I. Met. Angela. Davis.

Honestly, I’m still shook.  I actually met Angela Y. Davis.  She actually hugged me and signed my book.

On Monday, March 27th, 2017, Angela Y. Davis was invited by Students for Justice in Palestine to speak at The George Washington University.  I was only made aware of this the day before that, so I was not able to get a ticket in time.  I was very disappointed, but I always remind myself that everything happens for a reason.  Around 12:30 pm on Monday, one of my very close friends texted me saying she got us last minute tickets to hear her speak.  I had to re-read the message because I could not comprehend the luck I was having.

Fast forward to around 7:00 pm, and she walked into the room greeted by a standing ovation and cheering.  All I could do was smile and stare.  I looked at my friend and said, “That’s REALLY Angela Davis.”  When she started speaking it was cool because her voice sounded the same as it did in all the videos I heard of her speaking.  It’s not that I expected her to sound different, but the fact that it was her voice being magnified in my presence made it fascinating.

She was invited by the GWU’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine because she has been involved with many activist projects concerning the Israeli occupation of Palestine.  One may think, “How did she go from fighting for civil rights for black people in the United States to Palestinians?”  Her purpose in speaking was to elaborate on why there is a need for solidarity among the Black Lives Matter Movement and the Free Palestine Movement.  If the audience had to take away one thing from her discourse, it would be that all the issues concerning inequality and inequity are interconnected.  Below is what I have mapped out to show the step-by-step thinking process of how each social movement against any type of inequality — Black Lives Matter, Israeli occupation of Palestine, Feminism, No Dakota Access Pipeline, Prison Reformation — is undeniably linked to every other one.

  • Israel is the only settler-colony that is still trying to expand
  • Election of trump = reaction to radical activism and progressivism
    • Must put occupation of Palestine onto our agendas
  • Our work begins in resisting the efforts to turn the clock back on history
    • We don’t have to assume things will come to a standstill
    • Has ignited right-wing movements all over
      • New law/ban in Israel
      • Obama administration did argue against settlements in Israel
      • Omar Barghouti
    • Recent UN report
      • Apartheid convention
        • Says apartheid is discrete inhumane acts but such acts acquire crimes against humanity only if they serve the purpose of racial domination
          • Has to be a presence of an institutionalized regime
        • Israeli practices towards Palestinian people in occupational apartheid
      • Immediately after the release of the report, SG called for the removal of the report
      • Indicates the accuracy of using the term apartheid in relation to the state of Israel
        • Richard Gear said Hebron reminded him of what he imagined the Old South to look like
        • Purely legal context – were not interested in hurling accusations at state of Israel – in relation to international law
      • Strategic fragmentation of Palestinian people à how Israel denies institutionalized apartheid regime
        • Operates the method of Israeli racial domination
        • De juri vs de facto law
      • Why is it important to engage in public critique of apartheid in Israel?
        • Democracy
        • Black Liberation Movement has relied on capacity to criticize movement
          • Frederick Douglas went to Northern Ireland and built solidarity
          • People all over the world started standing up after Black Liberation Movement got more attention
        • Important movement in the social justice sphere was questioning state of apartheid in South Africa
          • Why is it wrong to question the state of Israel?
        • Do not impute automatically to the individual
          • People all over the world had to distinguish between the imperialist practices of the US
            • The “Other America”: people of color, progressives, lower class
          • As we criticize the Israeli occupation, do not impute this to every Jewish person
            • Fear anti-Semitism backlash…but by saying no to the apartheid in Israel, we are effectively saying NO to anti-Semitism
          • 1975: UN Resolution declared Zionism is a form of racism
            • Pivotal moment in BLM in US because it meant all three struggles were intertwined
              • Apartheid in South Africa
              • The New Jim Crow in the US
              • Israeli occupation of Palestine
            • 2018 marks the 70th year of the Nakba (catastrophe)
            • 2014 Black Lives Matter was crafted into a network with Palestinian solidarity
            • More complicated than an act of an individual
              • Combined tactical systems
              • Tear gas used in Ferguson à Israeli gets their tear gas from the US
              • Racism gets submerged by the “anti-terrorist” rhetoric
            • More intersectional approaches
              • How does Palestinian solidarity help further and nourish the feminist movement?
              • Palestinian women
                • Judith Butler, one of the most outspoken advocates for the free Palestine movement
              • HILLARY CLINTON à GLASS CEILING FEMINISM
                • Means that you’re already at the very top anyway…metaphors matter!
                • The women whom under the floor is collapsing: that’s where our loyalty should lie
              • Challenge transphobia and homophobia within the struggle
                • Not just about bathrooms
                  • Don’t forget about the violence against these communities à trans women à trans women of color
                • Considers herself a prison abolitionist
                  • Prison is a gendered institution
                  • Binary gender is perpetuated here in gender policing
                  • History of prison institution is a history of reformation –> has gotten more repressive after reformation
                    • reformation of the prison system is a history of oppression
                    • Society has to be radically restructured because reformation keeps the system alive
                  • Israeli occupation of palestine = carceral society
                    • Largest open-air prison in the world
                  • Water is a feminist issue
                    • Palestinian water tanks had been punctured by Israel state
                    • Flint, MI
                    • DAPL

There was a Q&A session after she spoke, but unfortunately I was prevented from asking my question.  (I had just worked up the courage to stand in line to prepare my question when someone tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Sorry, but we will not have time for you to ask your question.”  I was frustrated because after the last student asked her question, Angela Davis said she could answer more questions, but the committee rushed her offstage.  I did not complain too much since I was allowed to meet her.)  The question I was going to ask was, “The word of mouth is undeniably a powerful tool in the activism sphere.  However, at some points in discussing with the opposition, one’s rhetoric might become ineffective.  How do you know when it becomes futile to argue anymore?  If you do stop arguing, when do you stop?”  This has been a pressing concern for me because half of my family supports Trump, and every time I try to have a discussion, I feel like I make no progress.  I am not one to give up until I feel I have made progress, but the opposition stands just as firmly in its beliefs as I do, so how can I tell if I actually am making any progress?  I had half a mind to ask her when she signed my book, but to be completely honest, she looked tired and fed up with these university students, and I did not want to be a nuisance.

I have only recently become more exposed and aware of the idea of interdependence among various social movements, so being able to hear Angela Davis elaborate on that was something I will never forget.  I am also reading her book titled, “Women, Race, & Class”, which I would recommend everyone to read.  It goes into detail about how the modern Feminist movement came to be constructed off of the Black Liberation Movement and how many Black women do not get the credit they deserve for the work they have put in to nourish the movement.  “This strategy calls into question the validity of monopolistic capitalism and must ultimately point in the direction of socialism.”  This is her call to action for the Upset of the Set Up.  We must challenge the system that is in place or else we will always be pawns of The Establishment.

 

Embarking on my Research

Research Question: “Has the definition of ‘diversity’ changed or been misconstrued between the Civil Rights Movement Era and the New Jim Crow Era?  What role does colorblindness play into that evolution?”

At first, I was hesitant to delve deeper into this question because I could not, for the life of me, find any resources for the evolution of the definition of “diversity”.  I thought to myself, “Do other people care about ‘diversity’ the same way I do?”  However, after receiving help in class, I realized I was simply not typing the information in the correct way to search the databases successfully.  After my second round of searching for sources, there was a plethora of resources.  I kept coming back to search the same database because there were to many articles that captured my attention.  My working bibliography now consists of (in APA style):

  1. Rostant, J. j. (2017). Diversity in Education: Initial Explorations of Ethnocentrism, Uncertainty Tolerance, and Phenomenological Perspectives. Antistasis, 7(1), 57-65.
  2. Atasay, E. e. (2014). Neoliberal Multiculturalism Embedded in Social Justice Education: Commodification of Multicultural Education for the 21st Century. Journal For Critical Education Policy Studies (JCEPS), 12(3), 171-204.
  3. Gibson, S. s., Baskerville, D., Berry, A., Black, A., Norris, K., & Symeonidou, S. (2016). ‘Diversity’ ‘Widening Participation’ and ‘Inclusion’ in Higher Education: An International study. Widening Participation & Lifelong Learning, 18(3), 7-33. doi:10.5456/WPLL.18.3.7
  4. Apple, M. W. (1980). Ideology and curriculum. 1979. Educational Theory, 30169-175.
  5. Apple, M. a. (2016). Challenging the epistemological fog: The roles of the scholar/activist in education. European Educational Research Journal, 15(5), 505-515. doi:10.1177/1474904116647732
  6. Meshulam, A., & Apple, M. W. (2014). Interrupting the interruption: neoliberalism and the challenges of an antiracist school. British Journal Of Sociology Of Education, 35(5), 650-669. doi:10.1080/01425692.2014.919847
  7. Apple, M. a. (2006). Understanding and Interrupting Neoliberalism and Neoconservatism in Education. Pedagogies, 1(1), 21-26. doi:10.1207/s15544818ped0101_4
  8. Apple, M. W. (2015). Understanding and interrupting hegemonic projects in education: learning from Stuart Hall. Discourse: Studies In The Cultural Politics Of Education, 36(2), 171-184. doi:10.1080/01596306.2015.1013245
  9. Mockler, N. N. (2013). Reporting the ‘education revolution’: MySchool.edu.au in the print media. Discourse: Studies In The Cultural Politics Of Education, 34(1), 1-16. doi:10.1080/01596306.2012.698860

Hopefully these will give me insight I desire.  I expect my bibliography will continue to expand as I continue doing more “concept archaeologies”.

 

Concept Archaeology: The Proof is [Not] Out There

I have decided to delve into the research for the question:

“Has the definition of ‘diversity’ changed or been misconstrued between the Civil Rights Movement Era and the New Jim Crow Era? What role does colorblindness play into that evolution?”

I am starting with my first source, H. Richard Milner IV’s, “Rethinking Achievement Talks in Urban Education”.  I want to use his framework of addressing certain concepts in the United States’ education system as social constructs.  Using the concept of “gaps” and providing the overlooked gaps, Milner established a framework for which he could elaborate in explaining the opportunity gaps:

  1. Colorblindness
  2. Cultural conflicts
  3. Myth of Meritocracy
  4. Low expectations and deficit mindsets
  5. Context-neutral mindsets and practices

Through my research, I want to find out if any of these have a role in teaching students diversity, or if the change in the meaning of diversity directly affects any of these.  Milner was able to conclude that these related to social constructs through the research of M. W. Apple’s idea of knowledge being a social construct.

This led me to finding M. W. Apple’s, “Understanding and Interrupting Neoliberalism and Neoconservativism in Education” in “Pedagogies: An International Journal“.  Unfortunately, I could not find this work on Google or in my university’s databases in the full extent, but he wrote about his own work on researchgate.net.  “In this article I describe the ideological strategies of neoliberal and neoconservative educational reforms on the educational systems of the North and West. The principal strategies entail the labelling of culturally and economically disenfranchised communities through media and political debate in ways that shift responsibility for their educational marginalisation to both teachers and these communities themselves. The goals of educational systems are then recast in narrowly economic terms that call for market-based reforms. Democratic educational reform is examined as an alternative, with specific examples from Brazil and the United States. so I looked up some of his other works (Apple 2016).”  I found this to be interesting because it could tie into a framework that I have already studied: the Strict Father vs. Nurturing Parent approaches.  I could take this and apply it to the objects of study in the educational realm.

Being that I could not check the bibliography, I googled some more works by Apple, and I found one titled, “Challenging the epistemological fog: The roles of the scholar/activist in education”.  I was also unable to find this in the databases of google or my school, but Apple described the inspiration for the research article to come from “a very difficult time in education. Neoliberal and neoconservative policies have had major effects on schools, on communities, on administrators, on teachers, and on all school staff. A new alliance has integrated education into a wider set of ideological commitments. The objectives in education are the same as those that guide economic and social welfare goals. They include the dramatic expansion of that eloquent fiction, the free market; the drastic reduction of government responsibility for social needs; the reinforcement of intensely competitive structures of mobility both inside and outside the school; the lowering of people’s expectations for economic security; the ‘disciplining’ of culture and the body; and the popularization of what is clearly a form of Social Darwinist thinking. In response to this, I detail nine tasks in which the critical scholar/activist should engage in fulfilling the role of the public intellectual. Such tasks are crucial if we are to collectively deal with the current crisis (Apple 2016).”  I would like to use this to research more about the specific role of the activists in the Civil Rights Movement Era and the New Jim Crow Era because activists are the ones reacting to the pressures and creating a climate for progress. By studying how the activists changed their style of activism, I can see how the interpretations of “diversity” evolved as well.

The bibliography for this was posted for some odd reason even though the article itself was not.  Through this, I found an article written by TM Alexiu and T Sorde titled, “How to turn difficulties into opportunities: Drawing from diversity to promote social cohesion“.   The summary of this article is, “Racism in Europe is an ongoing reality that shapes many people’s everyday lives. Diversity is often perceived as a barrier to social cohesion or educational success. These discourses are very often translated into measures that tend to assimilate or segregate those with a migrant or minority background. In this article, drawing from the results of the INCLUD‐ED project, it is argued that through the implementation of successful actions diversity can be turned into an opportunity to enhance learning and social cohesion.”  I was disappointed to find that this was a study focused on Europe, but it is relevant because it proves that there are different definitions of diversity out there roaming around; I just have to find the ones pertaining to the United States.   This source is the only source that I have encountered so far decoding diversity.  This breathes a little more hope into my soul that I can find other resources for my interests.

Overall, this concept archaeology was not very helpful in terms of reading detail because I could not even access a preview of most of the sources.  It was helpful in getting acquainted with researches in this particular field of research in education development and social constructs relations. Maybe I am not looking in the right places, but I will seek help sooner rather than later.

Research Proposals: Definitions of Diversity

  1. What does “diversity” mean to different organizations and institutions?

Anyone on this blog knows that diversity is one of my fundamental principles.  It is something that is constantly on my mind.  In every situation I find myself, I am always assessing the “diversity levels”.  However, I never really thought that there could be multiple different versions to the definition of diversity.  Growing up in the United States, one becomes accustomed to equating the word “diverse” with “racially diverse”.  However, in other cultures, “diverse” simply means “different”.  I first came across this in my first semester at university.  I asked my Italian professor how to say “diverse” in Italian because the word for “different” was “diverso”.  I questioned this meaning because in Spanish, “diverso” means “diverse” and “diferente” means “different”, and I thought it would be more similar in Italian.  My teacher looked at me for a second and could not think of a direct translation.  She then said to me, “Oh, I guess you would just have to say ‘étnicamente diverso’ [which translates to ‘ethnically diverse’] because in Italian we do not have a word for ‘diverse’.”  For the rest of the class I was zoned out trying to figure out why Italians did not have a specific word for “diverse” in Italian.

 I then realized that maybe it was not the Italians that had it weird…

…maybe in the United States, certain things just happen to be associated with each other due to specific culture of prejudice developed from the specific historic agenda that led to the formation of the country.

A potential framework of research for this specific question could be someone who has worked and done research on social constructs.  Clearly, the term “diversity” has to be a social construct considering it has different associations in different cultures.  A potential object of study could be the Latin American Youth Center because as I mentioned in one of my earlier blogs, I have wondered how they define “diversity”.

I could probably reframe this question into, “In what ways is the term ‘diversity’ a social construct? How do different organizations in the local DC area define this term – in accordance to the social construct or not?”

 

2. How is “diversity” acknowledged and constructed among schools across the United               States?

I am deeply interested in education development, and after reading H. Richard Milner IV’s article, “Rethinking Achievement Talks in Urban Education”, I started to question even more whether diversity could be considered a social construct.  Being that he elaborated on changing the rhetoric of the achievement gap,

this made me think whether the education system in the United States manipulates the definition of “diversity”.

(Obviously, I had a preconceived notion that it does, but a true scholar must always questions himself or herself to evaluate the validity of his or her argument – see “The Doubting Game” in one of my previous blogs.)

I could use Milner’s article for a framework, but better yet, I could rely on his source.  He got the idea of the social construct of the achievement gap from someone else, so I could use that source as a framework.  Looking to Milner’s source as a source could lead me to finding other sources for frameworks.  For a potential object of study, I should probably narrow it down to a more specific area in the national school system.

I could probably reframe this question into, “How is ‘diversity’ acknowledged and constructed among schools in the local DC area? How does colorblindness combined with different teachings of diversity play into the varying constructions of the word ‘diversity’?”

 

3.  Has the passage of time changed the definition of “diversity”?

Being in the Writing for Social Change class, I have been studying the rhetoric of community organizations in reaction to the pressures at the moment.  Sixty or seventy years ago, during the Civil Rights Movement, the word “diversity” probably intensified in association with “racial diversity”.  (I do not know this for sure, but this is the purpose of initiating further research.)  However, realizing that in today’s society, we are faced with the rhetoric of the New Jim Crow and its consequences, maybe “diversity” means something different.  Actually, I do not think it means something different – it is still very much associated with “racial diversity”; I think because of the shift in the way racism is carried out – nowadays being more institutionalized through colorblindness – the way the word “diversity” is taught has changed.

 I believe that some organizations and institutions have misconstrued the way “diversity” is defined in order to not be held accountable to their colorblindness.

Potential frameworks for this could be studies done by key members of the revolutions during the Civil Rights Movement Era and the New Jim Crow Era.  Potential objecta of study could be archives from the Civil Rights Movements, works from the education systems from the Civil Rights Movement Era and the New Jim Crow Era.

I could probably reframe this question into, “Has the definition of ‘diversity’ changed or been misconstrued between the Civil Rights Movement Era and the New Jim Crow Era? What role does colorblindness play into that evolution?”