The Power of Paying Attention

from Shane's Muslim Connect

looking beneath the surface

Please see the special note at the end of this post. 

I had a fascinating conversation today with a woman who is an expert in her field. I love asking questions of people who are smarter than me. (Which, I think we can agree, leaves the field pretty wide open!) 

Jolene helps educators determine if non-English speaking immigrant and refugee students should be tracked into special ed or simply need to learn English. She also works to identify immigrant students who should be placed in gifted programs. 

She said, very generally, about 10% of students belong in special education classes, but in some districts up to 40% of non-fluent Hispanic students are put there. Unfortunately, often much of the discrepancy is due to prejudice. 

Mea culpa. 

Someone can speak six languages, but if his English isn’t as good as mine, I assume he’s not too bright! Same if someone is poor of if they don’t know how the local systems work. 

How much of our broad discomfort with Muslim immigrants and refugees is simply lack of understanding? Not all of it, certainly. There are dopes in all cultures. But maybe that Muslim woman isn’t being rude to you. Maybe she doesn’t understand what you’re asking. What if that Muslim man isn’t arrogant, he just hasn’t figured out how to interact with gregarious American women?! Maybe that unrestrained little foreign kid is acting the way she is because she was being raised by a village until her oppressors burned it down! 

Will you join me in a renewed effort to pay attention? To look a little below the surface? To imagine that our first conclusion might not be totally accurate?

Special Note: Muslim Connect is free. Always has been. Always will be. But twice a year I invite you to participate by donating to offset the costs and push it forward to more people. Together we can encourage many, inform some, and by God’s grace, invite Muslims to enjoy the abundant life Jesus offers. If you find value in Muslim Connect and would like to see it go forward, please make a gift here. As a thank you, if you'll let me know you gave, I'll send you a brand new, sharable infographic called, Making Sense of the Muslim World. Thank you.