The Role of Cultural Introspection in College Teaching
Edited By Susan Diana Longerbeam and Alicia Fedelina Chávez
Chapter Seventeen: Being Multicultural Is Not a Luxury: A Strategy for Teaching and Learning in a Racist Society
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Being Multicultural Is Not A Luxury
A Strategy for Teaching and Learning in a Racist Society
Ethnic Studies Northern Arizona University
“BLACK HISTORY IS MY HISTORY…”
The experience of growing up Afro-Latino in the 1960s reminds me that being multicultural is not a luxury—even today, in the “twenty-tens” and the post–Civil Rights era of inclusion, diversity, and equity. In the classroom, as in the larger society, however, the racial and cultural dynamics of exclusion and division remain. Students, faculty, and staff still use simplistic racial dichotomies to instruct and mentor learners; too often, students are urged to ignore their racial and cultural heritages to support a fictive, colorblind environment in which everyone is supposedly equal. However, when I was growing up, I learned the value of celebrating dual heritages of being Black and Latino, as demonstrated in the following dialogue between my mother and me.
I was a 20-something graduate student, visiting my parents in San Diego, California, for Christmas break in the mid-1980s. I was fastening a button featuring the image of Harriet Tubman, outlined by the slogan “Black History Is My History” on my denim jacket, and stepped into the kitchen to cook breakfast. My mother, who was watching television, scanned my jacket and scoffed: “You have another history, from Guatemala, you know?” I began to respond that “Black history is everyone’s history,...
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