“ECS 110 Storying the Learning Journey”

This course has made me understand the normative narratives of society, and begin to unravel them. I am changed by this class. I don’t see things the same way anymore. All interactions with the outside world make me question what is really being said, and what is being left out. I’ve never thought this way before.

Thank you.

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Reading Response 4 “Sexism and the Gender Binary Myth”

Andrea Rubenstein defines sexism as “both discrimination based on gender and the attitudes, stereotypes, and the cultural elements that promote this discrimination… Men as a class are privileged over women as a class, an important, but often overlooked, part of the term is that sexism is prejudice plus power.” Men use this power to control and manipulate women who they perceive to be weak, and should be “protected, supported, and adored … to make a man complete” (Rubenstein). This gender binary gives men the power, as Sensoy and DiAngelo suggest, their masculinity is strengthened through violence and ensures subservient, passive, and eager to please women (2012, p. 83). This gender binary must be disrupted, as no one should live in fear, be manipulated and controlled.

The only way to stop sexism is for us to challenge our society. Sexism is such an insidious disease it has managed to “adapt and change over time, while still maintaining inequitable outcomes” (Sensoy, & DiAngelo, 2012, p. 80). Sexism effects all women no-matter where they are from, their class, or their sexuality. Women make up 50% of the world’s population and are all subjected to sexism. We need to challenge and disrupt the normative narratives on how men and women perceive themselves, and how society perceives them, at every turn.

While we are challenging these normative narratives, we should also consider the different sexual orientations within each group. Colonization has constructed the gender binary of man and woman, but in reality, sexuality is much more complex. In Dr. Alex Wilson’s presentation, she explained that in the LGBTQ community 56% of transgender people attempted suicide; 21% of two spirited men committed suicide, and 39% of two spirited women committed suicide. These numbers are staggering. We need to break down the gender binary wall, and claim “sovereignty over our own bodies” (Wilson). The gifts and talents we all have, are gifts for ourselves, families, communities, and society, we need to accept and treasure these gifts rather than be imprisoned within colonial walls of unfounded idealism.

References

Rubenstein, Andrea.  (2007). “What is “sexism”?”  https://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2007/10/19/sexism-definition/

Sensoy, Ozlem. & DiAngelo, Robin. (2012). “Is everyone really equal?” An introduction to key concepts in Social Justice Education. Columbia University, New York.

Wilson, Alex. “Our coming in stores: Cree identity, body sovereignty and gender self determination”.  https://ro.uow.edu.au/jgi/vol1/iss1/4/

 

 

 

 

Reading Response 3: “The Myth of the Level Playing Field”

In Chelsea Vole’s article “The Myth of the Level Playing Field” she says “recognizing that Indigenous peoples’ legitimate grievances stemming from awful things that were done in the past, but that the advent of a modern democracy means that we are all now equals and we have an obligation to behave as such”, demonstrates how the white normative narrative is not really acknowledging the past. Words are being said to pacify the Indigenous people but understanding and true comprehension is lacking. This hegemony, demonstrates how the dominant white majority is trying to force its group ideology onto everyone in society to ensure conformity. If we believe as Vole sarcastically suggests, “we are all now equals”, we are accepting these governmental myths; the truth is Indigenous people are not treated equally within Canada.

Indigenous people are one of the poorest groups in Canada, with health, education, social, and economic issues. The government of Canada through many studies has identified areas that can improve the plight of Aboriginal communities, but is slow to implement help. Keeping the Indigenous community week and dependent on the government ensures dominance over this group. The government has always wanted to assimilate the Indigenous people into white society, and suggesting that “we are all now equals” is one way of doing this. Our Canadian history shows that Indigenous people have been thought of and treated as inferior which is racism; the white dominant society has always seen itself as superior. This racist normative narrative is prevalent in our society today. Attitudes need to change, and the normative narrative needs to shift before the Indigenous people can be accepted, and warmly welcomed into Canadian society where they truly belong.

References

Vowel, Chelsea. “The Myth of the Level Playing Fieldhttp://apihtawikosisan.com/2014/07/the-level-playing-field-myth/

 

 

 

 

Self In Retlation to Others – Analysis of Self-Stories

i) Noticing normative narratives

When looking at “I’m a Kindergarten Dropout” by Debra Pinkerton, “Self Story #3″ by Sean Harman, and “Two Odd-Balls” by Anthea Holczer these stories show, that the authors had friends from different races, when they were children. They do not see their friends by their skin colour, but see them as friends and accept them for who they are. In each story, the main character enjoys the company of their friend or friends and wants to be with them, their skin colour is irrelevant. As Pinkerton explains “Dave and I have a lot of fun together. When we go to the park, he pushes me on the swing and then I push him. We pick partners for games, he always picks me and I always pick him. And we always sit together for snack time.” Pinkerton enjoys spending time with Dave, and he likes to play with her. Harman’s description of his friends is interesting “apart from the few years of difference in age, we were almost exact replicas of one another”, for him the only difference is their age. They are boys who are all the same. They share a common passion: basketball. In Holczer’s story she is in a chemistry class and soon realizes her friend is smart. “Can we be lab partners for this class? I don’t have a clue what’s going on, and you seem to understand it so well.” It’s not until each author looks closely at their friends do they notice that they are different from them. Each story demonstrates that normative narrative of race hasn’t been shaped yet within their social setting. These stories have come from a time of innocence. As children, they are still exploring the world and haven’t encountered White privilege and problematic binary stories as the norm yet.

In both Pinkerton and Harman’s stories the normative narrative of activities are commonplace. Pinkerton shares and plays on the swing with Dave, she also eats snacks with her friend. Harmon plays basketball, and all three boys play and have fun with each other. In Holczer’s story she too share’s an activity, she’s late to her first chemistry class and befriends the only boy who is sitting on his own; Rodney shares his knowledge and understanding of what is going on in the class. What is re-centered unintentionally in each story is the fact that all the friends looked different, and had different colored skin. With each story once the main character realizes their friend was different their attitudes change too, ever so slightly.

References

Harmon, Sean. “Self story #3”. (2017). https://seanharmanecs110.wordpress.com

Holczer, Anthea. “Two odd-balls“. (2017) https://antheaholczer.wordpress.com/

Pinkerton, Debra. “I’m a kindergarten dropout“. (2017) https://thecheapseats625.wordpress.com/

 

ii) Creating counter-stories: Disrupting normative narratives

Julie Amos Newton’s story “Mirror, Mirror”, disrupts the normative narrative outlined in the above stories. She approaches the story as the person who is being judged by their skin colour. We see a very different world and perspective though her story, she shows how people make quick racial judgments, “It’s hot, hey? But you must be used to the heat where you are from”. White people make conclusions of race and ethnicity purely on skin colour which is a normative narrative. This normative narrative is prevalent in our White privilege society, which compares with the three stories above, (Harmon, “Self Story #3“, Holczer, “Two odd-balls“, Pinkerton, “I’m a kindergarten dropout”) where these authors did not address this issue.

Amos Newton’s story, gives a contradictory tone compared to the story of the three previous authors, who tried very hard not to cross the racist or biased line. They kept their stories controlled, and well defined within what society considers to be acceptable and polite. We need to understand as Sensory, & DiAngelo, explain, “that although you are in the same room, you are not having the same experience as others due to dynamics of inequitable power” (2012, p. 152). In all three stories, the main characters perceived that their friends had the same experiences as they did, but that is not the case. We do not know how the friends perceived the White children, and their unknown biases. However, Amos Newton, gives us an excellent example of how racial bias is hurtful and disturbing. “Is the profile of a Canadian a white individual? If so what are the implications for those who do not fit the profile?“She raises excellent questions. What does a Canadian look like? If you don’t fit the National normative narrative how will you fit into society? How will society treat you and your family?

Although this story seemed small and almost inconsequential at first, it made me realize how subtle racism is here  in Canada, and the impact it has on non-White Canadians which is huge. According to St. Denis the, “Normative Canadian history produces Canada a nation that is “tolerant” and “innocent” (2011, p. 310) but Amos Newton’s story demonstrates that this is not true. The people of Canada have a White perspective, which is privileged and judge others though their own biases. These judgments have consequences on how people of colour are treated and how they feel within our Canadian society.

References

Amos Newton, Julie. “Mirror mirror“. (2017). https://totalserenitydotblog.wordpress.com

Harmon, Sean. “Self story #3″. (2017). https://seanharmanecs110.wordpress.com

Holczer, Anthea. “Two odd-balls.” (2017) https://antheaholczer.wordpress.com/

Pinkerton, Debra. “I’m a kindergarten dropout”. (2017) https://thecheapseats625.wordpress.com/

Sensoy, Ozlem. & DiAngelo Robin. (2012) “Is everyone really equal? An introduction to key concepts in social justice education”. (Editor: Banks, James, A.) Teachers College Press, New York.

St. Denis, V. (2011). Silencing Aboriginal curricular content and perspectives through multiculturalism: “There are other children here”. Review of education, pedagogy, and cultural studies, 33(4), 306-317.

 

Self-Story 4 “Dreams Can Come True”

“Finding an apartment, we like within our price range is going to be difficult. The guy on the radio said that Victoria has a 1% vacancy rate.” I say sipping tea.

“Don’t worry we’ll find something”, says Quinn as he leans back in his chair, and slurps his coffee.

We’d shared the apartments for rent section of the newspaper and only have two places circled. It doesn’t look good. The waiter stops at the table and slides the bill under Quinn’s saucer.

It’s Quinn’s dream to live in Victoria, and I want to make his dream come true. I don’t care where I live in the world as long as I’m with him. Victoria is a beautiful city, right on the ocean, with screeching seagulls, and whirring seaplanes. It’s exciting.

Quinn pulls the newspaper together and peers at both circled adverts. “Two potential places are better than nothing.” he says smiling. He wrestles his flip phone out of his front pocket and dials the first number. “Yes, we’ll meet you there in and hour”, he says. He then punches the next number into his phone “My wife and I will be there in two hours”. He flips the phone closed and slides it back into his pocket. “There you go, we’re all set.”

With a map of the city in my hand, Quinn and I stroll out of the hotel’s restaurant. Now I’m excited. This could be it. The first apartment is within walking distance of downtown, and the area has beautiful tree lined streets. The heat of the day hasn’t settled in yet, and I feel like I’m about to burst. Quinn holds my hand and we happily walk toward the first apartment building.

A man is waiting for us outside the front door as we approach. He smiles at Quinn and shakes his hand, but doesn’t look at me. We walk into the dimly lit entrance, and the stench of urine, and stale cigarettes almost knock me over. I try hard to contain myself as my insides lurch and tighten. How disgusting. The man merrily chatters to Quinn as we enter the apartment; it’s dark, reeks of cigarettes, and has mold growing in the corners of the living room ceiling.

“How many bedrooms, does the apartment have?” I ask.

The man ignores me. He pushes past, and opens the balcony door “Come look at the view.” he says to Quinn.

Quinn is polite and sticks his head out of the balcony. He knows this place is awful and tells the manager “We’ll think about it”.

Once we are outside the building, I could breath again, fresh, salty, Victoria air. “Did you see how he ignored me?” I fume, “Doesn’t he realize this is going to be my home too? This place is disgusting! I hope the next place is better than this.”

It’s a glorious day and the sun dissolves my outrage. Quinn grabs my hand, and we go looking for the next apartment building. It’s close to the first building, and looks smart; it has potential. We sit on the front steps and wait. We wait and wait. “He’s half an hour late already,” I say, “how much longer are we going to stay here?” With that, an Asian man pulls up in a blue Honda Civic.  He smiles at Quinn and shakes his hand, I don’t get looked at again. The building manager tells Quinn about the parking, local schools, and parks which is all very interesting, but I’m not included in the conversation. The suite is small and dark. “Which direction does the apartment face?” I ask.

The man ignores my question. Quinn knows how important having a sunny home is to me and re-asks the question, “It’s important for us to know what direction the suite faces.”

“Oh. It’s a north facing apartment.” the man answers.

Outside the second building I look at Quinn and angrily say, “What’s wrong with the men in this city? Two different managers and neither of them acknowledged I was there. Just because I’m a woman they think my opinion doesn’t count. Do they not realize if the wife doesn’t like the apartment it’s not going to be rented?”

I feel despondent. Our only hope of finding a new home in beautiful Victoria has vanished. We slowly walk back to the Inner Harbour and both of us are deep in thought. We pass a building with a vacant sign and I ask, “What do you think? Shall we just drop in and see if we can look at the place. It looks really nice.”

“OK, at this point we don’t have anything to lose.” says Quinn.

I ring the buzzer, and a happy, spritely, old lady answers the door. She smiles at me and grabs my hand in both of hers. I like her already. Quinn makes the introductions and we are whisked up to the third floor. The apartment is beautiful, it faces east, and is within our price range. It’s perfect.

I can help make Quinn’s dream come true after all.

 

Self-Story 3 “Two odd balls”

The bell rang five minuets ago for afternoon classes to start, and Cavey still hasn’t let us out. Why is Cavey making us late? What a weird nickname we’ve given him. One of the boys called him that yesterday and it’s stuck. He’s my new form teacher who has blond hair, and the biggest, bushiest, ginger, beard I’ve ever seen. Did cavemen really look like that? Cavey has a monotone voice which is so boring. How can I keep my eyes open? “You’re dismissed.” he says.

I’m instantly awake. I leap from my chair and charge out of the classroom, squishing and pushing everyone out of my way as we cram through the doorway.

I know the science labs are in the other building somewhere, and I quickly run down the stairs. I leave one huge building and run as fast as I can to get into the next one. My heart’s pounding and I’m late. The hallway is empty, and my stomach is churning. I’m late. The panic of being new and late is tearing at my insides like a hungry monster. Each door I come to says I am close and I am heading in the right direction; at the very end of the corridor I find my chemistry lab. Outside the imposing brown door, I stop. I catch my breath and try to force my nerves to be calm. I turn the handle and walk in.

All eyes are on me. The teacher stops talking and smiles, “Quickly find a seat.” he says.

I take a sweeping look around the class. The front set of lab tables is full; these boys must be the smart ones. The back set of lab tables are full of boys with mischievous smiles; these boys must like blowing things up. The middle set of lab tables is almost empty; it has only one person sitting there. I quickly make my way to the middle lab tables and smile at him.

“My name’s Anna.” I whisper.

“My name’s Rodney.” he whispers back.

I sit quietly, and look around the classroom. There are so many fascinating and different things to look at. There are Bunsen burners lined up under the large window, on a large dark wooden desk. At the other end of the desk are microscopes. There’s a window in the middle of the classroom that connects to a supply room. That’s interesting. I wonder what kinds of things they keep in the supply room.

I look at Rodney and smile. He smiles back. He has smooth chocolaty skin, big full lips, bright white teeth, and tight wiry black hair. He looks different from the rest of us, but he has a kind face.

“What’s the teacher holding?” I whisper.

“I’ll explain after class.” he whispers back.

The teacher is holding up the weirdest thing. There are balls stuck together by popsicle sticks and they were made into different 3-D shapes. The balls are of different colours, the colours are obviously important but I haven’t a clue why.

“This is what organic chemistry is all about.” says the teacher.

“What? Balls and popsicle sticks?” I mutter.

Rodney chuckles.

“I’ll pass these important building blocks of life around for you to look at more closely.” says the teacher.

“I don’t get it.” I say to Rodney.

“Each 3-D shape of balls and popsicle sticks represents a different atom.” he says wisely.

“Oh.” Rodney is smart. “Can we be lab partners for this class? I don’t have a clue what’s going on, and you seem to understand it so well.” I explain.

He smiles at me again, “Yes of course”, he says. “I know we are going to be friends.”

 

 

Self Story 2 “Free Spirits”

“Hello. Marcie. I’m hear.” I call as I open the heavy old front door. “Are you here?” I am in the small mud room; shoes and boots are lined up neatly, except for the rubber boots. The boots are askew. I know Marcie is home.

“I’ll be there in just a minute. I’m just getting everything ready.” She calls out. I sit at her big farmhouse kitchen table and gaze around me. It’s always a treat to spend time with Marcie. I smell the light and intoxicating fragrance of the sweet peas before my eyes find them. They are in a whisky glass next to the phone. The delicate pink and purple flowers make me smile. My mom loves the smell of sweet peas, they’re her favorite. The chick-a-dee’s chirp merrily as they feast on sunflower seeds. The bird feeder is great. It’s stuck to the window with suction cups, and I hold my breath while being so incredibly close to the birds. I’m going to have buy one of those.

Marcie walks into the kitchen, plonks down her blackened cast-iron frying pan and hugs me. We hug and hug; she smells mysterious and I wonder what essential oils she’s using today. “It’s great to see you. How was your trip?” I ask.

“Fantastic. I’m so glad you’re here. We’re going to have fun today.” she said. “I learned so much about indigenous ceremonies and I can’t wait to practise with you.” Marcie turns to the desk behind her and starts rummaging through a draw. “Here it is. This one is for you. I have mine already.” She gives me a cream plastic egg with squiggles on it, it shhh-shhhes, as I grab it. It’s a rattle.

“You take the frying pan, and I’ll just get the matches, sage, and feather.” she says.

I pick up the heavy pan, inside there’s a thick crusty layer of charred sage that holds a lingering burnt smell. With this pan ceremony begins; it’s a sacred object and I hold it with respect. I am honoured to be given this important task of bringing the vessel of fire to our ceremony.

I head to the mud room, and pull on my black rubber boots. Marcie quickly pulls on her boots too and laughs with excitement. We lightly thud across the deck, and I follow Marcie through the garden as we head towards the woods.

It’s quiet, calm, and beautiful.

Marcie tells me to stand spread eagled as she lights a handful of sage in the frying pan. The sage burns quickly, clouds of dark acrid smoke waft into the air. Marcie blows on the sage and more smoke rises. With the feather she wafts the smoke, around my arms, legs, head, back and front. I am being cleansed. My heart feels lighter as I lose the stress of the day; I feel nature walk into my heart.

Now, it’s my turn. The cast-iron pan is heavy and I feel awkward holding it. I want to free Marcie’s spirit as she has done for me. The sage is almost gone so I put another handful into the frying pan, and the fire is rekindled. I clean Marcie’s aura and spirit, she too is free of worldly stress.

Calm.

I follow Marcie’s example as she picks up her rattle and sings to the universe. We dance our own steps. We sing and make our own sounds. We twirl to our own rhythm. We jump with our own joy. We let our spirts fly. We are free.

This is what it means to be Canadian.

 

Self-Story 1 “My Loving Home”

The house is silent. Mom has gone to work already, and dad is sleeping in. I like the house when it’s like this. In the kitchen, I crunch noisily on my cornflakes. Hearing the crunch, crunch of food grinding in my mouth is interesting; how can it sound so loud? When everyone is awake the cornflakes become mysteriously quiet; why is that?

The bedroom door groans. My moment of contemplation is shattered. They’re awake! The mumbled voices of my sisters get louder, and my stomach churns. Hearing Lizzy snigger “That sounds like fun,” as she strides into the kitchen, makes my stomach do a double summersault. Carol who is just behind Lizzy squints at me, with her usual penetrating glare. They are concocting trouble and I will be the brunt of it.

I eat my last mouthful of cereal and push myself away from the kitchen table. I quickly rinse my bowl and spoon, and leave it on the dish rack to dry. They won’t be able to blame me for not doing the dishes. “What are you doing today?” asks Lizzy who is standing in the doorway. Carol sits down at the table and pours herself a bowl of fluffy cornflakes, she reaches for the milk and gives Lizzy a knowing look.  

“I’m going out”, I reply and push past Lizzy. I quickly slip on my sneakers and get out of there as quickly as possible.

“Are you sure you don’t want to hang out with us?” calls Carol.

I slam the front door behind me, and run.

There is a place I can be me. A place I can think freely. A place I love. My heart is pounding, my feet are flying as I run down the country lane. The tall grasses and cow parsley sway gently in the hedgerows as I zoom past. I’m heading for peace and calm. I take a sharp left off North Street, and head down Shack Lane, my breathing is heavy, and my legs are aching, but I won’t stop till I get there.

Wheezing for breath, I bend over lean on my knees and gaze at my secret place. There she stands in all her magnificent glory; my beautiful oak tree. She seems as ancient as the world and as magical as Merlin. Just looking at her fills my heart with joy. My tree is a living wonder, and my secret home.

I walk slowly towards her, my breath is under control, and I smile. “Good morning”, I say, as I stroke her rough bumpy bark. I walk slowly to the back of the tree and peer inside; she is hollow and yet still alive. With reverence, I stand inside my tree, and breath in the woody damp fragrance, of her. How beautiful she smells. I look up and watch her brilliant green leaves dance and flutter in the breeze. This is home. My hands and feet know all the nodules and footings as I quickly climb up the heart of my tree. My favorite spot waits for me. I settle down, look up, and let her surround me with her love. Here I have no worries and I’m free to be me.