The Final Self – A Creative Representation of Learning

This is a reflection of my learning experience, the places I spent my time learning and the new knowledge I have gained – you will notice how my Padlet Assignment changes from the beginning to the end.  Knowledge is power and getting comfortable with the uncomfortable is key.  I’d like to extend a special thank you to my group project partners, to Audrey and to the rest of the class for a truly valuable semester; I’m leaving this class encouraged about being back in University!

Video:
https://youtu.be/LRqo1JyQ4sc


Writing the Self Analysis:

Socioeconomic Status & Class

PART 1:

According to the the English Oxford Dictionary a Story is an account of imaginary or real people and events told for entertainment; an account of past events in someone’s life or in the development of something; the commercial prospects or circumstances of a particular company.  Each one of us has a story which is uniquely shaped by the events and experiences in our lives.  So in all of this, what is my story?  I’m a middle class white woman enjoying some of the luxuries life has to offer but I still have to work hard to be able to indulge in others.  At no point have I had to question when my next meal would be but I also don’t need to worry about hitting the next income tax bracket anytime soon if statistics have anything to say about it.  It turns out that even though from very early on in school we are taught that anyone can make it if we try (Sensoy & DiAngelo p.167) and even with being afforded with some opportunity, the likelihood of moving up a class in society is slim.

Upon reading my classmates stories surrounded around status and class it was interesting to observe the different normative narratives presented oftentimes surrounding the ideology that anyone can be successful with a little bit of hard work.  A number of the stories related a vehicle to class with most of these stories having their class dictated by this particular vehicle, weather intentional or not.  Shaun writes “The vehicle I ended up getting that changed my social class from a middle-class society to a higher social class society was a 2007 Chevrolet Equinox.” with the belief that his class changed due to the vehicle he was driving.  In contrast, Jaclyn writes “I can feel the stare of the mother driving her fancy sleek black Mercedes SUV. I then look away and to the right and see the next mom in her massive shiny sliver BMW SUV. I can feel their judging eyes staring at me in my small old foggy Honda Accord.” feeling inferior because of the vehicle she is driving.  Where Robyn speaks of her struggles to obtain a vehicle in the first place saying “Someday I will have a car, but it won’t be soon.”.

In all 3 accounts, 3 very different stories are told but an general assumption of class is accepted.  Although my story had no relation to a vehicle, an acceptance of class is displayed when I say “The client was fully allowed to verbally abuse me and I was to accept it, as the client had a net worth that meant more to the company than my 10 years of employment.  Shocked and disheartened, I left his office, what more could I possibly do for my job is simply to serve the wealthy.”.  My current career path that I’ve been has certainly opened my eyes to the different socioeconomic positions one can be in.  Class is not dictated solely by the vehicle you drive or the fancy title you hold nor can it simply be changed with just a little bit of hard work and dedication.

PART 2:

I’ve had a decade long career of working with one of Canada’s major financial institutions currently employed with their Private Bank.  I’m in a position which puts me in front of extreme wealth on a daily basis with numbers so large it would be a fantasy land to most.  In the text “Is everyone really equal?” there is a passage which reads, while some people will change class, they will be the exception rather than the rule (Sensoy & DiAngelo p.167).  With my career background I honestly believe that this sentiment could not be more true.  When reviewing my client base, it’s not often these individuals are in their careers and building their wealth due to their hard work and dedication to their industry – this in fact is actually quite rare.  Once all of the layers are stripped away, these folks are typically in these spots due to who they know, they were in the right place at the right time and they possibly had some luck along the way.  Their wealth, more often than not, is generational and is fairly simple to keep intact when given all of the proper tools.  Just like wealth is often cyclical, so is poverty.

Take for example Robyn’s account of simply trying to get a vehicle to provide a convenience to her family.  The entire story is based upon the struggles she was faced with while having three small children in tow and how it was only years later that her and her husband were finally given a break when a neighbour gifted them a vehicle.  If moving up class in society is as simple as working hard and not expecting handouts (Sensory & DiAngelo p.171) why is Robyn not one of the most wealthy individuals to grace this earth?  Robyn says “Our financial situation has slowly improved too. It has taken time, and years, but slowly we have made progress. That was twenty -two years ago now.”.  It is quite clear that it wasn’t her lack of effort that landed her and her family in the position they were in at the time.  For Robyn, it has been over two decades in the making to finally be able to afford some simple luxuries of life despite years and years of hard work.

Its often easy to make claims based on our own experiences especially if our experiences have been limited and sheltered in nature.  Coming from a loving middle class family it was years before I ever figured out that there are people who live differently than I do.  I knew there were poor people and rich people but never did it dawn on me as to what this actually meant – it didn’t have to.  I have always had all of the tools that I need and the appropriate support systems in place to live a comfortable life.  I have the ability to work towards the things that are currently out of reach if I so choose and I’m aware that some of these lavish things may never become a possibility.  I spent many years thinking that my socioeconomic status was all thanks to my parents hard work and although I would say this has helped, it’s certainly not the sole reason as to why I am where I am today.  It’s one thing to be able to make the claim that we are all equal, we all have the same opportunities and all it takes is hard work but a little bit of research would show that this is simply much easier said than done.    

References:

Oxford Dictionary: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/story

Sensoy, O. & DiAngelo, R., 2017.  Is everyone really equal?  An Introduction to Key Concepts in Social Justice Education (p. 167, 171).  New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Reading Response #2:

Race & Whiteness

It’s definitely interesting how a small bit of research on a particular subject can grip your opinions and influence change upon them.  Not by choice and by luck of the draw, I was born to two white parents winning the racial lottery.  Being white has always been something so normal for me that I have never really put any weight on the idea of what it might be like to be someone of colour.  I can’t help but think that this is an excellent example of Structural Racism at its finest.  The ideology of being white has existed in society for so long that it’s simply the norm; it has been woven into our social, economic and political systems in such depth, it’s not to be questioned.  

I have no excuse for my ignorance to the fact that white privilege, structural and institutional racism exist.  The problem is, as a society, being white is so normal that we aren’t taught about it in our schools, in books or even in the media.  The understandings that we develop are simply that of our own experiences and not typically based on factual events or evidence.  Being taught in early years to respect my elders, meant believing all the thoughts of my parents, grandparents, teachers and Governments.  This could not be further from the truth and it’s the issue of this idea that contributes to the continuous cycle our society is caught in.  

Whiteness and white privilege are taboo topics that most people have a significant level of discomfort talking about.  If something is perceived to be right, why would it be questioned?  Starting to question something could potentially unravel the idea that maybe something is in fact wrong with the way society was built.  How uncomfortable is it to admit when you’re wrong and further yet, admit that a change needs to be made?  The first step to admitting there is a problem would be the willingness to discuss the issue without prejudice – does our society have this ability?

Citation:
DiAngelo, Dr. Robin – Why It’s So Hard to Talk to White People about Racism
Huffington Post, December 6, 2017


Writing the Self #4:

Not Yet Gender Neutral

Squirming and wiggling uncomfortably in my plastic yellow chair, I quickly realized I was going to need a washroom break soon or an accident, in front of my entire class, was immanent.  “We were just outside for recess”  I thought to myself sheepishly, “how could I forget to go?”.  My determination to keep that hot pink wax crayon within the bold black lines on the page was rapidly fading as the need to use the washroom, encroached on emergent.  I stared up at the clock promptly calculating the seconds, minutes, HOURS until lunch, only to figure out, I would likely explode if I tired to wait.

My hand suddenly shot up in the air as I began to waive it around abruptly.  “Yes Miss Deck, do you have a question?” my teacher said in response to my hand flapping around wildly as if it were a bird with a broken wing.  Taking me by surprise with her soft and calm response I, for only a split second, had forgotten the emergency at hand.  Immediately remembering the predicament I was in, I blurted out “MAY I PLEASE GO TO THE WASHROOM, MRS. POTTAGE?”.  Faster than the appropriate permission was granted, I was out the door and into the wide open hallway headed to fix my situation. 

The hallway was strikingly quiet as I raced towards the washroom, with only the pitter patter of my feet hitting the linoleum, breaking the silence.  Upon my arrival at the washroom, very sure I was going to explode, I was all of a sudden faced with a decision that I didn’t have time for.  “Two doors, really? Which one do I use?” I contemplated, as I was positive my pants were about to turn to a darker shade of purple.  Deep in thought, I stared at the two doors, one had a figure of a person on the door and the other had a figure of a person in a dress on the door. 

I had never seen a man in a dress before, it was in that moment, I had figured it out!  One image was representative of a boy and one image was representative of a girl and we were each to use our own washroom.  Not fully understanding why the need for separation but completely relieved, I ran through the door making it just in the nick of time!


Writing the Self 3:

Money Speaks

Ping, ping, ping, one after another the emails rolled in until the number on the inbox reached 43.  “Wow, well today will be busier than normal” I thought to myself as I quickly began reading.  None of the tasks embedded in emails were overly complicated and most consisted of client requests for bills to be paid, wires to be sent and transfers to be processed.  Quickly, I sorted the mountain of emails and put my requests in to my service partners to process the transactions.  I knew that with that volume of emails, I would need to be strategic with my time, as anything could explode at any minute to completely change the course of my day.

As fast as my service partners processed my requests, confirmation emails were sent out to my clients confirming their transactions had been completed.  Most client responses to these emails contained a simple “Thank you!” but one in particular contained a “This is completely WRONG!!!”. Immediately after receiving the email in question, my phone began to ring, of course I knew who was calling.  My stomach turned and I began to feel physically ill as the phone rang obnoxiously, over and over and over again. Answering that call was the last thing that I wanted to do in that minute, not because I didn’t think I could correct the error, but because I knew this client well.

Fulfilling my service promise I slapped on my, I’m-the-happiest-person-in-the-whole-wide-world, voice, “Thank you for calling Private Banking, Dayle speaking”.  A voice came through that phone sharper than a machete, “Dayle you complete f***ing r****d, the transfer I requested went to the wrong account”.  Not surprised by the aggression, but startled by the choice of words, I quickly responded, “My apologies for the inconvenience, we will have that fixed right away for you”.  The voice on the other end of the line barked, “Good, get it done now and make sure you send a confirmation to me”.  As a waive of emotion rushed over me, I replied, “My apologies again, we will have this corrected immediately”.  Without a thank you or good bye the dial tone rang through the receiver as the call went dead.

Shortly after the call my boss requested to meet with me in his office to discuss what had just transpired.  He too just had a strip torn off him by our client for my perceived incompetence.  My boss was fully aware that I had done nothing wrong but reminded me of the clients net worth; as if it wasn’t something I had in front of my face everyday.  It was in that moment that the whole situation hit me like a title wave and I felt as if my boss had just written my socioeconomical status on my forehead with a Sharpie for all to see.  The client was fully allowed to verbally abuse me and I was to accept it, as the client had a net worth that meant more to the company than my 10 years of employment.  Shocked and disheartened, I left his office, what more could I possibly do for my job is simply to serve the wealthy.

Writing the self 2:

Uninformed and Innocent

“We’re here!” my mother exclaimed as the vehicle came to a halt between those two yellow lines painted so perfectly on the smooth, black, pavement.  Strapped tightly in the vehicle, I patiently waited for her as she went to hail that grey mettle chariot, which resembled an animal cage on wheels.  The sun was beating down on the car, quickly warming the royal blue interior of that Pontiac 6000.  Within seconds my mom was back and I was released from the confines of my seat, into my chariot. 

We were off, headed towards that remarkably large green building which I had grown to love.  It was the same mundane weekly routine but in my innocence I was able to find great joy and excitement in the repetitiveness.  We wove through the jungle of vehicles, finally reaching the entrance, which had these doors that simply opened with our presence.  Passing through the magical doors, I felt the cool air hit my bare legs as they dangled through the holes of my seat in the chariot.  The inside of the building was very bright and full of people; some moving quickly, some not, some pushing chariots, others carrying baskets.  There seemed to be an understood and common goal, everyone was there for the same purpose.

My mother and I quickly joined the rat race which ensued inside this building, she hopped right in and steered our buggy up and down the isles.  One item after another, my chariot quickly filled with all of my favourite foods, the pile looked like a mountain loaded strategically into our animal cage.  Then it happened, while sitting in my chariot parked unassumingly beside the boxed pasta, I saw this figure coming towards me.  It was something familiar, yet it was something I hadn’t quite seen before; were my eyes playing tricks with me?  As this figure approached I stared curiously as it seemed to be a woman about my mother’s age but with something on her skin.  What was it?  I couldn’t figure it out, she had hair, two eyes, two ears, a nose, a mouth, arms, hands, feet – she had all the makings of a human but colour wasn’t quite right.

After pondering what I was seeing for a great deal of time, still not entirely able to fathom, I loudly blurted out “Mom!  What’s all over that lady’s skin!?”.  With no answer to my question and on two wheels and a prayer, that chariot I was riding in pulled a quick 180 and was out of that isle faster than you could blink.  What had I done?  What had I said?  Once out of ear shot, my mother gently explained, “not only do people come in all shapes and sizes but they also come in different colours too”.  “Cool”, I thought as we headed towards the register.  Smiling and very proud, I felt the week was a success having had yet another fantastic learning experience in that enormous green building. 

Writing the Self 1:

It was More than a Hike

If I were to scream right now, would anyone hear me?  It was an odd thought that I already knew the answer to as there were 3 other adventurers with me.  Ok, if all four of us were to scream right now, would anyone hear us?  Although the thought was on my mind, I wasn’t sure that it even mattered; this thought was quite the contrast to one earlier in the day.

The air was fresh and pure with the wind blowing at a steady pace yet somehow not causing any bother at all.  The sky was a day time version of van Gogh’s, Starry Night, with picturesque clouds on a bright blue backdrop.  Some 2,500 meters up, I was standing even with those perfectly fluffy clouds and was grateful for the warm sun taking the edge off of the crisp draft which surrounded me.  Despite the fact that 4 of us were there, the silence was all-encompassing and completely fascinating.   

Breaking that silence, David yelled out “Come and get it, the tea is ready!”.  We all gathered around the tiny packable camp stove and held out our favourite mugs to be filled with that curiously hot liquid which was created so very high in the sky.  The first sip of that tea was so rewarding, as was the second and as was the third.  The journey to get to that point was lengthy, trying and definitely testing with much time spent wondering if it was worth it.  As I sipped that last bit of tea, I knew, the tears, the laughs, the sweat, the snow, the mud, the uneven terrain, it was all definitely worth it.  

Stuffing my cup back into the pack which seemed as if it was the same size as me, I decided to take a quick wonder, before descending back to reality.  Finding the perfect spot, I lied down on my belly to take a quick break.  At this moment I was staring off into the distance with my hands dangling over that fierce mountain edge.  There was a smile on my face that could not be taken from me with pride running freely through my veins.  My heart was glowing with love for this glorious land which commanded endless freedom in that still moment.   

I felt so alive.  This was the country that I grew up in, however, the terrain was much different than that flat prairie land I grew accustom to.  I felt so free.  This country has so many different landscapes which I’m allowed to explore without reserve of walls or boarders.  I felt so safe.  I was with an experienced group of individuals who were beyond prepared for this day. In that moment of complete clarity, I felt so Canadian.  I was beyond thankful for the infinite adventure and the breath taking landscapes that this country has to offer.

Snap!  It was the sound of my iPhone camera freezing myself into that perfect moment, a keepsake to hold forever as a reminder of all this day meant to me. 


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