Sunday, September 25, 2016

Voices and Silences: Language Is Power

In the reading “Aria” by Richard Rodriguez, there is a very clear message that having english as a first language has substantial benefits and how forcing the second language at home for educational purposes can have a negative impact on the student, as well as the family.

In the video I have linked above, Simona Montanari, a professor from California State University, touches upon the pros of having being raised in a multilingual environment. I connected this to the "Aria" piece because Montanari talks about the social and emotional benefits being raised in a multilingual environment has. There are parallel views between the video and Richards point of view in his experience. Richard explains how the, "feeling of closeness at home was diminished.."(Rodriguez 36). Due to his teachers (nuns) suggestion to his parents about speaking english while at home, caused an emotional gap between the family that made things awkward for him. He mentions how when they had dinner together, that he also observed his fathers sudden quietness. However, "when I'd watch him speaking in Spanish with relatives, he was quickly effusive" (Rodriguez 37). Richard was able to realize how not speaking his native language changed his fathers position in the family and caused him to become quieter. He also mentions that being a child, they were learning english faster than their parents which caused even more difficulty in communication for the family. If the child were to explain something to their parents, the parents would often not understand what they meant and the child would almost "give up" attempting to explain because it was simply too difficult. This is where the issues of only teaching the "dominant" language (SWAAMP) in school systems occurs and causes differing opinions on the subject. I also wanted to point out Rodriguez's consistent reminder that this decision that his native language was not to be used in the classroom was taking away his own identity. One example was simply the way they pronounced his name from Ricardo to Richard. It may not seem as substantial of an issue to some, but it does take away his identity and his cultural background. The one quote that I found that hit the nail on the head was that his new understanding of the english language he had come, "to believe what had been technically true since my birth: I was an American citizen (Rodriguez 36). He finally felt that he belonged in his public environment which was something he had never had because he of his inability to communicate in the classroom. This cartoon below shows how not taking into consideration that english may be a second language to the student, we are unable to help them understand, which in turn may cause the student to ultimately fail.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh

"White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools and blank checks" (McIntosh). 

             McIntosh describes white privilege as the "invisible knapsack" that clearly comes with some advantages.  She uses works like maps, passports, codebooks, etc all implying that there is something that white people have over others that seem to put them ahead. The key words she uses is that these are all"unearned assets" that are given to white people that seem to go unrecognized because of their oblivion to this advantage. She says that this privilege was "meant to remain oblivious" which I found interesting. She makes a great argument that when learning about racism, they view it " as something that puts others at a disadvantage, but had been taught not to see one of its corollary aspects, white privilege, which puts me at an advantage" (MacIntosh). This reminds me of Delpits' piece where she mentions that usually those with power are unaware that they have it, and those that do not have it, are more aware of the power; which is absolutely true. McIntosh is simply furthering that point that white people don't usually realize their advantages that they are guaranteed everyday over people of color. Being white gives them advantages in life like your career, education, home ownership, etc. White people have much wider opportunities lying in from of them that they can "cash in" each day versus someone of color. This yield a huge problem in our society that a persons race can boost their lives substantially more than someone of another race. This is where inequality is extremely vivid when discussing this "Invisible Knapsack".

"My schooling followed the pattern my colleague Elizabeth McIntosh has pointed out: whites are taught to think of their lives are morally neutral, normative, and average, and also ideal, so that when we work to benefit others, this is seen as work that will 'allow' them to be more like 'us'" (McIntosh).
           This quote I found very interesting because it brought up a great point that I had not realized before. Like SCWAAMP, there is an ideal image that our society cooks up that we believe is the "correct" or "normal way", which is what most people believe. Basically that if you are white, that you are living the ideal, normal and correct way of living and that everyone should follow suit. However, McIntosh's quote that, "this work will allow them to be more like 'us'" is shocking in my opinion, but not wrong. I think many people who do not see white privilege to be an advantage, will not realize this reality that they hold themselves to the SCWAAMP standard. I believe that McIntosh is right when she said that, "whites are taught to think of their lives morally neutral, normative and average, and also ideal..." simply from my own experience. Before this class, I never realized how obvious white privilege really is in our society today. Of course there is serious race issues that cause inequality in our society, however I never realized how much it had to do with specifically white privilege.

"Whiteness protected me from many kinds of hostility, distress, and violence, which I was being subtly trained to visit, in turn, upon people of color" (McIntosh). 

         In this quote, McIntosh hits the nail right on the head when she says that, "whiteness protected me". That alone allows us to understand McIntosh's perspective that being white, or fall under the categories in SCWAAMP that you are protected from the hostility, distress and violence. She was protected from feeling the oppression from the dominant power, because she was a part of it. I love her choice of words specifically the word "protect". That's exactly what her whiteness does in our society. She is exempt from feeling the oppression and repercussions because of her affiliation with the oblivious dominant power. Then she goes onto the point that she was, "being subtly trained to visit, in turn, upon people of color" which is again absolutely true. It's almost as if we are exposed to something different or foreign from what we are used to, that we immediately view it as wrong or have a negative opinion about it because it's not "their way". Her messages throughout the piece basically want the reader to understand that white privilege is something that has been taught, and many are unaware of its existence.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

"Land of Limitations?" Piece

U.S.A., Land of Limitations? Nicholas Kristof
In the Op Ed piece U.S.A., Land of Limitations?, Nicholas Kristof argues that there are several social factors that can cause our “land of opportunity” to seem to have more boundaries than ever before. Kristof touches upon the fact that “children that are born into a low income family, typically do not rise to the top quintile” (Kristof). Basically, you are raised in it and usually become it regardless your skills.  He refers to this when talking about Rick Goff who he claims was a talented man that had several outside factors that unfortunately had caused him to not excel past what he began with. This issue is very common but there are others that do break through those barriers. Kristof also adds to the argument that these “few” who do manage to succeed are very slim which is also very true. Attending a high school that had these kinds of issues showed me how true it is only a dime in a dozen push through. I know only a handful of students who came from poverty and having very little, but working hard to find a way to attend college given their present circumstance. Kristof at one point turned me off from his piece because he says that many people believe that if you work hard enough, there are basically no excuses,which I do believe to only a certain extent. However, he continues his argument and points out how money isn’t the only thing that can potentially holding someone back from truly exceeding but, “ how often a child is read to or hugged. How often a child is beaten, how often the home descends into alcohol-fueled fistfights, whether there is lead poisoning, whether ear infections go untreated. Thats poverty that is far harder to escape” (Kristof 4). I can relate to this because of attending Woonsocket High school, where there is a very diverse group of students from several different backgrounds. There are many students that we are unaware of their home lives and it causes their education to falter in some ways. Their homelife can affect their views of what success is or their motivation and drive may be suppressed by their parents thus they may be discouraged. Finally, to bring it all together, “disadvantage is less about income than environment” (Kristof 4).

This is a great video that shows how poverty can affect students and their education.
He also brings up valid points about the gap between the rich and poor and entitlement. He asks the reader, “If you’re troubled by publicly subsidized meals, what about the $12 billion in annual tax subsidies for corporate meals and entertainment?”(Kristof 4).  I found this interesting because it put the reader in a position to view it from the other side if they have not experienced some level of poverty. Also to question our society and the choices the “entitled” and “privileged” are making while others are living in legitimate poverty, or in some cases like Goff, were hunting and fishing to put food on the table. I think this puts a different type of lifestyle into perspective for many and as future educators makes you really think. Kristof's main points in this piece want the audience to recognize these issues and how this "land of opportunity" has diminished and boils down to, "your outcome is largely determined by your beginning" (Kristof 4).

Thursday, September 8, 2016

About Me

Hello Everyone!
My name is Bianca Corriveau and I am currently a sophomore at Rhode Island College. I am studying Secondary Education with a concentration in English. I absolutely love reading, hence my Great Gatsby T.J Eckleberg background I have going on. I also love dancing, strictly hip hop since I don't have one graceful bone in my body. Seriously. I spend most of my time either doing homework, running, working, or binge watching Grey's Anatomy and I'm totally okay with that. That's pretty much it so hi y'all!