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my multicultural moment

eheller's picture

When I was in high school, I took a class that culminated in a group project in which each group had to teach the class about a subculture. One group chose gangs as their topic. They started by showing pictures of different groups of people and asking the class to raise their hand if they though that the picture could be classified as a gang. No one raised their hand when they showed pictures of children playing and happy families, but when they showed a picture of a group of Hispanic men, almost everyone raised their hand. One of the girls in the presentation group then informed us that it was a picture of her dad and uncles at a family picnic.  The whole class went silent. The girl was the only Hispanic member of the predominately white class, and I immediately felt guilty. She showed us our internal prejudices, and it was one of the first times I realized my own prejudices and my white privilege. We did not classify any of the pictures of white people as gangs, but immediately assumed the Hispanic group was a gang. Whenever I think about diversity, multiculturalism, privilege, or prejudice, I always think about this moment and how it made these issues relevant for me for the first time.