I had the great pleasure of visiting Sheryl D. Fairchild’s Women’s Studies class at Sacramento City College this April.
The class is reading Hapa Girl and specifically examining the ways that gender, race and sexuality intersect in the book and in society.
We had a great discussion in class. I was very impressed with everyone’s insights and moved by their personal stories. I was horrified (but not shocked) when one Asian American student said her parents have suffered repeated harassment from a neighbor who takes their dogs and dumps them into the trash or dumpsters on the street. The parents got a restraining order against the neighbor, but it was not stopped the neighbor. The class then discussed the gap between the laws on the books and the way they can and cannot be enforced, and the ways that bigotry are still very present in our communities. We also talked about bullying in schools and the need for the witnesses, adults, teachers and administrators to step up and use their power to stop bullying.
I encouraged all the students to use the tools they’re learning in class to speak out and let the world hear their stories, weigh in on the current political debates, and to think about writing their stories down to share with others. I love the diversity of experiences and points of view that I heard in class, and I know that we will greatly benefit as a nation to hear more from these students than we will from the stilted pundits currently ubiquitous on our airwaves and cable “news” shows.
After class I enjoyed getting to talk with the students personally and hear a little about their own aspirations to write.
Much thanks again to instructor Sheryl Fairchild for inviting me to visit her class! I can tell she’s an amazing and caring teacher who is empowering and inspiring her students. It’s always a joy to meet a teacher who is making a positive difference in our society.