Today during lunch, a bunch of students were being loud outside of the teacher lounge where we were eating. Nothing new, as 9th graders have no volume control whatsoever. However, a fellow teacher made the off-hand comment that they were acting "low-class." I found this comment interesting, as they ARE low class, economically speaking. Our school is a Title 1 school, so over half of our school population live in poverty.

I'm not sure if I am offended by her statement or the attitude that is behind it. I can be more than a bit classist at times, but most of these students really have no role model at home to teach them how to act "appropriately" - and they consider "acting appropriately" to be "acting white." It isn't really a black or white thing, but much more a class thing.

How can we get minority students to understand how to interact with a middle class world, when they equate that with "acting white"? I have students who refer to others who they see as acting white as "oreos." There is such a stigma with speaking correct English and they seem to hold "acting ghetto" (their words, not mine) in high regard.

I would love to think that having an African-American President would help these students to see the world from a broader perspective than their own neighborhood, but that is a lot to ask from one person. Additionally, his example is overshadowed by the examples of rappers who glorify the "ghetto lifestyle," such as T.I., Plies, and Gucci Mane - all of whom they listen to and idolize.

I wish there were an easy answer, as I see many of my students trapped in their own prejudices and narrow worldview.


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