Monday, November 28, 2016

Christensen- Blog Post

In her piece, Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us , Linda Christensen discusses the underlying messages, described by author Ariel Dorfman as a "secret education",  found in children's media such as books, TV shows, and movies. 

Christensen describes how this secret education "instructs young people to accept the world as it is portrayed in these  social blue prints. And often that world depicts the domination of one sex, one race, one class, or one country over a weaker counterpart" (126). This is the same one sex, race, class, and country which makes up Leslie Grinner's SCWAAMP. This information which is portrayed captivates and manipulates the views of societal members at a very young age. Growing up children only experience first hand their own way of life, their race, their culture, their social class, etc., and therefore to formulate an opinion of other cultures, that information is received second hand through various forms of media. Due to this these opinions are often formulated into stereotypes of these other cultures rather than fact. 

She then quotes Dorfman, who says, "we are also taught how to love, how to buy, how to conquer, how to forget the past and suppress the future. We are taught more than anything else, how not to rebel" (128). These media forces and the SCWAAMP-ness of them reinforce a society which only has one way to success. This relates back to Delpit and the culture of power. While it is shown through the media, it is wrapped in stereotypes which increases the value of the one culture of power, while decreasing the value of all others, making those rules and codes seem unattainable to those outside the culture of power. 

The majority of these stereotypes are most easily found in the older cartoons, where aspects are most blatantly portrayed. But it is also necessary to note that these stereotypes and the culture of power are still portrayed in the media today, you just need to use a more focused lens to locate and find them in some situations. Beyond the stereotypical representation, being accurately represented beyond just a background character itself is a rarity. A woman main character is hard enough to find, let alone a main character who is a woman of color, and even then having that be character be a strong established character is even more of a feat to find. 

One of Christensen's students wrote "Women who aren't white begin to feel left out and ugly because they never get to play the princess" (131). Controversy over Disney and their lack of proper representation in their princesses and movies is something which still is occurring and flourishing. In 2012 with the release of Disney's Frozen backlash broke out over the whitewashing of the native Scandanavians, as there was not a single person of color in the entirety of the movie, and the fact that it is a repeated pattern in Disney's movies. 

While searching for a picture of the story which Christensen mentioned
as representation, all the search results were still of a white Cinderella. 
As mentioned above, having a strong female lead character is something which is not easily found in children's media. Christensen explains how representation for women of color could be found in Mary Carter Smith's "Cindy Ellie, A Modern Fairy Tale", a retelling of the classic "Cinderella" where Cindy Ellie is a young black woman from East Baltimore. While it is a quality piece for representation, Christensen explains "if the race of the character is the only thing changing, injustices still remain" (132). The character of Cinderella is still only focused on winning a man, and her value is found in a transformation of beauty and consumption. While breaking down racial walls, typical gender stereotypes are still exemplified and young girls still see their only worth being found through getting the looks and getting the guy. 

Christensen focuses throughout on the importance of educating students about these issues in the media they have experienced their whole lives. While in many ways it is difficult for students to come to the realization that their perceptions of the world have been manipulated by the media, it allows for the beginning of a change to be made. The enlightenment to the manipulation of representation and views in the media moves beyond just that and is made applicable to other aspects of life and those walls and stereotypes can begin to be broken through and a change can begin to be made. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Safe Spaces Blog Post

This is a Reflection post about Safe Spaces: Making Schools and communities Welcoming to LGBT Youth by Aneemarie Vaccaro, Gerri August, and Megan S. Kennedy. 

This piece discusses the necessity and importance of having safe spaces for youth members of the LGBTQ+ community, specifically in educational settings. It explains, "To the extent that teachers, school administrators, and college professors create an atmosphere in which difference is not only tolerated but expected, explored, and embraced, students will be more likely to develop perspectives that result in respectful behaviors" (83). The piece then goes on to explain how without that kind of environment the SCWAAMP aspects of our society thrive, and those aspects that go against it, specifically the LGBTQ+ identity are assumed deviant. 

Me, age 13, in the "closet" at
 church camp.
While I am now an out member of the LGBTQ+ community, growing up I was raised in a Christian home and was a devout Baptist. With this being said, my knowledge of the LGBTQ+ community was almost nonexistent, and what I did know about it was that it was viewed as wrong, due to the opinions of the adults I had been surrounded by my whole life. By the time I reached high school the only time the topic came up was in my health class when we had a few guest speakers throughout the semester, two of whom were gay, one came in to discuss AIDS, and the other came from and LGBTQ youth center in Providence to talk just about the community itself as well as the center he works with and provide resources for anyone who would want them. While these two men were obviously not the first gay people I had met in my life, they were the first ones who I had ever met who talked about their experiences, and I was not very happy about it. Looking back I can quote my fourteen year old self saying "I don't have a problem with it, I just don't think they should be encouraging their lifestyle and they shouldn't be talking to a classroom about it". 

Throughout my experience in high school, beyond those two men who came to talk to my health class, the discussion of the LGBTQ+ community now nor its history were ever really discussed in the curriculum of the classroom. Through my own experiences I know that as I began to interact with a community of people who were open to and discussed the LGBTQ community and issues I found myself becoming more and more accepting, as well as realizing my own identity. Had the curriculum in the schools and school systems I had attended been more inclusive, I would have been able to begin to form a more open opinion from the beginning, and so could other students, and lessen issues of homophobia and heterosexism. 

The authors of this piece make another point following this saying, "Most educators do not set out to marginalize LGBT youth. They simply follow paths of least resistance. They put one foot in front of the other in what seems the natural, even the right, direction..." (84). Heterosexism is a norm in our society and often times is not given a second thought and is then applied to the curriculum in schools. Whether that is in classroom examples in stories, or word problems, or picture books, the people are almost always straight, and this furthers the continuation of heterosexism as well as not allowing a space to feel accepting to those LGBTQ students. With it being seen as the norm, it allows for teachers to use that as a crutch for not including it in their curriculum as they have just not thought otherwise, but changes need to be made to provide teachers with that information and allow them to have the knowledge to create a safe space in their classroom. 

Mapping the Authors Document

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Problem We All Live With Blog post

Throughout this episode of This American Life; "The Problem We All Live With" Ira Glass talks with investigative reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones about the issues facing African American and Hispanic students in the United States Public school system. More specifically they focus on the solution of integration and how it is overall beneficial, but often ignored as a solution.

20130708_125533-400x300.jpg (400×300)
Hannah-Jones puts focus on the Normandy school district in Missouri, the school district which Michael Brown attended. She discusses Lesley McSpadden, Michael Browne's mom, who after her son was shot, one of the first things she said to the media was about how hard it was to get her son to graduate as a black man.  She writes, "Most black kids will not be shot by the police but many of them will go to a school like Michael Brown's...the school district he attended is almost completely black, almost completely poor, and failing badly" . Here she discusses how this school district represents many throughout the country, that students of color will attend and be segregated from the white students in the surrounding community. This is similar to a process which Kozol touches upon in Amazing Grace where he talks about the community of Mont Haven in the Bronx, and where a woman from that community says, "Clumping so many people, all with the same symptoms and same problems in one crowded place with nothing the can grow on? Our children start to mourn themselves before their time" (Kozol).  Whether it is in New York or Missouri, the institution of the United States works to pile more and more into one place to further prevent movement out of the lower class, or in this case to even be properly educated.

Once Normandy lost its accreditation and students were allowed to transfer to another school nearby, this brought about the accidental resurgence of integration in schools in Missouri. Hannah-Jones explains the positive aspects of integration and how it is beneficial for the students of color coming from the worse school district, and also does not
francis-howell-exterior-1ht-desktop-616-538.jpg (616×538)negatively affect the schooling scores of the students in the schools that students are being integrated into. But she also puts much of her focus on the struggles of getting to integration and why it is not the used solution today. For one, the school districts themselves furthered the explanation of institutions making it harder for students to be educated and raise out of a situation. When the Normandy school district needed to choose a school for their transfer students to go to, while they had a plethora of options and the school chose one which was over thirty miles away, making the option unappealing and harder for the students of Normandy. Also, those parents at the school chosen, Francis Howell, worked to try and make it as hard as possible for the Normandy Students to attend as well. One parent suggested, "Has anyone considered changing our school start times? Moving start times up 20 minutes, maybe 40 minutes? Making it a little less appealing?". Both of these school districts were doing whatever they could to put up road blocks for these students to prevent them from getting a proper education.

Bob Herbert of The New York Times wrote an article, "Separate and Unequal", further explaining the benefits of integration of schools, how test scores increase and the overall well being of poorer students increases when they go to school with middle class students. He then goes on to explain, "Studies have shown that it is not the race of the students that is significant, but rather the improved all-around environment of schools with better teachers, fewer classroom disruptions, pupils who are more engaged academically, parents who are more involved, and so on". But even though it is not the race of the students that is playing the significant role, it almost always is viewed as a racial issue.