Blog #3 Racism Interview

The first person I interviewed was my Math teacher at Winooski High, Mr. Dorfman. A man that I really respect and look up to.

My conversation with him I asked what comes into his mind when he hears the word racism. He replied to me and said having limited information on someone else race. As somebody who is older than me, Mr. Dorfman believes that the root of racism comes from people possessing limited information about a separate race. He said it’s this idea of having a straight perspective about something that makes us believe what’s actually not there. In our conversation, while talking to me about this idea of straight perspective, he went on and summarized one of his favorites Tedtalk video to me by a Nigerian woman named Chimamanda Ngozi called “The danger of a single story” that I really found very interesting, especially how he tied it to this topic. Basically, in this Ted talk video, this woman talked about how hearing one version of one story can deliver so many inaccurate information in our brains. These pieces of limited information that can lead us to make so many bad and negative choices and decisions in our lives. “It’s just how people minds are, and we cannot change that” he said after he summarizes the Tedtalk video.

Based on the conversation I had with Mr. Dorfman, I believe that my interest in this topic about racism has increased. I learned a lot by just talking to him, and got so many ideas that I think will help me in this topic. Also, when interviewing him, I felt like my mind expanded because he was bringing up so many good points about racism that I didn’t even know exists. One of my favorites was the idea of straight perspective that he got from Chimamanda Tedtalk video he brought up in our conversation. I mean I knew that some people, mostly white, are racist toward black people because they believe that they are violence and a disgrace to this country. But I didn’t know that most of these people believe that because they heard this one single story about black people, and right away started making assumptions about them being violence and a disgrace to America. I’m really glad I interviewed him because now I feel more confident in myself with this topic.

The second person I interviewed was my friend Anderson, a Junior at Winooski High School. Anderson is a great friend of mine and somebody that I definitely had to have a conversation with. In our discussion, the first question I asked him was that how does he describe racism. Without hesitation, he replied to me and said that racism to him is basically not liking somebody based on their race or where they are from. Judging them without truly knowing them. Racism is one the big issue the US, people from all around the country are facing it. But although that a fact, he said he doesn’t really experience that here in Vermont like some people with his skin color. He stated that it’s because of the fact that the State of Vermont is so supportive and welcoming to all people, and it’s because with this that he sometimes forgets that racism even exists. But that not always the case for him, racism does exist and he sees it on TV all the time. He sees it a lot that for some reason he feels like wanting to send his message to people about it. His message that wants everybody no matter what race, to be treated with the same justice as everyone. Because he believes that there is no difference between any of us, he believes that we are all human being and that’s what it should be.

After my conversation with him, like with Mr. Dorfman, I felt like my interest in this topic of racism has increased even more. As somebody who is black, he shared a lot of his background information about racism with me that I thought were truly very good to know. He had a lot to say about this topic which made me feel great because I benefited from what he told me. Overall, I’m so happy that I got the chance to get hold of him and get this interview done.

The last person I interview was my friend Juma, who actually lives in Tenessee but I was able to get hold of him through a phone call. As somebody who lives in an urban state like Tennessee, Juma couldn’t tell me much about racism like I thought he would. Most of what he told me were stuff I already knew. But he was able to tell me that although racism is not something he thinks about most of the time it’s still bad. He believes that it has caused so many harms toward people, mostly those with a black skin, and it should just stop.

By the end of all the interviews, I believe I was able to learn and add a lot to what I already knew about my topic. I needed this, and I’m glad I was able to do it.

 

 

 

Hussein Amuri

6 Responses to “Blog #3 Racism Interview

  • Meg Allison
    2 years ago

    Hello Hussein,

    I loved your post this week! This integration of your three interviews and of how they have expanded your thinking was powerful to read. I hope you will continue to interview people from all walks of life around the topic of racism, because reading people’s thoughts helps us all to grow. Thank you for sharing!

    A couple of points were raised for me as I read your writing. I would agree with you that Vermont, as a whole, is progressive and welcoming. As a Vermonter, that makes me feel proud! However, Vermont does have a history of bias and discrimination (even an eugenics movement in the 1930s and 1940s) and certainly there is both institutional and individual racism here, and of course, implicit bias. Are our school curriculums diverse? Are there many authors of color in our English courses? Do our police officers racially profile? Do housing authorities discriminate in Vermont? These are some questions that begin to peel back the layers of congeniality in Vermont, exposing ugly truths. Just last month, one of our most hopeful and dynamic young lawmakers in Montpelier, Kiah Morris, resigned following racial threats. Or in the spring, the cops were called to the Elks Club in Burlington as the Muslim Girls Making Change were waiting to speak. Or at my high school, U-32, in the May after raising the Black Lives Matter flag to be confronted by students coming to school waving confederate flags and All Lives Matter tee-shirts, not to mention to hateful comments from the Times Argus coverage on Facebook.

    Vermont might not have a history of slavery – like Tennessee – but it certainly is not immune to racism and discrimination.

    Continue to dig and ask these hard questions, Hussein. You are an inspiration!

    Kindly,
    Meg

    For more information:
    Eugenics in Vermont:
    http://www.rutlandreader.com/vermont-eugenics-when-our-branding-wasnt-so-sweet/

    Kiah Morris:
    https://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/news/local/2018/09/27/black-vermont-lawmaker-kiah-morris-resigns-following-racial-threats/37957887/

    Muslim Girls Making Change:
    https://www.sevendaysvt.com/OffMessage/archives/2018/05/08/muslim-teen-poets-invited-to-elks-club-which-called-the-cops

  • Meg Allison
    2 years ago

    Hello Hussein,

    I loved your post this week! This integration of your three interviews and of how they have expanded your thinking was powerful to read. I hope you will continue to interview people from all walks of life around the topic of racism, because reading people’s thoughts helps us all to grow. Thank you for sharing!

    A couple of points were raised for me as I read your writing. I would agree with you that Vermont, as a whole, is progressive and welcoming. As a Vermonter, that makes me feel proud! However, Vermont does have a history of bias and discrimination (even an eugenics movement in the 1930s and 1940s) and certainly there is both institutional and individual racism here, and of course, implicit bias. Are our school curriculums diverse? Are there many authors of color in our English courses? Do our police officers racially profile? Do housing authorities discriminate in Vermont? These are some questions that begin to peel back the layers of congeniality in Vermont, exposing ugly truths. Just last month, one of our most hopeful and dynamic young lawmakers in Montpelier, Kiah Morris, resigned following racial threats. Or in the spring, the cops were called to the Elks Club in Burlington as the Muslim Girls Making Change were waiting to speak. Or at my high school, U-32, in the May after raising the Black Lives Matter flag to be confronted by students coming to school waving confederate flags and All Lives Matter tee-shirts, not to mention to hateful comments from the Times Argus coverage on Facebook.

    Vermont might not have a history of slavery – like Tennessee – but it certainly is not immune to racism and discrimination.

    Continue to dig and ask these hard questions, Hussein. You are an inspiration!

    Kindly,
    Meg

  • Hussein,

    Great work with your interviews. I like that you sought out a new perspective by reaching out to a friend in Tennessee. To fully understand a topic requires looking at it from multiple and varied perspectives.

    With that it mind, I want to share with you two related news items from recent weeks about racism in Vermont. The first comes from an on-line news site called “True North Reports”. The article discusses recent racial incidents and has short interviews with folks from around the state sharing their opinions about racism in Vermont. http://truenorthreports.com/claims-of-racist-incidents-provide-vermonters-chance-to-reflect

    The second item is a opinion column from the weekly paper “Seven Days”. The relevant portion is the first half of the column in which the author discusses the recent resignation of a state legislator due in large part to racial harassment. The column also address the article mentioned above from True North Reports. https://www.sevendaysvt.com/vermont/a-complete-bonfire-kiah-morris-speaks-out-on-racism/Content?oid=21253669

    Two different perspectives for you to consider as you continue your exploration of this topic. I’m very interested to know your thoughts on these articles.

    Erik

  • Hussein,
    I think that it was a great idea to interview your teacher. They see tons of different people and have such a unique perspective. They meet people with different opinions an beliefs so they can be great for interviews. I like the way you put down the information.

  • Hussein,

    Take a look at my comment on your post #2… it fits here, too.

    I was interested by this quote that you highlighted, and I presume it is from Mr. Dorfman, in regards to the TedTalk video: “It’s just how people minds are, and we cannot change that.” I would argue that you can change people’s minds and that’s exactly why you are doing this project. And one of the way to change people’s thoughts and attitudes is to inform them and provide them perspectives they hadn’t experienced before.

    I wonder if you wish to think about turning your story around an additional question: “How can we change people’s minds about people who are different than we are?” And, perhaps, “Why is it important that we break down these barriers?”

    Keep at it. Nice work, Hussein.

    geoff

    • Dear Geoff,

      About this blog, I came to discover that what my teacher said about people not changing wasn’t actually what he said. It turns out that there were some miscommunication between me and him during my interview. But rather, he explained how he sees the importance of sharing stories working with people to change their perspective.

      Thank you,
      Hussein

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