Sunday, March 22, 2015

Brown vs. Board of Education - Hyperlinks

Brown vs. Board of Education was a 1954 Supreme Court case that ruled that separate but equal was not constitutional, specifically in terms of schooling. Previous to this case, schools and other places were allowed to segregate by race as long as the conditions were equal. However, there were rarely equal conditions for black and white children in schools. Brown vs. Board of Education made equal education law and with that ended formal apartheid. Tim Wise, in his book "Between Barack and a Hard Place" classifies this as "racism 1.0." This racism is classified by outright bigotry and ignorance to those of other racial and ethnic backgrounds. He does believe that we have ended this type of racism, as seen through the election of President Barack Obama. However, he believes that we are now a part of "racism 2.0," which he classifies as "enlightened exceptionalism." In our society, we see instances of racism 2.0. For instance, many people see the President Obama as an incredibly qualified president. They see him as transcending the norms associated with his race, which associates African Americans with less intelligence, more aggression and criminal behavior, and less-hardworking attitudes. Believing that these stereotypical norms exist is the basis of racism 2.0. Bob Herbert, in his article "Separate and Unequal," comments on this by saying "The election of Barack Obama has not made true integration any more palatable to millions of Americans" (2). Many assume that since America elected a black president, America had ended racism completely. This is far from true. Impoverished students are segregated from their middle-class counterparts by "residential patterns, housing discrimination, economic disparities and long-held custom" (1). Even though the election of Barack Obama was a great step towards racial equality, these authors caution us by explaining the in depth racism that still exists today.

I found a Washington Post article from 2014 that explains Brown vs Board of Education's impact 60 years later. This article related to the Brown vs Board of Education website, Tim Wise interview, and Bob Herbert article. Though Brown vs. Board of Education desegregated public schools and made the "separate but equal" policy unconstitutional, Richard Rothstein states that this court case "was unsuccessful in its purported mission—to undo the school segregation that persists as a central feature of American public education today" (2). He goes on to explain that the court case only desegregated school; it did not properly integrate schools. Today, he says that the isolation of black children by race and socioeconomic class is at its worst. The achievement gap continues to remain between black and white children. He says that since schools are isolating these children, they are not benefitting as much as richer, whiter schools due to lack of resources and less parental involvement. Also, low-income housing complexes contribute to the isolation of these impoverished children, forcing them into the same schooling situations. We must first desegregate housing situations to desegregate schooling situations. Schools are more segregated today than in 1980, where "The typical black student now attends a school where only 29 percent of his or her fellow students are white, down from 36 percent in 1980" (3). Racism, though not the same problem today as during Brown vs. Board of Education, still has a major impact on all our lives and on our school systems.

I believe that this is another example of white supremacy, as seen in SCWAAMP and the McIntosh article on white privilege. This racial and socioeconomic segregation shows how white, middle class people have certain advantages over others in our society.

Talking point: All my classes, from elementary school to now, seemed to be predominately white. Did you have a different experience or does this racial segregation apply to your schooling as well?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Social Justice Event

Today, I went to a film presented by the Gender and Women's Study program for my Social Justice Event. There were only 2 people that came to view the film, including myself. This documentary was entitled "Killing Us Softly 4." It focused on the work of Jean Kilbourne, a long-time critic of media advertising. Kilbourne advocates for the just representation of women in the media, calling for an end to the harsh messages being sent to the public, especially girls and women. The film was about 45 minutes long and it focused on unpacking advertisements to convey the underlying messages and motives designed to dehumanize and objectify women. I was shocked at the extent of many advertisements described in this film. I feel like I have been manipulated to value these ideals through seeing these advertisements. It worries me that young girls are exposed to these unreachable ideals, which leads to so many mental and physical illnesses. I feel empowered after seeing this to start criticizing media and advertising more to expose these hidden messages.

All of us are bombarded with media advertising; the average person sees over 3,000 ads a day. While many people say they just ignore these unavoidable advertisements, the film explained that only 8% of the ad's message is processed consciously. Therefore, 92% of the messages are received subconsciously, where they influence us incredibly in our everyday lives. Advertisements stress the importance of beauty, youthfulness, and sexualization among all humans and objects, but most especially women. These advertisements cause girls and women to strive for flawlessness, which ultimately cannot be achieved. It actuality, the majority of photographs and images presented by the media are comprised of four to five women's bodies combined to form a "perfected" image of a women. Women and girls are subjected to these harsh messages that they are only valued for their appearance and body. They compare themselves to these photoshopped images, which can create low self-esteem, unrealistic body ideals, and eating disorders.

Our society values light-skin, blue-eyes, straight hair, sexuality, and extreme thinness. Many times in advertising, dark-skinned models are photoshopped to appear lighter-skinned and thin models are photoshopped to look thinner. Women are often turn into objects, which dehumanizes their value. Women are especially objectified as sexual beings created for men's pleasure. Women and girls are scrutinized by these advertisements, where they are placed in passive, vulnerable positions, while men are depicted as strong, confident. Men are not free from these hidden messages and objectification though. They are taught that they need to be tough, strong, insensitive, and masculine. However, they do not face the same harshness or consequences that women do. Popular culture teaches girls to aspire to, in a sense, disappear into nothing, the evidence being the fairly recent creation of sizes 0 and 00. Even more disgusting is the contempt and ridicule women face when they do not have this ideal body shape or appearance.

Kilbourne says that until we face the facts, nothing can be done about these dehumanizing messages and advertisements. In order to change the system, we must be aware of the situation, pay attention to the messages being sent, and realize that this is a public health problem that affects us all in a negative way. We need to change our environment by encouraging media literacy and critiquing advertisements and the media. We must show the advertisers that we are firstly citizens, not consumers. Our ability to have freely-lived, authentic lives depends on us taking a stand against this injustice. While I was watching this film, I saw many connections to the texts that we have read in class. Three texts that I think connect strongly with this film are Lisa Delpit's article, "The Silenced Dialogue: Power and Pedagogy in Educating Other People's Children," Peggy McIntosh's article, "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack," and Linda Christenson's article, "Unlearning the Myths that Bing Us."

Delpit explains the "culture of power" in her article. She gives five dimensions of this culture of power by explaining that there are rules or codes that define this power system. "The rules of the culture of power are a reflection of the rules of the culture of those who have power. If you are not already a participant in the culture of power, being told explicitly the rules of that culture makes acquiring power easier. Those with power are frequently least aware of - or least willing to acknowledge - it's existence. Those with less power are often most aware of its existence"(24). These aspects define the culture of power. This is related to the advertising practices that are based on the culture of power present in our society. The rules for participating in the advertising world are based on thin, attractive, light-skinned, passive women. These codes are a reflection of what our society values - SCWAAMP - straight, white, able bodiedness, and maleness. These are all attractive qualities in our culture of power and these are subjected in media advertising. Sexual objectification (in straight couples), light skin, men, and thin able bodied humans are portrayed in these advertisements because this is what our society deems good. Teaching media literacy, or being told explicitly the rules of the culture of power, makes acquiring power easier by learning how to critique the hidden messages portrayed in these ads. Also, those who have these attractive qualities are least aware of its value to society. Those who do not have these qualities understand that they are not valued but are objects of ridicule.

Related to this is Peggy McIntosh's article where she explains, "Disapproving of the system won't be enough to change them"(6). Kilbourne stresses the same topic. Knowing about the messages of media advertising and claiming that one is against that idealized model is not enough to do anything. We must impose our beliefs on the advertisers by changing what we value in order to change our society. Also, McIntosh speaks about male privilege and white privilege in her article. She explains that while many know about the unfairness of our social system, those in power are not willing to give up their advantages. These privileges, as well as these advertisements, are influencing all our lives by keeping us in oblivious to the real issues. Being male and white gives one so many advantages, as seen in media advertising. Models are valued if they are light-skinned and if they are not, they are photoshopped to make their skin look lighter. Men are portrayed as strong and powerful, while woman are submissive and controllable to the man's desires. These privileges control media advertising and unless we change the power scale, it will just continue to just get worse.

Finally, Christenson's article sums this whole conversation up. The advertisements implied messages are the "secret education" that the media is instilling in us. In order to be aware of this secret education, we must teach and understand media literacy. Media advertisements "instructs young people to accept the world as it is portrayed in these social blueprints. And often that world depicts the domination of one sex, one race, or one country over a weaker counterpart" (126). We are influenced and manipulated by the images that we constantly see even if we don't believe it. "The stereotypes and worldview embed in the [advertisements] become accepted knowledge" (127). By becoming media literate, we can see the inequalities and unjust messages and understand that these stereotypes are not just. We must not be ignorant, but become aware of the "secret education" that we are receiving.

Monday, March 9, 2015

"The Politics of Service Learning" Kahne and Westheimer

"In the Service of What? The Politics of Service Learning" by Kahne and Westheimer made me question my attitudes and reasons for the service learning project and previous community service that I have done. I always believed that community service was primarily about charity and contributing to one's community, but I failed to realize that more could come from one's service learning experience. Kahne and Westheimer speak to change through service learning. This change stems from caring, reconstructs social injustices, and leads to transformations in the volunteers lives. To expand on this topic, I am doing a connections post to some of our former readings.

This article shows connections to Johnson's article, "Privilege, Power, and Difference."As I said, many people just see community service as a school requirement or charity work. Even though this is a piece of service learning, Kahne and Westheimer say that we must challenge these ideals and "risk creating some opposition to service learning projects" (12). By doing this, people may be transformed through their experiences rather than just feeling positive or appreciated. Johnson says "But always the purpose is to change how we think so that we can change how we act, and by changing how we participate in the world, become part of the complex dynamic through which the world itself would change" (viii). Johnson says that we have to say the words in order to change the world. Once people read Kahne and Westheimer, they see that through their service learning project, they do have the ability to change the world by changing their mindset, actions, and participation.

I also connected this article to Ullucci's article, "Pathologizing the Poor: Implications for Preparing Teachers to Work in High Poverty Schools." In this article, Ullucci spoke about myths of those in poverty. She explains that we should not pity impoverished students and their families, but challenge the belief that those in poverty are in poverty because they don't work hard enough, are lazy, or are not smart. I personally saw a connection in the story about the music class performing at an impoverished elementary school. The parents complained and instilled fear in their children that the people in that community were bad and the students were undisciplined, rude and dirty. (Truthfully, when I started my service learning project, I was scared and nervous because I had heard to make sure to lock my car because the area was unsafe, etc, etc. and I feel connected to these student's fears.)When the class did go to perform, they found that beliefs were not true. The students were respectful, welcoming, and attentive. (I also found this to be true.) Kahne and Westheimer said, "The experiential and interpersonal components of service learning activities can achieve the first crucial step toward diminishing the sense of 'otherness' that often separates students - particularly privileged students - from those in need" (8). By participating in a service learning activity, these students (and myself) learned that their beliefs were just common myths that need to be challenged.

I also connected this piece to Delpit's article, "The Silenced Dialogue." Delpit speaks of a "culture of power," where those in power set the rules and standards for society. I believe that this connects because the culture of power tells us that we must participate in community service in order to fulfill our requirements and help those in need. The culture of power does not speak of the transformative power of community service and service learning projects. The people in power have set these beliefs and instilled them in the rest of society to see service learning as solely charity, and not change.

Talking point: Have people viewed their service learning project as charity or as a chance to change the world?

Sunday, March 1, 2015

"Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us" - Linda Christenson

For my blog post, I will be doing an extended comments based on Jasmine's post.

I think that Jasmine captured Christenson's argument nicely by saying, "Linda Christensen argues that the media like TV shows, commercial, books, and magazines set unrealistic expectations for children and they display many stereotypes." I also believe that Christenson was arguing that Disney/Looney Tunes movies and cartoons are heavily based on many stereotypes because the characters displayed all have characteristics that can be described by SCWAAMP. As a society, we value things like straightness, whiteness, able-bodiedness, maleness, and property ownership. One can see all these traits in these movies and cartoons that are commonly shown to young children. These children are so influential that they begin to value these qualities shown and become members of the society that values SCWAAMP.

Jasmine also brings up Christenson's idea of a "secret education." By saying this Christenson means that the creators of this movie didn't create the characters this way in order to mind wash the young to become racist and sexist human beings. But, by constantly showing the white people as the heroes and princesses, the woman being weak and rescued by the strong, confident men, people of different races being the bad guys, and the characters being rich and wealthy, these movies are educating their audience to admire these qualities. I liked how Jasmine linked the Popeye cartoon that Christenson explained so that we can actually how these stereotypes are played out. 

Also, Jasmine says that even though Christenson makes valid points, she does not want to believe that her favorite movies are based on ideas linked to SCWAAMP. I definitely agree with her here. I thought that this article was hard to read because it made me sad to think that all the movies that remind me of my childhood are portrayed in this negative fashion. I don't try to see the stereotypes, even though I now know that they are present in all these cartoons and movies. I guess that I'm also one of those people who "don't want to believe they have been manipulated by children media or advertising" (128).

Overall, I think that Jasmine did a great job on her post and just wanted to thank her for letting me use her post as the center of my blog!

Talking point: Who else was upset because they also love Disney movies?