White Faculty’s Commitment to Racial Consciousness in STEM Classrooms
Edited By Nicole M. Joseph, Chayla Haynes and Floyd Cobb
10. Reconceptualizing “Activism”: Developing a Socially Conscious Practice With Prospective White Mathematics Teachers
KATE R. JOHNSON
In American Sign Language, the sign for “oppress” is directional, when signed accurately. That is, the subject and the object of the verb are indicated in the sign itself.
[OPPRESSION: Make a fist with your left hand, holding your hand sideways so that your fingers stack on each other (as if holding a pole vertically). Your right hand open palmed with spread fingers rests on top of the fist. You push down with your right hand, moving both the fist and open hand together.]
When Deaf people sign about the oppression of Deaf people, the sign makes clear that they are the object of the oppression. The movement of the sign starts in an area away from their body and moves toward their body. As a Hearing1 person, it is not accurate for me to sign it in this way. I am bound by the grammar of the language to sign it as the oppressor. Being implicated as oppressor in this way reminds me that to disassociate from the identity of oppressor, I must be an active agent of change. This change must begin with a deep understanding of my own privileges and my passive participation in the strata that currently exist.
As a White, Hearing, heterosexual, middle-class Christian, the italicized statement above always lingers in my mind. I find it critical to explore the ways in which these identities that are associated with unearned privileges play...
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