Sunday, May 1, 2011

Social Justice Event

     On February 16, 2011 I attended my social justice event at my SL school. West Broadway Elementary was doing a celebration performance for Black History Month. This "performance" included skits, dancing, singing, and A LOT of history. The show opened with a dance choreographed by my SL teacher. The children who are involved in the after school dance program showed off their hard work by dancing to a variety of songs either written or sung by African Americans. Following the dancing came a few children singing songs like Follow the Drinking Gourd. People in the audience learned that this song had historical background because it was sung to help the slaves find their way to the north by using the big dipper as a guide. Two other skits that really stuck out to me was the Oprah skit. Children put on a skit that had a little girl playing the role of Oprah and interviewing other famous African Americans. And lastly, they had a Rosa Parks skit. This skit included a childrens version of what happend that day. They had created a fake bus and even had a police officer arrest Rosa! A lot of thought went into this skit and all the children who particpated did a fabulous job.
     Throughout the performance, I noticed several connections that could be made to other texts that we have read in class. For instance, media played a large role in this day for the kids. They got ideas for skits from television shows such as the Oprah show. While Christensen talks mostly about cartoons and princess movies, I saw some of her thougths and ideas in this. One thing she says in her piece is, "I want to develop their critical consciousness, but also move them to action" (Christensen, 4). To me this fit into my event. The children had learned that it isn't all about white people, that African Americans did just as much as the whites did. Teachers at West Broadway developed critical thinking in their students, they made them put together a 2 hour show that taught people about what they learned. They learned that Oprah was a self made millionaire and she used the money she made from the show to help others. They were able to see that Oprah isn't racist and that she is thought of highly by many people. Another author that I saw through this event was Johnson. While this event/performance was to celebrate Black History Month, it also showed the struggles that African Americans had to go through. The main thing that the children did was they just said it. They didn't tip-toe around what had happened. "It is possible, however, to talk about it in ways that make the strugle and pain worth it" (Johnson, 13). These children just flat out said it and to me that was so admirable because even as a college freshman, I am still cautious of the words I use when talking about sensitive issues. Lastly, the third author I witnessed in this event was Lisa Delpit. One part of the Rosa Park skit involved a bus driver asking Rosa, "Are you supposed to be sitting there?" And Rosa replied by saying, "Yes." Now because most of us grew up in the culture of power we wouldn't think twice at our response. However in the skit I saw a "white bus driver" use the culture of power towards an African American woman who was not in the culture of power. In Delpit's piece, she talks a lot about just saying it instead of asking it, "Each cultural group is left saying, 'Why don't those people just say what they mean?' as well as, 'What's wrong with them, why don't they understand?'" In this specific skit, Rosa was the one asking why and the bus driver was the one asking what. This event also reminded me of some youtube videos I have seen over the years... This first video is composed of images and music showing the past in civil rights, slaves, and celebrities. Short clip on the Rosa Parks story. Short biography of Oprah Winfrey to give background on what the kids did.

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