Lisa Delpit's "Other People's Children"
Peggy McIntosh's White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack
Lesley Griner's SCWAAMP
This week, the reading I will be covering is that of Richard Rodrigues who wrote "Aria". The first hand account of a young Spanish speaking boy who, living in America was forced to speak English in all aspects of life and was subconsciously taught the codes and culture of power. The code and culture of power is a topic which Lisa Delpit confronts in "Other People's Children". She outlines the idea that there are strict invisible standards set for everyone living in today's American society. Through these standards there are certain stigmas to obtain power such as speaking the right language and presenting yourself properly in order to be seen as a person of quality.
Having spoken very little English and feeling detached from the language, Richard clung to his family's Spanish heritage and had lack of confidence in his ability to have his English voice heard. He did not feel like his English voice belonged to him. So, for a long time this bullied Richard into staying silent during class discussions, when called upon he kept his voice low and mumbled the best answer he could devise. This lack of interaction did not conform to the standards of the school system(which we know to be the code and conduct of power) and the Nuns from his school came to his home to speak to his parents about properly integrating English into Richard and his siblings lives. From there on out his parents would insist on speaking in English only and what seemed to be a fun and tactical way of becoming more confident in a foreign language soon turned into the detachment of how close he once was with his heritage.
Richard discuses how difficult this transition was for him and it reminded me of a quote from Peggy McIntosh's "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" where she states "as my racial group was being made confident, comfortable, and oblivious, other groups were likely being made un-confident, uncomfortable, and alienated". After reading this article I can not agree with McIntosh anymore, through the Culture of Power people are so focused on making everyone look and act the same. The Nuns saw Richard as an introverted child and blamed it on his inability to fully understand the English language, and even though Richard really did struggle with speaking the language out loud it was not because he didn't know how to speak in English. It was because English was not his language, he was un-confident in how he pronounced the language. He was uncomfortable with having people hear his accent, and he constantly felt like an outsider who no one beside his Spanish speaking family would understand. Sooner or later he gained confidence in his ability to speak in English and began becoming embarrassed of his parents who had thick accents and did not understand the language as well as their children. He began feeling distant and alienated from them because their ability to understand English lacked in experience. This is a never ending cycle that is forced upon people in America whose first language isn't English. What can we do as future teachers to stop this cycle?
Questions/Comments/Point To Share:
- How can we as future teachers make our classrooms more comfortable and accepting of all students who speak all languages? Is it acceptable to integrate some Spanish and French into our daily classrooms?
- Why is the major focus on students being forced to learn English when all other students aren't forced to learn Spanish or French in the classroom. It should be implemented into all elementary class curriculum, to mainly benefit those who are still learning the English language but it will also be for the students whom are going to spend the rest of their lives surrounded by Spanish speaking people having no idea what they're saying.