Statistics and crime map…
May 25 Published in Remembrance, Reflections by Purple
This is a continuation of my journal from my 2001-2002 school year. Please read the previous posts to give this entry context.
Thursday, May 16, 2002
Amanda was muttering at the beginning of the class today.
“I’m not muttering,” she said. “I said it loud enough so you could hear it.”
Someone had commented on her Scholarcatz certificate. “I have four A’s and one D.” She shot me an evil look. She conveniently omitted her B in geometry. That would have weakened the dramatic impact. Nor, of course, did she mention that her A’s were in P.E., Spanish I (with an easy teacher), English/Industrial Arts and Intro to Computers, all cushy courses. Wait until she hits next year and has Physical Science, World Civ., English II, and math as her base courses.
I reminded her of our conversation about respect and that if she didn’t stop being snotty, she could leave “right now.”
“I’m not being snotty,” she said.
Of course not. Just making a few choice comments about “wasting her time in this class.”
I regret not confronting her publicly earlier since the whole class became quieter and more manageable after the confrontation.
Maybe next year I should work on some controlled yelling.
Rosa brought her “baby” to class on Monday and Tuesday. The “baby” is a life-like doll. Carrying it around and caring for it are part of her Home Economics Careers class. The dolls cry at intervals and the “mothers” have to insert chips that make them stop.
If the doll were a real baby, I would have needed to call Child Protective Services. Popo poked it in the face, over and over, to test the texture of its skin. Then he lifted it by one arm to hand it back to Rosa, who did not say a thing. “That is not the way to lift a baby,” I objected.
Rosa then took her “baby” and sat it on the top edge of her desk!
If I find some time, I’m going to e-mail the teacher and ask what kind of directions/instruction the students are given about childcare. They should have a lot more responsibility than simply inserting a chip every now and then.
Yesterday was a marathon. School, department meeting and then another meeting with my California Writing Project Writing Group.
In our writing group, we have an Hispanic elementary school teacher who I will call Sylvia. We’re all glad to have a Mexican-American in our group since we are often writing about issues that touch on or affect the Mexican-American community. Sylvia is our sounding board. Yet she sometimes drives me crazy. She expresses anger at the sacrifices of her culture she made to get to where she is today. At the same time, she admits that she wouldn’t sacrifice the education and position she now has to have back those pieces of her culture.
I believe she thinks there should be some way to have it all—retain one’s own culture and still advance in our American culture. This may be possible, some day, after we’ve painfully evolved into a bilingual state. In the meantime, I think she should get over it already. I’m not a believer in the salad metaphor. I think we are all caught in a blender, and like it or not, we’re becoming a vomity, homogenized concoction of Big Macs and Coca Cola. We gulp it all down to mass marketed pop music bootlegged in every country of the world.
Cuban refugees send dollars to their families in Cuba, who spend the money in government-sanctioned stores. American dollars keep Fidel Castro afloat. In Malasia the government calls for bans on bikinis and topless Euro-babes, but at the same time they know such bans would dry up the tourist dollars, so they relent and their daughters learn to leave the house in traditional garb, which they strip at the beach. Repressive regimes attempt to stop this infiltration and homogenization of culture, but evolution is as inevitable as life itself. We are constantly and irretrievably trading off bits of our cultures. They belong to a bygone era, one for which I nostalgically yearn. I hope we are moving toward something beautiful, in the words of Bob Marley, “one world, one love,” but I personally have never been enamored of imagining all the world living as one. I like provinces and secret recipes. Dialects and folk remedies. I treasure every bit of myself that is South Dakota. I believe I understand Sylvia’s desire.
But let’s get real. I’m not living in Dakota. I haven’t been for thirty years. I quit eating beef over twenty years ago. I’m used to mixed greens and avocado, something I’d never heard of until I came to California. I can no longer stomach iceberg lettuce salads. The food alone makes it difficult for me to spend more than a few days back home. I now call dinner, lunch, and supper, dinner. And, I don’t care if I never see snow again in my life.
The point is that I can’t truly be both a Dakotan and a Californian. South Dakota formed a precious part of me, but I chose to come to California. I willingly sampled the avocado. I put on a bikini at the beach. And I liked it.
I don’t blame someone else for the choices I made. I’m not angry that I had to relinquish the character-forming blizzards to bask in the sun. I don’t think I’m entitled to have both. At least not at the same time.
Sylvia talks, also with some heat, about how she feels like a completely different person among a group of white folks, like us, from the one she is among a group of Mexicans.
Well, of course, I think. How could it be any different? I feel like a different person with my family than I do among a group of educators.
Sylvia talks about racism, how people peek into her classroom and mistake her for an aide or a custodian. Racism exists; racism stinks. But it doesn’t cut only one way. I know that I have students who look at me, a well-dressed white woman and they assume that I’ve come from a background of privilege. They have no inkling of the ten-year-old girl who helped clear acres of sagebrush in drizzling rain, the most wretched stoop labor imaginable. They do not imagine that I grew up in a house without a bathroom and that I slept in a room that was so cold a skim of ice would form on a glass of water. It doesn’t cross their minds that I know poverty.
Monday – May 20
Chad was back in class today. He missed Wednesday, Thursday and Friday for a fair in King City where he showed his pig. His pig took first place. I had to coax that out of him. He sold it for seven hundred dollars. His sweet little secret smile crept out in spite of himself.
I gave him a copy of A Day No Pigs Would Die last week. It seems like the perfect book for him. I hope that he will read it for his book report.
I’m completely and thoroughly tired of Amanda. Thank God that some students, like Raymond, walk into the class with a cheerful countenance and a friendly greeting.
The career research reports are in, except for Xochitl’s and Roberto’s. Of course! What am I supposed to tell Roberto’s mom? We have reading time, and “I forgot my book.” Homework is due and “I lost mine.”
The students are reading That Was Then, This Is Now and are keeping a reading journal. We’re winding down to the finish.