Sunday, April 26, 2015

Social Justice Event

     In February, I attended the 2015 NACA national convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota with seven other members of the Programming Event Board here at RIC. NACA is the National Association for Campus Activities. The national convention lasted for four days and consisted of educational sessions to help us plan better events, showcases of acts that we could bring to our campus and campus activities market places (CAMP), where we got the chance to meet the showcasing performers as well as other performers and vendors to bring to RIC. I am going to write my social justice event blog post on one of the showcasing performers I saw and got the chance to meet. *warning: if you are easily offended this might not be for you*
     "*Relax, it's a comedy!" Is what you'll see on the poster for N*gger Wetb*ck Ch*nk (NWC). NWC performed on the last day of NACA and every day leading up to it, we would see their name on the program and see their booth at CAMP but, with a name like that, we really had no idea what to expect. At a CAMP a few hours before their performance, my friend, Rondo, and I saw them at their booth and he said "I can't wait anymore, I need to know what these guys do." We asked them what they did and all they told us was that it was a comedy play about racism that incorporated theater, hip hop, slam poetry, stand up comedy and true life stories.
     When they started their performance, everyone in the audience was shocked to say the least. There was a screen in the middle of the stage that said "NWC" and the three cast members were standing behind it. They all came out from behind it one by one chanting different things. First, the Chinese cast member, Dionysio Basco, came out from behind it chanting the word "chink". There was a few thousand college students in that room and every single one of them was silent. Next, the Hispanic cast member, Rafael Agustin, came out chanting "wetback". At this point, there were some people whispering but nobody was laughing, everybody felt way to awkward and uncomfortable to laugh. Finally, the African American cast member, Jackson McQueen, came out chanting "nigger". By this point, everyone felt so awkward and some people were laughing awkwardly, finally, one of my friends busted out in hysterical laughter causing everyone else in the room to do the same. They kept their rhythmic chant of racial slurs going for about a minute, even doing a dance to it. By the end of their chant, pretty much everyone realized that it was okay for them to laugh. I made a video of part of their chant and. I will post it below. There is also a video of the original cast members doing it on YouTube.
     After their chant, one of the cast members shouted out "List game! Quick, list all the stereotypes commonly made about your ethnicity." They then took turns listing stereotypes, some funny, and some serious, some were positive and some were negative. Here is a video of the original cast playing the list game.
     The first parts of the play were scripted and written by the original cast, which Rafael was a part of, but, the next part was written by the current cast. They told some of their personal stories about racism. This part was very powerful. One story that really stood out to me was Jackson talking about the first time he heard the word "nigger". He was in English class at school and they were reading Huckleberry Finn. The word came up and everybody in the class turned and looked at him. He talked about being very confused as to why they were looking at him because he had never heard the word before and didn't know what it meant. I remember him saying "it took me a few moments to realize 'wow, that's a word that describes me'". They also told some lighter, funny stories as well as doing some sketches to lighten the mood. Jackson did a sketch called "The day I was black" he talked about and acted out a situation that happened to him. He grew up in a white, middle class area and then later moved to a more diverse area. When he moved, people would say things to him like "why do you act so white" and "you dress white". So, he decided to completely change his appearance to try and look more "black". He wore stereotypical clothing and acted in a very stereotypical way. He thought that would make the other people like him more but instead they just got mad that he was doing that. That taught him that there was no such thing as "acting white" or "dressing black" and that everyone should just be themselves no matter what race they are.
     I was able to talk the Dionysio, Rafael, and Jackson again after their performance. I told them that I really enjoyed it and asked why they started it they way they did. Rafael told me that it was a way to break the ice. They realize that race is often an uncomfortable topic to talk about so they figure if they chant racial slurs over and over again for a few minutes, people stop feeling so uncomfortable about it, it takes away it's power and turns it into just a meaningless word. They choose to talk about racism the way that they do because they realize that anyone can give a lecture to students about racism but lectures bore most students so they just zone out and don't even give it a chance. If they talk about it in an outrageous, funny way, people are almost forced to pay attention, whether they want to or not, and they have a much better chance of really impacting people's lives and they way they think about race. They also told me that they wanted to "break down these words and show everyone that there is only one race, the human race." Dionysio told me that they were all very nervous, especially when nobody was laughing at first, they were scared that people would be too offended and wouldn't understand it or enjoy it. When I told them how much I really did enjoy it and that I understood it and that I think what they do is so important, they were all so happy. Rafael said that what I said is the biggest compliment I could give them.
     NWC relates to Johnson. Johnson talks about how important it is to "say the words" and talk about big issues and that talking about these issues is the only way to solve them. This embodies everything that NWC does. The whole reason they do what they do is to bring attention and start conversations about race. They truly believe that the only way to end racism is to talk about it.
   They also relate to Delpit and the rules and codes of power. Jackson grew up in a middle class, white neighborhood so he was taught the rules and codes of power. He was taught how to live in a white world. This made it a little easier for him to gain power but, he still had to deal with many counts of racism in his life.
     The third thing I will connect NWC to is SCWAAMP, especially whiteness. When Jackson moved to a diverse city, he realized how much whiteness is valued in our society. All of the cast members have experienced whiteness being more valued than their own ethnicity. If whiteness wasn't valued more than other things, this play wouldn't even need to exist.
     Seeing NWC live was such an amazing experience. It is unlike anything I've ever seen before. I would love to try and book them to come to RIC next year and I'm sure the other executive board members of Programming would agree with me when I say they would be great to perform here. If you are interested in seeing them, let me know and I can try and make it happen. I also really recommend looking around on their website which was hyper linked in the first paragraph and watching some of their YouTube videos, some are hyper linked above, what they do is so awesome. You can also follow them on Instagram and Twitter: @NWCLive

What other people are saying about NWC: 
http://www.stageandcinema.com/2011/04/07/nigger-wetback-chink/
"NWC is something every college student should experience." - Ben Haper, Kansas State University
https://astrx.wordpress.com/2007/03/22/nigger-wetback-chink/




video

Shor "Empowering Education" connections

I am going to connect this article to other things we have discussed in class.

There is one quote that relates to Oakes."Are students asked to think critically about the material and to see knowledge as a field of contending interpretations, or are they fed knowledge as an official consensus?" This relates to Oakes and the quiz Dr. Bogad gave us in class. The quiz we were given did not ask us to think critically, instead it asked us to just copy information that we already had in front of us. Thinking critically is such an important skill that unfortunately is not being taught in schools as often as it should.

Shor also says, "Empowering education, as I define it here, is a critical-demographic pedagogy for self and social change; It is a student-centered program for multicultural democracy in school and society. It approaches individual growth as an active. cooperative, and social process, because the self and society create each other." This quote relates to Rodriguez because it talks about multiculturalism as well as individual growth and society. The parts about growth and society made me think about the public and private identity Rodriguez talked about.

This article can relate to just about every reading we've done in class but those are just a couple.


"Citizenship in School" Kliewer quotes

"I started to notice that I didn't like the classes I was taking called special education.! had to go through special ed. almost all my life. I wanted to take other classes that interested me. I had never felt so mad, 1 wanted to cry"
This is a quote mentioned in the article from a self-advocacy news letter by a girl with Down Syndrome about her experiences in school. This quote made me very emotional and made me feel bad for her. I can't imagine going to school everyday feeling like that. It is a great argument for why schools should integrate special education students into mainstream classes when possible.

"children are not mere receptacles of knowledge transmitted to them by teachers"

I think that this quote is saying that there is more to a student than what they learn in school and I think that this is so true. There are so many other things that define who a person is.

"Educating all children together reconfigures the representation of Down
syndrome from burden toward citizenship. "
I think this is another great argument for why schools need to be integrated. There is a stigma that goes along with having a disability. Many people think that people with disabilities are just a burden and they don't want to deal with them. If more classrooms were integrated, this stigma would go away and people would realize that there is more to a person than their disability and that disabled people really aren't much different than everyone else.

Here is an interesting post about ways to integrate special education students into mainstream classrooms.


Finn "Literacy with an Attitude" extended comment

For this blog post, I am going to do an extended comment to Jasmine's blog. The article talks about the differences between schools in different areas. Like Jasmine, I never really thought much about the inequalities that effect students in other areas. I'm from the same town as Jasmine, and I also thought that everyone was just like me and was educated the same way. I couldn't have been more wrong. This article really got me thinking about that. I agree with Jasmine when she said "I find it pretty crazy how people blame the less fortunate." It is so ridiculous that people get blamed for things that they have absolutely no control over. The less fortunate people who aren't receiving a good education can't do anything about it on their own. They need help from the more fortunate people in order to fix their education. Jasmine also pointed out that Finn's teaching style reminded her of Delpit. I didn't notice it while reading the article, but, once she pointed it out, I realized that It reminds me of Delpit too. I found this article very interesting and I think Jasmine did a great job on her blog post about it!


Brown vs Board of Education reflection

     I liked the website, I think it has a lot of interesting information on it, but I had a very hard time following along with the videos, I kept getting distracted. I would rather read an article or explore a website. Brown vs Board of Education was such an important case. It happened in 1954 and it made it unconstitutional to segregate people by race. It said that "separate is not equal". It really paved the way for a lot of other civil rights acts as well as educational acts.
     I also really liked the way the Wise article started. "Ask a fish what water is and you'll get no answer, Even if fish were capable of speech, they would likely have no explanation' for the element they swim in every minute of every day of their lives. Water simply is. Fish take it for granted." I think that is a great analogy for the racial preference he talked about in the next paragraph. He talked about other issues of race which I found very interesting.
     Racism and cases like Brown vs Board of Education are such important things to talk about, so I'm glad we got the chance to discuss it in class.


Kahne and Westheimer "In the Service of What?" Quotes

This reading was about service learning and all the things that go into it. It was easy to relate to it because of the service learning project we do for this class. Service learning is going out and helping people in a community.

"Educators and legislators alike maintain that service learning can improve the community and invigorate the classroom, providing rich educational experiences for students at all levels of schooling. Service learning makes students active participants in service projects that aim to respond to the needs of the community while furthering the academic goals of students."
I agree with this quote 100%. I feel that my time spent in the elementary school for my service learning project really had a major impact on the students in the classroom. I think it defiantly helped them to have better experiences in school like the quote says it can do.

 "In addition to helping those they serve, such service learning activities seek to promote students' self-esteem, to develop higher-order thinking skills, to make use of multiple abilities, and to provide authentic learning experience"
I think that this quote is saying that service learning helps everybody involved and I agree with that.

"A transformative educational experience, on the other hand. requires that students engage in critical thinking"
This quote is saying that a good, enriching educational experiences requires students to think critically. Unfortunately, many students are not taught to think critically in school, instead they just memorize information for tests.

Here is a link to a webpage about service learning.