Sunday, April 19, 2009

Talking Point X – Johnson

Johnson expands on the points of saying what things are and don’t avoid saying it. He shows ways in “What Can We Do?” on how to address the issues of discrimination and inequalities. He makes mentions of identifying what your class and privilege might be but not to take things personally. The most important thing is to try to make a difference and let go of those thoughts of how there’s nothing we can do to fix anything. There are a number of issues coming up here… here’s a few.

- Speak out about things that make you feel uncomfortable or angry. Keeping them inside only hurts you and thoughts you might have or want to world to hear will go unnoticed.

- Don’t be afraid of anger, use it as a tool to get your point across, make a subject personal and cause it to be heard. Be angry because at times it will cause people to see how passionate you are a bothers you.

- Stand up and fight against discriminations, if someone calls someone else a racist, sexist, or gender slandering slur call them out on it, make a difference for equality among orientations, genders, and races.

- Most importantly white privileged need to recognize their roles, even if it’s difficult for them or if they don’t even want to recognize them. Johnson makes the case that no higher social class or power stays in power forever, things are always changing.

These ideas apply to people who never want to make a change, people who complain constantly about the problems that plague them, whether it’s social, economic, or political. Like for example Americans who complain about the taxes yet do nothing to change the problems that are causing them to feel the way they do. Americans tend to take things lying down and it would appear to me anyways that people no longer have back bones or integrity. If something makes you upset change it and if you’re going to complain and whine yet make no attempt to change the issue that be quiet and just waste away. It might sound harsh, but it tends to be true in my eyes.

Diversity Event – Soul Control at AS220

This is related to an event that was off campus. I went to go see a band from Rhode Island called Soul Control, along with a couple of other touring bands who were playing. The show catered to Rhode Island’s diverse punk, hardcore metal scene. It’s a music style I identify with because the people who are a part of it find themselves different. Some of us are having lots of piercings, others have different colored and unique hair styles, and others are covered with tattoos. I had an experience however that was a little disheartening to me. I always identified with the music and “scene” because I always felt different, I grew up in Central Falls, I was a minority in a town that was, at the time, predominately Columbia, Dominican, Mexican, and Puerto Rican. I have always been a bit defiant; I am one to always question the “norm” thinking, so to speak.

While at the show I was sitting at the bar area and the conversation of homosexuality came up, I was talking to some friends and some acquaintances. One kid in the group who I was talking to brought up a situation where he was getting mad because someone in one of his classes would always be staring at him and it made him feel uncomfortable. He said that it had nothing to do with the fact that the kid was “gay” but it’s because its common decency, it’s not right to stare at anyone for an allotted period of time, and that was his defense.

I found it interesting that this person in particular automatically identified his fellow student as “gay”. I asked him how he knows his classmate is gay and he said “you can just see it.” This was completely mind boggling to me. The idea that this kid with two half sleeved tattoos and long hair would automatically make an assumption about someone he knows nothing about. I made it a point to say “well maybe he just wants to be friends with you and he’s just socially awkward and doesn’t know how to approach you. Maybe he just thinks you’re cool or something.” I was frustrated and annoyed that assumptions are made about guys looking at other guys, especially when they’re made by someone who is not a part of the “social norm”. It pretty much made me sad; honestly, here is where I feel lonely in my endeavors to find people like me, and even in the group of kids I identify with on a musical and image level are just as ignorant as the people I try to fight against.

The other problematic thing for me too is that these bands that I see who are a part of this whole scene write songs about defiance, self-reflection, and speaking out, yet here is a kid who is actually not a part of that at all. I have witnessed issues like this a number of occasions while attending shows. I decided to put this up on my blog as my diversity event because I feel these shows are a big part of diversity, but I also wanted to address the fact that sometimes even the people you identify with will show a side that will undeniably bum you out because of an ignorant thoughtless mind state.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

From Tuesday 4/14/09

Group members (including me...) - Eva, Dom, Yenifer, and Mike L.

Examples of inclusion...

From Text...
- Mia Peterson's perspective (which goes hand in hand with Ana from the film) felt separate and hurt by the differences between special education and "regular" classes.

- Another issue is teachers who attempt to help these students are criticized in a way; the social norms don't really see how or why these teachers tend to focus on individual needs of students with disabilities.

From the movie...
- Ana Uribe - her situation shows the difference of physical disability vs. mental disability. She was confined to a wheel chair due to civil war in El Salvador, yet she is in a Special Ed. segregated from "normal classes".

- It is also apparent English as a second language lower class families suffer more than any other group, but these families who have children with disabilities find it more difficult to assimilate their children into "normal" classroom settings due to the language barriers.

- Lack of resources for students with disabilities (i.e. lack of ramps, technology that is constantly breaking down, aid, etc.) excuses made by the school departments of why these problems occur is also a reason for the lack and ignorance towards these issues.

- Another issue of inclusion has to do with the lack of a push for students to interact and associate with their fellow students with disabilities. The sooner this is attempted; the sooner students will feel comfortable with students of disabilities.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Talking Points IX – Kliewer

This article discusses the dilemma in schools when teaching students with Down syndrome or any other disability that “hinders” intelligence. Schools have stuck to their traditional ways of teaching students, through formulas and linguistics. These types of educational methods do not apply to a set group of people who have a cognitive based problem of developing skills that the educational department might deem as adequately educated so they stick these students into a segregated classroom known as “special Ed”. This placement causes stigmas and separations of students who cannot perform at the level a school department sets which outcasts them from the rest of society and their educational peers. This article deals with trying to find a different way to approach this dilemma, by a focus on individual needs of each specific student and their learning capabilities to best integrate them into a society and educational placing of equality.

The stories and psychological analysis from different people was riveting. Students with disabilities like Down syndrome are able to perform on an educational level that just isn’t what is set as a “norm”. These students’ cognitive processes make them unique and different, not inadequate or “half full”. Schools have to find a better way to approach to teaching these students and set them up for success, not giving them a sense of being different in a bad way in the case where they are separated from peers. It also has to do with an understanding of the disability and patience to attempt new learning techniques to better suite these students.

Vygotsky’s psychological model has always been one of my personal favorites. He understood the importance of mental growth with social interactions and attitudes. More schools need to focus on that aspect and help these students grow at their highest potential. Schools also need to not set a specific level for these students, but to help them achieve a level that they are told by stereotypes that they cannot succeed any higher. This article just shows along with many others that there’s a need for some serious changes in the educational department.

Talking Points VIII – Oakes

This article dealt with a number of issues that I found interestingly comparable to Delpit and her ideas of “codes of Power”. Class is an issue of educational competence, lower classes a usually taught to use recall methods of education while “rich” educational based schools give students a chance to voice opinions and to deduct ideas and formulas. What I found sickening by this is that because schools in lower class areas are setting their students up to fail. With an enforcement of True and False or simple matching of names with definitions there’s no need for a student to remember these questions and answers after the exam or test is over. However, students who get a chance to show that they have a grasp on the concept that they are learning about, whether it’s through essay format or presentation gives them a chance to teach what they have learned but also show that they have a common grasp on the issue. Students who learn in schools where these opportunities aren’t readily available to them get their answers either right or wrong, there’s no room for gray areas.

Students also have to deal with being tricked by their teachers with questions that are reworded or rearranged. Students then tend to spend more time looking for a formula to answering these questions, then actually focusing on the importance of understanding of the question being asked of them. When a student looks for a True or False when answering a question that either begins or ends with “Almost never…” or “Almost Always…” the student is trying to figure out if the answer is either one or if it’s just “Never” or “Always” or “Sometimes”. These questions do no justice to the full in-depth grasp of a question. Something like this is a time consuming issue, especially for students who might be diagnosed with learning disabilities, as a words are switched around in a “clever” way a student might lose touch with what they are actually trying to do, which is SUPPOSE to be, answer the question and show they UNDERSTAND IT.

These “tricks” made by teachers who are less than interested at times about the well being of their already socially and economically “doomed” students of a lower class cause these students to put themselves down before they could even get a chance to prove themselves. This has a lot to do with Delpit, without a chance for these students given the opportunity to succeed them will find themselves remaining at the class level they were born into, as quoted in this piece no wonder why “the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer”.

Praise of a student is also a problem, I agree more with the aspect of avoiding this at all costs. When giving a “reward” to students who do well in class and then comparing them to the students who are doing poorly only fuels issues of a lack of self worth and motivation. Putting students on a pedestal is rewarding for good students, but negative for students who have a hard time achieving the level of their studious peers.

Recently I have dropped my math course because my professor decided to make an “example” of me. Showing medians of good grades to bad grades she mentioned one student in particular who should just drop the class now because they got a 37, she looked directly at me. Feeling embarrassed, angry, frustrated, and hurt I took my paper from her and left the class.

I see that college holds absolutely NO exception to the rule of educational mishaps and errors. At the age of 24 I was embarrassed in front of a classroom of my peers, I felt like I was in elementary school again, I now see why I have such a hard time succeeding at Rhode Island College.

Talking Points VII – Orenstein

This piece was about gender equality. The Argument which is made is that more teachers need to induct the role of women in history and their importance, along with their contributions, there’s a feeling of marginalization in the view of women. Boys as well as men tend to feel a resentment towards teachers who try to make women look important and prominent in history, but it’s an idea that men and boys will feel like their dominate roles are being over looked. Throughout history and the teaching of history women are given a role of somewhat importance, but it is the male figure who is always the head and hero, their contributions to history are always worshipped and praised where as women’s roles are undermined. This idea then turns women and girls of the present into nothing more than that image that is presented to them. If a young girl’s hero is a figure in history that is a woman but isn’t shown much importance than they too will find themselves following the same road. Being a house wife and an enforcement of ideas from home, cultural backgrounds, history, pop culture, music, etc. tends to place women in a role that has been followed for generations. If a woman speaks out about these injustices she labeled and degraded with words and slurs. Whenever there is an uprising or speaking out of injustices and inequalities of women they are quickly insulted and put down, keeping them marginalized.

My favorite piece about this article was the presentations and the student who was playing Etta James. Firstly the costume aspect was ignored completely by James, the student playing Etta, which isn’t surprising, women will dawn the dress of boys and are insulted, called “tom boys” but men dressing as women no matter what their sexual orientation is laughed at, ridiculed, and called a series of degrading names. This is a one example of an attack of sexual identification, which goes back to Carlson and the idea of protection of the gay community, how highly valued being straight, as a male, is. Students would laugh at James who was performing an Etta James song, as he lip synced to the music male students giggled and laughed. The teacher addressed this issue and the boys apologized, but the idea that it was a laughing matter and a mockery to a woman, who personally I feel is one of the best singers of her time, makes the case for the lack of interest, care, or importance to the great Etta James, which I find insulting…but as a male it wouldn’t affect me as a much, as she is not a part of my dominating gender.

Our discussion in class talked about this idea of undermining women as well. We talked about the roles in the classroom and when conversations are occurring. It was said that men tend to be the more vocally outrageous, voicing their opinions without a full in depth approach of critical thinking while women will wait patiently to make their case, but will at some point, be interrupted or ignored by the bullish vocalization of men. I totally agree with this, as I am sure I have interrupted people plenty of times, but unfortunately this is how I was trained to be as a male. I was taught to be loud, assertive, and voice an opinion because if you do not you will never be heard and you will never be taken into consideration…

Interestingly enough, growing up in a home without a father this was taught to me by my mother, a woman who worked two jobs to support me and older brother when we were younger. I suppose I would have been taught this without her influence if I grow up in a nuclear family, but through what I had been shown through media, history, pop culture, etc. but because I was taught it from my mother, a woman who is a part of that ignored gender, I tend to understand the importance of female roles in history and in the establishment of a society, but yet, even in college I see that males are still considered the upmost importance of history and women are talked about in their shadows.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Talking Points VI: Lawrence

This article dealt with the strides of Brown vs. Board along with a number of cases that are related to segregation and discrimination. The article focused on a number of very different aspects of different cases as well as the formation of segregation and the ideas of it correlates with the idea that minority groups cannot get to a higher class level because of segregation being imposed on them. One specific quote from the piece that I am extremely fond of is this…

"The refusal of white Americans to accept responsibility for the relative educational, economic, social, and political disadvantage of blacks is legally and intellectually justified by ignoring the continuing vitality of the Institution of Segregation and their own role in its maintenance. White Americans deny responsibility for the position of blacks by denying that they have created a system of oppression that will continue to exist and operate to their benefit until they have destroyed it."

The power of segregation cannot be eradicated until everyone works towards destroying it. No matter the amount of money that spent in diverse schools of diversity programs will not cause the institution of segregation to collapse, it still is prevalent in modern times. It’s important to remember that the ruling that schools were “separate but not equal” was found only 50 or so years ago, it’s still a relatively new idea. These programs designed to integrate society on an equal level (class, race, and even gender) there needs to be a teaching of codes of power and ideas of how to succeed in today’s white majority upper class world. The amounts are good paying political jobs are held by high class whites, because they dominate the field and there isn’t an exact integration other groups of people and genders cannot plant a foot into these work environments. Many GED programs are directed towards minorities, but this country seems to point out that “we need ditch diggers” and it just happens the country directs it towards lower class minorities. There isn’t anything wrong with people working lower wage manual labor jobs, the country does depend on it and there’s no way to dispute it, however it isn’t right to direct it to a specific group of people.

I have also included some links that might be of interest to some people. The first two are bits from a video documentary entitled “a Class Divided” which deals with the powers of segregation, inequality, and racism. For those who are interested in racial role reversals and the unbelievable power of segregation these two videos are very interesting and I hope some of you will watch them.

Click Here to View: A Class Divided - Part I

Click Here to View: A Class Divided – Part II

A second piece I have included is a brief description of the findings from the doctors who preformed an experiment for Brown vs. Board involving groups of young children of different races and dolls of different races. The finds were unbelievable and helped fuel a verdict that was found “separate but not equal” in the courts.

Click Here to View: Doll Experiment

As a follow up to that article here is an excerpt from that shows that those findings in the Doll experiment are still prevalent in today’s society, showing that there still are issues of inequalities that need to be addressed…

Excerpt from

“In 2006 filmmaker Kiri Davis recreated the doll study and documented it in a film entitled A Girl like Me. Despite the many changes in some parts of society, she found the same results as did the Drs. Clark in their study of the late 1930s and early 1940s.”