Tag Archives: race

Alternative to the school-to-prison pipeline

In my last post I discussed the role the school-to-prison pipeline plays in increasing the gap in minority education. The consequences of zero tolerance school policies are many including stigmatization, dropping out of school, and/or getting a juvenile record. Some schools have begun to change their responses to deviance in schools by going away from zero tolerance policies and towards restorative justice models. Restorative justice is a proactive approach requiring wholesale cultural change in the punishment orientation of the school system based on improved responsibility and communication. The restorative justice program provides long-term change that emphasizes building relationships, improve behavior, reduce violence, and build community (Zehr, 2002).   (more…)

Avery Gordon’s “Ghostly Matters” and the Haunting of Sociological Research

 

Source: Ghostly Matters by Avery F. Gordon

Source: Ghostly Matters by Avery F. Gordon

I recently stumbled upon a unique analysis of the construction of social reality.  In Avery Gordon’s Ghostly Matters, haunting is a method of sociological research.  She argues, “To study social life one must confront the ghostly aspects of it” (7).  Ghostly Matters is her attempt to understand the complexities of social life through an analysis of the hauntings surrounding Sabina Spielrein, the desaparecido of Argentina and the lingering impact of racial slavery during the Reconstruction period in the United States.  Her book might be a conceptual call within the field of sociology to understand that which it represses, but her approach is truly interdisciplinary, in that she seeks to create a something “that belongs to no one” (ibid).

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The School-to-Prison Pipeline and the Minority Educational Gap

Retrieved from Getty images.

Retrieved from Getty images.

In a recent Sociology Lens post, Markus Gerke detailed the problem associated with President Obama’s rhetoric of individual responsibility for increasing opportunities for Latino and Black men. One component to President Obama’s initiative is to increase educational opportunities for these populations and Gerke correctly notes that the focus on individual responsibility ignores the structural barriers that limit these populations. Research suggests that a major factor in the educational achievement gap is the presence of the school-to-prison pipeline and the punishment of minority students at greater rates than white students. A recent report by the U.S. Department of Education notes that 5 percent of white students in the United States are suspended compared to 16 percent of black students.  Furthermore, researchers have documented racial disparities in school punishment for over 40 years with African-Americans accounting for 34 percent of suspensions nationwide, despite making up only 17 percent of the population (Browne, 2003).

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Obama’s Initiative for Young Men of Color & the Rhetoric of Individual Responsibility

[By Pete Souza (White House Flickr Account) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons]

A few weeks ago, President Obama announced a new initiative designed to increase opportunities for young Black and Latino men. Acknowledging that Black and Latino men lag behind other groups in educational achievement and employment, while outnumbering white men in jails and prisons, at first glance, the President’s “My Brother’s Keeper” campaign seems like a much needed and timely project. However, when examining Obama’s rhetoric more closely, the initiative falls short of addressing the root causes and structural reasons for racial disparities in the US and instead perpetuates a neoliberal language of individual responsibility.

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Fatherhood and Black Fatherhood

Source: Wikimedia Commons

You may have noticed that a photo of a Black man doing his daughter’s hair was plastered all over Facebook and Twitter newsfeeds last month. That man, Doyin Richards, runs a blog, Daddy Doin’ Work, about his experiences raising his two daughters. But, unlike most of the posts from his blog, this photo went viral. When the photo appeared all over social media, it was paired with a quote from his blog. “I have a dream that people will view a picture like this and not think it’s such a big deal.” Despite his desire for the photo to be seen as not a big deal, Richards continues to receive a great deal of attention simply for being a Black father. (more…)

Teaching Gender and Feminism as a Male-Identified Instructor

(Source: Canadian2006 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0/r GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons.

My colleague Cliff Leek elsewhere has recently talked about the tension, struggles and challenges of being an ally. Those of us located on the ‘privilege’ side of different axes of inequality and oppression (like race, class and gender) face the challenge of how to become (and stay) active and effective allies without reinforcing the very inequalities we are trying to fight, and trying to speak truth to power without claiming to speak for the movements we are aligned with. As Mia McKenzie points out in her critique of the term ‘ally’: “actions count; labels don’t”. We don’t become ‘allies’ just by some act of will or by declaring us as such. Instead, being an ally means a continuous process of becoming one. This call for action and constant reflection has, of course, implications for those of us who are male-identified but teach about gender in the classroom (or those of us who are white and teach about race etc.). We face unique challenges that we need to find pedagogical answers to if we are to stay true our feminist and anti-racist commitments.

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Want to Help Marginalized Students Improve in Schools? Stop “Stop and Frisk” (and other punitive practices, too).

Protest against police brutality

Source: Fibonacci Blue (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Last week, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals threw out a previous ruling that had determined that New York City’s controversial “Stop and Frisk” practice constituted a civil rights violation, thereby placing any reforms (or the outright abolition of “Stop and Frisk”) on hold. In addition to being a highly ineffective police strategy, extremely questionable from a civil liberties perspective and undeniably a case of racial profiling, this policy might also impact marginalized students’ educational outcomes. Sociological research suggests that the interplay between constructions of masculinity and punitive criminal justice (and school) policies ends up harming marginalized boys’ educational prospects and channels them into crime – and ultimately the criminal justice system.

[ This article was originally published at Masculinities 101 ]

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How not to talk about Gender and Education – Is the ‘Boys Crisis’ in Education a Reality?

By Unknown, not credited [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

In her latest piece for the Atlantic, Christina Hoff Sommers – author of “The War against Boys” – continues to make the case that boys are losing out in education, are being disadvantaged by schools that supposedly cater exclusively to girls and are thus in need of remedial help in order to catch up to girls educationally. Arguments like hers are still going strong in public discourse, although a vast amount of research has shown the situation to be much more complicated than she makes it sound. Instead of falling back to anti-feminist and gender-reinforcing ‘solutions’ – such as those proposed by Christina Hoff Sommers and others – an intersectional feminist analysis of gender and education is much more useful in accounting for the inequities in educational outcomes between different groups of students.

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Connecting the Dots: The Politics of Race in Big Time Football’s 2013 Offseason

By A. Smith [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Football season is upon us, and there are plenty of reasons why this moment in big time football is very intriguing from a sociological perspective. More specifically, most of the major offseason storylines of both professional and collegiate football tell us much about the racial politics in big time football and the negotiations of race and sports in the media.

Update: Johnny Manziel makes the cover of Time Magazine.

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“Where’s my place in a music that’s been taken by my race?”: Macklemore and Authentic White Hip-Hop

The audience of Macklemore’s November 28, 2012 concert in Toronto. (Source: thecomeupshow [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

The audience of Macklemore’s November 28, 2012 concert in Toronto. (Source: thecomeupshow [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

In his 2005 song “White Privilege,” white hip-hop artist Macklemore asked, “Where’s my place in a music that’s been taken by my race?”.  In the same song he acknowledges that “white rappers’ albums really get the most spins” and that “hip-hop started off on a block [he’s] never been to, to counteract a struggle that [he’s] never been through.”  This seemingly self-aware critique of his own whiteness in the context of hip-hop dropped 7 years before Macklemore’s meteoric rise to fame and now he is far from alone in considering the impact of his white skin on the genre.  In 2005 Macklemore was nearly unheard of, but as of the writing of this post in 2013 the duo of Macklemore and his collaborator, Ryan Lewis, have 3 songs that have made the Billboard Top 20 and two of those have hit #1.  In fact, just this past weekend he was awarded Best Hip-Hop Video in what may have been the whitest MTV Video Music Award ceremony in recent memory.

As his fame has increased, so too has the discourse regarding his role in hip-hop writ large.  Willamette Week asked if Macklemore is the “new face of hip-hop,” OUT hailed him as the writer of “hip-hop’s first gay anthem,” a Racialicious article critiquing Macklemore’s politics spurred an internet feud with Gawker, and a New York Times critic questioned the “authenticity” of Macklemore’s work as hip-hop.  Nearly all of this discourse surrounding Macklemore focuses on one thing, his whiteness.  So what, sociologically, does his white skin mean in hip-hop? (more…)