This paper analyzes the development of multiple identities in society, based on several factors, including, social construct, schooling experience, self-perceptions, and personal experiences. These dynamics are centered on understanding the issues and perspectives regarding multicultural education. More so, this paper is aimed at advancing the view that, it is crucial to understand oneself, first, before one may understand other people. From this perspective, this paper acts as the first step towards fostering tolerance and understanding in a multicultural school setting, because it provides insight into issues and perspectives regarding multicultural learning. This is done by giving an account of my personal experiences as a biracial student.
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Privileges Enjoyed as a Biracial Student
As a biracial student, many things make me different from other students. Though some of these factors are negative, there have been positive attributes to my biracial nature which seem like “privileges” over other students. For instance, I have had an easy time adjusting to the norms, values, and beliefs of both races (where I hail from). This fact makes me more dynamic and flexible than most students who profess one race. Since the student population often clusters itself according to the various majority and minority groups, I have had an easier time identifying with both groups because I can relate to their race. Moreover, I find it easier to fit into a social group comprised of one race, much easier than a student from a single race would (if he or she tries to mingle with other students from outside their race).
Furthermore, I have a strong multilingual ability, as opposed to students coming from one racial background. Here, I am also more flexible than most students coming from one racial background because I have been able to learn different languages at every stage of my upbringing. This advantage is greatly complemented by the fact that I was exposed to a very dynamic environment, characterized by two languages. I was therefore able to learn my parents’ languages easily. This ability has improved my communication skills because I find it easier to connect with people from various language groups. This skill is especially important in today’s global world. Moreover, it exposes me to various job opportunities which students, who only understand one language, may not have.
Disadvantages Experienced in School
Coming from two racial backgrounds also poses a lot of challenges to my social comfort. First, I am faced with an identity crisis because I have characteristics from my maternal and parental sides, which I find extremely difficult to juggle. I, therefore, have trouble trying to define who I am and more so, explaining to my fellow students, who I am. This situation also creates a challenge for my colleagues to define me. This identity crisis has been studied by many sociologists, including Betty lee Sung, who observes that biracial students have often projected different identities (Lam 1). She explains that biracial students have often expressed themselves differently, in their dressing, hair styles, accents, and lifestyles. She also explains that some students have simply given up and let others define them. Similarly, I face this dilemma because I initially found it difficult to integrate well with other students because of my lack of identity. Therefore, I was alienated and lonely.
Race Discussion in School and at Home
My school setting always maintains a neutral environment for all students to feel equal and accepted in the community. This neutrality is upheld in most areas of administration, including admissions, grading (and the likes). It is therefore the school’s policy to ensure that, all students are not discriminated against because of race. This policy is however part of a wider national philosophy on the same. Nonetheless, in the home setting, I have had a considerable degree of pressure from my distant relatives and close relatives regarding the need to identify with one race. Both groups hail from different races and they would prefer me to identify with one.
Though this demand is not obvious, there are certain racial undertones to their statements that guide me to believe they would want me to identify with one race. However, my parents have always posed a unified front in my racial identity and I must admit that this has helped me to accept my biracial nature. Lam (2) notes that parental influence is an important component of racial identity for biracial students (and children) because it is from this basis that children learn to accept their biracial identities. He further explains that a fragmented front (by the parents) leads to a racial identity crisis for their children, but a unified front encourages a healthy perception of dual racial identities for the children (Lam 3). This fact greatly complements the acceptance of my dual racial nature.
Role of Gender
A person’s gender has never played a crucial role in my upbringing. Boys and girls were treated equally and offered equal opportunities in society. Though there was a stronger emphasis on the boy child (in the past); the focus on the girl child has quickly gained momentum, and now, boys are treated equally to girls. In this regard, I have not experienced any form of gender discrimination from home or even at school. In the same regard, my gender has not offered any opportunities that other people could not get, because of their gender.
Role of Social Class in my Education
Social class plays a significant role in the quality of education students receive. In this regard, it is important to note that, social class has significantly influenced the quality of education I receive. There are very limited opportunities for students from a lower social class to be accepted in some of the best educational institutions in the country. Simply, this is because the country is largely capitalistic, and the best educational opportunities are expensive. Unless one gets admission into a reputable educational institution through scholarships or sponsorships, it is very difficult for one to get a quality education if they come from a poor background. These are the circumstances that characterize my educational upbringing.
School Racial Stratification
My school is predominantly white. However, all races are represented in the school, but the minority racial group is African-Americans. This racial stratification reflects the national representation of racial representation in the country’s education system.
Lessons learned about Race, Class, and Gender in My Neighborhood
The lessons learned about gender and class (in my neighborhood) are explained in earlier sections of this study. Until recent years, gender was a significant factor to consider when it came to economic and social opportunities. However, men and women, or boys and girls, have been treated the same (in recent years) and this is the situation that is reflected in my neighborhood. Comprehensively, I have come to understand that gender is not a limiting factor in the availability of economic or social opportunities.
However, from my neighborhood, I have learned that society is still classified according to various classes. Here, I have learned that class is synonymous with the level of wealth creation and it is also congruent to the availability of social and economic opportunities. Access to education is also subject to these dynamics. Racial stereotypes are however minimal, though they exist. Recent years have seen increased intermarriages among different races in my neighborhood and people have been able to adapt well to one another. This observation led me to realize that, though we still hold certain reservations about various races, we are all the same. Most of the racial prejudices we, therefore, hold dear, are in our heads.
Most Privileged Student Group
The most privileged student group has always been the white majority. Though the paradigm is slowly shifting to offer equal opportunities for all students, the white student population has always had an edge above the rest because they are historically wealthy (as compared to other racial groups) and therefore, they have good access to quality education. Moreover, they do not experience any challenges in socialization because they comprise the majority of students.
How the Development of my Cultural identity Impacts My Teaching
My biracial nature has largely been an advantage and not a disadvantage to my teaching career. I am bound to gain more acceptance in the educational setting because I can identify with multiple races. In the same regard, my teaching approach is bound to be more flexible than most teachers who hail from a single racial background because I can identify with different student groups. Comprehensively, my biracial nature is complementary to my teaching career.
This paper explains that my biracial nature has posed several advantages and disadvantages to my educational experience and domestic life. However, this paper also explains that class and gender are also important factors to consider in social development because they affect our social fabric (in one way or the other). However, the racial identities we hold, regarding various racial groups, are part of our imagination, though they are weakening by the day.
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Lam, Charlene. Advantages of Raising Biracial Children. 2010. Web.