Saturday, April 9, 2011

autobiography on race and ethnicity

See if you can answer these about yourself and your family..

1. How many generations has your family been in the U.S.?

2. What continent and/or country did your ancestors come from?

3. Under what circumstances did your ancestors come to the U.S.? Were they voluntary immigrants, refugees, slaves?

4. Were your ancestors welcomed when they arrived in the U.S.?

5. Were there any restrictions as to where your ancestors could live or work when they arrived?

6. What do you know of their customs and culture; food, clothing, language, beliefs, religion. How much of these customs do you still know and practice?

7. What kind of work did your ancestors do?

8. Was your family able to improve their economic situation over the generations since they first came to the U.S.? Were there or are there still barriers?

9. Did your ancestors live in neighborhoods with primarily one race and ethnicity or were they mixed?

10. How were your ancestors treated by people who were racially and ethnically different from them? Did that change over time?

11. What race and ethnicity were the adults you knew growing up. Teachers, doctors, lawyers, store clerks, laborers, elected officials.

12. What experiences did you have or observe as you were growing up about race or ethnic discrimination?

13. How connected do you feel to your family's country of origin today?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Analyzing what you watch

What TV shows did you watch when you were little? Do you think they affected you? Perhaps filled in the gaps of what was lacking from your experiences, situation and education thus far?
Did you know a lot of Asians growing up? Or did you learn everything you know about Asians from TV? What about blacks? Did "Family Matters" and "The Jeffersons" introduce you to that race, or did movies and the news that only showed "bad" blacks? How did we "learn" that blacks "like" fried chicken and watermelon, and can dance, sing and play sports better than a white person? Where did those stereotypes come from?

Think about it.

I watched:
"Recess" - cartoon
"Fresh Prince of Bel-aire" - black
"Sabrina the Teenage witch" - white
"Family Matters" - black
"Gummy Bears" - cartoon
"My Little Pony Tales" - cartoon
"Mr. Rodgers" (or something) - white
"Step by Step" - white
"Boy Meets World" - white
"That's So Raven" - black
"Full House" - white
"Saved by the Bel"l - mix
"Pepper Ann" - cartoon, but there was a redhead and that's a minority

Did you know..

In 2000-2001 there were
76 % white TV characters compared to 75.1 % whites in the 2000 Census
18 % black TV characters compared to 12.3 % blacks in the 2000 Census
2 % Hispanic TV characters compared to 12.5 % Hispanics in the 2000 Census
2 % Asian TV characters compared to 3.7 % Asians in the 2000 Census
0.2 % American Indian TV characters compared to 0.9 % Indians in the 2000 Census

So it looks like blacks were over represented in the media, and Hispanics under represented, compared to how many were reported on the census. What do you think? Does the media, like TV sitcoms, feel like they have to represent every race? Damned if they do and damned if they don't..

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

the multicultural quiz

I definitely stole this from "Media Messages" by Linda Holtzman.

For each answer score yourself as follows:
1 point: Experience was largely unicultural; most people were of my race, religion, sexual orientation, economic and social class
2 points: Largely unicultural, but most were of a different race, religion, sexual orientation, economic and social class
2 points: There were a few people who were different from me in race, religion, sexual orientation, economic and social class
3 points: In at least 2 categories (race, religion, sexual orientation, economic and social class) there were people present different than me
4 points: In at least 3 categories there were people present who were different from me

And so it begins:

Ages 1-5
1. The neighborhood where you lived
2. The children with whom you played
3. Your parents' friends
4. The preschool or day care you attended
5. The religious institution you attended

Ages 6-10
1. The neighborhood where you lived
2. The children with whom you played
3. The school you attended
4. Clubs or organizations you belonged to
5. The religious institution you attended

Ages 11-14
1. The neighborhood where you lived
2. Your friends
3. The school you attended
4. Clubs or organizations you belonged to
5. The religious institution you attended

Ages 15-18
1. The neighborhood where you lived
2. Your friends
3. The school you attended
4. Clubs or organizations you belonged to
5. The religious institution you attended

Ages 19-25
1. The neighborhood where you lived
2. Your friends
3. The school you attended
4. Clubs or organizations you belonged to
5. The religious institution you attended
6. Your parents' friends


The highest score is 100. If you scored 90-100 you have lived in a highly multicultural world. If you scored 80-89, your life has been filled with diversity.
If you scored 70-79, you have been exposed to people who are different from you. If you scored 60-69 you have been exposed to some diversity, but have primarily lived among people much like you. If you scored under 60 you have lived primarily among people very much like you OR you have been in the minority among others who are quite similar.

So what did you score? Even if you don't want to share that or your feelings, please let me know if you took the test!

Monday, April 4, 2011

the glass castle

"The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls is probably the best book I’ve read. In awhile. It’s hard to categorize books as favorites or better than other books because you can’t really compare them. “Oh hey this fake and sappy but cutesy love story was way better than that scary, thriller, I stayed-up-late -reading-but-I-was-really-scared book.” Nope, doesn’t work. They’re about different things therefore I can’t compare.

To sum it up, "The Glass Castle" is a memoir, a compilation of memories of the life of Jeannette Walls told so carefully and detailed that I could hardly believe it when she calmly and almost affectionately relayed stories of her negligent but loving parents and their extreme poverty and stubborn nonconformity to “normal” things.
Walls is the second oldest of four children born to Rex and Rose Mary Walls. She spent most of her childhood moving from city to city, living in dirty trailers, tiny shacks, camping in the woods or sleeping in the family’s junker car. She rarely attended school until about third through fifth grade, but when she did, her knowledge far exceeded that of the other students.
Walls’ father Rex was a charismatic man who when he was sober, captured the imagination of his children and taught them everything they needed to know, from school subjects to how to survive in this world. But survive for Rex and his wife Rose Mary was a lot different from what some may consider the word to mean.
Walls’ parents didn’t keep steady jobs, not necessarily from the lack of being qualified, Rose Mary had a teaching degree and Rex was a literal genius, but because Rex was too rowdy and couldn’t stand conforming, which to him meant having a job, and Rose Mary would rather paint or live life as “an excitement addict” which didn’t include mothering or putting food on the table.
Walls and her siblings went without eating, ate food from the trash, despite mold or maggots, and when they were younger, didn’t know the difference. They wore dirty, second hand clothes they bought at thrift stores or found. They did not take hand outs, accept charity or apply for food stamps. This was just how life was for the Walls family. When Jeannette was 10 years old they lived in an Adobe home in Phoenix, the biggest, nicest home they lived in, ever. Since her parents didn’t believe in a lot of things, one of those being bug repellant, an army of cockroaches lived with them.
Either it didn’t happen or they didn’t realize it, but the older Walls got the more dysfunctional her family seemed. Her father drank and stole the grocery money and disappeared for days. Her mother didn’t believe in rules and let her kids do whatever they wanted.
After numerous evictions, or “skedaddles” in the middle of the night because the Mafia was after them, according to Rex, the family ended up in a small town in West Virginia. Living conditions there weren’t ideal. The family lived in a three room home, with no indoor plumbing or electricity. The children were old enough now to want a better life, and when Jeannette’s older sister was close to graduating the other kids put together their money from odd jobs and got her a bus ticket out of there, in hopes they could join her soon.
And they did. When Jeannette was 17 she left for New York City to join Lori, and soon after her younger brother and sister joined.
In the city, the siblings worked and paid rent, had running water and electricity, stayed warm at night and had enough to eat. Jeannette went to college, became successful and married.
While in college, Jeannette’s grants and scholarships covered most of the tuition, but one semester she was $1,000 short. Her parents, who after all their children had left to make a better life for themselves, moved to the city and became homeless, found out. Rex came to visit Jeannette one night with $950 in cash from poker wins and a fur coat he assured her she could pawn for the last $50.
Poverty and homelessness for Rex and Rose Mary was a choice.

One day in college Jeannette joined a class discussion about homelessness: was it the “result of drug abuse and misguided entitlement program, as the conservatives claimed, or did it occur, as the liberals argued, because of cuts in social-service programs and the failure to create economic opportunity for the poor,” (Walls, 256).

“Sometimes, I think, it’s neither.”
“Can you explain yourself?”
“I think that maybe sometimes people get the lives they want.”
“Are you saying homeless people want to live on the street? Are you saying they don’t want warm beds and roofs over their heads?
“Not exactly. They do. But if some of them were willing to work hard and make compromises, they might not have ideal lives, but they could make ends meet.”

Her teacher than asked her what she knew about the lives of the underprivileged, the hardships and obstacles those of the underclass face.

And Jeannette answered, “You have a point.”

For 20 years Jeannette kept her past hidden, afraid of how people would act if they knew. But, with clear evidence from her childhood and this book, Jeannette proves the American Dream is possible even in the circumstances of the impossible. This book covers everything from social and economic class to race, sexism, alcoholism, domestic abuse, negligence, and one hell of a fight that one girl and her siblings put up to leave their circumstances behind and make a life for themselves.
I don’t know if everyone could do it. I don’t know how they did it. But it sure gives me courage in the human race. I don’t think that everyone, or even most, which are homeless want to be or choose to be. But I do think people make of life what they choose. You can be poor and not able to raise out of it, and you can also be poor and choose alcohol, cigarettes and a collection of dancing shoes and endless art supplies (yes, Rose Mary thought this was more important than food or rent).
Is lower class a social, economic circumstance or a state of mind?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Second time stats

20 posts, 27 comments, 10 followers, 379 page views..
My goal is to hit 500 page views by next week in time for the final presentation. Who's with me?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Racial injustice awareness

Count the statements that are accurate to your life.

1. I can, if I wish, arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.
2. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured store personnel will not follow me.
3. I can turn on the TV or open the front page of the newspaper and see people of my race widely represented.
4. When I am told about our national heritage and about "civilization," I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.
5. I can be sure that I will be given materials in school that represent my race.
6. I can go into a supermarket and find staple foods that fit with my cultural tradition, or into a hairdresser's shop and find someone who can cut my hair.
7. I can do well in a challenging situation without being told that I am a credit to my race.
8. I can remain ignorant of the language and customs of persons of color who are the world's majority without feeling in my culture any penalty for such ignorance.
9. If a traffic cop pulls me over, I can be sure it is not because of my race.
10. I can go home from most meetings of organizations I belong to feeling something in common with others, rather than feeling isolated, out of place, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance, or feared.
11. I can take a job with an affirmative action employer without having my co-workers on the job suspect that I got it because of my race.
12. If I move, I can be pretty sure that my neighbors will be neutral or pleasant to me.
13. I can swear, or dress in second-hand clothes without having people attribute those choices to bad morals, the poverty, or the illiteracy of my race.
14. I can be pretty sure if I ask to talk to the "person in charge" I will be facing a person of my race.
15. I can easily buy posters, post-cards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys and children magazines featuring people of my race.
16. I can choose blemish cover or band-aids in "flesh" color and have them more or less match my skin.