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robertogreco : stereotypes   44

Teju Cole on the unpredictability and potential of the city: “Once you give up insisting on stereotypes, you can really start to see.” - Harvard Graduate School of Design
"The work of novelist, essayist, and photographer Teju Cole is a genre-defying exploration of race, governance, migration, justice, culture, music, and privilege. It is defined by a comfort with uncertainty and a commitment to defending the freedom and autonomy of others.

The city is the motif that recurs most frequently in Cole’s work. He is drawn to the unpredictability and potential of the urban environment and its endless narrative material. And he is intrigued by the “continuities” between cities—what makes them similar, regardless of size, median income, or hemisphere—as well what makes each one unique. He describes these peculiarities as “smaller zones of interest that, once you give up insisting on stereotypes, you can really start to see.”

“The guidebooks might say, ‘Check out fabulous Florence.’ Or, ‘Kinshasa’s a mess,’” Cole says. “The reality is that teenagers in Florence hang out at the mall, teenagers in Kinshasa hang out at the mall. People in both places who have money can go to nice restaurants. Florence has a trash problem, so does Kinshasa. It’s the same story. The task of insisting on that continuity feels to me like a writerly ethical responsibility. What makes one city different from another is the subtleties, the smaller things you notice when you relinquish the task of exaggerating.”

Cole spent nearly two decades each in Lagos and New York, and he says that they are examples of cities that serve “intellectually as a source of exploration of thinking for my work.” He explains, “If you draw a map around New York, Zurich, Lagos, and São Paulo, they represent the extremes of what cities are and what they do, and each in its own way precisely represents some interests of mine. New York, Lagos, and São Paulo are all part of what I consider the Black Atlantic, places that have been shaped by the black creative presence to a very large extent.” His 2007 debut novel, Every Day Is for the Thief, takes place in Lagos, while his second novel, Open City, and a number of essays are set in New York.

[photo with caption: "“Kitchen to living room. Bedroom to bathroom. Downstairs to get the mail. House to subway. An evening stroll. You take around 7500 steps each day. If you live to eighty, inshallah, that comes to 200 million steps over the course of your life, a hundred thousand miles. You don't consider yourself a great walker, but you will have circumnavigated the globe on foot four times over. Downstairs to get the mail. Basement for laundry. Living room to bedroom. Up in the middle of the night for a glass of water. Walking through the darkened house, you suddenly pause.” “Zürich,” from Blind Spot, by Teju Cole."]

Cole’s writing has been translated into more than 15 languages and has earned him numerous awards, including the prestigious Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award. His photography has led to guest curating opportunities and solo exhibitions in seven countries on three continents. In addition to his two novels, he has published Known and Strange Things, a collection of essays on art, literature, photography, and politics; Blind Spot, a singular collection of photographs and writing; and Human Archipelago, a meditation on refugees and displaced people with photographer Fazal Sheikh. He has written for the New Yorker, Granta, and other magazines, and served as the photography critic of the New York Times Magazine from 2015 to 2019.

This afternoon, Cole, Harvard’s first Gore Vidal Professor of the Practice of Creative Writing, will deliver the Class Day address for the Graduate School of Design. He plans to use his address to encourage graduates “to think about our life together” and to imagine how a future can be conceived and built. Cole himself is a model for a cross-disciplinary creative practice that is at once intellectually rigorous, politically and socially engaged, and unbound to any singular medium.

[photo with caption: "“A gust of wind sweeps in from across the lake. The curtain shifts, and suddenly everything can be seen. The scales fall from our eyes. The landscape opens. No longer are we alone: they are with us now, have been all along, all our living and all our dead.” Excerpt from “Rivaz,” from Blind Spot, by Teju Cole."]

Cole’s fluidity between forms of expression can be credited, at least in part, to a background that has elements of multiplicity and movement, trial and error, switchbacks and reboots. Born in 1975 in Kalamazoo, Michigan to Nigerian parents, his life began with two passports, cultures, and languages. At four months old, Cole moved with his family to Lagos, Nigeria, where he lived until he returned to Michigan to pursue studies in art and art history at Kalamazoo College. Later he would go on to study African art history at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London and art history at Columbia University in New York.

“It was an important fact mentally to know that I belong to Nigeria and the United States,” he says. With time, that comfort with the in-between of dual identities evolved into a confidence in belonging to both places. “It’s always interested me, this idea of, ‘Oh, we don’t say it that way in America.’ To which my response is, ‘Well, we do now.’ Whatever I am, whatever I do, that’s part of America now. This imagined community that we call a nation is ever-expanding and ever-complexifying, and that’s a good thing. We’ve expanded the possibilities.”

Although he first made a name for himself as a novelist, Cole has always identified equally as a writer and a photographer. “I got into both at the same time, around 2004. With whatever I had studied, with whatever my education was, there was a certain voicing that I knew I wanted to explore more in writing. At SOAS, I started what I would say were the very first glimmerings of Open City. I wrote maybe five pages, but it was Mad Libs, no sentences. It was like a fever dream,” he remembers. “But by 2005, I started to feel like, ‘No, I need to write clear sentences’ and let the clarity convey the energy, just have it be cumulative. Around the same time, I started shooting with a film camera.” In Every Day Is for the Thief, a novella that follows a young Nigerian returning to Lagos after years in the US, Cole weaves black and white photographs throughout the narrative.

[photo with caption: "“I opened my eyes. What lay before me looked like the sound of the alphorn at the beginning of the final movement of Brahm’s First Symphony. This was the sound, this was the sound I saw.” “Brienzersee,” from Blind Spot, by Teju Cole."]

In Blind Spot, images and photographs also have equal footing in a series of single-spread couplets—on one page a full-color image, on the other, prose. Inspired by the six months Cole spent living in Zurich, the book is a call-and-response between a snapshot of a place and a burst of associations. His aim is to come at a subject in such a way that the audience experiences something unexpected that, as he once said, “detonates on some deeper level.”

Cole credits his time writing monthly photography criticism for the New York Times Magazine with growing his photography practice. Reading the photographs of others opened him up to taking his own. Called “On Photography,” his column also gave him an opportunity to engage in a deeper dialogue with the history of photography and to consider himself in relation to artists including Stephen Shore, William Eggleston, Luigi Ghirri, and Guido Guidi. He says that contemporary Italian photographers like Ghirri have had an especially significant and validating influence on his work.

[photo with caption: "“I pray to Tarkovsky, Marker, and Hitchcock. I acknowledge the dumb skull, the verso of the face, the local globe from which all thinking originates. I pray to Ojeikere and Richter, in whose works someone is always turning away. In certain pictures, we can verify a character’s presence, but, without the clues of the confessional face, not what the character thinks. What has turned away contains itself.” Excerpt from “Chicago,” from Blind Spot, by Teju Cole."]

Yet Cole says that the most life-defining experiences behind his work have been purely interior. Becoming a born-again Christian at age 13 injected heaviness and seriousness into his life; coming out the other side as an atheist at age 28 changed his “relationship to the world and ethics.” And, at 33, he found what he calls an “even keel” spiritually, outside of religion. “Open City came out in 2011 and that was really what got the public aspect of my career going. But what was important happened eight years before [at 28]: discovering that I had a sense of how to move forward in my life. The pivotal moments have had to do with my relationship to my own being in the world. Some of the external stuff is nice, but I will never define myself around that. Ever. It could all be gone tomorrow. It doesn’t matter because that’s not the definition.”

Cole left New York to take up his teaching role at Harvard in January 2019. Being back in academia, on the other side of the lectern, is right for him, right now, he says. He clearly enjoys nudging his students toward the difficult interior places to find voice, material, and meaning.

“I’m trying to be free. I was influenced by people who are free, including Toni Morrison and John Berger, great artists…. Learning to prioritize that freedom is what led me to this work. Not in a glib ‘I could do anything’ way but in an ‘I have a responsibility to expand the field, to move the center’ way. So, what I say to students is not, ‘You can do anything,’ but ‘You can do a lot, if you’re serious about picking up the necessary skills for each of the things you want to do.’”"
tejucole  toread  2019  salaelisepatterson  cities  urban  urbanism  unpredictability  stereotypes  seeing  noticing  johnberger  tonimorrison  photography  writing 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
Critical Perspectives on Soka’s Lu’au
"In its 10th anniversary this year, the Lū’au performance is one of our oldest traditions here at Soka. The club which spearheads it every year is called, “Ka Pilina Ho’olokahi,” which means “the coming together in harmony for peace” in the Hawaiian language.

Growing up in Hawai’i, we understood how direly peace in the Pacific was needed. I watched as the place where I grew up ballooned with military bases and personnel. We watched the Hawaiian Islands bend beyond their capacity to host tourists. We saw the cost of living skyrocket and the number of people evicted from their homes turn into a crisis overlooked every year. I am not Kānaka (Native Hawaiian), and I cannot say I have experienced the same displacement and loss of agency over land as Native Hawaiians have in the last century. However, as the daughter of a Filipina immigrant, I can say I know what it’s like to hear that you will never be able to go back to your home because it is too polluted, too politically unsafe, and void of opportunity. For Filipinas, the displacement of our people was mechanized by the same forces which continue to displace and extract from Native Hawaiians. The parallels of the occupation of our homelands have been, at times, painful to compare because of their stark similarities.

So, when people ask me about the Lū’au or Hawai’i, I’m met with conflicting feelings. It touches me that people are so dedicated to planning and executing an event meant to celebrate a place I care for and want to protect. However, when people ask me about the Lū’au, I can’t help but think of my own experiences in Waikīkī, where I would pick up my cousins after their shifts working at “lū’aus.” After working in the tourism industry since I was 14, I’ve become critical of its mechanisms. In this article, I hope to unpack our involvement in Hawaii’s history of colonization, cultural extraction, and commercialization by tourism developers.

Activist, author, poet, and Professor of Hawaiian Studies at the University of Hawai’i, Haunani-Kay Trask, wrote the essay “‘Lovely Hula Hands’: Corporate Tourism and the Prostitution of Hawaiian Culture,” [https://journals.lib.unb.ca/index.php/bl/article/view/24958/28913 ] which delineated the cultural commodification mechanized by tourist industries she witnessed as a Native Hawaiian woman. She provides her analysis placed amongst the backdrop of the linguistic genocide, land theft, and unjust annexation to statehood Native Hawaiian people faced. Trask posits that the tourism industry extracts and commercializes Hawai’i and Hawaiian culture into a consumable and often times sexualized fantasy. She writes, “To most Americans, then, Hawai’i is theirs: to use, to take, and, above all, to fantasize about long after the experience…. Just five hours away by plane from California, Hawai’i is a thousand light years away in fantasy. Mostly a state of mind, Hawai’i is the image of escape from the rawness and violence of daily American Life.” In her essay, Trask argues that these fantasy-based images of Hawai’i strip it of its political history, culture, language, and people.

Other Native Hawaiian scholars such as @haymakana [https://twitter.com/haymakana/status/1036950291902590976 ], a Ph.D. student with interests in indigenous education and race in Hawaii, have spoken out against the exploitation of Native Hawaiian culture through the tourism industry. Here, she explains how images and fantasy of escape come at the expense of Native Hawaiians, leading to more Kānaka (Native Hawaiian) displacement: “When you fantasize about laying on our beaches you fantasize about tearing us away from our homeland and our ‘ohana that still live there … Kānaka are being displaced by hotels, rich people’s summer homes, Airbnbs, etc.”

From the perspective of a resident, I can also attest that the overwhelming presence of tourism contributes to the rising cost of living, homelessness, environmental destruction, and sex trafficking within our communities.

Other scholars such as Gregory Pōmaika’i [https://twitter.com/gspomaikai/status/1112163934734172162 ], a Ph.D. student at UC San Diego with interests in the Hawaiian diaspora in Las Vegas, Nevada, militarism, and queer Indigenous relations of off-island resurgence, responded to @haymakana’s thread with their own.

In this instance, Pōmaika’i affirms the sentiment originally proposed by @haymakana. They argue that the extraction of Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) otherness is exploitive, but goes mostly unchecked by the usual assumption of innocence under Euro-American audiences. They expound upon the common phenomena of Asian Americans who, due to their proximity based on settlement, diaspora, or existing within the category of Asian American Pacific Islanders, reap social or material capital off of Hawaiian culture due to their proximity to Hawai’i. Because of this and the universal ideas of “Hawai’i,” which are formed and normalized by the tourism industry, most audiences are less likely to question the cultural appropriateness of demonstrations of “Hawaiian culture,” especially those led by people who consider themselves proximate to Hawai’i.

Pōmaika’i later goes on to stress the importance of solidarity, rather than extraction, when it comes to showing up for indigenous folk. As settlers within a system of settler-colonialism, which automatically defers to our protection rather than indigenous folk, how are we showing up for them? Are we still following outdated models of racism and settler-colonialism where we are only assessing our liability based on our conscious prejudices and attitudes? Or are we critically evaluating our involvement within systems which subjugate others based on race and class?

I’ve spoken to Ka’pilina members who, from the bottom of their heart, believe they are part of the preservation of Hawaiian culture. However, I think Pōmaika’i, @haymakana, and Trask would all agree that the very concept of a Lū’au pulls from tourism-based ideas of Hawaii—ideas inevitably predicated on Native Hawaiian displacement. I’ve spoken to Lū’au officials who have told me that they don’t know about the Kanaka Maoli. These interactions led me to question what qualifications officials who have either varying or no connections to Hawai’i have for culture preservation. In what way are we actively able to combat Native Hawaiian stereotypes if there is no one involved who can call them out and unpack them? To what point is our relationship to Hawai’i extractive, especially if we’re, intentionally or not, upholding fantasy ideals of what Hawai’i is? These are questions of self-reflection which I hope my article can help facilitate within our community. Images of a commodified culture, made accessible to us and which remain pervasive after years of colonization, will persist in spaces vacuous of critical thought. So from here, I hope we may critically assess, how to move forward without perpetuating the commodification of Native Hawaiian culture.

Post notes: Soka’s Lū’au will be donating a small amount of the proceeds, all accumulated through the raffle, to a Hawaiian cultural preservation non-profit. I am happy about these donations, but I hope this will not excuse us from engaging in critical reflection of our actions."
sokauniversityofamerica  via:sophia  2019  hawaii  cultue  criticism  luau  haunani-kaytrask  tourism  exploitation  solidarity  extraction  indigeneity  indigenous  gregorypōmaika’i  kanakamaoli  commodification  stereotypes  kapalina  soka  sua 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Molly Ringwald Revisits “The Breakfast Club” in the Age of #MeToo | The New Yorker
"John’s movies convey the anger and fear of isolation that adolescents feel, and seeing that others might feel the same way is a balm for the trauma that teen-agers experience. Whether that’s enough to make up for the impropriety of the films is hard to say—even criticizing them makes me feel like I’m divesting a generation of some of its fondest memories, or being ungrateful since they helped to establish my career. And yet embracing them entirely feels hypocritical. And yet, and yet. . . . 

How are we meant to feel about art that we both love and oppose? What if we are in the unusual position of having helped create it? Erasing history is a dangerous road when it comes to art—change is essential, but so, too, is remembering the past, in all of its transgression and barbarism, so that we may properly gauge how far we have come, and also how far we still need to go.

While researching this piece, I came across an article that was published in Seventeen magazine, in 1986, for which I interviewed John. (It was the only time I did so.) He talked about the artists who inspired him when he was younger—Bob Dylan, John Lennon—and how, as soon as they “got comfortable” in their art, they moved on. I pointed out that he had already done a lot of movies about suburbia, and asked him whether he felt that he should move on as his idols had. “I think it’s wise for people to concern themselves with the things they know about,” he said. He added, “I’d feel extremely self-conscious writing about something I don’t know.”

I’m not sure that John was ever really comfortable or satisfied. He often told me that he didn’t think he was a good enough writer for prose, and although he loved to write, he notoriously hated to revise. I was set to make one more Hughes film, when I was twenty, but felt that it needed rewriting. Hughes refused, and the film was never made, though there could have been other circumstances I was not aware of.

In the interview, I asked him if he thought teen-agers were looked at differently than when he was that age. “Definitely,” he said. “My generation had to be taken seriously because we were stopping things and burning things. We were able to initiate change, because we had such vast numbers. We were part of the Baby Boom, and when we moved, everything moved with us. But now, there are fewer teens, and they aren’t taken as seriously as we were. You make a teen-age movie, and critics say, ‘How dare you?’ There’s just a general lack of respect for young people now.”

John wanted people to take teens seriously, and people did. The films are still taught in schools because good teachers want their students to know that what they feel and say is important; that if they talk, adults and peers will listen. I think that it’s ultimately the greatest value of the films, and why I hope they will endure. The conversations about them will change, and they should. It’s up to the following generations to figure out how to continue those conversations and make them their own—to keep talking, in schools, in activism and art—and trust that we care."
mollyringwald  thebreakfastclub  #MeToo  2018  film  1980s  teens  youth  identity  sexism  harassment  johnhughes  chauvinism  nationallampoon  writing  homophobia  tedmann  sexuality  sixteencandles  prettyinpink  change  harveyweinstein  adolescence  havilandmorris  insecurity  sexualharassment  misogyny  racism  stereotypes  outsiders  invisibility 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Two Moms, Two Kids: The New American Family - Vogue
"Photographer Cass Bird and her partner, director Ali Bird, have known each other for half their lives. They first met in 1997 and, after numerous false starts (Ali: “aka drama”), they forged a partnership that has flourished for 14 years. They are not married, although they share a surname. Marriage is, in their view, “too easy.” (Cass: “Till death do us part? Try eternity.”) Nine years ago Cass gave birth to Leo, and 20 months later Ali begat Mae. “We wanted to start a family and buy a house,” says Ali. “We saved money. We did it. When gay marriage became legal, we had already made the biggest commitment.” Adds Cass, “It is important that we have the same dreams. What does it mean to be a good partner, a good citizen . . . two big, big things.”

Those two big, big things are evident in the photographs and videos the Birds share weekly with more than 134,000 followers on Cass’s Instagram. Cass Bird is known in the fashion world for her uniquely intimate, humorous, and complicit portraits of the famous and the beautiful. There’s an offhand honesty to her pictures that is both entirely intuitive and brilliantly considered. In the depictions of her children (Mae is “a force, a tornado”; Leo is “cautious, cerebral”) and her partner, these qualities are present in the extreme: Family life in all of its messy, wacky, repetitive, emotional wildness has never looked more riveting and gorgeous. Here are two moms who have an “equal desire to connect” with each other and their babies, and who believe that the strength of a relationship resides in one’s ability to reveal “the lonely part, the messy part” of the psyche, to share “what it looks like to be vulnerable.” Here are two wild-haired moppets who “defy all gender stereotypes” and are “sibling close,” which means “they confront each other on a cellular level 98 percent of the time—there is no neutrality.” Cass and Ali lay it bare, though sometimes too bare for the standards police of social media. The line between privacy and honesty is something that the couple negotiates together. “We fight about it, and I fight about it internally,” Cass says. “What is promoting beauty and freedom and what is potentially harmful? I know that bodies are easily sexualized; I am not naive. I think they are beautiful, strong creatures. My goal is that no one would ever sexualize their image.” Says Ali, “Cass is really aware of being a public figure who is gay and has the potential to affect other people who may feel they can’t have a child or a family.” Cass adds, laughing, “Can’t just everyone be naked?”"

[See also: https://www.instagram.com/cassblackbird/ ]
photography  families  us  instragram  stereotypes  gender  children  2017  lgbtq  video  cassbird  alibird 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Study: Poor Kids Who Believe in Meritocracy Suffer - The Atlantic
"A new study finds that believing society is fair can lead disadvantaged adolescents to act out and engage in risky behavior."



"Brighton Park is a predominantly Latino community on the southwest side of Chicago. It’s a neighborhood threatened by poverty, gang violence, ICE raids, and isolation—in a city where income, race, and zip code can determine access to jobs, schools, healthy food, and essential services. It is against this backdrop that the Chicago teacher Xian Franzinger Barrett arrived at the neighborhood’s elementary school in 2014.

Recognizing the vast economic and racial inequalities his students faced, he chose what some might consider a radical approach for his writing and social-studies classes, weaving in concepts such as racism, classism, oppression, and prejudice. Barrett said it was vital to reject the oft-perpetuated narrative that society is fair and equal to address students’ questions and concerns about their current conditions. And Brighton Elementary’s seventh- and eighth-graders quickly put the lessons to work—confronting the school board over inequitable funding, fighting to install a playground, and creating a classroom library focused on black and Latino authors.

“Students who are told that things are fair implode pretty quickly in middle school as self-doubt hits them,” he said, “and they begin to blame themselves for problems they can’t control.”

Barrett’s personal observation is validated by a newly published study in the peer-reviewed journal Child Development that finds traditionally marginalized youth who grew up believing in the American ideal that hard work and perseverance naturally lead to success show a decline in self-esteem and an increase in risky behaviors during their middle-school years. The research is considered the first evidence linking preteens’ emotional and behavioral outcomes to their belief in meritocracy, the widely held assertion that individual merit is always rewarded.

“If you’re in an advantaged position in society, believing the system is fair and that everyone could just get ahead if they just tried hard enough doesn’t create any conflict for you … [you] can feel good about how [you] made it,” said Erin Godfrey, the study’s lead author and an assistant professor of applied psychology at New York University’s Steinhardt School. But for those marginalized by the system—economically, racially, and ethnically—believing the system is fair puts them in conflict with themselves and can have negative consequences.

“If the system is fair, why am I seeing that everybody who has brown skin is in this kind of job? You’re having to think about that … like you’re not as good, or your social group isn’t as good,” Godfrey said. “That’s the piece … that I was trying to really get at [by studying] these kids.”

The findings build upon a body of literature on “system justification”—a social-psychology theory that believes humans tend to defend, bolster, or rationalize the status quo and see overarching social, economic, and political systems as good, fair, and legitimate. System justification is a distinctively American notion, Godfrey said, built on myths used to justify inequities, like “If you just work hard enough you can pull yourself up by your bootstraps … it’s just a matter of motivation and talent and grit.” Yet, as she and her colleagues discovered, these beliefs can be a liability for disadvantaged adolescents once their identity as a member of a marginalized group begins to gel—and once they become keenly aware of how institutional discrimination disadvantages them and their group."



"David Stovall, professor of educational-policy studies and African American studies at University of Illinois at Chicago, said the paper is a confirmation of decades of analysis on the education of marginalized and isolated youth. It’s a “good preliminary piece” that lays the foundation for more academic study of historically disenfranchised adolescents and their motivations, he said.

“If young folks see themselves being discriminated against, they’ve been told that a system is fair, and they experience things that are unfair, they will begin to reject this particular system and engage in behaviors that will not be to their betterment,” he explained. Stovall said it’s critical to guide young people from “defiant resistance”—defying what they’ve learned to be untrue regarding a just and fair system for all—to “transformative resistance”—developing a critical understanding of the historical context of U.S. society. Educators, he said, play a crucial role in this work.

“We have to ask different questions around school,” he said. “Does [school] contribute further to our [students’] marginalization and oppression? Is it just about order, compliance, and white normative standards that marginalized young folks of color don’t measure up to because the structure never intended for them to measure up?” He also warned educators and youth of color to be prepared for pushback, highlighting the current legal battle over the ethnic-studies ban in Tucson public schools despite its proven academic benefits.

Mildred Boveda, an assistant education professor at Arizona State University, likewise said the findings hold important implications for both teachers and teacher education. “This is of great consequence to … teachers who may think they are protecting children by avoiding conversations about systems of oppressions,” she said, emphasizing that the onus is also on teacher-prep programs to ensure aspiring educators know how to address these controversial topics.

Given her recent experience teaching fifth-graders in Miami-Dade, Florida, Boveda disagrees with the researchers’ notion that sixth-graders lack a full understanding of social hierarchies. Her students on the brink of middle school, she noted, were hyper-aware of social inequalities. Still, she sees valuable insights in the data.

“Unlike the majority of the teaching workforce, I once fit the demographics of the students in this study,” she said, alluding to the fact that more than 80 percent of public-school teachers are white. “I will admit that it sometimes felt risky to tackle these difficult conversations, but this [research] underscores why we cannot equivocate when it comes to preparing our children to face injustices.”"
melindaanderson  meritocracy  inequality  xianfranzingerbarrett  2017  race  racism  eringodfrey  education  schools  systemjustification  statusquo  society  grit  americandream  bootstraps  davidstovall  oppression  defince  resistance  mildredboveda  youth  adolescence  classism  stereotypes 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Expand Your World, Go to the Beach in Alabama - The New York Times
"My dad and stepmom live in Mobile, Ala., and spend their vacation time an hour’s drive away in Orange Beach, Ala. This means that, throughout my life, I have regularly vacationed there as well.

Whenever I tell people in Berkeley, Calif., where I live, that I’m headed to the beach in Alabama, they are shocked. Most people outside of the Gulf Coast have no idea that Alabama has beaches — even though if you look at a map of Alabama, there is a part of it that looks as if it should belong to Florida. There is even a bar at the Alabama-Florida border that commemorates this fact. That bar is named the Flora-Bama. (Calling it the Ala-Lorida would just be ridiculous.)

I often try to convince my wife, Melissa, that we and our two daughters should vacation in Orange Beach more often. I try to persuade friends to come, too. It is the perfect fun-and-sun vacation. We stay across the street from the beach, which is perfect for my wife. The resort has an old-school arcade room with one of those claw machines, which is perfect for our older daughter, even though she has never won anything from it. And it has a lazy-river pool, where you can sit in an inner tube and let the underwater jets push you around while thinking that you may be experiencing the pinnacle of human achievement. That’s perfect for me.

But no one has taken us up on the invitation yet, because of one problematic word: Alabama. Nobody I know from the Bay Area has any interest in purposefully spending time in Alabama. Florida, maybe, but Alabama? Nah, that’s a hard pass.

I have discovered that when you are black, saying “I’m headed to the South” to someone, especially a white person who is not from the South, is like saying, “I’m headed to my own lynching and I decided to bring the rope just to make it easier on the Klansmen.”

It is one of my enduring frustrations with this country. People live in their part of the Union, and if they don’t travel a lot, then there is a tendency to believe that the other parts of America couldn’t possibly be as American as their part. You can see it in the way people in the South scrunch up their faces when they hear words like “New York,” “Chicago” and “challah.” And you can also see it in the way people on the coast narrow their eyes when they hear words like “Louisiana,” “Kentucky” and “pork rinds.”

Sometimes it gets even worse. Some people think that the things going on in other parts are actually anti-American.

I’m happy that I know how to speak “Southern.” I spent a lot of time in Alabama throughout my life. I even lived there for part of junior high and high school, so I learned the true beauty and mastery of the Southern dialect. “Y’all” is one of the greatest and most useful words ever invented. Saying you are “fixing to get ready to go” is useful, because it is a state most of us are regularly in, even if we don’t know it. It means you are thinking about maybe leaving. That is me, every time I try to go out of the house.

Southern is more than just a language. It’s also about understanding someone’s intentions. There are things people in the South say to me that I just let go, but if someone outside the South says the same thing, I’ll think to myself, “Well, I’ll be telling this story onstage tonight.”

I was in a Walgreens in Northern California once, back when I still had long dreadlocks. The cashier, a white woman, asked as she was ringing me up, “Can I touch your hair?” When you have dreadlocks you start to get used to this question. I said, “No, you can’t touch my hair,” but I said it with a smile so that we could both move on without the situation getting weirder than it already was.

A few months later, in Mobile, I was at a Krispy Kreme with my dad. A different white woman asked the same question and I said, “Sure.” I could tell that she was taking a chance by asking. It felt like more than the idle curiosity or simple objectification that I felt in Northern California. Maybe some part of me hoped that she would touch my hair, her eyes would glaze over, and then like Neo from “The Matrix” she would say something like, “I now understand how the institution of slavery is directly connected the current struggle of black people in America, and I also recognize white people’s part in that … also, I know kung fu.” That didn’t happen. But she did give me an extra doughnut.

Those types of interactions prepared me for my current career, where I travel the country and ask (and occasionally answer) “dumb questions.” When I created a pilot for CNN called “The United Shades of America,” I tried to roll all of that experience up into an hour of television. I went to Kentucky and talked to the Ku Klux Klan.

When the episode aired back in a distant time called April 2016, the major criticism I heard was: “Why are you giving the K.K.K. a platform? We already know the K.K.K. is awful.” Well, my mom taught me that there is no such thing as too much knowledge. And as gobsmacked as my liberal friends were by Donald Trump’s victory, they now know that they definitely didn’t know as much about America as they thought.

And if there was ever a time that we all should take a trip to the other parts of America and spend some time to get to know the people there, it is now.

So, who wants to come with me to Orange Beach?"
wkamaubell  alabama  language  thesouth  us  culture  stereotypes  2017  y'all  procrastination 
april 2017 by robertogreco
Ignite Philly 15: Ariell Johnson - Diversity in Comics - YouTube
[See also:

"An Interview with Ariell Johnson, Founder of Amalgam Comics: “Everyone Has the Right to Have Their Story Told”"
http://blacknerdproblems.com/an-interview-with-ariell-johnson-founder-of-amalgam-comics-everyone-has-the-right-to-have-their-story-told/

"Why Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse Owner Ariell Johnson is a Superhero in Her Own Right"
https://www.blacksci-fi.com/why-amalgam-comics-coffeehouse-owner-ariell-johnson-is-a-superhero-in-her-own-right/

"First Black Woman to Open Philly Comic Shop Talks Diversity"
http://www.nbcnews.com/news/nbcblk/first-black-woman-own-east-coast-comic-shop-talks-diversity-n492151

"Meet Ariell Johnson, First Black Female to Open Philly Comic Shop | She's the Boss S3E5"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIE9rEg8uE0

"Shoot the 5: Ariell Johnson"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nAW5w3GNXcw

""All The Way Up" Geek Girl Edition"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dL6y93N7I0E ]
arielljohnson  comics  diversity  2016  race  religion  stereotypes  humanity  humans  difference  prejudice 
april 2017 by robertogreco
The Problem with Story Problems
"Here’s my story of a problem, and it began with Frank. Pressing the math picture book to his chest, Frank explained how delighted he was to be reunited with this fun, clever text from his childhood. Frank, the leader of the mathematics department for our school district, said he wished we could buy a copy of this sweet book for every teacher in the district. I was intrigued.

As soon as I started The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics, I felt uneasy. The book—by Norton Juster—favored all the characteristics that Frank himself embodied. The main character was an intelligent male—white, English-speaking, heterosexual, and someone with power—just like Frank. The other two characters were a man of color and a woman—both thinly portrayed and framed as vapid, frivolous, inept, and marginal. The female character was described as physically attractive and her body measurements were presented as a form of mathematics humor. As a female math educator myself, I was disappointed and outraged at the portrayals in this book—and even more disappointed at how dearly Frank loved this text. What did this say to me and about me, and what did it say to and about all the K–12 students in our care?

This got me thinking about the values our math texts promote. Story problems are supposed to be the most humanizing part of math education. Although this is sometimes the case, too often the assumptions inherent in story problems perpetuate consumerism, reinforce racist and sexist stereotypes, and maintain classism and unsustainable approaches to the Earth.

Because I know my insights are limited by my life experiences, my curiosity drove me to start asking others—teachers and future teachers—to share examples of math problems that stood out as damaging or exploitative, or that put forward a worldview that privileged a certain way of thinking or kind of person. I also asked them how they have used these problematic problems to help their students think critically about textbooks and the world.

It turns out I wasn’t alone in my concern about the messages in word problems. We found poisonous examples all over the place, in materials from the elementary level right through calculus. Fortunately, I also learned about inspiring examples of how math teachers are working with students to recognize and subvert biased and negative messages hidden in supposedly neutral material."
anitabright  storyproblems  math  mathematics  teaching  howweteach  consumerism  lesiure  environment  bias  racism  sexism  stereotypes  clssism  sustainability  learning  values 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Millennials Don't Exist! Adam Conover at Deep Shift - YouTube
"A millennial marketing conference asked me to give a talk on how to market to millennials. The thesis of the talk I gave: Millennials don't exist and the entire idea of "generations" is unscientific, condescending, and stupid. For more misconception destruction, check out my show ADAM RUINS EVERYTHING on TruTV! New episodes coming in August!"
millennials  generations  geny  generationy  2016  adamconover  demographics  humor  media  marketing  stereotypes 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Managing Bias | Facebook
"At Facebook, we believe that understanding and managing unconscious bias can help us build stronger, more diverse and inclusive organizations. These videos are designed to help us recognize our biases so we can reduce their negative effects in the workplace. Surfacing and countering unconscious bias is an essential step towards becoming the people and companies we want to be.

Video Modules

Welcome from Lori Goler – VP of People

There are different forms of unconscious bias that can prevent us from cultivating an inclusive and innovative workplace. In these videos, we discuss four common types of biases: Performance Bias, Performance Attribution Bias, Competence/Likeability Trade-off Bias, and Maternal Bias.

Introductions and First Impressions

Foundations for first impressions come from our own experiences and sense of the world—what’s familiar to us. Our reactions to someone we don’t know may be positive, negative, or neutral depending on what’s visible or audible about them; depending on their race, perceived sexual orientation, accent or a number of other characteristics.

Stereotypes and Performance Bias

Stereotypes are often automatic and unconscious. In the workplace, stereotypes can influence decisions we make about other people, preventing their ability to fully contribute in their jobs. Performance bias occurs when people who are part of dominant groups, such as whites or men, are judged by their expected potential, while those who are part of less dominant groups such as people of color or women are judged by their proven accomplishments.

Performance Attribution Bias

When it comes to decision-making, unconscious biases cause some people to be perceived as “naturally talented,” whereas others are presumed to have “gotten lucky.” People on the receiving end of these biases are less likely to receive credit for their ideas, are interrupted more often during team interactions and have less influence on teams.

Competence/Likeability Tradeoff Bias

Research shows that success and likeability are positively correlated for men and negatively correlated for women. Women are expected to be nurturing and care-taking, while men are expected to be assertive and action-oriented. Having to produce results and be liked makes it harder for women to get hired and promoted, negotiate on their own behalf, and exhibit leadership.

Maternal Bias

Research shows that women who are mothers experience an unconscious bias in the workplace that fathers and women without children do not. Mothers are disliked when not seen as nurturing mothers, and given fewer opportunities.

Business Case for Diversity & Inclusion and What You Can Do

Surfacing and counteracting unconscious bias and its impacts is not only the right thing to do—it’s essential for our success.

Why?

Research shows that individuals and organizations that believe they are meritocratic often have the poorest outcomes. That’s because when biases aren’t acknowledged, we can’t deal with them.

Our goal in publishing this portion of our managing bias training is to achieve broader recognition of the hidden biases we all hold, and to highlight ways to counteract bias in the workplace. We invite you to treat this as a framework for action. Please add to or amend this content based on challenges relevant to your organization.

Let’s commit to surfacing and counteracting unconscious bias to level the playing field for all of us.

Download More on What You Can Do

Download the Slides and References Used in these Videos"

[via https://twitter.com/sjjphd/status/654477639529402368
via https://twitter.com/V_V_G/status/654481215358042112 ]
facebook  bias  unconsciousbias  diversity  psychology  inclusivity  training  video  stereotypes  gender  maternity  likeability  competence  performance  business  workplace  firstimpressions  race  sexualorientation  judgement  success  inclusion 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Is Cultural Appropriation Always Wrong? - The New York Times
"It’s a truth only selectively acknowledged that all cultures are mongrel. One of the first Indian words to be brought into English was the Hindi ‘‘loot’’ — ‘‘plunder.’’ Some of the Ku Klux Klan's 19th-century costumes were, of all things, inspired in part by the festival wear of West African slaves; the traditional wax-print designs we associate with West Africa are apparently Indonesian — by way of the Netherlands. Gandhi cribbed nonviolence from the Sermon on the Mount.

We sometimes describe this mingling as ‘‘cross-pollination’’ or ‘‘cross-fertilization’’ — benign, bucolic metaphors that obscure the force of these encounters. When we wish to speak more plainly, we talk of ‘‘appropriation’’ — a word now associated with the white Western world’s co-opting of minority cultures. And this year — these past several months alone — there has been plenty of talk. In film, there was the outcry over the casting of the blonde Emma Stone as the part-Chinese Hawaiian heroine of Cameron Crowe’s ‘‘Aloha.’’ In music, Miley Cyrus wore dreadlock extensions while hosting the V.M.A.s and drew accusations of essentially performing in blackface — and not for the first time. In literature, there was the discovery that Michael Derrick Hudson, a white poet, had been published in this year’s Best American Poetry anthology under a Chinese pseudonym. In fashion, there was the odd attempt to rebrand cornrows as a Caucasian style — a ‘‘favorite resort hair look,’’ according to Elle. And floating above it all has been Rachel Dolezal, the presiding spirit of the phenomenon, the white former N.A.A.C.P. chapter president who remains serenely and implacably convinced of her blackness.

Questions about the right to your creation and labor, the right to your identity, emerge out of old wounds in America, and they provoke familiar battle stances. The same arguments are trotted out (It’s just hair! Stop being so sensitive! It’s not always about race!) to be met by the same quotes from Bell Hooks, whose essays from the early ’90s on pop culture, and specifically on Madonna, have been a template for discussions of how white people ‘‘colonize’’ black identity to feel transgressive: ‘‘Ethnicity becomes spice, seasoning that can liven up the dull dish that is mainstream white culture.’’ It’s a seasonal contro­versy that attends awards shows, music festivals, Halloween: In a country whose beginnings are so bound up in theft, conversations about appropriation are like a ceremonial staging of the nation’s original sins.

It can feel like such a poignantly stalled conversation that we’re occasionally tempted to believe we’ve moved past it. A 2013 NPR story on America’s changing demographics and the evolution of hip-hop made a case that the genre has lost its identification with race, and that young people aren’t burdened by anxieties about authenticity. ‘‘The melding of cultures we’re seeing now may have Generation X and Generation Y shaking in their boots with claims of racial ‘appropriation,’ ’’ the rapper and performance artist Mykki Blanco said in an online discussion about fashion’s debt to ‘‘urban culture.’’ ‘‘To Generation Z, I would clearly think it all seems ‘normal.’ ’’ Hip-hop culture is global culture, according to this wisdom: People of Korean descent have dominated the largest international b-boy championships; twerking is a full-blown obsession in Russia. ‘‘We as black people have to come to grips that hip-hop is a contagious culture,’’ Questlove, the drummer and co-founder of the Roots, said last year in an interview with Time magazine in which he defended Iggy Azalea, the white Australian rapper derided for (among other things) affecting a ‘‘Southern’’ accent. ‘‘If you love something, you gotta set it free.’’

But many of the most dogged critics of cultural appropriation are turning out to be the very people who were supposed to be indifferent to it. Members of supposedly easygoing Generation Z object — in droves — to Lena Dunham’s posting a photograph of herself in a mock hijab. Others argue that the cultural devaluation of black people paves the way for violence against them. ‘‘What would America be like if we loved black people as much as we loved black culture?’’ Amandla Stenberg, the 16-year-old star of ‘‘The Hunger Games,’’ asked, in her video message ‘‘Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows,’’ which criticized pop stars like Katy Perry for borrowing from black style ‘‘as a way of being edgy.’’ In June, young Asian-Americans protested when the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, as an accompaniment to a lecture called ‘‘Claude Monet: Flirting With the Exotic,’’ invited visitors to pose next to Monet’s ‘‘La Japonaise’’ while wearing a matching kimono. And South Asian women, objecting to the fad for ‘‘ethnic’’ wear at music festivals like Coachella, continued a social-media campaign to ‘‘reclaim the bindi,’’ sharing photographs of themselves, their mothers and grandmothers wearing bindis, with captions like ‘‘My culture is not a costume.’’’

Is this just the latest flowering of ‘‘outrage culture’’? Not necessarily. ‘‘The line between cultural appropriation and cultural exchange is always going to be blurred,’’ Stenberg acknowledges in her video. But it has never been easier to proceed with good faith and Google, to seek out and respect context. Social media, these critics suggest, allow us too much access to other people’s lives and other people’s opinions to plead ignorance when it comes to causing offense. When Allure magazine offers tips on achieving a ‘‘loose Afro’’ accompanied by a photograph of a white woman, we can’t overlook how actual black women have been penalized for the hairstyle — that two years ago it was widely reported that a 12-year-old black girl in Florida was threatened with expulsion because of her ‘‘distracting’’ natural hair, and that schools in Oklahoma and Ohio have tried to ban Afros outright. We can’t forget that South Asian bindis became trendy in the mid-’90s, not long after South Asians in New Jersey were being targeted by a hate group that called itself Dotbusters, referencing the bindi, which some South Asian women stopped wearing out of fear of being attacked.

Seen in this light, ‘‘appropriation’’ seems less provocative than pitiably uninformed and stale. It seems possible that we might, someday, learn to keep our hands to ourselves where other people’s cultures are concerned. But then that might do another kind of harm. In an essay in the magazine Guernica, the Pakistani novelist Kamila Shamsie called for more, not less, imaginative engagement with her country: ‘‘The moment you say a male American writer can’t write about a female Pakistani, you are saying, Don’t tell those stories. Worse, you’re saying: As an American male you can’t understand a Pakistani woman. She is enigmatic, inscrutable, unknowable. She’s other. Leave her and her nation to its Otherness. Write them out of your history.’’

Can some kinds of appropriation shatter stereotypes? This has been literature’s implicit promise: that entering into another’s consciousness enlarges our own. Reviewing ‘‘Green on Blue,’’ Elliot Ackerman’s new novel that looks at America’s war in Afghanistan from the perspective of a young Afghan, the writer Tom Bissell said ‘‘there would be fewer wars’’ if more novelists allowed themselves to imagine themselves into other cultures. It’s a seductive if utterly unverifiable claim. But what cannot be disputed is how profoundly we exist in one another’s imaginations. And what conversations about appropriation make clear is that our imaginations are unruly kingdoms governed by fears and fantasies. They are never neutral."
appropriation  culturalappropriation  2015  parulsehgal  colonialism  decolonization  hiphop  music  fashion  generationz  amandlastenberg  popculture  questlove  culture  mileycyrus  casting  film  bindis  kamilashamsie  otherness  othering  nuance  stereotypes  elliotackerman  tombissell  cosmicrace  larazacósmica  mykkiblanco  genx  generationx  geny  generationy  millennials  michaelderrickhudson  hair  clothing  bellhooks  madonna  context  genz 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Sense8 and the Failure of Global Imagination | thenerdsofcolor
"There should be word for the exhilaration of a half-success coupled with the glowing disappointment of the half-failure, that two-sided coin. People who don’t speak German would say that there must be a long-ass German word for it. There isn’t, but German has the virtue of allowing someone to make a half-assed attempt at coining it. Ehrgeitzversagensschoene? I mention this, because this is one of the primary failures of the show: it attaches itself to Americans’ perceptions of how things are in other idioms, as much as, or more than, it attaches to how things actually are.

To put it plainly: Sense8’s depiction of life in non-western countries is built out of stereotypes, and of life in non-American western countries is suffused with tourist-board clichés. The protagonist in Nairobi is a poor man whose mother has AIDS and whose life is ruled by gangs; in Mumbai we have a woman in a STEM career marrying a man she doesn’t love and engaging in Bollywood dance numbers; in Korea we have a patriarchally oppressed wealthy corporate woman who also happens to be a kickass martial artist; in Mexico City we follow a telenovela actor. London and Reykjavik are filmed using tourist locations and anonymous interiors.

Worse, the filmic clichés of each country are brought to bear on the production in each location — each organized by a different director: Nairobi is sweaty, garish, earth-toned, radiantly shabby; Mumbai is multicolored, and Hindu iconned, full of the jewelry, silks, flowers, and jubilant crowds that burst out of classic Bollywood; Seoul is clean to the point of sterility, with little patches of grass and mirrors and windows everywhere, a grey, hi-tech aesthetic; Mexico City is jewel-toned, rife with skulls, full of melodrama deliberately reminiscent of the telenovela; etc. I believe, quite literally, that the filmmakers primarily learned about these other cultures through their films, and considered that enough.

And finally, the pop-cultural elements of the show are all American. There’s no evidence of local or national culture influencing how the non-American characters view themselves or live their lives. The Kenyan sensate idolizes Jean-Claude Van Damme (who is, granted, not American, but known for his role in American action films). The German sensate claims Conan the Barbarian quotes as his personal philosophy. The Icelandic DJ in London puts on 4 Non Blondes’ hideous anthem “What’s Goin’ On?” and infects the entire cluster with a dancing/singing jag. Where there’s no American cultural lead — in Korea and Mexico, and even in the Ganesh-worshipping Indian sensate’s life — the characters’ life philosophies are a blank.

The Wachowskis take advantage of the apparent international ascendancy of American pop culture to unify disparate cultures, when the way American pop works on non-western cultures is often counterintuitive to Western minds. Sense8 also displays a profound lack of recognition of local pop cultures even when they would definitely have influenced such characters. In the show, American pop is specific, non American pop is generalized and clichéd, as in the Bollywood dance, or entirely absent.

The universality being promoted here is a universality of American ideas, American popular culture, American world views. It’s like Stephen Colbert’s idea of freedom of religion:

“I believe that everyone has the right to their own religion, be you Hindu, Jew, or Muslim. I believe there are infinite paths to accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior.”

If the entire show were an even spread of such thin notions, I could dismiss the show, or even enjoy it as as a guilty or problematic pleasure. But Sense8 has two great counter virtues.

The first is in the depiction of the San Francisco sensate, which is the best representation both of the city and of that particular community that I’ve ever seen on TV. Nomi, a trans woman, is first seen wandering through a very locally-informed San Francisco cityscape during Pride weekend. At every level, the limning of Nomi’s character and the study of San Francisco are intimate, layered, nuanced, and above all, specific. Nomi doesn’t fall off a bike somewhere in San Francisco, she falls off a motorcycle in the Castro during the Dykes on Bikes parade, which she rides in every year with her girlfriend, a gesture of extreme importance to her identity. She doesn’t meet-cute her girlfriend in a random park; she remembers a key moment early in their relationship where her girlfriend stands up for her against a hostile TERF during a picnic in Dolores Park.

It’s the specificity that rings true to this San Franciscan, and that signals to all viewers that this world is real, and the character is alive within it.

It’s a vision of how the entire show could have been, if the Wachowskis could have figured out in time how to bring this level of intimacy and specificity to their depiction of all the characters, and all the cities. Because Tom Tykwer, himself a Berliner, directs the Berlin sequences, you see a little bit of this familiarity in the locations chosen for that city and in the character of Wolfgang — his East German origins, his family’s Slavic name and orthodox religion, etc.

But none of the other sensates, including the idealistic Chicago cop, bear anything close to the level of intimate knowledge or specific detail that Nomi or Wolfgang have. In fact, pay attention and you’ll see how generalizing the locations and incidents are. For example: in Nairobi, the sensate’s bus is robbed in what the characters themselves call “a bad area,” i.e. they don’t refer to the district by its name.



But even this failure in the rest of Sense8’s world is countered somewhat by its second great virtue, which is that it commits totally to its clichés and rides them out to their conclusions. Thank the slow pacing for this. The entire 12-episode first season covers a story arc that would generally be covered in the first two episodes of any other show (the sensates are introduced, discover each other, start to learn the rules of their condition, meet their antagonist, and finally successfully pull off their first combined action). The very deliberation with which the story unfolds forces the writers to unpack details of each character’s life and situations that bring a kind of life and reality to the clichés they’re embedded in. Details are forced into the narrative — one by one in each character’s arc — and each character eventually becomes rooted in these details, even though they often come late in the season.



In a discussion before I wrote this piece, I disagreed with a friend about the handling of language in the show. I really appreciated the choice of having all characters speak English without forcing them all to speak English in cheap versions of their “native” accents. And, given that this was an American TV show, I didn’t expect the makers to force American audiences to read subtitles. My friend, however, pointed out that it would have been… well, less hegemonic for everyone to be actually speaking their own languages.

Upon reflection, I have to agree that having the dialogue in non-English speaking countries translated would have offered the translators an opportunity for input about the content of the dialogue. And if the Wachowskis had hired writers from each culture to translate not merely the text but also the entire culture and idiom — up to and including changing plot points and points of view to better fit with the local culture of that character — this could have solved their whole problem.

Whether or not you believe in the universality of human experience — whether or not you believe in a single global imagination — the only way to attempt to depict a true global imagination would be to create — in the writers room and on the directors’ chairs — a facsimile of a sensate cluster. Just imagine it: eight equal auteurs, each in their own physical location and cultural context, striving together — and frequently pulling apart — to achieve a single, complex story on film. Even the failure of such an enterprise would have been far more ambitious, far more glorious, far more Ehrgeizversagensschoen, than the Sense8 we actually got.

And if it had succeeded?

There are four more seasons to go on this show — if the Wachowskis get their way. Let’s hope that in the future their globalism is more than just an aesthetic decision.

Bottom line: yes, watch it. Binge it. Its failure is far more interesting than the success of almost anything else happening at this moment. And it’s truly one of the most diverse shows on TV right now."
sense8  tv  television  wachowskis  universality  language  culture  global  2015  clairelight  stereotypes  universing  translation  humans  human  humanexperience 
june 2015 by robertogreco
We need to ditch generational labels – Rebecca Onion – Aeon
"Generational thinking is seductive and confirms preconceived prejudices, but it’s a bogus way to understand the world"



"But in real life, I find generational arguments infuriating. Overly schematised and ridiculously reductive, generation theory is a simplistic way of thinking about the relationship between individuals, society, and history. It encourages us to focus on vague ‘generational personalities’, rather than looking at the confusing diversity of social life. Since I’m a ‘Gen-X’er born in 1977, the conventional wisdom is that I’m supposed to be adaptable, independent, productive, and to have a good work/life balance. Reading these characteristics feels like browsing a horoscope. I see myself in some of these traits, and can even feel a vague thrill of belonging when I read them. But my ‘boomer’ mother is intensely productive; my ‘Greatest Generation’ grandmother still sells old books online at age 90, in what I consider to be the ultimate show of adaptability and independence.

enerational thinking doesn’t frustrate everyone. Indeed, there is a healthy market for pundits who can devise grand theories of generational difference. Neil Howe and William Strauss, authors of Generations: The History of America’s Future, 1584-2069 (1991) and founders of the consulting firm LifeCourse Associates in Virginia, have made a fine living out of generational assessments, but their work reads like a deeply mystical form of historical explanation. (Strauss died in 2007; Howe continues to run the consultancy LifeCourse.) The two have conceived an elaborate and totalising theory of the cycle of generations, which they argue come in four sequential and endlessly repeating archetypes.

In the Strauss-Howe schema, these distinct groups of archetypes follow each other throughout history thus: ‘prophets’ are born near the end of a ‘crisis’; ‘nomads’ are born during an ‘awakening’; ‘heroes’ are born after an ‘awakening’, during an ‘unravelling’; and ‘artists’ are born after an ‘unravelling’, during a ‘crisis’. Strauss and Howe select prominent individuals from each generation, pointing to characteristics that define them as archetypal – heroes are John F Kennedy and Ronald Reagan; artists: Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson; prophets: John Winthrop, Abraham Lincoln; nomads: John Adams, Ulysses Grant. Each generation has a common set of personal characteristics and typical life experiences.

Plenty of kids at less-privileged schools weren’t intensely worried about grades or planning, like the stereotypical millennial

The archetypal scheme is also a theory of how historical change happens. The LifeCourse idea is that the predominance of each archetype in a given generation triggers the advent of the next (as the consultancy’s website puts it: ‘each youth generation tries to correct or compensate for what it perceives as the excesses of the midlife generation in power’). Besides having a very reductive vision of the universality of human nature, Strauss and Howe are futurists; they predict that a major crisis will occur once every 80 years, restarting the generational cycle. While the pair’s ideas seem far-fetched, they have currency in the marketplace: LifeCourse Associates has consulted for brands such as Nike, Cartoon Network, Viacom and the Ford Motor Company; for universities including Arizona State, Dartmouth, Georgetown and the University of Texas, and for the US Army, too.

The commercial success of this pseudoscientific mumbo-jumbo is irritating, but also troubling. The dominant US thinkers on the generational question tend to flatten social distinctions, relying on cherry-picked examples and reifying a vision of a ‘society’ that’s made up mostly of the white and middle-class. In an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education in 2009 on the pundits and consultants who market information about ‘millennials’ to universities, Eric Hoover described Howe and Strauss’s influential book about that generation, Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation (2000), as a work ‘based on a hodgepodge of anecdotes, statistics, and pop-culture references’ with the only new empirical evidence being a body of around 600 interviews of high-school seniors, all living in wealthy Fairfax County, Virginia.

Hoover interviewed several people in higher education who voiced their doubts about the utility of Howe and Strauss’s approach. Their replies, informed by their experience teaching college students from across the socioeconomic spectrum, show how useless the schematic understanding of ‘millennials’ looks when you’re working with actual people. Palmer H Muntz, then the director of admissions of Lincoln Christian University in Illinois, noticed that plenty of kids he encountered on visits to less-privileged schools weren’t intensely worried about grades or planning, like the stereotypical millennial. Fred A Bonner II, now at Prairie View A & M University in Texas, pointed out that many of the supposed ‘personality traits’ of coddled and pressured millennials were unrecognisable to his black or Hispanic students, or those who grew up with less money. Siva Vaidhyanathan, a cultural historian and media scholar at the University of Virginia, told Hoover: ‘Generational thinking is just a benign form of bigotry.’"



"Ryder had harsh words for the theorists he called ‘generationists’. He argued that thinkers about generation on a large scale had made illogical leaps when theorising the relationship between generations and social change. ‘The fact that social change produces intercohort differentiation and thus contributes to inter-generational conflict,’ he argued, ‘cannot justify a theory that social change is produced by that conflict.’ There was no way to prove causality. The end result, he wrote, was that grand generational theories tended toward ‘arithmetical mysticism.’"



"As the French historian Pierre Nora wrote in 1996, the careful analyst trying to talk about generations will always struggle: ‘The generational concept would make a wonderfully precise instrument if only its precision didn’t make it impossible to apply to the unclassifiable disorder of reality.’ The problem with transferring historical and sociological ways of thinking about generational change into the public sphere is that ‘unclassifiability’ is both terrifying and boring. Big, sweeping explanations of social change sell. Little, careful studies of same-age cohorts, hemmed in on all sides by rich specificity, do not.

Perhaps the pseudoscientific use of supposed ‘generations’ would irk less if it weren’t so often used to demean the young. Millennials, consultants advise prospective employers, feel entitled to good treatment even in entry-level jobs, because they’ve been overpraised their whole lives. Millennials won’t buckle down and buy cars or houses, economists complain; millennials are lurking in their parents’ basements, The New Yorker cartoon stereotype runs, tweeting and texting and posting selfies and avoiding responsibility."



"Popular millennial backlash against the stereotyping of their generation makes use of the same arguments against generational thinking that sociologists and historians have spent years developing. By drawing attention to the effects of the economic situation on their lives, pointing out that human experience isn’t universal and predictable, and calling upon adults to abandon broad assessments in favour of specific understanding, millennials prove the point: generational thinking is seductive, and for some of us it confirms our preconceived prejudices, but it’s fatally flawed as a mode of understanding the world. Real life is not science fiction."
rebeccaonion  generationalthinking  generations  age  ageism  complexity  humans  society  adaptability  independence  history  individuals  neilhowe  williamstrauss  stereotypes  lifecourse  palmermuntz  sivavaidhyanathan  agesegregation  millenials  genx  generationx  generationy  erichoover  karlmannheimaugusteconte  gottfriedleibniz  normanryder  sociology  causality  robertwohl  pierrenora  bigotry  generationalwarfare  malcolmharris  digitalnatives  hypocrisy  via:ayjay 
may 2015 by robertogreco
The Plot of YA Novels If They Actually Reflected Real Teenagers' Lives - Mic
"Fiction is powerful. In fact, studies show that reading literature fosters valuable qualities like empathy and social skills. Young adult fiction especially has the power to instill these values and shape the world views of future generations — and yet, it often fails to represent the realistic experiences of diverse teens and may even perpetuate negative standards.

While many are fighting against this lack of representation, teen author John Hansen — who identifies as a feminist, queer and an ally — is addressing the representation of teenage life in a clever new Twitter hashtag, #VeryRealisticYA.

The conversation began with Hansen's observation that, despite being geared towards young adults, this genre generally doesn't reflect the reality of being a teenager. Hansen's observations quickly evolved into #VeryRealisticYA — a widespread exploration of the many sexist, heterosexist and overall problematic social norms young adult fiction often perpetuates."



""It began largely as a loving joke about how different YA books would be were they extremely realistic, in that instead of saving the world the main character would probably just be scrolling through Twitter all day," Hansen told Mic in an email on Monday. But as the hashtag evolved, it began to highlight actual social issues coded into many YA plots, like:

The way in which YA often romanticizes unhealthy, inequitable relationships...



...and upholds heterosexist relationship norms and homophobia.



Not to mention puritanical ideas about sex and teen sexuality...



...and, of course, stereotypical gender roles, into which female characters are still routinely confined.



In the spirit of the creative, quirky joy that is often at the heart of the best young adult novels, contributors also used the hashtag to generate plenty of plot lines that would better resonate with all young adults, no matter their background.



"Books transmit values," acclaimed author of children's and young adult fiction Walter Dean Myers wrote in a 2014 New York Times op-ed. "They explore our common humanity. What is the message when some children are not represented in those books?" Myers' observation is backed by fact: Studies show that representation in the media has an impact, both on making marginalized groups feel fully realized and on dominant groups recognizing their value.

Thankfully, there certainly are young adult fiction authors who recognize this, as evidenced by various markers of recognition (like diverse book lists), public declarations of support for diversity and even their participation in hashtags such as #VeryRealisticYA. "Many YA books deal in an honest way with the complexities of the world, whether it's through a contemporary or fantasy setting," Hansen told Mic, citing books such as Pointe by Brandy Colbert and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz as prime examples of texts in the genre incorporating more diverse characters and journeys.

It's inspiring to see that even when mainstream mediums fail us, there are plenty of individuals, within the YA community and beyond, who are willing to raise their voices and create the change they wish to see —in an abundantly creative, thoroughly delightful way, no less. Let's hope that some of these Very Realistic plot lines are expanded beyond 140 characters and will grace our bookshelves in years to come. "
fiction  ya  yafiction  humor  2015  realism  johnhansen  values  reality  culture  gender  stereotypes  sexuality  youth  teens  youngadults  relationships 
april 2015 by robertogreco
I, Too, Am B-CC (High school) - YouTube
"While Bethesda Chevy Chase High School is a very open minded community, we often ignore the struggles African Americans and Hispanics are faced with as the minority. This social campaign, inspired by I, too, am Harvard, attempts to give voice to those who suffer from ill perceptions. The purpose of this campaign is to expose the harm of racial stereotypes in high school as well as bring awareness to the achievement gap."
race  highschool  2015  community  inclusion  stereotypes  racism  inlcusivity  inclusivity 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Why I am not Charlie | a paper bird
"There is no “but” about what happened at Charlie Hebdo yesterday. Some people published some cartoons, and some other people killed them for it. Words and pictures can be beautiful or vile, pleasing or enraging, inspiring or offensive; but they exist on a different plane from physical violence, whether you want to call that plane spirit or imagination or culture, and to meet them with violence is an offense against the spirit and imagination and culture that distinguish humans. Nothing mitigates this monstrosity. There will be time to analyze why the killers did it, time to parse their backgrounds, their ideologies, their beliefs, time for sociologists and psychologists to add to understanding. There will be explanations, and the explanations will be important, but explanations aren’t the same as excuses. Words don’t kill, they must not be met by killing, and they will not make the killers’ culpability go away.

To abhor what was done to the victims, though, is not the same as to become them. This is true on the simplest level: I cannot occupy someone else’s selfhood, share someone else’s death. This is also true on a moral level: I cannot appropriate the dangers they faced or the suffering they underwent, I cannot colonize their experience, and it is arrogant to make out that I can. It wouldn’t be necessary to say this, except the flood of hashtags and avatars and social-media posturing proclaiming #JeSuisCharlie overwhelms distinctions and elides the point. “We must all try to be Charlie, not just today but every day,” the New Yorker pontificates. What the hell does that mean? In real life, solidarity takes many forms, almost all of them hard. This kind of low-cost, risk-free, E-Z solidarity is only possible in a social-media age, where you can strike a pose and somebody sees it on their timeline for 15 seconds and then they move on and it’s forgotten except for the feeling of accomplishment it gave you. Solidarity is hard because it isn’t about imaginary identifications, it’s about struggling across the canyon of not being someone else: it’s about recognizing, for instance, that somebody died because they were different from you, in what they did or believed or were or wore, not because they were the same. If people who are feeling concrete loss or abstract shock or indignation take comfort in proclaiming a oneness that seems to fill the void, then it serves an emotional end. But these Cartesian credos on Facebook and Twitter — I am Charlie, therefore I am — shouldn’t be mistaken for political acts.

Erasing differences that actually exist seems to be the purpose here: and it’s perhaps appropriate to the Charlie cartoons, which drew their force from a considered contempt for people with the temerity to be different. For the last 36 hours, everybody’s been quoting Voltaire. The same line is all over my several timelines: [image]

“Those 21 words circling the globe speak louder than gunfire and represent every pen being wielded by an outstretched arm,” an Australian news site says. (Never mind that Voltaire never wrote them; one of his biographers did.) But most people who mouth them don’t mean them. Instead, they’re subtly altering the Voltairean clarion cry: the message today is, I have to agree with what you say, in order to defend it. Why else the insistence that condemning the killings isn’t enough? No: we all have to endorse the cartoons, and not just that, but republish them ourselves. Thus Index on Censorship, a journal that used to oppose censorship but now is in the business of telling people what they can and cannot say, called for all newspapers to reprint the drawings: “We believe that only through solidarity – in showing that we truly defend all those who exercise their right to speak freely – can we defeat those who would use violence to silence free speech.” But is repeating you the same as defending you? And is it really “solidarity” when, instead of engaging across our differences, I just mindlessly parrot what you say?

But no, if you don’t copy the cartoons, you’re colluding with the killers, you’re a coward. Thus the right-wing Daily Caller posted a list of craven media minions of jihad who oppose free speech by not doing as they’re ordered. Punish these censors, till they say what we tell them to!

[image]

If you don’t agree with what Charlie Hebdo said, the terrorists win.

[image]

You’re not just kowtowing to terrorists with your silence. According to Tarek Fatah, a Canadian columnist with an evident fascist streak, silence is terrorism.

[image]

Of course, any Muslim in the West would know that being called “our enemy” is a direct threat; you’ve drawn the go-to-GItmo card. But consider: This idiot thinks he is defending free speech. How? By telling people exactly what they have to say, and menacing the holdouts with treason. The Ministry of Truth has a new office in Toronto.

There’s a perfectly good reason not to republish the cartoons that has nothing to do with cowardice or caution. I refuse to post them because I think they’re racist and offensive. I can support your right to publish something, and still condemn what you publish. I can defend what you say, and still say it’s wrong — isn’t that the point of the quote (that wasn’t) from Voltaire? I can hold that governments shouldn’t imprison Holocaust deniers, but that doesn’t oblige me to deny the Holocaust myself.

It’s true, as Salman Rushdie says, that “Nobody has the right to not be offended.” You should not get to invoke the law to censor or shut down speech just because it insults you or strikes at your pet convictions. You certainly don’t get to kill because you heard something you don’t like. Yet, manhandled by these moments of mass outrage, this truism also morphs into a different kind of claim: That nobody has the right to be offended at all.

I am offended when those already oppressed in a society are deliberately insulted. I don’t want to participate. This crime in Paris does not suspend my political or ethical judgment, or persuade me that scatologically smearing a marginal minority’s identity and beliefs is a reasonable thing to do. Yet this means rejecting the only authorized reaction to the atrocity. Oddly, this peer pressure seems to gear up exclusively where Islam’s involved. When a racist bombed a chapter of a US civil rights organization this week, the media didn’t insist I give to the NAACP in solidarity. When a rabid Islamophobic rightist killed 77 Norwegians in 2011, most of them at a political party’s youth camp, I didn’t notice many #IAmNorway hashtags, or impassioned calls to join the Norwegian Labor Party. But Islam is there for us, it unites us against Islam. Only cowards or traitors turn down membership in the Charlie club.The demand to join, endorse, agree is all about crowding us into a herd where no one is permitted to cavil or condemn: an indifferent mob, where differing from one another is Thoughtcrime, while indifference to the pain of others beyond the pale is compulsory.

We’ve heard a lot about satire in the last couple of days. We’ve heard that satire shouldn’t cause offense because it’s a weapon of the weak: “Satire-writers always point out the foibles and fables of those higher up the food chain.” And we’ve heard that if the satire aims at everybody, those forays into racism, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism can be excused away. Charlie Hebdo “has been a continual celebration of the freedom to make fun of everyone and everything….it practiced a freewheeling, dyspeptic satire without clear ideological lines.” Of course, satire that attacks any and all targets is by definition not just targeting the top of the food chain. “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges,” Anatole France wrote; satire that wounds both the powerful and the weak does so with different effect. Saying the President of the Republic is a randy satyr is not the same as accusing nameless Muslim immigrants of bestiality. What merely annoys the one may deepen the other’s systematic oppression. To defend satire because it’s indiscriminate is to admit that it discriminates against the defenseless."



"This insistence on contagious responsibility, collective guilt, is the flip side of #JeSuisCharlie. It’s #VousÊtesISIS; #VousÊtesAlQaeda. Our solidarity, our ability to melt into a warm mindless oneness and feel we’re doing something, is contingent on your involuntary solidarity, your losing who you claim to be in a menacing mass. We can’t stand together here unless we imagine you together over there in enmity. The antagonists are fake but they’re entangled, inevitable. The language hardens. Geert Wilders, the racist right-wing leader in the Netherlands, said the shootings mean it’s time to “de-Islamize our country.” Nigel Farage, his counterpart in the UK, called Muslims a “fifth column, holding our passports, that hate us.” Juan Cole writes that the Charlie Hebdo attack was “a strategic strike, aiming at polarizing the French and European public” — at “sharpening the contradictions.” The knives are sharpening too, on both sides.

We lose our ability to imagine political solutions when we stop thinking critically, when we let emotional identifications sweep us into factitious substitutes for solidarity and action. We lose our ability to respond to atrocity when we start seeing people not as individuals, but as symbols. Changing avatars on social media is a pathetic distraction from changing realities in society. To combat violence you must look unflinchingly at the concrete inequities and practices that breed it. You won’t stop it with acts of self-styled courage on your computer screen that neither risk nor alter anything. To protect expression that’s endangered you have to engage with the substance of what was said, not deny it. That means attempting dialogue with those who peacefully … [more]
censorship  france  islam  terrorism  charliehebdo  islamophobia  2015  scottlong  solidarity  freespeech  freedomofspeech  religion  violence  oppression  oneness  stereotypes  silence  satire  #JeSuisCharlieHebdo  #JeSuisCharlie 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Group Projects and the Secretary Effect - The Atlantic
"In one study from the late 90s, researchers interviewed students in London about the attitudes of both students and teachers in their classrooms and found that both genders felt girls put more effort into their work. "I think girls spend too long over their handwriting and presentation and things and the boys just scribble it down but have got all the answers right and just sit around mucking around for the second half of the lesson," one student said. A male head teacher at that same school noted the same thing, saying, "If the boys can do the minimum they will, whereas girls will devote much time to writing it up."

Deborah Tannen, a linguist at Georgetown University and the author of You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation, has found similar social dynamics between boys and girls. "When girls get together in groups, nobody likes to stand out, girls don’t like the girl who stands out," she said. "Boys in contrast are actually trying to stand out; they’re trying to get center stage to attract attention." She pointed me to another study from the 90s on groups within a science classroom. When there were three girls and one boy, the girls would make the boy the center of attention. If the ratio was flipped—three boys and a girl—the boys would either make fun of, or ignore, their female teammate.

This isn’t necessarily because boys are greedy attention seekers, or because they consciously want to keep women down. Often, Tannen said, it’s because they’re not sure what else to do. In her own class, she recalls a 1985 incident in which she had students work in small groups and then asked one member to come up in front of the class and present their work. Most of the presenters were boys. When she asked the students to reflect on their roles in their groups, Tannen was surprised to hear that in some cases it wasn’t that the boys necessarily wanted to present; rather, nobody else in the group stepped up, and they felt obligated to do so.

Tannen says that this kind of expectation—that women will fill in behind-the-scenes, secretary-like roles while men step into the limelight—is reflected in how women are typically treated later on in their careers. She recalls one evening in the late 80s when a male student continually came into her office asking to borrow things: whiteout, pen, paper, and so on. It eventually became clear that the student assumed Tannen was a secretary, not a professor at Georgetown. Tannen might have otherwise written this off as a one-time fluke, but when she told the story at a conference of college presidents, the women in the room nodded and shared stories of similar experiences.

And women in all sorts of fields are likely to nod at Tannen’s story. Technology is a prime example, an industry in which men continue to dominate and women continue to fight to break in. Sergey Brin and Elon Musk get to be innovative and off the wall, while Marissa Mayer is described in the Wall Street Journal as overly detail-oriented, according to "people who have worked under her."* These people say "she has an obsessive attention to detail, often micromanaging details down to the shade of colors in new product designs," the Journal reported. Women who don’t step back and let their peers take the spotlight are often docked in performance reviews. Men, on the other hand, are typically praised for taking initiative.

These are generalizations. There are girls who can’t keep track of their own shoes, and there are boys with great handwriting. There are girls who readily take on leadership roles in groups and boys who enjoy keeping track of the details. Again, this isn’t to say that secretaries aren’t important; without them most companies would fall apart entirely. And, of course, there’s a lot more keeping women from becoming CEOs than their middle school science projects. But it’s worth thinking about how teachers prime their students to accept certain roles later in life.

Stetson University's Piechrua-Couture says that teachers shouldn’t let kids divide the labor up themselves: "We really encourage you not to just give kids groupings, what you really want to do is give roles in the group and you make sure you rotate those roles." Tannen agrees, citing a study from the early 90s that compared two teachers who differed in their approach. One let the groups proceed as they pleased, while the other defined roles for each student. "The girls did better if it was described, because if the students were left to their own devices the girls would be ignored," she said.

Dale Baker, an education professor at the Arizona State University, wrote in an article for the National Association for Research in Science Teaching that it’s important for teachers to do more than just lump students into groups and let them divide up the labor on their own. "Group dynamics often reinforce stereotypes," she wrote. "Girls are often found in stereotypical roles, such as secretary, and they take a passive rather than active role in hands-on science activities."

In other words, avoiding the Secretary Effect is easy, really. But it first requires realizing that it exists."
education  gender  groupwork  groupprojects  collaboration  girls  boys  teams  2015  roseeveleth  deborahtannen  dalebaker  secretaryeffecy  kathyjopiechura-couture  conversation  creativity  obedience  organzation  howweteach  howwelearn  culture  society  stereotypes 
january 2015 by robertogreco
The NGO-ization of resistance | Massalijn
"A hazard facing mass movements is the NGO-ization of resistance. It will be easy to twist what I’m about to say into an indictment of all NGOs. That would be a falsehood. In the murky waters of fake NGOs set up or to siphon off grant money or as tax dodges (in states like Bihar, they are given as dowry), of course, there are NGOs doing valuable work. But it’s important to consider the NGO phenomenon in a broader political context.

In India, for instance, the funded NGO boom began in the late 1980s and 1990s. It coincided with the opening of India’s markets to neoliberalism. At the time, the Indian state, in keeping with the requirements of structural adjustment, was withdrawing funding from rural development, agriculture, energy, transport and public health. As the state abdicated its traditional role, NGOs moved in to work in these very areas. The difference, of course, is that the funds available to them are a minuscule fraction of the actual cut in public spending.

Most large-funded NGOs are financed and patronized by aid and development agencies, which are, in turn, funded by Western governments, the World Bank, the UN and some multinational corporations. Though they may not be the very same agencies, they are certainly part of the same loose, political formation that oversees the neoliberal project and demands the slash in government spending in the first place.

Why should these agencies fund NGOs? Could it be just old-fashioned missionary zeal? Guilt? It’s a little more than that. NGOs give the impression that they are filling the vacuum created by a retreating state. And they are, but in a materially inconsequential way. Their real contribution is that they defuse political anger and dole out as aid or benevolence what people ought to have by right. They alter the public psyche. They turn people into dependent victims and blunt the edges of political resistance. NGOs form a sort of buffer between the sarkar and public. Between Empire and its subjects. They have become the arbitrators, the interpreters, the facilitators.

In the long run, NGOs are accountable to their funders, not to the people they work among. They’re what botanists would call an indicator species. It’s almost as though the greater the devastation caused by neoliberalism, the greater the outbreak of NGOs. Nothing illustrates this more poignantly than the phenomenon of the U.S. preparing to invade a country and simultaneously readying NGOs to go in and clean up the devastation. In order make sure their funding is not jeopardized and that the governments of the countries they work in will allow them to function, NGOs have to present their work in a shallow framework, more or less shorn of a political or historical context. At any rate, an inconvenient historical or political context.

Apolitical (and therefore, actually, extremely political) distress reports from poor countries and war zones eventually make the (dark) people of those (dark) countries seem like pathological victims. Another malnourished Indian, another starving Ethiopian, another Afghan refugee camp, another maimed Sudanese…in need of the white man’s help. They unwittingly reinforce racist stereotypes and reaffirm the achievements, the comforts and the compassion (the tough love) of Western civilization. They’re the secular missionaries of the modern world.

Eventually–on a smaller scale, but more insidiously–the capital available to NGOs plays the same role in alternative politics as the speculative capital that flows in and out of the economies of poor countries. It begins to dictate the agenda. It turns confrontation into negotiation. It depoliticizes resistance. It interferes with local peoples’ movements that have traditionally been self-reliant. NGOs have funds that can employ local people who might otherwise be activists in resistance movements, but now can feel they are doing some immediate, creative good (and earning a living while they’re at it).

Real political resistance offers no such short cuts. The NGO-ization of politics threatens to turn resistance into a well-mannered, reasonable, salaried, 9-to-5 job. With a few perks thrown in. Real resistance has real consequences. And no salary."
arundhatiroy  via:dymaxion  2014  charitableindustrialcomplex  governance  ngos  resistance  politics  policy  consequences  speculation  capital  economics  power  control  confrontation  negotiation  salvationpolitics  racism  stereotypes  missionaries  funding  neoliberalism  depoliticization  appeasement  charity  philanthropy  markets  bloodmoney  development  colonization  colonialism  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  capitalism 
september 2014 by robertogreco
FRONTLINE/WORLD . Rough Cut . Ecuador: Dreamtown | PBS
"Over half the squad that took Ecuador to the World Cup in 2002 and 2006 originate from the valley, where people are 90 percent Afro-Ecuadorian. This ethnic minority, originally brought to Ecuador as slaves, now make up about five percent of the overall population.

But in the areas they live, there is little evidence of government investment. I visited towns without electricity, schools, or other basic services and infrastructure.

Many Afro-Ecuadorian families, like that of Anibal Chala, one of the young players in the story, are forced to move to major cities, such as Quito or Guayaquil, to look for better opportunities.

Having lived in the United States for more than 20 years, when I return to Ecuador, it's discouraging to see the lack of acceptance toward Afro-Ecuadorians. Each time I visit, I hear the typical barrage of stereotypes: "They are lazy;" "they are thieves," "they are aggressive."

Yet, in recent years, those attitudes have begun to change, perhaps because of the success of Ecuadorian futbol and national pride in the country's players of African descent.

"Now it is futbol that is saving us," says Ulises De la Cruz, an international futbol star, who played in two World Cups for Ecuador. Ulises, like many other soccer heroes from El Chota Valley, has not forgotten his roots and uses his sports success to bring social progress to these communities.

He opened a nonprofit organization called FundeCruz to rebuild his hometown. His projects have brought a medical center, clean water, roads, schools and a gym to the valley.

It's De la Cruz's success that keeps other young hopefuls like 13-year-old Anibal and 23-year-old Carlos Maldonado determined to make it and lead their families out of poverty. But reality is another story -- only 10 players out of thousands make it professionally each year.

Ecuador did not make it to the 2010 World Cup, losing in a heartbreaking home defeat to Uruguay, but the young Afro-Ecuadorian players in El Chota Valley continue dreaming of soccer as a ticket out."
ecuador  2010  race  worldcup  visibility  sports  stereotypes  futbol  football  bettybastidas  soccer 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Race and racism in Honduran soccer and society - The Washington Post
"Presence on the soccer team, however, does not equal acceptance. For most of the 20th century, the Honduran state has ignored its African-descended population — or worse. In 1937, the government of Tiburcio Carias massacred 22  Garifuna leaders in the village of San Juan. Garifuna language was banned in school curriculums until the 2000s. Social indicators among black Hondurans tend to rank near the bottom; access to education and jobs lags behind much of the rest of the country. And in soccer, racism persists as well. In 2006, a politician claimed that blacks brought the level of play on the team down because they were not as “intelligent” as other Hondurans. In response to Chávez’s 2011 anti-racism campaign, a former Honduran national team psychologist argued that “blacks, by nature, have low self-esteem and therefore look for ways to call attention to themselves.”

In other words, while Afro-Hondurans make up a large portion of the national team — and always have — their presence has not yet led to greater tolerance. Nor has it occasioned a change in Honduras’ dominant narrative about race. What does this mean? The persistence of racist attitudes in Honduras implies that soccer, which many claim capable of changing attitudes about race and creating a more just world, may not be the panacea that many would like it to be."
honduras  race  2014  soccer  football  sports  visibility  stereotypes  worldcup  futbol 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: 'Don't we all write about love? When men do it, it's a political comment. When women do it, it's just a love story' | Books | The Guardian
"Compared to the strict educational environment in which Adichie grew up, the US education system seemed extremely slack. In Americanah, Ifemelu marvels at how students open their mouths without having anything much to say; how everyone gets an "A" and can take tests more than once. How they are "all flush with knowledge, not of the subject of the classes, but of how to be in the classes".

By comparison, Adichie says, she felt she had no appropriate schtick. "I remember my first year in undergrad I was sitting in class and just looking around, utterly confused. I thought, what are they saying? It was kind of a performance. And I felt so inadequate because I didn't know how. And I think at some point I learned to play the game, but it's just not me. It's very hard for me to bullshit.""



"There were two people above all others who she wanted to read it: her father and Chinua Achebe. Her agent sent it to the latter without telling her, and then called her one day and told her to sit down, she had good news. Then she read Adichie his comment – "We do not usually associate wisdom with beginners, but here is a new writer endowed with the gift of ancient storytellers" – at which she burst into tears.

As for her father; she left the novel with him the day before she left Nigeria, so she wasn't in the house when he read it. A few days later, he sent her a text: "Call me, I've finished." Terrified, Adichie made the call.

"And then he said to me, 'I knew the novel would be good; I didn't know it would be this good.' And then he said thank you, 'Our story has been recorded.' I remember thinking, OK, it's over. I don't care what anybody else thinks. My father was central and he was so generous; I had used so many of his stories. It's still very painful for him. And then writing it in a novel where people also have sex and scandalous things happen." She laughs. "I was like, oh my God, I don't know what daddy's going to think!""



"There is nothing like emigrating to encourage a sense of condescension towards the motherland, and absence, she says, has made her both love and criticise Nigeria more. "If I hadn't left home I wouldn't have come to see what is possible. If you're enmeshed in mediocrity, you just don't know how mediocre it all is. And because I know the potential in Nigeria, whenever I go back I think we could do better. Because I've seen how it's not that hard."

Since leaving, she has began to see what she calls the Nigerian swagger – the attitude that causes resentment in other African countries. "We're not popular in any part of Africa. And we're rather proud of it. If I wasn't Nigerian, I think I would understand why. There's a kind of Nigerian aggressiveness … 'Why shouldn't we?' We'll do it very loudly and without much finesse, but hey. Inside Nigeria there are different cultures, but this is Nigerianness – it cuts across ethnic groups. I don't know if it's from our large size, I don't know if it's because we never had white people settle and stay. So Nigerians go to Kenya and Tanzania and we think, why are you so apologetic?"

Adichie is quite up for a fight if one comes along. A moderator on a panel recently infelicitously called Americanah "a Nigerian Gone With the Wind", and she just about managed not to fly out of her seat, but said coldly: "I hope it's better than that." The love-story element is something she feels is often undervalued.

"Don't we all in the end write about love? All literature is about love. When men do it, it's a political comment on human relations. When women do it, it's just a love story. So, although I wanted to do much more than a love story, a part of me wants to push back against the idea that love stories are not important. I wanted to use a love story to talk about other things. But really in the end, it's just a love story.""
chimamandaadichie  chimamandangoziadichie  sexism  gender  love  2014  feminism  stereotypes  hairstyles  hair  education  nigeria  writing  wisdom  canon 
march 2014 by robertogreco
No, there aren’t “two cultures” | Oscillator, Scientific American Blog Network
"To say that science is objectively focused on external reality and not, to quote the best subtitle of all time “produced by people with bodies, situated in time, space, culture, and society, and struggling for credibility and authority,” is to ignore the external reality of how science and culture shape one another through the life and work of scientists. The problem with the “two cultures” concept then is neither that non-scientists don’t know enough about thermodynamics, nor that science can’t fully capture the ineffable power of art, but that separating science off from culture leads to bad science.

The belief that science and scientists are somehow above the influence of cultural forces has made it easier to pass off harmful stereotypes and cultural biases as scientific facts. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the “science” of human difference and the generations of scientists who studied the “natural” inferiority of women and basically any minority group ever. These “scientific” beliefs about human nature change over time not because of the progressive power of science to correct previous errors with new evidence, but because of the changes that happen in culture when disenfranchised people fight hard to be heard — in politics, in art, and in science.

The idea that “true science” is strictly rational, with a clear path leading from questions to answers, organized around the infallible scientific method, is especially damaging for young scientists. When experiments fail or produce inconsistent, confusing data, students get lost in what systems biologist Uri Alon calls “the cloud” — where imagination and intellectual curiosity are necessary to break free. This process only looks plainly rational through 20/20 hindsight, when, following the rubric of the two cultures, scientists painstakingly remove the evidence of their intuitions, leaving a picture of science that is impossible to reproduce.

This is why as a teacher and biologist, I work with artists and social scientists: not to better communicate science through creative packaging, but to understand how cultures, science, and technology intersect. Too often, scientists think of artistic, humanistic, and social scientific methods as ways to make the rational medicine of science go down easier. If science were truly concerned with open inquiry and experimentation, we might look harder for ways to disprove the two cultures hypothesis."

[References William Deresiewicz's book review: "No, Jane Austen Was Not a Game Theorist: Using science to explain art is a good way to butcher both" http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116170/jane-austen-game-theorist-michael-suk-young-chwe-joke ]
twocultures  thirdculture  christinaagapakis  science  humanities  2014  via:anne  culture  dualism  art  transdisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  interdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  williamderesiewicz  culturewars  michaelsuk-youngchwe  inquiry  experimentation  openinquiry  criticalthinking  scientism  stereotypes 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Dueling Stereotypes: Bad Asian Drivers, Good At Everything : Code Switch : NPR
"How can a group be stereotyped in such diametrically opposite ways? If folks are going to say racist things after a fatal tragedy, is it too much to ask that at least the stereotypes be consistent? Because, you know, we can't possibly be bad drivers and good at All The Things.

But I'd prefer neither.

What other examples of racist stereotype oxymorons stand out to you?"
codeswitch  stereotypes  race  oxymorons  asians  2013  ethnicity  katchow 
august 2013 by robertogreco
How To Fight Racial Bias When It's Silent And Subtle : Code Switch : NPR
"The results were as surprising for what they didn't find as for what they did. Teaching people about the injustice of discrimination or asking them to be empathetic toward others was ineffective. What worked, at least temporarily, Banaji said, was providing volunteers with "counterstereotypical" messages.

"People were shown images or words or phrases that in some way bucked the trend of what we end up seeing in our culture," she said. "So if black and bad have been repeatedly associated in our society, then in this intervention, the opposite association was made."

Banaji, who has been a pioneer in studying unconscious biases, said she has taken such results to heart and tried to find ways to expose herself to counterstereotypical messages, as a way to limit her own unconscious biases.

One image in particular, she said, has had an especially powerful effect: "My favorite example is a picture of a woman who is clearly a construction worker wearing a hard hat, but she is breast-feeding her baby at lunchtime, and that image pulls my expectations in so many different directions that it was my feeling that seeing something like that would also allow me in other contexts to perhaps have an open mind about new ideas that might come from people who are not traditionally the ones I hear from.""
biases  stereotypes  racism  sexism  2013  psychology  race  bias 
july 2013 by robertogreco
'You Know Nothing of My Work' - Ta-Nehisi Coates - The Atlantic
"I think this is argument for "diversity" at our education institutions. Humanism in theory isn't enough. You need to be confronted with actual humans to really feel it. It has become increasingly clear to me that I am not a member of any "black race." That there is no such thing. I am, very much, a black person. This describes my history, my culture, my dialect, my community, my family, my collective experience with America. But there is nothing in my bones that makes me more like other "black persons" than like anyone else."
ta-nehisicoates  diversity  race  2013  humanism  theory  praxis  practice  people  humans  stereotypes  generalizations  culture 
march 2013 by robertogreco
The Land of Big Groceries, Big God, and Smooth Traffic: What Surprises First-Time Visitors to America - Max Fisher - The Atlantic
"The U.S. can be such a jarringly strange place for many foreign visitors that travel guidebooks detail everything from the dangers of talking politics to tips on respecting Americans' famously guarded personal space. But what do those visitors find when they actually get here? This American Life spoke to a relatively narrow slice of foreign arrivals, but a thread on public question site Quora, jumping off from the radio segment, asks web users from around the globe to chime in with what surprised them about America. 

The stories are self-reported…some…anonymous, so it's difficult to tell whether some of their answers might be exaggerated or even false. But there are some consistent themes in what surprised them…which might say as much about the people who visit the U.S. and assumptions they bring with them as about America itself."

See also: http://www.quora.com/How-Americans-Are-Different/What-facts-about-the-United-States-do-foreigners-not-believe-until-they-come-to-America ]
image  media  stereotypes  perception  travel  differences  capitalism  society  groceries  food  foreigners  cultureshock  culture  us  thisamericanlife 
august 2012 by robertogreco
The Thinking Person's Guide to Autism: On the Matter of Empathy [To be applied also with teachers and students, claiming to know them better than they know themselves.]
"unfortunately, too many lay people look to credentials as opposed to experience when it comes to understanding non-normative conditions. Recently, in response to one autistic person’s upset at mainstream theories of impaired autistic empathy, an autism parent said that the experts should know all about it, since they’ve been studying the issue for years. & those of us who have lived it for even longer? If we were talking about the difference btwn a non-Jewish scholar of Judaism & a practicing Jew, most people would say that the practicing Jew would be the expert on Judaism. & yet, autistic people are rarely accorded this level of respect.

A refusal to listen to our experiences & to be sensitive to the real-life consequences of pervasive stereotypes shows a problematic relationship w/ empathy, to put it mildly. In the midst of this lack of true autism awareness, any assertion that autistic people lack empathy is nothing less than a textbook case of pot calling kettle black."
psychology  empathy  autism  aspergers  understanding  credentials  experts  experience  2011  behavior  cognitive  cognitiveempathy  emotionalempathy  expressedempathy  testing  measurement  nonverbal  nonverbalcommunication  stereotypes 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Are pink toys turning girls into passive princesses? | Kat Arney | Science | guardian.co.uk
"The colour-coding of toys – pink for girls and blue for boys – reinforces pernicious gender stereotypes, says Kat Arney"
katarney  color  stereotypes  gender  boys  girls  toys  play  pink  2011 
may 2011 by robertogreco
Chimamanda Adichie: The danger of a single story | Video on TED.com
"Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. Novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice -- and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding."
storytelling  culture  africa  culturalbias  bias  media  generalizations  writing  literature  ted  chimamandaadichie  truth  complexity  voice  experience  classideas  stereotypes  partialview  perception  nigeria  dignity  preconception  misunderstanding  chinuaachebe  books  chimamandangoziadichie 
december 2010 by robertogreco
15-minute writing exercise closes the gender gap in university-level physics | Not Exactly Rocket Science | Discover Magazine
"This simple writing exercise may not seem like anything ground-breaking, but its effects speak for themselves. In a university physics class, Akira Miyake from the University of Colorado used it to close the gap between male and female performance. In the university’s physics course, men typically do better than women but Miyake’s study shows that this has nothing to do with innate ability. With nothing but his fifteen-minute exercise, performed twice at the beginning of the year, he virtually abolished the gender divide and allowed the female physicists to challenge their male peers."
gender  gendergap  science  mathematics  psychology  physics  women  inequality  education  experiments  assessment  confidence  highereducation  prejudice  values  stereotypes 
november 2010 by robertogreco
Innovation Grows Among Older Workers - Newsweek
"It turns out that many of the most common stereotypes about aging are dead wrong. Take the cliché of the youthful entrepreneur. As it turns out, the average founder of a high-tech startup isn’t a whiz-kid graduate, but a mature 40-year-old engineer or business type with a spouse and kids who simply got tired of working for others, says Duke University scholar Vivek Wadhwa, who studied 549 successful technology ventures. What’s more, older entrepreneurs have higher success rates when they start companies. That’s because they have accumulated expertise in their technological fields, have deep knowledge of their customers’ needs, and have years of developing a network of supporters (often including financial backers). “Older entrepreneurs are just able to build companies that are more advanced in their technology and more sophisticated in the way they deal with customers,” Wadhwa says."
aging  business  economy  employment  research  innovation  creativity  age  entrepreneurship  cv  experience  stereotypes 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Joe Bageant: Live from Planet Norte [I agree with a lot of what Bageant write. In this case though, he leans too heavily on steryotype. What he says doesn't just describe Americans.]
"uniformity on Planet Norte is striking. Each person is unit, installed in life support boxes in suburbs/cities; all fed, clothed by same closed-loop corporate industrial system. Everywhere you look, inhabitants are plugged in at brainstem to screens downloading state approved daily consciousness updates. iPods, Blackberries, laptops, monitors in cubicles, & ubiquitous TV screens in lobbies, bars, waiting rooms, even in taxicabs, mentally knead public brain & condition its reactions to non-Americaness. Which may be defined as anything that does not come from of Washington, DC, Microsoft or Wal-Mart.

For such a big country, "American experience" is extremely narrow & provincial, leaving its people w/ approximately same comprehension of outside world as an oyster bed. Yet there is that relentless busyness of Nortenians...constant movement that indicates all parties are busy-busy-busy, but offers no clue as to just what...We can be sure however, that it has to do w/ consuming."
joebageant  collapse  consumerism  stereotypes  cultureshock  via:cburell  airports  homogeneity  provinciality  busyness  consumption  us  mexico 
july 2010 by robertogreco
The Seventeen Magazine Project
"The Seventeen Magazine Project is an attempt to spend one month living according to the gospel of Seventeen Magazine. This blog will serve as documentation of this endeavor, as well as commentary on the adolescent experience. For a complete list of project rules and goals, click here.
magazines  experiments  fashion  gender  sociology  society  participation  youth  culture  stereotypes  girls  geny  kids  documentary  media  seventeen  seventeenmagazine  consumerism  influence  teens  peers  economics  jamiekeiles  tcsnmy  classideas 
june 2010 by robertogreco
The Puzzle of Boys - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education
"common wisdom that teenage boys either can't express or don't possess strong feelings about friends...[but] boys in early teens can be downright sentimental when discussing their friendships...boys frequently said: "They [best friends] won't laugh at me when I talk about serious things." What has emerged from research is portrait of emotionally intelligent boys...might not sound revolutionary, but what boys told her & fellow researchers...runs counter to often one-dimensional portrayal of boys in popular culture. "They were resisting norms of masculinity,"...Note the past tense. At some point in high school, expressiveness vanishes, replaced with more defensive, closed-off posture, perhaps as boys give in to messages about what it means to be a man. Still, her research undermines the stereotype that boys are somehow incapable of discussing their feelings. "And yet this notion of this emotionally illiterate, sex-obsessed, sports-playing boy just keeps getting spit out again & again."
education  learning  children  boys  girls  parenting  psychology  generations  gender  men  roles  stereotypes  manhood  masculinity 
november 2009 by robertogreco
The Millennial Muddle: How Stereotyping Students Became an Industry - Student Affairs - The Chronicle of Higher Education
"Those who have shaped the nation's understanding of young people are not nearly as famous as their subjects, however. That's a shame, for these experts are colorful characters in their own right. Some are scholars, and some aren't. Many can recall watching the Beatles on a black-and-white television, and some grew up just before Barney the purple dinosaur arrived. Most can entertain an audience, though a few prefer to comb through statistics.
millennials  scamartists  generalizations  stereotypes  strauss&howe  netgen  generations  digitalnatives  truth  labels  tcsnmy  callingthemout 
october 2009 by robertogreco
The Smart Set: Town Crier - July 22, 2009
"Pop culture seems to have 2 general depictions of small towns...naive, sleepy, hamlet where nothing ever happens, populated w/ lovable eccentrics & warm-hearted folk...setup sees the return of the prodigal son or arrival of an outsider, almost always from the "big city," of which townies speak w/ disdain...protagonist will eventually fall in love w/ more wholesome type of woman & realize what he's needed all along is simpler kind of life...shows like Northern Exposure & Ed...other stereotype involves placid calm that masks swirling tempest of murder (Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt), violence, racism (Pudd'nhead Wilson), small mindedness & cowfucking (that would be Faulkner)...most accurate depiction of life in small town...Friday Night Lights...constantly in danger of being canceled...Americans love myth of small town, while reality is a little harder to come by. Small town culture is actually in decline, which maybe explains the renewed nostalgia. We are an increasingly urban species"
society  us  urbanism  sociology  smalltowns  simplicity  literature  myth  stereotypes  tv  television  fridaynightlights  northernexposure  change  nostalgia 
july 2009 by robertogreco
Features: 'A narrower Atlantic' by Peter Baldwin | Prospect Magazine May 2009 issue 158
"Despite America’s move to the left under Obama, it’s still assumed that Europe & America are fundamentally different—in their economies, societies & values. But this is a myth...If we compare 4 areas: economy, social policy, environment & religion & cultural attitudes, the evidence in each case allows 2 conclusions. First, Europe is not a coherent or unified continent. The spectrum of difference within even the 16 countries of western Europe is far broader than normally appreciated. Second, with a few exceptions, the US fits into this spectrum...If there is anything that most separates American society from Europe, it is the continuing presence of an ethnically distinct underclass...No one is arguing that America is Sweden. But nor is Britain, Italy, or even France. And since when does Sweden represent “Europe”—at least anymore than the ethnically homogenous, socially liberal state of Vermont does America? Europe is not the continent alone & certainly not just its northern regions."
us  europe  culture  society  statistics  demographics  crime  poverty  literacy  education  socialism  nationalism  comparison  politics  similarities  differences  income  policy  socialpolicy  spending  perception  oil  environment  recycling  consumption  books  reading  energy  religion  govenment  science  barackobama  georgewbush  stereotypes  taxes  economics  evolution  health  families  healthcare  agriculture  secularism  healthinsurance  values 
june 2009 by robertogreco
YouTube - YOUTUBE EXCLUSIVE: Send me your stereotypes
"Queen Rania is launching her presence on YouTube with this exclusive video. Watch the clip to hear her message to YouTubers everywhere, and then join in the conversation."
stereotypes  youtube  crowdsourcing  international  video  web2.0  racism  queenrania 
april 2008 by robertogreco

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