Students from my school (99.95% Asian) attended a concert at Orchestra Hall in MN conducted by Sara Hicks. Ms. Hicks is the first woman in MN orchestra history to hold a titled conducting position (Principal Conductor of Live at Orchestra Hall).
She is also Asian. And when she walked out onto the stage, the kids from my school were stunned. Mouths open. Eyes wide. Then they erupted into vigorous, stunned applause. It was like she was a rock star. It had never occurred to these kids that an Asian woman might be a conductor. That they might one day be conductors.
I have been watching SKAM, a Norwegian drama starring a bunch of teenagers that I am not the target market for. But I am sort of obsessed. I have watched the entire series once, and I am starting my third viewing of season 3, which is my favorite.
In season three the main character (Isak) comes to the realization that he is gay (but not "gay" gay, he explains to his friends). He turns out to be more homophobic than any of his high school buddies or his family (including his very religiously conservative mother).
"It's 2016 man, get out of the closet..."
I enjoy a good coming-out, coming of age story as much as the next liberal snowflake... But the main conflict in the story actually comes from Isak having to deal with the fact that his love interest (Even) has bipolar disorder.
This is probably (okay pretty much certainly) what fuels my obsession with season 3. There is a main character, a likeable character, the main love-interest of the main character who is living with a major mental illness. My major mental illness.
Representation is important.
Because Even is played as a person, not a caricature... a person who lives with bipolar disorder and yet has devoted friends and an active social life and holds a job and who finds love in a committed relationship.
And at no time does it feel like this character is meant to represent ALL people with bipolar or ALL gay teens. It feels real. It feels like Even is one particular person. With one particular set of circumstances.
I thought of this when my students were viewing a pre-packaged powerpoint in which 99.99% of the images showing what it meant to be "prepared for a job interview" were white.
And the other .01% was a picture of Lucy Liu intended to show what sort of make-up one ought to wear.
Blah. The question on one slide was "Which one is more prepared for the interview?" My answer, "Ooh, I know! The white guy!" Because the picture featured two generic white guys in button-down shirts: Mr. Whiteguy With Belt and Mr. Whiteguy Without Belt.
I am not going to make an awesome Norwegian TV drama. I am not going to become the first female conductor of the MN orchestra who is living with bipolar disorder.
But I can think about presenting real faces in the small things that I do prepare. What images do my students see when I am teaching science? Is every picture of a "scientist" an old, possibly long-dead, white guy?
And it is not silly and stupid and PC to try to find alternate images that include women and people living with obvious disabilities and minorities. It is important.
You need to be able to see yourself in the world or you begin to question whether or not there is a place in it for you.
Grateful Crap: Seeing myself on the small screen in bits of characters here and there. Who knew I would identify so strongly with a gay Norwegian teenager.
meds 250 mg lamotrigine
Quaker, teacher, parent,