like me. I am finding myself confused and wondering now, what does that make me? I’ve attended the Global Math discussions, thought a lot about race, being racial, and how others are or are not.

    I have never looked at people as around me and thought about them being black, white, or anything else along those lines. Do I notice it? Yes. But it honestly doesn’t create a thought in me about who they are or what they might be. Does that make me racial, or does it make me uncaring about who people are?

    I’d really like to believe that I care about people because of who they are and what they can be, not about what race or group they belong to. Now I’m finding myself wondering if that is even possible.

    Love to hear your thoughts.

  2. Interesting ideas to ponder…got me thinking about my regular life and teaching life.

    I realize now that I would definitely put “Asian” as a personal descriptor if given the chance to write and reflect on paper, but I didn’t explicitly state that on my blog bio or Twitter bio.

    I teach in a school that has very few white students. One of the white 9th grade girls told me today “sometimes it’s weird to be the only white girl on the softball team. Everyone’s always speaking Spanish and I feel left out” yet she also felt “special” for being the only one.

  3. I am blessed with a job teaching children of all sorts, sizes and ethnicities. I never thought about race directly. I don’t think about race when I look at the children I teach, but I am learning that they do, of themselves. I have learned that for many of them, being ‘white’ is a desire. It means something to those who are not, in a way that I can only acknowledge, but not understand. That makes me feel naive, for not realizing that there truly is a different experience out there based on ethnicity. I am becoming more aware- it is important to me that my students see themselves as unique and as similar. A professor put it in an interesting way: we are all the same, in different ways: one, some, none.

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