Sunday, September 21, 2014

Color Insight

Colorblindness is the New Racism- Armstrong and Wildman and the Ferguson Syllabus

1) The Ferguson Syllabus:
As I read through the 8 articles on the Ferguson Syllabus, I though about what each of them implicated and what affect they had on my view of the interaction in Ferguson this summer.  I think of my self as someone who is aware of what is happening in the world.  I try to keep up with world and US news. So this summer when Michael Brown, an unarmed black youth was shot by a white police officer, I thought it would be another event like Trayvon Martin.  But this time I think it is different.  This time their have been riots and protests bigger then anything since the Rodney King riots of 1992.  I reviewed a few articles but I returned to the first article by Victor Rios, "Stealing a bag of Potato Chips and other Crimes of Resistance."  As I read this article I thought about Delpit and Johnson. Were the two boys in this article trying to find umbrellas to make it in the culture of power, were they trying to break the culture of power, or were they just trying to get by?  Rios says "In feeling excluded from a network of positive credentials, education, and employment opportunities, young people develop creative responses that provide them with the necessary tools to survive in an environment where they have been left behind and where they are consistently criminalized." (pg 50) These boys don't even have access to the lowest rungs in the culture of power.  

"The boys had grown up in an environment which had deprived them of the social and cultural capital they needed to progress in school and the labor market.  Therefore, they developed their own alternative social and cultural capital, which they used to survive poverty, persist in a violent and punitive social ecology, prevent violence, avoid incarceration, and attempt to fit into mainstream institutions." (pg 49)

2) Armstong and Wildman- Colorblindness
pg. 68 "Color insight recognizes that a racial status quo exists in which society attributes race to each member.  Whereas colorblindness urges us not to notice race, color insight says, "do not be afraid; notice your race and the race of others around you; racism and privilege still do affect peoples' lives, learn more about the racial dynamic."  

I think that this quote really embodies what I got from this article.  I think that if we are ever to improve the disparity with in  the culture of power then we need to put the issue on the table and discusses it opening with all parties involved.  I really enjoyed how this article actually had some concrete ways to bring these issues into the classroom and how to start the conversation.  pg 68 The Racial Observation Exercise.  I went in search of other people who had messages that went along with this theme of color insight.  Mellody Hobson is an American businesswoman who is the current Chairman of Dreamworks Animation, and she is black.  She spoke in March of 2014 on the topic of Color blind or Color Brave.  I really enjoyed how she backed up her position with valid points of personal experience but also true statistics in this current day.  

A Linguistic Celebrations - a great Spoken Word by Jamila Lyiscott about the 3 languages she speaks.  This more ties into last week but I enjoyed it, and thought I would share.  


  1. TWO ted talks, what a treat! I love the term "color brave" and the idea that when we walk into a boardroom that is filled with black females and don't think it's odd, that we have truly made progress. Hobson's message is filled with hope, but also a realistic way to play our part in change. Speaking three languages hit me in a different way, I often find myself speaking to my students in short slang sentences, to let them know that I am listening, and can speak their language, then challenge them in certain writing assignments to prove their proficiency in speaking academically. As far as your points on the Ferguson situation, your point about the significance of the reaction is well made, but I wonder if the reaction would have been the same had not the Martin incident preceded it, or if Zimmerman had been a cop. What struck me about the fallout following Brown was the way the "hands up don't shoot" turned from being a submissive gesture in the individual, to a cry of defiance in the protesting masses.

  2. Jenny, thanks so much for sharing the spoken word poem! I found myself stopping, rewinding (if you can call it that), and replaying to make sure I really heard what she said. Such an engaging performance. Then, I scrolled into the comments and found this from sharleen stueland:

    "English Major, born and raised WHITE Midwestern woman who Used to Know what proper English WAS, laments now the past lost years spent lamenting the language Lost to Ebonics... my mind Blown(!) as a new Knowing seeps onto once lost synapses... and tears creep onto my wrinkled cheek for the Pain my Ignorance caused... I'm sorry."

    Though it is a brief comment, I think it is interesting to see someone acknowledge her privilege/ignorance in such a public space. And, as an English teacher, I love that a creative piece like a poem can elicit such a response from an audience. It can be difficult to find engaging informational and literary text pairs, but spoken word is a genre of text to keep in mind because, as you see from Lyiscott's work, it can incorporate literary and non-fiction elements.

  3. That was a great video that you posted. I think it proves the point that "race makes people uncomfortable" she makes some great points. The uniform story she tells is yet another testament to why racial discrimination still happens in the modern world.

    I never would have thought that making a statement of telling people my race in any conversation would be a start to make real conversations. If we put those conversations in the forefront it may be the right start to make a difference. I know that Dr. Bogad told us a similar story in class where she spoke to a group of people at a conference and let people know she was as a white women. After watching this video it makes me think about how this change can make huge differences. I like that term "Color Brave", it almost screams "positive growth" right from the start.

    Thanks for sharing that!

  4. Wow. All of the above, and more. I just got an update to my phone about the fire that destroyed the Michael Brown memorial today, and am insanely curious to see how people will react. Also, why can't people be nice to each other like we are when commenting certain things? Is it that difficult for people to have grown up conversations via screen? Reading the comments at the end of this news article is very disheartening....aside from that, notice the almost immediate jump from the news article to the comments about "white teen against cops" vs. "black teen against cops"........and then we ask ourselves, how much can we really do from here?

  5. After reading your blog Jenny and the fact that you mention being "unaware of what is happening in the world," I thought immediately about myself. I also think I try to keep somewhat aware of things going on here in America and in the world. I listen to BBC regularly...but for some reason, I did not hear or read that much about the Michael Brown case. And I'm wondering why?? Did the media cover the case...yes...did they cover it sufficiently??? I'm not sure. Maybe I'm way off track here, but I just don't remember hearing that much about this case. Just a thought...I'm curious if anyone else feels this way or if I was just living in a bubble over the summer.