Working on the MOOC was much easier than I originally thought. I have to admit that initially I was nervous to the point that I had anxiety about producing any work. I was not sure what I wanted to put out there for everyone to see. Once I started adding text, it seemed to all come together. After I saw what my peers were working on, it gave me more of an understanding of what was expected.
The MOOC looks amazing, and I find that it is hard to stop adding content to it. Knowing that it was going live last week was a little stressful, but I made it through. In my group, we added our names to our content, so it made it that more personal. I am anxiously awaiting feedback. I am hoping we all delivered. We put our heart and souls in the creativity of this project. I praying we touch someone's hear and mind with what we have done.
Why do we need to have conversations about race?
We need to have conversations about race because it makes us behave in ways that effect how we function in society. From a biological factor such as skin color, we form these ideologies about people's languages and cultures. Racism becomes a mental illness we all suffer from, in the sense that it is desensitizing. We forget that we are a human race-- instead we are broken down to ethnic categories that allow us to be victims of discrimination, social exclusion, marginalization, genocide, cultural mistrust and colorism. Fear, hate, and schizophrenic ideologies of superiority separate us, when in fact we are all equal. Which means, if my neighbor lay on a operating table on the brink of death, I can give him my blood, or my organs to sustain his/her life. It doesn't matter what race, color or creed I am.
For 37 years, I have struggled with the pain of racism and how it has effected my journey through life. Being a victim can cause so much detriment to your soul and self-worth. Being in this class, having conversations about our experiences has allowed me to move forward with a lot of my issues. Talking about race can do the same for others. Reading about race relations, identifying issues that effect the community allowed me to learn why I have been a victim, as well as other cultures. Culturally, minority groups are underrepresented in ever aspect of American culture from sciences, the arts, media, literature, and popular culture. Our histories are ignored, and stereotype and ignorance are standing in place of our real identities.
To shift the tides we need to confront the stereotypes, microaggressions, and racial biases head on. Black bodies are only respected for entertainment on the basketball courts, and football fields, or as objects of sexuality. All Latinos are being identified as immigrants-- America's problem, yet the solution to economic development in the labor industry. Muslims are viewed as a threat to the security of our nations borders. While Asian American's seem to be synonymous with math and technology. Once we get past these assumptions, we can look to seek some form of justice and social change.
I have been absent and out of the loop for a while, due to illness. I am still catching up on blogs, and readings from my group. Being absent on Tuesday was a bummer. I am sure there was an effort to come up with a solid plan in my group. But, we still need to hash out some ideas with everyone being present. What I propose to contribute to the group is to get the class thinking about code switching, or code meshing, by giving some examples and excerpts. Code switching and code meshing are two different language ideologies. We learned this from Andre's insightful articles and links. I would like to show the difference in that perception. Showing, how code switching being used to encourage those who write and speak with a vernacular to leave their own dialect to switch to standard English, opposed to code meshing which blends languages and dialects in one discourse. The best way to do this is through some sort of interactive exercise, that draws awareness in a visual way. Since, we all agreed we are visual learners, the goal is to educate the class, by making connections from cultural perspectives.
Today, there is literature written that serves as a how to guide for educators and students, to help them bring code-switching and subtle ways to get rid of it, so to speak. There are lessons to encourage culturally and linguistically diverse students to use Standard English Grammar in the classroom. http://www.heinemann.com/shared/onlineresources/e02610/csl_introduction.pdf.
I am curious to see if you all find biases and prejudice in the text and if you think it will serve as a useful tool.
Here is something else that I came across. A teacher using a stylized pedagogy to connect with her students. Although it would not be considered code switching, because she is using Standard English Grammar, she is still employing a cultural performance identity. Can this be considered code-meshing? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90Tp58UI8a8. What do you think?
I am excited to be in my group working on The Politics of Language--Discourses of Race and Ethnicity. Doing this sort of research surrounding race is very enlightening and cathartic. For my "Why You Actin White" piece, my inner-voice that works when I am trying to sleep (which is a healthy one, it's my process) is strongly urging me to do a monologue or a narrative about my experience with literacy and my need to maintain "performance identities". Initially, I was angry with my community for denying my membership, and I still am. However, I am learning to connect my experiences with deeper meanings than being just a victim, I did not realize my experiences were also the product of "cultural mistrust". According to Terril (1981), cultural mistrust theory is the inclination among African Americans to mistrust whites with the most evident areas of education and training, business and work, interpersonal and social relations, and politics and law.
By doing just a little bit more reading on race and identity this past week, I uncovered why race relations are so dynamic in how it shapes the beliefs of our the victim and the oppressor. The perceived image of me "acting white" because of the way that I enunciated my words, how I wore my clothes, as well as my economic status were false to me. The fact that I was bused to a gifted and talented school all through elementary school, and then later my attending catholic high school, as a member of an all black urban community--theoretically, I was "white privilege".
When I started jotting things down, I remembered peers in my neighborhood having prejudice against those of us who lived in single /two family homes, opposed to the projects or subsidized row houses they lived in. Again, my neighborhood was a mix of middle class to working poor. I lived in an area that on one street it looked semi-suburban. Then you turned the corner and the next street was plagued with drug dealers, dilapidated houses, and poverty. The elementary school they attended mimicked this same social injustice. So that"mistrust" for the dominant culture was extended to me, since I was afforded similar opportunities and privileges of the dominant group.
In turn, it is the same "cultural mistrust" that I employ when I have negotiations with my 17 year old son, on navigating public spaces as a young black man. An AHA moment is in order.... This project is really showing me the perversity of racism. On the other hand I was enlightening to discover that my son has a different perspective on prejudice in his generation that differ from the attitudes of mine. I engaged in an impromptu conversation with him about race, which I sadly did not record because, I wanted to keep the integrity of his answers, without shoving a recording device in his face. I realized then that the conversations we had in the past were really from my standpoint on race, which made it that much more important.
For his generation (Gen Y), he says that prejudice for them is an outward display of one's own ignorance that has no inward bearing on the person being stereotyped. Everyone in his environment has an "urban attitude". They all dress like urban kids. He said you will find white kids who wear their pants "saggin". You will also find Black and Latino kids who only wear Abercrombie and Fitch. Nothing is exclusive to one culture. This is due mainly to the premise that kids identify more with figures they see in music and television. So parents are working hard to afford their kids the luxuries of clothing and technology, no matter their socioeconomic status. "Poor kids can look rich, and kids with money may look poor, because they just don't buy into the mainstream high-end fashion. They may choose to dress like a skate boarder, with ripped jeans and worn out sneakers.White girls wear hair extensions and weaves. It is about individual choices."
To him, kids are more individualistic rather than identifying with race. They have more prejudices being identified as Emo, Cutters or suicidal; things that are psychological in nature. His peers are actually looking for ways to form their own identities against cultures of any kind. " Sometimes the Haitian kids say don't call me black. The Cuban kids, don't want to be mistaken for Puerto Rican. Every one is proud of their own heritage apart from the broader cultures".
I asked him to describe a time when he felt discrimination. He said, there are times the police will roll up on a bunch of black kids walking home from school, but they don't mind it. He feels that is the nature of being black, these things are just inherent. "We learned to expect and accept it. We live in a equally diverse community, so I don't feel threatened." But, at the same token he understands my perspective on "performance identity" because if he ventures into a predominately white area, things may be different. However, in his immediate environment "performance identities" just means you are afraid to be yourself, so it's a negative. This clearly signifies that the discourse regarding race is situational in this discourse community. I also want to investigate if this is the beliefs of his peers or just the way that I have taught him to view things from both sides of the coin. He has always been wise beyond his years.
These issues need to be brought to the forefront and my hopes are to convey that in my monologue or spoken word essay. My only disclaimer with my monologue is that my sleep-state self is much smarter than my awake self. I am a little bit nervous about performing for my project, and really the execution. I have never done this before. Writing this piece has to have so much meaning, but the inner self says do it.
For my project, I had so many ideas going through my head. It was a little difficult to narrow it down to one. Reading all of your blogs, I saw many ideas that were meaningful, and I wanted to be a part of all of them. However, I saw that most of the topic areas were covered, with the exception of "The Politics of Language & Race and Popular Culture". I want to see all the topics stay alive. This is our baby, so I defaulted to 'The Politics of Language'. I am thoroughly pleased to say that it helped narrow down my ideas.
1. "Why you actin white": I read a lot of blogs about growing up in Elizabeth, NJ. Most of my classmates seem to have experienced acceptance into their Latino and African American communities where education and social economic advancement were valued. Some of you don't even recall experiencing negative attitudes or prejudice concerning your culturally and linguistically diverse families. My experience was a little different. I remember feeling prejudice, but not from a black vs. white standpoint. I experienced more prejudice from within the African American community, in my own neighborhood.
I remember growing up all my life hearing "Why you act so white?", "Why do you talk like a white girl?" I thought I was speaking and acting like everyone else. I spoke clearly, and enunciated my words. It is how my Grandmother, and mother taught me to speak. But for some it way to deny my membership into urban community where I lived, which was a mix of middle class--to working poor families. I was bused to gifted and talented schools in "better" areas, so I did not go to school or spend the majority of my day with the members of my community. I was accused of thinking I was better than other black people because I was smart or a "nerd" as it was put to me. Because of racism, and stereotyping "white" mannerisms meant that you identified with white people and did not accept your culture.
I would like to explore how I learned to navigate my own membership into the community. I learned to identify only with certain types of black people and it made me value diversity more than ever. The importance of my project is because I learned to navigate within my community using a "performance identity", which is very confusing and painful to an adolescent growing up. You never learn to be yourself. Within my community, I had to use more of "urban attitude", meaning you are more street smart than book smart. You dress and look the other members but, you carry yourself in such a way where you are role model of the group. But, that can go either way. Some will love you or hate you. I also learned that as far as racism goes, people generally (tolerate) people regardless of their race, as long as they don't fit the stereotypes of the ones they are prejudiced against. So, I learned how to not act too "white" around the blacks, and how not to act too "black" around the diverse groups.
The flip side is having children, I always wanted them be themselves. They were encountering the same problems in the community, so I moved them out. However, with the rash of events concerning blacks and whites in the community like, racial profiling, police brutality, killing of unarmed teenagers, I learned to view racism as more of threat in the 21st century. Now, prejudice has a new approach. It is no longer just about your physical characteristics, education, or class. Prejudice can be toward something as utilitarian as a "Hoodie" or even worse, a black male being in the wrong place at the wrong time--being black. So I guess to tie it into "The politics of language" I would also like to explore how I have to have conversations or negotiations with my seventeen year old son, on how to navigate public spaces--being African American--in a "non-threatening" way so to speak. It is that performance identity that started with my journey as an adolescent, and has continued.
So I am trying to figure out how to do this project without doing a lot of writing. My story is a long, heartfelt one and I can get carried away. I know I have two themes going on here, but they both matter to me, so I have to figure out a way to explore both and make them meaningful.
Thank you for reading this. It was long and descriptive, but I did warn you all that I dream about my writing and my ideas up to the last minute. So this is the stream of consciousness that over spills during the wee hours of the morning.
2. Race and Identity: I would also like to be a part of (Kim and Jayme's) Don't Judge a Book.
One thing I was thinking of was to have pictures of people in their everyday life, normal habitat kind of thing and have a word bank. The word bank would include five different occupations, 5 different cultures, or economic scenarios which students would have to choose from, to see how much stereotyping or assumptions they would make about the subject. I will explain more in class, it might make more sense. I have done to much writing, and I know my grammars sucks. Please excuse, it is 5:00 am..LOL
I would like to do a project that is sort of a reflection of our voices. I am thinking of a website with short stories, poems, short films and such that will represent in some way, how race has effected us individually, The website would serve as a collection of those writings. In writing the reflection, there also has to be some solution that we came up with through the reflection process. I would like to see how each of us has dealt with race relations on social and cultural level. I think this would also be a great way to discuss the negative stereotypes, attitudes, assumptions, and beliefs and how we can come together and combat all these issues.