Sunday, November 3, 2013

Separate and UN/EQUAL?

Talking Points #7- Free Response on Wise and Brown vs Board of Education Website:

On May 17, 1954 history was made when the United States Supreme Court decided that the segregation of black and white students in public schools was unconstitutional, in the case of Brown v. Board of Education. While reading the information on the Brown v. Board of Education website, Separate and Unequal by Bob Herbert, and listening to the Tim Wise radio interview, I've come to realize the correlation of the three.  The main topic that is still up for discussion is the idea of being "separate but equal" and if in fact we as a society have truly become integrated, making that the problem of the present.

The website of Brown v. Board of Education provided a lot of great information regarding the events that lead up to and the case itself.  The website provides historical facts whereas, the Tim Wise interview and the Bob Herbert article probe the brain into more critical thinking. Tim Wise's interview where he talked about his work entitled "Between Barack and a Hard Place" centers around the issue of white privilege.

I really enjoyed the Tim Wise video and many times made connections to Allan G. Johnson's "Privilege, Power and Difference."  I  was really interested when Wise talked about Racism 1.0 and Racism 2.0. According to Wise, Racism 1.0 is easily recognizable where it's done explicitly such as the McCain campaign in Pennsylvania where people rallied because they were anti-Obama.  The rallied failed because Obama was elected as president and this is where Wise's whole point presented.  We, as society, are able to notice this form of racism therefore we are able to counteract it.  Racism 2.0 is more subliminal and Wise says that it makes it easier for Americans to support because most are oblivious to it. If you refer back to Johnson's piece who also states that there is an obliviousness to white privilege. Those who have power often don't want to accept and admit they have power.

Wise says that there is an archetype for black individuals when there isn't one for white individuals. Wise passionately doesn't want black individuals to think that they have to model themselves as Barack Obama as their only means to be successful. He gives the example of George W. Bush being a complete buffoon but we give him a pass.

Wise says that black people need to be exceptional to break glass ceilings where as white people only need to be mediocre.  He describes says this at around 4:34.

Now take a look from one of last weeks episodes of the day time talk show Bethenny where host Bethenny Frankel interviews Omarosa. Watch the whole clip and compare the similarities but first let me provide you with a little background.  Bethenny Frankel rose to fame in the hit Bravo show The Real Housewives of New York City where she quickly became one of the fame favorites.  After exiting the show after it's third season she made the cover of Forbes by her Skinny Girl Cocktails. She went from reality television to a multi-million dollar brand and this caught the attention of Ellen Degeneres who gave Bethenny her own day time talk show. 

Omarosa (left) and Bethenny (right) duke it out! 

The interviewee, Omarosa became famous by appearing on Donald Trump's The Apprentice and quickly becoming reality televison's most vile villain of all time.  Her devious antics, sharp tongue, and her stop at nothing attitude on such shows have kept her in the spotlight.  In her own right she is also a very successful female who has even had a tenure in working in the white  house.  Check out this segment of Omarosa calling Bethenny out.  This pop culture nugget does more than just entertain it deals with the issue of white privilege and goes very well with the wise interview. Let's just say things get very intense, whenever you put two very opinionated people together who have no filter things are bound to get explosive.

Tim Wise argues that in order for us to solve the problem we must acknowledge it. He says that the denial of the issue(white privilege) is the problem. To understand the problem we need to learn from the people that were affected by it.  So in this context, the only way for us to learn about racism is to listen to the ones that experienced it. Sort of like, the whole goal of our service learning projects we want to inspire change and change is only achieved if we learn something from it.  When Obama was elected there were people who said there are no more excuses for black people to be sidelined. Wise says that the statement is completely bizarre because although Obama was elected president that doesn't mean racism was elected to be erased.  

Bob Herbert
Bob Herbert also makes a great argument when he states that albeit the Brown v. Board of Education, a form of educational segregation still exists.  Herbert identifies the issue of poor communities v. rich ones and that poor communities contain a majority of people of different ethnicities. The poor communities have lower performing schools where the students do more poorly than their peers who belong to nicer middle-class schools.  He says that the poor children are proven to do better when they are immersed with their peers who go to better schools. However, one thing we can do to improve the education of poor children is to create better environments that are not so heavily bogged down by poverty and this is when we will see progress.  According to Herbert we could be more integrated than we are now as a society and that when it comes to race relations we are silenced and we tend to avoid it.

Allan G. Johnson's article can be applied to this whole thing from the time of Brown v. Board of Education.  Whiteness is favored in American society and they have certain privileges because of that. Just as much there is a privilege that is associated with people who have more money and belong to a higher social status.  Tim Wise argues that white privilege is a problem because it makes an archetype for our black counterparts which isn't fair.  If you look back out Delpit's article, The Silenced Dialogue you also see where black teachers had to say "silent" because their white counterparts just always assumed they were correct.  Herbert illuminates the issue of privilege when it comes to social class. The better neighborhoods receive better teachers and resources where the struggling poor neighborhoods seem to be forgotten.  

Whiteness and Property Ownership are two things in American society that have always been present. To cite some examples from the Brown v. Board of Education website, The Jim Crow laws that segregated people of color, the highly offensive advertising cards that depict all people of color beside very demeaning light, and the formation the Ku Klux Klan that was formed to combat the Reconstruction Reforms and intimidate black people. These are more examples of racism then it is of white privilege but these events are apart of our society's history and these events in a way have contributed to the present day white privilege.  When it comes to social status, the website illuminates that most of the African Americans were poor and when it came to their right to vote, white people still found ways to make it nearly impossible to achieve that by instituting poll taxes, which many black people and poor white people couldn't afford. Also, black and poor children had schools in very poor condition. Most of the money was given to the white students' school.

Points To Share:

Herbert makes a very interesting claim that we are still in a way segregated. Do you agree with this? How does whiteness/property ownership play a role in this theory. How can we combat white privilege to make society more integrated?


1 comment:

  1. Hey Alex,
    I agree that segregation still exists for sure because the word "different" is still used so commonly. I liked your connection to "white privilege" because it truly fits in with this talking point. The separation of the sets of racism is eye opening because I feel it is really important to define that there isn't a set way to be racist, and that ignorance to the fact is almost as bad as speaking slurs.