Deculturalization: Happening Then and Now – by: Lisa Chapas

One of the main concepts that we talked about during the last 3 weeks that I found very interesting was about our history with deculturalization.  Deculturalization is the process of getting rid of a people’s culture and replacing it with a new one.  There are 4 main groups of people this has targeted:  African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and Mexican Americans.  I was very disturbed that our country thought so little of other cultures, especially since the European people came to this country to find freedom from oppression.  How ironic that we then oppress other groups of people coming to this country whom are seeking the same freedom.  It saddens me when I read about Native Americans and the boarding schools that literally stripped these people of their culture.  They were forced to change their names, cut their hair, and change their clothing so that they would look like Europeans.  With each of the other three groups, they did some of the same things, stressing the Colonial way of life as being the correct and only way.  Many don’t realize that some of these same things continue to happen even to this day.  Segregation and academic tracking in schools are both types of deculturalization.  We continue telling people that they are not good enough because they don’t look or talk like ‘us’.

While this is very upsetting, the good news is that there are teachers that are willing to stand up and say this is wrong.  When I become a teacher, I plan to teach my students about and respect all cultures.  I want my students to feel that their heritage is important and that they should be proud of who they are.  I want to emphasize historical characters of different cultural backgrounds and how they shaped society and the world for the better.  I will dedicate a space in the classroom where students can share pictures of family and cultural events.  I also want to celebrate a different country every month and talk about how that culture contributes to the wonderful melting pot we are today.  Through a celebration of our differences, I want to help my students grow into well rounded and educated citizens.

I have learned a lot about the history of our country in this class.  While we can’t change our past, we can learn from it, and hopefully not make the same mistakes in the future.  Now that I am more aware of concepts such as deculturalization, I will do my best to not be a part of the problem, but rather part of the solution.

The following link talks further about modern-day segregation in America’s public schools-

Modern-Day Segregation in Public Schools

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