Identity Inequalities

At first glance I wasn’t sure what ‘hidden messages’ I had lurking inside my autobiography because to be honest my perspective was along the lines of ‘my autobiography is my personal reflection, why does it matter that I left my gender or race out?’.  The autobiography is how I view my experiences.    However, leaving out my gender and race is in fact due to what Kumashiro refers to as ‘common sense’.  I take my gender and race (specifically) for granted.  I did not realize that some of my experiences and opportunities were shaped because I fall in the dominant aspects of society.  I simply overlooked key aspects in identifying myself because not until critically examining my ‘self identity’ have I realized these factors play a role in my life.  This leads me to question… How would my life experiences be different or similar if I was considered a minority in society? If I was identified as a part of the minority would I be limited or oppressed to the experiences I was once entitled to because I am a part of dominant society which gives me certain privileges?  Facing these questions parallel situations in the classroom seeing as every student will have their individual autobiography and as future educators we need to face ‘common sense’ assumptions associated with identity and dig deeper to uncover where hidden inequalities lie in the classroom.  Acknowledging inequalities is a start toward social justice because we cannot pretend that oppressions or limitations do not exist.  Society enforces divisions of identity and the classroom is an ideal place to explore these divisions where solutions can be constructed to ensure success for all students. 

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12 thoughts on “Identity Inequalities

  1. This is a very well thought-out reply to the prompt. I find it hard to look too closely at what I am writing, so it’s great to see what someone else can do with their own work after rereading it. Keep up the great work!

    • Thank-you for your positive feedback! I have to agree with you that reflecting upon my own work is challenging. It took me a while and I reread my autobiography a few times over before I really could look at it from a different critical lens. I find that the writing prompts posted on the wiki helped me question certain areas, which led me to further exploration of ‘hidden’ messages in my work. Keep reflecting and you will grow stronger in having a critical perspective of your work to strengthen your own personal insights and awareness.

    • Thanks for the intriguing comment! I do feel further restricted in some areas and privileged in other areas because of dominantly white identified farming communities. Though as a small town girl who grew up on the farm I mostly benefited from this dominant identity. However, I also felt restricted because I felt like this identity almost ‘trapped’ me from further expanding my identity. I believe that different places construct opportunities and limitations based on identity from ‘common sense’ in the community aside from larger society.

  2. I was in the same situation. I feel like if I was a part of a minority group I would have included it in my autobiography but because I am White, it’s something I left out. Interesting post!

    • Thank-you for sharing! Society has definitely shaped us to take a lot of things for granted because we fall into a dominantly white racial identity. I agree with your point of how I would be more likely to include my identity of race in my autobiography if I was identified as a minority group opposed to the majority . I believe this goes to show how the separating of ‘self’ and ‘other’ is embedded in society and ‘self’ is produced as ‘common sense’, often unintentionally. As this happens we further distinguish and marginalize minority groups. Having this awareness may eliminate ‘hidden’ messages produced through our language used in teaching.

  3. I completely agree with what you have to say especially at then end when you state “society enforces divisions of identity and the classroom is an ideal place to explore these divisions where solutions can be constructed to ensure success for all students.” We as future educators must realize that we have the opportunity to recognize these divisions and bring them to the forefront- Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • I’m glad to share my thoughts of my pre-service journey and I would love to thank-you for responding! I agree with utilizing the opportunity to bring ‘hidden’ or discomforting thoughts forward as an educator because having awareness of these aspects of society helps us discover new concepts and learning for both students and teachers in the classroom.

  4. Jesse I really appreciate your post and the difficult questions you have posed. I think often, since we fit into this mold that the dominant culture has created, we do not reflect on how or why we fit this mold. We live our lives, unconsciously using the privileges we have based on race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.; since the dominant theory often is unchallenged in society, we do not face instances where we use these privileges. I think the question you have asked about if life experiences would be different if one was a minority is a challenging one to ask. It is putting yourself in another’s shoes and empathizing, but at the same time we can never truly know how those experiences would be different. It is partial knowledge. I think it is important to keep this in mind as teachers because while we can emphasize with our students, we can never truly know their experiences.

    • Thank-you for your further inquiry Des! I hope my questions have helped you in reflecting! I appreciate your response you gave of how you represented dominant society as fitting into a mold. The mold we fit in which is constructed by dominant society is so easy to follow and stay in because it is comfortable. Hence why we don’t always look outside or past our mold to broaden our horizons and if we do we most likely crawl right back to our mold because we don’t want to face ‘uncomfortable’ information. I think that is often why dominant norms may remain unchallenged because of this familiarity of the mold. Stepping out of this mold to question ‘unknown’ territory related to marginalized minorities of society is discomforting because of the vast differences identity holds between majority and minority groups. This difference is reflected through ‘self’ and ‘other’ which can be diminished by becoming familiar with similarities and differences. I agree with your statement that we cannot fully put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. We will always have partial knowledge because it is impossible to have complete knowledge. However, we can expand our partial knowledge by reflecting through multiple critical lenses.

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