Thursday, April 19, 2007

coolness

i took my son to his schoolfriend's home today to play. they are a nice, white family, and they recently moved here from idaho. they haven't had a lot of time around other cultures until the last couple years. they think it's "neat" to be in such a diverse school. really? they think we are we all that NEAT? interesting.

we sat in her kitchen talking about the state of portland schools and what our plans for the kids next year might be. she told me about a conversation with a neighbor, who was proudly putting her kids into catlin gabel (a very, very, very white private school in beaverton) next year.

leslie (the woman whose house i was at), told me how she, in sort of a bragging way, told the other neighbor that she LOVED the diverse school that her child attends now, and how her kid was like only 1 of 3 white students in 20. she was bragging! i was impressed but kind of shocked. shocked that someone white would think it was "cool" to have their kid be the minority.

10 comments:

Terell said...

The question in my mind what was the motivation for this new found love of diversity? Is it the reflection of a social conscious white person that is taking on their privilege? Or is it the talk of someone who just thinks its cute (ie exotic or novel) to have nice colored children in her kids class? Also I guess I would wonder whether or not she was just saying all this stuff for my benefit.

I had a cousin that went to Catlin. He was one of MAYBE 3 black kids in his graduating class. Yeah .. its pretty damn white.

-T

Aaron said...

Just FYI, Catlin Gabel says 21% of students identify as people of color... that puts it in the same range as Cleveland (24%), Wilson (17%), and Lincoln (21%). Not as diverse as Grant (36%) or Madison (57%) certainly, but it mirrors the overall population of Multnomah (19%) & Washington (25%) counties.

So I don't think it's quite accurate to call it "very, very, very white," even though that's the perception. It's also located in Portland, not Beaverton. (I didn't go there, I just have an accuracy fetish.)

Terell said...

I have a couple questions and comments for those numbers.

1) Do those percentages reflect the entire school or just the high school? The reason I ask is, unlike Cleveland et al, Catlin starts at elementary school. Thus the percentage of students of color may be small at any particular grade level.

Although my memory may be faulty, it seemed like the ENTIRE student body could was that size of a typical high school. If that is the case, then a 24% population of minorities would be a little dubious.

2) Cleveland, Wilson and Lincoln were considered pretty white when I was in high school 14 years ago (man I am getting old). Although that may reflect the break down of Multnomah County, doesn't a place that is 76% white (in the case of Cleveland) still count as pretty white?

-T

Natalie said...

White people have the luxury to decide being a minority is "cool". Not that it isn't cool. I love being in a diverse neighborhood but that is because i hate being the only brown face around. White people are funny.

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Anonymous said...

Terrel-looks like you missed the point of her post entirely. This post wasn't about how white or not Catlin Gable is.

Terell said...

Anonymous my name is spelled Terell. One r two l. Also I am not sure what you mean about me missing the point. Did you read my first posts?

-T

Mommela said...

Natalie's right: White people have the luxury to decide being a minority is "cool."

It's a luxury with which we're born, and most of us don't even know what a luxury it is.

Unless we deliberately choose to place ourselves in situations in which we are the minority, how can we ever come to a greater understanding of what it's like to be "the only one"? How else can we open our eyes to the understanding that this invisible backpack of white privilege isn't any kind of a gift, but rather a thick veil over our eyes, blinding us to the everyday injustices that non-whites are forced to contend? How else can we be moved to try to make necessary changes in our society? If we never allow ourselves to be the minority in everyday situations, then social change is all theory with no grounding in reality. And we must all the while recognize, and be ashamed, that we have the choice about which Natalie spoke, and our fellow human beings don't.

I think it's good parenting.

hotcoffy007 said...

@ mommela, great post.

Lil said...

oh geez...i go to that school.

in terms of what Terell said about those statistics being somewhat skewed, i'd have to say that i suspect the same thing about those numbers because they probably count for the entire preK-12th grade student population as opposed to just the high school. I'm not exactly sure what the numbers would be for the high school in terms of percentages, but I believe there are only 260-280 high school students total. so i estimate that to be somewhere around...50 or so students of color...out of 280.

I'm not so much shocked by this lady's reaction however. I must admit that it beats her complaining about being a minority and "feeling your pain." ohhh, how i hate when people do that...