Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Election Issues 2017

Election Issues 2017

        Gettin' to know you, Gettin' to know all about you..

        Julie Andrews

It seems like everyday people, including myself, are involved with some type of discussion concerning politics and the “highly publicized election” between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Because it is so surreal, it also has world wide attention. This presidential campaign has in many ways become a question of character. Who are the candidates? (Article 1)
Even though Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both have incredibly loyal supporters, the two candidates also inspire some intensely negative feelings among voters. Both are the two most unpopular candidates since modern polling began. (Politics 2016)For Clinton, it's the way she seems to protect her privacy at all costs(trustworthy?). For Trump, it's how he seems to crave public attention and says almost anything to get it.  What scares me about this man is his degrading demeanor with people in general and his opinionated views on civil rights and social issues.  If he is elected, will progress in these areas come to a halt?  I believe most people are doing some very deep “soul searching” so that they can make a decision at the voting booth. One of the candidates claims to be a “Champion for Everyday Americans”, and the other claims to be the definition of the “American Success Story”. The issues that the candidates will face are many and the public demands proposed answers and solutions to the problems of those issues during their campaigning.  “What are the issues in this election that matter most to you???  Jobs and the Economy,Education and College, Energy and Environment, Immigration, Tax Policy Health Care, Foreign Policy and Defense, Social Issues, Terrorism, or Guns and Violence.  They all have to be addressed by our next president.  All of these issues are important and affect all of us. I would like to focus in on two issues that are directly related to me and were touched upon by all of the socio-educational authors that we have covered so far.. One of them is Education and College, and the other is Social issues. In doing so, I will correlate relationships between the candidates and the views of some of the educationalist and authors that we have been discussing.  Donald Trump would like schools to compete (charters, vouchers, magnet schools) He states: Competition is why I'm very much in favor of school choice. Let schools compete for kids. I guarantee that if you forced schools to get better or close because parents didn't want to enroll their kids there, they would get better. Those schools that weren't good enough to attract students would close, and that's a good thing. For two decades I've been urging politicians to open the schoolhouse doors and let parents decide which schools are best for children.(http://www.ontheissues.org/2016/Donald_Trump_Education.htm) 
I believe Allan G. Johnson would claim that doing so would be the end of good public schools. Better charter or magnet schools would drain the top kids out of that system, or hurt the morale of those left behind. Suddenly, the Issues of Difference and  “Privilege” including” Race Privilege” comes into play and the selected ones again get better opportunities. Lisa Delpit would say that 
this is an aspect within the “Culture of Power”, whereby success in schools 
and institutions, are predicted by the acquisition of the culture of those who are in power.
One of Hillary Clinton’s educational themes during this campaign election echos some thoughts by some educators; “Let's get back to schools where kids are socializing, and there should not be a single public school in our country where any person wouldn’t want to send their child.
(http://www.ontheissues.org/2016/Hillary_Clinton_Education.htm) She says that at the turn of the last century there were all the immigrants, and the schools were the place where kids would socialized--where they were given the chance to learn how to fit in and conduct themselves. She claims that we're leaving too many kids to raise themselves; it does take a village to raise and teach a child. The public school system has been, I believe, second to the Constitution, the most important institution in making America the great country that we have been over the last 200 plus years. Margalynne Armstrong and Stephanie Wildman in examining systems of privilege would reference to their “Power Line Exercise” where each student would be asked to consider themselves in relation to a power line that separates privileged and non-privileged categories. Students are more open to examining their own privileges having built the trust in classmates in the observations exercises of each.


  • Mr.Trump is opposed to marriage rights for same sex couples and in favor of traditional marriages.
  • Mr.Trump requires everyone to use the public restroom corresponding to the sex listed on his or her birth certificate.
  • Mr Trump is pro-life,but was originally pro- choice,  I have evolved.he said.
  • Mr. Trump will repeal ObamaCare , if elected.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton hold opposing views on many social policy Issues
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have starkly different stances on social issues like criminal justice, gun rights and abortion.

Knocking on the glass.

  • Mrs. Clinton is in favor of marriage right for same sex couples.
  • Mrs. Clinton requires everyone to use the public restroom corresponding to the sex listed on his or her birth certificate.
  • Mrs.  Clinton supports abortion rights supporters.
  • Mrs. Clinton will defend Obamacare, if elected.

In conclusion, I would like to relate the ideas of Privilege, Power and Difference (Allan G Johnson) to the political system especially to the candidates in this 2016 presidential election. I would have to say that they are privileged, powerful, and different. Allan Johnson would say “Privilege is always a problem for people who don’t have it, and for people who do, because privilege is always in relation to others”. Concerning this upcoming election, I would like to leave you with this question; “Are the Potential Political Leaders, Democrat or Republican, more interested in protecting their power and privilege than doing what is right for the American people ?

Monday, October 3, 2016

Fear or Hope

I decided to focus this blog post on race, education, and the election. It wasn't as easy to find Trump's views on racial issues as it was Clinton's. Rather, Trump's focus is aligned with immigration. As a result, this post is weighted more heavily on one major presidential candidate, and does not act as an endorsement for either of the two major candidates. Here's a website that gives some of the issues from the election, and matches you with a candidate to make an informed decision. In case you missed SNL on Saturday, here are the great Emmy Award Winning Alec Baldwin and Kate McKinnon making us laugh.

In SED 561 we listened to recordings about integration, desegregation, and school choice. The Problem We All Live With discussed a segregated school losing it's accreditation, and the students having the option (through the transfer law) to bus into a mainly white school over 30 minutes away. New York Times Reporter, Nikole Hannah-Jones shared first-hand accounts from this accidental school integration, and proof that integration works. Let's see how the two major candidates educational policy address integration. Hillary Clinton's Educational Plan includes rebuilding American schools and modernizing education while Donald Trump wants to add the freedom of choice.
Hillary Clinton: "Rebuild America’s schools. In cities and rural communities across America, there are public schools that are falling apart—schools where students are learning in classrooms with rodents and mold. That’s unacceptable, and it has to change. That’s why Hillary will build on the highly successful Build America Bonds program to provide cities and towns the capital they need to rebuild their schools. These “Modernize Every School Bonds” will double the Build America Bonds subsidy for efforts to fix and modernize America’s classrooms—from increasing energy efficiency and tackling asbestos to upgrading science labs and high-speed broadband."
Hillary's primary focus in this excerpt is the quality of the building and resources that students are provided. Elisa Crouch reports about the quality of schools in Normandy, Missouri. She explained the classroom smelled of mildew, the ventilation system was broken, un-certified teachers were teaching, among other unacceptable practices, According to Ms. Crouch the bar was set pretty low. These resources are important to a child's education, and not afforded to all. There is clearly a discrepancy, and it appears that where the tax dollars are, goes the best resources and the "best" schools. The following is a quote that Hillary proudly shares on her campaign website.
"Education should be the great door opener, and yet we know it often doesn’t turn out that way. I think every child in this country deserves a good teacher in a good school, regardless of the ZIP code you live in. -Hillary Clinton, March 10, 2016 
Hillary believes that every child deserves a good teacher despite their zip code, and her plan to modernize teaching includes better preparation, support, and pay for teachers. It seems that Hillary believes with this reform, teachers will be "set for success."

"As your President, I will be the nation’s biggest cheerleader for school choice. I want every single inner city child in America who is today trapped in a failing school to have the freedom – the civil right – to attend the school of their choice. I understand many stale old politicians will resist. But it’s time for our country to start thinking big once again. We spend too much time quibbling over the smallest words, when we should spend our time dreaming about the great adventures that lie ahead." - Donald J. Trump September 8, 2016

Trump's ideas for school choice mirror Part II of The Problem We All Live With, where we learned about magnet schools in Hartford, CT. In Hartford, the parents are choosing to opt their students into integrated schools, while being enticed by beautiful science labs, atriums, or planetariums. Most of what we heard were positive reviews on school choice. According to Chana Joffe-Walt, these magnet schools took "hundreds of millions of dollars" to transform. This money came from parents of privilege in the "culture of power" coming into the school. Unfortunately, Joffe-Walt explains that if the quota isn't met, these schools don't get the money required to operate. 

So, the divide between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump appears to be fixing schools in your zip code, versus having the option to choose schools outside of your zip code. 
When I imaged searched for "zip code" this famous zip code appeared. Check out
the lack of diversity here, and the power of privilege this meme portarys!
After listening to This American Life, it appears that both sides have very little potential to thrive with these proposed plans. They sound great at first! Spend money to make schools better. Who doesn't want more money in their schools? But, you can throw all of the money in the world at a burning fire, and the fire will still burn. Or, you can choose to call a bag of dog poop whatever you want, but it's still just a bag of dog poop. Until the candidates (and the rest of the country) get down to the meat and bones of the issue, there won't be any immediate changes. At least not in the "high poverty areas" or "inner cities" these candidates are concerned with. What is required for the schools to work is to combat racism and continue integrating our schools. 
Fixing segregated schools versus integrating schools. "Because integrating schools, the very conceit of integrating schools is that you have to pay attention to race. And you have to acknowledge that you have a problem with racism And it's more comfortable to say that it's not an issue about racism. It's just an issue about high poverty schools that need help and need more money and need more resources." -The Problem We All Live With
Dr Martin Luther King – honorary degree speech text
Years later these three great problems are still urgent!
In the excerpts taken from both candidates website, they do not explicitly address the racism in schools. Racism is the problem we all face! Some of us prefer the color-blind approach and are ignorant of the issues right in front of us (Armstrong and Wildman). Hillary Clinton addresses that students education should not be hindered because of their zip code (high poverty area), she doesn't mention anything about the race of the individuals. According to Allan Johnson, she is ignoring the elephant in the room. The elephant being "society and it's people whom a decent and productive social life that is true to the best of our essential humanity continues to be elusive," (Johnson, p. 13) Lisa Delpit states "you can't deal with a problem if you don't name it; once you name it, you can think, talk, and write about it." "When you name something, the word draws your attention to it," (Deplit, p. 11) These candidates are missing their chance to change history, or at least put their best foot forward in attempting to. 

On October 2, twelve days after Keith Lamont Scott was shot and killed by a police officer in Charlotte, NC, Democratic nominee, Hillary R. Clinton visited a church in NC and talked about race. 

"Because my grandchildren are white, because they are the grandchildren of a former president and secretary of state, let’s be honest here, they won’t face the kind of fear that we heard from the young children testifying before the city council," Clinton said.
Clinton might have it figured out! She has recognized there is a problem, and understands the privilege she has. Clinton recognizes that racism isn't just a problem for people of color, but rather the collective masses. Johnson asserts that we must "deal with it before we collectively pass it along to the generations that will follow ours," (p. 15). While we inherited this legacy of racism, we can make a change. Hillary claims this is an issue she cares about, and she wants to be in a country where black children are not treated different from white (those who are privileged). 
"I care deeply about this because it's not just so personal to so many of us, it's about the kind of country we want to be and the future we want for all of our children and grandchildren. I think about that every time I see my grandchildren or every time I see a bright energetic impressive young woman like Zianna," -Hillary Clinton, October 2, 2016.
Often times with our white privilege comes "the luxury of obliviousness" meaning we are not aware of this privilege. Hillary is aware, and also the corollary that because of her privilege someone is disadvantaged.  (Johnson, p. 24). 

According to Lisa Delpit, we should not just fix the schools, provide the students professional development, assess them differently, or add additional resources like science rooms as suggested by both candidates. We have to, however, look at the five aspects of power and how they affect our educational system. Delpit suggests "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," (Delpit, p.45-6) "We have shown that oppression can arise out of warmth, friendliness, and concern. Paternalism and a lack of challenging standards are creating a distorted system of evaluation in the schools. Educators must open themselves to be affected by these alternative voices" (p. 46) The alternative voices again being people of color.
Current Secretary of Education, John B. King Jr.
For our presidential candidates to show they get it, according to Delpit, they would need to appoint a person of color as Secretary of Education, and into other cabinet positions. Deplit requires us to seek out those with perspectives different from ours, and giving their words complete attention. So while we have listeners and talkers in this world, the listeners need to speak up, and the talkers need to listen to the problems and issues in America.

So I'll leave you with information on all four candidates' (yes, there's 4) educational policies, and a link to register to vote in case you are not yet registered. Remember it is part of your civic duty to vote, so get out there and let your opinion be counted and heard. Every election campaign is run on either fear or hope. "Successful campaigns tell a story." Make sure you know which story your candidate is telling. "The filter is to identify the threat or opportunity; fear or hope. There is a victim of the threat, or the denied opportunity. A villain, a resolution, and a hero," Tom Mason, How to Win an Election.

The 2016 Election & America's Trust Issues

Donald Trump has continued to fascinate, baffle, and enrage Americans as he infiltrated the American political system, repeatedly revoked traditional political norms, and continuously makes headlines with his nonstop shenanigans.  Like many other Americans, my initial reaction to the Trump campaign was laughter. I enjoyed every Republican primary debate as I watched Trump mock and immaturely attack other candidates. Over the last few months, the humor of the situation has slowly disappeared. I am now terrified at the thought of Trump becoming my president. I am horrified that he will send our country back 30 years socially. Instead of continuing our current upward trend of social progression, we will be stuck arguing over reproductive rights, same sex marriage, and bathroom bills for the next 8 years.

Despite my fear of Trump, I do not think Hillary Clinton in infallible. I believe that she will continue building upon the progressive social policies the Obama administration has accomplished. I do not think she is perfect, but I do believe she is currently the most qualified candidate for the presidency. (Obama does too.) Despite my abhorrence of Trump, I am continuously trying to understand the perspective of his voters. How can someone ignore his prejudice comments and support of structurally racist policies? In an attempt to gain a more neutral view on Donald, I read two different news articles (one liberal source and one from a conservative source) about the same topic: Trump’s admittal of tax evasion.

On October 2nd, The Washington Times published the article: Donald Trump’s team says his huge tax write-off shows ‘absolute genius’. This conservative news source highlights Trump’s ingenuity and business prowess:

“Mr. Trump’s a highly-skilled businessman who has a fiduciary responsibility to his business, his family and his employees to pay no more tax than legally required,” the campaign said in a statement. “That being said,Mr. Trump has paid hundreds of millions of dollars in property taxes, sales and excise taxes, real estate taxes, city taxes, state taxes, employee taxes and federal taxes, along with very substantial charitable contributions. Mr. Trump knows the tax code far better than anyone who has ever run for President and he is the only one that knows how to fix it.”

The article even raises the point that the request for Trump’s tax return actually “violates people’s privacy vis-a-vis the government”.  
Clinton’s tax returns are also discussed in the same article:
“Mrs. Clinton has released years of federal income tax returns filed jointly by herself and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, which included some eyebrow-raising deductions. The Clintons previously claimed charitable donations of clothes, including Mr. Clinton’s used underwear, valued at as much as $2 each. In their 2015 return, they deducted charitable donations, including a $1 million donation to the Clinton Family Foundation, which distributes money to various charities, including to the Clinton Foundation, which pays for some of the Clintons’ expenses such as travel.”
The article concludes with the point that Clinton is only pointing out this issue because she doesn’t want the media discussing her own problems.  There was one statement that included a financial figure:
“A 1996 state tax return obtained by The New York Times showed Mr. Trump claiming a $916 million net operating loss. The massive deduction could have shielded him from any tax liability for up to 18 years, according to tax experts.”
The remajority of the article discussed the allegations without any numbers or figures but statements from financial advisors and tax reformists. The Washington Post highlighted the legality of Trump’s tax avoidance and also stated that Trump never actually admit to any of the allegations.

On the same day, The Boston Globe published an article on the same hot topic: Trump fires back after tax revelations. This liberal news source contains a much different spin on the story - it describes the same incident as “ a new disclosure that shook the presidential race and capped an extraordinarily damaging week for Trump’s campaign.” This article attempts to use this information to argue that Trump may not be the expert business man that he claims to be.
The article discusses numerous situation in Trump’s career where he has had to apply for bankruptcy and losses due to Trump’s failed casino and airline endeavours.  The Boston Globe also attempts to explain why Trump is avoiding the release of his tax returns:
“The release of Trump’s returns would help determine several other lingering questions, beyond simply what taxes he might have paid. The return could show potential financial entanglements he might have with countries he would be negotiating with as president, for example. It could also provide indications of his net worth, as well as whether he is making the charitable donations that he has long claimed but so far have gone unproven.”
The article concludes with a infographic about “what he [Trump] might have paid and when” that highlights that Trump is suspected to not have paid income taxes for approximately 18 years.

Reading about Trump’s tax evasion reminded of the publicized tax evasion case of actor Wesley Snipes. This New York Times article provides a breakdown of the case and claims that Snipes “had become an unlikely public face for the tax denier movement”. The article also argues that “Instead of prosecuting all offenders, the Justice Department brings cases against well-known individuals, hoping that widespread news coverage will encourage compliance, a policy known as general deterrence.”
I’m not claiming to know the legal intricacies of the United States tax code. Regardless, I do wonder why Wesley Snipes was chosen as a “well-known individuals” instead of someone like Donald Trump. Could Snipes race be a factor? Is anyone considering jailing Trump? Despite committing the same offense, Trump somehow avoids prosecution by going through legal loopholes.

One could argue that Trump is the modern day embodiment of Grinner’s S.C.W.A.(A).M.P. Trump is Straight, Christian, White, Able-Bodied, American, Male, and Property Owning. It seems like most of his appeal to voters appears to come from this attributes. His prejudice comments accentuate his whiteness and american citizenship - he spent 5 years questioning President Obama’s citizenship status. His maleness is extremely apparent (especially considering his history with female beauty pageants). Trump constantly references his numerous properties and assets as a symbol of his ability to run a country. Does Trump's appeal come from the alignment of his identity with S.C.W.A.(A).M.P.? The political cartoon below points out the privilege that Trump experiences due to his whiteness. Trump is allowed to make bold claims and critique the U.S.A. however he wishes. Meanwhile, athletes of color have received absurd media backlash and criticism for doing the same thing. Does Trump's S.C.W.A.(A).M.P. privileges carry into the media's reaction to his tax evasion?

Debatably more interesting than both of these articles were the comments - it seems like that people speak their personal, unfiltered truths through anonymous usernames on comment pages.

Washington Post commenter Moon2 argued in favor on Trump’s tax decisions:
"It does show genius. I can't tell you how jealous I am. Giving one red cent to the absolutely corrupt federal government and politicized thoroughly corrupt IRS-Nazis is like throwing money at the enemy of the American people to be wasted and abused at their folly."
Boston Globe commenter, MissionAccomplished2003 heavily disagreed:
“As a businessman, Trump has been an abject failure who has been bailed out by taxpayers time and time again. Yet his supporters want to elect "The Face of Crony Capitalism" to fix the problem of crony capitalism.”
Both commenters display an extreme amount of distrust in our societal structures. Moon2 claims that our current issues are the fault of the “corrupt federal government”. MissionAccomplished2003 believes that “crony capitalism” is the major concern. I think the appeal for Trump may come from this important distinction.

One who is untrusting of the federal government would see Clinton as the embodiment of that organization and would therefore not trust her to lead the country. On the other hand, one who is untrusting of corporations and other large capitalist structures would see Trump as the embodiment of those organization and would therefore not trust him to lead the country.

What about the Americans who do not trust the federal government or capitalist corporations? Who should they vote for? Will we have another Ralph Nader Fiasco in which a 3rd party candidate takes votes from the candidate most similar to them resulting in the victory of the candidate with the opposing views. Either way, this election is stressful and I cannot wait for it to be over. 

As a final comment, this music video, "F*ck Donald Trump" by YG & Nipsey Hussle has over 9 million views. (CAUTION: EXTREMELY INAPPROPRIATE LANGUAGE.) YG and Nipsey Hussle are two hip-hop artists who operate out of Los Angeles. Bloods and Crips are rival gangs in L.A. and most hoods in California. While YG is a Blood and Nipsey is a Crip, they have a common enemy— Donald Trump. Despite the harsh language, the song is about unity and coming together. YG says in his verse:
"It wouldn't be the USA without Mexicans
And if it's time to team up, sh*t, let's begin
Black love, brown pride in the sets again White people feel the same as my next of kin"
I believe that this song represents a subversive and unpublicized perspective shared by many Americans. As Nipsey Hussle says in his verse:
"I'm from a place where you prolly can't go Speakin' for some people that you prolly ain't know"
This song and these specific lyrics really make me think about candidate representation.
Who is Trump speaking for?  Who is Clinton speaking for? 
Are either candidates speaking for the communities that YG and Nipsey Hussle mention? 

I'm sorry I cannot answer that...

Two articles used:

                              Donald Trump’s not-so-nice Campaign

Social media has made almost anything possible.  It can sway the way you think and conduct yourself, even the way you see your own self.  Social media can highlight good points or bad points.  Sometimes these points are true, sometimes they are not, sometimes they are made to look as if they are something they are not. 
Towards the beginning of the election, that is what I thought.  Social media was putting a costume on this crazed candidate: Donald Trump.  Before I decided to do my own research and just sort of nodded at what people were saying about the election, I thought he was just being made out to seem like the Big Bad Wolf.  Hey, he wants to run the country…he can’t be that bad.  Well he can.  I spent a majority of my time working at summer school, reading articles about his ideas and plans.  I had already seen the many videos posted where he degrades pretty much anyone who is not like him, but I decided to read into the more technical “stuff.” 
I am no expert on politics, I am not even sure how much I can say I know is concrete about this election.  But I know one thing—kids; my students.  I know what love feels like and I know what hate feels like.  The latter is best to avoid. 
Last year, freshman from Providence, RI who live mostly in poverty asked me if their relatives would have to be sent back to their countries if Trump became president.  I told them not to worry about it, I do not think one individual could even muster the man power.  My answer to them proceeded with an “I hate that guy, I hope he dies.”

He says “we do not have a country," in this CNN interview with Erin Burnett, "if we have illegal aliens.”  Was this country not build on "illegal aliens?"  I agree with Erin here, how is this possible?  The logistics… It sounds like he has it figured out but actually finding these people and having the man power sounds impossible.  Is invoking fear into people a way to get people to leave willingly?  This is a big part of why my students are scared—the "law abiding citizens."  This was a video they had showed me a few times, questioning me…(me unable to give proper answers).
“Latino students who carry their birth certificates and Social Security cards to school because they are afraid they will be deported” (Kristof 2). This came from a North Carolina teacher who made student observations. “He was supporting Trump because he was going to kill all of the Muslims if he became president!” (Kristof 2). This was said by a fifth grader to a Muslim peer.
Since Trump has begun his rhetoric expressing hate towards immigrants, Islam, and people of color. People have started to take notice to these people who they have lived with every day and have highlighted their differences.  Trump is allowing people (young and old) to say things they might not have said a year ago.  He is giving people more leverage to say what has been brewing in their minds.  Last semester, one of my professors said: “Trump is saying the things people want to but can’t.” Hate.  Everyone might have some hate in them somewhere for something or someone.  It is something most of us have been taught to conceal, much like a weapon.  Well, Trump is basically saying to take out those weapons [hate] and find people with the same weapons as you and come together. 

                             Wait....so your parents were immigrants? 
                             Who said anything about taking over the country?

1.  the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.
o    prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one's own race is superior.

He is not only spreading hate, but promoting the idea that his race is superior to other races.  His white race is superior to all other races.
Briana Larios, a 15-year-old Mexican-American in Forest Grove, Oregon is a honor roll student who hopes to go to Harvard, said some of her white classmates “openly express their dislike of my race” (Kristof 1).  She is being told she does not belong in the country and should go back to where she was born.  This is convincing Briana she should be home-schooled. 
White students in the same community chant the phrase “Trump, Trump, Trump” through the hallways as well as hang banners that read “Build a Wall!”  This has prompted Latinos in the school to stage a walk out. 

                    Build a Wall sign at Forest Grove School

My questions:  Is Trump aware of the amount of bullying that occurs daily in schools?  Is he aware of the number of suicides because of bullying?  Has he seen gun violence in schools?  Does he know some of the reasons why there has been gun violence in schools?  Does he know how impressionable young minds can be?  How easily they can cling to an idea if it sounds good?  Why is he egging on this hate?

               Mexican and Latino students protesting back

Maureen Costello of the Southern Poverty Law Center said “we’ve spend the last 15 years fighting bullying in schools, and the example set by the Trump campaign has broken down the doors, and a tidal wave of bullying has come through” (Kristof 2). It appears Trump is undoing years of tedious work.

Inflammatory talk is a big part of how Donald Trump has gained so many followers.  This can be dangerous, especially for those who already have hate and racism rooted in them somewhere.  This fuels the fire instead of putting it out.  In Kristof’s article, “When Whites Just Don’t Get it” he writes,  “Polling and analysis by The Economist found that Trump is propelled in part by a wave of white “racial resentment” that blacks are coddled whiners, protected by a stifling political correctness” (Kristof 1).  It might be safe to say that Donald Trump is a white man with power and privilege, embodying white power and supremacy.  Although Trump has used his rhetoric for followers and many are lining up to support him, there are many who do not support him. However, many whites are still unintentionally acting in ways that propel inequality.  Johnson would agree with this. This refers back to the conveyor belt of white privilege most of us unknowingly are traveling on.  It is the elephant in the room with a hard to pronounce name.

Black CNN panelist, Angela Rye, gives her input on some of Trump's racist actions.  She offers ways he could restore his relationship with the black community:

He also touches on the processing of discipline for black students as opposed to white students.  “A Stanford study found that teachers reviewing discipline reports in some cases were more likely to favor harsh punishment for a student named “Deshawn” or “Darnell” than one named “Greg” or “Jake” (Kristof 2).  This brings me back to Delpit’s, “Other Peoples’ Children.”  Would she question the teacher?  I feel she would first inquire if it was a white teacher giving out these referrals and then ask the teacher how they handled the situation.  Was the teacher explicit with the student? Or did the teacher question the student about what they were doing it, as a white female would more or less.  This also brings me back to the question, if Trump is planting a seed in the mindset of whites that they are superior to blacks, how will discipline be handled if Trump wins presidency?  Will people feel they can just suspend black students because that is the tone of the country? Will understanding our black citizens be put back on the back burner?  Even though there are a lot of racial incidents occurring right now, as a nation we are having conversations that were not had, so we are making SOME progress.  I would hate to see all of that fall apart because of the leader of our country. 

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Teacher: The Silenced Leader Who Needs to Scream

My principal approached me in the hallway regarding a discussion he heard my students having in my classroom. 

“Interesting discussion they were having in there today,” my principal remarked last week as I passed him in the hallway.

I paused before I answered, “thank you. Really important stuff.” As I walked back into my classroom, I felt a pang of anxiety tightening my shoulders. The politics of my discussion and the politics of a school are high stakes and stressful. I immediately became self conscious of his comment, thinking, should I not have had this discussion with them? Am I doing the wrong thing? 

I teach 7th grade ELA, and I have been leading the discussion in each of my classes for the last three weeks surrounding racism, segregation, privilege and power, Black Lives Matter vs. All Lives Matter, and prejudice. We just finished watching “Zootopia,” in which my students found evidence to prove the movie discussed many of these concepts. Then I ruined all of their research with articles that prove that “Zootopia” is filled with a lot of murky and messy messages. It sounds fun - talking animals and lively discussions galore - but it has also been immensely stressful and difficult. 

How do you balance the conversation about controversial, ugly topics with a group of students who are still kids? How do you ease the tension when students bring up this very controversial election when telling me their opinions on these topics? How do you answer when a student tells you: “I get so scared every day that my father will not come home from work every night because he is black. What if he gets pulled over? What is Trump or Hillary going to make sure my dad comes home?”

Well, how DO you answer it?

If Johnson were answering this question, I am thinking it would sound a bit like this: 
“To have privilege is to participate in a system that confers advantage and dominance at the expense of other people, and that can cause distress to some that benefit from it. White privilege, for example comes at a huge cost to people of color, and on some level white people must struggle with this knowledge.” 
AKA: both of the people who are running for president have their own privileges that oppress you and your family in some way. They might feel guilty about this, or they might not actually understand the fact that this binary exists, but it is a good thing that you are starting the conversation about this. Keep talking.

I look to Delpit’s advice here:
“Teachers are in an ideal position to play this role, to attempt to get all of the issues on the table in order to initiate true dialogue. This can only be done… by seeking out those whose perspectives may differ most, by learning to give their words complete attention, by understanding one’s own power, being unafraid to raise questions about discrimination and voicelessness with people of color, and to listen, no to hear what they say.”

Thanks, Delpit. 
This is the article that caught my interest right away. Since starting my discussions with my students, I have been walking the tightrope of being the person with privilege and power in my classroom and asking students to question the privilege and power they encounter in their daily lives. 

This New York Times article by Katherine Schulten offers advice on walking the tightrope. Here’s my take on it.

  1. Create a classroom environment that welcomes lively discussion, but also supports respectful, critical discussion. 
  2. Take a pledge for respectful discussion from Teaching Tolerance.
  3. Explore readings that introduce students to the concepts of a divided America.
  4. Teach students how “comments” online can be effective or ineffective, and how to decide which is which.
  5. “Practice Empathy” (I laugh at this as a middle school teacher. Try your hardest to get 12 year olds to think about someone other than themselves for more than 15 minutes. Try your best. They will relate it all back to themselves. But work hard at this all year (you have to when you teach middle school) and you just may make a dent in the empathy levels of pre-teens. I promise. I have seen it happen.)
  6. Prove what you say with credible sources. (Think I will get this tattooed across my forehead to help students understand my seriousness in saying this each day).
    Will make a poster sized version of this for my classroom.
  7. Don’t just hear, listen!
  8. Reflect on where you hear/see/learn your news and what biases you have based on your filtered life on social media.
  9. Think about “us and them,” or (if you’re in middle school), think about “me and the ‘other’ person.”
  10. Don’t try to validate your arguments if you are also not validating the other argument.

These pieces of advice are critical for a classroom (any classroom) to really, in my opinion, run well… Especially, if it is a classroom based largely on student discussion, writing, and gathering evidence.

Here are the consequences for NOT using your resources to back your claims. Reading this article, I am overwhelmed by the amount of fear my students have for their parents, their friends, classmates, and themselves, but I can’t blame them. The “us versus them” “white versus black” dialogue has been resurfaced at a shocking rate, and at such a high speed that people cannot fact check the real violence happening in our world. In this article, the Washington Post clarifies Trump's positive comments towards "Stop and Frisk," which Washington Post describes, "of the 685,724 people stopped, 88 percent were totally innocent. A huge majority were stopped largely, it seems, because they were black or Latino and young and therefore suspicious to police.  What's more, among the many bits of evidence presented in that federal court case that put a stop to the tactic was testimony from police officers who said they had been reprimanded for failing to meet stop and frisk quotas for black men set by their superiors. That's about as close to a formal policy of devaluing human beings with constitutional rights as one can imagine."

Trump calls to "Stop and Frisk" to put away the "bad people," which in context of the community pulled over for stop and frisk is referring to black and Latino community members. To me, this sounds primarily like "let's continue to racially profile and divide America, so that children can live in fear of losing their parents."

“Crime and the fear of crime has long been a go-to political tool for Republican presidential candidates. But Donald Trump has issued the most overt calls for racial, ethnic and religious profiling as a public safety measure made by any presidential candidate in more than 50 years.”