Sunday, February 23, 2014

Safe Spaces


        These authors Annemarie Caccaro, Gerri August, and Megan S. Kennedy argue that the LGBT community should be welcomed at schools. Through out the article they give examples of how teachers handled the topic of LGBT kids. In the beginning of the article they talk about the classroom and what it should represent. They say it is a place where common interests and individual differences coexist, also where differences are explored, expected and embraced. I could not agree more, I think teachers are still working on the appropriate way to talk about LGBT because it has become more and more common in America. 


        One part of the article that I thought was interesting is when they say that "If our homes are incubators, keeping our children safe as they grow into the patterns of family life, schools are 'outcubators' -- places that introduce new ways of thinking and behaving"(pg 84). To think that you are kind of sheltered from everything that is not your family and then you go out in the world and see a black kid for the first time, or a LGBT kid for the first time. It must peak your interest, but you have to be aware that they are there for the same reasons you are, to learn. 

        The curriculum that some schools have are half the problem, they portray negative representations of LGBT people. For example in some health or biology classes they might relate HIV/AIDS as a disease of gays. Or when learning about families in elementary school they talk about single-parent families, adoptive families, divorced families, and foster families but not families that have two moms with children or two dads and their adopted daughter they just don't make the curricular cut. History classes essentially erase any influence moments from the past that have to do with LGBT, which isn't fair at all because they talk about everything that has to do with topics like civil rights and women's suffrage. 

        One of the stories they told was about a girl named Maria a sophomore in college and an "out" lesbian, she liked her Spanish class and her Spanish teacher. She had answered a question on a test that asked 'do you have a sweetheart?' she wrote 'yes, I have a girlfriend' the teacher marked the question wrong and said it should be boyfriend not girlfriend. she then asked what should she do about this, should she explain to the teacher her situation and ask to change to grade, should she just let it go. Maria was tired and disappointed that as a young lesbian the teacher's red pen had just erased her identity all together. 

        The authors also talk about the idea of mirrors and windows in schools, "our classrooms need to be 'mirrors and windows' for all students-- mirrors in which youth see themselves in the curriculum and recognize their place in the group; windows through which youth see beyond themselves to experiences connected with, but not identical to, their own" (pg 88). It is important for students to feel like they belong especially at a young age where it will effect them the most. 

        “She [Megan Boler] suggests that to make up for years of invisibility, classrooms should over-represent the experiences of those who have been excluded or erased from history.” (page 92). I found this statement to be possible but within reason. I think that having a day of silence or a week during school where you celebrate the LGBT community, is completely fine. But not to all of a sudden decide that the curriculum should be all about LGBT and not about anything else. I think that would do more damage than not talking about it at all. 

“Good intentions are not enough; trying to see all students as the same is not enough. Being a fair-minded individual is not enough.” (pg 98)

Overall I think the argument of what is the appropriate way to make LGBT and inclusive part in elementary, secondary and high school classrooms is still a work in progress. 

This is a clip of Disney Channel introducing their first on-air gay couple on the show Good Luck Charlie. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Social Justice Event Reflection


         On February 12th I attended a showing of the documentary Good Hair produced by Chris Rock who is a very popular comedian. He traveled all around the world from LA to India learning and researching all about the hair that is on a black woman’s head. He started in Atlanta and did a number of interviews with celebrities like Raven Symone, Nia Long, Ice-T, Maya Angelou, Reverend Al Sharpton, Meagan Good and many more. He also went into local hair salons and barber shops to ask the black community what their thoughts were on the subject of hair and what classifies it as “good”. 
         Well, you all know that I am half black and half white so my hair is not as course as a full black woman’s hair would be. I have put relaxers in my hair on a regular basis since I was about eight years old until I was twelve and then at fourteen years old I had a keratin treatment done. From then until now I haven’t put any chemicals in my hair besides straightening it with a flat iron every once and a while. I like the way I look with straight hair rather than my natural hair because it looks cleaner and nicer. Black women essentially got the look from the western European women and wanted to look the same way. So we put relaxers that have sodium hydroxide on our roots, some even have their daughters start at three years old and once you get it done the first time it’s almost impossible to stop because you’re addicted to the results it gives. There is a possibility of harm that comes with relaxing your hair because it containing a harsh chemical called sodium hydroxide which could give you extreme chemical burns if left in too long.

Raven Symone
        Then there is the alternative of the weave which is a hairstyle created by weaving pieces of real or artificial hair into a person’s existing hair, typically to increase the length or thickness. These weaves cost upwards from $1000-$5000 depending on the quality of hair that you want to use. The sad part is some women will pay to get their hair done every month rather than put food on the table for their family. Most of the hair comes from India were men and women think they are sacrificing their hair to their God but in reality it is getting shipped all over the world, mostly to the US, to be used for weaves. The most ironic part about this whole thing is that African Americans are the ones who buy these products the most but the Asian population dominate the manufacturing and marketing of this hair empire.

Meagan Good
        This whole movie essentially takes you through what a black woman has to do to be accepted and taken seriously in this world, when it comes to their hair. They have to compete against the built in privileges that white people have. For example Peggy McIntosh says in her article “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” that she is very likely to walk into a hairdresser's shop and find someone who can deal with her hair, because she is white and has white privileges. Well I can attest to that because I am mixed race and I haven't had the best luck with my hair. I have tried every type of shampoo and conditioner and almost every type of hair treatment to make it look somewhat presentable and manageable. I do feel that because of my race I have to search for the right hair treatments and products whereas if I was white it would be much simpler to pick the first thing on the shelf and to find someone that knows how to take care of it.

        Another article that I read in class was “Silenced Dialogue: Power and Pedagogy in Educating Other People’s Children” by Lisa Delpit. This article was about the “culture of power” and how people with power are least likely to know that they have it and people without power most likely know they don’t have it. People with power have money and that money can pay for the hair on their heads, for example. So people with power have the luxury of getting their hair down whenever they want, whereas people who can’t afford it may not be able to get the job they interviewed for that day because their natural hair doesn’t look sophisticated enough for the interviewer to take them seriously even if they are the most qualified for the job. It’s kind of like how some of us went to our service learning projects and came back and we thought we were over dressed but it did give us an upper hand at the time.

Chris Rock and family
        One other article that we read in class was “Aria” by Richard Rodriguez. This article was mostly about how when Richard had to learn English to be more American he lost his “private individuality” or his Spanish speaking roots. The lesson behind this article was in order to gain a public individuality you may have to lose your private one. This applies to what the movie was about too, because black women feel like they have to have straight hair to be taken seriously in America today, and having straight hair is valued more than curly, nappy, natural African hair. Since most people know that it is possible for them to straighten their hair, when they see someone with their natural hair they question why. Why would you want to look that way, or they must not have the money. It’s those assumptions that can apply to so many other topics in society.
These two videos are of Chris Rock, Nia Long and Raven Symone answering some questions about the movie and some clips from the movie.

I also found this Huffington Post article about a very controversial topic in the black community.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Check it out!

Hey everyone I found this while scrolling through my Facebook and I thought it had a lot to with what we are talking about in class. I don't mean to offend anyone, I just thought it was a great connection.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Aria by Richard Rodriguez


"But I couldn't believe that the English language was mine to use. (In part, I did not want to believe it.)" (1)

Richard tells us about how Spanish is his first language and that he now had to learn English. He refers to Spanish as a private language and English as a public language. He was reluctant to learn English at first because he knew it would change his life and his family. His parents only spoke Spanish and they pushed their kids to learn English so that they would do better in school, this slowly distanced the family apart. He knew that if he started speaking English more than Spanish then he would be driving a wedge between himself and his parents, and he didn't want that. So partly he didn't want to be allowed to speak English because in time he figured out that he would loose his essence as a Spanish speaker. 

"The family's quiet was partly due to the fact that, as we children learned more and more English, we shared fewer and fewer words with our parents."(4)

This quote portrays the down side to Richard and his siblings learning English. It essentially broke the relationship that he had with his parents because they knew very little English and they wanted their kids to be able to learn in school. All a parent wants to do is ask their kids "how was your day at school?" and they couldn't. He talks about how the nuns came to his house and talked to his parents about the little progress that the kids were making in learning English at school. The nuns asked if they could encourage them to speak English at home and of course they agreed to it, and Richard saw this as them giving away the sounds that held their family together. The nuns even changed his name to Richard instead of Ricardo, I find that crazy that someone, even a nun, thinks they have the authority to modify a person's name. Their name is what gives them their identity and they think they can just not call them it to make it easier on you to pronounce. 

"I heard several Spanish-speaking nuns-their busy, singsong overlapping voices-assure us that-yes, yes, we were remembered, all our family was remembered in their prayers."(5)

He talks about three instances were he saw signs of hope that Spanish speakers were still around, and they served as memories of what his family used to be like before speaking English. In this instance he was with his mother at a convent and he saw the shadows of these nuns who were speaking Spanish. While listening to their sounds, he felt that his old life wasn't gone forever and this reassured him that his family was going to be okay. This instance showed that as long as he hears Spanish every once and a while out in the public, I think he will be able to accept the English language as his own. 

"So they do not realize that while one suffers a diminished sense of private individuality by becoming assimilated into public society, such assimilation makes possible the achievement of public individuality."(6)

During this entire article Richard expresses the differences between someone's private and public individuality. He saw private as his life at home with his parents and the public was the outside (English speaking) world. In this quote Richard is talking about how society strived to conform anyone who didn't speak English. So when his parents made him speak English at home it diminished his sense of "private individuality" in a place where he thought he was safe from the outside world trying to affect him. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Silenced Dialogue

This article by Lisa Delpit was a little bit harder for me to interpret. One of the main concepts in the article that i found interesting was how black students interact with white teachers versus black teachers. I selected these quotes because I thought they supported the white teachers versus black teachers idea and which students learn best from each type of teacher.

"I am also suggesting that appropriate education for poor children and children of color can only be devised in consultation with adults who share their culture. Black parents, teachers of color, and members of poor communities must be allowed to participate fully in the discussion of what kind of instruction is in their children's best interest. Good liberal intentions are not enough." (page 45)

Delpit voices her opinion that the parents of the children who are poor or children of color should come together and decide what is the best way for them to learn. Instead of the people who know nothing about their lifestyles because they most likely don't know what their life is like at home. I think that its a good idea for the white teachers to consult the black teachers because they are the ones who would know more about what an average black students life is like. 

I personally saw this first hand when I was volunteering in the classroom that I do my service learning project in. My teacher is a very short white lady and she was speaking in a different tone than I had ever heard a teacher talk in. But I noticed it was to the black children, granted they were not doing what they were supposed to be doing. She would give them direct orders in an almost yelling tone and they would do it, I knew that they wouldn't go home and tell their parents that their teacher yelled at them because that was probably how their parents speak to them on a daily basis.

“Several black teachers have said to me recently that as much as they'd like to believe otherwise, they cannot help but conclude that many of the "progressive" educational strategies imposed by liberals upon black and poor children could only be based on a desire to ensure that the liberals' children get sole access to the dwindling pool of American jobs.” (page 29)

This quote supports the fact that the white liberals only want whats best for their children not the children of the other races. I see this as white supremacy a little bit because the white people are in charge of most of the school systems so they naturally would hire white teachers who then don't know how to handle students of other races making it difficult for the students to get an education which they need to get a reasonable job.

This article I found raises the question of whether a student learns more from a teacher of his/her own ethnicity.


This was from 2004

Sunday, February 2, 2014

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack

Peggy McIntosh

The article I read is "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" by Peggy McIntosh who argues that the white population are instilled with an automatic set of privileges when they are born into the white community. Whereas the non-whites have to face all sorts of racism and challenges on a daily basis.

I personally am half African American and half Caucasian, so my life has been a little bit of both worlds you could say. To the general public I look like a black girl, but I grew up in a predominately white town and went to a predominately white high school so I have white friends and have been raised in a white community. Although this is where I am conflicted, I don't see why I am not entitled to white privileges because sometimes I see myself as white but I forget that I look black. So being mixed race has it's pros and cons, my siblings and I wouldn't even be alive if my parents didn't fight for what they believed in.

McIntosh says in the article that she is very likely to walk into a hairdresser's shop and find someone who can deal with her hair, because she is white and has white privileges. Well I can attest to that because since I am mixed race I haven't had the best luck with my hair. I have tried every type of shampoo and conditioner and almost every type of hair treatment to make it look somewhat presentable and manageable. I do feel that because of my race I have to search for the right hair treatments and products whereas if I was white it would be much simpler.

This site has some more white privileges like the ones McIntosh wrote in her article...

First Blog Post!!

Hey everyone my name is Mariah Caldwell and I'm a freshman at RIC majoring in Elementary Education with a content in Special Education. I commute about 45 minutes to RIC Monday through Thursday the drive can be long some days but its bearable. I'm a middle child with a younger sister and an older brother. I love to play basketball, recently I played in a alumni scrimmage against my old high school varsity team and it felt like I was playing in high school all over again. Over the summer I ran a few camps, one was a basketball camp and the other was an Art Literacy Camp at my local elementary school, they work on bridging what the kids learned from the previous year into the upcoming school year. I also hung out with some friends and enjoyed not having summer work for once in the past four years. I took this course mostly because I had to but now I am realizing that it will be a very useful course for my major. As for outside of class I do homework and watch Netflix, nothing to exciting. I am also going to be starting a new season of volunteering with Special Olympics in my town, we work on improving kids who have special needs with their motor skills and social skills. I've seen these kids grow and it has influenced my career path in a positive way. I am looking forward to continuing this course and my Service Learning Project.