Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Post Reading Week 12

After watching the video myself, I came to the conclusion that Lupe Fiasco’s song is an actual example of an artist trying to be more critically conscious of what is going on around us.  Fiasco, advocating critical thinking and freedom to acquire fundamental truth and knowledge about the world, created the song ‘Bitch Bad’ in order to critique the stereotyping and social manipulation that goes on in today’s hip hop industry.  In order to formulate his argument, Fiasco first creates context for the viewer.  He poses two notions of what it is to be a “bad bitch” based on their use in the video.  In his own words, Fiasco describes the various uses of the term as creating the idea of illusion vs reality.  To Fiasco, reality is treating yourself with respect and remaining genuine with regard to the actions that you commit; advocating awareness of your environment and encouraging individuals to think critically about the world around us.  As the video progresses, Fiasco then critiques the “illusion” of reality that hip-hop artists tend to promote in their music.  Too often, hip-hop artists create false ideas of what reality is, and those who are too young to understand how to interpret such media end up believing in what they see.  It is Fiasco’s critique that, in this process, the industry is producing a generation of youth that adhere to debased forms of life. Also very interesting about the song, Fiasco challenges the use of “Blackface” and the continuation of creating this image of Black people as entertainers while their White “superiors” reap all the benefits of their efforts.  
One might say that Lupe Fiasco is portraying Women in a negative light in the video, however we must remember that he is simply creating a context that he then begins to critique.  In no way is he advocating such negative perceptions of Women, he is only showcasing such perceptions so that he, speaking from a position beyond the video itself, can express how he feels that it is corrupt.  Of course one can say that Fiasco’s story places a girl in the side of an illusion while a boy follows reality, but we have to remember that this is only one video.  Due to the restriction of time, one can only put so much into a single song that ultimately is meant to appeal to a large audience.  In my opinion, I think that Fiasco would counter this argument by stating that yes, Men are a problem in that they get manipulated by the media in the same way that Women do, but within the context of one video and one song, you can only do so much and can’t efficiently incorporate all that has to be said about a particular topic.  To me, where one can find the biggest concern is in Fiasco’s hierarchy of the role of Women in society.  These lyrics are in no way defined properly, so we can never know the true intention of them unless Fiasco speaks more on the matter.  Yes there flaws to this video, but when compared to other forms of this genre, Lupe Fiasco’s ‘Bitch Bad’ is a genuine attempt at creating critically conscious work.  

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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Pre-reading week 12

Is hip-hop conventionally seen as a tool for social justice or critique? Why or why not?

This question deals much with the idea of what the ideal of hip hop is, versus what it has become today.  At first, hip-hop was seen as a means of expression for African Americans and other minority groups to speak out about what was going on in their communities.  Acts of oppression and police brutality that were seen in the neighborhoods of such minority groups were often the topics brought out in hip-hop music.  It was from this oppression that hip-hop got its basis.  Upon its introduction as a new genre of music, hip-hop was this edgy and unprecedented form of sound that espoused ideals such as black power and overcoming the negative conditions that exist in the world.  
Today hip-hop and rap has transformed into a whole different form of music that doesn't really hold on to its original roots.  Today we too often hear of violence, sex, money, and drugs in rap and hip-hop.  So, when at first hip hop was seen as this form of critique of the social sphere, is now a debased form of what it was originally designed to uphold.  

What are some of the barriers to hip-hop artists creating and marketing critical hip-hop?

As seen from the video, large corporations bought out the music genre and then controlled the type of media that would be produced from the genre itself.  This “buying out” of the genre can be seen as its shift from a form of critique to that of a form of media that creates stereotypes of those that are in it.  Before the introduction of these corporations and large corporate labels and deals, the music represented retaliation and expression against oppression.  Higher authorities, seeing the genre as going against their own agendas, then saw it as their duty to take control of it and then suppress it so that the message that they wanted to be displayed was seen by the public.  This is when hip-hop moved to more of a “thug” concept.  And that is what it is today.
Furthermore, in the video we saw that people base their opinions on African Americans from what they see in the music itself.  The students interviewed in the video obviously came from a town where they had never met a Black person before.  In the interview they talked about how the hip-hop videos helped them learn a little bit about the culture of other people.  How can we have people that are so ignorant and oblivious? What is seen in those videos is not an accurate representation of the lives of those participating in the video, but too often people base their opinions on other races based on the videos alone- and that is exactly what the corporations and higher authorities want to be imposed on us.  

This all stems from the idea of social control and manipulation that goes on around us.  

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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Pre-Reading Blog Week Eight

Statistics show that students of color are overrepresented in special education courses.  I think this can be attributed to the fact that people of color have consistently been oppressed over history.  In class we have talked about white privilege and white supremacy and all of these ideas of hierarchy that exist within our society.  Whether it is based on social, economic, or political status, there has always been a favoring of White people over others.  When society is structured to better help a particular interest group, of course that group will reap the greatest benefits.  People of color end up facing disadvantages in society that continue to arise due to the fact that their struggle is greater by no reason other than the fact that they are not White.  With all of this disadvantage in society that is directed towards people of color, it has been found that more people of color live in poverty than White people.  With this continued oppression, it is harder for people of color to overcome and liberate themselves from the oppression.  

Connor’s quote deals with the idea of higher authorities structuring society in a way that better represents the dominant White culture.  By creating these terms and definitions to group others, we are then separating them from what is seen as “normal” in our society.  This grouping is a social construct because creating the idea of “normality” is always biased towards one group or another.  There is nothing that makes the grouping normal other than the fact that those higher in power, who are able to use and abuse this power, have created it to be normal.  So in a sense, what is described as normal is just a bias of those who created the social organiztion in the first place.  An organization designed to put people of color in their place, and to allow those of the manufactured “normal” race (White) to be in power.  

When it comes to testing for learning disabilities, language and cultural background definitely have a significant role when it comes to a child’s ability to learn.  For a student born in the United States and whose first language is English, learning in a classroom where the main language is English should be easy.  However, for those who are born out of the United States, or are born here but don’t have English as a first langueage, of course learning would be much more difficult for them.  This may then make them better candidates for classification under a learning disability, not due to the fact that they are not as smart as another student, but simply a reason of race, culture, and language.  

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Pre-Reading Week 4

It is generally acknowledged that people who are White have some advantages in U.S. society.  This is due to the fact that throughout history, society and all that exists within it has been constructed by and through the mindset of White elites throughout history.  The Constitution of the United States itself was formed by white elites and for their own advancement.  Likewise, this has been the same for most if not all aspects of our nation’s history.  This all links back to the idea of manifest destiny, or the idea that, in the nineteenth century, we as (white) Americans had the privilege and divine right to westward expansion and development of society.  Continuing off of this, there is also the idea of the White Man’s Burden that has formed out of this mode of thinking.  To the white man, it is his burden, as the superior race, to act as the authority figure because the other less civilized and inferior races are incompetent and incapable of governing themselves.  Ultimately, all of this white privilege goes back to the fact that this nation was created by white individuals for the betterment of their own (white) agendas.

"Racism changes over time, taking on different forms and serving different social purposes 

in different eras" (Lipsitz, 88)  

From various readings that I have been assigned, I have been introduced to the idea that social and political structures are largely based on the form of economy at the time, and how exploitation comes in forms that readily and easily permeate them.  In times of slavery in the United States, the economy was based heavily on agrarian means of production.  Land was of utmost priority, and much profit could be made from utilizing this land as a means of agricultural production.  Of course, with the tending of land comes the need for laborers to accomplish these tasks.  For the American plantation owner, this came in the form of slave labor from the African Slave Trade.  Racism was rampant and created a negative identity for all of the Africans that were forced here.  Over time, the nation started to become more and more industrialized; more mechanized and less dependent on any one individual worker’s skills.  It was in this period that exploitation for the laborer came in the form of lack of sufficient pay, working conditions, and hours.  All of this still relating to the idea of generating a surplus of wealth for the few while furthering the oppression of the masses. As we venture towards the society that exists today, we have done a great job of hiding these oppressive and exploitative aspects, but unfortunately allow them to remain in place.  Today we might not see the blatant racist acts that would have occurred during the period of slavery in the United States, but there still exists individual, institutional, and cultural racism in our society.  You only have to look at the assigned reading in this class to see a few of the exploitative measures that still exist in this nation today.   
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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Post Reading Week 2

If i were to create my own definition of both race and ethnicity, I believe it would differ greatly from what we come to expect as one’s “race” in today’s society.  Throughout our whole lives we have been conditioned to think in certain ways and to adhere to a specific Western and Americanized perspective that is conveyed through the media.  Included in this is our perspective with regard to what race actually is.  As a whole, we come to identify race through physical characteristics and outward appearance.  This is where we get racial categories such as Hispanic, White, Asian, etc.  By adhering to such a standpoint, we create the idea that each one of these “races” is intrinsically different and separate from one another.  This is where the “biology of race” idea comes into place.  As human beings we feel compelled to categorize ourselves in order to create distinctions of similarity and dissimilarity within the general population.  What is inherently flawed with this view is that race is in fact not biological and that we as humans are essentially the same in nature.  We are all human beings composed of the same fundamental biological structures.  
With this, all human beings are considered to be of the same “race”.  We are all human, we all function in the same way, and all that separates us is physical appearance.  Of course one would find variety in physical appearances, so espousing race with humanity comes at no difficulty.  By seeing each other as human and intrinsically the same, we can then see each other as being this one universal Human race.  So my definition of race would be globalized and unifying in that it sees Humanity as “race”.  

So then, my definition of ethnicity would be one’s specific and cultural tendencies that arise in their character.  This definition allows for all of these concepts of being Asian, or African, or whatever label that you want to associate yourself with, but all under the notion that ultimately we are all intrinsically the same, that we are all human and equal.  
The biggest problem with the way that we see race today is the fact that associated with it are stereotypes, preconceived notions, and biases that skew the true nature of the beings that are being identified.  Alone, our conceptions of race are just classifications or categories for groups of people that exist.  Pure classification does no harm.  However, with classification we have associated  ideas of separation and superiority- inferiority complexes within the classification structure.  This is where elements of racism and oppression stem from.  If we are ever to break this oppressive structure of relation, we must begin to identify each other as equals.  Unfortunately, this is not the case.  
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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Pre Reading Week 2

Branching off of my post reading post for week 1, I will continue discussing the influence of my High School history teacher.  A significant lesson that i remember from this teacher is the idea that race, in the way that we know it, is a socially manufactured construct.  What this means is that we, as human beings, have created a belief system that separates humans on the basis of looks, as in skin color.  As human beings are all equal and intrinsically the same, any classification of race is simply distinction that is based away from the principle that we are all human.  
By creating this idea of race, we create this idea that humans in general differ.  But what separates say an Asian person from a White person, other than their looks?  Science shows us that, other than the actual physical characteristics, there is nothing that separates one “race” from another.
The simple idea of racial distinction itself is not fundamentally bad; it is simply a system of classification based on the looks of a particular individual.  It isn’t until these distinctions give rise to the idea that one race is superior to another that the idea of race becomes problematic.  Such distinctions are what create racism and then lead to other forms of discrimination.  
Since we know that all races and groups of people are all human and in fact intrinsically the same, why does racism itself exist?  Why treat someone of another “race” any differently from how you would like to be treated?  I think that this problem is an example of how people still cannot comprehend that we as human beings are all the same and that we should work towards a society that is designed to benefit all that live within it.  

If you would ask me if people have ever gotten my race wrong then i would have to reply yes.  Since I look predominantly Asian, people often identify me as another Asian student among the rest of the crowd.  However, what people don’t often expect is that not only am I half Filipino, but that I’m also half Mexican.  I think this idea alone shows how race is a debased form of distinction with regard to human beings; judging someone based solely on their looks doesn’t always amount to the truth of the matter.

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Post Reading Week 1

The students and faculty who protested against their own administration in 1968 were fighting for an end to racial discrimination and bias in academics.  In a white dominated society, students who belonged to various “minority” groups felt that they were not learning things in school that pertained to their own cultures and lives.  Upset by this lack of academic equality, students challenged their administration to offer courses and programs that would allow for greater equality in education with regard to non-whites.  They achieved a great step towards their end goal when, after holding one of the longest student strikes in United States history, the protesters managed to get the university to create a College of Ethnic studies.  
Monteiro argues that traditional history classes would actually be outlawed under HB 2281 because they 'primarily teach the history of white people and white studies'.  I would agree with this statement based on the kind of education that I have received throughout my academic career.  
Schools have always had various standards with regard to what should be taught in schools, standards that base themselves on ideals of a white dominated society.  The result is an education system that better adheres to a white perspective.  In turn, this education creates students that see history from the same perspective, perpetuating white influence and dominance in society.   
Before a high school teacher of mine taught us about all of these problems and how they still affect many Americans today, I unquestionably learned the historical perspective that we have all been designed to adhere to.  From this High School teacher I learned that, quite often, the truth to histories taught in schools is either skewed or even outright dismissed.  As I have said in class, what is often represented is a “glorified” version of the past that hides certain truths to uphold a more positive image of white history.  An example that exemplifies this idea is the topic of slavery in the United States.  Most often, the typical high school history class will go over the topic of slavery, discuss the idea that yes, whites once owned slaves and that this segment of history is negative, but hardly is this history done justice with regard to conveying how brutally oppressive this time period was.  What we end up learning is the version of history that represents the actions of whites in as positive a way as can be.  Since this is the type of history that is always represented to us, then, under HB2281, these classes would also be outlawed for their focus on a single ethnic group’s perspective.  
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