«BACKSTAGE, FRONTSTAGE INTERACTIONS: EVERYDAY RACIAL EVENTS AND WHITE COLLEGE STUDENTS By LESLIE A. HOUTS A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE ...»
Your initial notes to remind yourself of what you saw may certainly be handwritten scribbles on small scraps of paper. You may find it useful to carry small pads of paper around to jot down notes to yourself. If at all possible, I would prefer for your notes to be typed, and on a disk or via an email attachment if you can. Please be sure that your journals (if they are handwritten) are legible to read, and are written on regular notebook paper and not small note pads.
Be sure to note the date that you are writing the journal entries, and the date and time when the incidents took place. I understand that college students lead very busy lives, so I do not expect you to be able to write in your journal immediately; just be sure that at some point each day you systematically write in your journal.
Each journal entry should be at least half a page or more. Oftentimes with racial issues, people feel afraid to say or do “the wrong thing.” Keep in mind there are no “right” or “wrong” responses, and your journal entries will be completely anonymous, so there are no “mistakes” that you can make while writing in your journal. You will not be graded on your observations or your reactions to your observations.
How Will I Be Graded?
Your instructor will determine what credit you will receive for participating in this project. She or he will also determine for how long you will be asked to keep a journal and the length required of each journal entry to merit credit. Again, you will not be graded on “what” you see (so please do not make up any data), rather you will be evaluated on the quality and detail of your systematic observations and field notes.
Is This Voluntary?
Yes. All students who participate in the journal-writing activity and who agree to share their journals with me for the dissertation project will be asked to sign an IRB Informed Consent form. You have the option of participating in the journal writing assignment for your class, but not signing an IRB Informed Consent form, in which case your journals will not be used or analyzed for the project, ensuring voluntary participation. In other words, even if the journal writing assignment is an assignment for your course grade, you are still given the choice whether or not to participate in the study, with no penalty for your decision.
What Will the Data Be Used For?
This study is part of a larger dissertation project involving students across the nation. The data collected in this project may lead to publications such as articles and books on racial issues.
What If I Have Questions?
You will have the opportunity to meet regularly with your instructor to ensure all your questions and concerns are answered. If you have additional questions at any time, please contact Leslie Houts, M.A. [contact information removed]. I will be happy to answer any questions that you have regarding this study.
Today I went to Joann Fabrics to pick up some items for the quilt that I have been making. My white roommates and I were being our normal silly selves. After picking out our purchases and waiting in line, the white sales associate began chatting with my roommate. Their conversation was light and cheerful. Next I came with my spool of thread, and I noticed a distinct change in reception. The sales associate did not bother to talk to me and when my purchases were completed she waited until my debit card was approved before bagging my purchases. After bagging she pointed to the forms on the side of the desk and said that I should consider entering my name in the box in order to receive coupons. I was kind of shocked and quiet afterwards. When we got in the car, I asked my roommates if they had noticed anything different about the way the sales associate treated me.
Mia affirmed that she noticed the cashier’s coolness and was surprised about the coupon comment. Lara on the other hand did not agree and she claimed I was being overly sensitive and taking things “way out of context.”
From a White Male College Student:
Tonight my friends (all white) and I ate dinner at a nice restaurant. We were talking about the fact that my grandfather is from Iraq so I am part Iraqi. A little later, someone asked my friend Dan what he was going to do after he graduated from [college] this summer. He pointed at me and said, “I’m going to join the army and shoot towel-heads.” I let him know that I was really offended by that comment. After that, I didn’t feel much like being there. I was in a bad mood the rest of the night.
While I was getting ready for bed, my roommate (white) and I were talking about this class and journal writing and we got into a conversation on privilege. Becky said she attributes her willingness and openness to view the hardships and oppressions of others to seeing the movie “Ghandi” when she was in middle school. She said she couldn’t understand why access to normal human functions were not available just because of a person’s skin color or social position. She said, “It hurt and it made me want to understand and do something about it.” She admitted that she had a long way to go and was nowhere near where she should be in regards to being more racially accepting. I think that having knowledge of the inconsistencies and the privileges her skin affords her, is the first step to become an activist for equal rights.
Thank you for participating in this research! I hope you found it enlightening to record your observations on everyday racial matters that we often take for granted.
Your journals will be kept completely confidential. I will be the only one reading it, and I will change your name to a pseudonym for use in the research. I ask for your real name only on this cover sheet so I can make sure I have your signed IRB form (required to participate in this study). If your instructor is offering credit for participating in this research, I will send the names of all those who have completed the journals, along with the number and length of the journals, to your instructor.
Please complete the following information and attach this form before submitting your journals.
Gender: _______________________ Race: ___________________________________
Age: __________________________ (Optional) Sexual Orientation: _____________
Do you have any comments you would like to convey to me? ______________________
If so, please provide your contact information:
Phone Number (include area code): ______________
Thank you again for encouraging your students to participate in this project. I would appreciate any feedback you can offer regarding the journal assignment in your class. I realize how busy professors are, so even a short response to a few of the questions below would be appreciated. I can be reached at [contact information removed]. Thank you again!
Assignment Did you modify the assignment from what was described on the instruction sheet (asking for racial and ethnic accounts from their everyday lives)? If so, how? If it’s easier to attach your syllabus or instructions, please feel free to do so.
How long did you ask your students to keep a journal? Were they instructed to keep the journal for a certain length of time, or did were they asked to write a certain number of entries?
During the time when students were asked to keep a journal, did you ask your students to keep a journal everyday, or to write when they “noticed” race?
Grading Were the students graded on the assignment? Was it for a required assignment or for extra credit?
Was the assignment worth a certain percentage of the students’ overall grade? If it was for extra credit, approximately how much was it worth?
If the students received credit for this assignment (either course grade, or extra credit), how did you determine the grade?
Submission Could you briefly describe to me how the students submitted the journals? In other words, did you collect the journals, grade them, give them back to the students, then ask if they wanted to give them to me? Or when the students submitted them to you, they knew they were giving them to me? (I am curious if the grade a student received affected their likelihood to submit their journal to me.) Rates of Participation and Submission Approximately what percentage of your students submitted their journals to you?
Approximately what percentage of your students submitted their journals to me?
General Impressions What was the general student reaction to the journal writing assignment? Was it positive? Negative?
What is your reaction to the journal writing assignment? Do you have any
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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHLeslie Ann Houts was born and raised in Northern Virginia. She attributes her educational success to her supportive parents, Betty and Robert Houts, who stressed education and the desire to keep learning. She has three talented siblings scattered across the country: older sister Dawn in Alexandria VA, older brother Bobby in Tucson AZ, and younger sister Julie in Philadelphia PA.
Leslie graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg VA in 1997. After a brief stint working in real estate in Washington, D.C., she returned to her passion of learning and matriculated to the University of Florida in 1998. She earned her master’s degree from the Department of Sociology in 2000, and her Ph.D. in 2004. Her areas of specialization are race, gender, and sexuality. As well as keeping an active research agenda, she has a passion for teaching and has had the privilege to teach at the University of Florida, Flagler College (St. Augustine, FL), and the University of Cincinnati.
She currently lives in Cincinnati, OH, with her biggest supporters Michael Picca