Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Final Project

For my final project I pulled some quotes out of a few different texts and created an anonymous survey that I asked for people's reaction to the quote.  Here is what I found....

Armstrong & Wildman
The Quote: 
“In educational settings, faculty and students of color often carry the major responsibility for highlighting issues of racial justice.  They should not shoulder the institutional work of either caring about race or the onus of educating their White colleagues.  People of color know all too well that society racializes them with a race other than White.  Yet, Whites often do not think about race and racial justice, except when they notice people of color are present.  Whites tend not to notice that they too have a race and that their own race carries social meaning and generally positive presumptions.” (66)

Some responses:
"I have felt this in many situations in the classroom when the issue of race comes up. I feel like many of the white people in the room look to me and to other black people to be a voice for all black people. I can't speak for anyone but myself and I am not informed enough on many of the topics that many of the white people think that I am an expert on simply because I am black." (17 years old African American)

"This is kind of insulting. I don't think it is fair to characterize all whites the same way. Just as it in unfair to characterize all blacks the same way." (17 years old, white, middle class)

"White people do not call themselves white, or think of themselves as a white person. White people aren't heard saying "hey check out that white person over there," or "this white person was in line in front of me." When the race is not white, a white person will explicitly identify the race and we have all heard a white person say "hey check out that black person over there," or "this black person was in line in front of me." White people don't see our race or the privileges that come with it. It takes people of color to point these privileges out by sharing their disadvantages. If there are 10 white people in a room, no one notices. If there are 9 white people, and 1 black person in the room, the race is noticed." (27 years old, white, middle class)

The results of the survey are slightly skewed because majority of the respondants are white. However, from the 3 quotes here we can see the difference in the privileged perspective versus the perspective of the young black man. In the second response, you can sense how defensive the person is. Johnson tells us, "This defensive reaction has done more than perhaps anything else to keep us stuck in our current paralysis by preventing each of us from taking the steps required to become part of the solution" (viii). This person's reaction to the survey quote is the perfect example of that defensive reaction. Immediately the person takes offense to the quote and implies that it's not our (the white man's) problem to deal with.

I like the last person's acknowledgement of his/her white privilege and the example used is perfect. Just something as simple as the way we (white people) describe others. It is common to use describing words of minority people but would always omit that detail if the person we are describing is white. This idea is the exact "colorblindness" that Armstrong's and Wildman's article warns us about. We need to be aware of color differences, not just ignore them.

The quote:
"JOEY: Uhm-hmm, that’s a hard question.  But I think they shouldn't make books like that.
JOEY: Because they are not using the right way to talk and in school they take off for that, and li'l chirren grow up talking like that and reading like that so they might think that's right, and all the time they getting bad grades in school, talking like that and writing like that.
TEACHER: Do you think they should be getting bad grades for talking like that?
JOEY: (Pauses...answers slowly) No ... no.
TEACHER: So you don't think that it matters whether you talk one way or another?
JOEY: No, not long as you understood.
TEACHER: Uhm-hmn Well, that’s a hard question for me to answer, too. It’s a question that comes up in a lot of schools now as to whether they should correct children who speak the way we speak all the time. Cause when we're talk­ing to each ocher we talk like that even though we might not talk like that when we gee into other situations, and who's to say whether it’s
JOEY: [Interrupting} Right or wrong.
JOEY: Maybe they ought to come up with another kind of... maybe Black English or something. A course in Black English. Maybe Black folks would be good in that cause people talk, I mean black people talk like that, so... but I guess there's a right way and wrong way to talk, you know, not regarding what race. I don't know.
TEACHER: But who decided what's right or wrong?

JOEY: Well that’s true ... I guess white people did." (Delpit, 43)

Some responses:
1. "Reading this felt a bit awkward because of how the student answered the teacher of maybe having African American English, and Caucasian English. Feels as if this reading was written in the 1960's." (17 year old, mixed race, upper class)

2. "My reaction to this quote was shocked because of the student perspective on the topic. I think it has a lot to do with the society and how they view black people and white people, even thought its better today. The last line has a lot of affect on the whole quote because it shows the students view on white people. Its kind of sad too, because he says the white people decide what is right and wrong, if you really think about it its not entirely wrong or right." (14 year old, hispanic, middle class)

3. "We have an official language in the US, let's use it so we can all understand each other." (50 year old, white, middle class)

4. "I've never thought of that before. I'm not sure what my position would be on it. Some of the thoughts in my head are that in a subject like the English language shouldn't there be a standard as how to write a specific way? Yet at the exact time language has a certain fluidity that is based on how it is used- shouldn't it be taught according to usage." (32, white, middle class)

5. "The student I belive is right when it comes to talking in a racist manner and how white people use say the n word to describe African Americans. Though he is rude to the teacher I belive his point is correct whether one way of talking is the way people talk and we can't change that now. Using African American instead of the n word would definitely help in a racist matter in my opinion. People talk differant, it's there way of life and how they were raised to talk. So there is really right or wrong way to talk." (15, white, middle class)

The responses to this text excerpt were more sympathetic. Maybe because it is a conversation with a young child and innocence is assumed whereas with Armstrong and Wildman, the reader may feel like they are being lectured/reprimanded. While most responses were more sympathetic, there were definitely some responses that made me feel like I was living in the 60s, like the first student's response suggested. This response really strikes me because of the time period mentioned. The Delpit text (I believe) was originally written in 1995. And although it is over 10 years old at this point, 1995 is still a far cry from the 60s that the student believed he/she was reading about. The third response is jaw dropping to me. As far as I know, the US does not actually have an official language, so to demand that everyone use it is mind blowing to me. The fourth response response calls to mind the Collier text and the discussion on code-switching. Without actually giving it a name, the person who responded is essentially referring to code-switching. However, the question remains, when is this code switching "appropriate" and who determines what should be considered the "norm" and what should be considered "switching"??? Delpit would argue that all of those "norms"/standards are developed by the culture of power. There are so many things I LOVE about the last response. First of all, I think it is admirable that this 15 year old middle class white student can recognize that racism is still very real today. What I find most interesting is that he interprets the little boy's tone with the teacher to be "rude." This is so Delpit! Around pages 33-35, Delpit discusses at length a major difference between black teachers and white teachers is in the way directions are given. White teachers (or anyone in authority) tend to pose a demand as a question. The example in the text is the white teacher asking the student, "where do the scissors go?" The teacher does not actually expect an answer to this question, but rather it is a nudge to have the student return the scissors back to where they go. On the other hand, a black teacher would not ask a question, but rather give the student the direct command, "put the scissors away." In some cases, black students struggle to make this connection/understanding when asked by a white teacher, "where do the scissors go?" the student may reply. Often times, the student's reply is interpreted as sarcastic and the student is disciplined. I think it is very ironic that the 15 year old white student interpreted the student's dialogue with his teacher as being "rude." This response in particular also remind me of the Armstrong and Wildman text. I can't help but wonder if the student interprets this little boy's interaction with the teacher as rude because he pictures the teacher he is talking to to be white. On pages 72-73, Armstrong and Wildman discuss the "white normativeness" that exists. And basically the idea is that in many cases when a specific race is not mentioned, we (white people especially) often assume the person being spoken about is white. I wonder if the student would still have interpreted "Joey" to be rude, if he knew the teacher being spoken to is also black. 

Johnson 1:
“At the dawn of the twenty-first century, it is dear that however much people might wish it otherwise, the answer is still no.  Whether it's a matter of can't or won’t, the truth is that we simply don't get along.  Segregation in housing and schools is stubborn and pervasive, and the average wealth of white families is almost ten times that of blacks. The steady corrosion that everyday racism causes to the fabric of social life is everywhere. It especially galls middle-class blacks who believed what whites told them, that if they did everything right-if they went to school and worked hard and made something of themselves race would no longer be an issue. But they soon discovered, and they learn anew every day, that nothing seems to protect them from their vulnerability to white racism.” (Johnson, 1-2)

"I agree with this post because no matter how successful black children become no matter how hard they work if society stays the way it is today in America nothing is going to change" (18 year old, black, lower class)

"Disagree. My white family struggled financially because of poverty, not because we were white. I also have many friends who are of color or minority who are very successful. " (32 year old, white, middle class)

"This quote reflects a mindset that may be ignored in society. Because of historic mistakes made in the past, people seem to linger around them and feel that whites still have those traces in history; however, it is not fair, like that of blacks, to segregate. No matter what race. White lives matter too. Every life matters." (17, white, middle class)

Once again, the irony of how the people in the culture of power reacted to the this text compared to those not in the culture of power is amazing. The young black man recognizes the struggle that lies ahead for him. While the white responders are more naive in their response. I find the second response to be very interesting because the implication is that the white respondent who currently identifies as middle class, came from a lower income home. It seems that this person has fairly easily broken the cycle of poverty. I wonder how his/her experience would be different if he/she did not have the privilege of being white. The end of the third quote sticks out to be because of our discussion of All Lives Matter. This person's ignorance is points back to Armstrong's and Wildman's colorblindness this theory. Yes, we are well aware that "all lives matter," but that statement does not need to be made because white people are not oppressed. Armstrong and Wildman tell us that it is not enough to be "colorblind" and view everyone as an equal. The bottom line is we are not equal. A white man can freely wear a hooded sweatshirt, cover is face, and safely walk down the street with his hands in his pocket and people would assume he is cold. But a black man does not have the same freedom because it would be assumed that he is hiding something dangerous in his sweatshirt. That is not equality...and that is why Black Lives Matter is an important and appropriate movement.

The Problem We All Live With 1
“Ira Glass: The US Department of Education put out data in 2014 showing that black and Latino kids in segregated schools have the least qualified teachers, the least experienced teachers. They also get the worst course offerings, the least access to AP and upper level courses, the worst facilities.
The other thing about most segregated black schools, Nikole says, is that they have high concentrations of children who grew up in poverty. Those kids have greater educational needs. They're more stressed out. They have a bunch of disadvantages. And when you put a lot of kids like that together in one classroom, studies show, it doesn't go well.

Nikole Hannah Jones

If you're surrounded by a bunch of kids who are all behind, you stay behind. But if you're in a classroom that has some kids behind and some kids advanced, the kids who are behind tend to catch up. These kids in these classes in schools of concentrated poverty don't have that. They don't have that effect of kids who can help boost them. Everyone's behind.
And then they're getting the worst teacher. So it's not even like they're getting the same quality teachers as kids who are advanced. They're getting worse teachers. When you combine those two things, it is almost impossible to undo that harm. You have to break that up.”
The Problem We All Live With 2
Beth Cirami: This is what I want to know from you. In one month, I send my three small children to you, and I want to know is there going to be metal detectors? [APPLAUSE]
Because I want to be clear. I'm no expert. I'm not you guys. I don't have an accreditation. But I've read. I've read, and I've read, and I've read. So we're not talking about the Normandy School District losing their accreditation because of their buildings, or their structures, or their teachers. We are talking about violent behavior that is coming in with my first-grader, my third-grader, and my middle schooler that I'm very worried about. And I want to know. You have no choice, like me. I want to know where the metal detectors are going to be, and I want to know whether your drug sniffing dogs are going to be. And I want-- this is what I want. I want the same security that Normandy gets when they walk through their school doors, and I want it here.
And I want that security before my children walk into Francis Howell. Because I shopped for a school district. I deserve to not have to worry about my children getting stabbed, or taking a drug, or getting robbed. Because that's the issue. I don't care about the taxes.

1. "This makes me feel lucky because I'm at a very nice school where there are many clubs and diverse people. At my school unlike schools with kids living in poverty we have very smart, experienced, and caring teachers unlike kids that lived in poverty and have unexperienced teachers that don't care while everyone is learning at the same pace. In conclusion, this makes me be very thankful for they life I have lived." (14, white, middle class)

2. "Schools with the most poverty and more disadvantaged students have the least qualified teachers because the lack of support from the districts and from the families of the students. How can a teacher teach properly when they are constantly dealing with bahavior issues in the classroom? And when they try to call home, here is no response or no support to hold the child responsible. Teachers in these schools are just teaching content, but trying to teach basic life skills and right from wrong. There is a constant battle and because of this, the true goal of the classroom is put aside.

The root of the negativity, drugs, violence and need for metal detectors comes from the home life. Teachers can teach all they want, but the child's foundation will be the determining factor of who they are to the core and what values, respect and goals they bring to the classroom.

This is not a hidden issue. People know of the constant violence, so the fear or concern for their middle class children and schools is a legitmate concern in their eyes. They want to make sure that the foundation they have built for their children isn't going to be rocked or changed due to this incoming, unknown force which is known for its violence." (33, white, middle class)

3. "These quotes make me feel like a lot of parents are losing trust in the school systems and their safety for their children. The first quote shows that kids who are black and latino are segregated in the educational department, but I believe that it is all based on how you grow up. You don't chose what you're coming into when you are born. There could easily be the same disadvantage for a white child or a child of another race depending on the community and how focussed they are on their local schools." (17, white, middle class)

The first response to this scenario is actually uplifting to me.  This student seems to have grown an appreciation for the privilege he or she was born into.  The first step to equality is recognizing the white privilege, so this realization is an important one.   I am torn over the second response.  It seems the person WANTS to be sympathetic but is so consumed by the racism and stereotypes that he or she has been brought up with, he/she is unaware of how offensive the statements are.  The responder quickly assumes the worst of the Normandy students.  Implying the teachers can't teach because the students are so unruly and that their parents don't support the teachers etc.  Clearly, this is not true since the parents are willing to send their kid on a 30 mile track to school.  If they didn't care about their kid, they would leave him/her at the local Normandy school and not care what happened as a result.  Again in the last part of the second response, the person mentions violence.  Maybe the quote was misread because they were only given a portion of the transcript.  But in no part of that transcript does it mention violence in the Normandy school district.  However, the 17 year old, white, middle class respondent just assumed violence because it's an inner city school.  This relates back to the previous comment about All Lives Matter.  This mentality is precisely why BLACK lives matter...because the worse is seldom assumed of middle class white students. The third quote once again addresses the unearned privilege of being white and especially middle/upper class.  The person explains that we do not choose where we are born...and that is correct.  But for some people, those in the culture of power, those who are more financially stable, DO get to choose.  They get to choose to buy a house in a good school district.  Those in the culture of power DO get to choose where they grow up.  

So just to recap on everything....the results are a bit skewed because I picked the ones to share, and also because there are far more white responders than any other race.  However, in general, the results match everything that we talked about and read about throughout the semester in class.  It was interesting to read the responses of high school students.  I did open the survey up to the public via Facebook, but I also had my students respond to some of the statements.  The fact that in some cases, grown adults have a much narrower mind than teenage students is both uplifting and scary.  Scary because adults should be the role models...but uplifting because there is hope for the future.  

Below I am attaching a link to the survey results if you would like to skim through them.  (in order to see the results, you must "submit" the survey)

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