I am taking a graduate class on Multiculutral Education this summer. I'm amazed at the ignorance of some of the elementary teachers in my class. Everyone in my class are teachers so they should not be this ignorant.
When talking about different cultures today, one young woman said how Caucasians don't have a culture. Now I was the only white person in the class, and the professor is hispanic. I didn't feel comfortable saying anything. Even the professor somewhat agreed. She said how Caucasian people have a culture but its not as diverse and rich as hispanic or african-american culture. And the stereotypes people have of white people. Another young woman( who was african-american) asked me if I liked country music cause "all white people like country music". I do happen to like country music, but I've met white people who don't like it.
I didn't feel like getting into a debate or trying to defend my culture. But I believe I have a culture. Everyone has a culture. White people are all very different and come from different backgrounds. My own culture is Irish Catholic. That is definitely a culture. My husband's culture is Czech, and they definitely have their own customs and traditions.
So I was quite offended that these teachers thought that white people don't have a culture. Many told me how whites don't really care about the country their ancestors came from and have no connection to it, while hispanic and african-americans have a strong connection to their mother country.
this is a sticky topic. i dont know if you are just venting or if you want our opinions too.
first, i'm in shock that someone, an educator albiet, asked you if you liked country music! i know tons of white people and hispanics that like country music. I know tons of white people that dont like it. it reminds me of the time i went to florida for the summer and a kid asked where my horse was when he learned i was from texas! even if i owned a horse (which i dont) why would i take him to florida?!
white people do have culture. but there isnt just one culture. as you put it you are irish catholic while your husband is czech. and there are many, many more. maybe these teachers are too narrow minded that they only see what they do. what i mean is, for example, i am hispanic and at most birthday parties and weddings there are mariaches. i see that because i am involved. and aquaintances may know because of pictures or stories. if you follow any irish or czech customs at your home they wouldn't know about it unless they were there or saw pictures etc. however, those customs may blend into background to them (them being the hispanics and african americans) because they may just see them as american customs that they too are apart of as well.
does that make sense? while it is ignorant of them, it could just be oversight as well?
i would definetly have been offended if i were in your shoes, and very uncomfortable as well. i hope for your sake this topic isnt brought up every session.
but maybe next time have a few stories of how you celebrate your culture in case you need to "shut someone up"
hang in there! and get the most out of this experience!
I understand how you might have felt in that class. But let me just offer another perspective.
Interestingly enough I was at a teacher professional development workshop where this topic was discussed. We were in small groups and I was the only white person in our group. I did state that I didn't feel that I grew up with a cultural background. My mother's family was of German descent but it was her great-grandparents who came over. Same with my father's family except they were from Poland. My mother spoke some German as a little girl, but doesn't remember now. My dad never learned any Polish (ok, maybe some bad words) and I think his dad knew a little bit. We have never celebrated any Polish or German customs growing up. My mom has made several dishes that she grew up with as a child. We have kielbasa on some holidays and occasionally stuffed cabbage. This is as cultural as we got. I don't feel any really strong connection to my "mother countries". I believe my ancestors came to this country to become Americans. I am not sure why they didn't feel the need to hold on to their own. I have quite a few friends who grew up the same way. Some of them describe themselves as Heinz 57 mix with German, English, Native American and other ethnic backgrounds.
I know this is not true for everyone, there are white folks who do have strong cultural ties to their mother country. But as someone else pointed out....it is not a single culture that we claim.
I certainly would be offended if someone assumed I like country music simply because I am white! I wouldn't assume that all black people like hip-hop, either!
I believe my ancestors came to this country to become Americans. I am not sure why they didn't feel the need to hold on to their own.
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And this is why many learned the language of America. I remember hearing stories about parents scolding their children for not speaking English.
I agree with pp that because caucsians come from many different countries that we have mix of cultures.
I also don't think that we can use the excuse of "it's their culture" to excuse poor behavior or poor test scores. I think as teachers we need to try and understand the cultures and work with it. I know my eyes were opened when I read Ruby Payne. It really made me stop and think. I expected my students and their parents to act as the middle class people that I understood.
As a person who is not caucasion, I've always thought of the dominant culture as the caucasion culture. (Is saying White not allowed anymore? I don't keep up with the politically correct stuff)
The question the teacher asked you about Country music was quite the stereotype, but ignorance comes from all corners. I've been asked about my hair, what my ethnicity is since I don't speak slang, I can't be Black, I must be _______ , and a myriad of other questions. I always try to answer calmly and in a way to edify the person asking. But when I was told Blacks were lazy and didn't work hard by a 4th grader one year, I'm afraid I was too exasperated to answer at all.
I too, have many times been the only "minority" in the room. And it gets downright uncomfortable when race is talked about. Sometimes it's more comfortable to remain quiet...
As you stated in your post, everyone has a culture. Maybe it's just that so much of it has become the American culture that some aren't able to discern between them.
What an interesting class you are taking this summer!! Sometimes it is just good to sit back and let the thoughts and actions of those around you sink in.
I have German and Polish ancestors...they came to America to escape war, famine, and poverty. When I was a child, we often visited my great-grandarents and grandparents. Their tables were filled with food from the "old country." Even today, my sisters and I prepare these foods for special occassions. We also observe customs we learned from them...especially during the holidays.
However, my great-grandparents and grandparents seldom spoke German or Polish. They learned to speak English in night school, insisted their children speak English at home, and insisted on graduation from high school. They worked hard in factories and in construction, and paid taxes, bought homes and rental property, and did not expect handouts. Their yards were neat and clean, they attended church, and volunteered in their community. They also helped the less fortunate by having non-family members live with them.
As more and more years distance my sisters and me from these very brave people who immigrated to America, I often wonder how they had the incentive to do so...and then I remember they came here for a better life. They brought along very little, left family and friends behind, and never saw them again. They looked for a better future for themselves and their children, and worked hard to get it.
Do I have a culture? Of course I do!! It involves comfort food that my German and Polish grandma's, aunts, and mom taught me to cook. It involves working hard for the things I want, setting goals, and achieving these goals. It involves helping others. It involves believing in God and respecting nature. It involves being thankful for the gifts I have been given and using these gifts constructively. No matter your culture, these very basic things should be a part of us all!!
The color of our skin...the places in the world from which our ancestors immigrated...the music we listen to...the places we worship do not make our culture. Culture is what is in your heart and actions...and remembering those who came before you and gave you the chance to be the best you can be...and to be an American!!
We actually have this problem at our school amongst some of the white families (which are about 85% of the population!)
We really try to do a lot of multicultural education and even have diversity discussions with parents once a month. They have been on all sorts of issues, from economic diversity, family structure, race, physical differences, etc. We do a pretty good job with all this, but still could do more.
I have heard from families that they don't feel like they should attend because "we don't have a culture!" Everyone has a culture, and that is what I try to stress in my classroom. We use birthdays as an example with my students. Your FAMILY culture is demonstrated by how you celebrate birthdays. Do you have a special restaurant you go to? Do you get to open a present at breakfast? Do you get to pick dinner that night? Do you have a family party? A party with friends? Etc. Kids get this. Kids share and compare and love learning about how each family does (or does not do) a birthday celebration. We're still working on the parents!!
It seems to me that a lot of European cultures are infused into american cultures and are thus hard to notice as a distinct creation. The cultures that are noticably different in some way or another are easier to define as this or that group of people's culture.
I think a little clarification would've gone a long way in this class. I'm curious as to why they thought this way. If the Native Americans don't preserve their culture, they won't have one either. I'm no world traveler but I wonder if in other countries are people called Caucasian or Black. Once "white" people come here, they're just "white" people. White people don't have a culture because there is no commonality except color because of the diverse backgrounds. On the other hand, black people have one common decent, basically, Africa but I don't really see a hold on anything that's purely Africa either. Even that culture changes and stereotypes exist - all Black people like watermelon and fried chicken, etc. Don't act as if it's the worst thing in the world to have a stereotype, (all white people like country music).
We've got to fight for everyone's rights b/c if one ethnicity is under attack, no ethnicity is safe. These people that sit back and accept things that happen to other races b/c it doesn't affect them, don't realize that it CAN happen to them as long as it's permitted. Is it okay for white people to not understand Black people and have questions but when Black people have questions, it's the most insane thing because you are not bizarre? You need to get beyond how they said it and embrace the opportunity to educate them. Go to that professor and talk about how you feel. I'm sure he'll be able to explain what he REALLY meant to say, at least I hope.
I think it is somewhat ignorant to assign one 'culture' to any one ethnic group, whether it be caucasian, african, african-american, hispanic, etc...
I am caucasian and have somewhat diverse friends. One friend in particular is a tall african american man. He hates rap, LOVES Dave Matthews and country music, and does not fit any of the stereo-typical cultures that many people attribute to his race.
I have other friends who are just like that - the complete opposite of what you would think. I've learned that you can't assume someone is one way just because of where they are from or the color of their skin. It took me a long time to get to that point since my childhood wasn't as diverse.
Saying all that allows me to say that I do not think caucasians have one particular culture that you can fit into a neat little box.
I find your teacher to be highly ignorant. Has she never heard of America? Of Ireland and England, Scotland, or of the Dutch, The Swedish? Does she know what a white person is? She should probobly be fired for being so ignorant. I would also like to say those comments she made would get her fired. If she was white. That's the culture we live in now. One where we fought for the rights of others, until the day came where liberal whites and the minorities watch us like hawks to get us fired for making any comment deemed racist or insensitive, no matter how wrong they were or how out of context it is. We have a rich heritage. And if it wasn't for us whites, the world would most likely still be living in huts without the many wonders and inventions we brought to the world. But remember whites, you can't be proud of your culture. Because even saying your proud of being white get's you scournful looks and eyes that cry "watch out, I think this guy is being racist". We can't mention "white culture" or else it's looked at through the lens of racism. We can't mention OUR accmplishments as whites, because it's deemed racist. Call your teacher what she is, a blind ignorant fool swept up in the winds of a country that is too dishonest about really discussing race. Unless, of course, it's to praise any race that ISN'T white. Like she was doing. Or give me her email address, I'll tell her lol. Dan.Burkard@verizon.net. That's my real name. I'm not scared to voice my opinion.
i am multi cultural, multi racial, multi national, im doing my masters in international studies at GSU, i get retarded and offensive comments and questions from people all the time here in Georgia, from both black and white. and how i deal with it is I always put my 2 cents in, i would have voiced my opinion vocally no matter the racial make up of the class and i would not of cared who got offended, after all im part native american and no one can be more offended then us, afterall none of you "Americans" were even invited here to begin with. so I usually try to answer the question that is being asked or respond to a statement that is being made. and keeping it all factual as possible of course, and not too mention just as offensive as well. it doesnt even have to be your true opinion. you can always just change your opinion you know. so in this case of the lady saying white people had no culture, now that was her opinion, now it would be time for her to hear my opinion. after all you cant give someone your opinion without being able to listen to theirs. so maybe if she was light skinned i might of insuinated that she was part white, and that her culture was infact white, and that she also had no culture. then i would of asked her what part of africa her ancestors came from. and if she didnt know i would laugh very hard very loud for very long. a good laugh gets em everytime.
The Caucasian culture is by far the most diversified of any race, and, therefore the most colorful and elaborate on earth. Compared to Blacks or Asians not combined, we comprise the vast majority of the world's population; we controlled most of the ancient world as well as the modern. Our systems of economy and government by written law surpass every civilization, both historic and modern.
Agriculture, engineering, sciences and modern medicine spread around the world because of "Caucasian Thinking." Spaniards are caucasians also, but Mexicans and other Mexican type people are Mulatto which is half caucasian and half other, either Black, Asian, or any Indian. American Indians have their ancestry in the Asiatic people and Hindu Indians are Mulatto from Black, Asian & Caucasian. Since Mulatto is not a race but a combination of races, they are nationalities and being a Mexican is a nationality.
The advancement of the Caucasian race is due mainly to our ability to shed old traditional methods of doing things in favor of new and improved ways of doing things. Inflexibility and unwillingness to adapt are the very problems that plague Black, Asian, Indian and Mulatto societies, such as being resistant to change and superstitious thinking.
The ability to comprehind contradictions is unique in caucasians--just ask a Mexican if they are a Christian. The typical answer is, "No, I am a Catholic." Or why do some Blacks call other Blacks the "N' Word? Or being Jewish, but not a practicing Jew. and how being a Muslim terrorist has nothing to do with practicing Islam. Racism and reverse racism are proof that these people are subverting the Dominant Paradigm.
As for culture, race, and ethnicity, white people are hardwired to save other cultures from themselves. Who is killing off the whales? Who is killing off elephants and lions? And who is trying to save them? There is no richness or diversity with twelve million illegal Mexicans immagrating to the U.S. It is more like running from corruption and poverty. White people allow this behavior from other cultures, ethnicities and races because we contemplate the future not the past. We learn from the past, change, adapt and overcome.
Caucasians will suffer with transgressions while others kill, pillage and plunder. The real questions are, "Why should we continue drowning ourselves with people who can't swim and who eventually will kill our way of life if we don't let go of them in order to save our own kind?" and "Why we generally do not talk of such things?"
Last edited by Awsomescience; 09-15-2009 at 06:56 PM..
I"m commenting on your post because you seem pretty ticked off about this class discussion, but before you put your foot deeper in your mouth i'd like to clarify some things! White people or caucasians are not the only people who have contributed to this society there are many races of people who make this country great and what it is today. With that being said it is not the norm for people of any race to be prejudice of caucasians!!!!! your being just as ignorant with your post.
It's time for individuals to stop settling for ignorance and actually research.. The caucasian culture has been built off of previous more diverse cultures specifically the Afrikan culture.. They Are the Youngest race on this planet and Afrikans are the majority all over the world.. Everyone on this planet who are HUe-MAN( man of color) are direct descendants of Afrikans. It is sad to see the curse of the caucasian ancestry is being passed thru generations and today's caucasian child is having to pay the price for the mistakes of their ancestors... but thats karma!!