This So-Called Post-Post-Racial Life

December 11, 2009

“They don’t know how to respond to you…”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — pprscribe @ 2:06 pm

…For example, when I was making a reference to the rapper Lil’ Wayne in a class, some of my students laughed. One even asked me what I knew about Lil’ Wayne, thinking I was some geek who never heard of him. I explained that Lil’ Wayne has been popular since I was in college in the 1990s, reminding them I had grown up on hip-hop before they were born.

I learned that beyond legitimizing myself as an educator by narrating my professional experiences, I had to walk a fine line between being the Other in the classroom and someone whose experience was in some way similar to theirs. I realize some of my African-American colleagues have a tougher line to walk, which has helped me to understand how identity and cultural experience define the teacher-student relationship.

I also know that I can’t try to be “too hip,” because my students are smart enough to see when their professors are trying too hard to relate to them.

I guess I can’t make any more T-Pain or Drake references in class. At least I can blast my 1990s rap music on the 40-minute drive home, recalling the days when I wasn’t such a nerd.

~Dr. Murali Balaji, “Understanding Identity Politics in a Classroom

1 Comment »

  1. Love that quote.

    Comment by Nordette — December 11, 2009 @ 5:31 pm

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