robertogreco + privilege   136

The myth of the male bumbler
"There's a reason for this plague of know-nothings: The bumbler's perpetual amazement exonerates him. Incompetence is less damaging than malice. And men — particularly powerful men — use that loophole like corporations use off-shore accounts. The bumbler takes one of our culture's most muscular myths — that men are clueless — and weaponizes it into an alibi.

Allow me to make a controversial proposition: Men are every bit as sneaky and calculating and venomous as women are widely suspected to be. And the bumbler — the very figure that shelters them from this ugly truth — is the best and hardest proof.

Breaking that alibi means dissecting that myth. The line on men has been that they're the only gender qualified to hold important jobs and too incompetent to be responsible for their conduct. Men are great but transparent, the story goes: What you see is what you get. They lack guile.

The "privilege" argument holds that this is partly true because men have never needed to deceive. This interesting Twitter thread by Holden Shearer has been making the rounds: "One of the oldest canards in low-denominator comedy is that women are inscrutable and men can't understand them. There's a reason for this and it ain't funny," he writes. The thread is right about the structural problems with lowbrow "women are so confusing!" comedy. "Women VERY frequently say one thing and mean another, display expressions or reactions that don't jibe with their feelings, and so on. But it's actually really easy to decode once you understand why it happens. It is survival behavior," Shearer writes.

But nested in that account is the assumption that the broad majority of men are not dissemblers. The majority are — you guessed it — bumblers! If you've noticed a tendency to treat girls — like the 14-year-old whom now-Senate candidate Roy Moore allegedly picked up at her custody hearing — as knowing adults and men in their 30s — like Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos and Donald Trump, Jr. — as erring youngsters, large sons and "coffee boys," this is why. Our culture makes that script available. It's why Sessions is so often referred to as an "elf" instead of a gifted manipulator (here's a very clever analysis of his strategy, which weaponizes our tendency to read white men — even very old attorneys with a long history of maliciously undermining civil rights — as slow, meandering children who know not what they do.)

It's counterintuitive, I know. For decades now, the very idea of a duplicitous, calculating man has been so exceptional as to be almost monstrous; this is the domain of cult leaders, of con artists, of evil men like the husband in Gaslight. And while folks provisionally accept that there are men who "groom" children and "gaslight" women, the reluctance to attach that behavior to any real, flesh-and-blood man we know is extreme. Many people don't actually believe that normal men are capable of it.

Back when Dylan Farrow's allegations about Woody Allen were in the news, people quickly glommed onto Allen's exculpatory claim that Mia Farrow "brainwashed" her children into lying about him. It was fascinating, both because the claim was pretty evidence-free and because Woody Allen had blatantly and repeatedly admitted to manipulating and grooming Soon-Yi Previn. But, because Allen so skillfully deployed the script of the bumbler, everyone failed to see his behavior in those terms. Allen's portrayal of himself — he barely knows what he had for breakfast! — was just that effective. Never mind that he's so organized, ambitious, driven, confident, and purposeful that he successfully puts out a movie a year.

As the accusations of sexual misconduct roiling politics, publishing, and Hollywood continue to stack up, a few things are going to happen. The first stage of a phenomenon like this will always be to characterize the accused men as exceptions, as bad apples. #NotAllMen, the saying goes. But the second is that everyone is going to try to naturalize sexual harassment. If there are this many men doing these things, then surely this is just how men are! that argument will go. There's a corollary lurking underneath there: They can't help themselves. They're bumblers."



"Back when Dylan Farrow's allegations about Woody Allen were in the news, people quickly glommed onto Allen's exculpatory claim that Mia Farrow "brainwashed" her children into lying about him. It was fascinating, both because the claim was pretty evidence-free and because Woody Allen had blatantly and repeatedly admitted to manipulating and grooming Soon-Yi Previn. But, because Allen so skillfully deployed the script of the bumbler, everyone failed to see his behavior in those terms. Allen's portrayal of himself — he barely knows what he had for breakfast! — was just that effective. Never mind that he's so organized, ambitious, driven, confident, and purposeful that he successfully puts out a movie a year.

As the accusations of sexual misconduct roiling politics, publishing, and Hollywood continue to stack up, a few things are going to happen. The first stage of a phenomenon like this will always be to characterize the accused men as exceptions, as bad apples. #NotAllMen, the saying goes. But the second is that everyone is going to try to naturalize sexual harassment. If there are this many men doing these things, then surely this is just how men are! that argument will go. There's a corollary lurking underneath there: They can't help themselves. They're bumblers."
millicentsomer  ignorance  guile  gender  privilege  men  patriarchy  2017  louisck  mikepence  michaelflynn  elijahcummings  davebecky  jeffsessions  woodyallen  power  cluelessness  alibis  loopholes  malice  bumblers  georgepapadopoulos  donaldtrumpjr  roymoore  gaslighting  sexism  dylanfarrow  miafarrow  #notallmen  harveyweinstein  billo'reilly  brettratner  benjamingenocchio  sexualharrassment  myths  control  romanpolanski  oliverstone  donaldtrump  volkerschlöndorff  dustinhoffman  nancywells  jamestoback  rachelmcadams  rogerailes 
3 days ago by robertogreco
Isabel Rodríguez on Twitter: "Rather than seeking to equalize educational results, we should seek to equalize access to good food, good housing, adequate health services,… https://t.co/3Q5Ise6emh"
"The central problem in education is not about improving learning. It is about power imbalances and unacknowledged violence and abuse against children.

The accountability we need in education should not be about learning outcomes, but about making political and economic elites responsible for the abuses that are inflicted on children for the sake of economic exploitation and political control.

We could also think of the accountability we need in education in terms of how children are treated and the resources that are made available to them.

The socioeconomic gaps among children, which incidentally mirror gaps in the results of standardized tests, will not be closed with stricter schools.

Rather than seeking to equalize educational results, we should seek to equalize access to good food, good housing, adequate health services, natural spaces, playgrounds, and a wide array of educational resources for all children.

Democratizing education should not be about compulsory schools attendance, but about democratizing the access for people of all ages to educational resources and respecting the right of children to have a voice in their own education.

We could have open schools with a good library, computers, an Internet connection, all sorts of tools, musical instruments, sports' facilities, a community garden, workshops and courses in order to meet many different learning needs, etc.

What we need to understand is that we cannot have a competition and not have losers. As long as human beings are made to compete for access to a good life, we will always have exclusion and inequality.

And as a matter of justice, the well-being and safety of racial, cultural and linguistic minorities should not depend on meeting school expectations and adopting ideas and behaviors promoted by upper class white families.

As a matter of justice, children who are diverse in interests and skills should not be made to conform to a very narrow and arbitrary curriculum.

As a matter of justice, children who are diverse in characteristics should not be made to conform to prejudiced notions of normalcy.

When education is thought as a path out of poverty and towards social justice, we are only leaving off the hook those who create poverty, exclusion and violence in the first place.

The problem of social and economic inequality is not educational, it is political. It is about institutional arrangements that create exclusion and force people to submit and compete.

And schools can never be a substitute for what must be solved through laws granting access to nature, good housing, good food, health services, etc., etc., etc.

At the end of the day, it is always about elites not willing to give up power and privilege, and choosing instead to make the poor accept blame for their own poverty and oppression for their own "good".

It's not that schools can do nothing. Raising free and peaceful individuals, people literate in the ways of those in power, people not willing to submit as easily, should help.

But if we accept that the central problem in regard to inequality is about power, an education meant for liberation requires a radical departure from the adultism, standardization and control exercised in conventional schools.

An education meant for liberation requires an alignment between the overt and the hidden curriculum.

It requires that we stop confusing being good with being obedient, being responsible and professional with being cruel and alienated from our humanity, being hardworking with not playing and doing busy work, and being educated with having a diploma.

It requires understanding that values such as freedom, equality and respect are not just things we teach, but things we live and do.

Above all, it requires giving up pretensions and simulations in regard to learning that are only about exploiting children for the benefit of others.

I don't agree with everything said in this documentary, but the segment in min.18:21 illustrates what I want to say. There's a difference between making killer whales perform tricks for an audience and seeing them playing freely and for their own benefit. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WImKDJuaCmU

The problem is: Freeing killer whales and treating them with respect would kill the business."
isabelrodríguez  schools  schooling  education  inequality  compulsory  unschooling  deschooling  curriculum  standardization  policy  learning  lcproject  openstudioproject  libraries  justice  race  socialjustice  racism  colonization  decolonization  obedience  class  freedom  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  diversity  exploitation  children  adultism  ageism  control  power  submission  economics  capitalism  society  privilege  health  healthcare  food  hunger  equality  poverty  conformity  2017  business  businessinterest  corporatism  humanity  humanism 
9 days ago by robertogreco
Adventures in lifelong learning: Towards an Anti-Fascist Curriculum
"Yesterday's Warsaw demonstrations were shocking in their scale (60,000 nationalists marched on Poland's independence day; many calling for 'a white Europe of brotherly nations'), but were also disturbing in the way that, whilst confronted with new displays of far-right extremism almost daily - we just don't seem shocked enough. Fascism is like that, of course. It is out-there in the Charlottesville marches, echoed in the words of Nigel Farage and Tommy Robinson, yet it is also insidious. It creeps into lives - and becomes normalised in our language and behaviours. As Umberto Eco wrote in 'Ur-Fascism' (1995, p.8), 'Fascism..can come back under the most innocent of disguises. Our duty is to uncover it and to point our finger at any of its new instances – every day, in every part of the world.'

The warning signs

I won't use this blog to attempt to summarise important political discussions or try to analyse fascism in any detail; I am not a historian. But given the international rise of the far-right I believe that, as educators, we have a duty to be sensitive to these shifts and as a result should be reshaping our curricula and pedagogy to take account of it.

According to Merriam Webster, fascism is 'a political philosophy, movement, or regime... that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition'. Eco suggests a list of features that are typical of what he calls Ur-Fascism, or Eternal Fascism. As he states, 'These features cannot be organized into a system; many of them contradict each other, and are also typical of other kinds of despotism or fanaticism. But it is enough that one of them be present to allow fascism to coagulate around it'. The first principle, that fascism derives from individual or social frustration, is enough in itself to set alarm bells ringing. Four other key features are:

1.The cult of tradition. The desire to return to a better age, and a fear of modernism: 'Truth has been already spelled out once and for all, and we can only keep interpreting its obscure message'. (It should be noted that the first thing that fascist states seize is the curriculum).

2. Irrationalism, and the promotion of action over thought. 'Distrust of the intellectual world'.

3. Fear of difference (fascism is racist by definition). 'The first appeal of a fascist or prematurely fascist movement is an appeal against the intruders.'

4. The fostering of a spirit of war, heroism and machismo. 'Since both permanent war and heroism are difficult games to play, the Ur-Fascist transfers his will to power to sexual matters. This is the origin of machismo (which implies both disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual 8 habits, from chastity to homosexuality).'

An anti-fascist curriculum

I suggest here that an anti-fascist curriculum should take account of warning signs such as Eco's, and should also pay heed to Lawrence Britt's 'Fourteen signs of fascism' which include Cronyism and Corruption, the suppression of organised labour, obsession with national security and identification of scapegoats as a unifying cause.

The word 'curriculum' here refers to more than just the syllabus; it incorporates all influences on a child (or adult's) education (buildings, pedagogy, classroom management, the implicit and explicit things that are taught). As teachers we often distract ourselves from the bigger picture; arguments about the specifics of practice give a sense that our classrooms operate as micro-entities, where children are unaffected by the social dysfunction surrounding them. Managing behaviour is seen as a battle of 'them versus us,' and the 'othering' of pupils causes us to neglect the development of our own self-awareness. For this reason, such a curriculum can only start with the teacher.

Below are a few ideas for what an anti-fascist curriculum manifesto might practically include. It can only ever be a guideline; wanting it to become policy or enacted in some way defeats the object of a movement that should sit outside the state. Likewise, it should not dictate the behaviour of teachers, only act as a stimulus that has the potential, not to make large-scale change, but to spark a 'line of flight' that disrupts the status quo. If any of the manifesto chimes with you or you want send any thoughts or ideas as I continue to extend it, please do not hesitate to comment or get in touch with me.

Towards an Anti-Fascist Curriculum - A Manifesto for Educators

1. We start by examining the 'fascist inside us all.'

“The strategic adversary is fascism... the fascism in us all, in our heads and in our everyday behavior, the fascism that causes us to love power, to desire the very thing that dominates and exploits us.” (Foucoult, 1983)

We recognise our own interior desire for power and accept our responsibility as educators to reflect on this with others in spirit of critical challenge. We undertake critically reflective processes that make us question our own assumptions and prejudices, such as tests of cognitive dissonance to expose gender, race, age, disability bias, and intersections of these and other identities. We examine our own values, as individuals and within our organisations and consider the roots of these and their influences on our practice. Our reflective activity extends to our roles as leaders; we aim to continually refine and develop ourselves as human beings, alongside our students.

2. We promote difference over uniformity.

This includes de-centring the Enlightenment idea of the 'perfect human' in order to augment the voices of oppressed 'others'. We celebrate the living knowledge of our students, and examine the genealogy of the subjects we teach to decolonise and diversify our curricula. We make efforts to connect with others globally to inform our practice and maintain perspective. We challenge the threat of toxic masculinity through deliberate educational approaches which liberate men and boys from the need to conform to 'gender-specific' ideals (which further male supremacy). We reflect on our own privilege.

3. We accept complexity and uncertainty.

Whilst welcoming research-informed practice, we reject the fetishisation of science and the search for the 'ultimate truths' of education theory, which can limit educational autonomy.

4. We resist the reduction of 'education' to instrumentalism.

We widen the purpose of education to take into account the socialisation and subjectification of our students (Biesta, 2010). We believe in education as the practice of freedom (hooks, 1994) and consider each subject we teach as a potential vehicle to promote agency and social justice.

5. We are pro-social, critical pedagogues.

We use teaching methods that place an emphasis on the building of community, togetherness and belonging, which have a strong critical and reflective focus. Specific teaching innovations may include philosophical inquiry, restorative practice and thinking environments (and would include the implementation of critical digital pedagogies)."
fascism  sfsh  2017  education  uniformity  difference  complexity  cv  uncertainty  instrumentalism  schools  learning  freedom  community  togetherness  belonging  criticalpedagogy  pedagogy  bellhoooks  teaching  howweteach  openstudioproject  lcproject  restorativejustice  thinking  socialization  agency  socialjustice  science  scienticsm  autonomy  truth  enlightenment  humansism  othering  others  decolonization  diversity  curriculum  masculinity  gender  race  reflection  disability  power  responsibility  canon  love  exploitation  xenophobia  irrationalism  action  machismo  war  heroism  nationalism  tradition  modernism  cronyism  corruption  classroommanagement  manifesto  foucault  supremacy  patriarchy  privilege  disabilities 
9 days ago by robertogreco
Most Likely to Repeat History - Long View on Education
"Yet, by holding out the entrepreneur as the solution to the America’s problems, Wagner and Dintersmith systematically reinforce class, race, and gender privilege. Many of the traits related to the agentic behavior praised in entrepreneurs, such as assertiveness, are highly valued pretty much only in white men. According to a report by Ross Levine and Yona Rubinstein, when entrepreneurs are ranked on the Illicit Activity Index, which highlights the “aggressive, disruptive activities of individuals as youths,” they found that “entrepreneurs tend to engage in more illicit activities as youths than those who never become incorporated self-employed.” In his perceptive analysis of the report, Jordan Weissman writes that “To be successful at running your own company, you need a personality type that society is a lot more forgiving of if you’re white.”

Wagner and Dintersmith parrot back Friedman’s characteristic – and unfounded – optimism that “there is no limit to the number of idea-generating jobs in the world”: “the creative force of innovation erased millions and millions of routine jobs…they were replaced by countless opportunities for the innovative, for the creative, for the nimble.”

Countless? Really? This word choice implies that opportunity is unlimited, if people rise to the task. ‘Nimble’, and its often used synonyms – ‘adaptable’, ‘flexible, and ‘agile’ – seem like positive qualities until we consider the broader context of our lives outside of our value as labor. If you have recently lost your job because the company has off-shored it, then if you are ‘nimble’, you will find other work. However, if you lack that personality trait, or are traumatized, depressed, or restricted by public transit or a lack of childcare, then calling you out on your lack of nimbleness is simply victim-blaming.

Moreover, by focusing on ‘idea-generating’ or ‘innovative’ jobs, Wagner and Friedman ignore the hard realities of service work and the labor conditions in factories on which the ‘innovative’ jobs depend. For example, about half of Apple’s full-time equivalent employees work in their ‘retail segment’ making approximately $25,580 per annum. And that’s not to mention the vast supply chain that does not work directly for Apple, but toils in mines, manufacturing plants in China, and lives among our ewaste.5

In what is perhaps the most eye-catching claim of the book, they write “In the past five decades, all U.S. economic and job growth has come from innovative start-ups. Our entrepreneurial successes create our jobs, shape our society, define us, inspire us, and are the envy of the world.” The idea that start-ups have created all economic and job growth typifies their innovation as Hero ideology. It is not true that all growth comes from start-ups, but more importantly, the venture-capitalist self-promotion that they cite in footnote 35 says nothing of the kind. I would love some clarity from them on their referencing practice. Seriously.



"When you hear talk about ‘reinventing the self’, this is what I want you to think about: since we live in a society with structural inequality and discrimination, how does the focus on each of us reinventing ourselves take away from us having the political energy to oppose and transform the system? When Wagner and Dintersmith insist up innovation, they are actually reinforcing the status quo by ensuring that the inequalities and logic of the broader system prevail.

At once people insist that we commodify the self, then any empathy for the trauma suffered from job loss is blocked and the focus turns to reinvention of the self. As a project for continuous improvement, the self becomes a bundle of skills and images. In response to structural inequality, the neoliberal imperative pressures people to reinvent the parts of themselves that are targets of discrimination, rather than the system.

If you look at the wealth gap between white and black families in the United States through the lens of the ideology of meritocracy, then your explanation for the gap is going to tend to put the responsibility on individuals for their own lots in life, just as Wagner and Dintersmith in fact do when they talk about our responsibility to reinvent our capacities.

However, if we narrowly focus on the qualities of the individual (merit, capacities), then we miss out on an analysis of the structural issues. As McNamee and Miller argue in The Meritocracy Myth, “the most important factor in terms of where people will end up in the economic pecking order of society is where they started in the first place.”

Unfortunately, Wagner and Dintersmith start in exactly the same place as many other failed reform movements: with a desire to please the leaders of industry, whose stories they feed on with little room for anything else in their diet. Those who are ‘most likely to succeed’ will get ahead because of a broader system of privilege, while education reinventors are doomed to be ‘most likely to repeat history’, which is too bad for just about everyone else."
benjamindoxtdator  tonywagner  teddintersmith  entrepreneurship  2017  education  thomasfriedman  inequality  jordanweissman  rosslevine  yonarubinstein  race  racism  learning  risk  individualism  labor  work  economics  capitalism  meritocracy  neoliberalism  reform  publicschools  structuralracism  bias  peterdrucker  power  class  privilege  miltonfriedman  innovation  classism 
23 days ago by robertogreco
More Seymours than Women: Imaginaries of Tomorrow - Long View on Education
"In Will Richardson and Bruce Dixon’s 10 Principles for Schools of Modern Learning, they present their imaginary about tomorrow: “Experts who study the world of work are growing more and more concerned that current systems of education are increasingly irrelevant when it comes to the preparation of students for what is a fast-changing and uncertain future of employment. … Regardless what the future holds, there is little doubt success in the future will first and foremost depend on one’s ability to learn, not on one’s accumulation of knowledge.”

Elsewhere, Richardson writes that “The most successful workers in the future will be those who are used to thinking and acting entrepreneurially. Princeton University professor Anne-Marie Slaughter suggests that a winning strategy for the future of work is to be able to ‘design your own profession and convince employers that you are exactly what they need.’ Or, as The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman’s recent column declared, ‘Need a job? Invent it.'”

So, in their imaginary, success is tied to ability to learn, entrepreneurship, flexibility, and self-sufficiency. As I write in a recent review, this idea of education is premised on leaving people behind. The Disappointed Idealist makes a strong case that education as social mobility is based theories of the undeserving poor. Writing about their own children, they note:
“Yet their likely outcomes, their aspirations, and even the place they live – a seaside English town – are routinely condemned as failures by the dominant educational discourse. Unless they get results they can’t get, aspire to jobs they don’t want, and move to a place they do not wish to live in, then they have failed the social mobility test. They are undeserving. And the conditions which our society reserves for those who cannot or will not ‘escape’ from the reality of their lives are grim, and getting grimmer: zero-hours contracts, below-poverty pay, insecure housing, a punitive benefits system, and the gradual withdrawal of all manner of support from education, health and social services.”

So, we face a futurist deficit that we must address, not by keeping the same questions and filling out the ranks with ‘diverse’ people, but by asking better questions. In an article called Where are the Black Futurists?(2000), the author (listed as ‘Black Issues’) reflects on an all white male C-SPAN futurist panel:
“there are too many people talking about the future without considering the future of African Americans and other people of color.

By not considering us, is the majority implicitly suggesting that we don’t matter? Do they think that as America ages, we will continue to play the traditional service and support roles for their communities? When I hear estimates from the U.S. Department of Labor that we’ll need nearly a million home health aides in the next decade, and I know that most home health aides now are Black and Brown women, I conclude that unless the wage structure changes, the future implications for those women and their families are frightening.

But the futurists mainly seem to be predicting what an aging society will need without predicting who will provide it.”

I write from a privileged position, working in a well-resourced and professionally supportive international school. My students have sources of privilege and power in their lives, and I’m pretty confident that many will be able to fit into the standard futurist imaginaries because of a good education and how privilege has shaped their life chances. It’s especially because of my context that I resist the imaginaries that will leave many behind. Schools need to change and be better to serve youth, and not just serve them up to grim futurist imaginaries."
benjamindoxtdator  diversity  gender  education  thoughtleaders  willrichardson  brucedixon  privilege  power  economics  futurism  futurists  future  edtech  labor  society  inequality  capitalism  2017  californianideology 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Buenaventura Durruti - Wikiquote
"what anarchists had to do was understand the natural process of rebellion and not separate themselves from the working class under the pretext of serving it better. That would only be a prelude to betrayal and bureaucratization, to a new form of domination."



"No government fights fascism to destroy it. When the bourgeoisie sees that power is slipping out of its hands, it brings up fascism to hold onto their privileges."
buenaventuradurruti  anarchism  bureaucracy  betrayal  domination  oppression  rebellion  poer  privilege  fascism  statusquo  centrism  workingclass  hierarchy 
8 weeks ago by robertogreco
Teaching White Students Showed Me The Difference Between Power and Privilege
"Brown, the first person I met in Poughkeepsie, was a felon because he was black, scared, desperate, and guilty. I was black, scared, desperate, and guilty but I came from folks with a bit more money than Brown. Though I wasn’t the grandchild of grandparents who passed money or land down to my parents, I was a child of what folks called “the black middle class.” My mama was one paycheck away from asking Grandmama or me for money neither of us had the week before payday.

There was no wealth in my family of black middle class women. There were only paydays.

I knew that my student Cole, a dealer of everything from weed to cocaine, could be a college graduate, college professor, college trustee in spite of being scared, desperate, and guilty because he was a white child of wealthy parents. Cole could literally become president of all kinds of American things, or president of nothing. Either way, he’d be fine. He wouldn’t be free, but materially, Cole would never suffer.

By my fourth semester at Vassar, I learned that it was fashionable to call Cole’s predicament “privilege” and not “power.” I had the privilege of being raised by a Grandmama who responsibly loved me in the blackest, most creative state in nation. Cole had the power to never be poor and never be a felon, the power to always have his failures treated as success no matter how mediocre he was. Cole’s power necessitated that he was literally too white, too masculine, too rich to fail. George Bush was president because of Cole’s power. Grandmama, the smartest, most responsible human being I knew, cut open chicken bellies and washed the shit out of white folks dirty underwear because of Cole’s power. My job, I learned that first year, was to dutifully teach Cole to use this power less abusively. I was supposed to encourage Cole to understand that his power brought down buildings, destroyed countries, created prisons, and lathered itself in the blood and suffering. But if used for good, Cole's power could lay the foundation for liberation and some greater semblance of justice in our country. Cole's power, I was taught, could one day free Brown.

I just didn’t buy it.

I loved my job. I loved going to work and I understood the first week of school that it was impossible to teach any student you despised. A teacher’s job was to responsibly love the students in front of them. If I was doing my job, I had to find a way to love the wealthy white boys I taught with the same integrity I loved my black students, even if the constitution of that love differed. This wasn’t easy because no matter how conscientious, radically curious, or politically active I encouraged Cole to be, teaching wealthy white boys like him meant that I was being paid to really fortify, and make more responsible, Cole’s power.

Cole’s power insisted that Brown, Grandmama, and me were uber disciplined, useful, thankful and never paid what we were worth. This was one of the ways Cole’s power remained Cole’s power. A part of my work on the inside at Vassar, truth be told, was to take care of Cole, as our family had taken care of white folks in trouble for decades. In return for this work, I’d get a monthly check, some semblance of security and moral certainty that we were helping white folk be better at being human. This was new to me, but it was old black work, and this old black work, in ways my Mama and Grandmama warned me about, was more than selling out; this old black work was morally side-hustling backward.

This old black work was how we ate, fixed raggedy cars, paid doctor bills, and filled friends' commissaries.

I made good on my promise to bring Brown a new book with a new note every week before they shipped him out to boot camp. Every once in a while, Brown returned the books with notes he’d written on the second pages. Brown said he shared the books and notes with COs and other incarcerated men and they started a reading group. The books didn’t take any time off his sentence. They didn’t free Brown’s imagination. The books gave us more to talk about and feel through when he got out. One of the last notes Brown wrote me before being released was “It’s hard to get right when the free folks out there are more trapped than the criminal folks in jail. I just want to be free." I wanted to tell Brown that those of us on the outside were working on getting free. I wanted to tell him that one day I knew he would get free too. But both of those sentences were the heaviest kind of lies we both needed believe. Instead of lying or telling the truth, I told Brown thank you for the note. I asked him if he was able to watch any of the NBA playoffs. I wished him good luck at boot camp.

And I got ready to go back to work."
power  privilege  2017  kieselaymon  race  racism  vassar  poughkeepsie 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
What is it like to be white?
"Here’s Fran Lebowitz talking about race in the US in a 1997 Vanity Fair interview:
The way to approach it, I think, is not to ask, “What would it be like to be black?” but to seriously consider what it is like to be white. That’s something white people almost never think about. And what it is like to be white is not to say, “We have to level the playing field,” but to acknowledge that not only do white people own the playing field but they have so designated this plot of land as a playing field to begin with. White people are the playing field. The advantage of being white is so extreme, so overwhelming, so immense, that to use the word “advantage” at all is misleading since it implies a kind of parity that simply does not exist.

It is now common — and I use the word “common” in its every sense — to see interviews with up-and-coming young movie stars whose parents or even grandparents were themselves movie stars. And when the interviewer asks, “Did you find it an advantage to be the child of a major motion-picture star?” the answer is invariably “Well, it gets you in the door, but after that you’ve got to perform, you’re on your own.” This is ludicrous. Getting in the door is pretty much the entire game, especially in movie acting, which is, after all, hardly a profession notable for its rigor. That’s how advantageous it is to be white. It’s as though all white people were the children of movie stars. Everyone gets in the door and then all you have to do is perform at this relatively minimal level.

Additionally, children of movie stars, like white people, have at — or actually in — their fingertips an advantage that is genetic. Because they are literally the progeny of movie stars they look specifically like the movie stars who have preceded them, their parents; they don’t have to convince us that they can be movie stars. We take them instantly at face value. Full face value. They look like their parents, whom we already know to be movie stars. White people look like their parents, whom we already know to be in charge. This is what white people look like — other white people. The owners. The people in charge. That’s the advantage of being white. And that’s the game. So by the time the white person sees the black person standing next to him at what he thinks is the starting line, the black person should be exhausted from his long and arduous trek to the beginning.

[Full article at: "Fran Lebowitz on Race and Racism"
https://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2016/01/fran-lebowitz-on-race-and-racism ]
race  culture  equity  whiteness  1997  franlebowitz  racism  privilege  us  society  via:lukeneff 
august 2017 by robertogreco
two sets of universities, two countries, two futures – the ANOVA
"I have no doubt that Yale’s class of 2017 is full of smart, talented, and passionate young people. I wish them the best. I also have no doubt that those among them who may not be talented or hardworking will be wholly inoculated from that condition thanks to the accidents of birth and privilege that helped them reach their rarefied station in the first place. As a socialist, I am not interested in making them more susceptible to material hardship and the vagaries of chance, but rather of giving everyone that same level of protection – and that means raiding the coffers of their school, their parents, and their future employers for the betterment of all. I also don’t doubt that, on balance, graduates of the Connecticut State system will succeed as well. College graduates writ large enjoy a substantial premium in income and unemployment rates over those without degrees, after all. But how hard will they have to struggle, as their instructors are stretched thinner and thinner by these brutal cuts? How many of them will sink deeper into debt as they are forced to take additional semesters of classes to complete their degrees? How many of them will drop out, thanks to these cuts, and suffer under the burden of student loan debt with no degree to help them secure a better life? How many people who could have been saved, as I was saved, now won’t be because of these cuts?

Today’s Yale commencement ceremony, of course, will be stocked with liberals, decent progressive folk who will tell you they believe in equality and social justice. The parents will mostly be liberal Democrats. The student ranks will be filled, no doubt, by genuine radicals, and the faculty with Marxists and socialists. They do good deeds at these places, such as how Yale’s community recently forced the school to change the name of Calhoun College, thanks to John C Calhoun’s history as a slave owner. I celebrate the activist zeal of all involved in such actions. Yet what Yale’s community can’t do – and perhaps wouldn’t, if it could – is to dismantle its place in the engine of American inequality. For all of the decent people involved in that institution, there is no chance that it will ever voluntarily abandon its role as an incubator of the ruling class. To do so would be unthinkable. That’s the reality of higher education: ostensible leftists preside over the ever-accelerating accumulation of power, money, and privilege. A better way is possible, but it cannot be achieved from within campus."
elitisim  ivyleague  inequality  freddiedeboer  2017  highered  highereducation  money  privilege  power  publicgood 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Rebecca Solnit: The Loneliness of Donald Trump | Literary Hub
"This year Hannah Arendt is alarmingly relevant, and her books are selling well, particularly On the Origins of Totalitarianism. She’s been the subject an extraordinary essay in the Los Angeles Review of Books and a conversation between scholar Lyndsey Stonebridge and Krista Tippet on the radio show “On Being.” Stonebridge notes that Arendt advocated for the importance of an inner dialogue with oneself, for a critical splitting in which you interrogate yourself—for a real conversation between the fisherman and his wife you could say: “People who can do that can actually then move on to having conversations with other people and then judging with other people. And what she called ‘the banality of evil’ was the inability to hear another voice, the inability to have a dialogue either with oneself or the imagination to have a dialogue with the world, the moral world.”

Some use their power to silence that and live in the void of their own increasingly deteriorating, off-course sense of self and meaning. It’s like going mad on a desert island, only with sycophants and room service. It’s like having a compliant compass that agrees north is whatever you want it to be. The tyrant of a family, the tyrant of a little business or a huge enterprise, the tyrant of a nation. Power corrupts, and absolute power often corrupts the awareness of those who possess it. Or reduces it: narcissists, sociopaths, and egomaniacs are people for whom others don’t exist.

We gain awareness of ourselves and others from setbacks and difficulties; we get used to a world that is not always about us; and those who do not have to cope with that are brittle, weak, unable to endure contradiction, convinced of the necessity of always having one’s own way. The rich kids I met in college were flailing as though they wanted to find walls around them, leapt as though they wanted there to be gravity and to hit ground, even bottom, but parents and privilege kept throwing out safety nets and buffers, kept padding the walls and picking up the pieces, so that all their acts were meaningless, literally inconsequential. They floated like astronauts in outer space.

Equality keeps us honest. Our peers tell us who we are and how we are doing, providing that service in personal life that a free press does in a functioning society. Inequality creates liars and delusion. The powerless need to dissemble—that’s how slaves, servants, and women got the reputation of being liars—and the powerful grow stupid on the lies they require from their subordinates and on the lack of need to know about others who are nobody, who don’t count, who’ve been silenced or trained to please. This is why I always pair privilege with obliviousness; obliviousness is privilege’s form of deprivation. When you don’t hear others, you don’t imagine them, they become unreal, and you are left in the wasteland of a world with only yourself in it, and that surely makes you starving, though you know not for what, if you have ceased to imagine others exist in any true deep way that matters. This is about a need for which we hardly have language or at least not a familiar conversation."
politics  donaldtrump  rebeccasolnit  2017  equality  inequality  delusion  power  corruption  kistatippet  lyndseystonebridge  hannaharendt  occupywallstreet  ows  fscottfitzgerald  tyrants  loneliness  resistance  russia  parables  privilege  vldimirputin  pushkin  greed  overreach  democracy  society  collectivism  evil  morality 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Deeply Aggrieved
"Van Jones, whom Bruni quotes, offers to students that “I want you to be offended every single day on this campus. I want you to be deeply aggrieved and offended and upset, and then to learn how to speak back.” And I wonder: Does Jones, does Bruni, think that students aren’t offended—deeply aggrieved and offended and upset—everywhere every single day? How dare we presume that students live idle lives when we’re not watching? How dare we believe it is our responsibility to forge their character through intellectual adversity?

C’mon, really? Among undergraduate women, 23.4% will be or have been raped. Upwards of 24% of students are food insecure, even though 63% of them are working. And that’s just for starters. Hate crime, domestic abuse, fears about the stability and reliability of health care, concerns about the environment—all the things that plague working adults with advanced degrees also plague students. The difference is that those “working adults” don’t have professors telling them to “put on some boots and learn how to deal with adversity.”

But what does all of this have to do with a dyslexic student who found herself unable to use the device on which she relied in—ahem—a computer science class?

Academia has long touted its own brand without paying attention to whether or not its product works. Universities and colleges not only stand on tradition, they promote a propaganda of tradition, a dogged effort to raise the quality of human character through intellectualism, rationality, and expertise supported by relentless surveillance and punishment of plagiarism, sloth, and student agency, and a tireless resistance to cultural change, technology, and diversity. The Student is the weak link in the academy, the wild horse that needs breaking, or the lazy scissorbill who must be taught discipline and integrity...and more recently, the privileged Millennial whose character can only be built through an unforgiving exposure to adversity.

But the academy and its students see the world very differently. Devices are not distractions. And adversity is something carried on the back into class. While academics enact social justice through diatribes, literary analysis, and social get-togethers, students are finding themselves on the front lines. They are dealing with their disabilities, they are confronting racism, they are walking out of classrooms to join protests, they are standing up for their undocumented colleagues. They are taking risks. And even if the only thing they’re doing is attending our classes, that is risk enough.

Your students have fought, your students have hidden from bullies, your students have been hungry, they have passed for straight, they have held their tongues, and they have been broken.
In many cases, the students you work with have had to subvert a system that sought to oppress them in order to make it to your classroom.
Institutions that refuse to move—not into the future, but into the present—are enacting a masochistic nostalgia. Things are not the way they were, and to isolate our philosophies in an historic moment is to condemn their practicality. Just as perilous is to assume the academy exists in a safe vacuum, where political tensions that light the nation on fire will not penetrate the halls of ivy-grown intellectualism and rationality. Universities hope to be environments for stable inquiry, where research and dialogue trump matters more visceral. But the students are restless y'all. These upon whose shoulders our futures will be built are staring down an apocalypse—of government, of environment, of justice, and of common sense.

In a world run by people who take the low road, taking the high road is not practical. We need people who will meet others on the low road if we are to cease this downward spiral. I am not advocating for violence—that the Middlebury protest ended in violence muted its usefulness. Instead, I am advocating for a Zen-like honesty about the state of things. The academy will not solve the crises its students face. But the students themselves may.

We do not do what we do so that students can be like us. We do what we do precisely because they can't be. We cannot afford for them to carry on our traditions. And for that reason, I encourage the academy, and all of those who advocate for its primacy, to consider the ways in which it has sheltered itself from the world, and to put on some boots, become deeply aggrieved, and be strong."
seanmichaelmorris  2017  vanjones  frankbruni  highered  highereducation  tradtion  academia  adversity  privilege  technology  education  middleburycollege  charlesmurray  bootstraps  distraction  assistivetechnology  dyslexia  socialjustice  disability  bullying  oppression  nostlagia  masochism  lowroad  highroad  disabilities 
may 2017 by robertogreco
On Beasts and Burdens - The Brian Lehrer Show - WNYC
"Sunaura Taylor, an artist and writer based in New York City and the author of Beasts of Burden: Animal and Disability Liberation (The New Press, 2017), discusses issues of disability and animal rights."
sunaurataylor  privilege  animals  animalliberation  disability  petersinger  multispecies  disabilityrights  animalrights  liberation  2017  neilmarcus  bodies  ableism  intelligence  disabilities 
march 2017 by robertogreco
Design, Tech & Privilege – Add Oil Comics – Medium
[See also these threads:
https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:0ceb1a2b5432
https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:5f8229de3089

"An important and well-articulated discussion happened on Twitter earlier tonight about designers in tech and their privilege. We’ve excerpted my favorite parts (due to time constraints) and taken out the specific name references (to elevate this discussion beyond the individuals and for posterity)… hopefully we’ve managed to capture the energy of the original without losing too much."

Based on this thread

"Dope. I’m glad to hear that. However, I won’t be DMing you. This conversation needs to be public (starting a thread). Here’s why. (https://twitter.com/amelielamont/status/811260439158030336 @robynkanner @amelielamont I'm sure she is. My email and DM is always open.)

We are all human + we make mistakes. Most of us are so afraid of “being wrong/looking bad” in public. /2

That’s not the way to go. If we can take this as a learning opportunity for all, with an archive to boot, I’m for it. /3

I don’t go out of my way to call people like you (@vanschneider), @jongold, @hemeon, @DannPetty out publicly because I enjoy being angry. /4

Nor do I enjoy raising my blood pressure/potentially having a heart attack every time you do something problematic... /5

...but don’t want to listen to people who don’t look like you. /6

I call you out because I LOVE being a designer. I have tremendous respect for the work that we do + I hold it to a high standard. /7

I criticize designers because I love design + you should always be critical of that which you love. I expect the same from you. /8

I especially call out designers when they lack empathy + reason in their actions because that is exactly what is needed in order for... /9

...you to build products/tools that change people’s lives in small and large ways. /10

I criticize because I am disappointed to see people who I call designers, people whom I hold to high standards behave in a way that... /11

...is problematic but does not want to hear feedback or learn why said behavior is problematic. /12

Allow me to break down for you what I saw, from my perspective. I hope that we will all learn in the process + come to an understanding. /13

So @jongold made a joke. You responded to the joke + in your collaboration of the joke, the perception was one that was ableist... /14

...+ simply disrespectful of those who are different. /15

I personally saw it + my initial thought was “this is strange.” I have thoughts about “strange” products, too. But I take a moment to... /16

...think that maybe because something is “strange” to me, that might not be the case for others. /17

I have the capacity to think in this way because my career requires it of me, as does yours + @jongold’s. /18

Kristy pointed it out + you essentially told her to chill–that it was a joke. You wrote to her in all caps, which in Internet speak... /19

... is known to be “yelling”. @jedmund also pointed it out (albeit probably in a way that was unfavorable to you). /20
0 replies 3 retweets 32 likes

Instead of admitting that it was problematic, you deleted the tweet + accused the two of “drama.” /21

You aggressively doubled down on the two of them, both people of color. /22

Anytime a white, cishet man responded to you, you responded with gratitude + grace. This included Steward, Timothy, etc... /23

But the optics of aggression continued towards @jedmund + Kristy. /24

Obviously I don’t know your “intentions,” we’re all on tiny screens. But optics are important. /25

With 55k followers, you should know that better than anyone, @vanschneider. /26

Finally, the optics of you became petty when you pointed out that it’s “Hard to not be offended in 2016 I guess. Thin ice.” /27

That, in itself, was complete disregard of the optics of how you treated Kristy. /28

After that, @jongold continued the bad optics. He subtweeted by saying in a separate thread... /29

...“remember when Twitter was fun?”, after which I spoke up to address what I was seeing. /30

The overall optics of this is that you admitted that you were wrong only after multiple (white) people called you out, proceeded to... /31

...call the situation dramatic + then engaged in subtweeting with @jongold. /32

You additionally blocked people who "liked" the tweets I wrote directed towards you and Gold. Gold did the same + blocked me. /33

The optics for such actions says that you don’t accept criticism well, which is strange for a designer. /34

I’m not asking you to have thick skin. You’re allowed to feel hurt, but you need to take a good look at your actions + ask questions. /35

Honestly @jongold blocking me is even more shocking considering that he works for a company... /36

...that has been publicly called out because Black + Brown people have trouble booking spaces. /37

It is illogical to me for you to block a person of color, specifically a black woman when she says something that you... /38

...think hurts your feelings. Please. /39

You’re a designer at a company that *NEEDS* to be listening to what black/brown folks are saying b/c you’re designing tools for them. /40

As for the comment about your brother @vanschneider, I’ve seen you get into situations like this before, which is why I brought him up. /41

None of us have called you out as explicitly racist, but your words are laced w/ white supremacy. /42

Like it or not, you’re a product of the system. it benefits you. /43

For example, in the last Twitter row I witnessed w/ you, you brought up your black half-brother as the reason for you not being racist. /44

Point blank? Using another human being as an object (I've had this happen to me) is degrading. /45

Saying, "oh, I can't possibly be racist because I accept everyone as they are. I have a half-black brother." /46

This is problematic because in this situation, your brother is no longer a human being. /47

He is now an indirect object being used in order to disprove a negative trait that you believe society has labeled you with. /48

But what you fail to realize is that your brother's existence is separate from your own, as is every other PoC you interact with. /49

Just because they are in your life does not mean that you are neither racist nor have racist tendencies. /50

You need to understand that we live in a world that consists of a hierarchy + at the bottom of the hierarchy... /51

...is a constant devaluation of black + brown lives. (Which is why @jedmund wrote that Medium piece about tech.) /52

Our lives are so little valued that we these black + brown individuals somewhat assimilate into white society, we get things such as… /53

“You're not like those other black/brown people.” or a patronizing “Your English is so good!” /54

This means I have to think about literally every single action I take in this society if I want to advance because…of optics. /55

Even the interaction you have with me is privileged. If I talked in AAVE/patois online most of the people in tech + design... /56

...would want nothing to do with me or make assumptions about my intelligence (or lack thereof). /57

As a black woman (bottom of the hierarchy), I have the unfortunate circumstance of checking my bias in an upside T shape. /58

This means that in order to survive, I need to be able to check my biases (even the anti-black ones society has taught me). /59

I also have to try my best to understand (on some level), the struggles of other underrepresented groups, while also understanding... /60

...the biases + behaviors of those above me in the hierarchy. You don’t even know what it’s like to bear that weight. /61

And honestly? I don’t even have to be doing this. It’s a Tuesday. But you should be grateful that I’m taking the time to share with you. /62

Most people are not so patient. And I appreciate you being open (finally) to listening. /63

Don’t think I don’t understand on some level what you’re going through. You feel attacked. You feel hurt. /64

You don’t know why all of these people “lashed out at you”. Maybe you should just stop speaking. Why are people so upset? /65

Everyone else is usually so kind to you. That adoration doesn’t serve you in any way in terms of your growth. That’s why we’re here. /66

If people are upset, let them be–they will get over it. /67

The anger comes when you’re not receptive to conversation + willing to admit + own mistakes bc you’re so concerned about looking good. /68

The issue is when you double down w/o being open to learning. Or when you behave petulantly. /69

Or when you run away. Or when you don’t ask questions. Which is unlike a designer, much less a well-known one. /70

You’re setting a poor example. People expect better of you. We all do. /71

But we can’t progress w/o conflict/discomfort + willingness to learn from it. /72

So with that said, I hope you sincerely learned something from this, despite the discomfort @vanschneider. /73

The only way we can get better is through criticism. So I will continue to call you out + anyone else “famous” as I see fit. /74

Because, quite frankly, your status means nothing to me + I am happy to knock a little hubris out of you every now + then w/ words. /75

That’s it. Happy Tuesday! 👋🏾"
design  technology  privilege  race  gender  2016  amélielamont  jasonli  whitesupremacy  whiteprivilege  bias  biases  listening  status  hierarchy  racism 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Timothy Goodman on Twitter: "It’s been frustrating to watch WM designers come at @amelielamont as if she doesn’t know EXACTLY what she’s talking about. https://t.co/6BnxR8Oz7k"
"It’s been frustrating to watch WM designers come at @amelielamont as if she doesn’t know EXACTLY what she’s talking about. (https://twitter.com/amelielamont/status/812290210721632256 : Honestly, this is a thread for all WM designers who have been crying in my mentions this week.

Just read it + don’t @ me. 👇🏾 https://twitter.com/absurdistwords/status/812273180039643136 )

A couple weeks ago, Amélie & I sat down for a discussion for the @greatdiscontent, where we talked a lot about white privilege in design.

She & I have also had great discussions about this topic IRL. I have to keep learning as I keep using my platform to challenge myself & WM.

Whether that’s speaking up on Twitter, spending time/$$ on our anti-Trump initiatives, or listening to ppl who look diff than me.

Growing up in an all black neighborhood, I still didn’t know my privilege until later & I CRINGE at things I’ve said in public before.

No one is perfect, but as a WM w/an “audience," it’s my responsibility to keep listening & learning & checking myself. It's yours, too.

Looking at WM designers I’d admire, not much of their design/writing spoke to their times: Civil Rights? Vietnam? Crack epidemic? Iraq war?

One thing she & I talked about—a basic starting point for all WM—is: Do all your friends look like you? Do all your coworkers look like you?

Do all of the people you follow on social media look like you? Are all the movies/music/books you like made by people who look like you?

How can we even begin to understand the reality of marginalized people in America if we are not letting them be present in our lives?

If you’re not sure how, get your follow on. Amélie & my friends @robynkanner & @akilahobviously & @margejacobsen are a great start 👌🔥

Then you gotta do some real work. Whether that’s social, political or just interpersonal, you can start those dialogues. You'll lose friends

Unfortunately, white design guys only seem to listen to white design guys. Some will unfollow you bc you’re being a “burden”. Oh well.

Finally, it’s sadly NO surprise to see Amélie tweet 75 times at @vanschneider w/out any acknowledgment. This is but a microcosm of society."
timothygoodman  design  privilege  2016  amélielamont  greatdiscontent  change  listening  whiteprivilege  marginzalization  class  gender  race  dialog 
december 2016 by robertogreco
How Privilege Works (with image, tweets) · absurdistwords · Storify
[first tweet is here: https://twitter.com/absurdistwords/status/812273180039643136 ]

"Some of y'all still don't understand privilege. "Not ME! What did I do? "

Let me break it down a moment.

Imagine you lived in the same apartment your whole life. Below you another family has lived their whole lives

Every day the downstairs family waves at you and smiles. You wave too because this is what life has always been.

In all these years you've never been TO their apartment because honestly, it smells terrible. You can smell it from under their door

"Really nice people" you think. But you can't understand why they choose to live in such squalor. They live in the same building as you.

So one day, you decide to be really nice and selfless and invite the smelly neighbors over for dinner.

They accept.

You prepare a nice dinner, invite them in. They thank you for the invite but as they come in, look around your apartment horrified.

"Your...place. it's so clean and nice! Not like our place" they say.

Proudly you begin to lecture them on how you keep a tidy house.

"But where's your ceiling pipe? " they ask. "How do you deal with your ceiling pipe?"

You are puzzled.

"I don't know what you're talking about. Ceiling pipe?" You tell them again about the virtues of regular cleaning and ask them to go home.

Next week, they invite YOU for dinner. You really don't want to spend an evening in their smelly gross apartment but go to be polite.

The moment they open the door you are assaulted full face by the smell of a sewage plant, which they seem to take in stride.

Their floor is wet and sticky and everything in the house seems to be covered with blackish brown specks.

The family wipes down a seat at the table and offers it to you. They bring out a a delicious looking meal and set it on the table.

As everyone begins to say grace, you hear your elderly dad flush the toilet upstairs.

You feel a drop on your head and look up.

As you look up you wish you hadn't because the remainder of what your dad flushed pours directly onto you and the table from an open pipe.

In your disgust, it suddenly dawns on you that this family has always had a pipe from your toilet in the center of their livingroom.

All your life, you never had to think about where your toilet pipes go and all their lives, they accepted your sewage as part of life.

They've never known anything different. Neither have you.

You never MEANT to shit on a family's dinner table

But you have been.
For years.

At this point. You have some options.

1) Status quo. You didn't build the house
2) Flush less often.
3) Help them fix their house

Nobody can really blame you for using the toilet your whole life. You had to.

But now that you know what happens when you flush...

The decisions you make from that point FORWARD show what kind of person you are.

At very least you could stop lecturing them.

It would take a calloused heart to mock them, blame them for your sewage and still insist that if they just learned the value of cleaning...

Because if you stopped to think about it at all, the fact that the place is even KIND OF livable is a testament to how constantly they clean

Likely they clean more often than you have to, for much longer, and the satisfaction of a clean room only lasts until the next flush.

"Not every member of X has it easy so privilege doesn't exist" is something I hear a lot.

Lets say 100 of group X and 100 of group Y went to the movies and there was a rule that the best seats were reserved for group X.

However, there are only 75 of these "best seats". This means when everyone is seated, the best seats go to group X.

But there's leftovers

There are 25 group X members who have to sit in the regular seats with group Y.

These 25 are not proof that the seating isn't biased.

The fact is, the preferential seating still exists. It just doesn't accommodate all of the members of the preferred group.

The fact remains that at every movie showing, a member of group X has a WAY better chance of getting a reserved seat than group Y.

Now occasionally, some members of group Y might actually negotiate some of the reserved seats.

As exceptions to the general seating policy, these "lucky" group Y members don't disprove the biased seating either.

They simply show that there are occasionally ways to get around the seating policy IF you have the right resources and opportunities."
privilege 
december 2016 by robertogreco
From a sociology for meritocracy to a sociology for democracy | Work in Progress
"Our professional class bias blinds us from problematizing meritocracy and from addressing “The Social Question”— how does our current socio-economic system fail to provide decent living and human dignity for the majority?

We need to acknowledge that a full meritocracy is not a sufficient condition for a just society.

The time is right for us to move from a sociology for meritocracy to a sociology for democracy and inclusion. Instead of focusing solely on the between-group disparities (while controlling for X, Y, and Z), we should pay particular attention to the individuals within each group that are excluded from the opportunity of having a decent life. Instead of recycling the same axes of inequality, we should be creative in identifying hidden categories that are extremely privileged or vulnerable (see David Pedulla’s work on nonstandard employment). Instead of pushing more people into colleges or job training programs, we should ask why a high school graduates can make a good life in Germany but not in the United States.

It is time for us to listen to the “deplorables,” since we have long dismissed them."
sociology  meritocracy  2016  ken-houlin  socialjustice  society  inclusion  inclusivity  democracy  privilege  academia  economics  davidpedulla  highered  highereducation 
october 2016 by robertogreco
Is unschooling / homeschooling only for the privileged? | kelly hogaboom
"There are a few problems with painting home education as necessarily privileged and therefore suspect and exclusionary. Claiming “unschooling=privileged folks” erases the many realities and lives of diverse unschooling families: single parents, parents with disabilities, parents battling addiction or illness, working-poor, queer parents, non-heteronormative families, trans* unschoolers, unschoolers who are women, parents without career-wage and security, unschoolers with children who have special and/or medical needs, or unschoolers of color – to throw out a few groups of dedicated unschooling communities and families.** Not only do we erase these individuals and their experiences (insulting!) – we perpetuate the problems of inequality by doing so. We should be going to their blogs and published works and discussions and digging deep, because they can tell us more about the problems with schooling and/or unschooling than someone in a position of relative privilege can!"
unschooling  parenting  deschooling  education  learning  privilege  diversity  2016  kellyhogaboom  class  gender  sexuality  race  disability  inequality  economics  disabilities 
august 2016 by robertogreco
CM 048: Dacher Keltner on the Power Paradox
"Is there a secret to lasting power? Yes, and Dacher Keltner has been teaching leaders about it for decades. And the secret is not the ruthless, manipulative approach associated with 15th-century politician and writer Niccolo Machiavelli. It is actually the opposite.

As a University of California, Berkeley, Professor of Psychology, and Founder and Director of the Greater Good Science Center, Dacher Keltner shares research-based insights he has gained. And in his latest book, The Power Paradox: How We Gain and Lose Influence, he discusses a new science of power and 20 guiding power principles.

In this interview, we talk about:

• How the legacy of Niccolo Machiavelli continues to inform power
• Why power is about so much more than dominance, manipulation, and ruthlessness
• Why we need to question a coercive model of power
• The short- versus long-term impact of different kinds of power
• Why power is about lifting others up
• Why lasting power is given, not grabbed
• The important role that reputation, gossip and esteem play in who gains power
• How, within days, group members already know who holds the power
• What makes for enduring power
• How our body language and words speak volumes about power
• Why Abraham Lincoln is a fascinating study of empathetic power
• The fact that great and powerful leaders are incredible storytellers
• How feeling powerful makes us less aware of risk
• How feeling powerful makes us less empathetic, attentive and responsive to others
• How feeling powerful actually overrides the part of our brain that signals empathy
• How drivers of more expensive cars (46 percent) tend to ignore pedestrians
• How powerful people often tell themselves stories to justify hierarchies
• The price we pay for powerlessness
• Concrete ways we can cultivate enduring, empathetic power
• Gender and power
• Why the key to parenting is to empower children to have a voice in the world

Selected Links to Topics Mentioned [all linked within]

Dacher Keltner
Greater Good Science Center
Frans de Waal
The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
Thomas Clarkson and the abolition movement
Why Civil Resistance Works by Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan
House of Cards
The 100-Year Life by Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott
What Works by Iris Bohnet
Arturo Behar and Facebook
Greater Good in Action
Science of Happiness course on edX"
dacherkeltner  power  hierarchy  machiavelli  influence  paradox  coercion  2016  thomasclarkson  abolition  slavery  history  greatergoodsciencecenter  resistance  ericchenoweth  mariastephan  houseofcards  andrewscott  lyndagratton  irisbohnet  arturobejar  fransdewaal  chimpanzees  primates  privilege  superiority  psychology  empathy  class  poverty  wealth  inequality  poor  happiness  humility  altruism  respect  sfsh  leadership  administration  parenting  friendship  dignity  workplace  horizontality  sharing  generosity  powerlessness  recognition  racism  gender  prestige  socialintelligence  empowerment 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Most women won’t be able to follow in Hillary Clinton’s footsteps—unless they’re already rich — Quartz
"The hard work and ambition of women like the young Hillary Clinton have much less currency in today’s system, because only one type of currency—hard currency—counts.

When Hillary Clinton entered Wellesley in 1965, annual tuition was $3,600. This was not cheap–median income was $6900–but it is a far cry from today, when it is $45,078, not counting room and board and other fees, which bring the annual cost to $63, 916. US median income is currently $51,939–less than one year at Wellesley. Women of Hillary’s generation had cheaper educational alternatives: Wellesley’s fee was about as high as tuition went, and many public universities were still free. Today, after decades of exorbitant increases and slashed public funding, even a public university leaves most students saddled with debt.

When Hillary entered Yale in 1969, the average tuition at an Ivy League law school was about $2,000 per year. Today, a year at Yale will set you back $80,229, with tuition costing $57,615. Already burdened with undergraduate debt, many do not want to continue on to law school—long a starting point for those seeking careers in government or politics—particularly since there is little work available upon graduation. In 2014, only 60% of law school graduates found full-time jobs that required them to pass the bar exam. The average debt for a law student is now $127,000, a rate that increased by 25% for private schools and 34% for private schools between 2006 and 2014. Due to the decrease in jobs and surplus of lawyers, law clerkships pay as little as $10 per hour.

Aspiring female politicians who do not pursue law often choose policy institutions as an alternative, but those positions similarly require expensive advanced degrees and unpaid labor. Hillary Clinton, like most policy officials, does not pay her interns. Cost of living in cities with a high concentration of policy jobs, such as New York or Washington DC, have skyrocketed over the past decade, while wages stagnated and student debt rose, putting the younger generation in an impossible bind.

In her Jun. 7 speech, Hillary praised her mother, who had grown up in poverty, and remarked in awe that a woman of such humble means had raised a daughter who became a presidential nominee. It was a touching moment—but we may not see many more like it. As economist Joseph Stiglitz notes, nowadays “the life prospects of an American are more dependent on the income and education of his parents than in almost any other advanced country.”

Opportunity hoarding by wealthy families is not new: for much of American history, it dominated our economic and political landscape. Political, intellectual and business leaders were often beneficiaries of inherited wealth, and non-white groups–particularly African-Americans–were purposefully locked out due to institutions like slavery and Jim Crow that prevented generation after generation of families from attaining the money and status of their white peers.

What is new is the realization that this mid-20th century period of upward mobility–the conditions many deem synonymous with the “American Dream”–was an aberration. The baby boomers benefited from a meritocracy that valued education over background, and came of age when wages were relatively high. These structural advantages began to disappear in the mid-to-late 1970s, when the cost of education began to climb and wages began to stagnate.

And while social media has offered a more democratic pathway in terms of political self-expression–particularly for female and/or non-white Americans–it rarely provides the stable income one needs to build a future in politics. Twitter fame does not pay the bills, and often comes, for women, with constant harassment that make many reluctant to participate. Even Hillary Clinton’s female supporters have felt compelled to converse in secret Facebook groups.

Aspiring female politicians face, as they always have, barriers due to gender and race. But they also face far more financial constraints than when Clinton was a young adult. An entrenched meritocracy, relying on expensive credentials, has replaced the old aristocracy.

In November, Clinton may finally shatter the glass ceiling, but the road to success for young women remains paved in gold. If Clinton truly wants to transform politics, she should focus on policy reforms that allow lower-class and middle-class girls to follow her own path."
gender  privilege  class  hillaryclinton  chelseaclinton  sarahkendzior  2016  elections  sexism  upwardmobility  socialmobility  society  access  education  highereducation  women  income  wealth  inequality  josephstiglitz  money 
july 2016 by robertogreco
The Oppressive Gospel of ‘Minimalism’ - The New York Times
[See also: http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2016/03/marie-kondo-and-the-privilege-of-clutter/475266/ ]

"“Minimalism” was eventually canonized as an art-historical movement, but the name came to mean something different as it was adopted into consumer culture and turned into a class signifier. What was once a way artists shocked viewers became over the decades a style as delimited and consumable as any Martha Stewart tablescape. The word was defanged, no longer a critical insult and no longer a viable strategy within art — though it never quite gave up its veneer of provocation. Even austerity can be made decadent: To wealthy practitioners, minimalism is now little more than a slightly intriguing perversion, like drinking at breakfast. “One of the real problems with design-world minimalism is that it’s just become a signifier of the global elite,” Raskin says. “The richer you are, the less you have.”

The minimalists’ aesthetic of raw materials and aggressive simplicity leaked into fashion, design and architecture, where it became a luxury product, helped along at times by the artists themselves. Judd’s SoHo loft building is now an icon of sanitized minimalism, open to tourists. His Chinati Foundation, a permanent installation of concrete and metal boxes in and around a decommissioned military base in Marfa, Tex., is a site of hipster pilgrimage. It even appears in Ben Lerner’s “10:04,” a novel redolent of late-capitalist anxiety. The protagonist visits the town on an artist’s residency, where he wanders the desert landscape, parties with young people and accidentally ingests ketamine — but it’s Judd’s installation that provides an epiphany. The sculptures, he writes, “combined to collapse my sense of inside and outside.” Judd’s work “had itself come to contain the world.”

Today’s minimalism, by contrast, is visually oppressive; it comes with an inherent pressure to conform to its precepts. Whiteness, in a literal sense, is good. Mess, heterogeneity, is bad — the opposite impulse of artistic minimalism. It is anxiety-inducing in a manner indistinguishable from other forms of consumerism, not revolutionary at all. Do I own the right things? Have I jettisoned enough of the wrong ones? In a recent interview with Apartamento magazine set against interior shots of his all-white home in Rockaway, Queens, the tastemaker and director of MoMA PS1 Klaus Biesenbach explained, “I don’t aim to own things.”

Minimalism is now conflated with self-optimization, the trend that also resulted in fitness trackers and Soylent (truly a minimalist food — it looks like nothing, but inspires thoughts of everything else). Often driven by technol­ogy, this optimization is expensive and exclusively branded by and for the elite. In Silicon Valley, the minimalism fetish can perhaps be traced back to Steve Jobs’s famously austere 1980s apartment (he sat on the floor) and the attendant simplicity of Apple products. Pare down, and you, too, could run a $700 billion company. A thriving Reddit forum on minimalism debates the worth of Muji products and which hobbies count as minimalist-appropriate, in a communal attempt to live the most effective, if perhaps not the most joyful, life.

These minimalist-arrivistes present it as a logical end to lifestyle, culture and even morality: If we attain only the right things, the perfect things, and forsake all else, then we will be free from the tyranny of our desires. But time often proves aesthetic permanence, as well as moral high ground, to be illusory. And already, the pendulum is swinging back.

Writing in The Atlantic in March, Arielle Bernstein described minimalism’s ban on clutter as a “privilege” that runs counter to the value ascribed to an abundance of objects by those who have suffered from a lack of them — less-empowered people like refugees or immigrants. The movement, such as it is, is led in large part by a group of men who gleefully ditch their possessions as if to disavow the advantages by which they obtained them. But it takes a lot to be minimalist: social capital, a safety net and access to the internet. The technology we call minimalist might fit in our pockets, but it depends on a vast infrastructure of grim, air-conditioned server farms and even grimmer Chinese factories. As Lerner’s protagonist observes in “10:04,” even a dull convenience like a can of instant coffee grounds reaches him thanks to a fragile and tremendously wasteful network of global connections, a logistics chain that defies all logic, one undergirded by exploited laborers and vast environmental degradation.

There’s an arrogance to today’s minimalism that presumes it provides an answer rather than, as originally intended, a question: What other perspectives are possible when you look at the world in a different way? The fetishized austerity and performative asceticism of minimalism is a kind of ongoing cultural sickness. We misinterpret material renunciation, austere aesthetics and blank, emptied spaces as symbols of capitalist absolution, when these trends really just provide us with further ways to serve our impulse to consume more, not less."
minimalism  2016  mariekondo  asceticism  possessions  culture  society  consumption  ariellebernstein  kylechayka  siliconvalley  affluence  inequality  privilege  austerity  greatrecession  donaldjudd  davidraskin  aesthetics  technology  abundance  tidying 
july 2016 by robertogreco
For the Children of Refugees, Marie Kondo's 'The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up' Reveals the Privilege of Clutter - The Atlantic
"The Japanese author’s guide to “tidying up” promises joy in a minimalist life. For many, though, particularly the children of refugees and other immigrants, it may not be so simple."



"It’s particularly ironic that the KonMari method has taken hold now, during a major refugee crisis, when the news constantly shows scenes of people fleeing their homes and everything they have. A Vice article, “All the Stuff Syrian Refugees Leave Behind During Their Journey to Europe” shows discarded things ranging from trash to toys to ticket stubs. Each items looks lonely and lost: like evidence of a life left behind. For a project titled “The Most Important Thing,” the photographer Brian Sokol asks refugees to show him the most important thing they kept from the place they left behind. The items they proffer range from the necessary (crutches), to the practical (a sewing machine), to the deeply sentimental (photographs of someone deeply loved, treasured instruments, family pets).

Against this backdrop, Kondo’s advice to live in the moment and discard the things you don’t need seems to ignore some important truths about what it means to be human. It’s easy to see the items we own as oppressive when we can so easily buy new ones. That we can only guess at the things we’ll need in the future and that we don’t always know how deeply we love something until it’s gone. "



"Kondo says that we can appreciate the objects we used to love deeply just by saying goodbye to them. But for families that have experienced giving their dearest possessions up unwillingly, “putting things in order” is never going to be as simple as throwing things away. Everything they manage to hold onto matters deeply. Everything is confirmation they survived."

[See also: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/31/magazine/the-oppressive-gospel-of-minimalism.html ]
ariellebernstein  clutter  mariekondo  minimalism  immigration  tidying  2016  refugees  privilege 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Berlin Biennale | All Problems Can Be Illuminated; Not All Problems Can Be Solved
"“There is no technology for justice. There is only justice.”12 Ursula Franklin answered when I asked her in December 2015, what to do. I reached out because I wanted her to tell me how to act on the perspectives she brings to the traditional story of progress. As someone building internet technologies, working within this received wisdom, I wanted a recipe, something I could share with others (with you!) and throw my body into.

She was warm and generous and incredibly insightful, and she gave me no smooth answers, no simple way.

Central to our conversation was my worry about the massive surveillance capacities enabled by internet technologies and the way in which public assent to surveillance is fueled by the racism and militarism of the now eternal “War on Terror.” What could we do to combat this narrative? What could we do to change the underlying technologies such that they respect human agency and privacy?

Franklin agreed. This is a grave problem. But not a “technological” problem:

“Whether it’s heathens, witches, women, communists, whoever, the institution of an enemy as a political tool is inappropriate. The only solution is an insistence on a civilized democratic society. A civilized democratic society combats this and the wish of an authority to collect personal information on citizens and their activities and loyalties. Whether it’s done by spying, by bribing children, by workplace monitoring, by confession in the confession box of the church—the collection is the issue. The means—the technology—is secondary. The problem is a problem of authoritarian power. And at the root of this problem is the issue of justice, and justice is political.”

While justice can be understood, can be felt, there is no template to follow, or checklist to work through for ensuring a just outcome. The requirements are humility, a respect for context, and a willingness to listen to the most marginalized voices. Let these define the basic requirements of whatever you do. You must “put yourself in the position of the most vulnerable, in a way that achieves a visceral gut feeling of empathy and perspective—that’s the only way to see what justice is.”

Understanding justice, honoring those most vulnerable and including them as authors of any plan that impacts them, is a necessary starting place. But the problems associated with our current technologies won’t be solved by tweaking gears or redesigning mechanisms. A roadmap that centers on justice is only the first step. “For a very long time gadgets and machinery have been anti-people. If one wants to get away from the anti-people component, then you don’t argue technology as much as you argue capitalism.” Even with a view of what justice would look like and could be, attempts at radical change will, of course, be repulsed by powerful actors who benefit richly from the unjust status quo. Political change must be a part of the equation.

This isn’t a frenzied call for revolution. The bigger the scale, the bigger the vision for just change, the more difficult it will be to “get it through” a system in which power is aligned against justice (and, of course, the more difficult it will be to truly understand this vision’s vast impact on vulnerable populations and thus ensure it really supports justice.) Not that working to build practices and plans isn’t worthwhile—it is incredibly worthwhile. But you’re unlikely to have much real impact if you start with a grand announcement. “To proceed in a hostile world,” Franklin suggests, “call it an experiment. Admit that you don’t know how to do it, but ask for space and peace and respect. Then try your experiment, quietly.” In conditions not conducive to success, situate yourself out of the spotlight and proceed subtly, humbly, and be willing to downplay expectations while new forms incubate.

“My favorite word is an old Quaker term, ‘scrupling,’ used as an activity,” Franklin begins, addressing how to approach the vastness of the political and social problems we were discussing. “It comes out of the anti-slavery movement, originally. People would get together to ‘scruple,’ that is, discuss and debate a common problem, something they had scruples about—say, justice—for which they did not have a solution. This is scrupling, and this is something you and your friends can do.”

Gather and talk. Empathize and listen. Don’t chase the spotlight, and accept that some problems are big, and difficult, and that what you’re good at may not fix them. These are not the ways of charismatic executives and flash-bang inventors. These are not instructions for entrepreneurial success. These won’t produce bigger faster newer ways of doing things.

Her parting words were meant to comfort me. “For your own sanity, you have to remember that not all problems can be solved. Not all problems can be solved, but all problems can be illuminated. If the eggs are scrambled, they’re scrambled. You can’t unscramble them. All you can possibly do is cook them and share them with somebody.”"
ursulafranklin  justice  technology  meredithmeredith  2016  efficiency  compliance  listening  empathy  progress  racism  militarism  surveillance  waronterror  democracy  society  humility  inclusivity  inclusion  vulnerability  radicalchange  power  statusquo  politics  scrupling  conversation  problemsolving  jacquesellul  capitalism  consumerism  innovation  quakers  systems  interrelationships  systemsthinking  complexity  culture  materials  art  mindset  organization  procedures  symbols  orthodoxy  luddism  occupywallstreet  ows  resistance  disruption  speed  humanism  science  scientism  legibility  elitism  experts  authority  privilege  experience  civilization  authoritarianism  socialjustice  revolution  peace  spotlight  hardproblems  success 
july 2016 by robertogreco
All the Greedy Young Abigail Fishers and Me 
"Years ago, I helped Abigail Fishers get into college in Texas. That was my job: I “tutored” entitled teenagers through the application process. Specifically, and ominously for my later life, I taught them to write a convincing personal essay—a task that generally requires identifying some insight, usually gained over some period of growth. And growth often depends on hardship, a thing that none of these 18-year-olds had experienced in a structural sense over the course of their white young lives. Because of the significant disconnect involved in this premise, I always ended up rewriting their essays in the end.

My students were white, and without exception. Their parents were paying me $450 per session, and this was Houston; of course they were white. The means were the essays, and the end was the assurance that the benefits of whiteness would continue to vest themselves even as Texas demographics and UT admissions practices began to put their lovely families in a bind.

Texas parents—as ability permits, and like parents throughout the country—pay good money to live in good school zones. These schools are “good” in a double and mutually reinforcing sense: they are academically vibrant, supportive, and competitive; they also draw from a wealthy population, which means most of the students are white. As Abigail Fisher’s case, a.k.a. Becky With the Bad Grades v. UT Austin, reminded us: the top 7 percent (formerly 10 percent) at all Texas high schools get admitted to UT’s flagship campus automatically. This means that a second-rate student at a first-rate school, a.k.a. an Abigail Fisher, does not automatically get in. This means that a portion of white kids don’t get the educational success those property taxes were supposed to pay for. The 10 percent policy is implicit discrimination against “good schools,” the party line goes.

Most of the UT student body gets in through the Top 10 rule. The rest—approximately 8 percent, the year Fisher applied—are admitted through a holistic evaluation process, which takes into account things like extracurriculars, leadership, personal essays (thus the $450), and race. This is the part of UT admissions policy that Fisher’s case was challenging. Note that it was easier for her (or the anti-affirmative-action zealot who bankrolled her) to take a margin of UT admissions to the Supreme Court than to envision a version of justice in which she had, along with 92 percent of admitted students, straight-up earned her way in.

Because UT Austin is a terrific place—the rare kind of school that radiates both capaciousness and prestige—it is the top choice for many Texas high school students, and its unique admissions policy carries a lot of weight. It is discussed ad nauseam during application season; however, the reasoning behind this policy—behind the 10 percent rule, behind affirmative action—is not. I figured that part out only after I left the state and saw how much about my previous surroundings had been determined by the fact that rich white people can still game the system simply by living—that they are still reaping the benefits of centuries of preferential access to everything that sets a person up for success.

Today, certain measures have been enacted to level the playing field. But, as the Abigails among us can’t seem to admit, the mere existence of these measures does not mean that the need for them has expired. White people remain uniquely able, in a monetary sense, to game the system. For a summer, at $150 an hour, I was paid to help.

And I did. The kids were sweet, and I knew how to elicit and identify whatever topic would make their voice speed up when they talked about it. We wrote about canoes capsizing at summer camp, about football injuries, about girlfriends freezing us out at youth group. For the most part, they got in where they wanted, and I worked a leisurely three hours a day, helping them cheat.

I’ve had a lot of relatively demeaning jobs in my life. I never thought I deserved better than any of them—first because I didn’t, and second, because a sense of entitlement means nothing without capital to back it up. I’ve waitressed in short shorts and cowboy boots. I’ve street-canvassed for recycling. When I was 16, I was paid minimum wage to participate in a reality TV show in Puerto Rico that included challenges like eating mayonnaise on camera with my hands tied behind my back.

This job—writing college essays for Abigail Fishers—was the only job I have ever been truly ashamed of, and I am so ashamed of it now that it hurts. I did it, too, for a particularly embarrassing reason: because it paid so well that I could keep my earning hours to a minimum, and for four months spend most of my time writing fiction so I could get into an MFA program. Once I did get in, my boyfriend started looking at me reproachfully when he came home from work and saw me sending invoices. “Stop doing this,” he said flatly, in the late afternoon one day."



"It took me until some time later to realize what is so obvious to me now, why my boyfriend hated my job so much, which was that I was the one letting the Abigails get away with everything. That I was feeding and affirming and making possible the entitlement of mediocre white high schoolers, many of whom believed themselves to be facing structural discrimination, and needed to hire a ghostwriter to stay on top. Luckily, they could afford to. Luckily, I liked them when they weren’t talking about affirmative action. Luckily, we all made out just fine in the end.

We were all lucky, weren’t we? In 2005, I applied to college—not in the Philippines or Canada, where my parents had gone, but in America. I was salutatorian at my high school; I had perfect SATs. I was a cheerleader, the editor of our yearbook, cast in every musical, an officer in every club. And still, when I got into colleges, I felt lucky. I never felt like I’d simply gotten what I deserved.

In fact I still don’t know what it would be like to feel automatically deserving of something, to have enough of a claim on advantage to give a fuck about giving it up. I have never had a case for any sort of admission, not even when I was a selfish high schooler, not even when it came to the 10 percent rule, because even when I opened my Texas acceptance letter I knew some Abigail Fisher would think that if anyone was coasting on race here, it was me. How the legacy of inequity took hold of me internally even as I clawed through it with a sunny disposition was not obvious to me then, or in college, or after I graduated, on a hot summer where I needed money and I couldn’t ask my parents and I felt lucky—lucky—to be helping Abigail Fishers cheat."
texas  colleges  universities  admissions  gamingthesystem  privilege  jiatolentino  univeristyoftexas  ut  abigailfisher  utaustin  prestige  inequality  affirmativeaction  race  2016  highered  highereducation 
june 2016 by robertogreco
A Teacher’s Letter to His Future Baby
"What the best and wisest parent wants for his child, that must we want for all the children of the community. Anything less is unlovely, and if left unchecked, destroys our democracy.
— John Dewey

Dear Baby,

The app on my phone tells me that you are, physically speaking, entirely you. A butternut squash with all your organs accounted for and operational, only in miniature. You have all of the usual marvels—tiny toes and fingers, button nose and belly—but that’s not exactly what I mean. The parts of your personality that you’ve inherited from your mom and me, you already have. So much is finished about you, and you’re not even born.

And yet, with all of this already arrived, I write to you today feeling how open your future is. I know almost nothing about you, which means so much is possible for you. Only the sonogram tech knows if you are female or male, and even she can’t tell us anything about who you will feel you are as you grow into a fuller person. You are simultaneously almost anything. Because you are white in the United States, and your parents are white, you will be afforded more control over how the world sees you, more grace for your mistakes. With these and other privileges, you will have the freedom to slide into many ways of being a person.

This, baby, is not a thing to be proud of. The time and the space to choose your own way, and be loved for it, is a gift that everyone deserves and that is denied to so many who sit, like you, waiting to be born. As I imagine the constellation of your possibilities, I know better than to wish too vehemently for any one thing for you—I’ve read too many memoirs by indoor sons about their sports-hero dads’ disappointment, to lay down the burden of concrete expectations upon you. But this one point I need you to understand: I wish that your happiness will not stand on the backs of others. I wish that when you feel limitless, it does not require limitation elsewhere for some other father’s child. I wish for your happiness to be pure. I wish for your happiness to be dependent on others, not propped up by their sacrifice. Stand tall. Be you, but don’t throw your shadow so far as to not make room for others.

I have been told—usually by neighbors and strangers, but by friends as well—that once I meet you, “Everything will change.” They assure me that I will switch from the measured logic of my political beliefs to an animal dad. Animal dad is fierce and protective. He will stop at nothing until he has pulled the best from the world and brought it home to you.

Love, they assure me, is a fist when it meets the world.

My white baby, this message is part of your cultural DNA. You will be told that to live well is to compete and protect what you claim for yourself. You will be told that the world sits at a table with too few desserts. If you want any, you’ve got to take it. That’s what getting the best is, they say.

Don’t believe them.

Of course I want you to have what you need. But I wish to my core that you will be free of the rippling violence of seeking the best. I want you to seek the deepest. The most varied. The fullest. The roundest. The calmest. The truest. The best? The best is an expression of power that fundamentally depends on someone getting the worst. The best leads to paranoia. To jealous anxiety. The best is a desert.

Will your mom and I be able to teach you this? What will you see when you’re old enough to imagine yourself as one of us? What sort of models will we make? Will you see two teachers with too much to grade? Up too early and up too late? The ones in the room who didn’t get the dark joke that school isn’t for learning, it’s for sorting? Will you only notice the days when sustaining this work has ground your parents a bit too fine, leaving us heart-tired and worried for our students? Will you choose a job in money management instead?

Or, will you see that I chose, and choose, to stay with my students because I like it here in the heat of the classroom? My child, the threads of my work, my love for your mom, the connections I feel with the families of strangers, the creativity of being an educator, and the rhythms of the years as they pass—they all twist together, inseparable. And all I feel is gratitude. I feel it even as I’m confronted by how imperfect the world can be. How will your mom and I ground you in this message?

You will go to public school, where I wish for your joy above all, with friends who can teach you things that I can’t. I will not martyr you there, but in school I hope you will learn to be curious and scrappy. I hope you have feisty, subversive teachers who like kids and don’t yell too much. I hope you understand success as a collective goal and that complacency at the sight of others’ sadness makes you poor. It makes you lonely.

But you won’t be lonely, baby. The adults you will meet—your uncles and aunts, your grandparents and great-grandparent, our friends—work in the world and serve it, not the other way around. How can I not be excited for the future you? You’ll sit with us at the end of meatball night, ringed by post-dinner debris, as we adults surround you with our earnest talk of a better way. Then you’ll speak up and join with something you learned from one of your teachers or something you learned by yourself. Will you hold your tongue until you make the cutting observation, like your mom? Will you speak circles until you land, like me? I can hardly wait."
greghuntington  children  parenting  2016  privilege  competition  gratitude  socialjustice  personhood  individualism  collectivism  community 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Six Implications of Brexit, Through the Eyes of a Foreign Resident – Zainab Usman
"1. An Anti-Establishment Vote by the Marginalised

The Brexit vote is a political backlash against the ‘establishment’, a catch all phrase for politicians, the media, economic institutions, or those with power. The way I see it, and as many analysts and economists have pointed out, this backlash is a political response to the progressive decline in material wellbeing of the middle class, from Thatcher’s reforms in the 1980s and exacerbated by the 2008 financial crisis, a phenomenon neither seriously acknowledged nor addressed. There are so many grievances by working class and blue collar workers, displaced by steady loss of competitiveness and deindustrialisation of British manufacturing and the aftermath of the financial crisis. Since 2010, the austerity policies of massive cuts in social welfare and gross underinvestment in public services have pushed many in the working class to economic precarity while the financial institutions in the thick of it all were bailed out by the government with tax-payer funds, and rewarded their top executives with hefty bonuses. The average worker saw a 8% decline in real wages between 2008 and 2013, according to the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR). Not to exaggerate, but there is a rise in food banks, an indication of rising food poverty in the world’s fifth largest economy.

Amidst all this, what I’ve always found astonishing is the dearth of critical commentary to articulate the grievances of this disadvantaged demographic in the public sphere especially in the British media. It is generally pro-establishment, including the so-called left-leaning press. Watching and following political commentaries, I’m often astonished at the sameness of views of most commentators, while critical voices are often savaged by the press, and thereby marginalised. Look no further at how both UK Independence Party (UKIP)’s Nigel Farage and Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn on the far-right and far-left respectively, both propelled to power by vibrant grassroots movements are usually savaged daily in the press, and portrayed as loony, sloppy, and unsophisticated. In the run up to the referendum, there were few insights into the lives of everyday people who would be making this momentous decision, with the exception of this short documentary by The Guardian, released a day before the vote.

The referendum thus presented an opportunity for these marginalised, maligned and angry voices to speak, and this was their decision. For many, it was a vote against a ‘technocracy’ in Brussels, in Westminster, which formulated economic policies that they felt rightly or wrongly did not favour them but did an already advantaged ‘elite’. With the Brexit vote, I hope more politicians, journalists, and the commentariat will now be more open to actually listening to what the people are saying and are feeling, without being derisory

2. Britain: Beset by Class, Economic and Regional Disparities

Brexit and the lively debates which preceded it have unearthed and reinforced deep divisions in the U.K. The deeply ingrained and institutionalised class divisions across all spheres of British life in business, politics, the media, academia and the arts, never cease to amaze me. Even top chefs and top actors are Oxbridge educated or Eton alumni, as these reports by the Social Mobility and Child Welfare Commission in 2014, and by the Sutton Trust in 2016 revealed. Of course private education is inherently not bad, but it is the limited scope for social mobility and the hegemony of ideas that this represents that I find discomforting.

Numerous reports have been published since 2008 about rising economic inequalities, graduate unemployment, housing crisis, a strain on public services etc., leaving many behind, and reinforcing the privilege of elite Oxbridge, Public School (i.e. private school) and personal networks who sit atop all spheres. I’m neither ideological nor a huge fan of the Left, but it is the limited scope for social mobility across all strata in British public life, especially in the media and the arts, that I worry about. Most of the big newspapers (the Times, Daily Mail, Telegraph, Mirror, the Financial Times etc) are right of centre or very right wing (but not quite far right).

No wonder, there was a surge of support for the far-right and far-left movements during the general elections in 2015, and afterwards in Nigel Farage’s UKIP, Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party (SNP) and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, most of which were actually grassroots movements. Regionally, areas with higher unemployment, closed industries, preferred to Leave, including surprise surprise, the highly diverse Birmingham. While more prosperous and cosmopolitan areas such as London and Manchester preferred to Remain in the EU. Scotland, which is under the political control of the left-wing SNP overwhelmingly voted to Remain as illustrated below.

3. ‘Project Hate’s’ Victory Will Embolden Other Far-Right Movements



4. Scapegoating Foreigners and Minorities



5. Implications for Africa and the Commonwealth



6. Whither the International Liberal Order?"
brexit  2016  politics  policy  marginalization  economics  media  establisment  elitism  technocracy  class  geography  classism  zainabusman  inequality  poverty  precarity  derision  unemployment  housing  privilege  grassroots  stability  donaldtrump  nativism  racism  immigration  scapegoating  africa  commonwealth  neoliberalism  xenophobia  jocox  markets 
june 2016 by robertogreco
The Limits of “Grit” - The New Yorker
"For children, the situation has grown worse as we’ve slackened our efforts to fight poverty. In 1966, when Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty initiatives were a major national priority, the poverty rate among American children was eighteen per cent. Now it is twenty-two per cent. If we suffer from a grit deficiency in this country, it shows up in our unwillingness to face what is obviously true—that poverty is the real cause of failing schools.

In this context, grit appears as a new hope. As the federal programs stalled, psychologists, neuroscientists, pediatricians, education reformers, and journalists began looking at the lives of children in a different way. Their central finding: non-cognitive skills play just as great a role as talent and native intelligence (I.Q.) in the academic and social success of children, and maybe even a greater role. In brief, we are obsessed with talent, but we should also be obsessed with effort. Duckworth is both benefitting from this line of thought and expanding it herself. The finding about non-cognitive skills is being treated as a revelation, and maybe it should be; among other things, it opens possible avenues for action. Could cultivating grit and other character traits be the cure, the silver bullet that ends low performance?"



"Now, there’s something very odd about this list. There’s nothing in it about honesty or courage; nothing about integrity, kindliness, responsibility for others. The list is innocent of ethics, any notion of moral development, any mention of the behaviors by which character has traditionally been marked. Levin, Randolph, and Duckworth would seem to be preparing children for personal success only—doing well at school, getting into college, getting a job, especially a corporate job where such docility as is suggested by these approved traits (gratitude?) would be much appreciated by managers. Putting it politically, the “character” inculcated in students by Levin, Randolph, and Duckworth is perfectly suited to producing corporate drones in a capitalist economy. Putting it morally and existentially, the list is timid and empty. The creativity and wildness that were once our grace to imagine as part of human existence would be extinguished by strict adherence to these instrumentalist guidelines."



"Not just Duckworth’s research but the entire process feels tautological: we will decide what elements of “character” are essential to success, and we will inculcate these attributes in children, measuring and grading the children accordingly, and shutting down, as collateral damage, many other attributes of character and many children as well. Among other things, we will give up the sentimental notion that one of the cardinal functions of education is to bring out the individual nature of every child.

Can so narrow an ideal of character flourish in a society as abundantly and variously gifted as our own? Duckworth’s view of life is devoted exclusively to doing, at the expense of being. She seems indifferent to originality or creativity or even simple thoughtfulness. We must all gear up, for grit is a cause, an imp of force. “At various points, in big ways and small, we get knocked down. If we stay down, grit loses. If we get up, grit prevails.” Through much of “Grit,” she gives the impression that quitting any activity before achieving mastery is a cop-out. (“How many of us vow to knit sweaters for all our friends but only manage half a sleeve before putting down the needles? Ditto for home vegetable gardens, compost bins, and diets.”) But what is the value of these projects? Surely some things are more worth pursuing than others. If grit mania really flowers, one can imagine a mass of grimly determined people exhausting themselves and everyone around them with obsessional devotion to semi-worthless tasks—a race of American squares, anxious, compulsive, and constrained. They can never try hard enough.

Duckworth’s single-mindedness could pose something of a danger to the literal-minded. Young people who stick to their obsessions could wind up out on a limb, without a market for their skills. Spelling ability is nice, if somewhat less useful than, say, the ability to make a mixed drink—a Negroni, a Tom Collins. But what do you do with it? Are the thirteen-year-old champion spellers going to go through life spelling out difficult words to astonished listeners? I realize, of course, that persistence in childhood may pay off years later in some unrelated activity. But I’m an owlish enough parent to insist that the champion spellers might have spent their time reading something good—or interacting with other kids. And what if a child has only moderate talent for her particular passion? Mike Egan, a former member of the United States Marine Band, wrote a letter to the Times Book Review in response to Judith Shulevitz’s review of Duckworth’s book. “Anyone who would tell a child that the only thing standing between him or her and world-class achievement is sufficient work,” Egan wrote, “ought to be jailed for child abuse.”

Duckworth not only ignores the actual market for skills and talents, she barely acknowledges that success has more than a casual relation to family income. After all, few of us can stick to a passion year after year that doesn’t pay off—not without serious support. Speaking for myself, the most important element in my social capital as an upper-middle-class New York guy was, indeed, capital—my parents carried me for a number of years as I fumbled my way to a career as a journalist and critic. Did I have grit? I suppose so, but their support made persistence possible.

After many examples of success, Duckworth announces a theory: “Talent x effort = skill. Skill x effort = achievement.” It’s hardly E=mc2. It’s hardly a theory at all—it’s more like a pop way of formalizing commonplace observation and single-mindedness. Compare Duckworth’s book in this respect with Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers.” Gladwell also traced the backgrounds of extraordinarily accomplished people—the computer geniuses Bill Gates and Bill Joy, business tycoons, top lawyers in New York, and so on. And Gladwell discovered that, yes, his world-beaters devoted years to learning and to practice: ten thousand hours, he says, is the rough amount of time it takes for talented people to become masters.

Yet, if perseverance is central to Gladwell’s outliers, it’s hardly the sole reason for their success. Family background, opportunity, culture, landing at the right place at the right time, the over-all state of the economy—all these elements, operating at once, allow some talented people to do much better than other talented people. Gladwell provides the history and context of successful lives. Duckworth—indifferent to class, race, history, society, culture—strips success of its human reality, and her single-minded theory may explain very little. Is there any good football team, for instance, that doesn’t believe in endless practice, endurance, overcoming pain and exhaustion? All professional football teams train hard, so grit can’t be the necessary explanation for the Seahawks’ success. Pete Carroll and his coaches must be bringing other qualities, other strategies, to the field. Observing those special qualities is where actual understanding might begin."
grit  2016  angeladuckworth  race  class  luck  perseverance  daviddenby  education  mastery  practice  kipp  character  classism  elitism  obsessions  malcolmgladwell  serendipity  mikeegan  judithshulevitz  capital  privilege  success  effort  talent  skill  achievement  history  culture  society  edreform  nep  pisa  testing  standardizedtesting  nclb  rttt  socialscience  paultough  children  schools  poverty  eq  neuroscience  jackshonkoff  martinseligman  learnedoptimism  depression  pessimism  optimism  davelevin  dominicrandolph  honesty  courage  integrity  kindliness  kindness  samuelabrams 
june 2016 by robertogreco
What to do when you're not the hero any more
"Let's not get carried away here. These stories and retellings are still exceptions. Women are still paid less, respected less and promoted less at almost every level of every creative industry. For every Jessica Jones there's a Daredevil, whose female characters exist solely to get rescued, provide the protagonists with some pneumatic exposition, or both. For every Orphan Black there's Mr Robot and Narcos and you know, sometimes I wonder if perhaps I watch too much television. The point is that what we have right now isn't equality yet. It's nothing like equality. But it's still enough to enrage the old guard because when you've been used to privilege, equality feels like prejudice.

The rage that white men have been expressing, loudly, violently, over the very idea that they might find themselves identifying with characters who are not white men, the very idea that heroism might not be particular to one race or one gender, the basic idea that the human story is vast and various and we all get to contribute a page - that rage is petty. It is aware of its own pettiness. Like a screaming toddler denied a sweet, it becomes more righteous the more it reminds itself that after all, it’s only a story.

Only a story. Only the things we tell to keep out the darkness. Only the myths and fables that save us from despair, to establish power and destroy it, to teach each other how to be good, to describe the limits of desire, to keep us breathing and fighting and yearning and striving when it'd be so much easier to give in. Only the constitutive ingredients of every human society since the Stone age.

Only a story. Only the most important thing in the whole world.

The people who are upset that the faces of fiction are changing are right to worry. It's a fundamental challenge to a worldview that's been too comfortable for too long. The part of our cultural imagination that places white Western men at the centre of every story is the same part that legitimises racism and sexism. The part of our collective mythos that encourages every girl and brown boy to identify and empathise with white male heroes is the same part that reacts with rage when white boys are asked to imagine themselves in anyone else’s shoes.

The problem - as River Song puts it - is that 'men will believe any story they're hero of,' and until recently that's all they've been asked to do. The Original Star Wars was famously based on Joseph Campbell's "Hero's Journey", the "monomyth" that was supposed to run through every important legend from the beginning of time. But it turned out that women had no place in that monomyth, which has formed the basis of lazy storytelling for two or three generations: Campbell reportedly told his students that "women don't need to make the journey. In the whole mythological journey, the woman is there. All she has to do is realise that she's the place that people are trying to get to".

Which is narratologist for "get back to the kitchen" and arrant bullshit besides. It's not enough to be a destination, a prop in someone else's story. Now women and other cultural outsiders are kicking back and demanding a multiplicity of myths. Stories in which there are new heroes making new journeys. This isn't just good news for steely-eyed social justice warriors like me. It also means that the easily bored among us might not have to sit through the same dull story structure as imagined by some dude in the 1970s until we die.

What does it mean to be a white cis boy reading these books and watching these new shows? The same thing it has meant for everyone else to watch every other show that’s ever been made. It means identifying with people who don’t look like you, talk like you or fuck like you. It’s a challenge, and it’s as radical and useful for white cis boys as it is for the rest of us - because stories are mirrors, but they are also windows. They let you see yourself transfigured, but they also let you live lives you haven’t had the chance to imagine, as many other lives as there are stories yet to be told, without once leaving your chair.

This isn’t just about "role models". Readers who are female, queer or of colour have been allowed role models before. What we haven’t been allowed is to see our experience reflected, to see our lives mirrored and magnified and made magical by culture. We haven’t been allowed to see ourselves as anything other than the exception. If we made it into the story, we were standing alone, and we were constantly reminded how miraculous it was that we had saved the day even though we were just a woman. Or just a black kid. Or just - or just,whatever it was that made us less than those boys who were just born to be heroes.

The people who get angry that Hermione is black, that Rey is a woman, that Furiosa is more of a hero than Mad Max, I understand their anger. Anyone who has ever felt shut out of a story by virtue of their sex or skin colour has felt that anger. Imagine that anger multiplied a hundredfold, imagine feeling it every time you read or watched or heard or played through a story. Imagine how over time that rage would harden into bewilderment, and finally mute acceptance that people like you were never going to get to be the hero, not really.

Then imagine that suddenly starting to change. Imagine letting out a breath you’d held between your teeth so long you’d forgotten the taste of air.

Capitalism is just a story. Religion is just a story. Patriarchy and white supremacy are just stories. They are the great organising myths that define our societies and determine our futures, and I believe - I hope - that a great rewriting is slowly, surely underway. We can only become what we can imagine, and right now our imagination is being stretched in new ways. We're learning, as a culture, that heroes aren't always white guys, that life and love and villainy and victory might look a little different depending on who's telling it. That's a good thing. It's not easy - but nobody ever said that changing the world was going to be easy.

I learned that from Harry Potter."
lauriepenny  privilege  feminism  starwars  2015  capitalism  inequality  gender  religion  patriarchy  whitesupremacy  madmax  josephcampbell  monomyths 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Identity, Power and Education’s Algorithms — Identity, Education and Power — Medium
"Many Twitter users seemed to balk at letting the company control their social and information networks algorithmically. It’s time we bring the same scrutiny to the algorithms we’re compelling students and teachers to use in the classroom. We must ask: how will an algorithmic education also serve to amplify the voices of the powerful and silence the voices of the marginalized? What does it mean to build ed-tech profiles: who is profiled and how? What patterns do the algorithms see? What do they reinforce? What will become “unseen” as these algorithms are opaque? How do some identities and privileges get hard-coded into these new software systems? And who stands to benefit? How will these algorithmic practices actually work to extend educational inequality?"
twitter  audreywatters  2016  algorithms  education  edtech  socialmedia  socialnetworks  teaching  learning  accessibility  voice  power  marginalization  privilege  software  inequality 
february 2016 by robertogreco
The Reductive Seduction of Other People’s Problems — The Development Set — Medium
"“If you’re young, privileged, and interested in creating a life of meaning, of course you’d be attracted to solving problems that seem urgent and readily solvable.”"

"Let’s pretend, for a moment, that you are a 22-year-old college student in Kampala, Uganda. You’re sitting in class and discreetly scrolling through Facebook on your phone. You see that there has been another mass shooting in America, this time in a place called San Bernardino. You’ve never heard of it. You’ve never been to America. But you’ve certainly heard a lot about gun violence in the U.S. It seems like a new mass shooting happens every week.

You wonder if you could go there and get stricter gun legislation passed. You’d be a hero to the American people, a problem-solver, a lifesaver. How hard could it be? Maybe there’s a fellowship for high-minded people like you to go to America after college and train as social entrepreneurs. You could start the nonprofit organization that ends mass shootings, maybe even win a humanitarian award by the time you are 30.

Sound hopelessly naïve? Maybe even a little deluded? It is. And yet, it’s not much different from how too many Americans think about social change in the “Global South.”

If you asked a 22-year-old American about gun control in this country, she would probably tell you that it’s a lot more complicated than taking some workshops on social entrepreneurship and starting a non-profit. She might tell her counterpart from Kampala about the intractable nature of our legislative branch, the long history of gun culture in this country and its passionate defenders, the complexity of mental illness and its treatment. She would perhaps mention the added complication of agitating for change as an outsider.

But if you ask that same 22-year-old American about some of the most pressing problems in a place like Uganda — rural hunger or girl’s secondary education or homophobia — she might see them as solvable. Maybe even easily solvable.

I’ve begun to think about this trend as the reductive seduction of other people’s problems. It’s not malicious. In many ways, it’s psychologically defensible; we don’t know what we don’t know.

If you’re young, privileged, and interested in creating a life of meaning, of course you’d be attracted to solving problems that seem urgent and readily solvable. Of course you’d want to apply for prestigious fellowships that mark you as an ambitious altruist among your peers. Of course you’d want to fly on planes to exotic locations with, importantly, exotic problems.

There is a whole “industry” set up to nurture these desires and delusions — most notably, the 1.5 million nonprofit organizations registered in the U.S., many of them focused on helping people abroad. In other words, the young American ego doesn’t appear in a vacuum. Its hubris is encouraged through job and internship opportunities, conferences galore, and cultural propaganda — encompassed so fully in the patronizing, dangerously simple phrase “save the world.”"



"We are easily seduced by aid projects that promise play. The SOCCKET, an energy-generating soccer ball, made a splash in 2011 when it raised $92,296 on Kickstarter. Three short years later, the company that created it wrote to its backers: “Most of you received an incredibly underwhelming product with a slew of manufacturing and quality control errors… In summary, we totally f*#ked up this Kickstarter campaign.”

Reading their surprisingly candid mea culpa, I couldn’t help but wonder where the equivalent message was to the kids in energy-starved areas whose high hopes were darkened by a defunct ball.

In some cases, the reductive seduction can actively cause harm. In its early years, TOMS Shoes — which has become infamous for its “buy one give one” business model, wherein they give a pair of shoes for every one sold — donated American-made shoes, which put local shoe factory workers out of jobs (they’ve since changed their supply chain).

Some development workers even have an acronym that they use to describe these initiatives: SWEDOW (stuff we don’t want). AIDWATCH, a watchdog development blog, created a handy flow chart that helps do gooders reality check their altruistic instincts. It begins with the simplest of questions — “Is the stuff needed?” — and flows down to more sophisticated questions like, “Will buying locally cause shortages or other disruptions?”

Second, the reductive seduction of other people’s problems is dangerous for the people whose problems you’ve avoided. While thousands of the country’s best and brightest flock to far-flung places to ease unfamiliar suffering and tackle foreign dysfunction, we’ve got plenty of domestic need."



"I understand the attraction of working outside of the U.S. There’s no question that the scale and severity of need in so many countries goes far beyond anything we experience or witness stateside. Why should those beautiful humans deserve any less of our best energy just because we don’t share a nationality?

(And I’m not arguing that staying close to home inoculates kids, especially of the white, privileged variety, like me, from making big mistakes.)

But don’t go because you’ve fallen in love with solvability. Go because you’ve fallen in love with complexity.

Don’t go because you want to do something virtuous. Go because you want to do something difficult.

Don’t go because you want to talk. Go because you want to listen.

Don’t go because you loved studying abroad. Go because, like Molly Melching, you plan on putting down roots. Melching, a native of Illinois, is widely credited with ending female genital cutting (FGC) in Senegal. But it didn’t happen overnight. She has been living in and around Dakar since 1974, developing her organization, Tostan, and its strategy of helping communities collectively address human rights abuses. Her leadership style is all about finely calibrated moments of risk — when she will challenge a local leader, for example — and restraint — when she will hold off on challenging a local leader because she intuits that she hasn’t yet developed enough trust with him. That kind of leadership doesn’t develop during a six-month home stay.

The rise of the social entrepreneurship field in the last few decades has sent countless young people packing across continents. In 2015, global nonprofit Echoing Green received 3,165 applications for about 40 fellowship spots, the majority of them from American applicants interested in social change abroad. For the last decade, recent college grads have been banging down the doors at places like Ashoka and Skoll World Forum, both centers of the social entrepreneurship universe, and SOCAP, focused on impact investing. And, to be sure, a lot of those grads are doing powerful work.

But a lot of them, let’s be real, are not. They’re making big mistakes — both operationally and culturally — in countries they aren’t familiar with. They’re solving problems for people, rather than with, replicating many of the mistakes that the world’s largest development agencies make on a much smaller scale. They drop technology without having a training or maintenance plan in place, or try to shift cultural norms without culturally appropriate educational materials or trusted messengers. Or they’re spending the majority of their days speaking about the work on the conference circuit, rather than actually doing it.

This work can take a toll on these young, idealistic Americans. They feel hollowed out by the cumulative effects of overstating their success while fundraising. They’re quietly haunted by the possibility that they aren’t the right people to be enacting these changes. They feel noble at times, but disconnected from their own homes, their own families, their own friends. They burn out.

There’s a better way. For all of us. Resist the reductive seduction of other people’s problems and, instead, fall in love with the longer-term prospect of staying home and facing systemic complexity head on. Or go if you must, but stay long enough, listen hard enough so that “other people” become real people. But, be warned, they may not seem so easy to “save.”"

[Two responses:
https://medium.com/the-development-set/the-global-development-long-game-a1a42b8c67ee#.36h0y6rtl
https://medium.com/the-development-set/the-hand-that-gives-9187a8ccfcd0#.3x4h3miel ]
courtneymartin  designimperialism  humanitariandesign  problemsolving  colonialism  solvability  2016  privilege  virtue  complexity  mollymelching  roots  culture  idealism  cznnaemeka  guns  homelessness  homeless  prisons  criminaljusticesystem  tomsshoes  aidwatch  globalsouth  disruption  charitableindustrialcomplex  socialentrepreneurship  philanthropicindustrialcomplex 
january 2016 by robertogreco
The Inspiration Porn Resolution — Disability Stories — Medium
"Will you make the #InspoPornResolution to improve the depiction of the disability experience?"



"I am making the #InspoPornResolution to accurately depict the disability experience.

1. I will not co-opt the disability experience for the consumption of others.

2. I will not assume understanding of disabled experience. I will check my privilege and ask questions.

3. When in doubt about language, I will ask and respect the way disabled people self-identify and use resources such as the style guide from the National Center on Disability and Journalism for general guidelines.

4. I will ask my publication to hire and pay disabled writers, editors, collaborators, consultants.

Common Inspiration Porn Themes*

Here are some common themes and questions you should ask yourself about whether your story contains Inspiration Porn:

• Participation Trophies: Is what the disabled person did more ‘special’ than their non-disabled counterpart? The story cannot be newsworthy simply because a disabled person participated. Example: a person voted Homecoming Queen, becoming a runway model or joining a sports team.

• Able-Bodied Heroes: Did somebody do something nice for a person with a disability? Is your article written to praise that person for doing a ‘good deed’ even if the disabled recipient did or did not consent?

• People as Props: Are you writing about things done to or for a disabled person rather than focusing on what the disabled person does?

• Gawking without Talking: Does the disabled person have a ‘speaking’ part (even if the individual does not communicate through conventional speech)? Are their opinions or feelings about the described events taken into account?

• SuperParent: Are you praising a special parent, coach, or teacher of a special child? A person cannot be a hero without overcoming an obstacle. A parent cannot be a hero without the burden or challenge a child may present.

*These themes were adapted from R. Larkin Taylor-Parker’s tumblr post (December 23, 2015). Check it out!"
via:ablerism  2016  disability  inspirationporn  gawking  privilege  cooption  journalism  disabilities 
january 2016 by robertogreco
454 W 23rd St New York, NY 10011—2157 - List of shibboleth names
"List of shibboleth names
by which the privileged judge their inferiors

Chinua Achebe (chin-oo-ah ah-chay-bae)

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (chim-ah-man-da nnnn-go-zeh ah-dee-che)

James Agee (a-jee)

Jerzy Andrzejewski (yer-zhay ahn-zhay-ev-ski)

Hannah Arendt (ahr-ent)

Martha Argerich (mar-tah herr-each)

Augustine of Hippo (aw-gus-tin)

Angelo Badalamenti (bottle-ah-menti)

Donald/Frederick Barthelme (barth-uhl-me)

Karl Barth (bart)

Roland Barthes (bart)

Tycho Brahe (Danish pronunciation: too-ghoh brahhh)

Walter Benjamin (ben-yameen)

Bishop Berkeley (barkley)

John Betjeman (betch-uh-mun)

Joseph Beuys (boyz)

Tadeusz Borowski (tah-de-yoosh borr-off-ski)

Burgundy Street, New Orleans (burr-gun-dee)

Menzies Campbell (ming-iss)

Thomas Carew (carey)

Vija Celmins (vee-yah tell-midge)

Michael Chabon (shay-bonn)

J.C. Chandor (shann-door)

Cimabue (chee-ma-boo-ee)

Michael Cimino (chee-me-noh)

Emil Cioran (chore-ahn)

Ta-Nehisi Coates (tah-nuh-hah-see)

Alexander/Andrew/Patrick Cockburn (coburn)

Paulo Coelho (~pow-lu kuh-whey.l-you.)1

J.M. Coetzee (~koot-zee-uh)

Robert Campin (com-pin)

William Cowper (cooper)

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (me-high cheek-sent-me-high)

Countee Cullen (cown-tay)

Marie Skłodowska-Curie (skwoh-doaf-ska)

Alfonso/Jonás/Carlo Cuarón (al-fone-so/ho-nas kwah-roan)

The Dalles, Oregon (the dolls)

Guy Debord (ghee du-borrh)

Louis De Broglie (duh broy)

Don Juan, Byron character (jew-un)

W.E.B. DuBois (duh-boyz)

Andre Dubus (duh-byoose)

Chiwetel Ejiofor (choo-we-tell edge-ee-oh-for)

Leonhard Euler (oiler)

Ralph/Ranulph/Sophie/Joseph/Magnus/Martha Fiennes (rayf finezzzzzzzzzzzzz)

Gustave Flaubert (flow-bear)

Michel Foucault (foo-coh)

André Gide (zheed)

Giotto (zhott-oh)

Jan Gossaert (~yann ho-sight) aka ‘Mabuse’ (mah-buu-seh)

Alexander Grothendieck (groat-enn-deek)

Houston Street, Manhattan (house-ton)

Alberto Giacometti (Swiss pronunciation: yah-coe-mett-ee)2

H.R. Giger (ghee-guh)

Jacques, Shakespeare character (jay-kwiss)

Johann Gottlieb Fichte (feesh-tuh)3

Philip Gourevitch (guh-ray-vitch)

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (~goo-tuh/ger-tuh)

David Guetta (gay-tah)

Vaclav Havel (vat-slav hah-vell)

John Hersey (hearse-ey)

Guy Hocquenghem (ghee ock-en-g’yem)

Joris-Karl Huysmans (zhour-ris karl weese-moss)4

Bohumil Hrabal (boh-who-meal h’rah-ball)

Seu Jorge (~sewe zhawzhe)1

Kelis Rogers (kuh-leece)

John Maynard Keynes (kanes)

Krzysztof Kieślowski (krish-toff keesh-loff-skee)

Q'orianka/Xihuaru Kilcher (core-i-an-ka/see-wahr-oo)

Danilo Kiš (dann-eel-oh keesh)

Paul Klee (powell clay)

Sarah Koenig (kay-nig)

Alexandre Kojève (koh-zhevv)

Tadeusz Konwicki (tah-de-yoosh konn-vitz-ski)

Jerzy Kosiński (yer-zhay koh-shin-ski)

Alexandre Koyré (kwah-ray)

Saul Kripke (krip-key)

Thomas Kuhn (coon)

Henri Lefebvre (luh-fevv-ruh)

Stanisław Lem (stan-ni-swaf lemm)

Jonathan Lethem (leeth-um)

Jared Leto (let-oh)

Marina Lewycka (leh-vitz-kah)

Peter Lorre (laura)

Magdalen College, Oxford (mawd-lin)

Somerset Maugham (mawm)

Czesław Miłosz (chess-waff me-woahsh)

Joan Miró (zhwamn me-roh)

Sławomir Mrożek (swah-voh-meer m’roh-zhek)

Harry Mulisch (mool-ish)

Edvard Munch (ed-vart moonk)

Robert Musil (moo-zeal/moo-seal)

Nacogdoches, Texas (nack-uh-dough-chis)

Natchitoches, Louisiana (nack-uh-tush)

Anaïs Nin (ah-nayh-ees ninn)

Lupita Nyong'o (~nnnnnyong-oh)

Adepero Oduye (add-uh-pair-oh oh-doo-yay)

Michael Ondaatje (awn-datch-ee)

David Oyelowo (oh-yell-uh-whoah)

Chuck Palahniuk (pahl-uh-nik)

Wolfgang Pauli (pow-lee)

Charles Sanders Peirce (purse)

Samuel Pepys (peeps)

Jodi Picoult (pee-coe)

Max Planck (plonk)

Plotinus (ploh-tine-us)

Anthony Powell (po-uhl)

John Cowper Powys (cooper poh-iss)

Principia Mathematica (prin-kipp-ee-yah)

Marcel Proust (proost)

Joseph Pulitzer (puh-litz-ur)

Ayn Rand (well-fare recipient)

Sławomir Rawicz (swah-voh-meer rahh-vitch)

Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen/Roentgen (vill-helm rhont-gn)

Theodore Roethke (ret-key)

Mary Ruefle (roo-full)

Ed Ruscha (roo-shay)

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (sanh-eks-oo-pear-ee)

Luc Sante (sahnt)

Jon Scieszka (sheh-shka)

Schlumberger (slumber-zhay)

Bruno Schulz (schooltz)

W.G. Sebald (zay-bald)

Chloë Sevigny (seven-yay)

Choire Sicha (corey seeka)

Charles Simić (Serbian pronunciation: simm-itch, but often called simmick)

Josef Škvorecký (yoh-zeff shkorr-etz-ski)

William Smellie (smiley)

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (saul-zhuh-neat-sin)

William Stukeley (stoo-key)

Wisława Szymborska (vee-swa-va shim-bor-ska)

Gay Talese (tuh-leeze)

Chief Justice Roger Taney (tawny)

Tchoupitoulas Street, New Orleans (chop-uh-too-luss)

Wayne Thiebaud (tee-bo)

Uwe Timm (ooh-veh)

Colm Tóibín (~column toh-been)

Ernst Troeltsch (trolch)

Tulane University (too-lane)

Ivan Turgenev (yvonne turr-gain-yevv)

George W. S. Trow (like ’grow’)

Jones Very (jonas veery)

Vladimir Voinovich (vlah-dee-meer voy-noh-vitch)

Ayelet Waldman (eye-yell-it)

Quvenzhané Wallis (kwuh-ven-zhuh-nay)

Robert Walser (valzer)

Evelyn St. John Waugh (eve-linn sin-jun wahh)

Max Weber (veigh-burr)

Simone Weil (zee-moan veigh)

Michel Houllebecq (he doesn’t care)

Joos van Cleve (yohss fon clay-vuh)

Rogier van der Weyden (~ro-kheer fon dur vay-dun)

Vincent van Gogh (Dutch pronunciation: ~finch-ant fan hawh)

Rembrandt van Rijn (remm-brondt fon rain)

Johannes Vermeer (yo-hann-iss furr-meer)

Ludwig Wittgenstein (vitt-genn-shtein)

David Wojnarowicz (woy-nar-oh-vitz)

Pelham Grenville Wodehouse (wood-house)

Joseph Wright of Derby (right of dahr-bee)

William Butler Yeats (yates)

Yerkes Observatory (yer-keys)

Slavoj Žižek (slah-voi zhee-zhek)

Andrzej Żuławski (ahn-drey zhu-wavv-ski)"
language  names  pronunciations  shibboleths  education  judgment  privilege 
december 2015 by robertogreco
How the Myth of the Meritocracy Ruins Students
"The inequitable outcome of the meritocracy is hiding in plain sight in every facet of society - in schools, workplaces, prisons and neighborhoods. We don't like inequality and we're alarmed by how fast the underclass is growing, but we believe that it's a fact of life because, let's face it, some people are just better than others. Most of us, liberals included, are to varying degrees beholden to the Myth of the Meritocracy.

Liberals are all for trying to level the playing field. We support basic civil rights measures that prohibit blatant discrimination and affirmative action programs that groom the cream of the crop for middle-class membership. But for all the leveling that has supposedly occurred since Martin Luther King Jr.'s time, things are still very lopsided. King's dream of economic equality was sidelined, because most Americans believe that once the shackles of overt discrimination are removed, the next logical step is for everyone to compete for as big a share of the spoils as possible.

We raise our kids to aspire to the "American Dream," which is understood to extend the promise of upward mobility only to the winners of the rat race. Theoretically, every individual has the opportunity to win the competition and live the dream. But so long as there are winners and losers (with outcomes largely predetermined at birth), the "American Dream" is a Trump-like zero-sum game, and our misplaced allegiance to it has led to nightmarish levels of inequality and social breakdown. As the late George Carlin said, "It's called the American dream because you have to be asleep to believe it."

Meritocracy is taken for granted as part of the natural order but, in reality, it's a political choice. The alternative to meritocracy is the organized, formal redistribution of wealth on the basis of need, not achievement, but this notion is not (yet) given air time because it upsets the Myth of the Meritocracy. What if some loser gets something he doesn't deserve? What if I have taken away something I deserve to keep?

There's a "me" and there's a "them," and they're in competition and conflict. We'd rather they be homeless, imprisoned, deported or fired than take what we believe is rightfully ours. There is, it seems, a little bit of The Donald in all of us.

We've been conditioned to prefer a society in which everyone has at least some chance of climbing to the top to one in which everyone's basic needs are met. And so it is. And so our society unravels because we'd rather fight each other and fetishize individual success than share.

This reflex to compete rather than cooperate stems from the modern delusion that humans are separate from one another and from nature. When we pause to reflect, we can readily sense and observe that all beings are interconnected and our fates intertwined. But we don't pause to reflect, because we're too busy reacting defensively to perceived threats to our well-being, threats that are amplified 24-7 by the media.

The biggest actual threat to our well-being is the hyper-individualist ethic that frightens us into participating in the war of all against all, the endgame of which is social collapse and, at the rate we're plundering a natural world we feel disconnected from, human extinction.

Dr. King said:
We must see that whatever diminishes the poor diminishes everybody else. And the salvation of the poor will mean the salvation of the whole nation. For we're all tied together in an inescapable network of mutuality. We are tied in a single garment of destiny.

Our culture conditions us to believe the opposite - that each of us can and must strive to rise above the fray. Schools do their part, training children to put a premium on personal excellence or be condemned to a lifetime of drudgery, poverty and, most horrifying of all, low status.

We can abolish homework and testing. We can turn classrooms into innovative hands-on laboratories of learning. We can tell our kids that their lives will be just as happy with a degree from a community college as from Princeton. We can run programs for at-risk youth and, with enough progressive elected officials in office, we can even wrangle some extra money for public schools.

And we should do all of those things. But so long as we focus on each individual child's success rather than the collective well-being of all children and families, we will not be able to extricate our children from the corrosive zero-sum game of "race to the top or get left behind" they are forced to play. So long as we remain trapped in the meritocratic arena, we ensure a mean and uncertain future for our children, a future in which most will be consigned to the underclass and even those closer to the top will unhappily strive to surpass thy neighbor.

Politics and culture keep the Myth of the Meritocracy alive. Market fundamentalism ensures high levels of economic inequality that have people worried enough to want to elbow their fellow citizens (and non-citizens) out of the race. Culturally, we're conditioned from such an early age to enter the race to the top and to believe that those at the top belong there, that we never consider what it would look like to cooperate instead of compete.

It doesn't have to be this way. The United States is blessed with more than enough to go around, enough food, enough medicine, enough housing, enough money to create space for every child to graduate from a university or vocational college and earn a decent living doing something they enjoy. We just need to get better at sharing and cooperating.

That, in the end, is our choice: Redistribute wealth equitably and invest in schools that honor and inspire students or force our children to run the gauntlet, knowing that only a fraction of them will succeed and the rest eliminated like Celebrity Apprentice contestants. Either Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream will be realized, or Trump's will."
meritocracy  society  ericaetelson  competition  capitalism  2015  inequality  wealthredistribution  wealth  politics  culture  us  learning  children  poverty  privilege  georgecarlin  mutuality  martinlutherkingjr  individualism  japan  collectivism  socialism  communism  americandream  socialsafetynet  economics  injustice  unfairness  race  racism  classism  class  libertarianism  success  virtue  work  labor  motivation  education  schools  racetonowhere 
november 2015 by robertogreco
Failures of Our Global Imagination | Civicist
"The problem with first world problems, and why we need to shift the way we talk about global tech"



"It’s time to abandon the First World/Third World dichotomy. Whether or not this dichotomy was a helpful one at some point in the past, it’s no longer helpful now. The “Third World” has glittering skyscrapers and glowing smartphones, and the “First World” has decaying neighborhoods and entire swaths of the country without broadband. There are very real and important differences between rich and poor countries, and these dynamics play out at the level of international relations, all the way down to the mundane and often humiliating work of applying for visas. But this framing creates a divide that limits our capacity to understand the vast spectra of the way human beings live in the 21st century. I don’t yet have a better vocabulary for this, but I hope someone smarter than me can figure that out. For now, I do use the phrases “developing world,” “global south,” and “poor countries,” but I’d like to have a better framework. Any suggestions?

Remember the diversity of ways we use communications technology: that includes connecting with people we care about and depend on. In contrast to narratives about vanity, slacktivism, and luxury when it comes to tech in the middle-class West, so much of the conversation about technology in the global south focuses on information and practical communications, like around agricultural trends and educational material. This is good and important work. But highly pragmatic use cases are just part of the reason anyone has used communications technology. Informal markets from Asia to Africa are filled with music and movies, like a Bluetooth-powered Napster, and people are just as likely to send text messages and Facebook posts to check in with friends and loved ones as they are to access important healthcare information and market reports. These things can coexist.

Like a city, the internet and mobile phones provide for a vast diversity of human needs, which include the basic human need for companionship, support, and access to joy in the face of suffering. Fortunately, this part of the global imagination doesn’t require too much effort: Just think of how everyone you know uses technology, the number of apps, the different ways they laugh, smile, cry, and scowl at what they see behind those plates of glass.

Shifting the narrative is such a critical part of the motivation behind my work with global internet cultures, and the above are just a few ideas for how I think we can do that. But more important than trying to know everything about the world is establishing a culture of knowing that we don’t know. The assumption that we can parachute into a foreign culture with formal expertise and knowledge and make things better has never been acceptable, and it has led to a lot of unnecessary suffering, especially in colonized countries. The fact that people in marginalized parts of the world can now call out misguided attitudes and perceptions about them will go a long way, and those of us with access to media and policy can do well to amplify and extend these voices.

But it is also not possible to know every detail about other people’s lives. Attention is limited, as is time. We can learn everything we can about the day to day of rural Laos, but the conflict in Mali will seem completely opaque. Instead, it’s more important to know that we don’t know, know that we need to listen to those who have greater familiarity, and to know that there are ways to go further. Adopting an attitude of humility and curiosity can take us much farther than an attitude of assuredness and assumption. This seems to me like a good place to start—and if you have other and better ideas, I’d love to hear them."

[Also posted here: https://medium.com/@anxiaostudio/failures-of-our-global-imagination-8648b2336c2c ]
anxiaomina  firstworldproblems  internet  thirdworld  firstworld  diversity  slacktivism  vanity  luxury  technology  globalsouth  communication  asia  africa  latinamerica  mobile  phones  smartphones  selfies  advocacy  refugees  2015  privilege  narrative  empathy  thirdworldproblems 
october 2015 by robertogreco
What the Privileged Poor Can Teach Us - The New York Times
"While elite colleges have taken strides in financially supporting students previously left outside their gates, they have thought less about what that inclusion means for academic life, or how colleges themselves might need to change to help the least advantaged continue on their road to success.

Colleges lag in readying themselves for increasingly diverse student bodies, in part because they habitually get their new diversity from old sources. My research shows that, on average, half of the lower-income black undergraduates at elite colleges today come from private high schools like Andover and Dalton. As early as middle school (and sometimes sooner), students participate in programs like Prep for Prep and A Better Chance. These programs remove lower-income students from typically distressed public schools and place them in predominantly white, resource-rich, affluent private schools. Elite colleges effectively hedge their bets: They recruit those already familiar with the social and cultural norms that pervade their own campuses.

As a sociologist, I study this new diversity at elite colleges. I call lower-income undergraduates who graduated from private high schools the privileged poor. Although they receive excellent educations, my research shows that their ability to navigate the informal social rules that govern elite college life is what really gives them advantages relative to their lower-income peers who did not attend elite high schools, those whom I call the doubly disadvantaged. Although also academically gifted and driven, they enter college with less exposure to the unsaid expectations of elite academic settings. They adjust, but acclimating to the social side of academic life takes time, potentially limiting their access to institutional resources and social networks. Naturally, this framework does not encompass every student, but it does help to explain why students from similarly disadvantaged backgrounds navigate the same college so differently."



"Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It is expected. It is rewarded. In a commencement address earlier this year, Michelle Obama told the graduating seniors of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. College Preparatory High School in Chicago pretty much the same thing. As she got to know her classmates at Princeton, she said, she “realized that they were all struggling with something, but instead of hiding their struggles and trying to deal with them all alone, they reached out.”

The differences I observe in my research highlight how unequal opportunities constrain disadvantaged groups before and during college. To close this gap, we must address the entrenched structural inequalities that plague America’s forgotten neighborhoods and neglected public schools. These changes are what Patrick Sharkey, a sociologist at N.Y.U., calls “durable urban policies.” They will go a long way to help counter these systemic problems.

But these changes will take time, if they happen at all. In the interim, as colleges continue to diversify, they must investigate the practices they take for granted. One thing that works is voluntary preorientation programs that help students acclimate to college. You’re not going to teach students all the tricks of the trade that one picks up at Andover, but these programs do provide localized knowledge of the college and opportunities for breaking down social barriers between college officials and students through sustained contact.

Schools as different as Williams College and the University of North Carolina have smart programs that work to help freshmen adjust to college but also to integrate them into advising communities throughout their undergraduate years. I elected to do one at Amherst. Not only did the summer science program give me several lifelong friends who supported me when my family didn’t quite understand what I was going through, but it also gave me early access to a host of mentors whom I still call on today.

Professors, deans and support centers should find new ways to actively engage students, rather than reacting when students are already at their most distressed. If not, elite colleges will continue to privilege the privileged while neglecting those not fortunate enough to gain exposure to the advantages that money — whether it’s your own or your sponsor’s — can buy."
admissions  education  highered  highereducation  colleges  universities  diversity  2015  privilege  anthonyabrahamjack  inequality  race 
september 2015 by robertogreco
The Thriving World, the Wilting World, and You — Medium
"We are a community branded as leaders living through this revolutionary moment, living through this extreme winning and extreme losing. It falls on us to ask the tough questions about it.

But we here in Aspen are in a bit of a tight spot.

Our deliberations about what to do about this extreme winning and losing are sponsored by the extreme winners. This community was formed by stalwarts of American capitalism; today we sit in spaces named after Pepsi (as in the beverage) and Koch (as in the brothers); our discussion of Martin Luther King and Omelas is sponsored by folks like Accenture, David Rubenstein and someone named Pom; we are deeply enmeshed and invested in the establishment and systems we are supposed to question. And yet we are a community of leaders that claims to seek justice. These identities are tricky to reconcile.

Today I want to challenge how we reconcile them. There is no consensus on anything here, as any seminar participant knows. But I believe that many of our discussions operate within what I will call the “Aspen Consensus,” which, like the “Washington Consensus” or “Beijing Consensus,” describes a nest of shared assumptions within which diverse ideas hatch. The “Aspen Consensus” demarcates what we mostly agree not to question, even as we question so much. And though I call it the Aspen Consensus, it is in many ways the prevailing ethic among the winners of our age worldwide, across business, government and even nonprofits.

The Aspen Consensus, in a nutshell, is this: the winners of our age must be challenged to do more good. But never, ever tell them to do less harm.

The Aspen Consensus holds that capitalism’s rough edges must be sanded and its surplus fruit shared, but the underlying system must never be questioned.

The Aspen Consensus says, “Give back,” which is of course a compassionate and noble thing. But, amid the $20 million second homes and $4,000 parkas of Aspen, it is gauche to observe that giving back is also a Band-Aid that winners stick onto the system that has privileged them, in the conscious or subconscious hope that it will forestall major surgery to that system — surgery that might threaten their privileges.

The Aspen Consensus, I believe, tries to market the idea of generosity as a substitute for the idea of justice. It says: make money in all the usual ways, and then give some back through a foundation, or factor in social impact, or add a second or third bottom line to your analysis, or give a left sock to the poor for every right sock you sell.

The Aspen Consensus says, “Do more good” — not “Do less harm.”

I want to sow the seed of a difficult conversation today about this Aspen Consensus. Because I love this community, and I fear for all of us — myself very much included — that we may not be as virtuous as we think we are, that history may not be as kind to us as we hope it will, that in the final analysis our role in the inequities of our age may not be remembered well.

This may sound strange at first, because the winners of our disruptive age are arguably as concerned about the plight of the losers as any elite in human history. But the question I’m raising is about what the winners propose to do in response. And I believe the winners’ response, certainly not always but still too often, is to soften the blows of the system but to preserve the system at any cost. This response is problematic. It keeps the winners too safe. It allows far too many of us to evade hard questions about our role in contributing to the disease we also seek to treat."



"Now, a significant minority of us here don’t work in business. Yet even in other sectors, we’re living in an age in which the assumptions and values of business are more influential than they ought to be. Our culture has turned businessmen and -women into philosophers, revolutionaries, social activists, saviors of the poor. We are at risk of forgetting other languages of human progress: of morality, of democracy, of solidarity, of decency, of justice.

Sometimes we succumb to the seductive Davos dogma that the business approach is the only thing that can change the world, in the face of so much historical evidence to the contrary.

And so when the winners of our age answer the problem of inequality and injustice, all too often they answer it within the logic and frameworks of business and markets. We talk a lot about giving back, profit-sharing, win-wins, social-impact investing, triple bottom lines (which, by the way, are something my four-month-old son has).

Sometimes I wonder whether these various forms of giving back have become to our era what the papal indulgence was to the Middle Ages: a relatively inexpensive way of getting oneself seemingly on the right of justice, without having to alter the fundamentals of one’s life.

Because when you give back, when you have a side foundation, a side CSR project, a side social-impact fund, you gain an exemption from more rigorous scrutiny. You helped 100 poor kids in the ghetto learn how to code. The indulgence spares you from questions about the larger systems and structures you sustain that benefit you and punish others: weak banking regulations and labor laws, zoning rules that happen to keep the poor far from your neighborhood, porous safety nets, the enduring and unrepaired legacies of slavery and racial supremacy and caste systems.

These systems and structures have victims, and we here are at risk, I think, of confusing generosity toward those victims with justice for those victims. For generosity is a win-win, but justice often is not. The winners of our age don’t enjoy the idea that some of them might actually have to lose, to sacrifice, for justice to be done. In Aspen you don’t hear a lot of ideas involving the privileged and powerful actually being in the wrong, and needing to surrender their status and position for the sake of justice.

We talk a lot here about giving more. We don’t talk about taking less.

We talk a lot here about what we should be doing more of. We don’t talk about what we should be doing less of.

I think sometimes that our Aspen Consensus has an underdeveloped sense of human darkness. There is risk in too much positivity. Sometimes to do right by people, you must begin by naming who is in the wrong.

So let’s just come out and say the thing you’re never supposed to say in Aspen: that many of the winners of our age are active, vigorous contributors to the problems they bravely seek to solve. And for the greater good to prevail on any number of issues, some people will have to lose — to actually do less harm, and not merely more good.

We know that enlightened capital didn’t get rid of the slave trade. Impact investing didn’t abolish child labor and put fire escapes on tenement factories. Drug makers didn’t stop slipping antifreeze into medicine as part of a CSR initiative. In each of these cases, the interests of the many had to defeat the interests of the recalcitrant few.

Look, I know this speech won’t make me popular at the bar tonight. But this, for me, is an act of stepping into the arena — something our wonderful teacher-moderators challenged us to do.

I know many of you agree with me already, because we have bonded for years over a shared feeling that something in this extraordinary community didn’t feel quite right. There are many others who, instead of criticizing as I do, are living rejections of this Aspen Consensus — quitting lucrative lives, risking everything, to fight the system. You awe me: you who battle for gay rights in India, who live ardently among the rural poor in South Africa, who risk assassination or worse to report news of corruption.

I am not speaking to you tonight, and I know there are many of you. I am speaking to those who, like me, may feel caught between the ideals championed by this Institute and the self-protective instinct that is always the reflex of people with much to lose.

I am as guilty as anyone. I am part of the wave of gentrification and displacement in Brooklyn, one of the most rapidly gentrifying places in America. Any success I’ve had can be traced to my excellent choice in parents and their ability to afford incredibly expensive private schools. I like good wine. I use Uber — a lot. I once stole playing cards from a private plane. I want my new son to have everything I can give him, even though I know that this is the beginning of the inequality I loathe.

I often wonder if what I do — writing — is capable of making any difference.

When I entered this fellowship, I was so taken with that summons to make a difference. But, to be honest, I have also always had a complicated relationship to this place.

I have heard too many of us talking of how only after the IPO or the next few million will we feel our kids have security. These inflated notions of what it takes to “make a living” and “support a family” are the beginning of so much neglect of our larger human family.

I walk into too many rooms named for people and companies that don’t mean well for the world, and then in those rooms we talk and talk about making the world better.

I struggled in particular with the project. I couldn’t figure out what bothered me about it for the longest time. I wasn’t very good at coming up with one or getting it done.

And I realized, through conversation with fellows in similar dilemmas, what my problem was. Many people, including some being featured later tonight, are engaged in truly extraordinary and commendable projects. We are at our best when our projects take the system head on. But I wrestled with what I perceived to be the idea behind the project, of creating generous side endeavors rather than fighting to reform, bite by bite, the hands that feed us. I felt the project distracted us from the real question: is your regular life — not your side project — on the right side … [more]
anandgiridharadas  capitalism  change  cooperation  aspeninstitute  philanthropy  climatechange  inequality  virtue  competition  inequity  elitism  power  systemschange  privilege  finance  wealth  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  wealthdistribution  davos  riggedgames  goldmansachs  indulgence  handwashing  via:tealtan  risk  stackeddecks  labor  employment  disruption  work  civics  commongood  abstraction  business  corporatism  corporations  taxes  government  socialgood  virtualization  economics  politics  policy  speculation  democracy  solidarity  socialjustice  neoliberalism  well-being  decency  egalitarianism  community  indulgences  noblesseoblige  absolution  racism  castes  leadership  generosity  sacrifice  gambling  gender  race  sexism  emotionallabor  positivity  slavery  socialsafetnet  winwin  zerosum  gentrification  stewardship  paradigmshifts  charitableindustrialcomplex 
august 2015 by robertogreco
Entrepreneurs don’t have a special gene for risk—they come from families with money - Quartz
"We’re in an era of the cult of the entrepreneur. We analyze the Tory Burches and Evan Spiegels of the world looking for a magic formula or set of personality traits that lead to success. Entrepreneurship is on the rise, and more students coming out of business schools are choosing startup life over Wall Street.

But what often gets lost in these conversations is that the most common shared trait among entrepreneurs is access to financial capital—family money, an inheritance, or a pedigree and connections that allow for access to financial stability. While it seems that entrepreneurs tend to have an admirable penchant for risk, it’s usually that access to money which allows them to take risks.

And this is a key advantage: When basic needs are met, it’s easier to be creative; when you know you have a safety net, you are more willing to take risks. “Many other researchers have replicated the finding that entrepreneurship is more about cash than dash,” University of Warwick professor Andrew Oswald tells Quartz. “Genes probably matter, as in most things in life, but not much.”

University of California, Berkeley economists Ross Levine and Rona Rubenstein analyzed the shared traits of entrepreneurs in a 2013 paper, and found that most were white, male, and highly educated. “If one does not have money in the form of a family with money, the chances of becoming an entrepreneur drop quite a bit,” Levine tells Quartz.

New research out this week from the National Bureau of Economic Research (paywall) looked at risk-taking in the stock market and found that environmental factors (not genetic) most influenced behavior, pointing to the fact that risk tolerance is conditioned over time (dispelling the myth of an elusive “entrepreneurship gene“).

Resilience is undoubtably a necessary trait for success; many notable entrepreneurs experienced success only after leading failed ventures. But the barrier to entry is very high.

For creative professions, starting a new venture is the ultimate privilege. Many startup founders do not take a salary for some time. The average cost to launch a startup is around $30,000, according to the Kauffman Foundation. Data from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor show that more than 80% of funding for new businesses comes from personal savings and friends and family.

“Following your dreams is dangerous,” a 31-year-old woman who runs in social entrepreneurship circles in New York, and asked not to be named, told Quartz. “This whole bulk of the population is being seduced into thinking that they can just go out and pursue their dream anytime, but it’s not true.”
1
So while yes, there’s certainly a lot of hard work that goes into building something, there’s also a lot of privilege involved—a factor that is often underestimated."
entrepreneurship  economics  business  inequality  wealth  2015  startups  aimeegroth  oligarchy  plutocracy  establishment  risk  risktaking  capital  capitalism  finance  privilege  conservatism 
july 2015 by robertogreco
White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh
"I was taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group"



"Elusive and fugitive

I repeatedly forgot each of the realizations on this list until I wrote it down. For me white privilege has turned out to be an elusive and fugitive subject. The pressure to avoid it is great, for in facing it I must give up the myth of meritocracy. If these things are true, this is not such a free country; one's life is not what one makes it; many doors open for certain people through no virtues of their own.

In unpacking this invisible knapsack of white privilege, I have listed conditions of daily experience that I once took for granted. Nor did I think of any of these perquisites as bad for the holder. I now think that we need a more finely differentiated taxonomy of privilege, for some of these varieties are only what one would want for everyone in a just society, and others give license to be ignorant, oblivious, arrogant, and destructive.

I see a pattern running through the matrix of white privilege, a patter of assumptions that were passed on to me as a white person. There was one main piece of cultural turf; it was my own turn, and I was among those who could control the turf. My skin color was an asset for any move I was educated to want to make. I could think of myself as belonging in major ways and of making social systems work for me. I could freely disparage, fear, neglect, or be oblivious to anything outside of the dominant cultural forms. Being of the main culture, I could also criticize it fairly freely.

In proportion as my racial group was being made confident, comfortable, and oblivious, other groups were likely being made unconfident, uncomfortable, and alienated. Whiteness protected me from many kinds of hostility, distress, and violence, which I was being subtly trained to visit, in turn, upon people of color.

For this reason, the word "privilege" now seems to me misleading. We usually think of privilege as being a favored state, whether earned or conferred by birth or luck. Yet some of the conditions I have described here work systematically to over empower certain groups. Such privilege simply confers dominance because of one's race or sex.

Earned strength, unearned power

I want, then, to distinguish between earned strength and unearned power conferred privilege can look like strength when it is in fact permission to escape or to dominate. But not all of the privileges on my list are inevitably damaging. Some, like the expectation that neighbors will be decent to you, or that your race will not count against you in court, should be the norm in a just society. Others, like the privilege to ignore less powerful people, distort the humanity of the holders as well as the ignored groups.

We might at least start by distinguishing between positive advantages, which we can work to spread, and negative types of advantage, which unless rejected will always reinforce our present hierarchies. For example, the feeling that one belongs within the human circle, as Native Americans say, should not be seen as privilege for a few. Ideally it is an unearned entitlement. At present, since only a few have it, it is an unearned advantage for them. This paper results from a process of coming to see that some of the power that I originally say as attendant on being a human being in the United States consisted in unearned advantage and conferred dominance.

I have met very few men who truly distressed about systemic, unearned male advantage and conferred dominance. And so one question for me and others like me is whether we will be like them, or whether we will get truly distressed, even outraged, about unearned race advantage and conferred dominance, and, if so, what we will do to lessen them. In any case, we need to do more work in identifying how they actually affect our daily lives. Many, perhaps most, of our white students in the United States think that racism doesn't affect them because they are not people of color; they do not see "whiteness" as a racial identity. In addition, since race and sex are not the only advantaging systems at work, we need similarly to examine the daily experience of having age advantage, or ethnic advantage, or physical ability, or advantage related to nationality, religion, or sexual orientation.

Difficulties and angers surrounding the task of finding parallels are many. Since racism, sexism, and heterosexism are not the same, the advantages associated with them should not be seen as the same. In addition, it is hard to disentangle aspects of unearned advantage that rest more on social class, economic class, race, religion, sex, and ethnic identity that on other factors. Still, all of the oppressions are interlocking, as the members of the Combahee River Collective pointed out in their "Black Feminist Statement" of 1977.

One factor seems clear about all of the interlocking oppressions. They take both active forms, which we can see, and embedded forms, which as a member of the dominant groups one is taught not to see. In my class and place, I did not see myself as a racist because I was taught to recognize racism only in individual acts of meanness by members of my group, never in invisible systems conferring unsought racial dominance on my group from birth.

Disapproving of the system won't be enough to change them. I was taught to think that racism could end if white individuals changed their attitude. But a "white" skin in the United States opens many doors for whites whether or not we approve of the way dominance has been conferred on us. Individual acts can palliate but cannot end, these problems.

To redesign social systems we need first to acknowledge their colossal unseen dimensions. The silences and denials surrounding privilege are the key political surrounding privilege are the key political tool here. They keep the thinking about equality or equity incomplete, protecting unearned advantage and conferred dominance by making these subject taboo. Most talk by whites about equal opportunity seems to me now to be about equal opportunity to try to get into a position of dominance while denying that systems of dominance exist.

It seems to me that obliviousness about white advantage, like obliviousness about male advantage, is kept strongly inculturated in the United States so as to maintain the myth of meritocracy, the myth that democratic choice is equally available to all. Keeping most people unaware that freedom of confident action is there for just a small number of people props up those in power and serves to keep power in the hands of the same groups that have most of it already.

Although systemic change takes many decades, there are pressing questions for me and, I imagine, for some others like me if we raise our daily consciousness on the perquisites of being light-skinned. What will we do with such knowledge? As we know from watching men, it is an open question whether we will choose to use unearned advantage, and whether we will use any of our arbitrarily awarded power to try to reconstruct power systems on a broader base."

[via: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gina-crosleycorcoran/explaining-white-privilege-to-a-broke-white-person_b_5269255.html ]
peggymcintosh  feminism  privilege  race  racism  1990  whiteprivilege 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Explaining White Privilege to a Broke White Person | Gina Crosley-Corcoran
"So when that feminist told me I had "white privilege," I told her that my white skin didn't do shit to prevent me from experiencing poverty. Then, like any good, educated feminist would, she directed me to Peggy McIntosh's now-famous 1988 piece "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack."

After one reads McIntosh's powerful essay, it's impossible to deny that being born with white skin in America affords people certain unearned privileges in life that people of other skin colors simply are not afforded. For example:

"I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented."

"When I am told about our national heritage or about 'civilization,' I am shown that people of my color made it what it is."

"If a traffic cop pulls me over or if the IRS audits my tax return, I can be sure I haven't been singled out because of my race."

"I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time."

If you read through the rest of the list, you can see how white people and people of color experience the world in very different ways. But listen: This is not said to make white people feel guilty about their privilege. It's not your fault that you were born with white skin and experience these privileges. But whether you realize it or not, you do benefit from it, and it is your fault if you don't maintain awareness of that fact.

I do understand that McIntosh's essay may rub some people the wrong way. There are several points on the list that I felt spoke more to the author's status as a middle-class person than to her status as a white person. For example:

"If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area, which I can afford and in which I would want to live."

"I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me."

"I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed."

"If I want to, I can be pretty sure of finding a publisher for this piece on white privilege."

And there are so many more points in the essay where the word "class" could be substituted for the word "race," which would ultimately paint a very different picture. That is why I had such a hard time identifying with this essay for so long. When I first wrote about white privilege years ago, I demanded to know why this white woman felt that my experiences were the same as hers when, no, my family most certainly could not rent housing "in an area which we could afford and want to live," and no, I couldn't go shopping without fear in our low-income neighborhoods."
whiteprivilege  privilege  discrimination  race  racism  2015  peggymcintosh 
july 2015 by robertogreco
This is Rage. This is Joy. This is My Classroom. | Teach. Run. Write
"I commented recently that I “have no chill and rage often,” about things, especially when it come to race, privilege, and especially when it comes to those things in education. I think it matters, a lot.

I’ve sometimes wondered if I should tone it down, but at the end I am surrounded by folks who remind me that I shouldn’t. That the work has to continue. W. Kamau Bell’s piece on This American Life only drove that home, when the father he interviewed said that he doesn’t let anything go, because, as Bell noted, “you can’t just keep letting your boundary get pushed.”

I’ve come to terms with the fact that some people don’t like that. That’s fair. I’m not a particularly aggressive person, but I am fairly persistent.

Still, “rage” isn’t normally a positive term applied to teachers, and I don’t want to give this perception that to be attuned to how racism plays out means that my classroom is filled with out-of-place anger or a place where my students don’t find joy.

So, just in case, here’s what Rage means for my classroom, and the educator I try to be.

Rage is asking tough questions, and refusing easy answers.

Rage is a refusal to shy away from “the controversial,” or “too tough” discussions.

Rage is refusing to assume their innocence to support my complicity. Rage is accepting that the tough topics and the controversial discussions might be my job.

Rage is making space for the texts overlooked, the activists ignored, the history erased. It is refusing to give up when there’s no pre-made curriculum for the texts kids should read. Rage insists we create the curriculum we never had.

Rage is refusing stagnant practice, it is the internal insistence to create for them, innovate for them, change the game for them, push my boundaries for them. Rage is also knowing that sometimes they need to do that instead.

Rage is honesty. Rage is letting them know as many sides as possible. Rage is baring the burden of their shock and hurt, and sharing yours. Rage is letting them have space to be angry, to grieve, to be frustrated. Rage teaches Ferguson even when it doesn’t “fit” the lesson plan. Rage pulls up the #CharlestonSyllabus to create the lesson, makes kids question where they get their food and why it matters. Rage explains “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirts during warm ups and sets aside “social justice Fridays.”

This is what Rage looks like in my room.

Rage lets them question the “why” and the “how” and pushes them to question more. Rage affirms their emotions. Rage lets them be angry, sad, and empowered. Rage loves them in their youth, their growth, their malleable opinions, and doesn’t necessarily create more Rage, just more questions.

Rage creates space for them to glow. It insists on lifting them up. It insists on creating spaces for them to shine. Rage insists that they create their own holidays, celebrate their culture, tell their stories. It is a joyous Rage that giggles when they begin to subvert the norm, just be being their marvelous selves.

Rage cheers them on, laughs with them, grows more with them, delights in them. Rage sees their light and begs them to “rage, rage against the dying light.”

Joy comes too. Joy is the deep heaving sigh at the end of a sprint. Joy is the letter full of fifteen photos from a student. She hopes your summer is “a hit,” and she wanted to let you know she got her aunt to go 50 miles to the farm we read about and she met the farmer and she talked all about the book you read in class.

Joy is seeing the fruits of Rage. It’s not always more Rage. Sometimes, it’s just light. It’s the strength to keep raging."
2015  christinatorres  rage  teaching  learning  schools  howweteach  socialjustice  race  privilege  controversy  activism  joy  honesty  change  changemaking 
july 2015 by robertogreco
The Sub Prime Kristol Meltdown - Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money
"I remember back in the late ’90s when Ira Katznelson, an eminent political scientist at Columbia, came to deliver a guest lecture to an economic philosophy class I was taking. It was a great lecture, made more so by the fact that the class was only about ten or twelve students and we got got ask all kinds of questions and got a lot of great, provocative answers. Anyhow, Prof. Katznelson described a lunch he had with Irving Kristol back either during the first Bush administration. The talk turned to William Kristol, then Dan Quayle’s chief of staff, and how he got his start in politics. Irving recalled how he talked to his friend Harvey Mansfield at Harvard, who secured William a place there as both an undergrad and graduate student; how he talked to Pat Moynihan, then Nixon’s domestic policy adviser, and got William an internship at The White House; how he talked to friends at the RNC and secured a job for William after he got his Harvard Ph.D.; and how he arranged with still more friends for William to teach at UPenn and the Kennedy School of Government. With that, Prof. Katznelson recalled, he then asked Irving what he thought of affirmative action. “I oppose it”, Irving replied. “It subverts meritocracy.”"

[via https://twitter.com/elongreen/status/598146600058368000
via https://twitter.com/vruba/status/608293036699688960 ]
via:vruba  2008  billkristol  irvingkristol  privilege  affirmitiveaction  connections  irakatznelson  republicans  georghwbush  danquayle  meritocracy 
june 2015 by robertogreco
No one cares about your jetpack: on optimism in futurism - Dangerous to those who profit from the way things areDangerous to those who profit from the way things are
"This review [http://paleofuture.gizmodo.com/tomorrowland-is-like-watching-a-jetpack-eat-itself-1706822006 ] of Disney’s Tomorrowland (and others like it that I have read) got me thinking about something I was asked at the Design In Action summit last week in Edinburgh. I was there participating in the “Once Upon a Future” event, where I read a story called “The Dreams in the Bitch House.” It’s about a tech sorority at a small New England university. And programmable matter.

After I did my keynote and read my story, I did a Q&A. After a few questions, someone in the audience asked: “Why so negative?”

I get this question a lot. I’ve been involved in a couple of “optimistic” science fiction anthologies, namely Shine (edited by Jetse de Vries) and Hieroglyph (edited by Kathryn Cramer and Ed Finn). But people don’t invite me to these because I’m an optimistic person. In fact, it’s usually quite the opposite. Evidence:

[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InDOzrtS42M ]

When I was trained as a futurist (I have a Master’s in the subject), I was taught to see the whole scope of a problem. That’s at the root of design thinking. The old joke about designers is that when someone asks how many designers you need to change a lightbulb, the designer asks “Does it need to be a lightbulb?” Because really, what the room needs is a window. When people talk about innovation, that’s what they mean. A re-framing of the issue that helps you see the whole problem and approach it from another angle.

America’s problem is not that it needs more jetpacks. Jetpacks are not innovation. Jetpacks are a fetish object for retrofuturist otaku who jerked off to Judy Jetson, or maybe Jennifer Connelly’s character in The Rocketeer. “We were promised jetpacks!” they whine. Yeah, dude, but what you got was Agent Orange. Imagine a Segway that could kill you and set your house on fire. That’s what a jetpack is.

Jetpacks solve exactly one problem: rapid transit. And you know what would help with that? Better transit. Better telepresence. Better work-life balance. Are jetpacks an innovative solution to the problem of transit? Nope. But they sure look great with your midlife crisis.

But railing against jetpacks isn’t an answer to the question. Why so negative? Three reasons:

1) We have more data than we used to, and we’re obtaining more all the time.

Why don’t we fantasize about life in space like we used to? Because we know it’s really fucking difficult and dangerous. Why don’t we research things like food pills any more? Because we know eating fibre helps prevent colon cancer. We know those things because we’ve done the science. The data is there, and for every piece of technology we use, we accumulate more. It’s hard to argue with that vast wealth of data. At least, it’s hard to do so without looking like some whackjob climate change denier.

2) Less optimistic futures have the power to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

When people ask me, “Why can’t you be more positive?” what I hear is, “Why can’t you tell me a story that conforms to my narrative and comforts me?” Because discomfiting futures have real power. As Alf Rehn notes:
What we need, then, is more uncommon futurism. A futurism that cares not a whit about what’s hot right now, who remain stoically unimpressed by drones and wearable IT, and who instead take it as their job to shock and awe CEOs with visions as radical as those of the futurists of yore. We need futurism that is less interested in agreeing with contemporary futurists and their ongoing circle-jerk, and who takes pride in offending and disgusting those futurists who would like to protect the status quo.


The truth is that the horrible dystopia you’re reading about is already happening to someone else, somewhere else. What makes people nervous is the idea that it could happen to them. That’s why I have to keep sharing it.

3) The most harmful idea in this world is that change is impossible.

Octavia E. Butler said it best: “The only lasting truth / is Change.” And yet, we act like change is impossible. Whether we’re frustrated by policy gridlock, or rolling our eyes at Hollywood reboots, or taking our spouses on the same goddamn date we have for for twenty years, we act as though everything will remain the same, forever and ever, amen. But look around you. Twenty years ago, thinks were very different. Even five years ago, they were different. Look at social progress like gay marriage. Look at the rise of solar power. Look at the shrinking of the ice caps. Things do change, they are changing, and they will change. And not all of those changes will be positive. Not all of them will be negative, either. But change does occur. Rather than thinking of change as a positive or a negative, as utopian or dystopian, just recognize that it’s going to happen and prepare yourself. Futurists don’t predict the future. We see multiple outcomes and help you prepare for them.

In the end, the lacklustre performance of Tomorrowland at the box office has nothing to do with whether optimism is alive or dead. It has to do with changing demographics among moviegoers who know how to spot an Ayn Rand bedtime story when they see one. There are whole generations of moviegoers for whom jetpacks don’t mean shit, whose first memories of NASA are the Challenger disaster. And you know what? Those same generations believe in driverless cars, solar energy, smart cities, AR contacts, and vat-grown meat. They saw the election of America’s first black president, and they witnessed a wave of violence against young black men. They don’t want the depiction of an “optimistic” future. They want a future where their concerns are taken seriously and humanely, with compassion and intelligence and validation. And that’s way harder than optimism."
culture  future  futurism  discourse  madelineashby  2015  tomorrowland  alfrehn  dystopia  octaviabutler  optimism  pessimism  realism  demographics  aynrand  race  establishment  privilege  drones  wearables  power  innovation  jetpacks  telepresence  transit  transportation  work  labor  scifi  sciencefiction  systemsthinking  data  retrofuturism  climatechange  space  food  science  technology  change  truth  socialprogress  progress  solar  solarpower  validation  compassion  canon  work-lifebalance 
june 2015 by robertogreco
tricia the wolf en Instagram: “#triciaaftergradschool - One thing that I learned over the last 8 years is that I now know the difference between commitment and co-dependence. In the process of being committed to finishing #gradschool, I became #codepend
"#triciaaftergradschool - One thing that I learned over the last 8 years is that I now know the difference between commitment and co-dependence.

In the process of being committed to finishing #gradschool, I became #codependent on finishing. Co-dependence is when you allow your emotional state to be triggered by another entity. For me, this entity morphed from student drama to fieldwork to waiting for a grant to finishing a paper and in the end writing my dissertation #synthesisnow. I used to think that it was great that I couldn’t fall asleep due to a fast beating heart because then I had the adrenaline to write more. I used to feel good about being woken up with heart palpitations because it gave me energy to process more fieldnotes. The list goes on. In the process, I stopped asking why. Why am I doing this? What is my purpose here? Why do I have to write this grant? Why do I have to panic over this paper?

In all these unnoticeable ways, I had absorbed the temporal logic of #gradschool EVEN THOUGH I didn’t even want to get an academic job! Isn’t that crazy!?!?! I allowed my own identity to become so tied to what I was doing that I stopped asking why.

But now that I’ve been done for a year and in rehabilitation to join society again, I found out that I experience insomnia, anxiety, breathing issues, writers block, and guilt when relaxing. So I’ve been working on all of that over the last year and it feels GREAT to become human again.

So now that I’m mindful of co-dependent behavior, I am also more aware of what commitment feels like. To me, commitment is a mindful decision to do something on terms that make sense for you and the parties involved. I always want to make sure wellbeing, joy, trust, and presence are the axis in which I align myself with whatever I commit to. I never want my identity to be so wrapped up in something that I can’t see the difference. I want to do this with every relationship I have whether it is with a person, job, or movement. Good bye co-dependence, hello commitment.

#triciainsandiego #sociology"

[Also here: http://blog.triciawang.com/post/119633986686/triciaaftergradschool-one-thing-that-i-learned

related posts:

https://instagram.com/p/3AGuI8t8F_/ + http://blog.triciawang.com/post/119634222266/

"#triciaaftergradschool - I am now wondering why I never spoke to the dpt about the cruel and stifling #microaggression directed towards me and other students during #gradschool. I mean wasn’t the only one who struggled - 50% of my cohort dropped out the first year.
It was hard to even recognize the pattern because these things happened over a period of several years.

But ultimately, I didn’t think it was easy to talk to the dpt because they never explicitly encouraged or condoned any of this petty behavior. But I am realizing now that they have created and participated in a measurement obsessed structure that allows such terrible behavior to flourish.

Ultimately, sociology #gradschool as it is set up now, can model corrupt regime behavior - it’s a party of a few people creating and enforcing policies that justify their existence. This justification is done through measurement & ranking in the name of “professionalization” of #sociology. This professionalization pressure is on top of existing departmental and institutional budget cuts that decreased research funding, a broken tenure system (that no one talks about openly), and the department’s failure to help graduates get good teaching positions. In addition, the majority of cohorts are made up of young students who lack real life experience. So all of this creates a competitive anxious group of homogenous students who will engage in selfish behavior and gang up on others if they feel threatened. The people who suffer the most in this system are the few students of color or working-class backgrounds who are allowed into the program.

So while my dpt has never condoned cruelty amongst students, their policies and values foster it. It’s similar to how no US city approve of police brutality, but it happens because the system creates conditions that allow it to flourish. The macro enables the micro - that is sociology 101.

#triciainsandiego (at UC San Diego Social Sciences)"

https://instagram.com/p/3AHPVPN8G-/ + http://blog.triciawang.com/post/119634502396/

"#triciaaftergradschool - Walking into the graduate lounge is triggering memories of so much petty shit that I witnessed and was subjected to during #gradschool. Here are just a few things that come to my mind:

1. Students made fun of me for wearing high heels and reading gossip magazines.

2. Students reported to faculty that I was texting with another student in class, disrupting seminars.

3. I was repeatedly told that I wasn’t theoretical enough or fit to be a sociologist. In #sociology speak, this means you don’t belong cuz you’re too stupid to be in this program.

4. I was told by students to keep it a secret that I didn’t have plans to go into academia because the dpt will not give me grants & professors won’t engage with me. I didn’t keep it a secret. My research was never funded.

5. I was told to never publish #livefieldnotes or any blog posts about my research or else I’d never find a job.

6. Faculty reminded me several times that studying cellphones and the internet was “not sociological enough.”

7. Professors would say the dumbest shit that students would repeat & accept as truth! For example, a few faculty told us when we get tenured positions we will be more free than people who have jobs because we can do whatever we want and we’re smarter than people without Phds.

8. I dealt with sexual harassment from students and a professors.

9. A group of students told the grad director that I was creating problems amongst the grad students because I didn’t invite the to the parties that I was hosting at my house. Seriously high school shit.

#triciainsandiego #sociology (at UC San Diego Social Sciences)"

https://instagram.com/p/3AIs5Nt8Jg/ + http://blog.triciawang.com/post/119635295101/

"#triciaaftergradschool - Having just visited the Stasi Museum in Berlin (above) and UCSD #socialscience building (below) for #gradschool reflections, it’s interesting to note the similarities between totalizing institutions.

By NO way am I conflating #sociology #gradschool with East Germany/GDR under the Eastern Bloc. However, I think think the line between micro individual agency & macro structural forces are so thin that my personal processing of how the Sociology dpt created a cruel environment amongst grad students is helping me understand how people can turn on each other under institutional forces.

Totalizing institutions creep into people’s lives in benign ways. A few seemingly logical policies to measure & organize people into categories can create such terrible behavior.
These policies are always created by privileged elites who use it to justify their own existence & actions. And then a few sane ones start to question their own sanity, & perhaps to survive they go along with some of the policies.

I saw this happening in my #sociology department on a very small & benign scale. It happened even to me. The professionalization of sociology is treating people as ranked numbers to be slotted into categories that deem intelligence. Individual well-being is cast aside for the sake of the institution’s mission. If a student doesn’t perform like a normative #sociologist, then you’re marked as abnormal.

During my time, I eventually performed “sociology”. I wrote in the 3rd voice to appear more objective. I generated undecipherable intellectual garble papers. I formulated causal models, hypothesizing all sorts of variable isolation. I excelled in theory classes & became successful at obtaining funding from scientific instit. But I was miserable.

Eventually my mentors helped me realize that I had lost my voice as a writer. I wrote like a boring sociologist removed from society. That scared the shit out of me. Doing ethnographic work saved me, by observing humans I became human again.

All totalizing institutions become experts at removing the human experience, because once they do that, they can program people to do anything."

https://instagram.com/p/3AJO0Gt8KP/ + http://blog.triciawang.com/post/119635578466/

"#triciaaftergradschool - Today, I voluntarily came to UCSD #socialscience #sociology building for the first time post #gradschool. Lots of memories are coming back. When I first started grad school, I so badly wanted to enjoy it. I had this vision that I would weave a fun life between working in NYC and reading sociology books on #sandiego beaches.
Man was I wrong. I was so miserable in the program but I didn’t realize how terrible it was until this trip. I don’t think I ever truly allowed myself to acknowledge or even admit how traumatic it was on me while I was in the program. Why do so many experience #gradshcool as isolating, dark, and depressive? Why does it have to be this way when getting any degree, much less a PhD, is such an act of privilege and luck. Brilliant people around the world don’t even get the chance to read books much less step inside a university just because they were born into failed systems. I think I felt this weight of privilege on me, so I didn’t want to even allow myself to come off as unappreciative of this fabulous life I have as a Westerner. But that’s my reason, is there a larger reasons that cuts across all programs?

#triciainsandiego #gradschool #sociology

(at UC San Diego Social Sciences)"

https://instagram.com/p/3AJ6efN8LO/ + http://blog.triciawang.com/post/119635943301/

"#triciaaftergradschool - I am a fucking doctor. That’s right, I have a fucking phd. I am so proud of myself for getting this credential.

Although I think it’s important to remember that credentials do not reflect the quality of a person’s skillsets or intelligence. It makes me sick that #gradschool promotes intellectual superiority within our degree obsessed society.

… [more]
triciaang  2015  ucsd  gradschool  education  commitment  co-dependence  sociology  academia  richardmadsen  thewhy  purpose  triciawang  capitalism  highereducation  highered  2014  socialsciences  measurement  ranking  funding  research  behavior  groupdynamics  professionalization  control  dehumanization  elitism  privilege  isolation  objectivity  self-justification  bullying  systemicracism  institutions  institutionalizedracism  abuse  institutionalizedabuse  classism  class 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Eyeo 2014 - Leah Buechley on Vimeo
"Thinking About Making – An examination of what we mean by making (MAKEing) these days. What gets made? Who makes? Why does making matter?"



[uninscusive covers of Make Magazine and composition of Google employment]

“Meet the new boss, same as the old boss”

"I'm really tired of setting up structures where we tell young women and young brown and black kids that they should aspire to be like rich white guys."

[RTd these back than, but never watched the video. Thanks, Sara for bringing it back up.

https://twitter.com/arikan/status/477546169329938432
https://twitter.com/arikan/status/477549826498764801 ]

[Talk with some of the same content from Leah Buechley (and a lot of defensive comments from the crowd that Buechleya addresses well):
http://edstream.stanford.edu/Video/Play/883b61dd951d4d3f90abeec65eead2911d
https://www.edsurge.com/n/2013-10-29-make-ing-more-diverse-makers ]
leahbuechley  making  makermovement  critique  equality  gender  race  2014  via:ablerism  privilege  wealth  glvo  openstudioproject  lcproject  democratization  inequality  makemagazine  money  age  education  electronics  robots  robotics  rockets  technology  compsci  computerscience  computing  computers  canon  language  work  inclusivity  funding  google  intel  macarthurfoundation  opportunity  power  influence  movements  engineering  lowriders  pottery  craft  culture  universality  marketing  inclusion 
may 2015 by robertogreco
The things you keep On being a guest
"Yesterday I was standing in an immigration line at the tail end of a two-leg, 20 hour journey from London to Kuala Lumpur. As is to be expected under these circumstances, my patience level was critically low. As the line crept forward slowly, I noticed there were about 20 men without any carry-on baggage standing in front of me. They stood very close together, each clutching a piece of paper and a green passport, each with an expression of anxious uncertainty on their faces.

I quickly realized these little green books were the reason for the line’s glacial pace. These men were from Bangladesh, arriving in Malaysia to join the estimated 6 million migrant-laborer force that builds skyscrapers, roads, trains as well as cleans houses, bathrooms and shopping malls.

Border security guards are rarely known for their gregariousness, but those on duty yesterday at KLIA seemed downright hostile to this particular group. Each man was questioned and fingerprinted on finicky electronic machines. One guard reached over his desk and a knocked the baseball cap of a terrified Bangladeshi man to get his attention. Another unlucky fellow got chased through the arrivals hall for what I can only guess was entering the wrong way.

After the men made their way through the line, I approached a desk, said hello and handed over my UK passport. The guard didn’t even need to look at me. He stamped my little red book and waved me through in a process that took about seven seconds maximum.

Somewhat stunningly, one in seven persons in the world is a migrant. However, depending on if you’ve got the red book I had or the green one those men had, the way you experience being a migrant is wildly different. Malaysia is a perfect example of that expat versus immigrant divide. The security guards and housing staff at the complex where my cousin lives in Kuala Lumpur are one kind of migrant, who cater almost exclusively to the kind that lives within the security gates.

You’ll often hear people like those Bangladeshis referred to as “guest workers,” a preposterous euphemism if ever I heard one. As a nomad and writer—whether I’m reporting a story or crashing on a couch—I’m often a guest in people’s houses, apartments, cities, cultures, and neighborhoods. But because of the two very powerful passports I possess, I’ll never have to feel the kind of anxiety those men felt at the security gate when I arrive in these places. I will almost always be considered a guest, invited, welcomed.

There’s nothing more human than wanting to better one’s situation, to do whatever is in your power improve the life of yourself or your family. Anyone who has moved to another country can relate to that. What we can’t all relate to, is the experience we have once we get there."
guests  migration  immigration  passprorts  privilege  2015  bangladesh  malaysia  kualalumpur  london  uk  us  airports  nomads  nomadism  neo-nomads 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Men (Still) Explain Technology to Me: Gender and Education Technology | boundary 2
"There’s that very famous New Yorker cartoon: “On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” The cartoon was first published in 1993, and it demonstrates this sense that we have long had that the Internet offers privacy and anonymity, that we can experiment with identities online in ways that are severed from our bodies, from our material selves and that, potentially at least, the internet can allow online participation for those denied it offline.

Perhaps, yes.

But sometimes when folks on the internet discover “you’re a dog,” they do everything in their power to put you back in your place, to remind you of your body. To punish you for being there. To hurt you. To threaten you. To destroy you. Online and offline.

Neither the internet nor computer technology writ large are places where we can escape the materiality of our physical worlds—bodies, institutions, systems—as much as that New Yorker cartoon joked that we might. In fact, I want to argue quite the opposite: that computer and Internet technologies actually re-inscribe our material bodies, the power and the ideology of gender and race and sexual identity and national identity. They purport to be ideology-free and identity-less, but they are not. If identity is unmarked it’s because there’s a presumption of maleness, whiteness, and perhaps even a certain California-ness. As my friend Tressie McMillan Cottom writes, in ed-tech we’re all supposed to be “roaming autodidacts”: happy with school, happy with learning, happy and capable and motivated and well-networked, with functioning computers and WiFi that works.

By and large, all of this reflects who is driving the conversation about, if not the development of these technology. Who is seen as building technologies. Who some think should build them; who some think have always built them.

And that right there is already a process of erasure, a different sort of mansplaining one might say."



"Ironically—bitterly ironically, I’d say, many pieces of software today increasingly promise “personalization,” but in reality, they present us with a very restricted, restrictive set of choices of who we “can be” and how we can interact, both with our own data and content and with other people. Gender, for example, is often a drop down menu where one can choose either “male” or “female.” Software might ask for a first and last name, something that is complicated if you have multiple family names (as some Spanish-speaking people do) or your family name is your first name (as names in China are ordered). Your name is presented how the software engineers and designers deemed fit: sometimes first name, sometimes title and last name, typically with a profile picture. Changing your username—after marriage or divorce, for example—is often incredibly challenging, if not impossible.

You get to interact with others, similarly, based on the processes that the engineers have determined and designed. On Twitter, you cannot direct message people, for example, that do not follow you. All interactions must be 140 characters or less.

This restriction of the presentation and performance of one’s identity online is what “cyborg anthropologist” Amber Case calls the “templated self.” She defines this as “a self or identity that is produced through various participation architectures, the act of producing a virtual or digital representation of self by filling out a user interface with personal information.”

Case provides some examples of templated selves:
Facebook and Twitter are examples of the templated self. The shape of a space affects how one can move, what one does and how one interacts with someone else. It also defines how influential and what constraints there are to that identity. A more flexible, but still templated space is WordPress. A hand-built site is much less templated, as one is free to fully create their digital self in any way possible. Those in Second Life play with and modify templated selves into increasingly unique online identities. MySpace pages are templates, but the lack of constraints can lead to spaces that are considered irritating to others.


As we—all of us, but particularly teachers and students—move to spend more and more time and effort performing our identities online, being forced to use preordained templates constrains us, rather than—as we have often been told about the Internet—lets us be anyone or say anything online. On the Internet no one knows you’re a dog unless the signup process demanded you give proof of your breed. This seems particularly important to keep in mind when we think about students’ identity development. How are their identities being templated?

While Case’s examples point to mostly “social” technologies, education technologies are also “participation architectures.” Similarly they produce and restrict a digital representation of the learner’s self.

Who is building the template? Who is engineering the template? Who is there to demand the template be cracked open? What will the template look like if we’ve chased women and people of color out of programming?"



"One interesting example of this dual approach that combines both social and technical—outside the realm of ed-tech, I recognize—are the tools that Twitter users have built in order to address harassment on the platform. Having grown weary of Twitter’s refusal to address the ways in which it is utilized to harass people (remember, its engineering team is 90% male), a group of feminist developers wrote The Block Bot, an application that lets you block, en masse, a large list of Twitter accounts who are known for being serial harassers. That list of blocked accounts is updated and maintained collaboratively. Similarly, Block Together lets users subscribe to others’ block lists. Good Game Autoblocker, a tool that blocks the “ringleaders” of GamerGate.

That gets, just a bit, at what I think we can do in order to make education technology habitable, sustainable, and healthy. We have to rethink the technology. And not simply as some nostalgia for a “Web we lost,” for example, but as a move forward to a Web we’ve yet to ever see. It isn’t simply, as Isaacson would posit it, rediscovering innovators that have been erased, it’s about rethinking how these erasures happen all throughout technology’s history and continue today—not just in storytelling, but in code.

Educators should want ed-tech that is inclusive and equitable. Perhaps education needs reminding of this: we don’t have to adopt tools that serve business goals or administrative purposes, particularly when they are to the detriment of scholarship and/or student agency—technologies that surveil and control and restrict, for example, under the guise of “safety”—that gets trotted out from time to time—but that have never ever been about students’ needs at all. We don’t have to accept that technology needs to extract value from us. We don’t have to accept that technology puts us at risk. We don’t have to accept that the architecture, the infrastructure of these tools make it easy for harassment to occur without any consequences. We can build different and better technologies. And we can build them with and for communities, communities of scholars and communities of learners. We don’t have to be paternalistic as we do so. We don’t have to “protect students from the Internet,” and rehash all the arguments about stranger danger and predators and pedophiles. But we should recognize that if we want education to be online, if we want education to be immersed in technologies, information, and networks, that we can’t really throw students out there alone. We need to be braver and more compassionate and we need to build that into ed-tech. Like Blockbot or Block Together, this should be a collaborative effort, one that blends our cultural values with technology we build.

Because here’s the thing. The answer to all of this—to harassment online, to the male domination of the technology industry, the Silicon Valley domination of ed-tech—is not silence. And the answer is not to let our concerns be explained away. That is after all, as Rebecca Solnit reminds us, one of the goals of mansplaining: to get us to cower, to hesitate, to doubt ourselves and our stories and our needs, to step back, to shut up. Now more than ever, I think we need to be louder and clearer about what we want education technology to do—for us and with us, not simply to us."
education  gender  technology  edtech  2015  audreywatters  history  agency  ambercase  gamergate  society  power  hierarchy  harassment  siliconvalley  privilege  safety  collaboration  identity  tressiemcmillancottom  erasure  inclusion  inclusivity  templates  inlcusivity 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Ed-Tech's Inequalities
"“Education is the civil rights issue of our time,” you’ll often hear politicians and education reform types say.



"To the contrary, I maintain that civil rights remain the civil rights issue of our generation. When we see, for example, the Supreme Court overturn part of the Voting Rights Act, when we see rampant police violence against marginalized groups, when we see backlash against affirmative action and against Title IX protections, when we see pervasive discrimination – institutionalized – in people’s daily lives, when we see widespread inequalities – socioeconomic stratification based on race, ethnicity, gender, geography – we need to admit: there are things that, as Tressie McMillan Cottom has argued, the “education gospel cannot fix.”

And yet the dominant narrative – the gospel, if you will – about education and, increasingly education technology, is that it absolutely is “the fix.”

Education technology will close the achievement gap; education technology will close the opportunity gap. Education technology will revolutionize; education technology will democratize. Or so we are told. That's the big message at this week's ASU-GSV Summit, where education technology investors and entrepreneurs and politicians have gathered (registration: $2995) to talk about "equity." (Equity and civil rights, that is; not equity as investing in exchange for stock options and a seat on the Board of Directors, I should be clear. Although I'm guessing most of the conversations there were actually about the latter.)



"The rhetoric of “open” and education technology – particularly with regards to MOOCs and OER – needs to be interrogated. “Open access” is not sufficient. Indeed, as research by Justin Reich suggests – he’s also one of the authors of the MOOC study I just cited, incidentally – open educational resources might actually expand educational inequalities. A digital Matthew effect, if you will, where new technologies actually extend the advantages of the already advantaged.

In his research on OER, Reich looked at schools’ uses of wikis – some 180,000 wikis – and measured the opportunities that these provide students “to develop 21st-century skills such as expert thinking, complex communication, and new media literacy.” Among the findings: “Wikis created in schools serving low-income students have fewer opportunities for 21st-century skill development and shorter lifetimes than wikis from schools serving affluent students.” Reich found that students in more affluent schools were more likely to use wikis to collaborate and to build portfolios and presentations to showcase their work, for example.

Reich’s assertion that education technology broadens rather than erases educational inequality is echoed elsewhere. An article published last year in the journal Economic Inquiry, for example, found that “the introduction of home computer technology is associated with modest, but statistically significant and persistent negative impacts on student math and reading test scores.” Importantly, the negative impact was the greatest among low income students, in part the authors suggested because “student computer use is more effectively monitored and channeled toward productive ends in more affluent homes.” That is, students from affluent homes have a different sort of digital literacy and different expectations – themselves and from their parents – about what a computer is for."



"Anyon’s work is critical as it highlights how students’ relationship to “the system of ownership of symbolic and physical capital, to authority and control, and to their own productive activity” are developed differently in working class, middle class, and elite schools. Her work helps us to see too how the traditional practices of school might be reinforced, re-inscribed by technology – not, as some like to argue, magically disrupted, with these hierarchies magically flattened. Menial tasks are still menial if done on a computer. To argue otherwise is ed-tech solutionism – dangerous and wrong.

That’s not to say that education technology changes nothing, or changes little more than moving the analog to the digital. There are profoundly important questions we must ask about the shifts that education technology might bring about, particularly if we have our eye towards justice. How does education technology alter the notion of “work” in school, for example – students’ labor as well as teachers’ labor? Who owns all the content and data that students create when using educational technology? How do technology companies use this data to build their algorithms; how do they use it to build profiles and models? How do they use it to monitor, assess, predict, surveil? Who is surveilled; and who is more apt to be disciplined for what’s uncovered?

If we’re only concerned about the digital divide, we are likely to overlook these questions. We cannot simply ask “Who has access to Internet-connected devices at home?” We need to ask how Internet-connected devices are used – at home and at school?"



"This surveillance is increasingly pervasive, at both the K–12 and at the college level. New education technologies create more data; new education technology regimes – education policy regimes – demand more data."



"The architecture of education technology is not neutral.

Despite all the hype and hope about revolution and access and opportunity that these new technologies are supposed to provide us, they do not negate hierarchy, history, privilege, power. They reflect those. They channel it. They concentrate it, in new ways and in old."



"Education technology simply does not confront systemic inequalities. Or rather, it often substitutes access to a computing device or high speed Internet for institutional or structural change. Education technology routinely fails to address power or privilege. It fails to recognize, let alone examine, its history. It insists instead on stories about meritocracy and magic and claims about “blindness.”

I want to end here on what is a bit of a tangent, I suppose, about blindness – the things in technology we refuse to see.

This is a picture from Baotou in Inner Mongolia. Tim Maughan published a story last week on the BBC website about this artificial lake “filled with a black, barely-liquid, toxic sludge” – the toxic result of mining rare earth minerals, used in our modern computing devices, many of which are assembled – at least in part – in China.

That means this toxic lake is a byproduct of education technology. It grows as our fervor for new devices grows. Can we really say we’re architecting an equitable educational future if we ignore this foundation?

This is the great challenge for those of us in education: to address and not dismiss the toxicity. Adding technology does not scrub it away. To the contrary, we need to recognize where and how and why education technology actually makes things worse."
audreywatters  education  edtech  2015  technology  inequality  equity  mooc  moocs  anantagarwal  edx  dabanks  meritocracy  privilege  siliconvalley  technosolutionism  evgenymorozov  suveillance  natashasinger  pearson  aclu  eff  rocketshipschools  seymourpapert  carpediemschools  charters  arneduncan  civilrights  justinreich  jeananyon  solutionism 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Two sentences that perfectly capture what it means to be privileged in America today - Vox
"Giridharadas's point is particularly salient now, as Robert Putnam's book about the growing fissure between upper- and lower-class America is a hot topic in political circles. Toward the end of his talk (around the 16-minute mark), he hammers home the point that there are two Americas, and that many people who reside firmly in the more privileged version don't even realize it.

"Don't console yourself that you are the 99 percent," he says. "If you live near a Whole Foods; if no one in your family serves in the military; if you are paid by the year, not the hour; if most people you know finished college; if no one you know uses meth; if you married once and remain married; if you're not one of 65 million Americans with a criminal record — if any or all of these things describe you, then accept the possibility that actually, you may not know what's going on, and you may be part of the problem."

Harsh as that sounds, Giridharadas gets at an important point that Putnam also echoed in a recent interview with Vox: as the highest and lowest incomes in the US move further apart, well-off and low-income Americans also know less and less about each other and what it truly means to be from another social class. Indeed, only 1 percent of Americans consider themselves upper-class. As economic segregation grows, it plays a part in keeping people from climbing up the social ladder."

[YouTube link for Anand Giridharadas's talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8i-pNVj5KMw ]

[Response from Connor Kilpatrick:
“Let Them Eat Privilege: Focusing on privilege diverts attention away from the real villains.”
https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/04/1-99-percent-class-inequality/

"By forcing the middle class to divert their attention downward (and within) instead of at the real power players above, Vox and Giridharadas are playing into the Right’s hands. It’s an attempt to shame the middle class — those with some wealth but, relative to the top one or one-tenth of one percent, mere crumbs — to make them shut up about the rich and super rich and, instead, look at those below as a reminder that it could all be much worse.

[…]

Even when the income of the one percent (mostly the bottom half of that select group) is derived primarily from high salaries (as opposed to returns on investment) it’s far more likely to be reinvested in shares, bonds, and real estate — and of course elite educations and other opportunities for their children — than the income of the middle 40 percent, who have hardly anything left once the bills are paid.

That means that even with nothing more than a killer W-2, the salaried lower half of the one percent still have the means to consolidate themselves as an elite class while the rest of us are immiserated.

When a cut in capital gains taxes is paid for by hiking state tuition and slashing social services, the one percent benefits while the vast majority of the 99 percent loses. When a new law is passed making it harder to organize a union or wages are squeezed to ring out higher and higher corporate profits, it’s the one percent — and their investment portfolios — that benefits and the majority of the 99 percent who loses.

It’s real winners and losers — not a state of mind and not a “culture.” And it works like this:

[chart]

What’s bad for you economically is probably good for them. That’s why the rest of us will have to come in conflict with this tiny elite and its institutions if we’re going win a more just and egalitarian future for ourselves.

By substituting class relations for an arbitrary list of “privileges,” Vox is attempting to paint a picture of an immiserated America with no villain. It’s an America without a ruling class that directly and materially benefits from everyone else’s hard times. And this omission isn’t just incorrect — it robs us of any meaningful oppositional politics that could change it all.

It’s a conclusion that, despite Vox’s endorsement, plays into conservatives’ hands. Like the journalist Robert Fitch once wrote, it is the aim of the Right “to restrict the scope of class conflict — to bring it down to as low a level as possible. The smaller and more local the political unit, the easier it is to run it oligarchically.”

So why turn inward? Why argue over who’s got the sweeter deal and how we’re all responsible for the gross inequity of society when it’s not that much more than a tiny sliver of millionaires and billionaires at Davos sipping wine and rubbing shoulders with politicians?

Let’s try worrying more about knowing thy enemy — and building solidarity from that recognition. “Check your privilege?” Sure. But for once, let’s try checking it against the average hedge fund manager instead of a random Whole Foods shopper."]
anandgiridharadas  inequality  privilege  2015  race  military  employment  work  labor  drugs  addiction  poverty  education  marriage  class  robertputnam  politics  secondchances  religion  islam  mercy  forgiveness  grace  us  humanism  segregation  lifeexpectancy  healthcare  faith  civics  law  legal  capitalpunishment  deathpenalty  raisuddinbhuiyan  markstroman  connorkilpatrick 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Metafoundry 30: Confusion Matrices
"WE ARE THE DOOM SQUAD: In this fantastic interview for Rawr Denim, William Gibson talks about clothing and fashion: “There’s an idea called “gray man”, in the security business, that I find interesting. They teach people to dress unobtrusively. Chinos instead of combat pants, and if you really need the extra pockets, a better design conceals them. ...[T]here’s something appealingly “low-drag” about gray man theory: reduced friction with one’s environment.” That made me wonder: “What does a 'grey woman' look like?”, which made me think about how Deborah Tannen used the linguistics terms marked and unmarked to describe gender and clothing. Just as many English words are default male (unmarked), with a changed ending to connote female (marked; think 'actor' vs 'actress'), she argued that men's dress can be unmarked but women's dress is always marked. That is, there are decisions that men make about what they wear that are defaults, that aren’t even seen as a decision. In contrast, every decision that a woman makes about what she wears—heels vs, flats, pants vs, skirts, the length of a skirt and the height of a neckline, haircuts, jewelry—is freighted with cultural baggage. Take makeup. Especially in professional settings, for a woman, not wearing makeup is a noticeable, and notable, decision: marked. But for a man, not wearing makeup is not a decision—nobody notices when men aren't wearing makeup: unmarked. (Of course, a man wearing makeup is very marked indeed.)

Since I was a tween, I've been mostly wearing black clothes (with a bit of grey), no branding, minimal ornamentation, and simple lines. Right now, my wardrobe mostly consists of black jeans and trousers and a few skirts and dresses, t-shirts, hoodies, jackets (worn according to the formality of the event). Given the historically snowy weather in Boston this winter, some of my more technical outerwear and other clothing was folded into my regular wardrobe by necessity, which resulted in an aesthetic that a friend described as ‘cyberpunk Winter Soldier’. Contra Gibson’s description of Cayce Pollard Units, I’m not sure there are any women’s clothes that could have been unremarkably worn between 1945 and 2000; for a start, that my clothes are monochrome has been remarked on regularly since I was a teenager, not least because black has a long history of cultural connotations of its own.

The aesthetic choice to wear black that I made when my parents were still buying my clothes was cemented when I was an undergraduate and graduate student (almost all of my teens and twenties), because black clothes are an intensely practical choice when the phrase ‘disposable income’ is an oxymoron. I remember this Glenn O’Brien article in SPIN from 1985, in which (once you get past the casual homophobia and the implicit assumption that women are not reading it, and possibly not even sentient beings) he makes the case for that practicality—how black clothes don’t show dirt or damage much (useful when you can't easily afford to replace something if you spill coffee on it), and how they’re appropriate for a wide range of social settings. And all shades of black match, which is more than you can say for other colours. But what wearing black mostly meant to me was that I could make decisions about purchasing clothes and accessories on just one axis—functionality—without worrying about colour. When I gave talks at research conferences or went off to interviews for a postdoctoral position, I had exactly one purse and one pair of good dress shoes and one briefcase and I could still be guaranteed that I had a coordinated outfit.

The roots of the ‘Grey Man’ lie in the Great Male Renunciation: the period around the end of the 17th century, in the middle of the Enlightenment, when society collectively decided that men’s clothing, previously as colourful and ornamented as women’s, was to be dark, sober and serious. What’s kind of astonishing is how we've never really gone back—a quick scroll through red-carpet photos makes that clear—and how we mostly just accept this sexual dimorphism as the norm. Just why men's clothing has never returned to pre-GMR levels of finery is something I’ll leave to historians and sociologists, but it’s almost certainly related to the harsh enforcement of gender norms—while women can wear colours and clothing styles indistinguishable from men’s (as I write this, I’m wearing black jeans, a black t-shirt, and Camper high-tops), the slightest hint of femininity in men’s self-presentation elicits verbal abuse at best, and the worst is far worse.

I have more money to spend on clothes than I did as a grad student, so the quality of what I wear has gone up markedly (Fluevog Derby Swirls instead of steel-toed police boots from the surplus store), but what passes for my personal aesthetic has been pretty constant for two decades. Gibson talks about ‘reduced friction with one’s environment’, and that’s an element of how I dress: wearing a de facto uniform means that I spend very little time getting dressed in the morning, and makes it infinitely easier to pack for the frequent travel I do. Fran Lebowitz (who herself wears a gender-bending daily uniform) defends this move in a recent interview with Elle: “[T]here's nothing wrong in not caring. A man who doesn't care about what he looks like, he's applauded. We say, 'Oh, he's not superficial!'” My own personal Great Female Renunciation is tolerated in my professional environment of academic engineering. But, if you’re a woman, it’s almost impossible to eliminate the social friction around what you’re wearing: as Tannen noted, the way you dress is always perceived (and judged) by others, no matter how much you try to be unremarkable. You can turn this to your advantage: as Lebowitz puts it, “What's so great thing [sic] about clothes is that they're artificial—you can lie, you can choose the way you look, which is not true of natural beauty.” So while there isn't really a 'grey woman', you have more options for active camouflage. But, of course, most of us aren't super-sekrit agents, and this social scrutiny is always in action. It infuriates me when my female students are routinely asked if they have a date when they wear something other than a t-shirt and jeans, are told they are ‘too pretty’ to be engineers, or when my female academic colleagues are presumed, implicitly or explicitly to be less ‘serious’ if they are ‘too’ well put together.

I mostly think about the semiotics of what I wear in the same way that C.P. Snow is said to have described the three laws of thermodynamics: "You can’t win. You can’t break even. You can’t quit the game." There’s a reason why women care deeply about fashion—because it matters. Because it affects how literally everyone you encounter treats you. Given this, the depth of feeling in stories about wardrobes like those recounted in Sheila Heti’s Women in Clothes make more sense. I am acutely aware of the social and professional privilege that means I can opt-out of ‘dressing for success’ (I already have the job I want), although I’m certainly cognizant of what I’m leaving on the table by not paying much attention to style (for me, spending my time and money on other things is a fair trade; the value proposition is different for every woman) and that the specific way that I don't care about fashion is also a statement ('you can't quit the game'). It's common for men to demonstrate mild (or strong) disdain for how much women care about fashion or how much money women spend on clothes. But they are mostly just demonstrating a complete lack of awareness of a semiotic system that women are required to participate in, in order to accrue both economic and social benefits, which men are largely exempt from. "
debchachra  2015  uniforms  uniformproject  glvo  gender  clothing  howwedress  semiotics  williamgibson  caycepollard  color  daborahtannen  greyman  glenno'brien  franlebowitz  cpsnow  sheilaheti  womeninclothes  privilege  presentationofself  identity  freedom  signaling  pesonaluniforms 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Insights: K-HOLE, New York — Insights: K-HOLE, New York — Channel — Walker Art Center
"K-HOLE exists in multiple states at once: it is both a publication and a collective; it is both an artistic practice and a consulting firm; it is both critical and unapologetically earnest. Its five members come from backgrounds as varied as brand strategy, fine art, web development, and fashion, and together they have released a series of fascinating PDF publications modeled upon corporate trend forecasting reports. These documents appropriate the visuals of PowerPoint, stock photography, and advertising and exploit the inherent poetry in the purposefully vague aphorisms of corporate brand-speak. Ultimately, K-HOLE aspires to utilize the language of trend forecasting to discuss sociopolitical topics in depth, exploring the capitalist landscape of advertising and marketing in a critical but un-ironic way.

In the process, the group frequently coins new terms to articulate their ideas, such as “Youth Mode”: a term used to describe the prevalent attitude of youth culture that has been emancipated from any particular generation; the “Brand Anxiety Matrix”: a tool designed to help readers understand their conflicted relationships with the numerous brands that clutter their mental space on a daily basis; and “Normcore”: a term originally used to describe the desire not to differentiate oneself, which has since been mispopularized (by New York magazine) to describe the more specific act of dressing neutrally to avoid standing out. (In 2014, “Normcore” was named a runner-up by Oxford University Press for “Neologism of the Year.”)

Since publishing K-HOLE, the collective has taken on a number of unique projects that reflect the manifold nature of their practice, from a consulting gig with a private equity firm to a collaboration with a fashion label resulting in their own line of deodorant. K-HOLE has been covered by a wide range of publications, including the New York Times, Fast Company, Wired UK, and Mousse.

Part of Insights 2015 Design Lecture Series."

[direct link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7GkMPN5f5cQ ]
k-hole  consumption  online  internet  communication  burnout  normcore  legibility  illegibility  simplicity  technology  mobile  phones  smartphones  trends  fashion  art  design  branding  brands  socialmedia  groupchat  texting  oversharing  absence  checkingout  aesthetics  lifestyle  airplanemode  privilege  specialness  generations  marketing  trendspotting  coping  messaging  control  socialcapital  gregfong  denayago  personalbranding  visibility  invisibility  identity  punk  prolasticity  patagonia  patience  anxietymatrix  chaos  order  anxiety  normality  abnormality  youth  millennials  individuality  box1824  hansulrichobrist  alternative  indie  culture  opposition  massindie  williamsburg  simoncastets  digitalnatives  capitalism  mainstream  semiotics  subcultures  isolation  2015  walkerartcenter  maxingout  establishment  difference  89plus  basicness  evasion  blandness  actingbasic  empathy  indifference  eccentricity  blankness  tolerance  rebellion  signalling  status  coolness  aspiration  connections  relationships  presentationofself  understanding  territorialism  sociology  ne 
march 2015 by robertogreco
If leftwingers like me are condemned as rightwing, then what’s left? | Tim Lott | Comment is free | The Guardian
"I am a “lefty”. I have voted Labour all my life. I believe in the abolition of public schools and the inviolability of the NHS, and that the renewal of Trident is a vanity project. I believe the state must work to ensure equality of opportunity for all: women, the LBGT “community”, those with disabilities, those of minority cultures and ethnicities, and the working class. The Guardian has been my newspaper forever. I was glad to see the back of the Sun’s Page 3, and I believe there should be more all-women shortlists for parliamentary seats. I believe immigration is more of a positive force than a negative one.

However, you might be less certain about my status when I finish laying out my stall. Because I find myself holding a “transgressive” body of beliefs and doubts alongside my blue-chip leftwing ones that are liable to get me branded a misogynist, an Islamophobe and a Little Englander – at least by people on my Twitter feed, and others of my peer group.

These “beliefs” are more like questions, largely about identity politics, those deep and dangerous rift valleys of the left. I believe the jury is still out about whether gender identity is entirely constructed. I question whether the gender pay gap in Britain is as large as is sometimes suggested, and wonder whether it may have as much to do with the way it is calculated and with the choices women make after having children as it does with patriarchy or prejudice (although the government could do more to close the gap by funding childcare better). There is huge work to do to liberate women from the very real yoke of patriarchy. But I would venture – checking my privilege – that this is not a crisis in Britain in way it is in the developing world.

I am not convinced jihadists have “nothing to do” with Islam – although this strikes me as a largely theological and semantic point. I am wary of even moderate Islam for the same reason I am wary of even moderate Christianity: because I am an atheist and a humanist and a social liberal, and consider most religions to be counter-rational and socially conservative. To acknowledge that grooming gangs and FGM and tendencies towards homophobia and gender oppression have arisen out of some of the matrices of Muslim practices and belief systems adds to my unease.

I believe more in free speech than I do in “safe spaces” in universities. I do not think people with unpleasant opinions should be prosecuted, or even denied a platform, unless they directly threaten to incite violence or lawbreaking. I do not think “political correctness” is a myth – although I would prefer the term groupthink – but that it is a system of thought that has a real impact on public policy and institutional behaviour.

I think of myself as English rather than British, and have some residual affection for my country – though for reasons of its humour, cultural imagination and common grassroots culture rather than its imperial past.

My stance on these issues makes some people in my “tribe” very angry. It is the anger of the pure believer towards the apostate. However, I can find echoes of my populist worldview in one strand of the left – that represented by the Spiked web magazine, which grew out of the ashes of Living Marxism and the Revolutionary Communist party, once known as the libertarian or anti-Stalinist left. Describing their philosophy as radical humanism, they poke and prod at the sacred cows of the left but from a socialist rather than a rightwing populist position. The fact that I enjoy Spiked – although I by no means agree with all of it – feels like dirty little secret. But that’s what the mainstream left specialises in: generating shame.

This shame comes from the phenomenon of what I call assumption creep – the assumption that if you believe one thing you probably believe another thing, which you are hiding. If you believe women behave differently in the real world from men, whether for cultural or biological reasons, you also (secretly) believe women are more suited for domestic life than careers.

That if you believe religion, including Islam, is the source of much conflict in the world you also (secretly) believe all Muslims are potential terrorists and you (secretly) dislike immigrants to boot. That if you have a particular attachment to your country, defined as England rather than Britain, you keep a St George’s flag and a knuckle-duster in the back of your drawer. These supposed secret assumptions are the primary source of censure from leftwing critics of the “paradoxical voice” – which is the term I use to describe the thinking of “non-pure” leftwing thinkers.

Assumption creep may be accurate in some cases. We all know about the “I’m not a racist, but … ” arguments. But more often than not, it simply isn’t true. To insist otherwise is lazy. It’s just a way of making sure people who have opinions contrary to your own stay safely in their boxes – the boxes marked “bad people”. To actually address the issues is thus avoided, because who needs to debate with a bad person? It’s enough just to condemn them.

One very key element of the liberal left has long been under threat: its liberalism – that is, its willingness to debate with anything outside a narrow range of opinions within its own walls. And the more scary and incomprehensible the world becomes, the more debate is replaced by edict and prejudice: literally pre-judging. Identity politics is one of the most significant developments of the last 50 years, but it has led to nerves being exposed in a way they rarely were by economic issues. Because identity is less about politics and more about that most sensitive of human constructions, the protection of the self – both group and individual.

And the more it becomes about the protection of self, the less it becomes about the back and forth of rational argument. All the beliefs, opinions and doubts I hold are just that: they are ideas, not ironclad convictions. I am not certain about any of them, and am quite willing to change my mind, as I have done many times in the past. But I will not alter them if I am faced with invective rather than debate; in fact, they will become more entrenched.

Nick Cohen, Christopher Hitchens, David Aaronovich, Julie Burchill, Julie Bindel and others have often been at the rough end of this debate, for daring to voice opinions of their own that do not fit the overarching narrative. David Mamet’s admittedly provocative essay, Why I Am No Longer a “Brain-Dead Liberal”, published in the Village Voice, must have cost him a fair few dinner party invitations. This marginalisation is invidious, not only because it violates the principles of free debate – we cannot suppress awkward questions lest it “give succour to the enemy” – but because it is bound to alienate the wider public.

Those who identify with the “paradoxical voice” self-censor because they know they are going to get rocks thrown at them – not by their enemies but by their friends. That’s not only a bad feeling; it’s a tendency that’s bad for democracy, for politics, and the wider movement we call the left. And the left – in its compassion, freedom and concern for social justice – is the only hope for the future of this country."
via:anne  debate  discourse  politics  identitypolitics  2015  timlott  politicalcorrectness  liberalism  uk  shame  shaming  privilege  left  assumption  assumptioncreep  leftwing  purity 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The Great Equity Test | EduShyster
"Xian Franzinger Barrett argues that accountability without equity means more inequity…

EduShyster: OK—I need you to set me straight here. Is ensuring that we continue to test kids in high-needs schools the civil rights issue of our time? Or is striking a blow against too much testing in high needs schools the civil rights issue of our time? Or is civil rights actually the civil rights issue of our time?

Xian Franzinger Barrett: The people who are talking about this genuinely on both sides are talking about the same thing, it’s just that the problem they’re trying to address is pervasive and terrible. This idea that we’re unseen and unheard unless we’re measured has a basis in history and reality, so I think it’s important that we don’t lose that. But anyone who says *you’re not going to be acknowledged unless you’re tested* is either too pessimistic or they’re racist. We also have to acknowledge that the very fact that people aren’t being supported or treated equitably unless they’re measured is racism. No one would ever say: *the rich kids in this private school—we don’t have a good measurement of them so we’re just not going to give them an education.* That’s just ridiculous.

EduShyster: That was only my first question and I’m pretty sure that already you have caused a number of heads to explode. So let’s keep going. You argue that accountability without equity actually ends up deepening inequity. Explain.

Franzinger Barrett: You think of that old expression about how when one person gets a cold, the other folks get pneumonia. If you mandate testing, it’s going to cause a mild disruption in most privileged communities, and it’s going to utterly decimate education in high-needs communities—unless, of course, there is some kind of intervention to stop that from happening. So when people say: *to acknowledge these communities, we have to do testing,* we need to ask why the communities aren’t acknowledged—and how are we going to make sure that this doesn’t become another inequitable thing stacked on top of people who are already burdened by inequity. You have the folks who argue that we need data on everything, everywhere saying that *if no one is watching what’s happening to the highest needs kids they’re not going to be supported.* But the flip side of that is that if there’s no filter for equity, you end up creating impossible burdens on the students, the parents and the teachers.

Xian2EduShyster: Well, I can tell you that you’re wrong because it says so right here in this internal messaging guide *How to Talk About Testing.* And one of the first thing it says is that if a parent or teacher tells you that there is too much testing, explain slowly and in simple language that they are wrong.

Franzinger Barrett: The burden of testing is inequitable. I’ll tell you what it means in the kind of environment that I’ve taught in. I happen to have a progressive principal now who advocates for our students and our building. But I’ve had 10 principals in 9 years in the Chicago Public Schools, and most have pushed the central office line on test at the staff and students of the community. So you’ve got a principal who spends most of her time outside of the building being harassed by higher ups about low test scores. She then comes back to the building and says *we’ve got a new plan and all of our resources are going to go to support test prep,* which means no field trips this year. Usually the plan isn’t based on any real research. The plan gets passed down, which means that every teacher is forced to ask themselves in an individual context: how do I weigh what I know is best for young people against my job? Teaching engaging lessons with culturally relevant curriculum is a hard thing to do even when you’re fully supported. But it becomes almost impossible when you’re basically being asked to risk your career in order to do that. What I need to do to really teach the highest needs students well automatically puts me at odds with higher ups in a district that’s focused on testing.

EduShyster: I follow you on Twitter, where you are a master of, among other things, the 140 character history lesson, especially when it comes to reminding people that inequity didn’t exactly arise with the advent of standardized testing.

Franzinger Barrett: I think it’s important that we don’t frame testing and the resulting narrowing of the curriculum as a new thing that has created inequity. While testing has created more inequity, high needs minorities communities have always been subjected to compliance-focused education—with one important exception: when these communities have run their own educations. Jean Anyon has written about the hidden curriculum of schools and how schools have been set up to teach empowerment and creativity and agency to affluent kids, but to teach working class kids to be compliant and follow orders. What’s interesting is that these sort of *improve everything* charter schools tend to fall into the second category. We can look back before Brown vs. Board of Education and say education was a catastrophe because of under-resourcing. When we look at the actual agency that African-American teachers had teaching African-American students, an argument can be made that it was better.

Ice CreamEduShyster: Since this interview is about race and equity, I have to ask you about racial tensions within the pro-public education movement. You’re a leader of that movement but you’ve also been a sharp critic of it for being overly white and frankly out-of-touch when it comes to issues of race.

Franzinger Barrett: So much of it has to do with organizing strategies and our core beliefs about what a pathway to freedom or a march to freedom looks like. We need to face the fact that it’s not possible for the privileged to lead a movement for educational justice on behalf of high-needs communities—and I would place myself in that privileged group here. Whether it’s our stance on testing or a just and empowering curriculum or teacher evaluation, we would all do better if we sat down and listened to the communities we work in and the students we serve. And we need to be prepared to hear some very harsh realities. I’m very interested, by the way, to see what happens this spring with our Network for Public Education (which I’m on the governing board of) conference in Chicago because you have a lot of great people with awesome motives who have worked their butts off for justice who are scratching their heads and asking *why are we so white?* I don’t think this is about shaming that. We have to address it head on and ask: *What is our long term plan to ensure that our movement is led by those most affected by policy?*

EduShyster: That idea that teachers need to listen to their students and the communities they’re from is a big part of the vision of CORE, the Chicago Teachers Union’s Caucus of Rank and File Educators, that you’re part of. Give us an example of what you hear.

Franzinger Barrett: In my 9th year of teaching in Chicago’s Gage Park neighborhood, I did peace circles with my students, which are safe spaces where participants can share their experiences without judgment. It was like being a first-year teacher again. I had assumed for all of those years that the honors kids liked the way they were learning at the school and the highest-needs kids, who I spent my time with, didn’t. But what I found out was that all of those kids who were doing great on tests hated the general school culture too. It was just that they’d learned along the way that there was some compensation for towing the line. And that was really hard. It was hard as an educator to stand there and hear that, as good as your motives are, you’re still part of the team that’s trapping us in this oppressive place. I was really thankful that they were willing to tell me that. That led to a lot of effective activism to make our school a more affirming, welcoming place. It was a tough moment but something beautiful came out of it.

EduShyster: One of the things I love about you is that you talk about *peace circles,* and say things like *march to freedom.* No one talks like that! Other than listening to Xian Franzinger Barrett, who else should we be paying more attention to in the debate over the future of public education?

Franzinger Barrett: Voices of Youth in Chicago Education (VOYCE) did opt-out work that wasn’t covered much. The first thing they did was hold protests and press conferences to try to get the right to take the ACT—because many students had been declared ineligible in order to raise test scores. Then not long after they led a walk out from the ACT Workkeys test because they said that it was more likely to steer them towards non-professional jobs as youth of color. Some of the reporters found this very confusing and wanted to know how students could be demanding to take the tests one week and refusing to take them the next, but to VOYCE that was the whole point. They wanted a choice and a say. I just want to point out though that there tends to be a lot of overlap between groups that are doing great work around high-stakes testing with other community groups, because the issues all intersect. So it’s hard to be in community and care about testing and not also work on the school to prison pipeline or curriculum justice. So I’d point to folks like the Schools LA Students Deserve, Project NIA, the Black Youth Project, the Algebra Project, the student unions in Providence and Philly. Those are some of the groups I’m looking to learn from."
xianfranzingerbarrett  xianbarrett  2015  jenniferberkshire  teaching  howweteach  socialjustice  schools  publicschools  inequality  education  policy  measurement  oppression  control  power  learning  testing  standardizedtesting  standardization  brownvsboardofeducation  integration  segregation  class  chicago  race  equity  justice  legibility  leadership  privilege  inequity  empowerment  agency  activism  curriculum  voyce  canon 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Oliver Sacks on Learning He Has Terminal Cancer - NYTimes.com
"A MONTH ago, I felt that I was in good health, even robust health. At 81, I still swim a mile a day. But my luck has run out — a few weeks ago I learned that I have multiple metastases in the liver. Nine years ago it was discovered that I had a rare tumor of the eye, an ocular melanoma. Although the radiation and lasering to remove the tumor ultimately left me blind in that eye, only in very rare cases do such tumors metastasize. I am among the unlucky 2 percent.

I feel grateful that I have been granted nine years of good health and productivity since the original diagnosis, but now I am face to face with dying. The cancer occupies a third of my liver, and though its advance may be slowed, this particular sort of cancer cannot be halted.

It is up to me now to choose how to live out the months that remain to me. I have to live in the richest, deepest, most productive way I can. In this I am encouraged by the words of one of my favorite philosophers, David Hume, who, upon learning that he was mortally ill at age 65, wrote a short autobiography in a single day in April of 1776. He titled it “My Own Life.”

“I now reckon upon a speedy dissolution,” he wrote. “I have suffered very little pain from my disorder; and what is more strange, have, notwithstanding the great decline of my person, never suffered a moment’s abatement of my spirits. I possess the same ardour as ever in study, and the same gaiety in company.”

I have been lucky enough to live past 80, and the 15 years allotted to me beyond Hume’s three score and five have been equally rich in work and love. In that time, I have published five books and completed an autobiography (rather longer than Hume’s few pages) to be published this spring; I have several other books nearly finished.

Hume continued, “I am ... a man of mild dispositions, of command of temper, of an open, social, and cheerful humour, capable of attachment, but little susceptible of enmity, and of great moderation in all my passions.”

Here I depart from Hume. While I have enjoyed loving relationships and friendships and have no real enmities, I cannot say (nor would anyone who knows me say) that I am a man of mild dispositions. On the contrary, I am a man of vehement disposition, with violent enthusiasms, and extreme immoderation in all my passions.

And yet, one line from Hume’s essay strikes me as especially true: “It is difficult,” he wrote, “to be more detached from life than I am at present.”

Over the last few days, I have been able to see my life as from a great altitude, as a sort of landscape, and with a deepening sense of the connection of all its parts. This does not mean I am finished with life.

On the contrary, I feel intensely alive, and I want and hope in the time that remains to deepen my friendships, to say farewell to those I love, to write more, to travel if I have the strength, to achieve new levels of understanding and insight.

This will involve audacity, clarity and plain speaking; trying to straighten my accounts with the world. But there will be time, too, for some fun (and even some silliness, as well).

I feel a sudden clear focus and perspective. There is no time for anything inessential. I must focus on myself, my work and my friends. I shall no longer look at “NewsHour” every night. I shall no longer pay any attention to politics or arguments about global warming.

This is not indifference but detachment — I still care deeply about the Middle East, about global warming, about growing inequality, but these are no longer my business; they belong to the future. I rejoice when I meet gifted young people — even the one who biopsied and diagnosed my metastases. I feel the future is in good hands.

I have been increasingly conscious, for the last 10 years or so, of deaths among my contemporaries. My generation is on the way out, and each death I have felt as an abruption, a tearing away of part of myself. There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever. When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate — the genetic and neural fate — of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.

I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers.

Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure."
cancer  death  life  neuroscience  living  oliversacks  2015  legacy  individuality  davidhume  health  dying  mortality  audacity  clarity  goodbyes  perspective  humanism  privilege  adventure  consciousness 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Pray the Gay Way — The Archipelago — Medium
"But GCN was ultimately about attempting to reconcile these rifts within the community, and even the rift between queer Christians and people like Westboro. On Sunday morning, the director, Justin Lee, argued that “loving your enemies” means not just abstractly forgiving hateful protesters, but listening to the perspectives of political and personal enemies in our families and congregations. Thus it is GCN’s responsibility to reach WBC protesters, Southern Baptist leaders, Focus on the Family, Leelah Alcorn’s parents. I think this is a dangerous message to deliver to people who have been abused. But I do admire the spirit of the big tent, of committing to coming together, however uncomfortably.

Since the conference, I’ve read posts about how GCN was a revelation to many people, a first or only affirming space — it was home, family, church. For me, the weekend was an exercise in empathy, but empathy is not necessarily belonging.

Church folks have a tendency to think that “being made one in Christ” erases our differences, but in fact it means that we have an even greater responsibility to understand our diversity, so that we can truly be one body with different parts. It’s more clear to me after the conference that I don’t need to belong in “the LGBT Christian community” to stand with my siblings in God who have been hurt by the church and are trying to find their place there. My religion and sexuality are important parts of my identity, but not the only ones, or even the ones that have most strongly guided my life experiences. I’m an adult convert who was never raised to believe that God’s promises are contingent on my being “fixed.” I have plenty of white and upper middle class and cisgender privilege. I am firmly planted in progressive secular society and in mostly-welcoming church communities. I was fortunate not to feel at home at GCN — because the rest of the world is a much more welcoming place for me.

On Sunday morning, the conference tried out a more liturgical worship service. (I sang in the choir, the only choir I have ever sung with in thirty years of choral singing that had more men than women.) Sheet music was projected on giant screens so that conference-goers could sing along — but one hymn was missing a page. Fifteen hundred people just kept singing “la la la.” We didn’t know the words, but we could still sing together."
suzannefischer  2015  gcn  sexuality  christianity  community  empathy  difference  differences  inclusion  worship  privilege  diversity  religion  affirmation  listening  inlcusivity  inclusivity 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Grand Rounds: The Beast of the Block (H/T to Audrey Watters)
[This URL links to the comment by Audrey Watters:

"I have a bunch of thoughts here:

1) I support people's decision to block, even if it means they're avoiding disagreements. Like I said in my post, social media is intellectual and emotional work, work we do for free. People should not feel compelled to engage with people, whether they agree or disagree. I think it's unfair to demand others pay attention to us by hopping, un-beckoned, into their feeds. I think it's unfair to demand that people respond to us online. I think it's unfair to @-mention people to bring them into an argument or discussion they weren't in. To do this often involves power and privilege in ways that is unexamined. You say you poke. I get it. I poke. But we need to recognize that constantly being poked is exhausting. Emotionally exhausting.

2) I definitely support Diane Ravitch's decision to block you or me or anyone she chooses to. She has over 100K followers on Twitter, on an unverified account. Verified accounts give users tools to handle the incredible amount of messages that one receives when one has a high number of followers. (I have less than a third of the number, and I tell you, it is overwhelming.) If she needs to take measures to make her feed tolerable, so be it. I have also tussled with her online; she hasn't blocked me, but we don't follow each other and I try not to @-mention her. (I subtweet or use her name, not her handle.) It's not that I don't want to engage with her. It's that I don't really see the point of doing so on Twitter.

3) I don't think you're a troll. I've told you that before. But I do think you can be a sea lion. (http://wondermark.com/1k62/ ) "If I see a comment wander by the I disagree with, agree with, wonder about, want to poke at, I'll poke. If someone doesn't want to get poked at for something they said on Twitter, I'm continue to wonder why they said it on Twitter." -- that's pretty classic sea lioning. And I think we all need to be aware of these sorts of interjections and interactions. (You write that you don't know why you were blocked. Maybe it was something other than what you said. Maybe it was how you said it? How often you said it? I don't know, but it seems like it's worth a little introspection.) We presume a lot when we jump into people's mentions unannounced. We can still preach and advocate online without @-mentioning people we disagree when we do so."

[Below are some related tweets that I made prior to seeing Audrey's replies, which are much better than what I said. I had never hear the term ‘sea lion’ before and that's specifically what I was getting at:

“From 2012: “unleashing a temporary tweetmob on people to discourage dissent… gums up the conversational works” http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/03/why-you-shouldnt-retweet-the-haters/254300/
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/560903816116051969

"That post is about retweets, but I think the same applies for .@ replies.
[image of person with bat in hand, gang of buddies just behind]"
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/560904364651343872

"To be more clear, I’m referring especially to the bit that includes the phrase “reasonable disagreement.” https://pic.twitter.com/xA6j6ZzFRd "
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/560908340247543808

"and especially with RTs + .@ replies that *initiate* an interaction instead of an individual reply in good faith of beginning a conversation"
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/560910624826204160 ]

[Also for comparison (via: https://twitter.com/mpershan/status/560882491205373952 and https://twitter.com/mpershan/status/560882582163050498 ):

“On gentle pushback.”
http://ryanbrazell.net/on-gentle-pushback/

and “I don’t know what to do, you guys” or “I’m fed up with political correctness, and the idea that everyone should already be perfect”
http://fredrikdeboer.com/2015/01/29/i-dont-know-what-to-do-you-guys/
http://qz.com/335941/im-fed-up-with-political-correctness-and-the-idea-that-everyone-should-already-be-perfect/ ]

[These two also relate:
“Ask Not For Whom The Bell Trolls; It Trolls for Thee.” (Lindy West and her troll)
http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/545/if-you-dont-have-anything-nice-to-say-say-it-in-all-caps?act=1

“Win of the Day: Woman Defeats Twitter Troll With Words, Kindness on MLK Day”
http://thedailywh.at/2015/01/win-day-woman-defeats-twitter-troll-words-kindness-mlk-day/

“The Newsroom: Santorum on Gay Rights” (Clip from Season 1 Episode 6 via https://twitter.com/jonathanzhou_/status/560844926615703552 )
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBnk2aKsIQA ]
audreywatters  comments  twitter  replies  socialmedia  blocking  2015  sealions  interjection  interaction  dianravitch  discussion  argument  dissent  harassment  civility  tone  subtweets  disagreement  privilege  engagement  freddiedeboer  trolls  thenewsroom  lindywest  ijeomaoluo  ryanbrazell 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Double Union | A hacker/maker space for women in San Francisco
"Base Assumptions

Things to keep in mind at Double Union

In discussions with one another, we’re all operating on the common ground that we "get" Feminism 101. For example, we assume that we all know "not all men" are like that — that when we talk about the bad behavior of one man, we all understand that this doesn’t suggest the non-existence of men who are not like that. This lets us not waste time repeating ourselves, and conversations go a lot more smoothly!

The space is explicitly not a place for people to come and ask Feminism 101 questions to their heart's content. We like to talk about feminism a lot, but not explaining that it is allowed to exist or that sexism exists to endless streams of dudebros.

We are also working on a list of "jokes we’ve heard before" that are banned in the space, for prominent display. For example, asking if Double Union’s existence is "reverse sexism" is totally a faux pas here!

Values you can assume other members strive for:

• “Women” includes trans women, not all women have uteri/XX chromosomes/etc.
• LGBTQ-supportive
• Majority of gender-associated differences are socialized, not biological
• Feminism is good
• Technocracy is wrong, meritocracy is a joke
• Intersectionality is super important
• Classism is not okay
• Prioritizing women and our needs is perfectly awesome and needs no excuse
• If you get called out on something, apologize and learn from it

Stuff that isn’t okay in this space:

• Taking "reverse sexism" seriously
• Using the phrase "politically correct" (in a way that is not 100% obviously ironic)
• Requests for feminism 101 education
• Playing devil’s advocate
• Taking away someone’s keyboard
• Questioning the existence of privilege
• Telling people how to do feminism right
• Touching people without explicit verbal consent
• Policing others' bodies or food choices"
doubleunion  via:caseygollan  codeofconduct  gender  feminism  classism  politicalcorrectness  privilege  ethics 
january 2015 by robertogreco
The Funnies – The New Inquiry
"Rape cartoons are funny if it’s inconceivable to you that you could ever be raped. If you live in a bubble of gender privilege that insulates you from all consequences of rape culture.

AIDS jokes are funny if you’ve never loved someone who died of AIDS. If you live in a bubble that allows you not to know that millions of Africans died, thousands of gay men died, of criminal state indifference and denialism. Because they were, after all, only blacks and queers. Comedy material, not lives worth grieving.

Ebola cartoons are funny. Unless your partner is a public health doctor, forced to choose every day between treating patients without protective clothing or abandoning them to save her own life.

Cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed naked, on all fours, anus presented as target, are anti-clerical snigger fodder. Unless you and half the men and boys and boy children and baby boys you know and love are named Mohammed.

Unless you and your brothers, cousins, fathers, sons, friends are at daily risk of random causeless stop-and-frisks, patdown-gropes, strip-searches, cavity-searches inside Enlightened Fortress Europe. Because they can.

Unless your grandfather Mohammed was raped and castrated by the French in their concentration camps in Algeria.

Unless your mother survives daily harassment and threats of violence by Front National thugs in her banlieue by invoking the mercy of the Prophet on the ignorant.

Unless all the naked bodies in the Abu Ghraib torture photos look like you. Naked prone men, trailing blood, dragged on leashes by grinning US soldiers. Naked men piled in flesh sculptures by thumbs-up flashing, beaming young GIs. Naked brown Mohammed buttocks branded with cigarette burns like pointillist skin canvases. Mohammeds hooded and wired, bleeding from mouth and ears and anus, as their torturers laugh and strike poses. Naked violated men who look like you, like your brother, like your father, like the man your sweet baby boy will grow up to be.

Unless you and your friends pass around testimonies like dirty stories from survivors of CIA anal rape, also known as rectal rehydration. Survivors of Guantanamo oral rape, also known as force-feeding. Because you need to testify before they happen to you. This is survival lore.

Unless your little sister came home sobbing last week and screamed she would never go back to school, the school your parents dreamed for her before she was born. It took hours of coaxing and comforting to elicit why. The bully who makes her schooldays hell found a delicious new cruelty, one that follows her beyond school like an electronic ankle tag. He put that cartoon up on the classroom whiteboard, and the teacher left it there all day as a lesson in free speech."
#JeSuisCharlieHebdo  #JeSuisCharlie  2015  france  humor  satire  parody  shailjapatel  islamophobia  charliehebdo  abughraib  guantanamo  bullies  power  privilege  gender  religion  homophobia  colonialism 
january 2015 by robertogreco
An Old Fogey’s Analysis of a Teenager’s View on Social Media — The Message — Medium
"I’m a researcher. I’ve been studying American teens’ engagement with social media for over a decade. I wrote a book on the topic. I don’t speak on behalf of teens, but I do amplify their voices and try to make sense of the diversity of experiences teens have. I work hard to account for the biases in whose voices I have access to because I’m painfully aware that it’s hard to generalize about a population that’s roughly 16 million people strong. They are very diverse and, yet, journalists and entrepreneurs want to label them under one category and describe them as one thing.

Andrew is a very lucid writer and I completely trust his depiction of his peer group’s use of social media. He wrote a brilliant post about his life, his experiences, and his interpretations. His voice should be heard. And his candor is delightful to read. But his analysis cannot and should not be used to make claims about all teenagers. I don’t blame Andrew for this; I blame the readers — and especially tech elites and journalists — for their interpretation of Andrew’s post because they should know better by now. What he’s sharing is not indicative of all teens. More significantly, what he’s sharing reinforces existing biases in the tech industry and journalism that worry me tremendously.

His coverage of Twitter should raise a big red flag to anyone who has spent an iota of time paying attention to the news. Over the last six months, we’ve seen a phenomenal uptick in serious US-based activism by many youth in light of what took place in Ferguson. It’s hard to ignore Twitter’s role in this phenomenon, with hashtags like #blacklivesmatter and #IfTheyGunnedMeDown not only flowing from Twitter onto other social media platforms, but also getting serious coverage from major media. Andrew’s statement that “a lot of us simply do not understand the point of Twitter” should raise eyebrows, but it’s the rest of his description of Twitter that should serve as a stark reminder of Andrew’s position within the social media landscape.

Let me put this bluntly: teens’ use of social media is significantly shaped by race and class, geography and cultural background. Let me repeat that for emphasis."



"Andrew is very visible about where he stands. He’s very clear about his passion for technology (and his love of blogging on Medium should be a big ole hint to anyone who missed his byline). He’s also a college student and talks about his peers as being obviously on path to college. But as readers, let’s not forget that only about half of US 19-year-olds are in college. He talks about WhatsApp being interesting when you go abroad, the practice of “going abroad” is itself privileged, with less than 1/3 of US citizens even holding passports. Furthermore, this renders invisible the ways in which many US-based youth use WhatsApp to communicate with family and friends who live outside of the US. Immigration isn’t part of his narrative.

I don’t for a second fault Andrew for not having a perspective beyond his peer group. But I do fault both the tech elite and journalists for not thinking critically through what he posted and presuming that a single person’s experience can speak on behalf of an entire generation. There’s a reason why researchers and organizations like Pew Research are doing the work that they do — they do so to make sure that we don’t forget about the populations that aren’t already in our networks. The fact that professionals prefer anecdotes from people like us over concerted efforts to understand a demographic as a whole is shameful. More importantly, it’s downright dangerous. It shapes what the tech industry builds and invests in, what gets promoted by journalists, and what gets legitimized by institutions of power. This is precisely why and how the tech industry is complicit in the increasing structural inequality that is plaguing our society."
teens  danahboyd  youth  socialmedia  andrewatts  2015  privilege  race  class  geography 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Parker Palmer and Courtney Martin — The Inner Life of Rebellion | On Being
"The history of rebellion is rife with excess and burnout. But new generations have a distinctive commitment to be reflective and activist at once, to be in service as much as in charge, and to learn from history while bringing very new realities into being. Journalist and entrepreneur Courtney Martin and Quaker wise man Parker Palmer come together for a cross-generational conversation about the inner work of sustainable, resilient social change."

[Also here: https://soundcloud.com/onbeing/parker-palmer-and-courtney-martin-the-inner-life-of-rebellion

and in clips

“Parker Palmer and Courtney Martin — Learning in Public”
https://soundcloud.com/onbeing/parker-palmer-and-courtney

“Courtney Martin — A New Relationship with Rebellion”
https://soundcloud.com/onbeing/courtney-martin-a-new

“Parker Palmer — Holding the Paradox of Chutzpah and Humility”
https://soundcloud.com/onbeing/parker-palmer-holding-the-paradox-of-chutzpah-and-humility ]
parkerpalmer  courtneymartin  comfort  persistence  rebellion  rebels  humility  burnout  discomfort  2015  depression  sustainability  resilience  mentalhealth  socialchange  savingtheworld  generations  agesegregation  intergenerational  interconnectedness  activism  reflection  service  idealism  privilege  success  efficiency  emotions  learning  howwelearn  piaget  listening  pause  ethics  busyness  resistance  soul  identity  maryoliver  attentiveness  attention  quakers  clinicaldepression  learninginpublic  living  love  flipflopping  mindchanging  malcolmx  victoriasafford  hope  jeanpiaget  onbeing  mindchanges 
january 2015 by robertogreco
The Guardian view on private schools: time for them to give back in return for their tax breaks | Editorial | Comment is free | The Guardian
"Tristram Hunt is right to ask private schools to share their expertise with the state sector"



"Mr Hunt’s recognition of the social injustice embodied by educational privilege is welcome, and he clearly intends his proposals to reflect differences in resources within the private sector – between, say, a public school such as Eton and a small Christian primary. Not every independent school could run an inner-city academy. Some already do. But more of them could certainly do more than, say, invite local schools to the A-level art exhibition. Fee-paying parents who protest that that’s not what they’re paying for face paying a bit more to make up for the loss of business rate relief. Labour should brush aside claims that it’s anti-aspiration, or launching a new class war. Tackling entrenched privilege is nothing to do with the politics of envy. This move could be a small step towards a fairer society."
uk  education  privateschools  taxes  inequality  policy  publicschools  socialjustice  privilege 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Expressions of Solidarity | willowbl00
"I wonder if, what Scott means, in this whole storm recently, is actually:
“Your struggle is my struggle. While I had a really rough time growing up, it must have been just as hard for people like me, and even harder for those facing structural oppression. I want to fight these systems with you. When you say I’m ‘privileged,’ I feel like my experience is being discounted and it makes it difficult for me to be in solidarity with you.”

I feel like this is what Laurie is asking for. I know it’s what I would ask for."
willowbrugh  lauriepenny  scottaaronson  2014  privilege  solidarity  allies  oppression  feminism  racism  race  gender 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Stowe Boyd — Our society constantly proclaims that anyone can...
"Our society constantly proclaims that anyone can make it if they just try hard enough, all the while reinforcing privilege and putting increasing pressure on its overstretched and exhausted citizens. An increasing number of people fail, feeling humiliated, guilty and ashamed. We are forever told that we are freer to choose the course of our lives than ever before, but the freedom to choose outside the success narrative is limited. Furthermore, those who fail are deemed to be losers or scroungers, taking advantage of our social security system.

A neoliberal meritocracy would have us believe that success depends on individual effort and talents, meaning responsibility lies entirely with the individual and authorities should give people as much freedom as possible to achieve this goal. For those who believe in the fairytale of unrestricted choice, self-government and self-management are the pre-eminent political messages, especially if they appear to promise freedom. Along with the idea of the perfectible individual, the freedom we perceive ourselves as having in the west is the greatest untruth of this day and age.

The sociologist Zygmunt Bauman neatly summarised the paradox of our era as: “Never have we been so free. Never have we felt so powerless.” We are indeed freer than before, in the sense that we can criticise religion, take advantage of the new laissez-faire attitude to sex and support any political movement we like. We can do all these things because they no longer have any significance – freedom of this kind is prompted by indifference. Yet, on the other hand, our daily lives have become a constant battle against a bureaucracy that would make Kafka weak at the knees. There are regulations about everything, from the salt content of bread to urban poultry-keeping.

Our presumed freedom is tied to one central condition: we must be successful – that is, “make” something of ourselves. You don’t need to look far for examples. A highly skilled individual who puts parenting before their career comes in for criticism. A person with a good job who turns down a promotion to invest more time in other things is seen as crazy – unless those other things ensure success. A young woman who wants to become a primary school teacher is told by her parents that she should start off by getting a master’s degree in economics – a primary school teacher, whatever can she be thinking of?

There are constant laments about the so-called loss of norms and values in our culture. Yet our norms and values make up an integral and essential part of our identity. So they cannot be lost, only changed. And that is precisely what has happened: a changed economy reflects changed ethics and brings about changed identity. The current economic system is bringing out the worst in us."

—Paul Verhaeghe, Neoliberalism Has Brought Out The Worst In Us
neoliberalism  2014  paulverhaeghe  privilege  freedom  success  individualism  parenting  careers  culture  society  economics  capitalism  ethics  identity  zygmuntbauman  power  powerlessness  politics  policy  significance 
december 2014 by robertogreco
On Nerd Entitlement
"White male nerds need to recognise that other people had traumatic upbringings, too - and that's different from structural oppression. "



"What can I say? This is a strange and difficult age, one of fast-paced change and misunderstandings. Nerd culture is changing, technology is changing, and our frameworks for gender and power are changing - for the better. And the backlash to that change is painful as good, smart people try to rationalise their own failure to be better, to be cleverer, to see the other side for the human beings they are. Finding out that you’re not the Rebel Alliance, you’re actually part of the Empire and have been all along, is painful. Believe me, I know. (Although I always saw myself as an Ewok). We bring our broken hearts and blue balls to the table when we talk gender politics, especially if we are straight folks. Consent and the boundaries of consent - desire and what we're allowed to speak of desire - we're going to have to get better, braver and more honest, we're going to have to undo decades of toxic socialisation and learn to speak to each other as human beings in double quick time.

And most of all, we're going to have to make like Princess Elsa and let it go - all that resentment. All that rage and entitlement and hurt. Socialisation makes that process harder still for men. The road ahead will be long. I believe in you. I believe in all of us. Nerds are brilliant. We are great at learning stuff. We can do anything we put our minds to, although I suspect this thing, this refusing to let the trauma of nerdolescence create more violence, this will be hardest of all.

And on that note I shall return to what I was doing before I read this post, which was drinking sweet tea and weeping about how boys don't seem to want to kiss short-haired lady nerds, and trying not to blame the whole world for my broken heart, which is becoming more complex and interesting in the healing but still stings like a boiling ball of papercuts. I'll let you know how that goes."
culture  feminism  gender  sexism  2014  nerds  nerdculture  oppression  nerdolescence  privilege 
december 2014 by robertogreco
We will all be illiterate soon — Medium
"It all seems fairly intuitive: test the kids, measure their performances, find the pass rates for your teachers at each grade-level and school. A sixth-grader, after all, ought to do well on a sixth grade test.

But here’s the catch. At least in reading, schools and testing companies have been changing what it means to be on-grade-level from year to year. But how?

First, we must understand that schools’ tests are produced and marketed by commercial firms. Private companies like Pearson and Scholastic wield unconscionable powers of vendor lock-in, in public education. It’s not uncommon for school systems to buy products like leveled reading books, so-called “interventions,” curricula, electronic gradebooks, and student information management systems from the very companies that sell them tests. The resultant interoperability of these systems helps drive the sorting of our kids. Our kids’ test results drive the market for more Pearson and Scholastic products. We have legislated and acculturated ourselves to consumerist purchasing and sorting practices.

Next, it’s important to remember that reading levels are fairly arbitrary things. They’re social inventions. We didn’t have them once upon a time. They generally don’t account for growth without more context.

Most importantly, all of our tests reward privilege — and privileged kids generally don’t have much trouble scoring at or above grade level. Schools use tests to answer questions that inherently favor the privileged, like this: ‘Based on what we know about already successful readers, how should we judge the struggling ones?’ A better, more ethically sound question goes something like this: ‘How do make tests and schools that help all kids access everything we do (including reading), regardless of how well they read or perform on tests right now?’

And although we should know that reading levels are arbitrary and favor the privileged, we codify and enshrine them every chance we get."



Finally — and most insidiously — the SOL can be rewritten each year, changing the complexity of the tests. This lets us — or the interests we are beholden to — manufacture success and failure. Sometimes we do it for more ‘rigor.’ Sometimes we do it so that companies can field-test new products and technologies on our kids through tests we purchase from them. And I really can’t tell you more. I can’t even discuss a student’s performance with her parents in any meaningful way. If I look at a test item while a student is taking the test, I could lose my license. If I talk about the test with anyone, I could lose my license, too. I sign a paper that says I understand all of this weeks before I actually give any tests.

I cannot be clearer: these tests are designed to disempower schools and to convince us that we see and do during the school year is not what we have seen and done. It’s not a bad thing to want to make sure no child is “left behind” at school, but that is not what these tests do, despite all the double-speak we’ve heard about public education throughout its history in our nation.

Buy why does this really matter? Life goes on. School goes on. The kids on kid shows and the teens in teen movies go to school again and again and again. You can Netflix it.

It matters because schools are destroying literacy and imperiling our society more and more each day.

At the start of the 2012–2013 school year, my middle school English department colleagues and I got new Lexile cut-off scores that (we were told) our kids would have to reach, in order to stand a chance of passing their next SOL tests. When we looked at the scores, we saw that the new middle-school cut-off matched what had been defined, the year before, a 10th-grade reading level. Yes, we were told, that’s right, but the 8th grade reading test is now more rigorous because it’s written at a 10th grade Lexile.



"We have created a public education system designed to assess our students and teachers on measures we perpetually keep just out of reach, so that the most successful students, teachers, and schools have nothing to worry about while the least successful among us must worry constantly about whether we’re smart or not, under review or not, employed or not — worth something or not. We demand that the people we fail define self-worth as judged by us. Other kinds of literacy (or even last year’s literacy) simply need not apply.

With reading tests like this that at once erase meaningful, sustainable definitions of literacy and assure the privileged that they are the literate ones (whatever that may mean), we are creating a society that has no idea, generally, how people really learn or how we can learn despite our reading levels. We fetishize and gate-keep reading and writing, and behind the visible gates we’re building invisible ones. In the meantime, the privileged ‘literate,’ assured of their success, fail to see that they, too, are being cut off in the middle. On one side, the powerful keep them sated, at bay, entertained and provoked to look down on their fellows. On the other side, the disadvantaged, whose life experiences might help the broad middle question the ‘experts’ who run their lives, are held back by social structures like school as we have conceived it, and by the institutional prejudices those places breed. The institution here is not just school itself, but the white, middle class that has become its benchmark.

We are reinforcing a society in which the distant, powerful, and moneyed call the shots, in which the privileged middle classes believe they have power without knowing how, why, or what power is, and in which the disadvantaged, who understand all of this best of all, are cut off from the rest of society by tests — formal and informal — that say no matter what you’ve accomplished, you are not us. It’s gates and moving goalposts all the way down.

Those of us in schools, who live and work between the powerful and disadvantaged, have a special responsibility to cooperate in building communities instead of walls, to resist sorting mechanisms, and to teach the world as it is rather than as it’s portrayed in school media — both the materials we’re told to use in schools and the messages TV and cinema send about schools.

Otherwise, we will all be illiterate soon. We’ll continue building a system that assigns us our illiteracies at birth and reinforces them throughout our educations, careers, and civic lives, all in order to maintain the status quo."



"When people say we would have better schools if teachers did a better job, they miss the point. Teachers do an excellent job of doing what the system asks them to do. If we assessed teachers on how well they teach their assigned lessons, using their assigned texts, towards the taking of their assigned tests, we’d have to agree that our teachers do a wonderful job. That they do all of this and still don’t have the moving-goalpost test scores a politically-motivated, federal law from the 1990s tells us they should have is not a teacher problem. That they don’t have passion for a dispassionate machine isn’t a teacher problem. It is a system problem. It is a societal problem. It is an us problem. Only we don’t know it because, again, we will all be illiterate soon."



"When I think about the far future, I think about caring for others in the face of dying planets and suns, and about the kinds of wordless understandings and cooperation that we’ll have to maintain to partner with one another across incomprehensible distances, using technologies opaque to us and effortlessly transparent to our cosmic babies. I think that our present conception of literacy, for all the best reasons, will ultimately and rightfully be an impoverished one — or the root of a great and branching tree.

And though it seems at once a big thing for schooling to let go of power — to loosen its grip on a narrowly-defined literacy and a people being squeezed of life and meaning — it also seems like such a cosmically little thing to me, as just one teacher, that I wish I could give away so much more. Culpability and responsibility are only difficult to own so long as we insist on staying blind to the gifts they offer us — to readers’ inexhaustible capacity for change."
chadsansing  2014  testing  education  policy  privilege  literacy  corruption  sorting  grading  standardizedtesting  capitalism  lexilescores  publicschools  teaching  learning  schools  howweteach  howelearn  measurement 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Junot Diaz - Art, Race and Capitalism - YouTube
"Despite what we think, we're more isolated and atomized than ever before. […] The fact is that most poor people are more segregated and isolated than they've ever been. […] There's something really bewildering about the fact that we feel so rhizomatically interconnected to people, but we've never been more isolated. Classes no longer come into contact with each other in any way that's meaningful. I look at my mom and people are like “oh, she's that old generation.” My mom had more interclass contact than the average person has today. Because these great barriers — what we would call the networked society in which we live — hadn't been put into place yet. Think about how much public space my mother inhabited where she was going to encounter people from different cultures and different classes every day. There's almost no public space left at all. And any public space that we have is so patrolled and under so much surveillance and has been schematized and culturalized in certain ways that we're not really coming into contact with anyone who isn't like us. […] You basically encounter people in your network. So that if you are of a certain class, that's who you're encountering in the village. If you come from a certain educational background or from a certain privilege, that's who you're encountering in Williamsburg, these quote-unquote diverse spaces."

[via: http://botpoet.tumblr.com/post/103750710570/you-gotta-remember-and-im-sure-you-do-the

quoting these lines: “You gotta remember, and I’m sure you do, the forces that are arrayed against anyone trying to alter this sort of hammerlock on the human imagination. There are trillions of dollars out there demotivating people from imagining that a better tomorrow is possible. Utopian impulses and utopian horizons have been completely disfigured and everybody now is fluent in dystopia, you know. My young people’s vocabulary… their fluency is in dystopic futures. When young people think about the future, they don’t think about a better tomorrow, they think about horrors and end of the worlds and things or worse. Well, do you really think the lack of utopic imagination doesn’t play into demotivating people from imagining a transformation in the society?”]
junotdíaz  capitalism  race  class  segregation  dystopia  utopia  hope  faith  humans  2013  humanism  writing  literature  immigration  life  living  classism  activism  ows  occupywallstreet  punk  hiphop  compassion  identity  failure  guilt  imperfection  politics  self  work  labor  courage  howtobehuman  forgiveness  future  oppression  privilege  society  change  changemaking  futures  schools  education  business  funding  policy  resistance  subversion  radicalpedagogy  burnout  teaching  howweteach  systemschange  survival  self-care  masculinity  therapy  cultureofcare  neolithic  optimism  inventingthefuture  humanconstructs  civilization  evolution  networkedsociety  transcontextualism  paradigmshifts 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Dishonor Code: Rape, Reputation and Repercussion at U.Va | quiteirregular
"Our traditions, our reliance on honor, our language of quiet gentility are what reinforce toxic levels of privilege."



"A call to tradition is a call to protect our fun at the expense of another person’s comfort. I saw it, and participated in it, while at Oxford as an undergraduate. When balls, black tie, sub fusc, and formal halls would come under attack as practices that made the University an uncomfortable and even hostile space for people who did not come from a white middle- or upper-class background, I, too, would join in the cry that these traditions were what made Oxford so wonderful, so special. It is only in retrospect that I wonder to what extent what I really meant was, “if you can’t conform to this special place, then you don’t really belong here. It’s not on me to make room for you.”

That was hard to see as a student, as someone who enjoyed those traditions. But from the vantage point I now have, as an outsider looking in at the undergraduate life of another University whose calling card is also old-fashioned tradition and gentility, I can see more clearly that when we say we live in a “community of honor” we mean, “to question our community is to question our honor.” When we say we prize tradition, we must admit that that tradition is built of slavery, and racial, class, and gender privilege.

This all came starkly to light the day the Rolling Stone article went live. President Sullivan sent an email within the day, which opened by addressing, before any solidarity with the student who spoke up, before any responsibility for the botched investigation, and certainly before any responsibility for the crime happening on our campus in the first place, the “negative portrayal” of the University.

In a desperate attempt to preserve and increase our reputations, we rest on concepts like honor and tradition to shut down debates about privilege and diversity. I am not the first to point out that it’s hard to have your privilege questioned. And I do not pretend that this is the only problem. There are state-wide legal frameworks that perpetuate rape culture (such as the fact that due to still extant Virginia brothel laws, only frats can serve alcohol, all sororities are dry), and there are frameworks within the university as well – we are a business, and powerful, wealthy donors cling tightly to tradition.

But there is also the way we talk about ourselves, and the words we use. When your traditions are built on a history of white supremacy, perhaps it’s time to criticize them. When Honor is a word we use to make ourselves feel better, it is merely an empty construct. Coming forward to speak through your pain and terror about assault is honorable. And there is only one honorable thing we can do in return: listen."
uva  privilege  tradition  gentility  2014  honor  power  prestige  listening  whitesupremacy  rape  diversity  fraternities  race  history  gender  via:maxfenton 
november 2014 by robertogreco
danah boyd | apophenia » What is Fairness?
"Increasingly, tech folks are participating in the instantiation of fairness in our society. Not only do they produce the algorithms that score people and unevenly distribute scarce resources, but the fetishization of “personalization” and the increasingly common practice of “curation” are, in effect, arbiters of fairness.

The most important thing that we all need to recognize is that how fairness is instantiated significantly affects the very architecture of our society. I regularly come back to a quote by Alistair Croll:
Our social safety net is woven on uncertainty. We have welfare, insurance, and other institutions precisely because we can’t tell what’s going to happen — so we amortize that risk across shared resources. The better we are at predicting the future, the less we’ll be willing to share our fates with others. And the more those predictions look like facts, the more justice looks like thoughtcrime.

The market-driven logic of fairness is fundamentally about individuals at the expense of the social fabric. Not surprisingly, the tech industry — very neoliberal in cultural ideology — embraces market-driven fairness as the most desirable form of fairness because it is the model that is most about individual empowerment. But, of course, this form of empowerment is at the expense of others. And, significantly, at the expense of those who have been historically marginalized and ostracized.

We are collectively architecting the technological infrastructure of this world. Are we OK with what we’re doing and how it will affect the society around us?"
algorithms  culture  economics  us  finance  police  policing  lawenforcement  technology  equality  equity  2014  danahboyd  alistaircroll  justice  socialjustice  crime  civilrights  socialsafetynet  welfare  markets  banks  banking  capitalism  socialism  communism  scarcity  abundance  uncertainty  risk  predictions  profiling  race  business  redlining  privilege 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Russell Davies: if you're not a bottleneck
"I came across this advice from Eric Schmidt about handling email, which, sort of, makes sense.

“Respond quickly: There are people who can be relied upon to respond promptly to emails, and those who can’t. Strive to be one of the former. Most of the best — and busiest — people we know act quickly on their emails, not just to us or to a select few senders, but to everyone.”

Well, it absolutely makes sense if you're at the very tippy top of a large organisation and what that organisation mostly wants you to do is make decisions. If, in fact, you're a bottleneck.

But it reminded me that most of the business advice you get is from people who are at the top of organisations, and they're by definition not typical. I presume, for instance, that Google and Eric Schmidt have jointly adapted such that he only has to send short, quick emails.

Advice derived from looking at successful people is very often to behave in a way that only the powerful can get away with. There should be more advise for the less powerful."
privilege  power  ericschmidt  russelldavies  2014  organizations  success  behavior 
october 2014 by robertogreco
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