Tag Archives: aboriginal

“Popular in our time, unpopular in his. So runs the stereotype of rejected genius.” – Robert Hughes

28 Nov

     What is a stereotype?  I find more and more that my life is surrounded, and often defined by them, and it makes me uncomfortable. 

       Recently I wrote a paper on the American Indian artist  Fritz Scholder.  His art collection I focused on was titled “Indian/Not Indian” and this meant a lot of things to me.  Firstly I learned of how he was brought up by a father who was ashamed of being an Indian.  He never defined himself as an Indian artist, others had done that for him, even before he brought real Indian content into his work.  It is a part of who he is, but it is not the only thing, and through his work he explored the idea of stereotypes.  His art reflected on the stereotype of both what Indian art is and what and Indian is.  An issue within Indian Art is that society has stuck it with one stereotype and defined it as one style of art, and unlike every other art style, it isn’t given the freedom to change or develop.  I feel that this is the same with stereotypes of First Nations people in society in general.

I think about stereotypes a lot, especially when I think of the ones I will see in the classroom. My biggest concern is making sure that every student feels integrated in the classroom, and with so many students who are different I wonder if these stereotypes will hinder that.  People automatically make judgements about many things, not just race, and decide how they feel about a certain person before they even know them. 

I believe that learning isn’t peripheral.  By this I mean that in order for students to find information relevant that information needs to be fully integrated into the lesson.  For instance I find that when myself and my peers try to incorporate Aboriginal content into lessons it becomes a side note, and for a student they will just regard it as something on the side and unimportant.  I believe it is the same with students, and if they are thought to be on the side lines of the classroom they won’t be fully engaged in the learning.

Stereotypes can associate people with anything, but the most serious issues are when it pertains to race and gender.  Being female I often find myself in positions where I am oppressed because of my gender, and it something I can’t even imagine trying to approach as a teacher.  There are so many ways that males and females are stereotyped.  I recently read an article about gender specific schooling.  This article talks about how some schools have tried separating the genders within coed schools.  I have an interesting outlook on this subject as I was part of a project that separated the boys and the girls in my elementary school in grade eight.  I have mixed opinions on how this would work.  The positives seem wonderful, because the girls weren’t afraid of doing things in front of the boys and vice versa.  From the perspective of a student, however, I found socially it was a huge strain on myself.  I don’t know if anyone else has been a girl and walked into a room filled with thirty other girls, and was asked to be around them for an entire school year, but I have, and at some moments it was very unpleasant.  A huge question that I have is that why would we separate the males from the females.  Not many places in society do we see males and females separated, and if a goal is to integrate every student in the classroom, why would it be beneficial to aid in the separation of males and females?

Another stereotype that i find affects me greatly is the stereotype of First Nations people.  Being of aboriginal descent, yet not being visabally so, I find that I hear a lot more of the stereotypes vocalized.  People are so focused on the negative stereotype, which is what is promoted, that they can’t see the positive.  I understand that people form stereotypes based upon what they see, and for some people they only see these negative stereotypes, but I don’t think it is fair to assume people do not change. 

I come from a family that breaks stereotypes.  My mother’s side of the family, and even more specifically my grandpa’s side, has some of the strongest influences on my life.  For instance, the reason I am catholic is mainly because of my grandpa, who went to a residential school.  I have learned that my grandpa went to a residential school by choice of my great grandparents.  On the reserve they would have starved, and in the schools they were given a means of survival; both by food and by education.  My family went along with assimilation, yet there is a cost.  Because of this decision, and all that was given up, there are things I need to do to repay my family.  Schooling is the most important thing in my family.  An entire culture and way of life was given up mainly for it, so I take it very seriously, as did the rest of my family.  Every person on my grandfathers side has gone to some form of post-secondary and gotten a descent job.  My grandfather is an x-ray tech, there are government workers, rcmp and teachers from that line of the family.  All functioning members of society, who worked hard to get where they are.  I am doing my best to continue on with this.  If that doesn’t break stereotypes, I don’t know what does.

OH! Wait.  I have a cousin who has blonde hair and blue eyes…

Stereotypes are unfair, and really unrealistic.  People are made up of many things, saying they are one thing doesn’t make sense.  I find often that because people make judgements initially on people, first impressions make a huge difference.  I am not going to say I don’t judge people on a first impression, because I do, but I work very hard to remember to be open to learn more about that person.  I find that I am often judged initially by people, and really underestimated.  I find that because I have a very bubbly personality, and I have a very odd sense of humour, people think of me as a ditz.  I do joke around a lot, it is part of who I am, and it is part of my need to make the people around me feel comfortable with me.  My humour has often made it easier for people to warm up to me.  I am a very social person, completely an extrovert, but that does not make me a ditz.  I find people are often surprised when I say things that are intelligent in class like it’s something I shouldn’t be able to come up with.  If someone chooses to judge me on that, that is their concern not mine, I am very willing to prove them wrong.

I guess I am a supporter of the underdog, I want to work for people’s respect.  I want people to respect me because they know who I am and want to respect me.  All in all I want people to know me before they judge me, and I am very willing to let them do so.


One blog a year sounds good to me?

3 Mar

I guess i don’t blog… LIE. I facebook my little heart out, daily, and update my status constantly! That is my own form of blog… take for instance my status today::

“Street art doesn’t belong to anyone, you can’t buy it you can’t sell it, it’s not one persons in particular, its ours, nobody has more access to it than anyone else, we are all equal, it is living, changing, growing, you don’t know where its coming from and you don’t know who’s doing it, it’s not going to last for ever but it is for every one, you just have to have the courage to go out there and do it…”

This is not my quote, but rather a collection of the most powerful quotes from a short film I watched today called To Be Seen By Alice Arnold. I am currently working on a project about what was originally graffiti but has turned into street art as a whole. I am hoping to create an entire art unit about this street art phenomenon. I find street art to be absolutely beautiful, and the meaning behind it even more so. The quote about sums up the most beautiful words I listened to expressed about street art today, and have now created my view on what street art is. I don’t know if anyone will actually read this, but I guess if anyone has any ideas for incorporating street art into a lesson I would love to hear them and add them to my list (which is already becoming huge).

Also… Twitter…. It occupies my time some nights for a while. I have made my Twitter into something specific, and that is of music. Rather than updating what I am doing, I am only updating what I am listening to. Not only that, but I am posting the most important lyrics I hear in the song as well as the song itself. It is my music blog. I used to do it on facebook, but then people got annoyed with the constant updates so I switched it to twitter, where it doesn’t matter as much because I don’t have anybody on twitter anyways. It feels weird updating my twitter, knowing not many people are actually reading it, but at the same time it seems just as important to me. If someone were to read it, and read all of the songs (which are never repeated) they would basically know a lot about who I am, in a non creepy way. I don’t care if people read it, just putting it on the internet lets me express myself. Also, I have a very large collection of music, and by posting the lyrics it makes me really listen to each song, and eventually I would love to have all of my music on my twitter!

Continuing on with art, I have found lately that I look at everything from an aesthetic view-point, and the more I continue on with school the more I see the importance of aesthetics in school, and basically life. A huge impact on this has been the Olympics. The Olympics have basically have had the biggest impact on me I think in my entire life. I have never been so proud to be Canadian. I watched every single event, and knew the schedule off the top of my head. The opening ceremonies truly displayed the creativity that comes out of Canada and literally brought me to tears. The medals, I think, are one of the most beautiful creations ever. I watched the youtube video about the medals and it amazes me. The art that went into the medals, just by the curves to match our country side, and the patterns on the back is amazing. I think it is also truly amazing that all of the medals are different pieces of the art work and you need the entire set of medals to create the whole picture. Enough about the olympics, it has been my life for the past two weeks.

Another thing that has truly impacted me has been my living experience this year. I haven’t been able to really tell anyone about it, besides my close friends and family, but I have this strange feeling that it is alright to put it here and no bad will come from it. I am of First Nation decent, my mother is Aboriginal, and my grandfather is aboriginal. I am proud of this fact and I have no problem telling anybody this. I am also not visually Aboriginal, that is, at first glance it would not be the first thought you would have. I know that this is not nearly as difficult, oppression wise, as being a visual minority, but it does have its hard aspects. I find that I am often in a position where I can’t decide if I should or should not clarify that I am First Nations. It is a difficult decision, when around someone who is maybe being racist or making racist comments, and I don’t know if I should say “Hey I’m Native” and have them react in a certain way (usually defensive which doesn’t make things better), or of I should not say anything at all, and feel like I am ashamed of who I am. It is a difficult struggle that has become more and more apparent as I have gotten older, as I really have never been exposed to much racism in my life. In EPS 200 I wrote the most important paper of my life to date. I wrote a paper on Oppression and Anti-Oppressive education. Reading journal articles about this topic, as well as constructing my own definition of what Oppression is, has help shaped who I am. Now, on to the living conditions I am facing. I have a racist roommate. (Saying it on here seems like much less of an accusation, because I feel like there isn’t any way I can deal with this problem I face daily) She knows I am Aboriginal, and yet she continues to make comments. I can’t even begin to describe the extent of her racism, and the ignorance she portrays through her words. After writing the paper, I understand how she reacts, and I even understand why she is racist… the real problem is, that it really takes a toll on me. Living with her has been one of the hardest things I have ever had to do in my life, and it’s really shaping the person I am becoming. I know that I can’t just get mad at her, I have to be calm and if I do so choose to argue with her I need to choose my words carefully. Remaining calm while being dragged down by her ignorant words is the hardest thing. And still I have to live with her, and see her everyday, and not cause conflict as it would only make it worse for her… It will not get better, being the person that she is, by having someone lecture her, or tell her that she is racist, because she has even said, “well I’m just racist, and nothing is going to change that.”

The most sickening part is she is in the education program.

Each day is really hard for me, but I know it is making me a stronger person… and I think it is happening for a reason. Over the course of this year I have heard things about ECS and how there is much more education about First Nations, and everyone has to take INDG, and I think that is where I want to aim to with my life. I can see the problems that these classes could be facing, and I would like to be the one who is tackling them, head on, ready to make the program as strong as it could be… I have decided the teacher I want to be is the teacher who is good enough to teach an education class at the University. It is a high goal, but I know that I will be involved with First Nations education and content in some way.

I guess that is all I really have to say,
See you next year,
Samantha Douglas