Class: Sociology 101
Date: 3/20/2013 From The Wrong Kind of Different, Antonia Randolph interviews many teachers to show us how teachers view about diversity in our society. Some of the teachers show appreciation about diversity in terms of certain minorities such as Asian students or Latin students; nevertheless, there are still some teachers who show prejudice against black students. Having read this book, I learned how teachers perceive minority students.
Black students and schools face stigma since many teachers think being black is the wrong kind of different. In other words, they have negative views about black students and schools. From interviews, teachers used both ethnic narratives and racial narratives to discuss their students. Race means people are identified into groups based on their physical characteristics. Ethnicity means a group of people that share the same culture. According to Dr. Randolph, he says that “the ethnic narratives were the ethnic culture of poverty, immigrant status as a burden, and the decent immigrant” (Randolph 25). Additionally, he thinks that “the racial narratives were the at-risk student, the culture of poverty, and social responsibility” (25).
Interestingly, teachers have optimistic views of certain minority group through using ethnic narratives, while they have negative perceptions of black students through using racial narratives. For instance, teachers focused on “immigrant status as burden” when describing certain minority groups such as Latin (27). Immigrants usually have trouble learning English. Teachers viewed this as a “legitimate deficit” rather than a “moral failing” (27). Additionally, one the teachers at a Latino school appreciated the fact that her students are bilingual. She also showed some understanding to her students’ obstacles of learning a new language (28). She said, “And it’s because, first of all, second language acquisition is so difficult, it takes a long time. Not just a couple years, but it takes a very long time. Secondly, standard English is not spoken at home…that in mind, that’s a weakness” (27). Just like this teacher, many teachers credited their immigrant students for their ethnic differences. They think that their students’ underachievement is due to their language barrier, and they believe these students can become successful in the future.
On the other hand, teachers think that black students’ underachievement is due to lack parental involvement. One teacher at a black school said that black parents did not realize the importance of education. They did not know how to teach their kids since they were low-educated (33). He said that “ we are told to worry about test scores… you saw the problems I have in that special education class… you saw the fights…these are foster children where an outside agency is taking care of them” (34). Just like this teacher, many teachers at black schools have pessimistic views about black students’ success. In contrast to Latinos, teachers at black schools criticized black family for not valuing education. Black kids’ failure is directly related to lack of involvement of black parents. Additionally, Dr. Randolph uses “diversity” to make distinctions between race and ethnicity. Black students were left out when teachers expressed an appreciation of good diversity. Teachers think that some minority groups bring good diversity to the campus but not black students. One white teacher showed preference toward immigrant minorities by saying “they are so diverse and some of them are so innocent because they have been in this little cultural bubble and they have not seen the evil of the world too much and I love that” (51). Nevertheless, she showed her disfavor toward black students by saying “some of the kids have , unfortunately, seen too much…