The Chosen Truth for Students

When I was growing up, a lot of the books and shows I watched involved people that were usually white.  Definitely at a young age, growing up in the late 90’s and early 00’s, television and entertainment was focused on white characters.  I was taught that being white was normal and being born a different colour meant they were the minority.  Even though they are the minority, the lesson that was behind that meant white was powerful.  Sadly, even if it was not expressed verbally or obviously, I can see how i grew up with those ideas.  At a young age, you are so impressionable and making those decisions are not as simple as they seem.  You learn just as much from the curriculum as you do from interaction, media, and community.  I went to school at a catholic, mostly white, middle-class population.  All those elements play into the biases that one may have.  Learning that white is normal and different races were “other”, catholic beliefs were important and what the bible said is law, and finally that wealth was truly a matter of trying and those who were poor did it to themselves.  As I have grown up and started to challenge the subconscious beliefs I have had, I remind myself that all are equal but not all stories are the same.  By keeping an open mind and constantly reminding myself that I do not know the whole story, and I do not know them better than they do allows me to keep my biases in check.

One of the single stories that was present in my education was the idea that the poor people around the world were incapable and the only thing they could accomplish was being poor.  It set the idea that we were lucky and privileged, and that what largely mattered in life was being successful in terms of income.  Even though there are many different ways a person can be successful that doesn’t require them to be wealthy, that typically was not the lesson.  I also remember the importance it was for us to do fundraiser’s and charity events for kids in places like Africa.  Constantly reminded of how lucky were, and how poor and unfortunate their lives were.  We would even watch those classic “for two dollars a day you can save the lives of this young boy’s family” videos in class.  Even though what were doing for those kids was good in nature, it created the mindset that we were better than them.  And definitely at a young age, seeing these families that were usually black, most kids would have associated circumstance to race.  We never got to learn about the successful people that were also from Africa, and what they are doing for their people, and rarely did we ever learn about the people within our own communities that were poor.  The single stories that we get taught could have long effects on every individual and it should be our job as teachers to express many different sides and opinions that would allow the kids to have a proper understanding.

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