Monday, November 29, 2010

White privilege

49. My children are given texts and classes, which implicitly support our kind of family unit and do not turn them against my choices of domestic partnership.

Whether or not this statement shows one of many truths directed at the idea of dominant white privilege in this country, McLntosh’s 49th statement pointed out more of my discomforts and provoked more thoughts than any of her other statements. I feel that there is more than one way to interpret this statement, whether it be by targeting sexual preferences, the acceptance of the absence of a parent, or the ability to have an alternative family structure as a white privileged person. I think that the most striking thought that I had was based on the idea of a single mother and the impact that her race has on her being approved by society.  The scenario set up in children’s literary texts and educational settings looks down upon women getting pregnant before marriage, suggesting that having a partner (male) is important to fundamental growth and nurturing of a child. I feel like there is this unspoken criticism towards non-white single mothers while, in the white community, it is the male partner who is looked down upon and the single mother who is given support from children’s texts, and other sources. She can be seen as brave and, sometimes, even heroic. Even if single white mothers are not accepted as the dominant structure of family unit shown in “children’s texts and classes,” the children of white single mothers are not taught to be ashamed of their structure of family unit in the same way as children of non-white single mothers. What is taught in school and read in the texts supports the life style choices of white people, implying that white people set the standards for what is normal. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

“The elimination of affirmative action would only justify racial discrimination”

“The elimination of affirmative action would only justify racial discrimination.”

Based on how Cornell West feels and the evidence he presents, the elimination of affirmative action would only justify racial discrimination. The black minority has been oppressed to a point where the playing field is too uneven to improve social equality without interference from the government. Affirmative action would not be necessary to society if discrimination could be abated through good will; this is not the case. There has to be affirmative action to make up for the discrimination of black and other “colored people” because there is too much of an advantage in the white community. Compensatory policies are only enacted if they impact “middle class American” and big business owners in positive ways, not necessarily helping the “have-nots” and the “have-too-little’s.” The way I see it is that if the affirmative action is benefitting upper class white conscience because they think they are making progress in helping diversify and level out the playing field, but this is not the case. Affirmative action is not reaching the have-not and have-too-little’s, but the white population is leading themselves and others to believe that they are providing a chance for minorities to have the same opportunities as the son of a wealthy white man with average ability. On the other hand, affirmative action is necessary is there is any chance for equalizing opportunity and avoiding the “return with a vengeance” of racial and sexual discrimination. Affirmative action will not reach the enough “have-nots” and “have-too-little’s” until they have the power to affect change through vote and wealth white people get off their high horse and see that affirmative action is not at the point of reaching its full potential. On the other hand, black people need to find confidence within their race to build their own power and participate in influential ways. For example they can participate in the form of voting for affirmative action that can apply to the “have-nots” and “have-too-little’s.”

Monday, November 15, 2010

Creative Collaboration: A Visual Essay

 1.  Describe with specific detail the group’s greatest moments in “creative collaboration.”  Refer to the “Creative Collaboration” sheet to see characteristics of when that is happening.  For example, did you achieve “flow?”  After doing that, describe the times when the group did not work up to its full potential.  How and why do you think these instances happened?  What principles of “creative collaboration” were not upheld that resulted in that dysfunction.

           When a group consists of 5 people, 1 week to finish the project, and complete freedom to create a thesis, the act of creating collaborative responsibility is hard to achieve. Fortunately, I feel this particular group, myself included, understood the concept of our group experience from day one. That first gathering in the classroom early in the week allowed us to come together, share our ideas together, and draft what we thought would become our thesis. It was almost as if we fully understood that togetherness would avoid any stress and anxiety that usually goes hand and hand with projects, group or solo. I left that day feeling confident in our group and our shared vision. On day two, we took some time to talk in the cafeteria; this is when i felt tension in the group. After a night to reflect, we met a second time with stronger ideas that now were different from one another’s, and seemingly irreconcilable. It was just too overwhelming and frustrating that each individual had his or her own vision, which they would gladly contribute to the thesis, but when it came to another person’s idea, it was hard to get us to practice “deep listening.” Although ultimately we did come up with a compromise, we needed to improve our thesis. Because we all agreed with the need for a new thesis, we were willing to let go of individual ideas in order to organize a “shared vision” and submerge our egos, for the most part.

2.    If you think of leadership as an activity (not only as a characteristic), describe when you were trying to lead.  What strategies did you use and were they effective.  Describe a moment when someone else in your group showed strong leadership.

        For me, leadership came in the form of recognizing that one of my group mate’s shared my anxiety, and the tendency to control situations, which meant that I had to relinquish my place in order to facilitate collaboration. I must admit it was a relief to share the weight of the project with everyone equally. Rachel showed strong leadership when she emailed the group an outline of what we had already done and what we still had to figure out. It was her way of providing “timely, needed input that moved the group toward greater growth.” From that email we were able to write a collaborative summary and visual essay that we are all very proud of.

3.    Looking at the “Commitments to Self” and “Commitments to Group” sections of the “Creative Collaboration” sheet, what were your greatest challenges in being a part of this group?

         Even though I would have loved to have taken a bigger role in the actual photographing, I saw that there was another student with more talent than I, and I let her take the lead in that area. I decided that I could be more helpful to the group’s progress by offering to put together the final written product. I knew that with the help of Rachel’s thorough outline, I could create a clear written summary of our essay. Rachel and I were also able to see how we could create an effective communication style by “skyping” the weekend before the project was due, in order to complete our part of the collaborative project. The greatest challenge for me, and I know for others in the group, was to accept that no one person needed to “completely control the outcome” of our group’s project and to embrace the ideas that all the pieces would fit together in the end to complete the puzzle.  We had to be “willing to be surprised and delighted by unexpected discovery.”
 I look forward to more collaborative projects.