Sunday, September 28, 2014

Richard Rodriguez Aria


Rodriguez's Ideas of Individuality

Richard Rodriguez, author of Aria, argues that children who are forced to conform to society lose part of their individual identity. Being born into a Spanish speaking family, he spoke Spanish at home, but his parents were asked to start speaking English to help their children learn the language everyone was speaking. 

Rodriguez mentions that, "they do not seem to realize that there are two ways a person is individualized. So they do not realize that while one suffers a diminished sense of private individuality by becoming assimilated into public society, such assimilation makes possible the achievement of public individuality" (39). This part clearly shows Rodriguez's argument about individual identity. In order to be a part of society you have to conform to the social norms that surface in public. Once conformed to society you now are apart of that culture, but by conforming to one culture you lose a part that made you stand out.

While it may be necessary to conform to some aspects of society in order to succeed, I feel it is necessary that you remain true to your private identity. I think it is very important to keep the values and cultures you were born into as it makes you who you are, but for Rodriguez it was keeping him behind in his classes. In order for him to succeed he had to completely change himself and finally one day "I moved very far from the disadvantaged child I had been only days earlier. The belief, the calming assurance that I belonged in public, had at last taken hold" (36). Fitting into society means more opportunities and Rodriguez had finally felt like he belonged, but it was at the expense of his family and culture. 

By speaking only Spanish, Rodriguez did not participate in the culture of power so he felt that in order to be a part, he had to change to conform to the culture of power. If Rodriguez's school supported the learning of bilingual classes, he could be versed in both languages and not have to give up on one of them. In his school, they could have provided Rodriguez with the codes of power that would have allowed him to succeed without transforming his private identity.

Points to Share: The success rates seem to be low for bilingual students because the are taken out of class to learn English, which makes them fall behind. I think in elementary schools there should be English and Spanish classes because students at this age can learn languages faster. By learning two languages it can help them in the future and it would allow more people in the culture of power. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Peggy McIntosh White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack and Keesha Beckford Dear White Moms


Peggy McIntosh wrote White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack to show that white privilege is out there whether we notice it or not. White people have the “invisible knapsack” that allows them to easily survive life, while those who don’t have the knapsack struggle with many hardships. In her piece she writes a list of ways she has privilege in her daily life and there was one way she had white privilege that connected to Beckford’s Dear White Moms and Johnson’s Privilege Power and Difference. McIntosh noted, “Whether I use checks, credit cards, or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial reliability” (McIntosh 3). Keesha Beckford also mentions this same idea in Dear White Moms, but her approach is different. She says, “Speak up to the checker who asks for your black friend’s ID to take a check and not for yours” (Beckford). Beckford wants white mothers to defend their black friends, why should they have to show identification at the time of check out and not you. Instead of sitting idly by watching someone be racially discriminated, do something about it and act out. Both of these women commented on the same thing that I first read in Privilege Power and Difference. Allen Johnson is a white, heterosexual male and he is privileged because of these factors he has no control over. When he sat down with an African American woman, he mentioned, “The simple truth is that when I go shopping, I'll probably get waited on faster and better than she will. I'll benefit from the cultural assumption that I'm a serious customer who doesn't need to be followed around to keep me from stealing something. The clerk won't ask me for three kinds of ID before accepting my check or accepting my credit card” (Johnson 7). All three authors have pointed out that if a white person goes into a store to shop, they won’t be followed. There wouldn’t be a question as to whether their card would be declined, so why is it that this happens to some black people? Does the color of their skin really dictate whether or not they’ll steal, whether their card will be declined, or the thought that the card might not even be theirs? It’s unbelievable that these thoughts run through people’s heads while black customers enter their stores.

The store Barneys, in New York, was said to have salesmen who were judging their customers when they entered the shop. They would make bets about the black customer's credit cards, whether they will be accepted or declined. Barneys is a high-end store so it seems like only the “privileged” are allowed to shop there, but no matter what color the customers skin is or the clothes they are wearing, they shouldn't be judged as soon as they get into the store.

I was watching a TV show that hires actors to go create a situation and see how the public reacts and they got a black man to enter a high-end store with a long jacket looking like he was poor. Instantly the salesmen went up to him and kept following him around asking him to leave the store because he clearly didn’t belong there. The customers saw this and some left the store because they didn't want to shop at a place that does that, but others continued to watch the scene unfold. When the cameras came out the salesmen started to laugh a little because they didn’t know that it was a set up, but they didn’t quite seem to grasp that they singled out and followed a customer solely because he was black. This is happening in society and it is completely wrong. There shouldn’t be thoughts like this in today’s world.
Keesha Beckford with her children.

Point to Share:
It may seem like all of this isn't happening in society that everyone is accepted, but that is not the case. Only some are deciding to stand up for those being targeted by racial profiling but they are not enough. Those with "privilege" are scared to act out because they believe that it will diminish their power and it's sad to think that black people can't walk into a store without being judged. In three readings this idea of checking IDs of blacks when they're using credit cards has become apparent to me and I think it is completely unacceptable to target people because of their race or of the color of their skin.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Jonathan Kozol Amazing Grace

Jonathan Kozol tells a story in Amzing Grace about his time in Mott Haven. He helps makes the hardships of poverty in Mott Haven aware to people who don't know what these people go through. While reading Amazing Grace that were many parts that really stood out to me, and they were the lines that really made me think about the lives of these people in Mott Haven.

On the first page Kozol puts this area in New York into perspective. "Brook Avenue, which is the tenth stop on the local, lies in the center of Mott Haven, whose 48,000 people are the poorest in the South Bronx. Two thirds Hispanic, one third black. Thirty-five percent are children. In 1991, the median household income of the area, according to the New York Times, was $7,600" (Kozol 3). The people of Mott Haven have to face many hardships especially because they are living in poverty. The people who live here see murder, the effects of drug overdoses, and the poor living qualities that should not be able to house people. The children who live here see the use of drugs and the effects of it, and they shouldn't understand it at that age. When Kozol goes on a walk with a little boy, Cliffie, Cliffie says he has seen someone shot in the head, and that is why there are bears in the trees. They come across a hypodermic needle and Cliffie is able to point it out and he "starts puffing up his cheeks and blowing out the air" (10). This seven year old boy understands more than he should. The houses these people live in are infested with rats and cockroaches and are unsuitable for living. Hospitals are also inadequate for people to stay in, yet these people have to stay there. Many of the people who live here turn to drugs and many test HIV positive and have AIDS.

In an effort to help the residents of Mott Haven, "volunteers arrive here twice a week to give out condoms and clean needles to addicted men and woman, some of whom bring their children with them. The children play near the bears or on a jungle gym while their mothers wait for needles" (Kozol 12). In order to help the people, volunteers hand out condoms and CLEAN NEEDLES! This should be an indication of how bad it is in Mott Haven. This is an attempt to try to stop the spread of AIDS in their community. The children of these parents are being brought to these parks where they see their parents waiting for drugs, and it may influence children into doing the same. The health of the residents are going downhill. Many people who live here die before the age of 75 and 15% of these deaths are HIV related. In an effort to stop the spread of AIDS, the amount of people who use drugs is not stopping and the effects are widely seen in Mott Haven.

The story of Alice Washington was one that really made me feel bad for the people of Mott Haven. Not only she get AIDS from her husband, she was beat and also found she had cancer. She stopped eating and became extremely ill. Her son became worried when she started getting sick and she was too afraid to go to the hospital. He tells Kozol, "'Last night I couldn't sleep, so I sat up for a long time. I got the thought that maybe she's not eating so that she'll be sick enough for SSI. I wondered if she's starving herself so that she'll qualify, so that they'll say, 'This woman's sick enough. She qualifies'" (Kozol 22). No one should have to feel like they need to starve themselves in order to receive help. This is just another one of the hardships these people have to deal with. Her son David also says that evil exists and it is about the people who cannot help his sick mother. He remarks "'Somebody has power. Pretending that they don't so they don't need to use it to help people - that is my idea of evil'" (Kozol 23). This connects to Delpit's ideas of power, "The rules of the culture of power are a reflection of the rules of the culture of those who have power." These people who have power are not letting Alice have any power which keeps them in control. The residents of Mott Haven have gone through a lot and they face hardships many of us never know.

One point I want to share in class is the amount of time that the patients had to wait in the hospitals. This summer my grandmother fell and broke both her wrists. If she went to the hospital in Mott Haven it would have taken forever to have her admitted because her injuries would be considered life threatening. My grandmother was able to have surgery and be discharged all within 48 hours, while in Mott Haven it could take over 48 hours for her to be admitted. I think the living situations these people deal with are unsuitable and it adds to their terrible living arrangements.

About Me!


My name is Ashley Fochler and I'm a sophomore at RIC. My favorite TV show is Parks and Rec and I watch Netflix more than the average person should.

This summer I mostly vacationed and I went on my third cruise! I went to the Eastern Caribbean and I was able to visit Bermuda, St. Maarten, Puerto Rico and Haiti. In each place I got to cross off things on my bucket list and since I was doing things I normally wouldn't do, I made it a point to try new foods as well. In St. Maarten I finally did the one thing I always wanted to do... I went swimming with dolphins! It was the greatest experience of my life and it something I think all of you should do! It Puerto Rico I was zip lining through the rain forest and in Haiti I was parasailing right off the coast. Both of these excursions were absolutely amazing and I would do it again! This summer I also visited Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard. My last two weeks of summer were spent playing tennis for the RIC tennis team.

I am taking this class because it is my first stepping stone on my journey to becoming a teacher! I am excited to be following the secondary education program to the end so I can become a great teacher. Each semester I have what I like to call "a mid life crisis" about my future and my major. I came to RIC as a Secondary Education Physics Major and I had many doubts about it throughout my first year. I added a Coaching Minor thinking that would make me sure about my future and still it didn't. About three days ago I decided that I will declare myself a Secondary Education Math Major with a Coaching Minor and I couldn't be more excited (I'm just glad I know I want to be a teacher)!

When I'm not in class I'm playing tennis or softball, and coaching a softball team (I'm really just the first base coach)! Most of the time though I like picking up a book and reading the day away. My favorite thing to do at night is putting on Netflix and watching my favorite shows until I fall asleep (currently I'm watching Arrested Development, Portlandia, and Bob's Burgers).