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Cultural Exploration: Mr. Jesse Holmes

Introduction

The given cultural exploration will primarily focus on Mr. Jesse Holmes. He is African American and was old enough to experience the first wave of Desegregation Programs among American Magnet schools of the 1970s in St. Louis City. The given individual was chosen because his experience of being in a predominantly White school made him feel isolated and severely discriminated against. The latter was manifested in a wide range of actions ranging from the way he attended the school to bullying by White kids. His story is an outstanding illustration of how a long history of racism and hate cannot be eliminated by a major change in politics and law. The biography showcases the resilient nature of racism and segregation-centered attitude among White people and how Mr. Holmes was able to survive such an experience and remain hopeful that in the future, the hate will come to an end. I chose Jesse Holmes because he is old enough to remember the real implications of open hate and racism, which did not disappear today but rather became subtler.

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Biography

Mr. Holmes was in fifth grade when the 1964 Civil Rights Act was implemented, and the Desegregation Program was introduced to Magnet Schools of St. Louis City. He was an outstanding student, and his score in the mandatory standardized tests was one of the highest among African Americans. He was placed in the 90th percentile in the math section, which meant that he would have to go to the predominantly White Magnet to integrate the school. Mr. Holmes and 20 other Black students were transported by the specialized bus in order to prevent unnecessary interaction with White kids and their parents. The racism surrounded him, and the hate comes from all directions, including White students, their parents, and other White people.

From the beginning, race-based bullying of White students was a major issue that made each day stressful for Holmes and other African American children. He states: “There was a lot of violence. Every day there would be fights between blacks and whites. Teachers would always tell us to mingle with the white kids, but that never happened” (Holmes, n.d.). It was highly common when a group of White students would mock and intimidate Black children. However, in the case of Mr. Holmes, he was a relatively large child, and thus, he could defend himself from the intruders. He also felt a sense of responsibility to protect other African American kids, who could not defend themselves. Such an attitude developed a strong sense of character and righteousness.

Nevertheless, the biography of Jesse Holmes shows that not all White children were racist and hateful because there are always bad apples. He was among the first Black students who started to interact with the other party. When he was approached by a White gird to ask for a dance, he initially refused out of shock and fear of doing something socially unacceptable. Later, he decided to be a role model and promote peaceful coexistence and cooperation between various races, and thus, he accepted the offer. For many students, it was highly outrageous that a Black kid was dancing with a White girl.

Another aspect of hate came from the parents of the school children, who were not in accordance with the new law of desegregation. The majority of these individuals were not pleased with the fact that African American kids were studying with their children. The bussing process was becoming more dangerous as time went by because the parents and other White people were throwing a wide range of items on the bus. It was done as a sign of their hate and unacceptance of the Black people among the Whites. However, the turning point was when someone threw a bat that hit a girl just in front of Mr. Holmes. He states: “I will never forget the day someone threw a bat on our bus. The bat flew through the window and hit the girl sitting right in front of me. From then on, we had to sit under our seats on the way to school for safety. I remember the bus driver even being scared to drive us” (Holmes, n.d.). After the incident, the African American students were asked to hide under the seats for their own safety. The bus driver himself was highly afraid of the situation, which is why he later abandoned his job. The lack of bussing resulted in Jesse Holmes and other Black kids not being able to attend their Magnet schools. Although their parents were trying to communicate and propose a solution, they were being ignored. They persistently asked to allow children to attend their old schools, and finally, the proposal was accepted.

Later in life, Mr. Holmes would be involved in the sports team at the school, and still, White students would train separately from African Americans. However, the unification process was irreversible because locker room talks were always inclined towards inclusiveness and cooperation. Jesse Holmes did not put a great deal of significance on race, but rather he saw all members of his team as family. His biography shows how difficult it is to change deeply entrenched racism and how the implementation can fail despite the legal shifts. It also illustrates that there are always ones who are willing to cooperate and make the first steps towards progress despite the overall resistance. Lastly, Jesse Holmes shows that not giving up and believing in the highest of values will eventually bring unification and cohesiveness.

Reflection

As a teacher, the interview experience with Mr. Holmes provides invaluable insights and fuller comprehension of racism and the real consequences of resilience towards hate. It is important to understand the underlying causes of any form of hate, such as racism, because the latter is primarily can be considered as a social construction (Ore, 2018). However, one should categorize it as a mere illusion because people need to recognize the issue to be based on racial dimensions that are present in every individual (Omi & Winant, 1994). In other, I should not be delusional that the education process will not be influenced by racism and other forms of formations because the problem is real and needs to be addressed. However, I should also understand that the given type of hate is built on false premises because the differences can be observed among all individuals. The issue arises from the simplistic form of categorization of people based on the most frivolous distinctive features.

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The interview allowed me to see that ethnic and racial asymmetry in identity can be highly proponents. It is stated that such an asymmetry emerges due to one group being well-informed about others, whereas the second party’s knowledge is based on stereotypes and generalist assumptions (Waters, 1996). As a teacher, I need to be aware that I myself can be involved in such an asymmetry, which might promote an incorrect attitude in the class. Therefore, there needs to be fairness and equal treatment for all students. Analysis of Holmes’s biography on the goals of school education reveals a contradiction between the teacher’s perception of the goal-ideal and goals-priorities. The teacher quite rightly considers his mission to contribute to the child’s self-realization and socialization as unchanged.

At the same time, the characteristic of the immutability, inviolability of the pedagogical purpose is transferred to the goals-priorities of education, and the teacher refuses them depending on the socio-cultural conditions. It is possible that the teacher is guided by the knowledge paradigm of the professional and pedagogical activity, assuming that new tasks can be solved by transferring a certain amount of information to the child. The school should, first of all, prepare them for the independent solution of various life problems, forming in them a certain attitude towards themselves, certain personal qualities, developing their cognitive needs and capabilities, and providing preparation for future work activities.

Although racism is not as prominent as during the school years of Mr. Holmes, I should not be blind to its effect of creating a racial wealth gap, and thus, it greatly affects my work as a teacher in a significant way. According to the 2011 statistics, the median Black household wealth holdings are equal to $8348, whereas the value for White households is $111146 (Sullivan et al., 2016). Therefore, the echo of past racism is ever-present in modern society, which means that I should be aware that some African American students will experience some portions of Jesse Holmes’ hardships. Of particular interest is my understanding of the teacher’s professional value system.

The interview allows me to find out which objects or phenomena of professional activity are the most significant for a teacher and determine his professional goal-setting. It is important for me to understand the influence of socio-cultural factors on education, the teacher’s assessment of the state of school education, teachers’ ideas about the goals and results of schoolchildren’s education, and the importance of certain aspects of professional activity. In my opinion, the factors that have the most significant impact on changes in school are the development of information technology, the priority of independence, activity, the responsibility of a person, strengthening the economic and social role of the family, the local community in education, increasing the importance of joint actions, and expanding the opportunities for continuing education for African Americans.

I believe that the most attractive aspects of a teacher’s professional activity are the creative nature of work, the ability to benefit people, the intellectual landscape of the profession. I highlight the aspects that characterize the humanistic, original orientation of professional and pedagogical activities, the rational nature of the teacher’s work. Thus, the modern cultural and professional identity of teaching can be characterized in a unique way. The teachers, showing sensitivity to the changed socio-cultural situation, for the most part, are still guided by the functions of the professional and pedagogical activity, characteristic of the previous stage of social development of industrial society. The accumulation of knowledge was the meaning of education and, accordingly, determined the implementation of the teaching and educational functions of the teacher through the organization of the assimilation of knowledge. The readiness of the modern teacher to ensure the quality of education required in the modern sociocultural situation can be illustrated by the following data.

It should be noted that the understanding of the need for change is growing most likely due to the fact that I, as a teacher, should have a sufficiently strong and stable sense of social responsibility and consider my activity as a mission, while maintaining the general orientation of the teaching profession towards child development, humanism, and creativity. It is important to be more critical of the modern school and, in particular, its ability to provide the modern quality of education. By virtue of this fact, I also have to be the most responsive to changes and innovations in professional activity.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Jesse Holmes’s biography is an outstanding illustration of how racism can be resilient to major policy-based changes. In addition, it shows that teachers can have a great deal of influence over these issues by promoting cooperation and inclusiveness. Although Mr. Holmes experienced the most explicit form of racism and hate, its effects are present in the modern-day, where African Americans own significantly less money than White families. Based on the findings, one can conclude that there is a need for significant changes in professional and pedagogical activity, which would contribute to resolving the contradiction with social class differences. This conclusion is notable for the procedural characteristics of the model of sociocultural conditioning of the functions of the teacher’s professional and pedagogical activity. This reflects the algorithm for constructing teacher training for the development of new functions. As a result, I must rely on the humanistic values ​​of teaching, and it is necessary to create opportunities for the growth of the potential of minority groups through understanding the driving forces behind racism and social inequality for the implementation of certain functions of professional activity.

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References

Holmes, J. (n.d.). Interview with Mr. Jesse Holmes.

Omi, M., & Winant, H. (1994). Racial formations in the United States. Routledge.

Ore, T. E. (2018). The social construction of difference and inequality: Race, class, gender, and sexuality. Oxford University Press.

Sullivan, L., Meschede, T., Dietrich, L., Shapiro, T., Traub, A., Ruetschlin, C., & Draut, T. (2016). The racial wealth gap: Why policy matters. Demos. Web.

Waters, M. (1996). Optional ethnicities: For whites only? Wadsworth Press.

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