Toward Pedagogies and Methodologies of Collaboration, Inclusion, and Voice
Edited By Judith Flores-Carmona and Kristen V. Luschen
2. “I Knew When You Said Your Name in Spanish!”: On Being a White Puerto Rican in the Classroom
Teacher: “Have you ever thought a person was one race and then they told you they were a different race?”
Student 1: “Yes, you!”
Teacher: “You didn’t know I was Puerto Rican when I came in?”
Student 1: “Not until you told us.”
Student 2: “I knew right away!”
Student 3: “I knew when you said your name in Spanish!”
This was an interaction I had with sixth graders during the first in a series of media literacy workshops where we were discussing the meaning of race. One of my goals for this introductory workshop was to complicate the definition, to suggest that race is not a biological category—and therefore not easily identifiable by skin color—but rather a social construction. This was not the first time in my life that someone had questioned my racial or ethnic identity, yet I was caught off guard when a student immediately used me as an example of the difficulty of identifying a person’s race simply by looking at them. Her immediate response, and the enthusiasm with which several other students joined in the discussion of my enigmatic racial and ethnic identity, told me that it was a subject that had been on their minds since I had introduced myself to them at the beginning of the workshop.
The purpose of this chapter is to explore my performance, or as Davies and Harré (1990) have termed it, “positioning,...
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