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Code Switching?

Sasha De La Cruz's picture

While reading The Silenced Dialogue: Power and Pedagogy in Educating Other People’s Children, there was not a time where I did not find myself connecting to the concept she writes about.

I first began connecting with her text when she speaks of the difference between students of color and the white students in a classroom. Although it made me uncomfortable at times, specifically when she spoke about the difference between Black and White mothers (although I find it to be true), I loved the way she explained the standards needed to be met for the teacher to have authority between these groups. I loved it because I can completely see this taking place in my high school. I use teacher subs for example; there was not a student in my school that gave them authority. The subs simply sat there and took attendance – but that was is. I spoke to a friend of mine that attended a suburban school; she said that in her school this was nowhere near to be the case.

I also loved it when she stated, “I do not advocate that it is the school’s job to attempt to change the homes of the poor and [students of color] to match the homes of those in the culture of power. That may indeed be a form of cultural genocide” (286). This quote struck out to me because it is so true. I relate it to the point where she states, “there is a political power game that is also being played, if they want to be in on that game there are certain that they must play too” (292). I relate these because I am a strong believer that you should never forget where you came from, and you should always carry your culture with you. But I also believe it is vital that you become aware of the reality of our society. Like teacher Demientieff told her class, “We’ll talk like them when we have to” (293). To my understanding, this all summarizes, having to teach your students the magic concept of code switching.

Everyone should learn the rules of the game (rules of culture of power) in order to have a leg up on success. This is NOT to say that our own culture and our own way of doing things are not good enough, because it is. But as Delpit beautifully says it “I do not believe that we should teach students to passively adopt an alternate code. They must be encouraged to understand the value of the code they already possess as well as to understand the power realities in this country” (293). I agree with her statement because as I mentioned earlier, I am not trying to say that the “White way” is the right way. I am simply saying that unfortunately reality is that our society has set standards, and those who were not born into those standards have to be aware of them and learn to play their game until you are able to begin undoing the damage that has been done to us.