Common Subjective Evaluations of Child Behavior

Common Subjective Evaluations of Child Behavior

Source: Thomas Armstrong as cited in Jawanza Kunjufu, Keeping Black Boys Out of Special Education (2005), p. 10.

Notice how one’s preconceived attitudes toward the child shape which

characteristics are attributed to him, and in turn, his schooling experiences and outcomes. Students of Color and Indigenous students are much more likely to be assessed by teachers as exhibiting problematic rather than desirable character traits (Gregory et. al., 2010; Harry, 2007; Harry & Klinger, 2006; Kunjufu, 2005). When you add the demographic of the teachers who make these assessments (the overwhelming majority of whom are White middle-class females) you can see how dominant culture determines what constitutes normal behavior.

The invisibility of privilege for the dominant group. Like the invisible

current that is carrying us effortlessly forward, privilege is something we do not need to think about when we have it. Because those in dominant groups are not disadvantaged by the oppression, but in fact benefit from it, they find it fairly easy to dismiss the accounts of members of minoritized groups. Living lives that are segregated (in schools, neighborhoods, workplaces, and social circles), it’s also easy to avoid seeing what minoritized group members experience. Further, we are not taught in schools and mainstream culture about the experiences of minoritized groups. This makes it difficult for dominant group members to see oppression, or to believe accounts of it happening to others. In addition to


the structural barriers, there are psychological and social investments in not seeing oppression. To see and validate oppression requires that we question a system that benefits us where we are in dominant groups. These investments cause us to resist pressures to acknowledge oppression; where we are dominant, we generally don’t like to have our privilege pointed out (and many of us actively deny having any benefits beyond those equally available to others). Thus simply naming privilege typically causes defensiveness and avoidance. This, of course, is another way that oppression stays in place: dominant group resistance to acknowledging it, and the social penalties meted to those who try to bring it up (Kimmel & Ferber, 2016).

The following are examples of ability privileges that we can take for granted on a daily basis if we are able-bodied:

There are thousands of recreation leagues specifically set up for us and rarely, if ever, any for people with disabilities. When they are, they are often segregated from the “regular” events. We can choose courses by their academic appeal rather than by the building they might be located in. We do not have to make extensive travel plans just to get groceries, attend an event at a colleague’s home, or go out to dinner with friends. We don’t need to consider whether the building has ramps, handrails, or adequate lighting. We aren’t labeled and segregated into “special” classes, schools, and buses. Our segregation isn’t rationalized as necessary in order to avoid “slowing down” people with disabilities. The social paradigm that values competition, individualism, and speed over collaboration, patience, and diversity elevates able-bodied people.

Those of us who are defined as nondisabled will likely not recognize advantages as privileges at all but as simply normal aspects of life. We have been socialized into our position of dominance since birth and have internalized this position as natural. Now let’s consider how the external and structural dimensions of privilege interact with internal and attitudinal elements.

Place Your Order Here!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *