Coalitions: Towards Real Inter-Cultural Understanding

Frank Wu (2002) introduced me to the work of Yale professor Harold Hongju Koh in his provocative and insightful book, “Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White.” This lawyer, I learned represented thousands of Haitian refugees in testing the legality of government policies in the early nineties. In understanding this lawyer’s journey, Wu writes how Koh saw his father in the Haitians for he had landed by boat in the United States from Korea in 1949, “carrying all of his belongings in a small suitcase, here without family or friends.” In 1993, Koh was honored for his work by the Asian Law Caucus of San Fransisco which Koh responded to by offering the attendees a moving speech, a part of which Wu quotes for us in his inspiring chapter on the power of coalitions amongst different ethnic and racial groups. It is worth repeating here:

“As I prepared for the oral argument [before the Supreme Court], I realized that this is a case about We and They. And that the reason the government had been so successful so far is because they’ve been able to convince all of us that the Haitians are they, not us. Because after all, if the Haitians, those sick people on Guantanamo…are somebody else, then they are not our problem, and, after all, don’t we have enough problems?

If you’ve ever been a refugee, or if your parents have ever been refugees, then you’re Haitian. If you’ve ever been in an internment camp or know anyone who’s ever been in an internment camp, then you’re Haitian. If you’ve ever been discriminated against or know someone who has been discriminated against because they have HIV, then you’re Haitian. If you’ve ever believed for a second that what it says on the Statue of Liberty is not just words, but as my father said, a sacred promise, then you’re a Haitian. If you’ve ever believed that this is a nation of laws, and not individuals, then you’re Haitian.”

The case about “We and They” is at the heart of understanding the need for coalitions amongst different ethnic and racial groups towards real inter-cultural understanding for the 21st century – especially as we consider taking strategic action towards equity and peace in our troubled global community. As I travel across the country and visit schools and communities that are increasingly segregated (or is it just that I was one of the lucky ones in my youth to grow up in a real diverse neighborhood and attend a diverse elementary school?), I find that it is harder for us to make significant personal connections with people who are different from ourselves. Yet, I notice that there is this evolutionary urge amongst our youth to bridge these wide divides. When a child in 7th grade writes passionately about her segregated school and how she believes that somehow this segregation must be intrinsically linked to “racism,” I am humbled that in our children, we know that the world somehow needs to make a commitment to embracing, honoring and fostering diversity. How can we fight for someone else’s “human rights” when we are so overly concerned with our own oppression, disappointments or as Koh suggests, “problems?” However, if we speak of human rights and justice, then, how can this exclude any group that has been historically oppressed or discriminated against? And, how is it possible in the human experience that each one of us has not experienced oppression or inhumane treatment for one reason or another? In my work as a consultant, I have had the opportunity to listen to the stories of many races, representatives from many socio-economic groups, religious backgrounds, and so forth and I understand how hard it is to fight every battle especially when people close to home have so much need. Yet, I also find it inconceivable how a person with such passion and exposure to issues of equity and diversity cannot include every “human being” in their efforts for social justice. How a Jewish person does not identify with an African American or a Latino identify with an African or an Asian identify with a Muslim and the list goes on. Many of my colleagues and peers have pushed me time and time again to take a stand for one group or another – as if me taking a stand and limiting my fight to only benefit “Blacks” will somehow translate into my allegiance and acceptance of my Black roots while a contrary approach would result in critique and mistrust. Do you know who you are? Do you know where YOU come from? And yet, my stubborn resistance says much less about my own identity awareness but rather about my own recognition and acceptance of a time in which we do not have the luxury to only be concerned with our own race, ethnic group or class. We all understand the words, “We will never forget.”

It was not long after I finished reading Wu’s book, that I saw Spike Lee’s “The Inside Man,” which I believe is a revitalizing work by an artist who was able to dig deep into the mass psyche without sacrificing his unique style, integrity and constant message for tolerance and social justice amongst diverse groups living together. Kirk Honeycutt (03/19/06) who writes for Red Orbit Entertainment suggests that there is a hidden agenda in this intricately plotted and witty crime thriller. Hopefully he was smart enough to see that aside from any professional agendas that Spike Lee’s critics will underscore in this ultimately successful “Hollywood” style film, the real hidden agenda is the collaborative efforts of Russell Gewirtz and Spike Lee in presenting a multi-perspective, multi-ethnic movie that resonates with such promise the strength and power we all possess if we can finally collaborate with each other to communicate the universal cry for human rights. I wholeheartedly agree with Honeycutt who calls “The Inside Man” the anti – “Crash” movie. He writes, “Not that the film has no racial tensions and occasional flashes of prejudice, “The Inside Man” ultimately embraces the enormous ethnic and cultural diversity that is New York and by extension, America.” Having followed much of Spike Lees work that has received both praise and criticism for his provocative cinema graphic commentaries on race in America – I believe that this film is a genuinely cross-cultural experience that reflects Lee’s own reflection and growth in recognizing how we shall move our social justice agenda ahead to benefit us all.

Character Education vs Social Justice Pedagogy

The “Six Pillars of Character” identified as trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship (Traub, 2005) are interpreted in a variety of different education programs – some of which also include other “virtues” such as, criticism, creativity, curiosity, concentration, communication, correction and control (The Seven C’s of Thinking Clearly by Integrity Matters). In sum, schools that wish to include moral or human values in education embrace “character education” programs. However, character education programs that service disenfranchised student populations are often adopted as a vehicle to prevent violence, drug abuse, dropouts and other behaviors that have been readily identified as being part of the “achievement gap” problem. Many educators look for programs that will a) keep students in the classroom, (b) teach students how to treat each other and the teacher with respect, (c) improve classroom management and (d) provide a moral or ethical reason behind such behaviors that do not originate from the teacher. Consequently, character education programs are getting much attention when minority students comprise the majority of many public schools today and the high school dropout rate is close to 60% in some districts. Teachers and administrators bellow, “How can I get these kids to stay in school and not kill each other or ME for that matter?” How can I teach them the value of education, cooperation and discipline? Character education programs somehow promise that there is a way to teach children “virtues” that will enable them to produce in the school environment.

All schools are interested in transformation – especially schools that service disenfranchised students historically marginalized in our society. How we approach educating students is particularly critical when we suggest challenging the fundamental inequities that characterize our education system. No one argues that students need to respect themselves, each other and adults. No one argues that if students are not in school then they cannot learn! Student engagement is fundamental to student achievement. However, the growing movement of educators who believe that “teaching is about transforming our students into their true potential, or we must teach these kids the virtues of a good character or citizen” concerns me. Statements like these are dangerously close to the traditional educational paradigm, which suggests that students are empty vessels and teachers are given the task of filling them with worthy knowledge. The alarming drop out rates amongst children of color and from poverty stricken homes, the increase in school violence, the widening of the achievement gap, the growing sense of despair in many “urban,” “minority,” “at-risk,” schools because of discipline issues, uncontrollable and anti-social conduct that prevent students from receiving the “valuable” information teachers are trying to give them – are all factors that make character education programs that promote “conflict resolution” and “democracy” very attractive to educators looking for a values driven fix. However, while teachers are waiting for their unruly students to resolve conflicts peacefully and be able to “walk in another person’s shoes” towards understanding and tolerance; while teachers discuss how “those kids” just don’t value education behind closed doors – I ask: When will teachers begin to look at themselves? Since when has the notion of transforming our schools by transforming our kids into better people become a new and improved concept? Haven’t middle class and mainstream teachers and administrators and politicians always wanted poor children of color to learn middle class and “mainstream” codes of behavior?

Perhaps we ought to be critical of character education proponents that speak of a mutual “yearning to transform kids into their true potential.” An educator that speaks to a child with a yearning to see this kid be something that they are not at the present moment, is not seeing the child for who he or she really is – aside from their choices or behavior. An educator who cannot see the beauty in a child – exactly where he or she is in the present moment – cannot expect to connect with that child in the present moment. That child is, you know, the one who does not take off his hat, who exhibits insurgent behavior, who is angry with an unjust world (that exists), who is bored out of his mind with the tens of thousands of tests that he is required to take, filling in bubble after bubble for yet another standardized exam that will tell him and his school that they are (and will always be) low performing, that child that gets up and says “fuck this shit,” that child that does not play by the rules because rules have never benefited him – you know, THAT child. All of these “other people’s children” are all beautiful children in every sense of the word, right here, right now. They cannot and will not conform, transform to anyone’s set of values. The only way THAT child will consider his or her future potential is if he or she is seen in his or her absolute beauty in the present moment.

Transformational education is not about transforming kids. It is about transforming ourselves, the way we see the world and in this world, these kids, OUR kids are there, waiting, for each and every one of us to look into the mirror first. Ask ourselves, what can this child teach me about me that I do not know, about this world that I can not possibly see by myself, about this space that is ours today? How can I trust that we will give each other a chance long enough to grow together, to explore, to question, to critically challenge the world around US, so that we can work together to make a change for the generation to follow, because as long as one of us is hungry or treated unjustly, or homeless or without love, none of us is safe. None of us is transformed.

The term social justice in education suggests that working for social justice requires a deliberate intervention that challenges fundamental inequities and works towards better educational and economic outcomes for marginalized children (Furman, 2004). An important component of social justice pedagogy is critical literacy — that is that the students themselves are participants in their education as a vehicle to understand more deeply the conditions of their lives and to acquire the academic skills to ultimately be a part of the solution to injustice (Gutstein, 2003). Research literature over the past thirty years characterizes critical literacy as (1) disrupting the commonplace; (2) interrogating multiple viewpoints; (3) focusing on sociopolitical issues; and (4) taking action and promoting social justice (Lewison, Seely Flint and Van Sluys (2002). As you consider character and education in today’s world, consider the possibility that your role as an educator must not be about what you can do to change your student’s behavior, but rather, what can you do to change your own. Social justice pedagogy is working with students together to create a safe space where challenging and disrupting the “commonplace” is not feared, but strategically channeled towards creating and implementing proactive solutions that change the conditions of our lives. It is about seeing and accepting alternative modes of behavior, conduct and language towards the ultimate goal of reaching a common ground — grounded in humanity. It is about transformation – not of the child, but of the world we live in. In order to do that, we must first, begin the arduous task of transforming ourselves.

Breaking and Entering

So, I’m standing outside in a school parking lot freezing as the snow flurries dance around me to the whirl of the wind home only to Michigan or maybe Chicago in the dead of winter. My hands are red and chapped and I can’t go inside because I am keeping four men company as they bravely try to break into my car to retrieve the car keys that I had carelessly left in the trunk just ten minutes before. Two of the men are teachers, one is the maintenance man, and the fourth is a colleague – like me a teacher educator. We are all committed to our work at an alternative high school that services students that have fallen through the cracks of traditional school environments – acted out often by what our society deems as “criminal” or “anti-social” behaviors. As the wire hanger takes on miraculous shapes — thin enough to strategically slide through the window but turned at the end just enough to hook onto the stubborn door lock – I feel all at once the irony of the situation. It bubbles up inside me like a cross between a muffled cry and a clandestine giggle. Then the elation I feel as the teacher who does not give up after we are all decidedly frozen hooks the knob and bends slowly, slowly and bam! The door is unlocked and I am happy so happy and proud! We had successfully, skillfully, artfully and with great determination – broken into my car! I screamed, I believe. Jumped up and down and I couldn’t stop thinking as I hugged every body, that I had witnessed a miracle and that this triumph, right there on a cold, Friday afternoon, in a high school parking lot — was nothing less than a victory of faith, of teamwork and determination. From the outside, however, that moment could have looked more like a criminal offence, an act of defiance (AAA said it would take them 90 minutes before they could get to my car) and simply – Breaking and Entering. I am an accomplice. I feel, as a matter of fact, joy. We had all shared an authentic learning experience about the facts of life and how at that moment, we all knew in our heart of hearts that the most important skill we needed was “How to Break Into a Car” (circa 2005).

It was not unlike what happened this summer in Spain when a car was stuck in a sand dune right off the beach. For two hours several groups tried to help the stranded couple out of their predicament unsuccessfully. Finally, a group of seemingly “rowdy gangster” types took over the scene saying in rapid Spanish punctuated by slang that nobody had the “street sense” enough to get the car out of the ditch. We all watched amazed while him and his “boys” picked up the car in three steps and solved the sand problem that no one was able to solve in over two hours! They were able to see the situation with critical accuracy and instead of pushing the car out, he simply said to us sarcastically, “it doesn’t take much common sense to know that you have to lift up and out rather than push through that damn mess” or something like that. We all left the scene burnt from the sun thinking how grateful we were at that moment for their existence. It had been only a few hours before when we were indignant that those same beach “gangsters” on motorcycles were disturbing the peace and quiet on what would have otherwise been a perfectly secluded beach.

When we share real lived experiences with each other, something happens. If we listen, really listen to each other, we recognize in one another’s stories that life has a way of breaking boundaries. Whether boundaries be of class or race or language or gender or religion or politics or age or whatever!, we are all inexplicably interconnected, woven together by a wise and knowing hand of fate. We are being reminded that we have something to learn from one another and that learning is sacred.

bell hooks in Teaching to Transgress (1994) speaks of engaged pedagogy as a teaching and learning experience that transgresses traditional classroom boundaries towards a liberatory exchange of ideas grounded both in theory and real lived experiences. In a transcribed dialogue between herself and a colleague, Ron Scapp, bell hooks writes: “One primary difference between education as a practice of freedom and the conservative banking system is the latter encourages professors to believe deep down in the core of their being that they have nothing to learn from their students.” Ron Scapp reminds us that “when one speaks from the perspective of one’s immediate experiences, something’s created in the classroom for students, sometimes for the very first time. Focusing experience allows students to claim knowledge base from which they can speak.” Educators who are suspicious and critical of engaged pedagogy fail to understand that the emphasis on voice is not just the act of telling one’s experience, but that using that telling strategically – to come to voice – allows students to speak freely about other subjects (hooks, 1994, p. 148).

As a teacher educator, I work with many teachers who find it difficult and in some cases impossible to “relate” to the students they work with. The divide that they feel between themselves and their students is sometimes so wide due to social “boundaries” labeled race, class, language, shared histories of domination or oppression, criminality, conduct, gender, age – and so on, that there is no real connection between what they intend to do in the classroom and the students themselves. How can we work with teachers who believe deep down in the core of their being that they have nothing to learn from their students?

Breaking and entering into my car on a Friday afternoon so that I could get back home to my family was a moment of triumph for me and a group of responsible and respected educators who teach every day students the difference between right and wrong and how to be a responsible citizen in society. We all silently wished that there was a student among us with the “street smarts” to make the break in swift and with promise of assured success. And yet, I wonder, if that hypothetical student who could have broken in my car, would have been recognized and valued in our school community or if we would have honored his “skill” as much as we honored the teacher who magically got the door open? I wonder if that hypothetical student would ever have the opportunity and encouragement to tell a similar human-interest story of “triumph” in front of a teacher without the fear that he or she might be judged. Judged not for the act of criminality, but for an act of triumph. The latter being the connection, the transgression, the missing link that unites us all as human beings.

Students Walk Out

dedicated to Mrs. Swanson

As I marched the two miles amongst thousands of protesters with a green and black poster in my hands and a sore throat from chanting, I felt all at once the thrill of humanity reminiscent of a time when I was encouraged to reach out and touch history. Next to me, a life long friend who I met in high school leans over and asks if this was the first time I had joined a protest march. When I responded that I had marched in Washington almost twenty years ago – I remembered the high school teacher that had inspired me at sixteen to get on a bus at Washington Square Park and ride to Washington DC to exercise my right to voice my opinion and protest. My friend asked what I had protested against at that time and I responded ironically that I didn’t even remember.

What I began to remember though as the past and the present collided somewhere between 34th Street and 38th Street was that my high school Canadian born science teacher had made an announcement in all of her classes in the year of 1986. It was an invitation to any student who wanted to join her – and now that I am writing, I believe it was about Pro-Choice, and we were high school students attending an all girls Catholic high school in Yonkers. I was the only one who ended up joining her that weekend. Sitting on the steps of the NYU student center waiting for a bus to pick us up, I did not know that I would within the next few years, walk up those same steps as a NYU student and later on, as a graduate from the School of Education.

Thousands marched on November 2nd in NYC and in other major cities across the nation and amongst us, hundreds of students who had walked out of their schools – many of which reported having to accept a suspension for up to three days. Amongst us, a group from Walton High School in the Bronx – the notorious school that Kozol refers to in his book, where lunchtime rounds begin at 9:30am. Many of Walton High School youth told us that they had lost a few who had been picked up by the cops before making it down to Union Square. “We made it!” they screamed to my right. I turned around to look at my Black and Latino brothers and sisters, smiling and alive and so alive they were that I couldn’t help but get choked up. Looking away and back to the podium where the members of the The World Can’t Wait Coalition spoke emphatically about our need to mobilize and dismantle the Bush administration, I felt elated and humbled. It was a realization that we are all one, even my past and present self-merged at that moment. I was part of an eclectic and diverse community of conscientious citizens. Those high school students reminded me of where I come from, where I am going and the power of voice. I want to express gratitude to all of those who came out on November 2nd to exercise voice, especially the students who dared to make a difference and finally to my teacher, who twenty years ago still makes a difference in me.

The Rainbow Fish

How humble am I? How much do I give? How can I help others while all the while realizing the potential of my gifts? How should I honor my position of privilege, knowing that by luck, by fate, by birth I have more shining scales than others? Standing inside, in front of, behind the abandoned Detroit city, ruins left behind for tourists like me tell the story of how race riots imploded a city left behind to rot by the whites, left behind to rot by the middle class and bourgeoisie, white flight to a suburb or white picket fence dream – away from the black faces that are so angry another mob another white cop beatin’ up young black men, crackin down, interrogation.

Kozol talks, talks, talks about guilt and revolution from behind a pulpit, another ode to Pineapple but I can’t help wonder how much of his book tour money he will invest into the 60 Black and Latino schools he visited, investigated and explored for this book. I can’t help wonder why he speaks of guilt and wonder how he can share coffee with his wealthy friends, knowing what he knows and if that makes him any less conscientious than me?

The sparkling fish in The Rainbow Fish, by Marcus Pfister, is beautiful and perfect and complete – unique, a gift, a reminder of God, the miraculous, the extraordinary the absolute the one of a kind, the dream. She has much to offer, just in her presence, it is this piece of art that replenishes the soul in the mist of mediocrity. This is what we all aspire to be? Yet she is told that she must give away her scales, one by one, minimize her outward beauty in order to maximize her inner beauty – which in the end is defined by her friendships and company. Does giving away each of her scales mean that she is no longer special, unique and brilliant in the sea of souls? Does giving parts of yourself, connecting with others and bridging the souls across race, class and difference mean that you are dismantling yourself? Are we asked not to shine? Are we asked to join the ordinary in order to find company? Do we have to be all the same in order to find solidarity? Why can’t we pride in someone else’s sparkle, love them for their greatness, uniqueness and beauty? Why do we have to diminish ourselves in order to find acceptance? Shouldn’t it be that every time the Rainbow Fish gives away a scale, a new one appears in its place?

A teacher I know, shines in what she does, the strength and conviction and confidence of her stance. Respect flows with learning and teaching is passion and there is in the end, fear and insecurity. Wanting so badly to be recognized for this miracle that happens every day, this pride in knowing and breathing and feeling that she is doing exactly the right thing – she becomes fearful and lonely. Others do not see her. She becomes arrogant and aloof. Is this in response to her rejection or is arrogance the root? Why can’t she recognize herself in one of them and vice versa? Is she alone in her excellence? I see her in me and I see reflections that have come and gone and I ask myself again, remind myself again: Am I humble enough? Do I give enough? Do I share my gifts? Do I honor my position of privilege?

Invitations to Resistance… On Kozol’s The Shame of the Nation

On an airplane ride across the country, I wiped the tears as I read, highlighted and marked significant pages in Kozol’s new book, The Shame of the Nation. Often, I had to stop, grab my mouth, cover my nose in an attempt to hold back a more noticeable emotional response – I was, of course, sitting amongst strangers. On one occasion, I stopped, thinking that I was acting like a child, what is wrong with me, I asked? Why are you so emotional? It is not like anything that you are reading is a surprise… Why after all of these years as an educator and activist for social justice education are you breaking down? Well, my dear readers, I just don’t know what is happening, but the more that I talk to colleagues, friends, educators and just plain old human beings in general – I believe that the winds are changing. Something has been brewing for a long time and it just is not going away. In fact, it is getting worse. I think Kozol started playing me, string by string like an old violin that aside from some fine-tuning was desperate to sing.

After reading over two hundred pages in just one sitting, I was calm again – well at least, I wasn’t emotionally wrecked. How will I ever be effective in my work if I can’t get past the pain and the anger and the sadness about the condition of education in America – for the poor, for the Blacks, for the Latinos, for the “minoritized” populations? Crying doesn’t mean a thing. And yet, for me, a stoic educator often coined as a ‘serious professional’ crying felt like the first step into a new chapter I have yet to title in my own journey. I was more convinced of this “new chapter” as I stood for half an hour waiting for my luggage at JFK airport, horrified as I watched the videotaped scene of Davis, a retired elementary school teacher, being repeatedly kicked and beat by white police officers in New Orleans for “stumbling into a horse.”

Kozol describes our current education system to be one of “apartheid.” Any present day educator working in schools in cities across America will agree that America’s schools are definitely segregated and that our communities are perhaps similar to or even worse in some cases to the 1950’s. Kozol’s urgent cry for us to confront the present day reality of separate and definitely unequal is a comprehensive snapshot of what many of us live every day – whether it be in the school, over our own dinner tables or behind a desk. However, the purpose of this commentary is not to repeat a description of the condition of our school system, but to discuss Kozol’s urgent call for action. He writes, “At every opportunity I have to talk with advocates and educators who share any part of my beliefs about these matters nowadays, I ask the same repeated questions: Where should teachers, superintendents, principals, and others who are troubled by the silence of our nation’s leaders on this issue look for recourse and for reinforcement of their discontent? What body of political objectives is sufficiently within the realm of realistic hope to be worth striving for? Where, within the limits of the possible, should we direct whatever time and energy we have?” He quotes Gary Orfield who responds, “A political movement is a necessary answer…we need to reach out to a broader sector of the nation to initiate a struggle.” Kozol ends his book with powerful statements made by Congressman Lewis: “ A segregated education in America is unacceptable… Integration is, still remains, the goal worth fighting for. You should fight for it. We should be fighting for it. It is something that is good unto itself apart from all the other arguments that can be made. This nation needs to be a family, and a family sits down for its dinner at a table and we all deserve a place at that table. And our children deserve to have a place together in their schools and classrooms, and they need to have that opportunity while they’re still children, while they’re in those years of innocence.”

My concern is, of course, if we continue to allow for segregated schools, segregated neighborhoods and segregated policies — what type of world will the future generations inherit?

I wonder: Can we provide the best education to our children without integration?

Kozol speaks a lot about money and class and how the wealthy continue to spend large sums of money on education. I ask: If we continue to support the notion that money does not make a difference in quality education – as in the Bush administration insisting that not money but higher accountability standards will improve our schools — then why do the communities that can afford it continue to invest so much in the education of their children? And what does that mean for the families who cannot afford to supplement the public fare?

Finally, I wonder: How should we initiate a struggle to revisit segregation in our schools?

Hurricane Katrina in the Classroom

Ira Katznelson, professor of political science and history at Columbia University writes in response to what he describes as the “racial pattern of poverty” witnessed graphically during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina: “A full generation of federal policy, lasting until the civil rights legislation and affirmative action of the 1960s, boosted whites into homes, suburbs, universities and skilled employement while denying the same or comparable benefits to black citizens.”( Washington Post October 3-9, 2005 Weekly Edition). He suggests that “we would do better in present circumstances to return to the ambitious plans Johnson announced but never realized to close massive gaps between black and whites, and between more and less prosperous blacks.”

Many educators suggest that one way to “close the achievement gap” is to critically discuss current events such as Hurricane Katrina in the classroom. The theory is that education content for marginalized students should include topics on “real world” social injustices in order to empower and prepare students to take on critical and activist roles in society. However, talking about these issues can create controversial and emotional responses between students and educators.

Considering these challenges, I ask: Do you think educators should bring Hurricane Katrina into the classroom even if it brings up feelings of discomfort and emotions that students and teachers might not be able to predict? Do you think there is a tendency to shy away from “real” dialogues in classrooms because the inequalities are so severe and because teachers and students rarely claim to share the same points of view? Do you think that there is a political tide that censors critical thinking in the classroom?

I am also curious about how we can make each other more comfortable discussing the “raw deal” that has historically affected our education system, our students, and our communities?

Adrienne Palacios, Human Resources Officer for the United Nations, says that these critical conversations should also take place in predominantly “white” schools and organizations because they are the ones who might be more affected by the media that distorts the role of black and poor people in society.

So, I ask, is there a difference between how we present Hurricane Katrina to a predominantly black or minoritized audience as compared to a predominantly white audience? Is there a difference if the students are wealthy or poor? What about the educator? Is the educators’ ability to address these issues affected by their own race or class?