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Discrimination in the Classroom

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Essay title: Discrimination in the Classroom

Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, I was exposed to many different cultures at a young age. I was exposed to the dominant culture, which is the U.S. Americans and European Americans, and the co-culture, which is the Latinos, African Americans, and Muslim Americans.

When I reached the age of 6, my parents enrolled me at Brooklyn’s P.S. 118. Not only did I learn my ABC’s and 123’s, but I also had the opportunity to learn and observe children of different cultures and backgrounds. I was exposed to mainly children of the co-culture groups. My teacher was a bright young woman by the name of Ms. Bonaford. She seemed to be very loving and welcoming to all of her students. Although my peers and I were very young and naive, her prejudice against a certain ethnicity became clear to us later on in the year. In our kindergarten class, one of our peers was a Muslim child named Mohammed. When it was time to assign seats, he was always put in the back of the classroom. Ms. Bonaford also gave us an opportunity to choose what we wanted to do during play time, and Mohammed’s suggestions were rarely considered. Due to our teacher’s unwillingness to accept Mohammed, it became almost natural for my peers and I to ignore him. I can recall one particular time after lunch, Ms. Bonaford was calling out the names of every student whose turn it was to use to bathroom. Mohammed made it a point that he had to use the bathroom very badly, and Ms. Bonaford purposely ignored his numerous requests. She decided that he was going to be the very last one to use to bathroom, which eventually left him with wet pants. It was obvious that he was embarrassed, but he held back his tears and walked to the nurse’s office so he could change.

Another specific time I remember was play time. Every day my peers and I were given crayons, paint, and markers to create drawings of our interest. One of Ms. Bonaford’s rules was to always share with one another. A young girl named Maggie was using crayons to draw a picture of a flower and a cloud while Ms. Bonaford was helping and praising her for the wonderful work she drawing. Mohammed was also drawing, and needed to use the crayons so he could finish coloring in his picture. He asked politely if he could borrow them from Maggie, and as Maggie was handing them to him, Ms. Bonaford quickly snatched them from her hands and stated, “Maggie is in the middle of using the crayons, so you can wait your turn.” I do not remember if Mohammed ever got to finish his drawing, but I do remember how horrible I felt about that specific incident. I realized how contradicting Ms. Bonaford was. She made it a point to always share with everyone, but refused to let Mohammed use the crayons even when Maggie was done with them. It was as if the student’s in her kindergarten class were more mature than she was.

It was recently that I understood why my kindergarten teacher was so against people of the Muslim religion. It could be that America’s ongoing Intercultural Conflict against certain countries in the Middle East gave her the mindset that Muslim Americans are dangerous. The elements of the Muslim culture could have also been a factor. She may have disagreed with their history, religion, values, or social organizations. Later on in life, I realized my kindergarten teacher was stereotyping people of the Muslim culture. I came to the conclusion that she was taking out her hatred on Mohammed.

Ms. Bonaford failed to follow core values. Core values are behaviors that clearly mark the members of a particular group over a long period of time. It is clear that Ms. Bonaford did not generalize her core values before she began to dislike the Muslims, because if she did, she would realize that some of them are good people. A good method that she could have used to overcome her hatred could be objectivity. Objectivity is the elimination of overt and subtle hostility towards another culture.

As the months went by, it became obvious that Mohammed randomly skipped days of class. Mohammed’s absence seemed to be the least of Ms. Bonaford’s concern. I am not sure of the specific details, but Mohammed somehow showed signs of depression during his time at home. His parents were concerned, and finally found out what was bothering him. It was clear that Mohammed was being harshly mistreated in the classroom.

This issue was immediately brought to the superintendent who looked further into the problem. With much thought and consideration, they decided to not invite Ms. Bonaford back for the upcoming school year. The superintendent requested a mandatory meeting for P.S. 118’s parent’s to attend. He brought up the issue of racism and stereotyping. He made it a point

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