- Carter G. Woodson, The Mis-Education of the Negro (especially chapters 1, 3, 4, 8, 14, 15, 18, Appendix)
- Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed (Chapters 1 & 2)
Any class with Desiree is going to be a great one, so I wasn’t surprised when she dove into a conversation regarding education and schooling in America. Someone in class brought up the point- it is a requirement to learn white American history but not Black history. Desiree quickly caught on to this and really took the time to deeply analyze the idea. She spoke about how crazy it is that first year students at Saint Mary’s who do not really understand the construction of how teaching people works are allowed to go in and watching under privileged students learn. I never thought of these advanced teaching programs as odd, but I know that I considered doing a Jan Term my first year at SMC that included teaching in inner city schools.
She explained the difference between charter schools, public schools, and private schools. She touched on the Teachers for America program which was once designed to fill a space where teachers weren’t teaching but now is completely taking over and replacing educators from the community. I was absolutely blown away by her explanation of property taxes and how they fund educational communities. Comparing Oakland to Moraga, it made sense that the public schools by Saint Mary’s would have much more money than those in West Oakland.
The conversation regarding intergenerational poverty really resonated with me. I took a class on the religions of India and in it we studied the Caste system a lot, so her comparison between America’s social injustices and the Caste system was understood very clearly on my end. It is incredibly hard to move out of economic class. She gave the example, “People tell us to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps, but we never even got the boot.” This continues to hit home for me and I think it is one of the most powerful lines spoken in our BLM class.
The conversation was concluded with the understanding that if you do not understand systemic oppression and all of the history leading up to it, how are you going to teach these children in inner cities who are experiencing all the systematic oppression? The best part of the entire thing was the end when Desiree told the class that everyone was allowed their own opinions and they could obviously disagree with everything she had said, but they should always hesitate before you responding because now we are all more informed on the education system.
It doesn’t take a lot to influence someone’s life and acknowledge how small things affect you positively, so consider then how negativity can also affect the psyche.