I really enjoyed reading Janet’s book, and am glad to see diversity discusses by a “white” person. It has really help me come to terms with my position in society and realize that there are many aspects of my life that I take for granted. I am also able to recognize my own beliefs and how they were shaped by my “invisible” culture. I read this book right after I read Privileged, Power, and Difference, and I felt they went very well together. At first, I did not want to accept the idea that I had benefits simply because of my skin color. I am learning to accept this and also to question it. Coming from the dominant culture, I neglect and ignore the fact that other people live their lives differently than I was socialized to do.
Even though we should expand our awareness of other cultures, we should never make generalizations. Each person differs based on their language, "their individuality, their family, their gender, age, race, ethnicity, abilities, religion, economic level, social status, where they live and where they came from, sexual orientation, educational level, and even appearance, size, and shape!" (p. 5) There are so many different factor’s that influence a person’s culture and behavior, and these differences can be a choice or something that was forced on them. We can’t fall into the trap of labeling people by one aspect of their identity. To do this denies all other aspects of their identity.
As someone who works with children and their families, I have a lot of influence over culture. I will inevitably pass on elements of my culture, much of the time without realizing. It is my responsibility to communicate with parents and find out what they feel is best for their child. I must question my own reactions and think about why I act the way I do with children, from moment to moment. I may understand myself and my thinking, judging it superior to any other. However, I must work with families instead of for them or against them.
We also have to be accepting of all families. Janet says that "all children need to feel that their families are acceptable to their teachers." (p. 11) Some parents may have different structures from traditional society. This can be a homo-sexual headed family as Janet mentions, or it could be a family that is headed by grandparents, with parents missing, or a single mother, or a single father, or a child that is primarily raised by a nanny. They could be rich or poor, young or old, colored or uncolored. We may have our own stereo-types about the family, but we need to put them aside to ensure that they child feels that it’s family, and therefore the child itself, is accepted. I like how Janet reminds us about ethical codes, and even if we have our own judgements, we need to be ethical in our care.
I am struggling, being the only “white” nanny in the community that I work in. There are other nannies, but they are all Hispanic, primarily recently immigrated from Mexico. I definitely have trouble fitting in with them and understanding their culture, but I want the boy I work with to interact with other children. These are the children that live in his community and he will grow with them. I see harsh differences in the way they handle the children, expecting them to fit into the adult world and handle themselves. They gather at the park for Bar-B-Ques, which I think is a great experience for the children to socialize, but the event seems more focused on the adult wants and schedules. The children seem to be more of an after-thought. The amount of observation of the children is much different from what I am used to, particularly with children around the age of two playing on structures designed for five to twelve-year-olds. I don’t know the parents of the children, but they are white and wealthy. I would think that if they are paying someone to take care of their children at home rather than in group care, they want more direct interaction and personal care....
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