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robertogreco : fatalism   5

Other People's Pathologies - Ta-Nehisi Coates - The Atlantic
"What's missed here is that the very culture Chait derides might well be the reason why I am sitting here debating him in the first place. That culture contained a variety of values and practices. "I ain't no punk" was one of them. "Know your history" was another. "Words are beautiful" was another still. The key is cultural dexterity—understanding when to emphasize which values, and when to employ which practices."



"No, they need to be taught that all norms are not transferable into all worlds. In my case, physical assertiveness might save you on the street but not beyond it. At the same time, other values are transferrable and highly useful. The "cultural norms" of my community also asserted that much of what my country believes about itself is a lie. In the spirit of Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells, and Malcolm X, it was my responsibility to live, prosper, and attack the lie. Those values saved me on the street, and they sustain me in this present moment.

People who take a strict binary view of culture ("culture of privilege = awesome; culture of poverty = fail") are afflicted by the provincialism of privilege and thus vastly underestimate the dynamism of the greater world. They extoll "middle-class values" to the ignorance and exclusion of all others. To understand, you must imagine what it means to confront algebra in the morning and "Shorty, can I see your bike?" in the afternoon. It's very nice to talk about "middle-class values" when that describes your small, limited world. But when your grandmother lives in one hood and your coworkers live another, you generally need something more than "middle-class values." You need to be bilingual."



"Chait's jaunty and uplifting narrative flattens out the chaos of history under the cheerful rubric of American progress. The actual events are more complicated. It's true, for instance, that slavery was legal in the United States in 1860 and five years later it was not. That is because a clique of slaveholders greatly overestimated its own power and decided to go to war with its country. Had the Union soundly and quickly defeated the Confederacy, it's very likely that slavery would have remained. Instead the war dragged on, and the Union was forced to employ blacks in its ranks. The end result—total emancipation—was more a matter of military necessity than moral progress."



"Ames was totally accurate. For the next century, the United States legitimized the overthrow of legal governments, the reduction of black people to forced laborers, and the complete alienation—at gunpoint—of black people in the South from the sphere of politics.

Chait's citation of the end of lynching as evidence of America serving as an "ally" is especially bizarre. The United States never passed anti-lynching legislation, a disgrace so great that it compelled the Senate to apologize—in 2005.

"There may be no other injustice in American history," said Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu, "for which the Senate so uniquely bears responsibility." Even then, a half century after Emmett Till's murder, the sitting senators from Mississippi—the state with the most lynchings—declined to endorse the apology.

"You don't stick a knife in a man's back nine inches," said Malcolm X, "and then pull it out six inches and say you're making progress."

The notion that black America's long bloody journey was accomplished through frequent alliance with the United States is an assailant's-eye view of history. It takes no note of the fact that in 1860, most of this country's exports were derived from the forced labor of the people it was "allied" with. It takes no note of this country electing senators who, on the Senate floor, openly advocated domestic terrorism. It takes no note of what it means for a country to tolerate the majority of the people living in a state like Mississippi being denied the right to vote. It takes no note of what it means to exclude black people from the housing programs, from the GI Bills, that built the American middle class. Effectively it takes no serious note of African-American history, and thus no serious note of American history.

You see this in Chait's belief that he lives in a country "whose soaring ideals sat uncomfortably aside an often cruel reality." No. Those soaring ideals don't sit uncomfortably aside the reality but comfortably on top of it. The "cruel reality" made the "soaring ideals" possible."



"James Baldwin was not being cute here. If you can not bring yourself to grapple with that which literally built your capitol, then you are not truly grappling with your country. And if you are not truly grappling with your country, then your beliefs in its role in the greater world (exporter of democracy, for instance) are built on sand. Confronting the black experience means confronting the limits of America, and perhaps, humanity itself. That is the confrontation that graduates us out of the ranks of national cheerleading and into the school of hard students.

Chait thinks this view is "fatalistic." I think God is fatalistic. In the end, we all die. As do most societies. As do most states. As do most planets. If America is fatally flawed, if white supremacy does truly dog us until we are no more, all that means is that we were unexceptional, that we were not favored by God, that we were flawed—as are all things conceived by mortal man.

I find great peace in that. And I find great meaning in this struggle that was gifted to me by my people, that was gifted to me by culture."
ta-nehisicoates  2014  jonathanchait  us  history  slavery  whitesupremacy  democracy  greatmess  pathology  culture  fatalism  cultureofpoverty  poverty  jamesbaldwin  progress  values  race 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Broken (with tweets) · ayjay · Storify
"I tried to bring together some of the best responses here, but Storify's search is br — um., somewhat inconsistent in its results."

[The tweets that sparked the conversation:]

"The vague use of "broken" is really problematic in an age of planned obsolescence. People used to fix broken things; now they're discarded. So to say "the economy is broken" or "higher ed. is broken" can be a way of evading the responsibility to make something better."



"Neither higher ed. nor the economy are broken. They're more like cars that run pretty well but are headed in the wrong direction. My point is: the language of "brokenness" breeds fatalism. Let's try a different and more precise set of descriptors."



Erin: "I think education could use a serious regression rather than innovation or 'disruption.' Too many promises broken."
alanjacobs  storify  audreywatters  erinkissane  language  words  meaning  corruption  compromise  jenniferhoward  ashergelzer-govatos  jrschmitt  justice  education  highered  highereducation  society  economics  fatalism  progress  obsolescence  change  innovation  disruption 
february 2014 by robertogreco
Teflon, Fatalism, and Accountability | the becoming radical
"Arne Duncan, Bill Gates, Michelle Rhee, and a wide assortment of political leaders (notably governors and superintendents of education) have some important characteristics in common: most have no background in education, many grew up and were educated in privileged lives and settings (such as private schools with conditions unlike the reforms they promote), many with children send those children to schools unlike the reforms they promote, and few, if any, suffer any real consequences for their misguided claims or policies. This crop of education reformers are Teflon reformers."



"For teachers, the self-defeating characteristics of that fatalism are captured in the current implementation of Common Core, which, as with all the preceding waves of new standards and tests, are imposed on teachers, not called for, designed by, or directed by teachers."



"For teachers, their own fatalism against the power of Teflon reform has resulted in low morale and scattered CC implementation (directly contradicting a central call for CC as a way to standardize what is taught across the U.S.).

Both Teflon reform and teacher fatalism doom any reform efforts in our schools. Teflon reformers continue to prosper despite the credibility of their claims or the outcomes of their policies.

And at the bottom of this power chain are students, themselves fatalistic."


In contrast to mutual accountability, Wormeli notes, an alternative and more familiar definition of accountability values threat over concern (i.e., advocacy) for others….This is the ‘caughtya’ and ‘gotcha’ mentality,” and grading “is one of the default tools teachers use to play the ‘gotcha’ game.” When we play the gotcha game, according to Wormeli, “There is no growth in accountability within the student that will carry over to the next situation” (“Accountability” 16). Students learn to do whatever it takes to get the grade. (pp. 74-75)



"When Teflon reformers are neither mutually accountable nor personally invested, their policies create fatalistic, and thus, ineffective teachers—in the same way that students become fatalistic (and learn less or simply check out of the learning opportunities) when teachers are above the accountability and thus not mutually invested in learning with students."
reform  education  2014  accountability  teaching  learning  fatalism  policy  arneduncan  billgates  michellerhee  commoncore  mutualaccountability  high-stakestesting 
february 2014 by robertogreco
Boston Review — Leland de la Durantaye: How to Be Happy
"Wallace’s conclusion is simple. “Whether there’s ‘choice’ involved is, at a certain point, of no interest . . . since it’s the very surrender of choice and self that informs the love in the first place.” This is radical and right and ultimately his last word on free will and choice. Whatever love is, we do not choose it. In the case of Michael Joyce, it means to “consent to live in a world that, like a child’s world, is very serious and very small.” Whether Joyce chose the life he is leading cedes to another concern, whether it matters, and whether any of us really chooses.

…Which is to say, we are free to speculate on the fates of others, about the degree to which others are conditioned by their circumstances and the degree to which they condition those circumstances, but where we should end, ethically, is simple and clear, and everyone has always known it. We should wish them well."
writing  literature  philosophy  davidfosterwallace  happiness  empathy  thisiswater  love  michaeljoyce  infinitejest  human  fate  time  language  compassion  aristotle  fatalism  richardtaylor 
march 2011 by robertogreco

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