Sunday, October 25, 2015

Separate & unequal, TAL, Brown vs. Board of Education; Reflection

Sitting in my kitchen chair, rocking back and forth while listening to The Podcast 562 & 563 on "The Problem We All Live With", I couldn't help but to feel anger and aggravation.  And not with the points that they were making, but with the fact that those points should not be something that in the 21st century, we are still arguing about.  In the Pod cast and the article, "Separate but Unequal" by Bob Herbert, they both discuss similar problems of separation and inequality across schools and school districts with race and education.  The more I sit and think about it, the more it applies to my life.  The elementary school I attended was a nice school, set back in a nice neighborhood, with a population of 95% white families.  Had Providence forced inner city children to join our classrooms I could picture hearing many of my peers parents saying the same things that these parents were complaining about.  

 Many of the parents argued that their children's safety was being taken from them, and that the quality of their education will demise if these African American children walk down Francis Howell School Hallways.   These children were coming from Normandy High School which was the "ghetto" area.  Parents talked at the meeting for this movement like it was 1954 and desegregation/integration was a new concept. These children had no opportunity at the schools they were attending and their only hope was to receive the education that many of those white students were privileged to not have to fight for this education.  Parents spoke as if they would appreciate someone talking about their own children like this at a meeting.  As if these kids are not the same as their own.  This is  2015 and these preconceptions of African American children still are very present.  I recall one parent stating that they are "not allowed to cross the bridge into our home" .  This comment blew my mind, but also became a reality for me because I could picture everyone in my neighborhood saying this exact line.  I have heard people in "my" part of town say things like this.  Just because someones skin color is different doesn't mean that all of this danger comes with them.  They deserve the opportunities that are given to most of us.  An African American child has to fight ten times harder for ANYTHING in this society than manuy middle and high class white children.  Why is this? Why do we create this sense of struggle for only minority races? 

These questions shouldn't have to be asked in our world today.  The fact that is still does makes me want to fight even harder to change it.  Equality is not equal in this day, anyone who sees to think it is only believes this because he/she is not negatively effected by it.  I am not even close to negatively effected by it, but I still take it personal.  These are people just like you and I, and if my child one day no matter what color, race, ethnicity they might be, should never have to feel out of place or uncwelcomed.  Saying that I also plan to protect and represent every child that does/will feel this way.  "We pretend that no one’s a racist anymore, but it’s easier to talk about pornography in polite company than racial integration. Everybody’s in favor of helping poor black kids do better in school, but the consensus is that those efforts are best confined to the kids’ own poor black neighborhoods." Bob Herbert states this in his article "Seperate and Unequal".  We do pretend to not talk about race in this world. We leave the tension in the room because its easier to do so. I believe August would also agree with Herbert because topics such as race and LGBT should be talked about in order to be accepted and create safe spaces for students to thrive; but they aren't.  People say they feel bad but do nothing to push for progress or growth.  These students feel uncomfortable going into schools and classrooms because that big elephant in the room is sitting right there.  Everyone can clearly see there is 20 white children to one African American child, so that should be talked about.  The children should see this childs point of view in order to help them feel comfortable and avoid doing what makes that black child feel different.  We should honor everyones differences; and when the bus showed up to Francis Howell School there was a greeting squad filled with cheerleaders and important school persons that welcomed the children not their new joinery into desecrating this school.  This was a perfect way to create that safe space, and August would be thrilled to hear of something like that happening. I also agree with Herbert when he discusses that many educators are scared or reluctant and resistant to go to these inner city schools to teach.  They feel that theres no point, or it is too dangerous.  My family is from a pretty nice part of cranston, and my mother teaches in downtown providence where the minority is white children.  When my mother tells other teachers in cranston where she works, they all have the same reaction "Oh my God good for you dealing with those children I could never!".  Now it would be hypercritical of me to apply this across every teacher in nicer schools, but that reputation is very present.  Many of the teachers are scared, and see it as a struggle instead of opportunity.  I am lucky to have a mother who views is as an opportunity to change many childrens lives and give them the chances that many people deny them of.    

I feel very passionate about this subject and I feel as though integration would be the next step to creating that truly equal world. Our society set out to do this in 1954 with Brown vs. The board of Education, but somewhere in time this concept fell through the cracks and the problem has still not been fixed.  Integration needs to happen, and many positive outcomes will come from it. We will take away the anger of the lower class from feeling uncared for, we will allow for more equality among races and children not having these adduced dispositions about certain races, we will allow for room to have peace and love moving from race to race instead of negativity, and we will give the EQUAL opportunity for all children to have a chance to be successful in live and be given the tools necessary to do so.  If this is something that can continue to happen and be fought for, we will see a big charge in our world.  We need to have a cause for an effect, so lets ignite the fuse and look forward to the future. 

A video I feel greatly represent an african american student and his/her concerns.

 Notice a 61 year gap but notice the white women's facial reaction to integration isn't different at all.  But the parents at Francis Howell say its not because of race, you decide.


Sunday, October 18, 2015

Kahne, Westheimer-Extended comments

I used Marwa's Blog as the center of my own to discuss some major point she brought up from the reading "In The Service of What?: The Politics of Service Learning", by Joseph Kahne and Joel Westheimer. 

Quote 1) Marwa and I both seem to agree with he point that is being made.  That is, Kahne and Westheimer discuss how beneficial it is to combine action with the thoughts and ideas, to actually have the students engaged in what they are doing.  This will yield more students to learn a lot more if they are interested in the material.  Marwa also points out that the students can also learn the importance of learning about these social issues.  

Quote 2) With this quote I agree with Marwa.  I am very confused by it, but after reading Marwa's understanding of it and debating it myself, I have concluded something similar to Marwa. I believe here in this quote the idea of the system changing, or blaming its victims (citizens) is what the authors were debating.  This idea of blaming the victim comes from an article "The art of Savage Discovery" that I had read in my Social Work class.  I agree with Marwa that charities and change are both beneficial educationally; however, what is being taught in the charities is that idea of blaming the city, that the citizens need to change not the system.  And this reinforces the idea in the students heads working in charitable/program based environments. The change based curriculum enforces minds to break the molds and put a big crack in that glass. 

Quote 3) I too believe social learning will have a big impact on children lives.   Thinking critically is important and can allow students to notice something like blaming the victim type of programs ran by he government.  The systems every growing flaws never come to an end, due tot he fact that they keep trying to fix us! Allowing children to critically think about governments decisions will allow them to challenge the systems ideas.  I agree with Marwa in the way that outside influences should not hinder our ways of seeing whats truly there and learning something new.

Overall Marwa brought up great points and quotes from the text.  Service Learning can be a great thing when implemented and used correctly.  Change is the most important thing to focus on, and making students think is ways that challenge what our society says.  This critical thinking has personally changed my life and made me think in ways I never considered.  Critically thinking about issues allows one to strip away everything until all that is left is the true meaning behind something.  It allows a student to become powerful, confident, and mentally ready to take on the world. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015


Now when reading that word what first came to mind?
    -Princesses, Prince, Love, fairytale, happily ever after?
Yes I agree, these things do come to mind, after reading this blog I hope a few other words burst into your head when the word Disney is announced. 

     After reading the piece "Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us", by Linda Christensen, I have now truly understood the underlying meanings to many of Disney's whimsical movies and shows.  At first it upset me, all the predisposition I once felt towards Disney products was completely shattered.  Those Princesses that I so badly wanted to be when I was younger soon became everything I hate.  These movies represent and teach children the wrong doings of society, but under an appealing light.  As Christensen explains it is not until one uses the tools that she taught in her piece, can one truly pull out those underlying lessons that the children are subconsciously taught.  Then I started to really get thinking, has my whole life been controlled subconsciously by the norms a rules that disney movies imprinted in my younger self?  This idea of being a perfect princess and meeting her prince who will one day take her and all of her problems away is somewhat realistic.  I grew up always trying to look like how perfect the princesses were. Beautiful skin, long smooth hair, big beautiful eyelashes, nice hour glass shape, beautifully painted nails, perfect makeup, and beautiful clothes.  And in many ways these practices or ideals are very present in my everyday life.  
Skin: I have bought many skin care products to keep my skin smooth, wrinkle free, small pores, and pimple free.  Ive been buying these products ever since my mom allowed me to use them.  I never linked it to the ida of hearing to be that princess behind the television screen, but that makes complete sense.  
Hair: I never cut my hair too short because I have the existing picture in my head of long beautiful smooth hair attracting the handsome prince.  I mean we even have a whole movie based around long straight blonde hair; Rapunzel.  
Eyelashes: Everyday when I fight with my eyelashes in the mirror, my main goal is to create them to be as long and as beautiful as they can be.  There is even a beauty procedure that you get whats called eyelash extensions, similar to the idea of hair extensions (again trying to recreate the long hair), that make it seem like you have beautiful long thick eyelashes that every prince falls in love with.  I actually had these at the begging of this semester, and recently stopped getting them.  I thought I was getting them just because it makes my eyes pop more, but it was really that initial lesson I was taught at 5 that this is what will get you the prince in shining armor. 
Hour Glass Shape: I have never done this, but now all over the web is something called waist trainers.  These are corsets made for women to pull in their waist and accentuate the hips.  I have never tried it, but this idea of that body can come from the view of princesses.  They all have a certain hour glass shape that is not realistic.  It is not anyone's natural body to look like an hour glass, especially mine.  This always would bother me, I even considered buy a waist trainer, but for the reason that I was taught this is the way women should look. 
Beautifully painted nails: Every two weeks I was on a regimented schedule of blowing 40 plus dollars out the window for nice painted and cleaned nails.  This is a precedent that is set in all Disney movies.  The princesses always have long, clean, painted nails.   
Perfect Makeup: I remember looking in the mirror at 7 years old wondering why my cheeks weren't as rode as snow whites, or why my eyelashes didn't seem as dark and perfect, or why my lips weren't a luscious red or pink tone like the beautiful characters behind the television screen.  I would then quickly rumble through my mothers makeup to recreate that perfect makeup.  Even now in my daily schedule I have to leave myself enough time to paint my canvas (my face).  
The Perfect Dress:  Not only in everyday life do I try and create the perfect outfit of the day, but more specifically around prom time was this most prevalent.  Every year in high school when I was asked by a prince to go tot he ball (prom), I would freak out scrambling around for the perfect dress.  I would picture this night just how the movies played it out.  I walk into the ball with my beautiful gown all made up, and my prince gazing at me with a look of complete happiness.  The moment in a Disney movie that a girl couldn't wait to see, and I wanted that moment in real life; not even realizing that Disney princesses were my influences in finding that perfect dress.  

Everything we thought we had forgotten is still very alive in our everyday life.  Nothing ever goes forgotten, but just unnoticed. Christensen may have crushed the very value I have in all my memories of the wonderful Disney land and movies I would cuddle up with my mom to watch, but she introduced something way more important and relevant; that the fact that I was taught to become a beautiful white, long haired, perfect bodied, perfect makeup faced princess finding her prince charming and living happily ever after. 

This all can connect to Delpit's piece on the codes of power, because we were all taught the codes through Disney movies, it was just in a hidden way.  But as children we learned these codes that we followed and still follow, aiding us in having power in this society.  That way we can be pretty enough, light enough, skinny enough, classy enough, etc., to excel in life itself; because in a society like ours looks take you farther than one could even imagine.  

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Safe Spaces-Connections

Has there ever been a time in your life when you felt you could not walk in somewhere? Where you felt like the misfit? Like everyone is worried as to why your still standing in front of them and have not left the room yet?  Many members of the LGBT community feel like this every day/hour/minute/second of their lives.  However, it is not their fault for feeling this way, it is the people's.  By the people, I mean everyone else standing in that room with that LGBT person.  The people in this society are the ones responsible for not creating the safe spaces that Gerri August speaks about in "Safe Spaces: Making Schools and Communities Welcoming to LGBT Youth".   These safe spaces are spaces where any child that is LGBT can feel confident in themselves, and everyone around them will be creating that space by being welcoming, loving, and watching what he or she says. 

Connection to Rodriguez:
This Piece "Safe Spaces" by Gerri August connects with Rodriguez's piece "Aria" in many ways.  These two pieces relate because they both discuss the environment and how it effects children who feel "different".  These children feel some disconnect with the world and society around them.  Even though one might be a gay, lesbian, trans-gender, bi-sexual, and the Rodriguez discusses a language barrier, both types of children are isolated from the world and afraid to be themselves.  In both cases it is society's fault for not accommodating these children and giving them a special environment or safe space to be themselves in.  Rodriguez would argue to accommodate these children is to hinder them not help.   But in the Safe Spaces piece, to be accommodating and create that perfect environment is to not hinder a child, but to help a child thrive in the way that they would like to.  Also to be the best version of themselves.  A child can only grow when they are not afraid of what everyone around them will think or say. This space was failed to be created for Rodriguez as he states that when in his classroom, "Without question it would have pleased me to hear my teachers address me in Spanish when i entered the classroom. I would have felt much less afraid" (Rodriguez 34). This shows the lack of security that was not built for Rodriguez.  He felt uncomfortable and scared in his classroom because the people around him failed to make him feel anyway but that.  August would argue that the teacher should have created a safe space in that classroom, where children could try and say Richard's name in his language to make him feel like all of them did, at home.  August states "Without deliberate creation of an inclusive atmosphere, however, what happens inside classroom walls reproduces the prejudice that exist outside these walls: straightness and gender conformity are assumed: LGBT identity is deviant" (August 83-84). This quote shows and links to exactly how Rodriguez felt in classrooms, that these children will walk into a place where their "normal" heterosexual classmates are, and his identity becomes lost or assimilated with being heterosexual because thats what fits the environment around them.  August and Rodriguez had very similar points, but different ways of handling them.  Children who are gay, lesbian, bi-secual, or transgender should feel just as comfortable as a child who is heterosexual.  This is August's point; that to not throw all of the children together forcing those few "different" LGBT children to assimilate with their peers, but for their peers to support their different choice and embrace it.  When  it comes to the private and public individuality that Rodriguez argues about, having a private identity and being secure in that identity will give you your own spot in society that you made.  No one says you have to fill in the gap or mold that is set.  It may be insinuated by society to be straight and speak english, but that just means you get to stand out and shine even more than the rest of the boring people that surround you.  Whomever I am speaking to....

Connection to Collier: 
Virginia Collier wrote the piece "Teaching Multilingual Children", her piece discussed in a way of creating safe spaces for children with english being their second language.  Her piece fits better with the "Safe Spaces" by Gerri August, because they both are arguing that the point is not to make these children who seem o be different fit in by making them like everyone else, but caring about them and making them feel as if they don't need to be like anyone but themselves.  To create this environment both authors discuss how they must be very caring and welcoming leaders in these environments.  In a classroom a teacher must use "Caregivers Speech" (Collier 224), as Collier would put it.  This means a teacher has to speak clearly, listen intensively, be ready to repeat themselves many times nicely, and provide as a model for other children in the room.  August would greatly agree with this type of speech.  This creates a comfortable environment where the teacher makes it clear to treat everyone equal and nicely.  August explains that we need to make those leaders and teachers allies for these student who are LGBT, or any student that feels singled out or different (August 99).  That these children not only need safe spaces but safe adults and people.  Collier would agree with this point.  That in schools and classrooms student of different sexual orientation, or cultures need to be protected and noticed by the students, staff, and world around them.