Critical Reflection

In the beginning of the term we read Takaki, R. (1993). A different mirror: A history of multicultural America. New York, NY: This book illustrated the Narrative of American history and how it has influenced our culture and society. Master Narrative is how society, social media, and news have constructed our perspective of how we see ourselves and how we fit into American history. My perspective has changed on how American became to be and the reality of how people of color were treated during the discovery of America. The video “The Power of Illusion” influenced my perspective of how populations and races were developed and taught in our education system inaccurately. Both these readings illustrated that people were treated inhuman in our early history because of the color of their skin or the way they looked.

“Power of Illusion” and Takaki shed light on our American heroes and presidents that society portrayed as fighting for equal rights and ending slavery. It opened my eyes to the great length American went to be a civilized country and behind closed doors how American heroes and presidents treated people of color. These resonated with me because for the first time in my life I felt like the American dream was at the cost of other people suffering. In the beginning of the class I was scared to talk about race or racism because I am white. These reading made me feel like white Americans have been the reason people of color and Indians suffered. I didn’t want to say the wrong this or offend someone, so I never brought it up.

This class has taught me to that it is easy to not say anything but that’s how social injustice and racism continue. I now challenge what society has taught me and has subconsciously I have learned. As I reflect on this class I realize I have learned about the history of race and how it has been society constructed. It has allowed me to look in mirror and question how I have contributed to social justice. I look at my family and friends differently and see ways that contribute to racism and sexism and challenge their thoughts and behaviors. I have grown as an individual through this class and have expanded my understanding of who I am.

After learning about the history of American and Race the class moved to learning about how we move forward in creating diversity and multicultural change. I know have the knowledge and tools to create diversity at the individual, group and institutional level. I understand the impact that multicultural change can have on student’s educational experience. I have the tools to be a participant and leader in multicultural change. I know look around at my racial climate and understand how my understanding of race has been shaped. I want to continue to create multicultural change in my personal and professional life. As a potential future staff member at a university I want to work together to build relationships with students and staff to prevent multicultural issues in higher education. I want to continue to be aware of multicultural issues because they will continue to grow and change. I am excited as a student affair professional to be a part of the student’s development and influence the outcome of a student’s experience. I reflect on where I started in this class on my understanding of race and multicultural issues and I am proud of how far I come. This project has allowed me to share my story among my classmates and learn about the experiences and stories of them. We might have all came from different backgrounds and cultures, but we have all come together to stand for social justice.

Pope, R. L., Reynolds, A. L., & Mueller, J. A. (2014). Creating multicultural change on campus. Retrieved from

Takaki, R. (1993). A different mirror: A history of multicultural America. New York, NY: Back Bay Books.

Herbes-Sommers, C. Cheng, J. Adelman, L. Smith, L. Strain, T. (Director). (2003). Race – The Power of an Illusion 

Racial Climate

I would consider myself a people person that often doesn’t speak up. I don’t have strong opinions and always try and see both sides of a story or situation. I think it is one of my greatest traits but it is also one of my weaknesses because I often believe what everyone tells me. The reason I say this is because this class has opened my eyes to my racial climate and how other people’s opinions have influenced me. Before this class I felt like I was blind to seeing racial bias incidents or looking at myself and seeing ways I was contributing to social injustice. This class has challenged me and prepared me for taking an action to stop racial incidents and understanding the impact racism has on those around me.

In the last ten years my father has reentered my life and I have begun to learn about who he is. My dad grew up in the rural hills of Kentucky where is father worked in a factory and was an alcoholic. My dad has told me that my grandfather didn’t hesitate to use racial slurs or see people of color in a negative light. My dad grew up in a community that saw people of color as violent and dangerous. My dad believes he doesn’t have those same beliefs as my grandfather but this class has allowed me to see the ways my dad doesn’t realize he is contributing to racialization.

Although I don’t think my dad is a terrible person I do think he says racial comments and makes judgements based on someone’s color. I remember when I was in college I was starting to date an African American that I had met in class and I was telling my dad about him and he made a comment about dating someone of color. I was upset and was trying to comprehend how someone could think like that in the 21st century. After taking this class, I question my dad when he makes comments and now don’t hesitate to have uncomfortable conversations with him regarding racism. In the past I hesitated to speak up about my opinions but I am now learning about the privileges I have and I need to use my voice to make a difference. For someone like my dad, he doesn’t mean to contribute to racism because it was what he learned through society but sometimes it takes someone to question what society has taught them to see their own racial biases.

One of my favorite songs growing up was Where is the love? by Black Eyes Peas (2003, Elephunk.) It brings tears to my eyes about the reality of our world and all the pain that people experience. One of these pains is racism and this song now paints a picture of my father and I’s relationship regarding race. The lyric that I connect with most is:

People killin’ people dyin’
Children hurtin’, I hear them cryin’
Can you practice what you preachin’?
Would you turn the other cheek again?
Mama, mama, mama, tell us what the hell is goin’ on
Can’t we all just get along?
Father, father, father help us
Send some guidance from above
‘Cause people got me, got me
(Where’s the love)

Although I respect my father our views are very different and I now see how he has contributed to my racial climate. Although this song is about love, I think love can bring people together to create social justice. I think if my father loved all people no matter what and didn’t turn the other cheek than the world would be a better place. Looking at my racial climate allows me to see the ways my racial biases have been shaped and learned. I want to continue to push forward to question what my father has taught me and my own racial biases.

Where is the Love?

Kirkman, J. (2011, August 11). The Black Eyed Peas – Where Is The Love? Retrieved from

Racial Academic Autobiography

I grew up in a small town where you couldn’t get away with much because everyone knew each other. I went to school with the same kids from preschool to high school. I was fortunate enough to live on property where I could ride four wheelers, swim in the pool and play outside. My neighborhood had no diversity and has remained predominantly white for the forty years my family has lived there.  Growing up in a small community I wasn’t exposed to diverse populations. I can remember my first African American teacher when I was in kindergarten. She was a beautiful tall woman, but I remember her being kind and soft. I didn’t know then, that would be the only teacher of color I would have until I reached college.

As I look back and reflect on my racial academic experience, I begin to realize the little experience I have had with race. For the first eighteen years of my educational journey my teachers, fellow students, and neighbors were White. Even sitting her and writing about my racial experiences in education is difficult because it has been a topic that I have never explored. It has opened my eyes to the small amount of race discussion in my classrooms growing up. My teachers in middle school and high school never talked about race or created a safe dialogue to discuss racism. It was something I knew existed but I feared engaging in a conversation about race because of the sensitivity surrounding the topic.

When I was in middle school there was one African American student. My best friend had the biggest crush on him, and they would go onto dating. In my school he was known as the bad kid who was good at sports. I can remember him always being in trouble with teachers and coaches. He would tell us about his home life being tough and there were times when he would come to school with dirty clothes on and had to shower in the school locker room. I remember having a conversation with my mom about him and how lucky I felt to have a safe home and a shower. This was the first glimpse of me realizing the privileges I had.

High school was nothing different, most of the faculty, students and families were White. There were a small population of Latinos and two brothers that were African American. I can recall the brothers saying racist jokes and wondering if they were doing that, so it didn’t hurt when someone else did. I did cheerleading in high school and before one of the football games my friend cornrowed my hair. After the game one of my friends confronted me and said my hair made me look black. How could the way I style my hair categorize me as a certain race? This class has allowed me to look at experiences like that and understand how society shapes our understanding of race.

My experience learning about race was through school, movies, and shows. What my teachers taught me or what I was exposed to on the television shaped my first experiences of different races. I have always been a huge sports fan and growing up I always thought that African American were better at sports than White athletes. I know now that race isn’t based on our biological make up and we are all one human species. But as a kid we makeup stories, but this can also be something we are taught and I am now challenging what I have been taught.

Oregon State was my first experience of diversity in my classes and on campus. There were groups and clubs for people of all different races. My teachers, other students, faculty were people of color. It was an eye-opening experience to meet students from all over the world. I realized how sheltered I had been to diversity. There was a day I sat in the dining hall and I met a student from Africa. I was amazed to hear his journey coming to America and going to a university. To him it was one of the greatest opportunities to get a higher education and come to America. It made me realize how fortunate I was to go to college. I had taken it for granted how easy it was for me to get a higher education and I became conscious of the ways I was privileged. When I graduated college, I decided to do a mission trip to Belize. That experience has changed me forever. Belize is a community that suffers from poverty, violence, and resources. But what I discovered was the people of Belize barely had anything, but they were the happiest and most giving people I had ever met. I realize how many people in this world don’t have essentials such as food, water, or basic education but they build a community to survive. Belize taught me that life was more than materialistic things but about the people and community you surround yourself with.

Although I have not experienced a large amount of diversity in my education journey, I am learning to not fear engaging about racism and challenging what I have been taught by societies structures. I think many students fear talking about race so they avoid it or believe it doesn’t exist because it is the easier thing to do. As a White female I am always second guessing what I am saying when talking about race because I fear I will say the wrong thing or unintentionally offend someone but that is part of the learning process. I want to have uncomfortable conversations to challenge people to think about how they are creating social injustice. I want to expose myself to different cultures and communities and continue to educate myself on social justice. Every time I have traveled, I have learned something new about myself and other cultures. But before I do, I am fearful that I won’t be accepted or staying in my little bubble in the world in safer. But this can be the same for talking about race in education. Although, it may seem like an overwhelming and sensitive road to go down you won’t know the impact it can have on you or our education system until we take the first step. I think it is important to explore the world and ways that cultures and people connect. But we must do this in our everyday life whether we are traveling, at work or in a classroom.

Family History

My family history is a large part of my identity and has shaped much of who I am today. My mother raised my 3 older brothers and myself mostly on her own. As most people see on movies and TV Italians are portrayed as a loud culture that cooks pasta and drinks wine. However, that is an accurate picture of my family. My grandparents were first generation Italian immigrants that were dedicated Catholics and wanted their children to be raised in America. My mother tells me that my grandparents spoke Italian to each other but wouldn’t teach it to my mom and her siblings with fear that they would sound different from the other children. My grandparents believed that American was the promise land and felt it was a dream to call it home.

Itlalian Flag.png
My mother grew up in a traditional Catholic Italian household. She was brought up to cook and clean while the men in the family provided and worked. She never missed Catholic mass on Sundays and attended an all-women’s school until she graduated high school. But my mother wanted something different for herself and believed she could be just as educated as men. She went to college against her parents’ wishes and received a Master’s in Counseling. She was the owner of a private practice as a therapist for 20 years before passing away. As you can see in the image below my mother and I look very much alike.

Mom and I.pngFamily.png
This short background illustrates who I have developed into today. Although my mother is no longer here she continues to influence me. My mother pushed us children to understand the value of education because her parents didn’t. My sibling and I have all received a higher education and continue with our family traditions. My brothers and I still continue Italian traditions when I visit home like Sunday dinners and church together. My mother taught me to cook and cooking has continued to be my therapy throughout the years. I watched my mom be a strong independent woman that looked at life as an opportunity to help others. This is one of the main reasons I want to help guide students on their journey. When I was lost my mom at 18 my student advisor helped me not give up on school and encouraged me to believe in myself. I am proud to say I am a loud Italian women that loves to cook and drink wine with my family.