Sunday, February 20, 2011


Aria; Richard Rodriquez (REFLECTION)

    Although I can't necessarily relate to this reading a great deal, the way it was written caused me to feel as though I could.  This piece somewhat saddened me when I read it because at such a young age he had to let go of huge part of his culture that made him who he was.  Not only did it take away from who he was, but also changed everything he ever knew around him.  The way his family functioned at home and how impressionable they were when the "visitors" came to encourage or kind of insist they spoke English at home.  Without any question his parents switched it up and went right along with what was requested of the church, Spanish was no longer spoken in the house.  To make such a change to somebody's life has a large affect at that point in time, and probably throughout their life.  With this child having to change the way he spoke, not being able to speak his first and native language, was easily viewed as not being accepted for who he was.  He did not "fit in" with the rest of society because he couldn't always understand.  If his language was not accepted, what would make him feel anything else having to do with his culture that is different from those around him, would be accepted.
    Family is a huge part of anyone's life, and the fact his family and their relationship changed so drastically with the change of language at home could have been traumatizing for anyone.  It seemed as though every aspect of family life changed for him.  He was upset at the simple fact of referring to his mother and father as the same names he did when Spanish was the spoken language at home.  His family was portraying his father as something he wasn't because his English wasn't "up to par" so he wasn't very talkative.  It also upset him when he overheard Spanish speaking families in public.
     Reading this piece I thought of one instance I felt completely out of place and extremely uncomfortable.  I was a single caucasian girl in an environment of about 450 Hispanic people, all of which were speaking Spanish.  I was stared at and stood there not really being able to interact with people because my Spanish speaking abilities are limited.  It is not uncommon for me to be in an environment and be the only white person there, but this time I really felt out of my element.  Although I felt uncomfortable, I did not expect the ones around me to entirely accommodate my differences.  They were accepting as was I, but they went about their business as they normally would. 
    I don't believe it was right he was forced to change the language he spoke at home.  There is always room for compromise and this is where it should have taken place.  An agreement for a certain amount of English speaking practice could have been set aside each day at home.  Also the fact his parents made the change with no question or hesitation surprised me. To so willingly give up your native language, which in turn changed many cultural ways in the home, didn't seem typical to me, and I truly felt sorry for the young boy that was so deeply affected by it.

(I wasn't sure if Aria was the name of the boy in the reading, which is why I referred to him as I did)

Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace; Jonathan Kozol (ARGUMENT)

    This author, Jonathan Kozol, argues that the institutions in society need to change and improve, and it is not necessarily the individuals we should blame, but the institutions themselves.  Kozol's piece is basically saying, as we discussed in class, that the institutions are "giving band aids for broken legs" and certainly not doing enough to help the situations.  It is as if the institutions take the easy way out and just give, give, give.  Instead of coming up with ideas to make gradual progression with the problems in society, they do "one big thing" to cover the issue.  Some claim Kozol is saying get rid of the institutions and replace them, but he is clearly suggesting we make changes to the institutions and improve the way they function.  However, my question is, does he want to continue to change them? Because they have been changing from day one in a sense, for example, a black man years ago could not be his own man, but was owned by another.  With passing times, rights and privileges change, along with laws and rules of society.  Although things still aren't "right" in the world, there has been major progress in with decades passing.  It wasn't clear to me whether Kozol was acknowledging the changes already made and encouraging more change and improvement, or if he disregarded the fact things have improved and implying change needs to start now.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Privilege, Power, and Difference; Allan G. Johnson

Privilege, Power, and Difference, by Allan G. Johnson.  QUOTES: Choose three quotes from the text and explain what they mean and their relevance to the text.

Quote #1: "We are not prisoners to some natural order that pits us hopelessly and endlessly against one another.  We are prisoners to something, but it's closer to our own making than we realize." (p. 4)
     This particular quote points out that we are not born or created to follow a certain way of living.  Although we live the lifestyle our parents do from the time we are born, there comes a time (the age/time differs from person to person) when our lives and lifestyle are susceptible to change: whether our surrounding environment changes, or we decide to change ourselves.  This article elaborates on this by using differences in society as the main examples. As you read and analyze what Johnson is sayin and the points he is trying to convey, this quote from the text makes a lot of sense.  Opinions dealing with racism, sexual orientation, gender roles, and other "differences" in society are not wired into our brains when we are born.  Our lack of knowledge tends to become fear of knowledge itself, which in turn we become "prisoners," as Johnson claims, within ourselves.  Ironically, we are the only one with the power to reverse that "im'prisonment," and it is "us" that pits us against one another.  I believe this small excerpt sets a relevant base for the further reading of the rest of the chapters.  Sets you up with an implicit thought, causing you to cognitively analyze it and form your own opinon, while still leaving the curiosity of the deeper meaning behind it.

Quote #2: "We don't need to love one another--or even like one another--to work together or just share space in the world." (p. 6)
     I thought this quote from Johnson's text was interesting because I felt when I read it, it was something I've heard form many different people in many different environments since I was younger.  Whether is is in the classroom we learn in, a sports team we play on, a job where we work, or any other situation we deal with people on a daily basis.  I was always told the same thing, "you don't have to like or be friends with everyone around you, but you do have to respect them."  This is exactly what Johnson is saying in his writing.  For everyone in the world to share the same space and work together, we don't need to necessarily love or like them, but to respect them will only make it easier to get along.  As it is well known all over the world, everything is easier when everyone gets along and surrounded with positive energy.  Also, when I was reading Lisa Delpits article, "The Silenced Dialogue..." I was reminded of this quote.  Even being a teacher, you don't always have to accept or agree with the culture or ways of living of the children in your class, but as an academic, you do need to respect them and treat them like you would any other student.  Johnson's focus is on realizing and making others aware of the "differences" everywhere in society, and even though we won't always agree or accept these "differences," we still need to work with them.  In order to progress and make changes in the world around us, it is crucial for us as individuals to be willing to change ourselves and do our best to accept the ways of others.

Quote #3: "Reclaiming the words begins with seeing that they rarely mean what most people think they mean. ... But you'd never know it by listening to how these words are used in the mass media, popular culture, and over the dinner table." (p. 13)
     This is more than a simple quote, and is actually almost an entire paragraph on page thirteen.  This caught y eye in a way as if it was initially highlighted and in bold print with a side note saying "READ ME."  The reason for this is because this paragraph explains a HUGE issue we have in the world today, especially in America.  As the years have passed, technology has clearly advanced in ways nobody could have ever imagined.  Media, unfortunately, is the main source of information for many people.  This isn't always a bad thing, because it often provides us with information we need to know quickly.  The media also provides news from other countries all over the world, but too many times, along with this news, comes stereotypes and misconceptions.  Whether it be about the geography or the demography about the place, media tends to misportray many aspects of these places.  Johnson very specifically and in my opinion, accurately, conveys this same message.  He states the words that the media often gives the public misleading "definitions" and as we have all experienced ourselves, whether we admit it or not, we do in fact feed into a lot of what we hear or see on television, radio, magazines, etc. People tend to get wrapped up in what others say, they forget what things really mean and how they really feel themselves, as opposed to what others around them think or feel.  Johnson is trying to clarify the fact the initial portrayal of something isn't always the correct meaning, and without the knowledge of it, you remain ignorant and fearful of it all.  Going back to one of his main focuses of his entire piece.