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Tuesday, August 01, 2006


SENG Conference - Part 3

So much is going on right now, but I really feel it's important to keep debriefing my SENG Conference experience in the background.

One session I attended was given by Kimberly McGlonn-Nelson about meeting the social and emotional needs of gifted African-American girls. I learnt about things like the Video Ho culture and the incredibly pervasive nature of music video/video game stereotypes for young people. I was surprised to realize that I had a lot of assumptions about teenage culture, based on my own teen years, that are simply wrong for today's teens - and I am only 32. It was definitely an eye opener and I made sure to thank Kimberly at the end.

The thing I appreciated most, however, was the frank nature of our discussion about race and minority. It is the first semi-public occasion I have had to learn about race in North America where I felt free to be honest and speak my mind, as others were clearly doing. Most of the time, whenever I bring up race, people immediately back away from the topic or hide their truths behind politically correct facades. I understand that it's a hot button issue for people and I really need to know more about this stuff! I was raised in a monoculture, where there were only two non-white girls in my whole year at school. I have no idea of the particular pressures, and therefore could blindly make things worse. Kimberly did help me see some small areas where I could make a difference - but only because we were all admitting to being clueless, not trying to portray an enlighted image.

I strongly believe that the more emotion and charge attached to talking about something, anything, the more vital it is to talk about it. If we don't, it just festers, as assumptions grow unchecked and become dogma. The current inability to talk openly about racial issues gives us no opportunity to examine our prejudices and learn more useful ways of being and thinking. I am grateful for this rare chance to grow.

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