Sunday, April 27, 2008

Extra Post Regarding Tracking

I meant to post something about this a while ago, but I never really had to the chance to do so...I think that tracking is not the best way to test students' abilities, but for the people who think that is disappearing are definitely wrong. This article shows how even as short as a decade ago tracking was endemic and remains so to this day. I just thought it would an interesting follow-up to our discussion regarding Jeannie Oakes's piece.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Talking Point 10

Talking Point 10: “What Can We Do?” by Allan Johnson

• Taking action
• Privilege and oppression
• Beating limitations
• Reaching out to others
• Making a network of people to combat oppression
• Historical developments
• People need to learn to listen
• Be a leader
• Set the standard
• Tell other people that you do not agree with dominant popular views
• Read and gather wide support to fight racism, sexism, ableism and others

Author’s Argument:
Johnson argues that in order to quell the privilege that leads to oppressive treatment towards different groups of people, society at large needs to speak out against privilege and stop the oppression against these various groups. He also discusses that by setting up a network of people in support groups will also help to limit such oppressive treatment of others.

1. “No social system last forever, and this fact holds especially fro oppressive systems of privilege. We can’t know what will replace existing social systems, but we can be confident that they will go, that they are gong at every moment.”
2. “…Rather than trying to change people, the most important thing we can do is contribute to shifting entire cultures so that forms and values that support privilege begin to lose their “obvious” legitimacy and normalcy, and new forms emerge to challenge their privileged place in social life.”
3. “In many ways, the biggest challenge for members of privileged groups is to work with one another on issues of privilege rather than trying to help members of subordinate groups.”

Questions/Comments/Point to Share:
I thought Johnson’s article to be truly inspirational and empowering and called for action to be taken against the oppression of inferior social groups to the ‘culture of power.’ Johnson engaged me and showed me that by changing little aspects of my life such as not laughing at a homosexual joke can be a good step in the right direction as to squelching privilege. The article was a smooth read and highly enjoyable because of the writing style and the messages that he delineates throughout. It relates to the first Johnson reading that we read that stated how a society in general needed to take action if privilege and prejudice against other groups was to be stopped. This reading in my opinion is the best of the semester and I enjoyed the message that he gave that by taking steps in my own life to fight privilege and the ‘culture of power’ this can help to elicit change in society at large.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

How Things Went

Durin Thursday's class, the members of my group all showed up and we made great strides in making headway on the final project. The fact that we had the whole class to talk out and work through the theories of the authors proved vitally useful. Overall, I think that this a much better way of testing our knowledge of the readings, rather than sitting down for two hours and taking a final exam.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Talking Point 9

Talking Point 9: Bernard Lefkowitz, Our Guys

• White culture of power
• Male dominance
• Privilege of athletes in high school
• Social nihilism by “perfect” kids
• Premeditated rape
• Taking advantage of mental lapses
• Perfect neighborhood turned imperfect
• Differences in people
• Striving to fit in and be liked
• Susceptibility to enticement
• Morally heinous acts
• Bringing down the image of the “golden children”
• Realization of what people are capable of
• Explicit chauvinistic practices

Author’s Argument:
Lefkowitz argues that social nihilism can happen in any town regardless of prestige and that so-called “golden children” raised in a good neighborhood can truly possess the ability to have evil tendencies. He basically shows that even white male children of privilege in Glen Hills are not perfect and not impervious to engaging in actions that would get them in trouble with the law, such as taking advantage of a mentally challenged girl, Leslie Faber.

1. “The stories conveyed a sense of shock that these atrocious acts could have happened in such a prosperous and tranquil town. If the charges were true, this was certainly an appalling crime.” In this quote, Lefkowitz expresses utter surprise at the “rumors” or rape had spread throughout the news coming from such a “perfect” town.
2. “The papers reported that on March 1, 1989, thirteen males were present in the basement where the alleged rape occurred…Glen Ridge is a small place, and there were only a hundred or so students in the senior class. What we were talking about here—20 or 30 percent of the senior males?” Lefkowitz points to how many of the boys had been involved in such a heinous act. It proved to be truly eye-opening as to how many ostensibly well-raised kids from a good town could have had the audacity to commit this terrible crime.
3. “Whoa. Wait a minute. She knew these names. She knew these kids. Archer, Scherzer, Grober, Quigley. They were popular, they came from good families, they were the best athletes in the high school. Some of them had been in a few scrapes with the law. Noisy parties, underage drinking—nothing major.” Sheila Byron, a graduate of Glen Hills High School and member of the town’s police force, was shocked by the report she read that outlined the names of the suspects involved. It goes to show that even though some people have a good reputation; acts leading to the rape charge like that the boys brought upon themselves can change that in a heartbeat.

Questions/Comments/Points to Share:
Lefkowitz’s article truly illustrates just how capricious certain people can be and that it does not matter where someone grows up or their background; anyone can make bad, malicious decisions. I thought Lefkowitz did a good job of detailing his perspective and at the same time told the story in as neutral a stance possible. Our Guys turned out to be a good reading and I thought that since it was presented in a story format it flowed smoothly. It relates to other texts that we have read such as McIntosh with the idea of whiteness as an invisible privilege because these kids since they were white and from a nice neighborhood, at first, were not believed to have been capable of such a despicable act. This article could also be related to Johnson because Leslie took action and spoke out against the guys that raped her and Johnson I believe would have been proud to see her take that step. Overall, I think that this article provided good insight as to shattering the image of perfect white neighborhoods and that white, privileged children do not always make the right decisions in some circumstances.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Talking Point 8

Talking Point 8: Tim Wise: Whites Swim in Racial Preference

• White supremacy
• Racial preference
• Discrimination
• White privilege
• Discreet powers
• Ignorance
• Affirmative action
• Complaining by whites of minority having more opportunity
• No egalitarian treatment
• Duplicity by whites
• Unfair schooling systems
• Preferential treatment
• Invisible power

Author’s Argument:
Wise argues that whites are ignorant of their own inherent power given to them by their skin color and that black and other minority groups are by no means given the same opportunity as whites. He also states even though affirmative action is in place there still needs to be discussions to help curtail the effects of unfair white advantages.

1. “White families, on average, have a net worth that is 11 times the net worth of black families, according to a recent study; and this gap remains substantial even when only comparing families of like size, composition, education and income status.
2. “We (whites) ignore the fact that at almost every turn, our hard work has been met with access to an opportunity structure denied to millions of others. Privilege, to us, is like water to the fish: invisible precisely because we cannot imagine life without it.”
3. “So the U of M offers 20 ‘extra’ points to the typical black, Latino or indigenous applicant, while offering various combinations worth up to 58 extra points for students who will almost all be white.”

Questions/Comments/Point to Share:
Whites Swim in Racial Preference has proven to be a good indication of just how serendipitous white people are to have their specified privileges and are completely ignorant of that fact. The article proved to be an easy read that both enlightened and gave me new ideas as to how I should look at my own life and stop to think of what my heritage has done for me. It relates to Johnson in a sense that it says that racial preference is something that needs to be explicitly talked about. I also feel that it has a correlation to the Lawrence article we read because of the fact that both are calling for reforms that will help squelch segregation in both schools and society at large. How would I and other normal people go about accomplishing some of these goals? While they seem progressive and innovative I view them as somewhat unrealistic due to their somewhat inherently radical nature.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Scottsboro Boys

Here is an interesting link regarding what we talked about in class on Tuesday:

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Talking Point 7

Talking Point 7: One More River to Cross” by Charles Lawrence

• Segregation
• Brown vs. Board of Education
• Meritocracy
• Going beyond racial discrimination
• Inferiority
• Stigmatization and Subordination of Blacks
• Apartheid of blacks
• Injuries due to segregation
• Self-perpetuating segregation
• Panacea-universal remedy
• Improve situations of blacks in getting jobs
• Parents fighting for kids’ rights
• Jobs controlled by people who ran schools
• Affirmative disestablishment of institutions
• Income disparity
• Segregation as a figment of the imagination
• Stopping the oppression

Author’s Argument:
Lawrence argues that the Brown decision fostered a way of thinking about segregation that has allowed both the judiciary and society at large to deny the reality of race in America, that the recognition of that reality is critical to the framing of any meaningful remedy—judicial or political—and that Brown may ultimately be labeled a success only insofar as we are able to make it stand for what it should have stood for in 1954.

1. Segregation once it is created it is self perpetuating. Gunnar Myrdal best describes it in his book, An American Dilemma, when we wrote, “Only blacks are labeled as inferior, they are denied access to equal societal opportunities. The resulting inadequate education preparation, poverty of cultural backgrounds, and lack of experience constitute real limitations on their ability to contribute to society, and the prophecy of their inferiority is fulfilled.”
2. Something also needs to be done not just in schools but also in society as a whole shown by this quote, “Our school was full of bright and capable children who would one day make fine artists, technicians, teacher, mechanics, lawyers, musicians, and businessmen. But few of them would get the chance. There will be little access to these jobs because increasingly there are fewer jobs than people, and because blacks have no power or control over the institutions that provide access to what few jobs there are.” Segregation will not only hurt minorities in school, but later on in life when they want to find a job.
3. In both the Plessy and Bakke cases the messages were the same, “in both cases blacks are told we have no right to an end to the institution of segregation, and in both cases we are told that this is so because the injury we claim is a figment of our imagination.” Again society at large is denying any harm done to people through the decisions of those court cases, which also fostered new thoughts regarding segregation at the same time.

Questions/Comments/Points to Share:
This article proved to be indicative of much of the latter part of the twentieth century, as well as, into this new century. Blacks were very much segregated from many jobs just due to their skin color and discriminated against because of that. I think that it is safe to say that this article shows who the courts were actually working in the favor of. The article I thought aside from a few vocabulary words was a rather easy read; it was both enlightening and engaging. It relates to Johnson in a sense that segregation is something that needs to be addressed and it can be correlated to Johnson’s argument of racism still needing to be talked about. Overall, I think that Lawrence has a very good argument here, but he does not need to confound readers with his extensive use of legal jargon. How does using all of the court cases make a relevant argument considering just using the Plessy v. Ferguson case would have been substantial evidence?