Exclusion through language

letter from Ron Wyden senator from Oregon

A couple months ago Brownfemipower posted about the Inhofe Amendment. The amendment was contained within the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act, S. 1348. (Note: S. 1639 has a similar English language amendment) This amendment would have amended title 4 of the United States Code to “declare English as the national language of the Government of the United States, and for other purposes.”

I was upset to read that Ron Wyden (D) from Oregon had supported the Inhofe Amendment. I quickly wrote Senator Wyden and I received a response this week:

Continue reading Exclusion through language

More on privilege

TOWARD A PEDAGOGY OF THE OPPRESSOR
by Michael Kimmel

THIS BREEZE AT MY BACK

To run or walk into a strong headwind is to understand the power of nature. You set your jaw in a squared grimace, your eyes are slits against the wind, and you breathe with a fierce determination. And still you make so little progress.

To walk or run with that same wind at your back is to float, to sail effortlessly, expending virtually no energy. You do not feel the wind; it feels you. You do not feel how it pushes you along; you feel only the effortlessness of your movements. You feel like you could go on forever. It is only when you turn around and face that wind that you realize its strength.

Being white, or male, or heterosexual in this culture is like running with the wind at your back. It feels like just plain running, and we rarely if ever get a chance to see how we are sustained, supported, and even propelled by that wind.

It is time to make that wind visible.

Continue reading More on privilege

The Meritocracy Myth

The Meritocracy Myth I’ve been mulling over a few subjects that have been making appearances on my site as of late. The subjects are white privilege and the meritocracy myth a.k.a. “pull yourself up by the bootstraps and inequality vanishes as soon as the laces are tied.”

I’ve written about white privilege and the meritocracy myth before but I feel that I need to add a few more bits of content.

I’d like to thank Dennis at Rhetorical Wasteland for spurring me on to continue to post about the same thing…over and over again.

In addition to D’s encouragement, I received this comment/email today (which actually encouraged me to create this post):

…yes, I am white, and no nothing was given to me. The scholarships I had in college – academic (i.e., merit-based) based, not because they were promised to white people. The grades I earned – because of hard work, not because the professor favored white people. The job I hold now, I earned because of my experience and background, not because I am white.

…And if you do not believe in pulling oneself up by the bootstraps, then perhaps you should more attention to the people who have achieved success in this country by their own hard work.

pull yourself up by your bootstraps

In response to that sentiment, I present the following comic, excerpts and links regarding the meritocracy myth…

Continue reading The Meritocracy Myth

bell hooks at Lewis & Clark College

bell hooks photo

Here is the audio recording from bell hooks‘ talk at Lewis & Clark College from February 1, 2006 [88 MB MP3].

Angela Davis

Angela Davis
Angela Davis was the keynote speaker for a recent social justice conference at Oregon State University. The Your Voice, Your Conference: Awareness, Solidarity, and Action explored “how systems of oppression impact our lives and communities.”

I think I have a social justice crush on Angela Davis. More than 1,000 people attended her talk at Oregon State. Two professors from OSU had the privilege of being her students at UC Santa Cruz. Angela Davis could have talked for a week and I think we all would have listened.

Angela Davis‘ talk covered many topics including: historical memory, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Condoleeza Rice, George Bush, Affirmative Action, Diversity, Marriage, Activism, Racism, Critical Awareness and Prison Systems.

Davis talked about the importance of “historical memory” and the Civil Rights Movement. “The figure of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has been set aside and isolated and represented as the lone historical figure, so everyone else who participated in the Civil Rights Movement falls away.”

Davis mentioned that she took umbrage with the term “diversity.” She said that “Diversity is difference that doesn’t make a difference.” Her comments were extremely relevant for institutions of higher education. Enrolling students of color, women, students with disabilities, lgbt students, and students with high financial need does not mean that racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia/heterosexism, and classism will simply disappear. However, “diversity” is thrown around as if it’s a magic anti-oppression elixir. Without social justice oriented, anti-oppression oriented, anti-racist oriented educational efforts, diversity cannot affect change amongst members of the dominant paradigm.

Apparently, both Condoleeza Rice and Angela Davis grew up in Birmingham, Alabama. Davis mentioned that people often attempt to refer to Rice as her “homegirl” (cue laughter from 1,000 people) because they share the experience of growing up in the Jim Crow south.

According to Davis, “Rice narrates her life as triumph over racism.” Davis said she needs to constantly “disassociate her story” from Rice’s story. “How can I claim my story is a triumph? We’ve won some victories..some important victories…, but from the time I was quite small, I learned from my mother that it was about collective victory…community triumph, not about an individual rising above the rest. Affirmative action was a strategy designed to enable communities to move forward, collectives to move forward.”

I attempted to record her entire talk, but my pda wasn’t working correctly so I have over an hour of audio that I pieced together from 40 audio snippets.
The fidelity isn’t the greatest but the message is amazing.

“The victories that we win are not always the victories for which we fought.” — Angela Davis

Full audio file [mp3]

Martin Luther King Jr.

I believe that MLK Day is not a day off, but a day on.

Dr. King was an amazing social justice activist. He worked against racism, classism, and poverty. He was anti-war and pro-peace. I feel re-energized on MLK Day.

His words on why he was opposed to the war in Vietnam are extremely relevant in today’s landscape.

Listen to the full audio recording of “Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam”

…And nations will not rise up against nations, neither shall they study war anymore. And I don’t know about you, I ain’t gonna study war no more. — Martin Luther King Jr.

Sunday Links

Wisconsin Regents Consider Race and Class

UW Regents consider race, income for admissions policy (via the Green Bay Press-Gazette):

A proposed rewrite of freshman admissions policy for the University of Wisconsin System would de-emphasize class rank and give greater weight to nonacademic factors such as race and income.

I think it’s wonderful that the University of Wisconsin System and its Board of Regents are considering race and income as admissions factors.

The article states that nameless, faceless, and random conservatives are opposed to an admissions policy which considers race and class.

Continue reading Wisconsin Regents Consider Race and Class