Sunday, September 27, 2015

Rodriguez: Reflection

Reading Rodriguez's article about how America's melting pot system definitely made me feel insert word here. It reminded me back to a class I took my sophomore year at Rhode Island College on American history from 1877 to the present. Up until this point, I had seen the melting pot idea as this great thing; that America was a country made up of many different nationalities and that we could all blend together. It was then that I learned that the melting pot was the early 20th century way of stripping someone of their culture they had known to cherish from birth. 
Henry Ford established a school to teach immigrant workers. The Melting Pot ceremony had graduates walk into the pot and back out. When they exited the pot, they were deemed "100% American".

Melting Pot Ceremony at the Ford Motor Company
Though it is important to be able to function in a society, it is also extremely important to be maintain your way of life. Rodriguez's points about how hearing Spanish makes him feel more comfortable or how it reminds him of his childhood goes to show just how much of value words can mean. The Melting Pot ceremony at Ford Motor Company and the importance that English is spoken in schools relates back to the discussion of American-ness in SCWAAMP.

I definitely saw firsthand the power of language this past summer while working at the Newport Mansions. Most of the people that visit the mansions are not from Rhode Island. Many guests from Quebec and South America venture up. Because we offer audio tours in different languages, the mansions are a hotspot for tourists that might not have the strongest grasp on the English language. Just attempting to speak French or holding a conversation in Spanish made the guests visiting so much happier. It also put them at ease when I would ask "What language?" and then do the schpeel in their tongue instead of having to try and understand English.

Friday, September 18, 2015

McIntosh: Quotes

"I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race."
In this quote from McIntosh's list of white privileges, she talks about how if someone who's not white does something extra ordinary, they become an example of how that race should act or what the potential they have. Huffington Post has their own "Black Voices" area for news. The goal of it is to shine light on issues in the black community. One of the first articles was about a black, gay, woman who is shaking up the business world. I thought it interesting that if the persona had been a white, straight, man they probably wouldn't have gotten a whole news article just for themselves, Even if it had been a white, straight, woman, they probably wouldn't have gotten an article.

"For me white privilege has turned out to be an elusive and fugitive subject. The pressure to avoid it is great, for in facing it I must give up the myth of meritocracy. If these things are true, this is not such a free country..."
McIntosh is acknowledging in this quote that white privilege has given her things in life that other people might not have had access to. She says that privilege provides opportunities to people that didn't even do anything to warrant those opportunities. This relates back to her list mentioning the many things white people can do just for being white.
"...I was taught to recognize racism only in individual acts of meanness by members of my group, never in invisible systems conferring unsought racial dominance on my group from birth."
McIntosh says in this quote that when we're young, we're taught racism is only explicit acts to oppress someone of a different race. She now realises that white privilege is a form of racism even though it acts as more of a shadow; performing its racist acts behind the scenes. This relates back to the discussion we had in class on 17/9/15 about individual and institutional oppression.  

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Kristof: Argument

In this article by Nicholas Kristof, he argues that in today's society it is more difficult to escape the economic class one was born into. 

Kristof discusses how despite what politicians say about rising from the bottom to the top, the cases of it actually happening are few and far between. Despite it being nice to think about America being a land of opportunity devoid of the ways of olden Europe, it has actually become the society the founders were originally trying to escape.

By being in a lower class, Kristof argues, you are already set on a path towards more of the same. Because people in the middle class are given the tools from the beginning to succeed in society, they often do so. He uses the example of his friend who was born into a family where one parented left them and the other died of alcoholism. In order to feed everyone, Kristof's friend had to hunt for food which is something very Americans can even ponder doing.

Kristof's friend was arrested over thirty times and was at one point in their life an alcoholic and a drug addict. Despite having so much talented, he was not able to hold down a job a long period of time. If his friend had been giving the tools to thrive in a middle class culture dominated society, he would not have had such a difficult life. 

Kristof's best metaphor describing the chances of rising from the lowest rings of society to the cream of the crop was that a five foot six parent does not normally have a child that is six foot one. It happens, but it is rare.
Tall offspring and short parents instantly conjured up this scene in Mary Poppins. It wouldn't be funny if it was common.