diversity · Education · social activism · Uncategorized

Exposing Who I Am

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Teaching can be both the best and worst job at any given time, and I have never been shy about admitting that to other people. Some people believe that teaching is a calling, and therefore, there should be no complaints on the part of those who have been called into service. Other people, of course, believe that teaching is a profession, where the skills involved in teaching have been developed over time in an educational setting. I’ll go out on a limb and say that both beliefs are simultaneously true.

However, there are simply aspects of education that are not that enjoyable, such as policy issues, state legislature influences, budget, classroom behavior issues, etc. I’d be flat out lying about enjoying much of those aspects of my job. And God knows that I hate a department meeting where we (educators) are lectured on things like whether or not we should come up with new ways to satisfy our “customers.”

Frankly, that position has always irritated me. I’ve even had students tell me that they pay tuition, and so I actually work for them. No, um, not today, love. At the college level students pay for an opportunity to learn from someone deemed to be an expert in the field, and that’s it.

My students are not my customers any more than I have been a customer for my mother to accommodate. Had my mother aimed to satisfy me when attempting to teach me, I feel fairly sure that I would be a very different person today, likely a person with less than adequate skills combined with an overinflated sense of self. My mother was tough on me, expected my best efforts, and in many cases, she had excellence in mind; at this point, I appreciate her standard for my conduct.

Additionally, I never had a coach in any capacity that did not demand my best, and the result was that I thought highly of that coach. The truth is that I worked hard for people who demanded my best and then rewarded my improvements. Set a high standard, expect them to meet it, and then praise them to high heaven when they do.

Treating students like customers, however, implies that I must aim for their complete happiness all the times. I feel fairly sure that the care that goes into good guidance cannot always leave people happy, and I am more committed to education than I am to a returning customer. Making students happy is a responsibility of the administration and support staff; I was hired to teach.

My students learn fairly quickly during the semester that I view them as “one of my own,” but never will I see them as a customer. Customer suggests detachment, where what happens after my students leave me happy with the service that I provided is no longer a concern for me. But I feel just the opposite about my students. I feel they are a reflection of me, my influence, and my ability to teach. As such, what happens to them after they leave me does matter to me.

Yesterday after a lesson on research and evidence evaluation, which included discussion about what it means to have good critical thinking skills, one of my male students shared that he was unsure why he felt so emotion (his lip quivered while he spoke and he needed to stop a few times before continuing), but he wanted to thank me for caring about my students enough to make them work, and as a consequence, think. He apparently appreciated that instead of providing the answer, I typically refuse, telling them instead to figure it out and get back to me in ten minutes. Then after they try, and only after, will I guide them to a clearer understanding of the concept.

Our students, just like our children, know when someone is holding them to a high standard out of care for their welfare or simply to be hard. A high standard in an educational setting sends a message of great concern for the success of students. Because I do care about the culmination of my students’ education efforts, I must teach with integrity everyday, whether it is the model my employer believes grows a business or not. My chosen profession is teaching, and some days my “job” is a joy!

Communications · diversity · Education · Interracialism · politics · Uncategorized

Interracialism: A Debt To The Loving Family

mildred-loving-2-800With bigotry seemingly on the rise, in general, as of late, I have noticed an increase in the amount of stares and disapproving head shakes (interpreted as disgust) my family is once again privileged to endure in public spaces.  The southern part of the U.S. has always been my home, and I remember a time (not that long ago, I might add) when things were socially horrible here for my family.  There were even times when I felt that I was in danger in the face of extreme anger.  I honestly cannot count the times that I have been mistreated in public over my choice of a marital partner and/or the race of my children.

Over time, however, my family appears to have gained some ground, so to speak, within our community.  I actually think many people here have gotten used to us, and because we don’t fit the stereotypical beliefs often held with regard to interracial couples, we’ve been allowed a certain amount of acceptance during the last decade or so. Keep in mind, however, that increase in acceptance was a long time coming; more than twenty-five years in the making, to be exact.

While our tolerance as a nation for celebrity interracialism appears to be on the rise, I’m not sure that the same attitude persist with regard to “average” interracial couples, at least not in the South.  More, it’s important to note that celebrity status affords many things that “average” people are not afforded, both materially and socially.

This resurfacing of the old attitudes surrounding interracialism has made me reflect on the intensity of the fight to marry a man of my choice; it was significant, to say the least. Being a White woman in the South, often the belief is that I am the problem in the relationship, and therefore, in the past I often encountered social rejection, name calling, obstructive behavior by co-workers, and ostracizing by extended family, to name a few, all in the name of showing me what I could look forward to if I continued the relationship. Additionally, we (me and my husband) experienced all of the previously mentioned things plus police harassment; the specific reason for the policing was mostly aimed at my husband, and never once did the police encounters involve anything other than nonsense. As a result, I unfortunately no longer trust the police, and that’s a shame.

Last night I watched Loving with my husband, and today I’m thinking about the history of our group members, something that has been hard to define in a country where race is almost never viewed as a fluid construct.

Since America’s inception virtually every aspect of society has been entangled with the myth of racial purity.  As a consequence, interracial unions have historically been at the forefront of social equality concerns.  Miscegenation has a long history in the United States with profound consequences for social life and cultural norms.  Even presently, the language used in the United States indicates the pervasive essentialist thinking among American citizens, as it was invented out of a history imbued with dichotomous race thinking. According to Maria P. P. Root in Racially Mixed People in America, Americans often have a difficult time with the notion that someone is both Black and White.  The average American’s restricted ability to think about race beyond biology has resulted in a nationally limited race based discourse (1996).

In Tripping Over the Color Line Dalmage (2000) stated that in the United States families are overwhelmingly presumed to be single raced families, and the lack of positive language available to describe American citizens who do not fit neatly within prescribed social categories is a direct reflection of a country which has historically been at odds with anyone who challenges the color line.  There is little doubt that both interracial families and the offspring of interracial couples have historically raised questions about how we define race. According to Multiracial Couples: Black & White Voices, biracial children and interracial couples challenge both individual and group thinking that involves discrete, non-overlapping categories (Rosenblatt, Karis, & Powell, 1995). “Multiracial family members, by their very existence, threaten essentialist and racist thinking and thus endanger the color line. The discrimination and hostility directed toward multiracial families reflect continuing efforts to maintain the line” (Dalmage, 2000, p. 31).

Unfortunately, long standing American anti-miscegenation laws have left multiracial people and families “categorized as belonging in either one group or the other” (Dalmage, 2000, p.22).  It is likely that this type of essentialist thinking has left many multiracial family members feeling socially stigmatized.  Interracial marriage has historically signified a rejection of White supremacist values.  As such, those who love across the color line often sacrifice personal reputations and social status while enduring cultural stigma. Interracial love in America has long been interpreted in political terms (National Urban League, 2007).  And the political conversation is not decreasing as contemporary multiracial families are increasingly in search of new family customs and new language that more accurately and positively expresses their experienced social location.

According to Yancey (2007) in Experiencing racism: Differences in the experiences of Whites married to Blacks and non-Black racial minorities, to know Americans intimately is to understand the historical significance of race as a strictly defined social concept with very real socio-political and economic consequences.  While much of American history has been fraught with racial distinctions and the subjugation of certain racial groups within American society, more contemporary views of miscegenation are emerging as prideful family claims aimed at changing America’s dichotomous racial conversation, change that has been more than 400 years in the making.

These changes to the racial conversation surface in the form of new words, family customs, social classifications, and a growing number of multiracial family members gaining access to positions which include opportunities to engage in scholarly research. This opportunity to engage in scholarly research has resulted in a more balanced view of multiracial families and multiracial individuals, invalidating the long held view that multiracial families and individuals are abhorrent or unnatural (Root, 1996).

It appears as if mixed race families, in increasing numbers, are fighting for the right to define themselves for themselves (Dalmage, 2000), rather than allowing the larger population to devise the definition.  The Census Bureau has been principally involved in creating race in America, and previously “designated racial categories left little room for complexities and differences” (Dalmage, 2000, p. 144).  However, the multiracial movement has led to the Census Bureau offering a new way to racially classify members of the American population, classification that was once legally limited to the social distinctions of Asian, Black, Native American, or White.  The American kaleidoscope which began as the earliest English settlers arrived in the new world is becoming less and less of a social burden for those who cannot nor want to deny their mixed race heritage.

While contemporary American mixed race families may, indeed, relish their multi-dimensional family life in increasing numbers, getting to this point has not been easy nor is the journey complete.  Much work continues to be needed in terms of understanding the complexities of multiracial families, and specifically Black/White multiracial families, as these families have been at the center of the race mixing debate throughout American history.  Multiracial families often “travel through hardship, anger, solidarity, unity, hostility, terror, growth, happiness, fear, and uncertainty”  that results, in at least some ways, from life lived between the color line (Dalmage, 2000, p. 17).

I am thankful for Mildred and Richard Loving.

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Communications · diversity · Interracialism · Uncategorized

The Day My Baby Revealed His Race To Me

20170109_221827When my oldest son was four years old he revealed to me that he recognized himself to be a non-White person.  I was totally surprised because I expected a conversation about his race to surface at a later time; perhaps a year or two in the future.  This particular moment of self identification is one of my favorite memories for two reasons: (1) it was so sweet and innocent in nature, and (2) it was so complex at its root.

When my oldest son was a toddler we lived in a small three bedroom house that had one and one-half bathrooms. Each night after I would put him to bed I would shower in the one full bath in the house, which was across the hall from his bedroom.  I always knew that he was still awake when I would come out of the bathroom because he would either tell me goodnight again, or call me to come into his room to talk or read another story before he went to sleep.

On this particular night, however, the talk proved to be quite memorable.  He beckoned me with a quiet rhythmic (almost song like) “moooommyyyy, come heeerrrre.”  I opened the door to see him propped up on one arm with a huge grin across his face, baby teeth spread from ear to ear.  He gently pat the bed for me to come in and sit next to him, so I did.  We talked for a minute or two about why he was still up, and then he began to randomly point at my leg, which was partly viewable because of my night gown, and count aloud.

The hall light made for a low, warm glow, which span a few feet inside the otherwise dark room; the light was just enough for him to see my leg clearly.  All of a sudden he stopped counting, looked up at me, and asked in toddler style broken English,  “What all those spots on your leg?”   A little surprised by the question I answered, “Freckles.”  He immediately asked, “Frecks?”  And I corrected him, “No, they are freckles.”  “Oooohh,” he said.

After a moment or so he asked, “Why you have all those frecks for?”  So I gave what I felt at that time was a good child friendly answer.  I said, “I suppose God thought I needed a few extra decorations.”  He smiled, looked at his own leg and said, “God didn’t give me no frecks.”   I noted that he was right and with a smile on my face I shrugged and said, “Well, it seems to me that God must believe that you don’t need anything more.” I was pleased with myself  after this answer, believing that the answer would do it for the night.

But, that notion on my part was disproved quickly; He wasn’t finished just yet.  With an enormous smile that now spread all the way to his little eyes so that they squinted up at the corners he announced in a most pleased manner, “I suuurrre do like your frecks and your lellow too!”   I laughed and thanked him for the compliment.  I told him that it sure made me happy to know that he like my freckles.

He paused for a minute and looked back a his own skin, appearing now to scan arms and legs alike.  When he looked up this time he asked, “Well, do you like my brown?”   With a smile of pure astonishment and delight at his acknowledgement of self, something that I had not considered that he had even thought about before, I answered, “III looove it!”   He smiled back at me, giggled a little toddler giggle, and as he laid back to put his head on his pillow he said, “Yeah, me too,” still smiling from ear to ear.

Once again,  I thought he was finished talking, so I started to get up to leave the room when he asked, “Mom, did you know dad is Black?”   With that question, I lost my forward momentum and fell gently back to my previously seated position.  “Yes, I  do know that dad is Black,” I answered.  He immediately inserted before I could continue speaking, “Not really.  He’s really brown, but Brandon said he’s Black.”  “Yeah,” I said, “people do say that your dad is Black and that I am White.”  Again, before I could continue to speak he said, ” You’re not  even White.  You’re lellow.  I don’t think people know their colors very good.  Why would Brandon say Black when dad is really brown and White when you are really lellow?”  I immediately thought to myself that this was clearly a conversation that would have to wait for his years to catch up to the seriousness of the issue.  Frankly, the politics behind that kind of question are way too complicated for many adults to handle, never mind a four year old child.

However, given his thoughts at four, I knew that we would have the conversation in time, but for today it could and would wait.  So in an effort to satisfy his four year old mind I answered, “You may be right about that, darlin’. But one thing is for sure; you know all of your colors!  You know what?  You sure are a smart boy, especially to be only four years old.  Now, go to bed my handsome brown boy.”  He laughed, said goodnight again, and I closed the door, excited to go share the story of our child’s realization of self with my husband.

Later during the course of my son’s childhood other conversations involving race took place in our home many times, perhaps more times than are typical of race conversations that take place in monoracial homes, but none of those conversations stand out in my mind in quite the same way.  All of our children (we have three) have grown to embrace that they are both Black and White.  In fact, they have all self identified socially as Black/White Biracials.

Identification of self in the world is a powerful concept that is known to profoundly impact one’s worldview. The freedom to choose also implies freedom to think in unconventional terms.

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diversity · Education · politics · Uncategorized

Just Musing About Education And Democracy

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I’m presently pure-n-tee (as we say in the south) disgusted with the idea of DeVos for Secretary of Education, and now the new commentary surrounding Falwell’s potential involvement as head of a panel ordered by Trump to address issues of higher education has had a “Trumpian” effect on me, a term offered up by MSNBC’s Joy Reid in an effort to describe something unbelievable but fully expected.  That’s how I feel today-utterly disgusted with the notion that any ole person off the street knows what is best for students.

Further, I have full blown dread about all the Trumpian moves to come, especially involving education, which I either have to tackle full on with cortisol pumping as fast as I can make it or try my best to mentally dodge in an effort to self preserve. At any rate, today I’ve spent some time considering why I feel so irritated with Trump’s negligent approach to education in the U.S. The following is what came to mind:

Though in some ways critical rationality leads to a questioning that is unending, members of a democratic society must be able to question aspects of societal life that are deemed worthy, as well as those aspects viewed as unworthy.  This is the only way informed decisions can be made.  It is also the way in which societal roles are redefined, a primary role of effective education.

In Democracy and Education, Dewey posited that “no subject, custom, or value was so sacrosanct that it could not be thought about, reflected on, and reconstructed, if necessary” (Dewey, 1916, p. IX).  He asserted that humans are not predestined to follow any particular path in life, but rather have the ability to analyze consequences of projected actions and thus create plans for “life-enhancing” activities (p. X).  Dewey viewed the school as a miniature society that had the ability to serve as a catalyst for promoting a democratic society.  As a major contributor to the field of education and philosophy, Dewey, as a pragmatist, contributed to the argument that philosophy’s primary concern was to solve human problems in the real world of experience.  This particular philosophical approach deals with the belief that ideas need to be tested and consequences determined to either solve a certain problem or satisfy a specific need.  Dewey’s beliefs surrounding education were informed by the notion that “informed and enlightened citizens were capable of reforming and regulating their own lives” (Dewey, 1916, p. XIII).

Dewey stated, “As a society becomes more enlightened, it realizes that it is responsible not to transmit and conserve the whole of its existing achievements, but only such as it makes for a better future society” (1916 p. 22).  Dewey argued that the school is the chief agency to bring about this end.  He also believed that it is the job of the school to provide students with a balanced environment, where they can escape from the limitations in which they were born, and therefore come into contact with a much more diverse environment.  “The intermingling in the school of youth of different races, differing religions, and unlike customs creates for all a new and broader environment” (Dewey, 1916, p. 23).  Ultimately, Dewey believed that society would benefit from an integration of various life experiences and believed that a member of any isolated group could have no more than a limited world view.

Dewey argued that democracy serves the primary goal of associated living.  Dewey stated that although any education given by a group tends to socialize its members, the quality of the education given depends largely on the habits and goals of the group (1916).  The concept of democracy in education aims to allow for free play back and forth among members of the social group in an effort to keep things from becoming or remaining one sided.  The only way to effectively keep from educating some members of society into socially superior roles while others are educated into socially inferior roles is to ensure a large variety of shared undertakings and experiences.  “Lack of free and equitable intercourse which springs from a variety of shared interests makes intellectual stimulation unbalanced” (Dewey, 1916 p. 93).  Dewey believed that isolation of a group made for the institutionalization of social life and for selfish ideals within any given group.

Education is important in terms of preserving a democratic society.  When thinking and questioning is restricted, the ability of people to control the outcome of their lives is also restricted.  Conformity and compliance are not, and should not be, educational goals of democratic educators.

Communications · diversity · Education · Uncategorized

How the Movie Hidden Figures Saved My Saturday

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Earlier today Wolf Blitzer tweeted about how much he enjoyed the movie Hidden Figures.  I saw the movie last week and immediately told my husband that I was going to write about my experience because it was simply inspiring.  Not only was the movie fantastic, but the experience of watching the movie was uplifting in a time when I could certainly stand a little lift.

As I have written before, I live in a very conservative community in the Florida panhandle (otherwise known as lower Alabama).  The number of confederate flags that I see on the bumpers of cars or flown off the backs of trucks on the average day is more than I can count, quite frankly.  And while there is approximately thirty percent of our population that consist of people of color, the divide between the rich and the poor is astounding.

I’ve lived in this area my whole life. As an adult, I chose to stay in spite of being able to work elsewhere because I wanted to raise my children near family.  And while there are many things about my hometown that I don’t appreciate, there are many things about the south that I love, mostly things that fit into my romanticized notion of the south in terms of land, creatures, and culture.

However, I do not by any means ever pretend that I do not know what exists here in terms of ideology, or what took place here before I was born.  I’ve heard more racial epithets over the years than the law should allow, and as a woman who married and had children with a Black man, my family and I have endured a special kind of bigotry that exists to this day. This particular type of bigotry can manifest itself among majority and minority racial group members; social scientist have labeled it borderism (Bélanger Robinson, 2011).

What my lived experiences here in the south have taught me, however, is that you can only take them one at a time, and by them I mean people.  I have learned that I can never tell from appearance alone when someone will support our family, or go out of their way to try to make our lives miserable.  Sometimes I brace for the worst reaction possible, and then find out that there was absolutely no need to brace for anything.  I’ve found good and not so good people in all shapes, sizes, and colors.

Watching Hidden Figures with my husband and youngest son was one more example of that important lesson in my life.  As I watched people fill into the movie theater I was struck by the fact that I only saw two other Black people enter, aside from my family.  The theater was composed almost entirely of White people, and at least half of those people appeared to be middle aged people.

I was delighted that so many White people paid to watch the movie in our community (some movies don’t even make it to our theaters), but even more I was delighted with the comments and cheers that arose during various parts of the film.  At the end of the movie, the most amazing thing happened; My community members sporadically burst into applause.

The south is a complicated place with long held complicated relationships, and my place in the south is about the most complicated relationship that I have ever known.  By no means does the sporadic applause for the film cancel out what I know to exist here in terms of overwhelming attitude; that would be naïve thinking on my part . However, what it did do was remind me that there are people embedded in my otherwise conservative community who are open, tolerant, accepting, and proud of all of American history.  My guess is that I am not the only person here with internal anguish regarding my simultaneous appreciation and rejection of the south.

I’ve always gone out of my way to take my children to films such as Hidden Figures, as well as to talk about other African American historical figures with them. I have always felt that those lessons were important for all Americans, but in particular for children of color.  I am thankful that my son got to witness a film highlighting significant historical contributions made by African Americans.  Additionally, I am thankful that he was able to witness other people in his community also appreciating those particular contributions to American history.  Overall, going to watch Hidden Figures with my family made for a great Saturday!

diversity · political commentary · politics · social activism

Crackpot in the White House

892785cc6c26290cb66d72425c82de1bHave you ever wondered why Donald J. Trump behaves in such an odd, childlike manner without the suggestion of even a modicum of shame?   Or have you found yourself thinking about how President Trump seems to have a view of the world that is based, at least in part, on fantasy?  Perhaps you have even started to believe that we have elected a man who suffers from an undiagnosed mental illness; I will admit that notion has crossed my mind more than once.

Additionally, I have considered the possibility that President Trump’s life long privileged status has led to the development of the entitlement based mindset of a rich brat, where he believes that everyone should kowtow to his desires or be punished.  I personally find the latter possibility reprehensible, but that is because I believe that only a person who has never been adequately critiqued by those rearing him and/or fails to relate to “common” people could develop such a mindset.  Could our President suffer from Affluenza because his wealth and power to punish intimidates those around him, thus resulting in kowtowing?  Perhaps Spicer and Conway may serve as points of reference for future deliberation on the matter.

American sociologist C. Wright Mills coined the term “crackpot realism” in the 1950s in an effort to explain the self delusions that are often present among the powerful elite.  According to Tom Athanasiou in Divided Planet: The Ecology of the Rich and Poor, Mills suggested that “Crackpot realism is realism gone mad, and crackpot realist are those who ‘in the name of practicality have projected a utopian image of capitalism.’ They have information in abundance, but ‘have replaced a responsible interpretation of events with the disguise of events by a maze of public relations.'” (1996, p. 298).  Further, Athanasiou explained that a crackpot realist will frame his or her messages to society’s poor by suggesting that the lives of poor people will be better in the long run as a result of capitalism, while the truth is that the crackpot realist only really sees the capitalistic framework as a process for continuation of his or her “privileged circumstances of life” (p. 298).

Mills actually used the term “realist” sarcastically; He meant to illustrate the self flattery buried in the delusional thinking patterns of the powerful elite, where politicians have long held the belief that they are, in fact, the true realists in society.  Further argued by Mills is the notion that de-regulation efforts meant to allow the free flow of markets in an unrestrained capitalistic economic framework imply an unethical and amoral social position.

Crackpot realism is realism gone array for a number of reasons: (1) capitalistic greed cannot be sustained in the long term because it offers little in terms of justice and equality and (2) unrestrained capitalism is unkind to those who lose in a capitalistic society (Athanasiou, 1996).  Rather, resources must be used wisely by society, with conservation at the forefront of thinking regarding future global sustainability.  The poor must be allowed a living wage.  More, expansion, cautious economic policy, and peace must prevail in order for the global biophysical budget to be maintained (Athanasiou, 1996).

In spite of all of the hypothesizing I’ve done lately in an attempt to try to evaluate and understand the behavior and thinking of our current President, it appears that C. Wright Mills may have provided the answer to my question more than fifty years ago.  The answer is likely that we simply have a crackpot living in the White House.

diversity · politics · social activism

Hope, Goal Pursuit, and Social Activism

 

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Hope is an ontological requirement of human beings-Freire

A number of previous researchers have attempted to define the meaning of hope as well as to measure the implications of hope in various life settings (e.g., wellness, mental health disorders, counseling services, athletic outcomes, academic outcomes, and teaching effectiveness; Snyder, 2002).  While several scholars have developed varying definitions of hope, hope, as conceptualized by Snyder, is a learned process of thinking that relates to goal acquisition (Snyder, Harris, Anderson, Holleran, Irving, Sigmon, 1991; Snyder, 1993, 1995; Shorey, Snyder, Rand, Hockemeyer, & Feldman, 2002).

Snyder, Sympson, Ybasco, Borders, Babyak, and Higgings (1996) posited that goal-directed thinking is comprised of the following two components: (1) pathway thinking and (2) agentic thinking.  Pathway thinking signifies an individual’s ability to conceptualize more than one pathway to goal attainment (i.e., planning), while agentic thinking utilizes thoughts that are aligned with initiation and maintenance associated with movement toward the particular goal (i.e., goal directed determination; Snyder, Sympson, et al., 1996; Curry, Snyder, et al., 1997).

Hope reflects the aggregate of pathway and agency modes of thinking (Curry et al., 1997).   According to Feldman & Snyder (2005), an individual is unlikely to meet a desired goal when either of the components of thought is lacking.  In short, Snyder (2002) delineated that goals serve as targets for “mental action sequences” (p. 250).   In this sense, hope is not merely an inborn personality trait, where some people are naturally hopeful while other people are not.  In fact, Snyder suggested that hope is not an emotional state at all (Shorey et al., 2002).  Rather, Snyder delineated that hope is a “cognitive motivational process in which emotions follow cognitions and then feedback to reciprocally interact with future appraisals in the process of goal pursuit” (Shorey et al., 2002, p. 327).

So while Snyder acknowledges that emotions are indeed involved in some aspects of the concept of hope, the emotions are secondary to the cognitive appraisals (Shorey, et al., 2002).  Hope involves believing that positive outcomes are possible, which inspires personal empowerment (Shorey et al., 2002).  Emotions, whether positive or negative, that result from past goal pursuits are then carried forward into future thinking about goal attainment.

As such, individuals who have been successful in terms of meeting goals in the past are more likely to be involved in high-hope thinking as compared to individuals who did not meet previous goals (Shorey et al., 2002).  Snyder posited that because the role of emotions is complex in terms of meaning variation between individuals, the role of emotions “should serve as an indicator of whether given goal-pursuit thought-to-action chains are perceived as successful or unsuccessful” (Shorey et al., 2000, p. 327).  These goal-pursuit thought-to-action chains when perceived as successful are likely to include a number of accessible resources, some of which are likely to involve the help of other people.

Evidence during the last decade has indicated that social relationships combined with community action are important for overall well-being, and this phenomenon holds true even where communities lack financial resources (Warren et al., 2001).  Kawachi and colleagues (1997) found that the extent of the disproportion between the rich and poor has a powerful and negative influence on social capital investments.

Social capital can be viewed from the location of empowerment and capacity expansion for poor communities (Warren et al., 2001).  Further, the building of social capital can inspire group based identity and political agendas that can foster resistance to institutional forms of oppression (Warren et al., 2001).

According to the Highlander Center (2005), grassroots action must be the catalyst for democratic change.  An activist community begins when a group targets a particular objective and selects the best method for mobilizing resources and acting collectively to achieve their goal (Oakes & Rogers, 2006).  Organizing changes how individuals respond to one another because organizing “is overwhelmingly about personal relationships” (Oakes & Rogers, 2006, p. 98).

Relationships developed within organizing groups extend well beyond short-term goals.  These relationships become power resources (i.e., social capital) for social action with the long-term goals of “building stable, efficacious organizations that use democratic processes to develop the problem-solving capacity and commitment of less powerful communities” (Oakes & Rogers, 2006, p. 99).  Community actions can do more than generate support for local issues; they potentially possess the power to persuade policy makers that change at the government and institutional level is necessary (Oakes & Rogers, 2006).

 

Communications · Education · politics

You can only teach those who you love

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A couple of days ago I had to speak candidly to my college students.  I had one student who referred to me as a “Hillary loving democrat,” which in my area of the country is interpreted as evil traitor by many.  I rarely, if ever, tell my students how I vote, so I was a bit caught off guard by the comment, not to mention the hurt that I felt at the disrespect and seeming disdain buried in it.

The context in which this revelation about my political affiliation surfaced had to do with an example I chose to use in a public speaking course while discussing Aristotle’s ideas surrounding ethos, pathos, and logos.  We were discussing what sort of elements make for good speech practice, as well as ethical guidelines for responsible speaker conduct.  We talked additionally about the impact of ethnocentrism on a speaker’s ability to effectively meet the intended speech goal.

During this discussion, I simply asked the class whether or not they believed that Trump would be appreciated by more people if he refrained from his disparaging words.  Most of my students agreed that he could potentially earn more support by making better language choices and refraining from sharing his negative views related to group membership publicly.  I expressed that as a future professional it would be important for them to remember that language choice makes a huge difference in how people feel about individuals and corporations.

I was actually surprised that anyone decided on my political affiliation based on that question.  In particular, I was surprised that the question reached far enough to make me a “Hillary loving democrat,” because it seemed to me that anyone of any political view could see the need for improvement in terms of Trump and public perception surrounding his public comments; perhaps I am delusional.

As I previously indicated, I was disappointed with the accusation because of the intent behind it, so I slept on it for two nights before deciding how best to handle the situation.  A class can easily get way off the rails, so to speak, when a new semester begins, and the last thing that I wanted was to have to regularly enter a room where I was not appreciated.

As a result, I decided to tell the class that I was going to do my job and teach my subject.  After telling them that I was disappointed by the comment in the previous class session, I reminded my students that we were sitting in a public speaking course, and by extension, I planned to critique various public speaking events as I deemed suitable, something that I have done each and every semester when teaching that particular course.  I told them that learning is of the utmost concern for me.  I noted that my teaching contract did not call for pandering, but it did demand that I effectively teach the subject.  I additionally reminded them of the importance of using real world examples in our classroom and attempted to clarify the notion that inspection of examples for the purpose of comprehension and improvement in the subject was a necessary component of meeting the learning outcomes designated for the course.

Eyes rolled, huffs surfaced, but so did nods of agreement and smiles.

Before I finished I said, “Like my favorite education reformer, I don’t believe that you can teach someone who you don’t love.  When a parent corrects a child, I believe that the correction is most often done in love because the parent wants the child to succeed.  When a teacher corrects a student, the same thing should be true.  I plan to love everyone of you as hard as I possibly can all semester, even when it challenges your world view.  That is my commitment to you.”  Many smiled, a few laughed, and the student who made the Hillary loving democrat statement apologized and offered that she also believed it was important for everyone to accept what another person does with his or her vote.  I thanked her for her kind words, and we moved on with our scheduled class discussion.

My students largely come from low income backgrounds and are most often first generation college students.  In some cases they are attempting to redeem themselves after a troubled past.  As such, inspiring critical thinking is important in terms of their ability to advance in their college careers and succeed as future professionals.  I know that certain perspectives are bound to surface more often than others in the classroom because of the area where I live, but I also know that other, more muffled and suppressed views exist in the room; those views should also be heard.  In addition, the ability to critique the world and make decisions that result from in depth investigation is an important part of the democratic process, so effective teaching is also a commitment that I make to my country.

As usual, this semester my students and I will challenge each other, of that I feel sure, and in that process we will learn from each other, of that I also feel sure.  The one thing that I have learned from years of teaching is that the classroom is always a place of adventure; just as it should be!

political commentary · politics

I’m married to a SPY!

37e146defa1af7f7d5c6c89f0cb139f0_secret-agent-clip-art-cliparts-secret-agent-clipart-images_350-508For years my husband has listened to conservative talk radio from time-to-time.  There have been many people, myself included, who have wondered why he would do such a thing, given his strong political ideas regarding social justice initiatives.  Because I am well aware of his political ideology, I have had great difficulty grasping why he would listen to some of the hateful, in my view, commentary, especially given that the claims made through public calls to the station have often been ignorant opinions, again in my view, and likely insulting to racial minority group members.  At any rate, he listened without much comment.  Even more, he seldom appeared to feel annoyed or put off, so to speak, by the comments.

Over the years I have also heard him have in-depth conversations with people who were clearly on the other side of the political argument without even a change to his facial expression; he simply let them speak freely without interruption.  Although he did sometimes let them know toward the end of the exchange that he disagreed with points of their argument, most often he simply let whoever was on the other end of the exchange speak.  He would end the conversation by telling the individual that he enjoyed the interaction and then he would simply go on about his business.  In some cases as he walked away he would say something under his breath regarding the nuttiness of the argument, but that small comment was usually the end of it.  In other cases, he would simply say, “Now, that’s an interesting fellow.”

One day after one of these exchanges I asked him why in the world he was repeatedly subjecting himself to such crazy talk during his off hours.  I went on to express to him that his choice to engage in these types of discussions seemed to me like some sort of self-imposed torture.  He then told me that he had to hear all of the political commentary in order for him to know what he was up against and how he could most effectively fight it. According to him, he was acting as a social justice “spy” of sorts.  He currently views himself the same way; always doing a little recon while we are out in our community.

According to Paulo Freire in Pedagogy of the Heart, overcoming the struggles of social war involves “a political decision, popular mobilization, organization, political intervention, and lucid, hopeful, coherent, tolerant leadership” (1997, p.50).  Tolerance is a necessary component of fighting against elitism and oppressive realities.  This tolerance for differing perspectives does not, however, mean that all points of view are accepted, promoted, or that agreements are forged wherein concessions would ultimately compromise the political strategy of the left.  Coherence between what one speaks and what one does cannot be compromised.  The commitment to coherence, therefore, exacts a limit on tolerance (Freire, 1997).

In this sense, rather, tolerance simply involves a willingness to respectfully exchange different points of view (Freire, 1997).  Freire stated that dialogism is “a requirement of human nature and also a sign of…[a] democratic stand” (1997, p. 92).  Freire additionally noted that it is counter-productive to only interact with others who verify one’s truth, especially where creating transformative social movement toward a more humane society is concerned.  For Freire, isolation results in the absence of important knowledge that is needed to strategize movement toward a more people-oriented society.

While civility implies tolerance of a certain amount, you might also find it helpful to engage in a little social justice based “spying” yourself.  It is important to know what is looming in the distance as well as what is driving that particular vehicle in order to arrange the most effective road blocks to oppressive politics.

The truth is that my husband has a commitment to his political ideas, which include creating a society where all people can equally pursue their own ideas of success.  I can tell you, though, that he has had good, civil interactions with all types of people.  He has a strong commitment to a dialogic atmosphere.  “Dialogism presupposes maturity, a spirit of adventure, confidence in questioning, and seriousness in providing answers” (Freire, 1997, p. 99).

We live in an overwhelmingly conservative part of the country, where we are likely to encounter political disagreement with our community members on a daily basis.  However, that disagreement does not mean that we cannot get learn from our political differences, or that we cannot find commonalities along other domains of public life while still maintaining coherence between what we say and what we do.

Communications · diversity · political commentary · politics · Uncategorized

An Open Letter to President Obama

Dear President Obama,

Before you officially leave your post, I want to thank you for your service to our country.  I have appreciated your leadership for multiple reasons, some of which include policy, style and temperament.

First, thank you for favoring peace over war; in my opinion, this position demonstrates your commitment to and love for humanity.  In difficult times I have been grateful for your measured approach to conflict.  I have a child who serves in the military, and I have appreciated your deep consideration for the sacrifices that military families make during times of conflict.

Thank you for the controversial steps you took to bail us out of an economic meltdown.  You walked into a horrible situation and somehow managed to find a way to keep us afloat in a time when the immediate economic outlook was dire.

Thank you for the Affordable Care Act.  One of our young adult children lives with a chronic illness. The monthly medications that keep him well for work and school cost more than one thousand dollars a month, not to mention all of his direct physician based health management needs. As a young man with limited work skills, he simply cannot afford to be without the insurance coverage that we have provided for him all of his life. Because we can now keep him on our insurance plan, he can more easily go about the hard work of becoming a self-sufficient adult who can financially take on his own health care needs in the future, in spite of his pre-existing condition.

Thank you for having enough confidence in the goodness of your fellow citizens to believe that winning the Presidential election was possible; that speaks loudly to your faith and hope in this country.

Thank you for being a gentleman, something that feels like a throwback to a time long gone.  It has been a privilege to have a dignified and gracious leader travel the world on our behalf.  I believe that your composure, diplomacy, and generosity have likely stifled some of the less than favorable stereotypes held of American citizens by others around the world, so I offer a million thanks to you and your family for making us “look like we come from something,” as my mother would say.

While I feel certain that you and your family have encountered high points during your tenure as President of the United States, I surmise that you have all made significant personal sacrifices as well.  All Presidents make personal sacrifices, but my guess is that the personal sacrifices made during your tenure have exceeded the norm.  I don’t believe that I could have responded so gracefully to the many hateful race-based remarks directed at the First Family; your ability to show grace to people who withheld grace from you is commendable. Frankly, your commitment to civility is something we should all aspire to reach.

Finally, I apologize for the behavior of my fellow citizens who made your job nastier than it needed to be, were politics the only concern.  As you know, breaking a social boundary inspires joy in some and fear in others.  However, once that boundary has been broken, it is broken forever, making it easier for all to push against boundaries in the future; thanks is not enough here.  

One of my favorite books is East of Eden by John Steinbeck.   In chapter thirty-four Steinbeck wrote, “Humans are caught… in a net of good and evil….A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only one hard, clean question: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well-or ill?” (p. 411). Steinbeck goes on to tell the brief story of three men, with the last one “devoted to making men brave and dignified and good in a time when they were poor and frightened and when ugly forces were loose in the world to utilize their fears” (p. 412). According to the story, this man was loved by many. 

If I may answer the previously posed question, you have done well in your service to our country, Sir.

Sincerely,

Bélanger Robinson

politics

Our commonalities with Russia

I am not sure exactly what is going on in our country lately, but I feel sure that it includes incompetent, ill-mannered and morally deficient “professionals.”  Secretary Clinton may have been right on target where the phrase “basket of deplorables” can be transferred to the principle players of President-elect Trump’s forming administration. I simply cannot find a reasonable alternate explanation for the recent events surrounding Russia.

The emerging administration actually feels to me like a criminal organization in some ways, and I anticipate that at some point we, and by we I mean Americans, will likely uncover some sort of legally questionable evidence where the actions of the Trump administration are concerned.

The blatant lies from Trump and his gaggle are unacceptable, and the attempts to manipulation Americans are inexcusable. The only stupid people and fools, as Trump called some of us in a tweet recently, are those who are manipulated by his lies, which seems to be his base.  His apparent determination that the American people are stupid enough to keep believing in his nonsense is sickening, to say the least. This man, in my view, is simply not a good person. In fact, I believe that his psychology borders on hateful, rather than kindful, as my youngest son used to say when he was a toddler.

To disagree with another is acceptable, even admirable at times; however, Trump goes way beyond simple disagreement. Trump seems to attempt to bully others through multiple strategies such as social branding, threats, and intimidation, to name a few.  He seems to relish going after what he views as weak spots in others (i.e., underdeveloped critical thinking skills, limited resources, etc.).  He has been honest, however, in how much he appreciates Mr. Putin’s “strong leadership” characteristics, which also are reported to include bullying strategies such as social branding, threats, and intimidation of the Russian people.

Maybe we do have more in common with Russia than we think.

politics

Way to go, Mr. Trump!

Julian Assange claimed that “a 14 year old could have hacked Podesta” and that Russia did not provide him with information, according to President-elect Trump’s tweet earlier today.

Good job, Sir! You’ve referenced someone who is reported to be a contributor to a state run Russian news network.

Good gawd! Well, what to say about this? The Trump statement “I’m like a smart guy” that surfaced weeks ago in a Fox News report is a good starting point, I  suppose. Let me just say that the whole wording of that statement gave me pause at the time, but we’ll save a discussion about semantic and syntactic rules for another day.

Whether Mr. Trump is smart or not should not be confused with whether he is educated enough or not to make informed decisions. Mr. Trump graduated from an Ivy League school, so at a bare minimum I expect that he be able to adequately evaluate sources and determine when something is evidence based and when it is conjecture.

Once again, I feel ashamed of what we (educators) have allowed to rise to the top. That’s not an indictment of educators per se; rather education should include a system wherein administrators understand that true education does not happen in a customer service oriented framework. The result of viewing students as customers is that we end up with people who cannot think logically or in depth about anything because educators are encouraged to keep students happy, meaning that students’ psychological well-being is the primary focus of good education-please!

Here’s a thought: why don’t we challenge our future leaders to think things through by pointing out when the thinking is simply not up to par?

I hope to goodness that this tweet by Mr. Trump was not the totality of what he expressed recently in terms of what he knows that other people do not know regarding the hacking issue. Somehow, though,  I fear that this particular tweet was our promise for the Tuesday or Wednesday revealing of that much anticipated information. If this insider information was all that was awaiting me, it is more disappointing than I anticipated, quite frankly.

Mr. Trump, not all sources are good sources. Sources and claims should be eagerly evaluated, and that evaluation should include weighing sources against other sources and deciding when sources are overwhelmingly supported by other sources or overwhelmingly refuted by other sources. One source of personal testimony by someone reported to work for a news network with loyalist based ties to Putin should not outweigh multiple sources that refute that testimony.

Sir, I  sincerely hope that you are like at least smarter than this tweet suggests.

Communications · politics

The Truthfulness of Trump

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According to Peter Park in the forward to Daring to Dream: Toward a Pedagogy of the Unfinished, “Knowing in general is entangled in desire and other kinds of feeling and being able to judge right from wrong is no exception” (Freire, 2007, p. XXXIV). Park additionally stated that value judgments should result from “careful and sustained reflection and practice carried out in social settings” (Freire, 2007, p. XXXIV).

In that sense, education is always a political endeavor, where educators have what Freire refers to as the political duty to find space and organize for political action; action that may, at times, include use of what can feel like aggressive language in order to invade a space wherein a more just reality can be pursued (2007).

It is from this particular place that I attempt to interact politically with the world around me. And while I hope for human solidarity, that solidarity is specifically about creating a more humane and just world. From this perspective, solidarity takes place in the form of political action directed at creating a more equitable society.

This does not mean that I cannot accept that differences of opinions exist; nor does this mean that I cannot accept that there are different ways of knowing and relating to the world, with each having worth. This does, however, mean that I must live in my faith, as Freire would say, and reject those actions that are oppressive in nature.

People tell us each and every day who they are and exactly what they stand for in terms of political ideology. I feel certain that we have all heard someone say at some point in time that he or she never expected X, Y, or Z from so-and-so. However, the truth is that the individual did know, on some level, that X, Y, and Z were possible because somewhere along the way so-and-so told him or her that X, Y, and Z were looming in the future.

Human beings are known to communicate in multifaceted ways, most notably through verbal and non-verbal forms of communication. While non-verbal communication can be confusing at times, especially in a low context culture such as U.S. culture, verbal communication is relatively straight forward when compared to non-verbal communication.

Non-verbal communication includes multiple types of non-linguistic messages, such as oculesics (eye contact), chronemics (time), proxemics (space), haptics (touch), kinesics (posture, hand gestures, etc.), paralanguage (pitch, rate, tone, inflexion, etc.), and artifacts (possessions), with each of these elements of communication playing a different non-verbal role and all being culturally bound. All of this can be very confusing because non-verbal messages can overlap, contradiction, repeat, substitute, and compliment, to name a few.

Even more confusing, micro-expressions of the face can change in less than a second, and the upper and lower portion of the face can send completely different messages at the same time.
None the less, if you pay close attention you are bound to pick up on enough verbal and non-verbal messages to adequately gauge what is likely to result in terms of the communication outcome. Mr. Trump is no exception to this rule.

It is true that socially I am not a conservative, although I can find spaces where I can see the point of view of conservatives, and my family clan is composed almost entirely of conservatives. What I have far more difficulty with than political party where Mr. Trump is concerned, however, is his seeming lack of loyalty to the U.S. A complete side note here: thanks, Senator McCain, for always putting our country first!

My difficulty in digesting the perceived lack of loyalty has little to do with feeling that I have been misled by Mr. Trump. In all fairness, he has relayed to me his appreciation for his Russian comrade repeatedly through words (we should do a content analysis of his tweets), but more important, he has told me with his actions. His silence speaks to me, and it should speak to you, quite frankly, more than anything that he has said.

He tweets, complains, whines, etc. about everything that he does not like or agree with, except when it comes to Russia; Then we get absolute silence…or mind boggling praise for someone who is believed to have committed an act of war against the U.S. To disrespect the acting U.S. President while praising a Russian leader who has trespassed on U.S. territory and is tied to oppressive and violent acts against his own citizens is outrageous, in my view.

You should not be surprised or caught off guard by anything that President-elect Trump does in the future because he has told you for years exactly what he plans to do. If his 1997 statement about Republicans was not enough to let you in on his perverse thinking, it is most likely because you don’t want to believe what you hear and see. Mr. Trump is being completely honest with you about his intentions, so you should pay close attention.

diversity

Santa Claus is His Name

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Merry Christmas!

Santa Claus is his name and making children happy is his game; That is, until adults try to over complicate the issue. This guys name is not actually Santa Larry, Santa Clarence, or Black Santa, all of which undermine the notion that Santa Claus can legitimately include a Black, Brown, White, or Yellow representation.

I personally feel a bit put off with all of the ways that our cultural language choices reveal our underlying cultural beliefs about who is and who is not legitimate in terms of social roles.

Santa by no means is our only highly sanctioned social role. We have been known to socially make clear who is doing what work in specific circumstances by using language such as female president, male nurse, Black hockey player, White rapper, female trucker, and male administration assistant, to name a handful of examples. In short, we appear to result to legitimizing or delegitimizing (depending on context) language when we believe that someone is in a questionable social role. And while any group can be included in legitimizing language choices, women and people of color seem to be explained with legitimizing language at a far higher rate than other social groups.

If you would not describe people in terms of a male president, female nurse, White hockey player, Black rapper, male trucker, or female administrative assistant, you probably should not identify specifically who is doing any of that work. That should be the litmus test for your language choices.

Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone could see that president, nurse, hockey player, rapper, trucker, administrative assistant, and Santa Claus are enough of a description?

politics

Deafening Silence

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It’s ridiculous.

Why exactly is President-elect Trump (otherwise known as Mr. Diarrhea of the Mouth) all of a sudden deafeningly silent? For someone who has ran his vulgar mouth for well over a year now with the results of his comments culminating into absolute nothingness, it sure does seem like the cat has got his tongue, so to speak.

I’m surprised that I have not heard something along the lines of the following: Believe me, this will not happen again because I will make very, very sure that it absolutely doesn’t happen again. Believe me. Okay? Trust me. Trust me. It’s going to be so great that you won’t even believe how great it is going to be. Okay? Believe me. It’s going to be so, so fantastic that you’re not going to believe it. I could tell Putin to get on his knees right now and he would do it. Seriously. Trust me. We are going to make America great again. Believe me. Okay?

But, alas, I don’t hear any of it. In fact, I  believe I hear just the opposite with what little comments Trump has put out via Twitter. And where on earth are his followers? Is it me, or are they suprisingly silent on this matter as well?

Please do not give me some White Working-class nonsense as an excuse for their silence. I grew up the child of White Working-class people, and I have understood as far back into childhood as my memory will take me that Russia is not an American ally. Even with some historical changes, a former KGB officer leads Russia ; That’s all that needs to be said.

Just like the rest of you, I  grew up watching stereotypical depictions of bad guys in movies and reading stories that included those same depictions.  I remember clearly that those characters were almost always Russian, rather than the middle eastern depictions seen more often in those same types of roles today.

Many members of Congress are older than me, so I feel sure that those individuals remember our country’s turbulent history with Russia, and if they don’t remember it, they should pick up a history book and read about it!

It’s interesting how some people in our population appear to have some level of tolerance for Russian based terrorism, but those same people often want to punish anyone who shares ethnicity with someone who appears Muslim, even when the shared ethnicity has nothing to do with acts of terrorism. It’s  a contradiction, to say the least.

Terrorism is terrorism, folks. When American men and women lack outrage  (or even concern) over Russian based terrorist behavior, the lack of care for the issue directs me to question whether or not those individuals are true Patriots. However, the contradictions surrounding patriotism versus terrorism should not be all that surprising to me because in this country we have a long history of approving of or making escuses for some types of terrorism, largely those acts committed by White men, while preparing to fight over others. Perhaps Putin is simply another example of our bias.

As for Trump, a self proclaimed smart guy, he should be able to defend his views publicly rather than hiding in his office making jabs and complaining through twitter like a spoiled child. I’m starting to think that he is afraid of the press, most likely because he isn’t as smart as he professes.

diversity · politics

Penis Clause Included in New Heartbeat Law?

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Photograph from buzzfeednews.com, 2016

Passing a law can be low down, dirty work! Or at least that is how it appears to those of us who prize humane treatment of others. Perhaps it merely appears like dirty work when it aims to oppress more than half of the population; Exactly how can that happen?

According to Rachel Sklar of CNN News in an article entitled Why the ‘Heartbeat Law’ should worry you published December 9, 2016, the Heartbeat Law bans abortions after the heartbeat of a fetus can be detected, around the sixth or seventh week of pregnancy for most women. This law would mean that many women would not be allowed to even consider an abortion because women typically do not realize immediately that they are, in fact, pregnant. Further, this law would not make exceptions for issues such as rape, incest, or fetal anomalies.

Luckily, I have never been burdened with the consideration of abortion, something that I am sure that my husband is thankful for given this newly proposed clause to the bill. I have not experienced an unplanned pregnancy or news of some terrible genetic problem related to a growing fetus that would cause me to have to address whether or not an abortion was, in fact, a humane offering. Because I had three planned pregnancies that resulted in three healthy children, I am not really capable of telling a woman who does not experience the same life path as my own that she must follow through with a pregnancy. More important, I’m not quite sure that those decisions should be left to the government, given the rampant misogyny that exists in our culture.

What I can speak to, however, is the effect that pregnancy can have on the human body, not to mention the emotional toll it can take. More, I can add that I feel that if the government plans to tell women what they must do in these particular life situations, then certainly the government will request something by law that is deemed equal for the men involved. Why should a woman be forced to go through a painful process wherein her body is forever changed if the man involved in the pregnancy will not be held to the same standard? That is, unless somehow I missed a biology lesson and women are in fact solely responsible for pregnancies.

Because I feel fairly sure that two people take part in the process of impregnation, I propose that every man involved in impregnation where a woman does not wish to continue the pregnancy, and unfortunately that will include men who find out along with their partners that the fetus has a severe genetic abnormality, to have one inch of his penis removed so that the outcome of the forced pregnancy is more equitable to the involved parties.

Now on the surface this proposal may seem like a disturbingly crude request to be enforced by law, but let me make my point with the following observations before you judge me too harshly:

(1) A woman must endure pain during pregnancy and childbirth, and my guess is that the removal of a portion of the penis is likely painful as well.

(2) Pregnancy takes an emotional toll on a woman, and penis resizing will likely be emotional for a man too.

(3) A woman’s body will never return to its prepregnancy state and the same holds true for a man who has a portion of his penis lopped off.

(4) A woman’s sexual arousal is often compromised as a result of vaginal childbirth and the shortened penis of a man will likely result in less sexual satisfaction as well.

(5) A woman’s vagina is socially diminished as a result of pregnancy, and a shortened penis allows the same socially degraded status for a man.

(6) The act of childbirth has a profound impact on a woman in terms of a long remembered pivotal moment in her life, and I can only surmise that the loss of a portion of the penis would register for a man in a similar way.

(7) A woman must engage in aftercare practices surrounding her vagina, which is often cut or torn during childbirth, and a lopped off penis will require aftercare for a man as well.

(8) A woman’s life hangs by a thread, so to speak, during childbirth, and my guess is that penis shortening is not quite the same, but we’ll let that small thing go for now; Consider this a gift.

You can probably think of other similarities.

At any rate, my guess is that if we followed the logic of some people who would love for the government to dictate to women what they should do with their own bodies, those same people would never think that we should equally dictate to the involved men what actions will be taken to force government based obligations of their sex organs. But what do I know? Maybe the law would be passed without any problems, because men agree that women are just as worthy as men and that men are just as responsible for pregnancy as are women.

Bear in mind that I am not advocating for abortion, I am simply rejecting the idea that the government should dictate to any woman what she can and cannot legally do with her own body without holding the involved man to the same standard. While many would likely counter this argument with the notion that government involvement is really about the rights of the fetus during pregnancy, my guess is still that many of those same people would change their hard held beliefs regarding the lack of a woman’s right to rule over her own body if men were also left without rights where this complex matter is concerned.

Governor Kasich, would you veto an abortion bill that includes a penis lopping clause intended to enforce equal sexual restrictions for men and women under the law? I suspect your answer here would be a swift YES because the idea of permanently altering a man’s penis seems inhumane, doesn’t it?

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Photograph of butcher from shieldsgazette.com, 2011

politics

Fearless? Nope! Just Another Inept Millennial

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Photograph from usmagazine.com, 2016

Unfortunately, it appears as if our education system has let down our students in a grotesque way. As an educator I feel ashamed of what we have accomplished in the past few decades. Quite frankly our Millennials are largely devoid of critical thinking skills, choosing to go with raw gut emotion over logic a large portion of the time. I witness this same type of thinking semester after semester, and I attempt to coach my young adult students into more logical lines of thought, but those attempts usually leave this generation of students frustrated or angry with me.

Tomi Lahren, in my opinion, is simply another example of a Millennial, a label she likes to repeatedly boast about, gone to the wayside where a sound mind is concerned; I can only surmise that her university failed her too. The idea that someone who is underdeveloped in both factual based knowledge and logic based argumentation skills is given a platform from which to spew her ineptness to the sound of ferocious applause is disheartening, to say the least.

Her criticism of the left is astounding, given that she purports to perceive all criticism as equally worthy, or at least that is the lie that she tells her audience, and perhaps herself, at some points in time, while at other points in time she criticizes the criticizers with robust fervor, undermining her initial stance on equal play and respect for good criticism.

What is even more disheartening with regard to this particular young lady’s belief system is that she repeatedly professes that all comments are equally worthy of appreciation and support, when in fact all comments and thoughts are simply not equally worthy within the realm of intellectual engagement.

While I appreciate learning of alternate points of view because I believe that various points of view can lead to engaging conversations, interesting perspectives that I have not considered, and the development of wonderful solutions to problem solving initiatives, to name a few, I draw the line at comments which are intended to harm my fellow citizens by instigating oppressive behavior within our culture.

Now my guess is that for some Americans, those who are now complaining about feeling marginalized, having the notion of privilege diminished when you are so used to relishing in it must feel a wee bit like oppression, but I assure you that it is not. Try to think of it more in the following way: you are beginning to feel what it is like to be treated more like an equal and less like a favored child in the family, which can certainly feel unsettling.

Morality involves doing the right thing, even when the right thing does not benefit you, and that notion, again, appears to have slipped through Miss Lahren’s big brain. Additionally, morality involves understanding that the right thing involves making the most fair-not equal-decision for the least of us. As a White woman, I can tell you that the decision to try to view things from another perspective can be heartbreaking because it requires you to deeply examine who you are and what your representation in the world means for others. However, beyond admitting to things that you wish were not true and acknowledging the truth that other people speak even when the speech offers harsh critique of your own social space, doing the right thing is relatively easy.

When someone tells me that the world is not fair, I know that the statement is true, so why should I argue the point? When someone reminds me that I cannot relate to their lived experience as a minority group member, I know that the statement is true, so why should I argue the point? When someone tells me that they have been treated poorly in the past because they are a member of a racial minority group, member of the LGBTQ community, live with a mental or physical limitation, and so on, I know the statement is true because I have lived long enough to witness the world, and in particular the relations of people within my own country, so why should I argue the point? I’ll go out on a limb here and say that I think Miss Lahren just likes to argue because it helps her to maintain a higher paying job than the average American, regardless of social location.

In short, there is no reason for me to deny the claims mentioned previously other than to assert my superiority over those telling their stories of lived realities as though I can better explain their particular experiences. Or perhaps a denial is an attempt to remind others that I live in a meritocracy, where hard work is the name of the game and nothing else matters. I am fortunate enough to live in a place where people like Tomi Lahren sit in moral judgment and condemn the least of us because she earned her right to sit in that space, and her perch is certainly in no way the result of being a privileged young White female who spouts nonsense and irrational comments meant to inspire anger and hatred, thus allowing her a never ending audience base. Was that sarcasm? Sorry.

When Miss Lahren discusses the violence of some protesters without discussing the violence of other protest circumstances, it is most likely because she adheres to her privileged worldview rather than a worldview based on equality. Why wouldn’t she rely on her lived experiences rather than objective information to cast her comments? Let’s not forget that she is a broadcast journalism degree holder, after all.

While Miss Lahren is very critical of the violence associated with protests, she offers her criticism with an uncritical mind, yet again. The recent protest involving the pipeline illustrated violence when the police turned rubber bullets and water cannons on protesters during freezing temperatures; this would be an act of violence regardless of protester behavior. When people screamed, spit and threw things at children trying to integrate the school system, all of those things were acts of violence (and with no clearly defined leadership, I might add), again, regardless of behavior. When police used dogs, water cannons, disgusting language, and the physical assault of protesters during the civil rights era, those things were also acts of violence, once more, regardless of the behavior of protesters.

Violence usually takes place in all kinds of protest situations, either in terms of unruly protester behavior or police based violence directed at protesters. Somehow, though, I think that Miss Lahren likely finds that the latter kind of violence is acceptable because it is directed at the right people. Even more, assembly is allowed in this country and should be appreciated by great supporters of the First Amendment such as Miss Lahren.

Heads up people, I suspect that you are being played by someone who is a product of the “everyone gets a trophy regardless of effort” generation; you all should hold Miss Lahren to a higher standard of journalism. At a bare minimum you should require Miss Lahren to demonstrate the elements of journalistic integrity (i.e., truthfulness, accuracy, impartiality, objectivity, fairness and public accountability), something that does not appear to be part of her journalistic past. Or is factual politically based journalism what she really gets paid to do? My guess is that her bank account runneth over because she signed on to espouse separatists ideas meant to divide the nation.

diversity · politics

Women Should Know Their Place!

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“Those people…”

Recently I was out having lunch at a local restaurant with my family when I over heard the people at the next table talking about politics. There were three women chatting away and one man at the table who sat silently watching the television, seemingly oblivious to the conversation.  The women were expressing their dissatisfaction with the protesting that went on in the days following the election, with one of three women more vocal than the others. This woman talked about how she was “sick and tired” of the protests, and after a few minutes of complaining about “those no good people” she exclaimed, “and I am talking about those police protests too. Those people have absolutely no respect for authority!”

At that moment I felt sad, once again, with the thinking of some of my fellow Americans. A few days later while at work my students (all adults) in one of my classes expressed a similar sentiment about the protests when we were discussing persuasion, so I took a moment to explain what I had heard at the restaurant and how I felt when I heard it. I told my students that I was immediately disappointed with the lack of critical thinking skills that the women displayed. I told them that after I sat in my disappointment for a couple of minutes the next feeling that took me over was the desire to confront the most vocal woman, although I did not because I accept that she is entitled to her opinion and I had not been officially invited to take part in the conversation, even if her loudness left me no escape.

They asked what I would have said had I gone over to speak with her, and so I explained to them what rose inside me as I sat there at the table feeling disappointed. I told them that I wanted to walk over and stand beside her seat with my hand stretched out, palm up, and fingers beckoning her to give me something, an action that would have continued the entire time that I spoke to her. I told them that I would have said the following to her: “Give it to me! And I mean all of it! Come on. Let’s go. I want the driver’s license, voter identification card, bank and/or credit cards-give them to me-any papers that show that you own something-give them to me-your choice to marry or not, marry the person you want to marry, bear children or not-give them to me-become educated or not, choose your own career, your right to state your opinion out loud in this restaurant-give them to me-and while we are at it, I want the pants too. Give them all to me because you are ungrateful with regard to all those who came before you who decided that they would repeatedly defy authority so that you could experience the freedoms that you have today. Everything that you are is the result of people who stood up to the authority of their time, so you, Miss hypocritical ingrate, can turn it all over now! How dare you stand in harsh criticism of people who feel that they are being treated unjustly!”

I ended the discussion by reminding my students that every argument has a counter argument, and that it is important to avoid talking out of two sides of your mouth, so to speak, because someone at some point in time is going to call you on it.

Women should always know their place in history.

diversity · politics

In my opinion, there is nothing great about these Americans

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This will never be considered great!

I came across these disgusting advertisements today while traveling with my family to spend Thanksgiving with my mom. I felt more than a little angry that my child had to see them, especially in that these signs illustrate that he is undervalued by some Americans. This type of messsge has nothing to do with ingroup appreciation, as some may profess; Rather this messsge is about outgroup hatred. I could not be more ashamed to share American identity with the type of people who think this kind of divisive, hateful, and just plain substandard intellectual thought is acceptable. Even more, to suggest that this type of nonsense is somehow in alignment with Christianity is pathological at the core. Are these the kind of people who actually do need to be on a registry?img_20161123_140157_655