Are we making any of this work and thought and “prestige” do anything outside of these ivy-covered walls? If I dedicate my life to this place, will my work be worth it? Can I take what I’m learning and make it ride the bus? This zine is an attempt to create something intentionally non-academic as a form of resistance to the institution’s expectations of what “quality” graduate work looks like. It is a form of access into the coursework, dialogue, and reflection that exists in the space I am occupying.
By increasing the number of first-generation, low-income, and/or underrepresented students that enter and complete higher education, both the student AND the economy will be helped, they say. But in this rhetoric, this endeavor to push more first-generation, low-income and/or underrepresented minorities into attaining postsecondary education, we are again putting the burden of solving the nation’s economic problems on those who are already marginalized.
Last year, a big hubbub was made over Harvard’s Black Graduation. So much criticism occurred over the mistaken impression that Harvard was hosting a “segregated” ceremony. While the undergraduate students had a long history of organizing a last-minute cocktail party for the graduating seniors and their families, the organizers of the conference imagined a venue with keynote speakers, good food, a stage, and most importantly, a ceremony that invited parents to walk across the stage with their student.
In many lay conversations around education (particularly in communities of color), schooling is presented as a “way out” for youth. Schooling is the path to take in order to make it out of their subjugated community and towards upward mobility and capital. These conversations do not account for the racialized violence and Othering experienced by students of color. Although this violence and Othering has been heavily countered by activists, organizers and scholars alike, steps towards undoing this violence typically take the form of reform- and policy-based solutions. While reform may be necessary in order to enact change, it is slow, usually avoids treating problems in favor of treating symptoms, and limits the extent and orientation of action.
Social Emotional Learning advocates position individuals as the site of the problem and the unit of analysis. Instead of finding ways to increase food available, teachers ask youth to manage their hunger and suppress their anger. Instead of asking why movement must be restricted, teachers assume youth need to be taught patience and stillness. Instead of examining what the teacher did to upset a youth, the focus is teaching youth to remain calm. Where administrators should be concerned with the size of a class, they assert kids just haven’t learned to manage anxiety.
More West Philadelphians are being pushed out, more commercialization and Penntrification comes in, and the cycle continues as if nothing ever happened. For the university to not acknowledge the role it plays in this process or assuage community concerns about how its building practices contribute to the displacement of marginalized people is, in my view, shameful and a stain on the institution’s legacy to the community it serves.
Sports legends such as Jesse Owens, Muhammad Ali, and Jackie Robinson used their platform to express political beliefs and represent themselves beyond an athletic identity. Nigel Hayes at the University of Wisconsin and the Virginia Tech volleyball team both participated in silent protest as student-athletes. Professional athletes such as LeBron James and Muhammad Ali have and had a much bigger influence and platform when engaging in activism as athletes than student-athletes currently hold. However, their engagement with activism is still important and can influence change.
On November 17th 2017, the Barbara and Edward Netter Center for Community Partnerships celebrated its 25th anniversary. Venture onto Penn’s campus even for a little and you are bound to interact with some part of Netter, its community service branding, or some of its supposed impacts. Despite its increasingly engrained presence on campus, made possible by an annual million-dollar grant by the Penn administration, radical transformations to its organizational structure and philosophical mission are absolutely needed to realize its true institutional potential. My question, quite simply: what are we waiting for?
There is an overabundance of research and scholarly attention being dedicated to the educational issues plaguing our urban communities in Chicago, New York City, Boston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Atlanta, etc. But what about the rural communities along the Interstate 95 corridor in South Carolina and in the Black Belt region of Alabama whose students are also suffering? If we care about all children receiving equitable educational opportunities through the public school system in the U.S., we have to spend more time talking about rural education and the unique challenges faced by students, families, and communities in these regions.
In Texas, the fight over history is real and is happening in our school boards. Republicans have stacked school boards with creationist and others who have fought over standards, and the content taught in our schools. As Texas is the largest buyer of textbooks, the policies they set affect textbooks all across the country. The result? History isn’t solely factual, the telling of particular histories implicitly affect the abilities of our society to resist oppression.
The disciplinary practices schools employ to manage student behavior can have a significant impact on school climate and ultimately student learning. However, in their attempt at negating misbehavior, many schools tend to rely heavily on traditional disciplinary practices (which emphasize negative consequences and social control strategies) that may temporarily curb student behavior but have detrimental effects in the long-run.
Think about the last time you censored yourself. The last time you codeswitched in a classroom full of white elders. The last time you took a dress off because it was too tight. The last time you hid a tattoo for an interview. The last time you choose to introduce yourself by your nickname, rather than ethnic AF name. The way we choose to speak, dress, act, etc. all belong to an identity we are attempting to portray. Often, we mistake identity as stagnant and believe that it is constructed at some point in our lives and will transcend through all spaces and places. It doesn’t.
It’s not uncommon to read a Facebook post or Twitter biography stating- “I’m a white ally for racial justice” or “I am an ally to police forces” or emptier yet, “I’m an ally.” So what does it mean to be an “ally”? Webster Dictionary defines ally as “a person or organization that cooperates with or helps another in a particular activity.” Implied in the definition is action, not that it should be just used as an identity. But the reality is that words (like ally) need to translate into action.
It is important to frame school desegregation as an issue of resource allocation, to ensure that it is not misunderstood to imply that schools primarily for students of color are inferior. Rather, racial equity in schools means equitable resources for students of color and white students.
What is empowerment? Who defines the term and is any one definition the “right” definition? Women and girls’ “empowerment” continues to take up more and more space in the media and is an increasing focus in government and non-government organizations worldwide. The concept and emphasis of “empowerment” may be conceived as a buzzword, trendy and/or the epitome of neoliberalism.