Saturday, September 27, 2014

Aria- Richard Rodriguez (Argument)

When I initially read “Aria” I thought that Richard Rodriguez was promoting bilingual education and that it would have brought much more success in his early years of schooling. However, after doing some researching on his work I found that Rodriguez’s main argument was to show that bilingual education could actually become a disadvantage to a child by hindering them from obtaining a public identity in society.
Rodriguez came from a Mexican immigrant family that only spoke the Spanish language until it came time for him to begin school.  Most bilingual educators would condone the fact that Rodriguez was fluently taught his family’s language.  But Rodriguez feels this was a major set back for learning the English language in school – “I would have delayed-for how long postponed?- having to learn the language of public society. I would have evaded-and for how long could I have afforded to delay?- learning the great lesson of school, that I had a public identity” (34).  Rodriguez believed that Spanish was considered a private language because it was only used in his home life and could not be used when in school.  Just as Lisa Delpit says, “There are codes or rules for participating in power”. He understood that the rules and codes of power that were to be valued in the classroom revolved mainly around English and would be the only way to establish a public identity. In Rodriguez’s eyes he figures that because Spanish wouldn’t be the dominant language spoken in a classroom then why do they need to be taught it. It is not that Rodriguez wants to lose his cultural identity completely but he recognizes that he lives in an English community so the English language was the only to feel “publicly confident” (36).
After struggling for some time to find where he belonged Rodriguez felt "the belief, the calming assurance that I belonged in public, had at least taken hold" (36).  He now viewed himself as an American citizen. However, his Spanish culture had somewhat been put on a back burner.  He noticed that a language barrier had been put between his parents and he and his siblings.  It grew very hard for them to have detailed conversations because they were now so accustomed to speaking in the English language.  It became hard for Rodriguez and his siblings to revert back to their customs.
I think that if Rodriguez were taught to speak fluently in both Spanish and English from the start of his childhood,  he would have never felt like a "socially disadvantaged child" (34). Just as Rodriguez says in the beginning of his essay, he would have been like other children of the "upper-middle class" and would have viewed Spanish as another public language.  Then Rodriguez would have been able to accept both languages rather than push his culture to the side.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack - Peggy McIntosh (CONNECTION)

When I’m packing my bag for school I make sure to have my homework, laptop, notebooks, and pens/pencils. These are all of the tools I believe I will need to be prepared for the day. In reality when I leave my house I am carrying “an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, code books, visas, clothes, tools and blank checks” (1).  Society has equipped me with these tools to be prepared for everyday life based on my race.  Why has it taken me until now to realize the advantages I have been bringing along with me?

Peggy McIntosh’s work in “White Privilege: Unpacking an Invisible Knapsack” acknowledges the privileges that white people have been given but are not even fully aware of it. Things that we face in our everyday life that may seem minute and ordinary can easily be seen as a privilege but yet we have no idea, “whites are carefully taught not to recognize white privilege” (1). We are provided so many things that we take for granted because we are not aware that these privileges are not easily given to those of a different race.  McIntosh’s conditions make it evident that the white race is well represented and prevalent in our society-whether it is through the media, books, or even what we use to conceal an injury.  And unlike other races, we never once have to question our achievements, worry about our opinions being heard, or fear being harassed out in public. 

After the shooting of Michael Brown, it became increasingly apparent that the privileges mentioned in McIntosh's work were true.  Parents and families across the nation were afraid that the terrors that happened in this boy’s fatal case could come true for their children. The Michael Brown case has affected Keesha Beckford, a black mother, who is afraid of her child's safety. In Dear White Mom, Beckford is pleading to her friend/fellow mother to use her white privileges to help the future of her son.  Just as McIntosh said, Beckford's friend is able to "protect my children most of the time from people who might night like them" (3).  However, this is becoming more and more difficult for Beckford to do for her own child.  It seems as though she can no longer provide safety for her child on her own terms, she now has to enlist the help of the privileged.
Keesha Beckford and her friend
To make a change, Beckford knows that she does not qualify under condition #17 in McIntosh's work- "I can criticize our government and talk about how much I fear its policies and behavior without being seen as a cultural outsider" (3).  She does not have the power so her voice will not be heard.  As Delpit said "those with power are frequently least are of it-or least wiling to acknowledge- its existence.  Those with less power are often most aware of it."  Beckford wants her friend to speak up and not be afraid to express her opinion.  She wants her to go out and tell anyone and everyone the faults in this racial/privileged battle. If Beckford's friend uses her power to touch upon this issue, than she will be able to get Beckford and any other worried black mother's point across. 

It's terribly troubling that someone has to be dependent on someone else to get their point across just because they are of a different race.  The safety of their own lives and their children’s lives should not be at risk. I never realized until now that the way I go about my life is completely different from how others go about theirs. The most simple things in my life can to be the most complex to others.  I fall under Delpit's category because I have been completely unaware of the power I obtained.  It's apparent through Delpit and McIntosh's work that many people are in the same boat. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Amazing Grace by Jonathan Kozol

It's often hard to step outside of your own shoes and to fully comprehend what’s going on in less fortunate parts of the world.  We can offer our sympathy to their despair but it is not until we are fully exposed to their realities that we are able to understand how bad it really is.  Jonathan Kozol’s Amazing Grace was that type of piece that was truly an eye-opener for me. Kozol wrote about his experiences in Mott Haven, a neighborhood in South Bronx. Those that reside in Mott Haven are considered the poorest of the southern Bronx area and most are dealing with drug addiction, terrible living conditions, and disease.  But what it is the most disheartening of it all is the children who are living in these conditions.
Children who live in Mott Haven are exposed to every element of their poverty at a young age.  When Kozol meets Cliffie at St. Ann's Church, he shows him all around the neighborhood. Cliffie is only a young boy but he acts in such a mature way, “Cliffie, who is listening to this while leaning on his elbow like a pensive grown-up, offers his tentative approval to his mother's words" (11). Cliffie has seen so much by living in this area that he is almost forced to grow up. He knew about the murders that took place and the prostitutes on Jackson Avenue but it’s as if they do not faze him.  This quote shows how the children living these areas are not sheltered from much.  Their lifestyle does not exactly allow them to be protected from these terrors.  They have to be fully aware of what is going on. To me it seems that the maturity is almost a method of survival. 
Another quote that I found to be important was pertaining to the incinerator that the parents did not want in the neighborhood. These parents had opposed it to be built just like the “incinerator scheduled to be built along the East Side of Manhattan, but the siting of a burner there had been successfully resisted by the parents of the area because of fear of cancer risks to children” (7). The same argument was made by the Mott Haven parents, so why were they unsuccessful? They were unsuccessful because of where they are ranked in society.  And that is not acceptable.  Just because they are living in poverty does not mean it is justifiable to deny them of their safety.  They should have done the opposite for that reason alone. Their voice was heard but was instead pushed aside. They did not have the power to make a difference because they are not privileged enough.
The last quote that I think is the most significant to the piece was mentioned in the beginning of Kozol's work,  "do they think they deserve this?" (5).  And after reading the entire piece,  I think that society has pushed these children into thinking that this is what their life is meant to be.  I don't think this what they initially felt but as Cliffie's mother said "you get used to the offense" (10).  After being put down so many times by society, I believe that these children have become accustomed to having such low standards of living that they have accepted it. And it is truly sad to think that these young children have to go through their life thinking this way. 
Jonathan Kozol and an inner city student

A Little Bit About Me

Hey everyone, I'm Emily Prisco! I'm a sophomore at Rhode Island College and I'm hoping to be a teacher in Elementary Education, which is the reason I took this class.  I have wanted to become an elementary teacher since I was little so it's somewhat surreal that I'm getting so close in achieving this  goal.  

This past summer was extremely busy! I have been working at a Montessori school for the past three years and had the opportunity to substitute full time in their after school program for the last month of their school year.  I also worked periodically at their summer camp. When I wasn't working at Montessori, I was babysitting for two different families.  It definitely was not a bad summer gig considering I got to spend most of my days at a pool club- although I wasn't necessarily lounging by the pool more like running after a two year old and six year old. But nonetheless it was an awesome job! And whenever I had a free day from working, I always tried to soak up some sun at the beach with my friends!

I'm sad to see summer come to an end but I'm excited for fall and this semester! When I'm not in class I'll most likely be working, babysitting, or at the dance studio!