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Dena Simmons: How students of color confront impostor syndrome

Dena Simmons: Cómo los estudiantes de color se enfrentan al síndrome del impostor

November 2, 2015

Como mujer negra de una parte dura del Bronx que se educó para ir alcanzando todos los marcadores de prestigio académico, Dena Simmons sabe que para los estudiantes de color, el éxito en la escuela a veces está condicionado a no vivir de forma auténtica. Ahora siendo ella misma educadora, Simmons aborda cómo poder crear un aula que haga que todos los estudiantes se sientan orgullosos de quienes son. "Cada niño merece una educación que garantice la seguridad para aprender en la comodidad de su propia piel", dice.

Dena Simmons - Educator
Dena Simmons believes that creating a safe environment for children is an essential component of education. Full bio

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Double-click the English subtitles below to play the video.
Mi viaje comenzó en el Bronx, Nueva York,
00:13
So, my journey began
in the Bronx, New York,
en un apartamento de un dormitorio,
00:18
in a one-bedroom apartment,
con mis dos hermanas
y una madre inmigrante.
00:19
with my two sisters and immigrant mother.
Me encantaba nuestro barrio.
00:23
I loved our neighborhood.
Era animado.
00:27
It was lively.
Había toda esa tronadura de merengue,
00:28
There was all this merengue blasting,
vecinos que socializaban en
las escalinatas del edificio
00:31
neighbors socializing on building stoops
y conversaciones animadas
alrededor del juego de dominó.
00:33
and animated conversations
over domino playing.
Era mi hogar,
00:38
It was home,
y era dulce.
00:40
and it was sweet.
Pero no fue sencillo.
00:43
But it wasn't simple.
De hecho, todos en la escuela sabían
que al barrio en el que vivíamos,
00:45
In fact, everyone at school
knew the block where we lived,
la gente iba a comprar
marihuana y otras drogas.
00:49
because it was where people came
to buy weed and other drugs.
Y el tráfico de drogas viene
acompañado de conflictos,
00:53
And with drug-dealing comes conflict,
así que a menudo nos íbamos a dormir
con el sonido de disparos.
00:56
so we often went to sleep
to the sound of gunshots.
Pasé gran parte de mi infancia preocupada,
01:01
I spent much of my childhood worried,
preocupada por nuestra seguridad.
01:05
worried about our safety.
Y también nuestra madre.
01:08
And so did our mother.
Le preocupaba que la violencia
de la que éramos testigos
01:11
She worried that the violence we witnessed
would overtake our lives;
pudiera amenazar nuestras vidas;
que nuestra pobreza significaba
01:16
that our poverty meant
que los vecinos con los que
vivíamos y compartíamos espacio
01:18
that the neighbors with whom
we lived and shared space
pudieran hacernos daño.
01:20
would harm us.
Toda nuestra vida estaba en el Bronx,
01:22
Our entire life was in the Bronx,
pero el miedo de mi madre
le movió a actuar
01:26
but my mother's anxiety
spurred her into action,
y pronto nos llevó a Connecticut,
01:29
and soon we were driving
so fast to Connecticut --
(Risas)
01:34
(Laughter)
a un campus escolar con internado
con becas que cubrían todo.
01:35
to boarding school campuses,
with full scholarships in tow.
No hay que subestimar
el poder de una madre
01:39
Man, don't underestimate
the power of a mother
decidida a que sus hijos estén seguros.
01:45
determined to keep her children safe.
(Aclamaciones)
01:49
(Cheers)
(Aplausos)
01:50
(Applause)
En el internado,
01:55
At boarding school,
por primera vez,
01:58
for the first time,
pude dormir sin preocupaciones.
02:01
I was able to sleep without worry.
Podía salir de la habitación de la
residencia sin cerrarla con llave,
02:05
I could leave my dorm room unlocked,
caminar descalza por la hierba,
02:07
walk barefoot in the grass,
y mirar hacia arriba para ver
un cielo nocturno lleno de estrellas.
02:10
and look up to see
a night sky full of stars.
Felices novedades.
02:16
Happy novelties.
Pero hubo otras novedades también.
02:19
But there were other novelties as well.
Muy rápidamente, me sentí
como si no perteneciese al grupo.
02:22
Very quickly, I felt like I didn't belong.
Supe que yo no hablaba
de la manera correcta,
02:26
I learned that I didn't speak
the right way,
y para demostrarme la forma
correcta de hablar,
02:29
and to demonstrate
the proper ways of speaking,
mis maestros me dieron
lecciones frecuentes en público,
02:33
my teachers gave me
frequent lessons, in public,
sobre cuál era la forma adecuada
de pronunciar ciertas palabras.
02:37
on the appropriate way
to enunciate certain words.
Una vez una maestra
me instruyó en el pasillo:
02:43
A teacher once instructed me
in the hallway:
"Aaaaaas-king", preguntando.
02:47
"Aaaaaas-king."
Lo dijo en voz alta.
02:51
She said this loudly.
"Dena, no es 'axing', hachazo, como
si estuvieras corriendo con un hacha.
02:54
"Dena, it's not 'axing,'
like you're running around with an axe.
Eso es tonto".
02:59
That's silly."
Se pueden imaginar las risas
de mis compañeros de clase,
03:02
Now at this point, you can imagine
the snickers of my classmates,
pero ella continuaba:
03:08
but she continued:
"Piensa en cortar la palabra
en 'ass' -culo- y 'king' -rey-
03:11
"Think about breaking the word
into 'ass' and 'king,'
y luego poner ambas juntas
para decirlo correctamente:
03:16
and then put the two together
to say it correctly --
"Asking" -preguntando-
03:20
'Asking.'"
Hubo otros momentos que me recordaron
que yo no pertenecía a allí.
03:23
There were some other moments
that reminded me that I didn't belong.
Una vez entré en el dormitorio
de una compañera de clase,
03:28
Once, I walked into
a classmate's dorm room,
y vi cómo cuidaba sus objetos
de valor a mi alrededor.
03:32
and I watched her watch
her valuables around me.
¿Por qué lo hacía?, pensaba.
03:36
Like, why would she do that?
I thought to myself.
Y luego hubo otro momento
03:40
And then there was the time
en el que otro compañero entró
en mi habitación de la residencia,
03:42
when another classmate
walked into my dorm room,
y gritó, "Puaj", cuando me estaba
aplicando aceite capilar en el cabello.
03:46
and yelled, "Ew!" as I was applying
hair grease to my scalp.
Existe un daño emocional cuando
los jóvenes no pueden ser ellos mismos,
03:53
There is emotional damage done
when young people can't be themselves,
cuando se ven obligados a modificar
lo que son para ser aceptados.
03:58
when they are forced to edit who they are
in order to be acceptable.
Es un tipo de violencia.
04:04
It's a kind of violence.
En última instancia, soy la historia
de éxito por antonomasia.
04:08
Ultimately, I'm a quintessential
success story.
Fui a un internado y
a la universidad de Nueva Inglaterra,
04:13
I attended boarding school
and college in New England,
y estudié en el extranjero, en Chile;
04:17
studied abroad in Chile
y regresé al Bronx para trabajar
de maestra de secundaria.
04:19
and returned to the Bronx
to be a middle school teacher.
Recibí una beca Truman,
04:23
I received a Truman Scholarship,
una Fulbright y una beca Soros.
04:25
a Fulbright and a Soros Fellowship.
Y podría enumerar más.
04:28
And I could list more.
(Risas)
04:30
(Laughter)
Pero no lo haré.
04:32
But I won't.
(Risas)
04:33
(Laughter)
Obtuve mi doctorado en
la Universidad de Columbia.
04:35
I earned my doctorate
at Columbia University.
(Aclamaciones)
04:39
(Cheers)
(Aplausos)
04:40
(Applause)
Y luego conseguí un puesto
en la Universidad de Yale.
04:42
And then I landed a job at Yale.
04:45
(Applause)
(Aplausos)
Estoy orgullosa de todo
lo que he podido lograr
04:47
I am proud of everything
that I've been able to accomplish
en mi camino hasta ahora.
04:52
on my journey thus far.
Tengo el síndrome de impostora eterna.
04:56
I have eternal imposter syndrome.
O me han invitado porque soy una muestra
05:01
Either I've been invited
because I'm a token,
de algo que, en realidad,
no se trata de mí,
05:04
which really isn't about me,
sino, más bien, de una casilla
que alguien debe verificar.
05:06
but rather, about a box
someone needed to check off.
O soy excepcional,
05:10
Or, I am exceptional,
lo que significa que he tenido que
dejar a la gente que quiero atrás.
05:13
which means I've had to leave
the people I love behind.
Es el precio que yo y tantos otros
pagamos por estudiar siendo negros.
05:19
It's the price that I and so many others
pay for learning while black.
(Aplausos)
05:27
(Applause)
Me autocontrolaba todo el tiempo.
05:34
I police myself all the time.
¿Llevo los pantalones demasiado apretados?
05:40
Are my pants too tight?
¿Debo llevar el cabello
hacia arriba o a lo afro?
05:42
Should I wear my hair up or in a fro?
¿Debo hablar por mí,
05:46
Should I speak up for myself,
o el poder de mis palabras
se reducirá a: "está enojada"?
05:49
or will the power of my words
be reduced to: "She's angry?"
¿Por qué tuve que salir del Bronx
05:56
Why did I have to leave the Bronx
para tener acceso a una mejor educación?
05:58
to gain access to a better education?
Y ¿por qué, en el proceso de
lograr una mejor educación,
06:03
And why, in the process
of getting that better education,
he tenido que soportar el trauma
de borrar lo que me hizo ser yo,
06:07
did I have to endure the trauma
of erasing what made me, me --
una chica negra del Bronx,
criada por una madre de Antigua?
06:15
a black girl from the Bronx,
raised by an Antiguan mother?
Así que cuando pienso en las iniciativas
de reforma de la educación actual,
06:21
So when I think about our current
education reform initiatives,
no puedo evitar preguntar:
06:27
I can't help asking:
¿Qué aprenden los estudiantes
de color sobre ellos mismos?
06:30
What are our students of color
learning about themselves?
Tres, tres décadas de
investigación revelan
06:35
Three -- three decades of research reveal
que los estudiantes de color
son suspendidos y expulsados
06:39
that students of color
are suspended and expelled
en una relación de tres veces más
que los estudiantes blancos,
06:42
at a rate three times greater
than white students,
y son castigados de maneras más severas
por las mismas infracciones.
06:46
and are punished in harsher ways
for the same infractions.
También aprenden esto por la ausencia
de sus vidas y narrativas
06:53
They also learn this through the absence
of their lives and narratives
en los planes de estudio.
06:56
in the curricula.
El Centro de libros infantiles
cooperativos revisó unos 4000 libros
06:59
The Cooperative Children's Book Center
did a review of nearly 4,000 books
y encontró que solo el 3 %
eran sobre afroestadounidenses.
07:04
and found that only three percent
were about African-Americans.
Y lo aprenden más
07:10
And they further learn this
por la falta de maestros
que se parecen a ellos.
07:12
through the lack of teachers
that look like them.
Un análisis de datos
07:17
An analysis of data
del Centro Nacional de
Estadísticas de Educación
07:19
from the National Center
for Education Statistics
encontró que el 45 % de
los alumnos de nuestra nación
07:22
found that 45 percent of our nation's
pre-K to high school students
desde preescolar hasta secundaria
eran personas de color,
07:27
were people of color,
07:30
while only 17 percent of our teachers are.
mientras que solo el 17 % de
nuestros maestros son de color.
Nuestra juventud de color
paga un alto precio
07:36
Our youth of color pay a profound price
cuando en su escolarización
se les da la consigna
07:39
when their schooling
sends them the message
07:41
that they must be controlled,
de que deben ser controlados,
que tienen que salir de
las identidades de su hogar
07:44
that they must leave
their identities at home
07:46
in order to be successful.
para tener éxito.
Todos los niños merecen una educación
07:51
Every child deserves an education
que garantice la seguridad de aprender
07:54
that guarantees the safety to learn
con la comodidad de su propia piel.
07:57
in the comfort of one's own skin.
(Aplausos)
08:03
(Applause)
Es posible crear emocional
y físicamente aulas seguras
08:11
It is possible to create emotionally
and physically safe classrooms
donde los estudiantes también
prosperen académicamente.
08:16
where students also thrive academically.
Lo sé, porque lo hice en mi aula
08:20
I know, because I did it in my classroom
cuando volví a enseñar en el Bronx.
08:23
when I returned to teach in the Bronx.
Entonces, ¿qué se ve?
08:27
So what did that look like?
Centré mi instrucción
08:31
I centered my instruction
en las vidas, historias
e identidades de mis alumnos.
08:33
on the lives, histories
and identities of my students.
E hice todo esto porque quería
que mis estudiantes supieran
08:38
And I did all of this
because I wanted my students to know
que todo el mundo alrededor
de ellos estaba apoyándolos
08:41
that everyone around them
was supporting them
para ser lo mejor de sí mismos.
08:45
to be their best self.
Así que aunque no podía controlar
la inestabilidad de sus hogares,
08:49
So while I could not control
the instability of their homes,
la incertidumbre de su próxima comida,
08:54
the uncertainty of their next meal,
o los vecinos ruidosos
que los mantenían en vela,
08:57
or the loud neighbors
that kept them from sleep,
yo les proporcionaba un aula cariñosa
09:00
I provided them with a loving classroom
que les hacía sentir orgullosos
de ser quienes eran,
09:04
that made them feel proud of who they are,
que hizo saber que ellos importaban.
09:07
that made them know that they mattered.
Ya saben,
09:11
You know,
cada vez que escucho o digo
la palabra "asking" -preguntando-
09:14
every time I hear
or say the word "asking,"
vuelvo a la secundaria de nuevo.
09:22
I am in high school again.
Estoy pensando en "ass" -culo-
y en "king" -rey-
09:26
I am thinking about "ass" and "king"
y lo pongo junto
para hablar de una manera
09:32
and putting the two together
so that I speak in a way
donde alguien en el poder
va a querer escuchar.
09:36
where someone in power
will want to listen.
Hay una mejor manera,
09:42
There is a better way,
que no obliga a estar
a los niños de color en un dilema;
09:44
one that doesn't force kids of color
into a double bind;
una manera en que pueden
preservar los lazos
09:48
a way for them to preserve their ties
con sus familias, hogares y comunidades;
09:51
to their families, homes and communities;
una manera que les enseña
a confiar en sus instintos
09:54
a way that teaches them
to trust their instincts
y tener fe en su propio genio creativo.
10:00
and to have faith
in their own creative genius.
Gracias.
10:07
Thank you.
(Aplausos)
10:08
(Applause)
Translator:Lidia Cámara de la Fuente
Reviewer:Sebastian Betti

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Dena Simmons - Educator
Dena Simmons believes that creating a safe environment for children is an essential component of education.

Why you should listen

Dena Simmons, Ed.D., is a lifelong activist, educator and student of life. A native of the Bronx, New York, Simmons grew up in a one-bedroom apartment with her two sisters and immigrant mother. There, she learned and lived the violence of injustice and inequity and decided to dedicate her life to educating and empowering others. As the Director of Education at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, she supports schools throughout the nation and world to use the power of emotions to create a more effective and compassionate society.

Prior to her work at the Center, Simmons served as an educator, teacher educator, diversity facilitator and curriculum developer. She is a leading voice on teacher education and has spoken across the country about social justice pedagogy, diversity, education reform, emotional intelligence and bullying in K-12 school settings, including the United Nations and two TEDx talks. She writes and has written for numerous outlets including Teaching ToleranceBright on MediumFeminist Teacher and Feministing. Simmons has been profiled in the Huffington Post, the AOL/PBS project, "MAKERS: Women Who Make America," and a Beacon Press Book, Do It Anyway: The New Generation of Activists.

Simmons is a recipient of a Harry S. Truman Scholarship, a J. William Fulbright Fellowship, an Education Pioneers Fellowship, a Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship, a Phillips Exeter Academy Dissertation Fellowship and an Arthur Vining Davis Aspen Fellowship among others. She is a graduate of Middlebury College and Pace University. She received her doctorate degree from Teachers College, Columbia University.

Simmons's research interests include teacher preparedness to address bullying in the K-12 school setting as well as the intersection of social and emotional learning and culturally responsive pedagogy -- all in an effort to ensure and foster justice and safe spaces for all.

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