013 Marking That Box

June 23, 2017

When filling out an application, there’s usually a point where you have to mark a box that indicates what race or ethnicity you identify as. For many, it’s a fairly innocuous part of the application process. However, for many people of color that box doesn’t always fit neatly to one’s identity. When I talk to my guest on Episode 13 of Tea with Teachers, Ranya Khalil explains her thoughts about marking that box as a 2nd generation Muslim American woman.  For some, it’s straightforward. For others, well, it’s complicated.

Ranya lives just outside of Seattle in a suburban town called Edmonds. She has yet to enter the classroom as a teacher, but is on the path of getting her teaching credential and masters.  However, you will hear about the time she volunteered in a 2nd grade classroom and the spark that moved her to pursue a career in education. In my interview, she speaks honestly about her sheltered upbringing just outside Los Angeles as a token minority in her school, but still having the opportunity to be a part of close-knit Muslim community.  She reflects on the power of her trips to Egypt that help form her identity as an Egyptian woman. Also, how that identity can create misconceptions of her and even her bi-racial and bi-religious children. She knows that her journey of self-identification will be different that that of her children and wants to ensure that they get the best of both worlds by being bi-cultural. Ranya envisions what her classroom will be like and hopes that with the diversity of her future classroom, she can push her students to create a community of hope and inclusion while critically thinking of what it means to live, work and play in a diverse community. 

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