Published: Monday, March 10th, 2008
The first time I remember feeling silenced was back in second or third grade. Our teacher gave us an exercise where we had to think up a vegetable starting with each letter of the alphabet. We were told we would get bonus points if we thought of a vegetable that no one else thought of. When I got to the letter “B,” my first thought was broccoli, but I imagined that everyone else would put that too. Instead, I wrote “bok choy” and mentally patted myself on my back for my cleverness. When I got my paper back, instead of a perfect score, I found a big X through “bok choy” and a note from my teacher saying that this wasn’t a real vegetable. I told my teacher that it was a Chinese vegetable and her response was that they didn’t sell it in the supermarket so it didn’t count. This disempowering moment shaped my understanding of the impact that teachers have on the identity development of their students and the importance of using schools as vehicles for social justice.
During my junior year of college, the administration was on the brink of radically restructuring the beloved Multicultural Resource Center, a source of support for some of the most disenfranchised communities on the campus. One night, a diverse group of students filled the Edmonia Lewis Center for Women and Transgender People, to determine how to take action. This was the first time that I was part of a broad coalition of queer, Africana, Latino, Asian Pacific Islander, and many other communities coming together to work towards a greater cause. The campaign and petition that came out of the gathering was supported by students across campus and led the administration to withdraw the proposed changes. Today, I continue to carry with me the importance of working across communities and issues to achieve a wider goal of social justice.
Favorite Musical Artist/Group: me on guitar hero.
Posted by Tracy Ng, NAPAWF Director of Membership and Operations