Coming from a predominantly white suburban Norcal city, I had a pretty sheltered upbringing. My parents sought to mitigate this through education and exposure to culture. When I was old enough, I built on this and tried to see beyond the limitations of my worldview by volunteering and traveling. Still, none of this could truly teach me about life and culture in the Bronx.

One of the obvious (and sometimes humorous) examples is the names of students. Names like Tayeisha and Wilmary were completely foreign to me a year ago (I have plenty of interesting names in this year's class too). Of course, I sometimes forget that the cultural ignorance goes both ways.

The other day I had students write their own number stories (in olden times we called them word problems!). Many of them used Anglo names that are common to number stories, but uncommon to my school: Bob, Jess, Jane, Jill, etc. I couldn't help but laugh a bit to myself when one student referred to Jill as a he.

It's a funny anecdote, but tells a broader story as well, of two (or more) segments of American society, completely segregated from each other and therefore oblivious to one another.


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