Research Sources on Latinos/Hispanics: The Julian Samora Institute

The Sotomayor nomination and confirmation process has raised much discussion about Latino issues, so we do need to consider what some good sources of information and research on Latinos are. For teachers, students, researchers, and especially media analysts (e.g., Lou Dobbs) who seem often to be quite ignorant on these issues. Let me mention one here briefly.

Immigrant Rights March
Creative Commons License photo credit: Kevin Coles

The Julian Samora Institute website is an excellent source for information on Latino/Hispanic issues, including research publications and recent events like the tasering of a grandfather by Virginia police recently at a party. Their website statement says this about the Institute:

The JULIAN SAMORA RESEARCH INSTITUTE is committed to the generation, transmission, and application of knowledge to serve the needs of Latino communities in the Midwest. To this end, it has organized a number of publication initiatives to facilitate the timely dissemination of current research and information relevant to Latinos.

Here is their research url, with research publications like this one on health “The Impact of Race/Ethnicity, Household Structure, and Socioeconomic Status on Health Status in the Midwest, 2006-2008.”

They also offer this really useful set of links to both research data sites and news information sites.

Commercial Images: Visual Racism from the Past and Present

Over at Slate, David Segal has posted a useful slide show of blatantly racist commercial images, mostly from the past, for African, Asian, Latino, and Native Americans. Uncle Ben, Aunt Jemima, and the racist Native American images used by baseball teams today are there.03_AuntJ

If you have not seen these, or your students or friends have not seen them, do check them out. This slide show should be of substantial use to you for teaching purposes.

The Black Prison Called “Special Education”

“If you can control a man’s thinking, you don’t have to worry about his actions. If you can determine what a man thinks you do not have to worry about what he will do. If you can make a man believe that he is inferior, you don’t have to compel him to seek an inferior status, he will do so without being told and if you can make a man believe that he is justly an outcast, you don’t have to order him to the back door, he will go to the back door on his own and if there is no back door, the very nature of the man will demand that you build one.”-Dr. Carter G. Woodson, Mis-Education of the Negro (1933)

Even though the physical chains have been removed from the ankles of the ancestors of slaves, today the chains kneaded from the clay of oppression have been reshaped through the fires of time into covert racist components which are embedded within all major institutions in America in a continued effort to disable and control Blacks, but more often, specifically targeting Black males. Due to this major difference, Black males are then subjected to a more intense measure of control and hardship directed by Whites and their system of oppression.

As children, young Black males are handcuffed on the tilted playing field of opportunities designed by the dominant White majority that consciously and subconsciously reproduces subjugation and control. Effects of this control can be seen in the high rate of Black males within special education. Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EAHCA) of 1975, (P.L. 94-142), known presently as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 1990 (Reauthorized in 2004), was initially enacted to provide all students classified as special education students, access to a “free and appropriate public education” (FAPE).

As noted by Turnbull and Turnbull in 1998, the message conveyed to the public by lawmakers who devised IDEA was that they intended to protect the rights of parents and their children as well as assisting state and local education agencies (LEA) in educating these students in an effective least restrictive environment (LRE) while attending to the issue of race in special education classification. Before IDEA, it was estimated that at least four millions of children, especially children of color were segregated from their regular education peers and did not receive “appropriate educational services” and sufficient access to the educational prospects that were offered to their counterparts within the public school system. IDEA was enacted to deter these incidences of discrimination.

The enactment of IDEA, as many today believe, was to halt discrimination of those with special needs and children of color who were previously stored away from their regular education counterparts. But today it is evident that discrimination, segregation, and overall inequities exist toward special education students of color. Racism very much exists today with respect to students of color. Sec. 601 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 states that “No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” But, in general, Black, and to some extent Latino students (the majority from low socioeconomic homes), in relation to their population are still being denied and excluded through their placement in the category of special education.

In fact this is occurring at disproportionate rates in comparison to Whites and others; Black (and Latino) students are kept apart (outside of the regular education settings) and denied the proper benefit of an inclusive education as mandated by IDEA. Specifically, it has been estimated that Blacks are placed in special education at a rate of 3 to 1 in comparisons to White students. The special education analysis completed by the Department of Education in 2001 and 2006 noted this occurrence, but did not expand upon this topic as it relates to gender. Due to the disproportionate number of Black males that are within special education with such arresting labels as Emotionally Disturbed, Mentally Impaired, and etc., the conclusion can be drawn that they are more likely to be educated in segregated learning environments than their White counterparts.

The fact that this is occurring within rich and poor districts can be construed as reckless on the behalf of public schools–when faced with scholars that have noted and criticized the diagnostic criteria and testing currently used as vague, invalid, and culturally biased against people of color. But we , in the public schools, continue to use them. If this clandestine and at times overt plight to hamper students of color, specifically Black males’ academic and social progress, is not addressed from a policy and social justice structural approach, said population will continue to be seriously hindered, which will result in an increasing number of young people not gaining the benefits of a quality education. Due to areas and ramifications of the topic addressed, social scientists within education and sociology should feel challenged to continue the work directed at investigating this issue. No, in fact, we as a people should challenge the threads continuously woven by an archaic racist system that has a foundation soaked with oppressive spew.

Teaching & Learning with Racism Review

This is the week that a lot of people are returning to school after the break, or at least thinking about the return to classes.  And, many people, like Pitseleh at Backstage, are planning of courses for the coming semester.   So, I thought it might be a good time to address the ways you can use Racism Review in the classroom.night school

Part of the reason Joe and I started this blog was to provide resources for those who typically stand in front of the classroom, as well as provide an ongoing place for discussion for all of us who sit in those rows and rows of chairs (Creative Commons License photo credit: brandongreerwith apologies to all you Freirians who are putting your chairs in a circle, the ones at my institution are bolted to the floor like the ones in this image).   We’ve added a pages here with a few syllabi from other instructors (feel free to send me others and I’ll add them to the collection).   We’ve also got a good list of topic-relevant documentaries from a variety of filmmakers that you may find useful in designing your courses.   Or, if you’re taking a course, these will point you in the direction of books and films that could help you learn more.   In addition to these rather unidirectional resources, the interactive quality of the blog can be useful for learning about race and racism.

I’ve made use of this blog in my classes, and it can work quite well.   Here are some suggestions for ways to use Racism Review in the classroom:

  1. Assign it as supplemental reading requirement. This is good choice if you have a few students who are very interested in the topic and want explorations beyond the classroom.  As with any supplmental reading, this is difficult (if not impossible) to evaluate, so I don’t usually include this in the grading scheme.
  2. Make it a required reading assignment. As a required reading assignment, you can then have students write a reaction paper to what they read in a post (either whatever’s currently on top of the blog, or you as the instructor can pre-select one and assign it). You can also have students read the blog and come to class prepared to discuss what they’ve read (my experience is that the discussion is more lively if they’ve written about it first, but your mileage may vary, as they say).  Again, the reading is difficult to evaluate on its own, so the grading scheme here would be to evaluate the reaction papers or the classroom discussion.
  3. Offer students the option of extra credit points for comments. This is what I’ve done most often, and it seems to work well with undergraduates who are highly motivated by extra credit points.   Typically, what I offer is one point of extra credit (added to the cumulate course average) with a maximum of five to ten points, depending on the class.   I require the students to print out all the comments they made and hand them in on the last day of class.
  4. Volunteer to Guest-Blog about a topic that you’re covering in the class and have students comment. It’s often the case that we have so much more that we want to share with our students than the boundedness of the physical classroom will allow, and the blog is a good way to push beyond those walls.  I found this especially useful when I was teaching a class about Hurricane Katrina and there was just so much more I wanted to share with the class than I could in the allotted time.   So I addressed those issues in the form of blog posts, and then assigned them as required reading.  If you’re teaching about race/ethnicity and find that there’s a particular topic you’d like to explore in more depth, consider being a Guest-Blogger for Racism Review and writing a post on the topic.   (Email me for details if you’re interested: jessiedanielsnyc _at_ gmail _dot_ com).
  5. Create writing assignments for students that follow a blog post format. This is a more advanced sort of assignment and I’ve done this with upper-division undergraduates and graduate students.  Depending on what your other pedagogical goals are in the course, you might want to think about including writing assignments that require students to write in the form of a blog post.   If they’re good, and they’re about racism, we’d be happy to include them here as guest-bloggers.   The format we usually follow is fairly simple:  500-1,500 words on a current news item related to race/racism with some analysis that includes relevant social science research.  The tone is professional, but relaxed.   In one graduate course I taught, the blog writing was 30% of the overall grade and I evaluated it based on both form and content.   This can be an excellent assignment for more highly skilled students, and especially students who are familiar with blogs and used to the format.   The possibility of getting their post on a well-read blog can be a real incentive for hard work in the classroom.
  6. Something fabulous you design. Of course, I’m sure there are lots of other ways you could have (or already have) used this blog in your classes.  Let us know what you’re doing and how you’ve used the blog in the classroom.

Happy pedagogy! 🙂

Racism for Faculty in Higher Ed

There is new evidence that African American, Asian and Native American junior faculty are less satisfied than white junior faculty with the climate, culture and collegiality of their institutions (image of Harvard Faculty Club Staircase via Flickr/CreativeCommons).

These findings are based on a new report based by COACHE that included a sample of 8,500 pre-tenure faculty members at 96 four-year colleges and universities — public and private, liberal arts oriented colleges and research universities.  According to Inside Higher Ed, this is the first time that COACHE has released data about differences among minority faculty from different racial/ethnic backgrounds, and some of these results are interesting:

Of the 10 climate measures in the survey, Asians were less satisfied on 6; Native Americans on 5; and African Americans on 4, all by statistically significant margins.

The piece at Inside Higher Ed does, eventually, address racism.   About half way into the piece, here’s the relevant bit:

African American faculty members are also less likely than their white counterparts to believe that tenure decisions are made primarily on job performance. Cathy Trower, research director of COACHE, said in a statement that these gaps suggest that ”African American faculty may be experiencing some lingering aspects of racism — real or perceived — as evidenced by their concern with fair treatment and lower satisfaction with the amount of interaction and collaboration with others.”

This is an old familiar strategy embedded in the white racial frame. Here, the research director adopts the white racial frame as she minimizes the experience of racism with her “real or perceived” comment.  As I mentioned a couple of days ago, racism on campuses is a persistent problem that affects students.  The persistence of racism on campuses, not surprisingly, also affects faculty.  While I think it’s important that those in power at predominantly white institutions talk about diversity and minority recruitment of faculty and students to change the complexion of those institutions, I think it’s equally important to simultaneously engage in conversations about the persistent racism in those institutions and what the cost might be for faculty and students of color.

Bridging the Educational Gap with Green

Earning an “A” in Chicago Public High Schools, a freshman student could gross $50 dollars. Receiving a “B” or “C” could put $35 and $20 dollars respectively in the pockets of 5000 high school freshmen students in 20 Chicago public schools. This initiative is part of a Harvard-designed test. The study was noted in the September 11, 2008 Chicago Tribune . The program, “Green for Grade$” which involves no tax payer money, received 2 million to pilot the program from private sources.

This is a new manner in approaching the academic gap between Black and White students in America. Recently on the CNN special, “Black in America,” Harvard economist Roland Fryer’s efforts to engage Black elementary-aged Black students by means of paying them to do their assigned school work was briefly discussed. Chicago is following programs in cities like New York and Washington D.C. Some proponents noted that this is approach is not harmful for many parents have always paid their children allowances for good grades. In addition, some see the program as a way to motivate students “who are not getting the motivation at home…” Critics believe that the program will not “cultivate an interest in learning, curiosity…”

In my scholarly opinion, programs like this will do more harm than good. Black students have substantial stereotypes already playing to their demise. Moreover, as in the past, within the 21st century, actions that enable the power and privilege of Whites in part are fueled by stereotypes and the fear of non-Whites.

The bold scholar and intellectual hero, Frantz Fanon said:

I was hated, despised, detested, not by the neighbor across the street, or my cousin on my mother’s side, but by an entire race. I was up against something unreasoned. The psychoanalysts say that nothing is more traumatizing for the young child than his encounters with what is rational. I would personally say that for a man whose only weapon is reason there is nothing more neurotic than contact with unreason.

Paying Black students for their grades sends a covertly accurately translated message to Whites that Blacks proverbially fit within the historical stereotypes of lazy and “shiftless.” Strategies such as paying students are nothing but a continuation of the medical model which simply illustrates a focus on the flaws of the individual instead of the system. The system of public education needs to be seen as a factor affecting the academic outcomes of students of color. Until this is honestly approached, we as a society will continue to look for cures to the symptoms instead of the disease which is merely institutional racism in public education.

Teaching “Race & Ethnicity” : The First Day (Open Thread for Comments)

What’s the best way to begin a class on “Race & Ethnicity”? This question is inspired in part by the terrific discussion in yesterday’s comments about the common trainer’s question, “what about being (fill-in-your-racial-ethnic-background) makes you proud?” and by a recent question on the Teaching Sociology listserv.

For the readers here who are professors and classroom teachers, what’s the best exercise or introduction to this class that you’ve used?

For readers who have taken such a class, what sort of exercises have you enjoyed on the first day? What sorts of exercises do you absolutely loathe?

Let us hear from you in the comment box.

And, as a reminder, we have a (beginning) stash of films and syllabi here at RacismReview available for download. I know lots of folks are working on their syllabus for the upcoming semester right now. Please email me (jessiedanielsnyc _at_ gmail _dot_ com) if you’d like to see your syllabus added to the mix.