Monday, April 11, 2011

Its my life

Blog 9

Kelly Gajdzisz

This week at service, I noticed how racial discrimination still exists first hand in society today. I admit that I may have been naive to it all types of discrimination in my life because I lived in a bubble around my high school. Therefore it confused me to examine the events that happened this day because it was something new. Somehow these children, basically half my age noticed more about discrimination than I have ever noticed. It is not until you are immersed in a culture or surroundings that you will understand their way of life and their issues.

As a group they completed an activity of trivia. Who ever guessed the most correct choices of these 15 multiple-choice questions received a prize. I was given the sheet with the answer key and was surprised when I began reading the questions. They were all statistics about white, black, poor, and rich people. I immediately thought why are the leaders of Higher Achievement handing out information that was discriminating against themselves and these children? They all acted like it was no big deal and as if what they were reading was something typically normal. Some questions were as follows: “Compared with White women, how likely are African American women in the US to die during childbirth due to lack of access to prenatal care?” The answer was 4 times a likely. Another question: “Powder cocaine (largely used by wealthy white people) and crack cocaine (largely used by economically challenged disadvantaged blacks) contain roughly the same amount of the drug per gram. Under federal law, how much of these substances must an individual be convicted of possession to be sentenced to minimum of 5 years in prison?” The answer was 500 grams of powder or 5 grams of crack cocaine. In other words black people will get the same punishment as white people who are holding 100 times more cocaine.

When we were going over these questions and all of these students were getting these questions right, my mind was boggled. When I saw these answers I would have never guessed the right answers but somehow these middle school students knew. This showed me that these kids know a lot more about the discrimination against blacks people than I did because it is their background. I do not know this information because it does not pertain to me and my world at Loyola. I thought about this and it made me realize how selfish and sheltered I was. I have never given myself a chance to branch out and learn about different cultures that were not my own. If I see myself living in this little bubble there must be many other white college students at Loyola that find themselves immersed in the Baltimore world outside of their bubble as well. Discrimination is what not only a lot of blacks in Baltimore deal with but many other ethnicities experience as well all over the country. This was my chance to understand how the oppressed culture of African Americans deals with these statistics.

Through my eyes I saw these stats as embarrassing because they were favoring my race. Through their eyes these stats are the ways of their life and what they have to deal with day in and day out. I then thought back to why I thought this information was discriminating against these students. It is not a discriminating trivia test because they are the facts. They are real statistics and they are the way of life for these students. I did not even know such things were true but these kids knew the facts like the back of their hand because it was their life. I developed a deeper insight for discrimination through observing the student’s knowledge of their race. It made me jealous because I wish I knew my race and its history like they did. I think they know it so well because of the situations blacks have been in the past. It is wrong to not learn more about my culture because it did not experiences such harsh oppression in the past. Whatever your culture may be it is important to know the ins and outs of it.

I can relate this experience to the poem we read, “Snapping Beans,” because the character was immersed in a culture that was unfamiliar to her and she began to accommodate herself to it. She enjoyed it and wanted to like the experience she was getting with it at college. I was immersed in an unfamiliar surroundings but I was glad because it made me realize that there was more out there than just my culture. It showed me that embracing your race and culture are important and everyone should learn more about their own and others. I was “snapped” into reality when I saw how much these students understood and realized about discrimination of their race. I can also relate this experience to Shane, because Shane stood up for what he believed for and went to Chris even though he did not want to result to violence. I have to stand up for learning more about my own culture and others cultures even if that means putting myself in unfamiliar situations.

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