Saturday, June 28, 2008

Day 2 of Conflict Resolution Practicum

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

Wishing to Form New Neural Pathways

Today, I played the father of Ana Delgado, a star student, who was made to quit high school, so she could work as a server in my the rest of the family.

The scenario was an extension of "Stand and Deliver," a film based on a true story, which I haven't yet seen, other than two short clips during class, where the Calculus teacher, Jaime Escalante, confronts two ETS reps, and also Ana's father.

"Why should Ana stay in school?" I argued, "Look around you [at my successful restaurant]. I achieved all of this with a 7th grade education." (We were allowed to take poetic license; I didn't know Mr. Delgado's education level.)

By the end of the negotiation, the teacher asked whether my wife and I would be willing to join his wife and him for dinner, to get to know each other better, since both of us wanted to see the barrio thrive.

I agreed that that would be nice.

Minority on Minority Fighting

Both scenes that I saw from the movie seemed to pit one Latino against another -- or that's how they ended up behaving in any case. I think that that's so common.

When a Jew assassinated Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, I felt that way, and the other day, when I expressed fury at the Orthodox Jewish mother for bringing her over-age son into the Women's locker room, I felt that way again.

During lunch in the park at the end of 120th Street, I told the locker room story to a Swiss, Catholic classmate and felt embarrassed to be telling her what bugged me about the experience most -- that I was visiting my rage on this woman because her ultra-modest physical appearance reminded me of how, in my experience, some Orthodox Jews feel like every other sort of Jew is less of a Jew, since we are not strictly observant.

"Maybe she thought she could compromise my modesty because I wasn't even Jewish in her eyes, and so my modesty didn't count." Ugh, how could this make sense to someone who was not a member of my historically underrepresented group?

Tomorrow afternoon, I will have the chance, perhaps, to play the part of the Orthodox Jewish woman while someone else plays my part, and someone else observes.

A Girl Named Izzy

For comic relief that had a bit of an unhappy ending, in the middle of this discussion, a three-year-old, blond, ringleted little girl, Izzy, short for Isadora, we learned, rolled over to us on her tricycle and I marveled that Razor had expanded its product-line. She wanted to be part of our conversation.

My classmate asked her if she was hungry.

"No, I had my lunch."

"What did you have?" I asked.

"Tomatoes," she said.

"I like your Razor," I said.

"I don't have a razor," she said, "Daddy has a razor."

"Ah, right, I meant, what you're riding."

She just looked at me impatiently.

"OK, Izzy, time to go. Come with me, so that we can walk while the little man still says we can."


"Now, Izzy, let's go."

"No," and she fell off her trike and didn't hurt herself at all, it seemed, but she began to wail.

"Probably, she's tired," said my classmate to the distraught mother.

"Yeah, Izzy, maybe you'd like a nap," I suggested.

"No nap! No nap!" she insisted through her tears as her mother carried the tricycle and her away.

I don't know how that conflict ultimately was resolved.

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