Allan Johnson teaches us that we must say the words. He speaks of how important it is to talk explicitly about privilege, power, and differences. Throughout my service learning project I experienced several moments that reminded me of Allan Johnson. The moment that sticks out to me the most was my first day at Mary Fogarty. I was in front of a group of students reading a story with them. While we were talking about the reading, a student asked me what was wrong with my face. At first I was very confused and wondered if something was actually on my face. The student asked again and pointed to his cheeks. I then realized that all of the students in my group had never seen freckles before. I told them that they were just freckles and that I was born with them. I like to tell that story to people because it really is quite comical and cute and it shows how early students recognize differences. This is a perfect example of explicitly talking about differences the way Allan Johnson says we should. The students know that I am different from them and vice versa. They asked me a question about my skin and I let them know that it is okay to ask those questions. Students should be educated at a young age about differences, privilege, and power.
Privilege is also a topic that Johnson discusses in depth. He states, "Privilege grants the cultural authority to make judgements about others and to have those judgements stick. It allows people to define reality and to have prevailing definitions of reality fit their experience. Privilege means being able to decide who gets taken seriously, who receives attention, who is account able to whom and for what." Many of us do not realize the privilege that we have. I am an example of that. I knew that I was middle class and lived comfortably. I did not know how privileged I was until I walked into the classroom at Mary Fogarty. I saw the students with clothes that did not fit and walking to lunch without lunches. I was born into a culture of privilege without even realizing it. The students in the first grade classroom were born into a culture of poverty. At this young age they may not know about privilege, but as they get older they should recognize it. Allan Johnson would want these students to be educated on privilege so one day they can work their way out of the culture they were born in to.