Edited By Curt Dudley-Marling and Alex Gurn
5 Situating Labeling within an Ideological Framework - Donaldo Macedo & Teresa Sordé Martí 53
As we ponder the challenge to understand the ideology inherent in the so-cial construction of labels, particularly the educational labeling designed to typecast students suffering from various forms of “disabilities,” we are reminded of a story told by an immigrant student, Arthur Lomba, from Cape Verde. Com- ing to the United States in the 1950s as a non-English-speaking student, Lomba worked hard to master English academic discourse to successfully navigate the curricular demands in a new language. One day, he was handed an identiﬁcation form with four little boxes that required him to identify himself as (1) white, (2) black, (3) American Indian, or (4) Hispanic. At that time there was not an option to mark “other.” Since Arthur did not see himself correctly reﬂected in any of the categories provided on the form, he added a ﬁfth box, which he labeled “human” and dutifully marked with an “X.” When he gave the form back, the teacher was perplexed and immediately requested that he identify himself racially. When Ar- thur said he did not know which box to mark, she insisted that he ask his parents and bring in his passport the next day. It was incomprehensible to Arthur’s teacher that he was not socialized to identify himself purely in terms of racial categories. In fact, Arthur’s choice of “human,” which should have triggered the teacher to question the racism inher- ent in the identiﬁcation form, was subordinated to her need to follow bureau- cratic rules—rules...
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