Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Social Justice Events

Sean Grant

Blog on event (Chris Herren & Special Olympics)


                For my Social Justice Event I attended both Chris Herren speak on campus and I helped work at the Special Olympics here at RIC.  I could not pick between the two because both have been two points we have discussed in class.

                The first event was Chris Herren.  A lot of my friends have heard him speak at their high schools or an event and told me it really was a great experience so I wanted to find out for myself.  For those that do not know, Chris was from Fall River, Massachusetts not too far from little Rhode Island.  He was a phenomenal basketball player.  He was a McDonalds All American in Highschool and even got the Gatorade New England Player of the Year twice (1993, 1994).  He then went on to play Division 1 college basketball at Fresno State which led him into the NBA getting drafted(second round 4th pick) by the Denver Nuggets then coming home and playing for the Boston Celtics.  But that was FAR from the focus of this event, the main reason Chris was there was that his career came to an end because of his drug abuse.  He went on about how off the court he was the kid parents liked and enjoyed being around, but in reality he was not.  Chris was into all types of drugs and would even pick those drugs over his own family.  This showed me how privileged this guy was growing up getting things basically handed to him because he was a superb athlete, and yet he threw it all away…..for nothing.  Being an athlete myself, I could somewhat relate but not entirely.  Throughout high school and at my first college, when thinking about it, I felt as though there were privileges that I had, that I had no idea I had.  But with positive always comes negatives and Chris picked the wrong path.  His addiction became so bad, that this one story sticks in my head and I have NOO idea how anyone could miss this opportunity.  Being from Massachusetts, Boston Celtics were Chris hometown team and when they picked him up he was on the starting lineup.  For his hometown team, Chris Herren missed his name being called “Now starting for the Boston Celtics at guard, Chris Herren…” except Chris didn’t come out when called, he was standing in traffic in his Celtics uniform waiting for his drug dealer to give him his fix before playing.  This has not settled with me since I heard him say it, how could someone just throw away all the opportunity he worked hard for, his dreams, for nothing.

                The second event I had participated in was helping out in the Special Olympics here at RIC.  This was one of the best feelings I have had in a while.  The smiles on their faces, the environment, there was truly a great vibe in the gym that day.  It showed me many different things as well, showing me the problems some of these children face on a day to day basis.  When thinking about it after the fact, these children did not feel oppressed when they came to the gym, that day was all about them, which really made it a great day.  I specifically ran a kicking station where they would kick the ball into a net, it didn’t matter how far back or how close they would get excited whenever they kicked the ball.  Positive reinforcement was all I was giving the kids and I could not give them enough after every kick I would encourage them, even if they looked down if they missed I told them “you got this, show me how it’s done,” and me giving them confidence showing them I believed in them, allowed them to do the activity.  I cannot lie, if I had no had this class going into that I would have my blinders on.  I’m truly thankful that this class has eliminated my blinders, for the most part, because it can only help me in my career, but not only that it will help throughout life in communicating, on the fields, where ever.

When Will We All Be Equal ?

Sean Grant

March 25, 2014

Blog 7 (Wise and website)

Brown vs Board of Education

                When seeing this at first I instantly thought of high school, because I remember this case being one of the, if not the, most significant court cases in America.  But I only looked at it through my high school eyes, and not now after all these readings and years in college and how open my eyes really are now.  So I knew this time reading about it will give me a different feel than I had in high school.  The most significant part of this was that it was during the fight for civil rights.  Although people realized how wrong it was, there were still many people believing in the old ways whether it was right or not.  This obviously led to many problems especially after the Civil War promised those of color a different environment when they returned.  But that was not the case at all.  Still even in our laws, segregation was present, whether it was related to school, going out to restaurants, and even using public bathrooms.  People knew that this was not right and that things needed to change.  Although it would not be an overnight change, Brown vs the Board of education was “a big step forward,” and even today our strides are still going forward.  But not only was racism a big part then in the 1950s, the videos proved that racism still exists and now that our president is black, racism is growing, or for the most part, becoming more visible.  Though most of us see these problems as obvious, most people are still blind to the fact. 

To be honest, racism will never go away, because no matter what there will always be people going against someone or something.  We can try to change it and we will come very close to racial equity, but we will never reach it to 100%.  Not only from white people though, in one of my African classes our professor made a point that really stuck to me.  When a person of color has the chance, they will always think of how wrongly white people treated them.  So no matter how hard we try, there will be positives and negatives.  Yes we need to learn from the past, but both whites and people of color need to forget about the past and not hold grudges or try holding to old ways.  We realize people change and need to make the change reality.

Similar Thoughts

Sean Grant

March 15, 2014

Blog 6 (Kahne& Westheimer)

What are your thoughts?

                For the piece “In Service of What? The Politics of Service Learning” by Joseph Kahne and Joel Westheimer, I am trying to approach it with Extended Comments in mind.  So after reading the piece, I then started reading a few blog posts regarding the article.  When I came by Jamie’s her pictures she put in her blog caught my eye and actually gave me a little laugh.  The first picture with the brain saying         “DO NOT BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU THINK” goes along with all the previous posts about how it’s not always right to go with how you feel and what you think is correct, you have to approach it with multiple view points and aspects.  Her second picture she put about stereotyping really made a lot of sense.  The ones with the students holding signs, a lady with glasses and her sign says “I can actually see you” and the other with what appears to be someone who is Mexican and his sign reads “I will not cut your grass.”  It just goes to show you that no matter what, whether you are perfect or not, someone somewhere will find something about you to point out or assume because of the color of your skin, your clothes, actions etc.

                But like Jamie quoted “the experiential and interpersonal components of service learning activities can achieve the first crucial step toward diminishing the sense of “Otherness.”  I could really connect to this because in my service learning I am in an environment I would never be in if I had the choice, not because the school specifically, but because of how unfamiliar I am with providence and different races and cultures.  But also like Jamie said people fear what they don’t know, and it is not until you experience it for yourself that you can have a true personal representation of the people and area.

How Much Is Unlearned ?

Sean Grant

March 3, 2014

Blog 5 (Christensen)

Unlearn Myths?

                In the piece “Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us” by Linda Christensen I was hooked from the title.  I don’t know why but I think it’s because I’m one of those people that loves to hear myths and conspiracies and then the truths behind them.  But once I read more, I realized I can CONNECT this piece to the others we have read.  In particular, I thought of August’s Safe Spaces because that had a lot of unlearning concepts, for example heterosexism, we are not taught that but we learn it throughout what Christensen calls “Secret education,” through what we see on television, what we read in children’s books, movies which creates the “Social Blueprint.”  When Christensen was talking about Race I related it to how August would talk about sexual orientation.  All the books, shows, movies, etc. all portray the dominant culture (SCWAAMP).  Where I can also relate this piece to “White Privilege” by McIntosh, how there is that dominant culture always shown on TVs, movies, books, everywhere.  That is what is unlearned and untaught but yet growing up it is planted in our brains through what we see and hear.  Like previous pieces have done, this is really opening my eyes to what children are taught without being taught it, and it’s crazy to think about, but in reality it has happened to all of us when we were growing up.  Only once when faced with other races, cultures, sexual orientations, is when someone can become more comfortable around and talking to the different culture.  Like that of the “Whiteness” McIntosh implies when only it has attention, it can be seen.

                What really blew my mind though was the grading and critiques of the cartoons, “Duck Tales,” “Popeye,” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” but not only the grading but how true the stories behind the cartoons really were.  It goes to show how much is really happening behind the scenes that we never get to see.  So now while I watch anything, I always try looking at it from a different aspect, or try looking for the hidden message that the “secret education” is trying to teach.

What Is Safe ?

Sean Grant

February 23, 2014

Blog 4 (august)

What’s Safe?

                After printing this article, “Safe Spaces” by Gerri August, I cannot lie, I was not the happiest after seeing how many pages came out of my printer, but read it anyway.  Knowing how mind-opening the first pieces were, I could only imagine after reading more about Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community within our schools and community what would be running through my head.  The introduction tells how it’s not all about verbal, text or email, but even the nonverbal communication about LGBT that shows when it is unacceptable.  The main argument August is trying to get out is that although people don’t say it they act towards LGBT in negative ways.  August uses heterosexism as an unconscious spread from adults.  Being straight I can see where most problems come from; at least I thought so until reading this.  And august argues it’s not only coming from peers, but family, media, and everything in between.  So what august really wants to change is how others Expect LGBT in the community, Explore LGBT in the community and Embrace LGBT in the community.

                With this becoming more and more of a bigger deal not only in school setting but throughout life, you see on TV now more people, athletes in particular, “coming out.”  Seeing this on TV as I kid I always wondered what’s the big deal?  Why does this matter? I’m straight and you never see people going on TV advocating it and preaching it.  But I was just being “oblivious” or using my “blinders.”  This is heterosexism, me expecting that everyone is straight, that is why it is never being announced on TV, because throughout my day on TV, books, or anywhere I look all you see is straight couples or men being attracted to women and vice versa.  But it’s not only me, when you think about it, you expect a person to be straight, unless you stereotype them for something they are wearing or how they act.  Like august is saying, we need to not expect everyone is straight, but expect everyone to be different.  I myself had this experience before this where I went up to someone and asked how they felt about someone and they replied with “I don’t go that way” it was probably one of the more awkward situations I’ve been in, but I replied with I’m sorry.  But it made me think more about this piece and it could go either way.  Could he of been happy I thought he was straight, or did he get really offended by me just expecting him to be straight. 

Another aspect of August’s argument is embracing the LGBT community.  With celebrities and athletes “coming out” and telling national TV about their sexual orientation, it shows that even people we think the highest of are in the LGBT community.  This allows younger students to see that it’s not certain people but that it could be anyone, this is giving them another way to show the children and youth that embracing LGBT students is fine and they are not different.  Like August says sexual orientation topics are absent in majority of classrooms, but since kids are bringing their experiences from home into the class, they can communicate about how more and more “famous people” are also Gay or Lesbian.  But not only communicate about the celebrities, but accept the fact that since there are famous actors and athletes that are accepted, that even people in the community that are LGBT  should also be accepted.  With more people coming out, I feel this is giving more and more ways of exploring the LGBT community within the classrooms.  Seeing nowadays it is becoming more regular for someone to come out rather than holding to themselves, it allows students to talk about it, and the students that are within the LGBT community to feel more accepted and having more people to relate to.

Try Walking In These Shoes

Sean Grant

February 17, 2014

Blog 3 (Rodriguez)

Try Walking In These Shoes

                This piece “Aria” by Richard Rodriguez was the one that I could really connect to because of my service learning project and how the classroom is bilingual.  Richard Rodriguez argues that students miss a lot of information by not being taught in their family’s first language.  I can see this even nowadays in my service learning class, like that of “Ricardo” in “Aria” I can see this whole piece playing out in my service learning project.  For one HUGE difference; my teacher DOES take the time to tell the students the instructions in both English AND Spanish.  So when I read this piece I can see how my students feel, when they always hear English, but then go home to a Spanish speaking house.  Another key point that Richard points out is that the English teachers are trying to change his name to the way that they would say it in English and not the way his name is correctly said; for when the teachers call him he hears “Rich-heard” but in reality his name is Ricardo.  Also how happy Ricardo got when he answered the question correctly in English, felt a part of belonging and assurance.

                I see these main points throughout the day as I am in my service learning.  Though times have changed, these issues do still exist.  Because when my teacher sees a student not paying attention, it is mostly when he or she speaks Spanish, but my teacher is telling the instructions in English.  Like that of Ricardo, the students are just hearing noises rather than focusing on the English because they are timid and afraid I feel, the same way Ricardo first was, always being greeted in English, told what to do in English.  But when the teacher says the instructions in Spanish all the eyes are on her with heads nodding.  Whenever a student that is behind says a correct answer or adds in a comment about the subject, my teacher always points it out.  Saying “oh my god that is so smart” “great job” all positive reinforcement for the kids to bring up their ego and let them feel excited.  The look on the children’s faces when they get something correct is truly blessing, smiling from ear to ear, and she points it out so they do get that feeling of belonging to the classroom.

                This piece made me relate to not only in my service learning but when I visit my old roommate in Florida.  Like Richard says about students who speak Spanish and cannot understand English, I was put in the opposite of that.  I was in a Spanish speaking house, when I could count the amount of Spanish words I knew on one hand.  I felt like I didn’t belong when they spoke Spanish, but I was not going to make them change their household just for me, but they would also speak English and ask me things in English because they knew I did not understand very much Spanish at all. But one thing that stands out to me now, that I can imagine how students feel, was that my roommates uncle was always next to me telling me they were talking about me, saying things about me, he did it all in fun and I know they weren’t.  But without me knowing that he was kidding, makes me realize that’s how students feel, they can never tell if something is being said about them in good or bad ways.  I feel as though, and have felt as though this is one of the biggest problems we face in America; the languages.

Are You Listening? Or Hearing?

Sean Grant

February 9, 2014

Blog 2

Are You Listening? Or Hearing?

                While reading Lisa Delpits piece “The Silenced Dialogue: Power and Pedagogy in Educating Other People’s Children” I had to go in with my mind open and ready to look at all aspects.  After reading the first piece in my first journal, my eyes starting opening to the aspects and now I am approaching everything knowing, my view necessarily isn’t the correct view.  But once I started reading this piece, I had to reread certain paragraphs because I kept forgetting what race was being talked about, or what kind of examples she was trying to use, but once reading through it one or two extra times it started to make more and more sense.  One of the main lines in this piece, one that really stuck with me was that “those with power are frequently least aware of-or less willing to acknowledge its existence.  Those with less power are often most aware of its existence.”  I could reflect on just this one quote in many more ways than one.  This does not only apply to race and power of the culture, but it can even go down to who has power when it comes to “popularity” throughout school, it could also go towards power on a sports team, the one with the most skill.  But always when you feel like you are not “in charge” or feel behind where everyone else is, you realize the power that the others have just because of what they have, whether its skill, friends, etc.

                With RIC being my third college, I have been in many different environments, from living in a dorm as a freshman, to going to a community college, to now being here at RIC living off campus.  But one thing is always the same, the so called “power.”  One of my first experiences in college really opened my eyes, because at Dean College I felt there were less white people at the school rather than those of colors.  From the classroom to both teams, I could see power being shown all over the place.  To the kids on the team who felt as if coach wanted them there most, or had the most previous success felt as if they were above everyone else and had more power over us when no one really had any power over another teammate.  This was me being inside the so called “power circle” and seeing where people thought their power mattered.  But not only on the same team, but even when it came to other teams, since the football team was the biggest and one of the most successful, the athletes felt as though the college was theirs.  But that was me looking at them from the outside looking in. which like Delpit said those with less power are most aware of its existence.  This made me realize how it could be pushed onto those students who did not play sports, how much power they felt we thought we had.

                But also like Delpit said, which I feel was common throughout not only my college time, but even my time in high school is the power the teacher has over the students.  I feel as though this is a norm for every classroom and a way for a more successful class.  But I can say being in this class, where the power is still in the professor’s hands over the students, you still allow us to have a lot of power in the classroom.  A type of power we do not normally get in a classroom, but we have more than a voice in class, we have identities because of how many times are voices are allowed to be heard in class.

                Going through Delpit’s five aspects, I could write a couple examples for every step because of how true this power and silence really is.  The second aspect is about the codes and rules in power, “culture of power” which is something I know all of us can relate to seeing our first classes we talked about SCWAAMP.  And another aspect of how the culture of power reflects in the rules and codes that I have never realized but it has always been right in my face.  Reading textbooks, reading books, science books, all our books throughout high school, the main characters were for the most part white, as well as others in the stories, it was always about white people.  It is crazy how much reading certain pieces can really change your views on things and I know that is the point of all these pieces and it is doing more work on me than I could ever imagine.  Not  only change your view, but make you realize what is really happened behind the “blinders”