Readers-turned-Writers: Choptensils Gets Interactive

May 4, 2010

So I’m about to head out for close to two weeks without internet access.

However, I don’t want to leave my Readers completely hanging, AND I have this little project I want to get going, so to kill two birds with one stone:

I ask you, the readers, to submit your stories about times in school (or with mentors or other youth workers) when an adult said or did something that made you feel unsafe/uncomfortable/unwelcome based on your membership in a particular oppressed group. It can also be when the adult present dropped the ball by doing nothing when somebody else said or did something (i.e. another student said something racist/sexist/otherwise offensive and the teacher pretended not to hear, dismissed it, etc.).

These don’t have to be polished "stories." Just the key details, what went down, how you felt about it, how it affected you in the long-term. Just post them straight to the comments, so other readers can hear about other people’s experiences (and have something to look forward to while I’m gone). Also let me know if I can contact you later for further details (if "no," I respect that, and would still love to hear your story).

I’m planning on using these stories to help inform a Diversity Training model I’m developing (and possibly initiating in the Fall) specifically geared towards youth workers and teachers. Want to give folks a taste of what kind of impact those "little things" that they don’t even realize they are doing can have on the youth they work with.

So – please help me help you. Tell me your stories. Share them in the comments section with your fellow Readers. And if you’re a bit shy and don’t want to have everybody else reading them, I definitely still want to hear it, so please feel free to send them to me at "choptensils AT gmail DOT com."



  1. My story isn’t so much one that affected me directly, but more by proxy. Still, it’s worth telling.

    I was interning in a 7th grade classroom as part of a Master’s in Education program. I was talking with my mentor teacher about the kids, saying that despite some rambunctious behavior, they were good kids.

    He agreed and said that this school was much better than the last one where he taught, “which was 95% Hispanic”.

    What blew my mind was not only the blatant racism contained within this statement, but that he felt comfortable enough as a white man speaking to a man of color, to make such a comment – perhaps because I am not ostensibly (or at all) Latino.

    Turns out, though, that a fair amount of African-Americans in my state are right-leaning and when the battle lines are drawn, they stand with the white majority against the Latino population. Which is probably why this guy felt comfortable saying such a thing to me.

    Before this happened, I was having a one on one with a student who was really upset about how this teacher seemed to have favorites, how he was harder on some kids than others. She said to me that he (the teacher) didn’t like her. This girl did act inappropriately in class, semi-regularly, and so I thought she was just being a typical kid – acting up and being dramatic.

    I told her what I thought she needed to do to amend her relationship with the teacher and do well, and in the end, she started crying. I thought, at the time, that it was because she saw the truth of my words and just didn’t want to accept it.

    But after the teacher made that comment to me in confidence, I thought back to that girl’s intuition that the teacher didn’t like her. Was she able to pick up on his racism in spite of him not being at all overt with it?

    It became clear to me why that girl was probably crying – because I affirmed for her that I was yet another person not on her side when she really needed someone to be. It broke my heart. I will never make that mistake again.

  2. Godheval, you jumped right in with a great tale. I feel for the girl.

    Good idea, CVT.

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