Saturday, January 12, 2013

Becoming America's Next Foot Soldiers

The Little Rock 9: America's Original Foot Soliders
After a few days of relaxation in New Orleans, today we were back on the bus and on our way to Little Rock, Arkansas. I feel that I learned a lot today in Little Rock. First I would really like to talk about Central High School and the resegregation of America’s schools. After Little Rock Central High was integrated in the 1950’s, the white people began to flee the city into the suburbs. This issue was not unique to Central High either, it happened in many cities across the country. This white flight, as it is called, becomes the source of the resegregation of schools by socioeconomic status instead of race. This segregation by class instead of race is still prevalent today all across the country. When the white flight occurs, the resources for the white students follow them out of the city and into the suburbs leaving the inner city schools fighting with other schools in the district with the same situation for resources to ensure a better education for their students. For me, it is easy to identify the problem and see who is affected in what ways by the problem of resegregation but it is difficult for me to think of a solution to this ever present problem of our society. There is so much that goes into leveling a playing field as large as the field of education but I think it all kind of begins with everyone getting out of their comfort zone just a little bit. If everyone took the opportunity everyday, or as often as possible, to talk to someone new, someone who is different than them and who has different experiences than them I think we would all start to realize that it is easy to love each other and embrace the differences that we all have.
I would also like to take a minute to talk about what we heard from Principal Rousseau at Central High School today. Principal Rousseau is very passionate and proud of her school, as she should be. There are so many great things going on at Central High School. However, her sweeping statements that there are no lonely kids, no racial issues, and no problems with violence come off as completely ignorant in my opinion. Now trust me, as a future educator, I completely understand not emphasizing the bad things in your school, especially to a group of strangers. It’s one thing to address that you have issues, just like any other school does and then emphasize what you are doing to help to fix them and it’s another thing to completely and fully deny that the problems even exist. That is what Principal Rousseau did and I believe that although she may believe that it is true, it is ignorant and harmful. If that is the view of her, and the rest of the school board, then the issues of systematic racism will continue to go on un-challenged. School officials such as principal Rousseau need to actively realize that they do have issues and that their schools are not perfect and then take the appropriate measures to begin to fix these problems.
Finally, we visited the Clinton School of Public Service today. This is easily my favorite stop on the entire pilgrimage. It is so great to hear from actual students who are actively working to become public servants in so many different ways. It really inspires me to consider applying there and getting a master’s degree there at some point in my future. I’m not quite sure how it would fit into an education degree, but that is what I am going to try and figure out when I get back from this trip. Another great thing that came from this visit was our discussion that followed afterwards. We all decided on three things that we are going to do when we get back to campus to keep our lightbulbs on and actively make a difference within our own communities on campus. Mine are as follows.:        
1.      Take the initiative to sit by someone I don’t know/is different from me instead of friends when I’m in class.
2.      Begin to question people as to why they view racial jokes as funny or why they say certain racist comments, etc.
3.      Begin to combat the things that I have internalized about myself as a person from a multicultural family. I have internalized many negative things about myself that I never realized until I started to look at the deeper roots of things in this society and I now would like to keep reading up on prejudice, injustice, and racism and begin to unlearn the stereotypes I’ve been presented with my entire life.
These are the things that I will work on with all my energy when I get back to Eau Claire next week. I know that I can accomplish it if I really put my mind to it, and I hope you all will hold me accountable for these things and be brave enough to set similar goals for yourself and tell someone/some other people about them so they can hold you accountable too.

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