What is diversity, anyway? 10:59 a.m. 2005-09-17

Check out my E-Bay auctions! I have new Zarela stuff now: wastebasket, soap dish, bathroom rug, shower curtain hooks, lotion dispenser, and toothpaste holder! So cute!

I also have a bunch of Blue Dog stuff up - and I made two larger scale shrines to sell: Check out La Sirena (The Mermaid) and Long Live New Orleans!

This week, I have been all over the map: I have either been highly productive: mainly in the areas of organization (garage, studio, classroom) and planning (projects, curriculum, grading). I am stuck, however, in the action area - fulfilling orders that were placed last week, for example, and actually turning in documentation and lessom plans at school.

I took two days off this week, with the okay from my school folk, to try and get some issues dealt with on the home front (can't go into much detail here), but both days that I planned on charging in and taking action were not as action-filled as I anticipated. Aie-aie-aie! Still, talks were had, some strategies were formed, and I did organize a lot of stuff in my garage!

Wow!!! That was a lot more that I planned to write!!!

I am feeling a little pressured about the Hispanic Heritage Month art installation I have promised my principal, and Conference Week is next week - Officially, HH Month started Thursday with Mexican Independance Day, yet so far I have not come through with the announcements I planned for the daily telecast that the media specialist produces!

I had the first meeting of my so-called Diversity Committee last Wednesday - composed of three other members. One, the guy, didn't show up. The other two members are African-American women: one from New York City, and the other from Houston. Both young teachers, both obviously of the opinion that "diversity" means being African American.

Now, you may think that sounds racist, but let me explain. I have been on two schools Diversity Committees, and have found that there are two definitions of Diversity. One is the celebration of the African American experience - focussing on Black History Month. The other - my idea of diversity - is the experience of ALL cultures represented in our diverse society: yes, I identify more with Mexico - being mysteriously part Mexican myself...

My grandparents are now rolling in their graves...

To me, living in a large city is soooo great, because, if you want to actually "experience" another culture, you can. You can GO to an Ethiopian or Korean restaurant. You can GO to an International Grocery or Farmer's Market and buy unfamiliar foods and try them.

My favorite thing to do is to wander through the spice packages aisle and pick up convenient envelopes of prepared spice blends. I have tried Malaysian, Filipino, Indian, Mexican, Thai, and other jars, cans, bottles, and envelopes of sauces and it's been an adventure every time. Do I prepare the recipe as often obscurely illustrated on the package. Rarely. My favorite thing to do is to combine meats and vegetables - in a pot or crock pot and just add the package and see what comes out!!!

One of my dream projects at school is to present each teacher with a mysterious mission: a package with a spice packet and general directions for using it. Wouldn't that be FUN? Wouldn't that be IMAGINATIVE? Yet, every time I have suggested this, my Diversity co-horts have looked uncomfortable and squeamish.

During the meeting the other day, I suggested that we ask Hispanic parents to bring prepared dishes to school to serve to the teachers for lunch. Monthly, we have a charity lunch affair with a theme, and teachers are asked to bring a Theme dish - I believe that this month's was Tailgating. When I suggested the students/parents bringing in dishes, both of the other women wrinkled their noses and commented, "oh, no, you don't know where that food comes from..."

Yes I do!!!!! I had an International food day with my classes, and not only was the food carefully prepared, all of it was delicious! In fact, there was sooo much of it that I was able to pack it into containers and my husband and I feasted on Brazilian, Peruvian, Mexican, and Persian food for a week!

I will stop my rant right now, but I will add that I was honestly planning on trying to delegate (asking for help is hard because I have major control needs) something like the drawing up of the rules of the Poster Contest, to the arrangement of the morning announcements to my committee mates, but they balked at or totally criticized each of my ideas. These were ideas that my principal was highly enthusiastic about and very supportive of.

So, I will leave them to their idea: a theme week (dress like the flag of your country, etc.) and enlist the aid of my students and former students and other Latino students I don't even know yet to set up. Keep you fingers crossed for me!

Oh, one more thing. Yesterday (Mexican Independance Day) many of my students were showing their pride by wearing t-shirts, carrying bandannas with the Mexican flag, painting their hands with Mexican flag colors, etc. Fourth period, my girls walked in, and asked me why some teachers were making their friends change out of their Virgin of Guadalupe t-shirts - the SAME t-shirts that some of my girls were wearing with no harassment!

We had a nice discussion about the abuse of religious or national symbols - one that comes to mind was a former student from El Salvador. He came to school sporting a gorgeous tattoo on his forearm of a rosary. Came to find out later that the number of beads - and other symbolism proclaimed his membership in Mara Salvatrucha">Mara Salvatrucha, a vicious Salvadorean gang.

Still, to the best of our knowledge, the Virgin of Guadalupe has not joined a gang... So I sent this e-mail to my principal:

Some of my 8th grade girls were asking me why certain students were asked to change t-shirts because their shirt had an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Today and yesterday were Mexican Independance Days, so many Mexican students are expressing pride in their heritage.

The Virgin of Guadalupe is the patron of Mexico and the Americas, and does not have any gang signifigance. If our school resource officer or anyone else has added information that I don't know about, please let me know.

We'll see!

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