“A game like Sid Meier’s Civilization is a better reflection of the real world than games like RuneScape and the SIMS because every civilization starts with different resources and abilities. It is not colorblind in that race does play a major role in the chances of world domination; the Americans would have a better chance than the Egyptians.”
So I’m done with Race & Ethnicity in my Intro class…the freshman seminar will take it on next week, after Fall Break (yippie!). You asked to hear about their reactions to the Things I Like exercise. Here are my best efforts:
1. They are surprised at how often white students listed forms of white priviledge among their favorite racial attributes.
2. They were surprised and offended at some of the most stereotypical responses (the comment about Asian hygenic practices and driving, whites as racists, etc.
3. They were roundly condemning of the claim by one white woman that she liked knowing “it is a big deal if anyone tries to hurt me.”
4. They felt strongly that the answers in the 2005 class were “more offensive” but wouldn’t answer if they were “more honest”.
In general, I was pretty disappointed. I think they took the assignment seriously and were sincere in their answers, but I think at every possible opportunity they chose to avoid confrontation or potential offense. Today I really pushed them–a Latina outed herself as a minority and I could tell almost everyone assumed she was white. When I used that to address questions of “passing,” of relative disadvantage, of intersectional identities that mean whites can feel like racial subordinates (although they are filtering racial experience through class, gender, disability, sexual orientation, etc.)…the discussion tanked. Even though I substituted my experience for that Latina student, in case the problem was a concern about offending her, it still didn’t work. I’m willing to blame this on my pedagogy, except I’ve done it every semester since arriving at Vandy. Something wonky in this class, but I honestly don’t know what…. I’m going to use the exercise in my seminar next week, so that will help me to decide if it is the class, or the cohort.