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Gun Shy - to communicate with my Cultural Diversity teacher

Jeannie 10 / 214  
Dec 5, 2009   #1
I need to communicate with my Cultural Diversity teacher, is this ok?? I am trying to be professional, but I am afraid of assuming I understand and then getting it wrong.I am seriously gun-shy at this point...

Hi, Professor,

It's ten minutes until I have to hand in this week's assignment. I am still only in the research phase, and I have to admit that it isn't going to happen; not tonight, I have no focus.

The problem is the fundamental question, "Who am I?" and that other one, "What am I?" All I know for sure is that I am light-skinned with blond hair. I have gray eyes, and I am tall, slender, and kinda goofy. There is no one to ask, you see, my family is dead and they didn't talk to me when they were alive, well, not about anything that didn't have to do with immediate concerns. Children were hopefully seldom seen, and they were never ever heard in my family, so if I had a question it went unanswered until my follies generated a stern lecture about decorum and a swift swat on my behind. I was too afraid to ask where we came from, and no one cared to offer that information to a girl-child.

My Other-Mom ( my great-grandmother on my Father's side) spoke with an accent that was hard to understand but I loved her best-of-all. She died when I was eight. My Mother's father also spoke with an accent, lilting and lovely to my little ears, and I remember him bouncing me quite jarringly on his knee...and then I guess he died too. My Father left and had children when I was four (step-siblings that I have never met; from the Philippines, no less), and died when I was twelve; I never knew him past bedtime stories. My mother was...complicated, and she did not want to talk about her family history. She died with so many unspoken explanations that I can't even express it to you.

The bottom line is that I have to make something up about my ethnicity. I have never pursued it, so I have to start from scratch. Maybe I am Irish? But now I have to learn all about the Irish history; maybe I am English, and my history is vastly different where the points and questions of the assignment are concerned. I am very good at research, and I have learned a lot about both ethnicities, but how do I say that is what I am if I have no clue? Why can't I just pick an ethnicity and pretend it is mine? Would the world stop turning if I learned about racism, prejudice, and our society's history of intolerance through the eyes of a darkie as my father's family would say? What if I did the assignment as someone from Turkey or India or Egypt or Italy? The point is that I gain an understanding about the societal values throughout history as relates to race and ethnicity.

Please permit me to make up my own ethnic background and I will have this assignment in to you tomorrow without submitting substandard work. I know much about many cultures, but I just don't really know if they are mine. I would rather get 10% off an A, than 30% off for lies even if I could get away with it. The syllabus says to choose my own ethnicity, and I need your permission to choose an ethnicity.

Thanks for your consideration and patience.
linmark 2 / 328 7  
Dec 5, 2009   #2
Jeannie - it's an honest (and respectful) way of asking your teacher the question. Isn't the purpose of the class to understand cultural diversity (which means beyond your own??)

I hope he is a reasonably "enlightened" guy (teaching this class...)
OP Jeannie 10 / 214  
Dec 5, 2009   #3
Isn't the purpose of the class to understand cultural diversity (which means beyond your own??)

Yeah, that was my point as well. I hope he is cool with it. How can I write about my own ethnicity if I don't know what it is? DNA testing, anyone?? :) I went ahead and chose Irish just in case...jeesh, I had no idea how horribly the Irish were treated here back when (till they pretty much took over the police force and such, hehe).
Keng 39 / 134  
Dec 5, 2009   #4
You always refer to your life background.

What is the purpose of your communicating with the teacher?
An oral test about ethnicity or a mere discussion to support the research paper.

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