Wednesday, January 17, 2007

racisme amical

The friendly side of racism is what I sometimes get from my students. Consider something that happened at the end of my Intensive 3 class on Monday (the day of the botched joke and the limp pole): as everyone was leaving, a student asked me out of the blue, "You're not part-Korean, by chance?" I said I was. "Ah," she smiled, "That's why I feel so comfortable around you! I don't feel as comfortable around the other foreign teachers."

I'm always happy to find out that my students feel relaxed in my class, and I've often seen comments to that effect on the evaluation forms at the end of any given semester. However, the idea that the students' sense of comfort might be linked to my race is disturbing, primarily for the racism it exhibits, but also for the uncomfortable implications regarding the effectiveness of my teaching style and methods. I'd like to think that I get through to students based on what I do, not who I might seem to be.

But "who can tell the dancer from the dance," eh? Questions of "what" and "who" get tangled pretty quickly, as when people talk about hating the sin and not the sinner.


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