Class Calendar

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Course Evaluation

Please click on the following link and complete the course evaluation. All responses are anonymous and I would really appreciate your honest and thoughtful input. After everyone is finished with the survey, there will be sometime to share your input with me personally. Thanks so much!

First, here is an evaluation about my class:
Sociology Course Evaluation.


 And here is an evaluation about the evidence based reporting that we used:
Evidence Based Reporting

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I Am

For the last week in class, we watched the documentary called I Am.  You can watch it here on mediacast.  Below are my movie notes about the most important parts of the movie and in parentheses are the parts of our class that relate to the movie.  I think this movie is a great inspirational way to sum up our class and apply to your life.  But, come back and revisit it, rewatch it and remind yourself of the lessons of our class. They will mean different things to you as you get older and more experienced.  This is true for all of the lessons of our class, so I hope you will stay one of my students and one of my teachers.  Peace and love to you,

This documentary was created by Tom Shadyac a writer/director of many Hollywood blockbuster films: Ace Ventura, Pet Detective, Liar Liar, The Nutty Professor, Bruce Almighty, Patch Adams, Accepted , and I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. After a serious injury, Shadyac confronts the truth in front of him and sets out to find more meaning in his life and in our world. The film displays a number of ideas and themes that we have discussed throughout our class. Shadyac asks, “What’s wrong with the world? And what can we do about it?”
“Humanity is going to require a new way of thinking if it is to survive” – Albert Einstein
Science is a story. It changes over time. Part of the story of science, since the Enlightenment, is that people are like machines; we are made from materials and we are mechanistic. We operate in the world under that assumption. We compartmentalize each other and our world this way.

This way of thinking creates a separateness (individuality), a competitiveness and a materialism that pervade Western society, especially the United States. (Culture and US values)
“Be suspicious of what you want.” -Rumi
Native Americans noticed this way of thinking when Europeans first came to the Americas. They have a word called “wetico” which means a sort of cannibalism where one culture eats or destroys another culture’s way of life. What we now know is that we are more than the sum of all of our parts and we are connected to much more than ourselves. Each individual is connected to all other humans, not just in the United States, but in the world. And each human in the world is connected to all living things. And all living things are connected to the non-living.

One myth that has been promoted that prevents us from realizing this interconnectedness is the belief that essential nature of humans is to be competitive, instead of cooperative to dominate instead of subordinate, to seek kingdom over democracy. This is a myth promoted inaccurately by supporters of Darwin. Instead, the basis of nature is egalitarian, cooperative and democratic. Darwin mentioned, “survival of the fittest” twice and “love” 95 times. Humans evolved to cooperate. Sympathy is the strongest human emotion. We have mirrored neurons that help us have sympathy. Our vagus nerve helps us to elevate us to compassion. Desmond Tutu says, “We belong because we need other to make us human.” (Socialization) When we serve others with empathy, love and compassion, it creates deep contentment that literally makes us healthier and nourishes our mind and body. (Community Service) Anger makes us stupid. It inhibits our thinking. Our heart is our primary access point to our higher self. “Do something that makes your heart sing.”
“What was said to the rose to make it open was said here to me in my chest.” – Rumi
“There is only one way to eat an elephant; one piece at a time.” “The sea is only drops of water that have come together.” We can’t solve global poverty, but we can do something about that guy over there. Each of us should do something and because we are all connected it all makes a difference. (Sociological Mindfulness)

Final blog

The last exercise of the year will ask you to examine yourself from your new sociological imagination. For the very first blog of the year, each student answered the question, “Who am I? Write a blog entry that defines who you are. Explain to the class what makes up the person you are. What are the biggest influences in your life? What are your goals/purposes in life?”

Now that we have finished the semester, I want you to re-examine your answer to that question. For the last blog of the year, amend your first answer in light of our sociology experience. How would you change that answer knowing what you know now about sociology? You can use your other blogs as reminders of the topics we learned about in class: culture, socialization, media, gender, teens, deviance, social class and race. How does sociology shape the way you think about yourself or your world? If you’d like, you can copy and paste your old blog entry into a new entry and highlight all the differences now in italics or another color, etc.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Race Panel

We were so fortunate to have a panel of our own students talking about "race."  The students had many insights.  One was that those who have to navigate different racial worlds never feel quite right anywhere.  For example, some students emigrated from another country like Mexico so in the US they are considered Hispanic and they do not feel that they fit in, but in Mexico they are considered white and they do not feel that they fit in there.  Also students talked about the racial prejudice that lies just below the surface; sometimes it comes out from another student in a class of their, or their own parents or school teachers and administrators.  A third conclusion that I drew from the panel was the diversity within different groups.  Many people assume that all blacks are the same or all hispanics are the same, but really there is a great deal of diversity within each group and this is another reason that stereotypes are ignorant and don't hold up.  Finally, I think there was an emphasis on empathy.  Multiple students talked about the need to develop empathy for those from other races. I really like that idea.  Empathy is an aspect of sociological mindfulness.  Here is a Ted Talk from a sociologist called "A Radical Experiment in Empathy."

Post 9: Race

For this post, please post about race.  You may wish to talk about the social construction of race, ingroups/outgroups and stereotypes and prejudices especially explicit and implicit racism as well as white privilege.
As you apply it to your own experiences, you might want to think about: assumptions you have had about race (esp. biological), experiences you have had with other races and/or racism, and how privilege affects you.
Some sources you might want to consider using are:
The Racial Formation reading (in your packet) by Omi and Winant
White Privilege; Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh
Tim Wise's video, "White Like Me"
and all the links on my blog.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

It's a privilege to be...white?



This picture featuring Michelle Obama was published with a caption saying that she wore a "flesh-colored" dress. Are they implying that Michelle's skin is not flesh? I don't think so, but this is an example of the privilege of being white; white skin is considered normal/flesh-colored.  This is just one of many privileges of being white in a culture that sees white as normal, desireable or better than other "colors".  This type of privilege is often unnoticed, subconscious, implicit.  But, it has a big impact.
Here is another example from Johnson and Johnson.  Note that the bottle says, "Normal to Darker skin," implying that there is normal skin and then there is darker skin which is implicitly abnormal. And, here are some privileges related to Christmas.  Some sociologists call these subtle nudges of racism microaggressions.  Here are 25 microaggressions from buzzfeed.






Sociologist Peggy McIntosh writes about White Privilege in her essay, Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.
In class instructions:
Please read through McIntosh's reading and choose one of the numbered privileges to respond to.  Take out a sheet of paper and write down which privilege you are responding to.  Things to consider: Have you ever thought about this before?  Why do you think McIntosh considers this a "privilege"?  Can you see this type of privilege happening in your day to day life?  

The idea is that because Americans live in a white-dominated society, whites have a host of little things that work in their favor.  Tim Wise, another sociologist, applied McIntosh's idea to the 2008 election. Read Tim Wise's White Priviledge, White Entitlement and the 2008 Election. Here is a brief excerpt,
White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because "every family has challenges," even as black and Latino families with similar "challenges" are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.

Chicago Public Radio aired a story about Global Girls, an organization working to develop African-American girls’ self esteem. The girls at the organization know firsthand how difficult it is for their peers who are poor and black and pregnant. They developed a performance piece to help show their feelings and how white priviledge helps to favor white girls (especially wealthy) in the same predicament. Listen to the full story here. What do you think the reaction would be if one of Obama's girls was old enough and pregnant with a baby of her own? How does this privilege affect you? How might it affect minorities in other ways? What is your reaction to Tim Wise's analysis of the 2008 election? Noting that this is a difficult challenge ahead of Palin, what are the advantages that she might have being who she is? How might pregnancy affect a poor person differently than a wealthy person? How might pregnancy affect someone with power like a governor's daughter or Vice-president's daughter differently than the daughter of someone with less power/clout?

Listen to comedian Hari Kondabolu's example of white privilege and  microaggressions from the website Colorlines.




And Listen to Louis CKtalk about white privilege:
Here is a great story from This American Life (episode 362: Got You Pegged, Act 1) illustrating what happens when 2 cops see a black man riding a bike with a white kid. It is a funny story but it illustrates white privilege because I think the story would be very different if both of the people were white. Listen to the story and then tell me what you think.

Here is another story from This American Life (episode 475: Send A Message) about how eliminating an implicit racial bias can make a big difference in a young child's life.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Being (Tim)Wise about race in the US

Tim Wise is a sociologist and anti-racist educator who has spent his career writing about race and speaking out against racial injustices.  His latest video is called White Like Me.  You can watch it here on media cast.

Wise's video reinforces much of what we have done already this unit:

Explicit Racism is still an issue in the US despite having elected a black man to President.

White privilege has helped many whites while blacks have not received the same privileges such as mortgages, jobs, and loans.

Implicit racism subtly and subconsciously creates discrimination and racialized attitudes such as when whites receive government assistance it is simply helping them reach the American dream, but when blacks receive similar assistance they are considered leeches of society.  Whites never have to think about their race so race is not a big deal to them, but minorities constantly are aware of their race and how it affects their treatment.

Our goal is not to create white guilt but rather to make everyone mindful of the effects of racism on society and on individuals.  In becoming more mindful, hopefully we become more understanding and appreciative of each other as humans having a unique experience.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Implicit Racism

Racism can often be hidden in our unconsciousness. Even though as individuals we might work consciously to not be racist, we live in a racist society with a racist legacy. From the moment we are born we are influenced subtly to think of white as good and black as bad. Look at these examples from various media. They are not trying to be racist, but the message they send reinforces racist ideology.

These pictures though very similar, are different in two important areas: the race of the people and the caption.












LeBron James is one of the few men to be on the cover of Vogue and yet, he is portrayed as an angry gorilla. Here is a critique from blackademics.  And here is one from ESPN.com Lebron James was only the third male to ever be featured on the cover of Vogue and he was the first "black" American ever to be on there.






Harvard has been conducting an ongoing study of how we implicitly associate certain traits with being good or bad. You can take the survey here. Click on Demo first.
See how this implicit racism shows up even within the same minority groups that are being discriminated against.
video

Some examples of implicit bias:
A)Read this article that is full of implicit bias and then checkout this post showing that Jewish players were dominant in basketball in the first half of the 20th century. 

B)And another example of implicit bias is how people react in a split second when they confront someone with a weapon.  See here for that

C)Here is an article showing that traffic stops in Illinois have an implicit racial bias:

D)This study shows a racial bias in NBA foul calling.

E)Here is a study showing that immigrants are treated differently based on skin color.

F)Having an African American sounding name will result in biased treatment as well.


video
Finally, this video called Slip of the Tongue uses slam poetry to explore how one girl stands strong to embrace her identity without giving in to popular pressure to change who she is. I think it is a motivating strong voice.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Explicit Racism

Even though race does not exist biologically, it does exist as a social construction. This means that people believe in it and act on it even though it is not real.  One of the ways the construction of race has shaped people is called explicit racism, or directly and consciously believing that one's own "racial" group is superior to others. Another way that Americans have been shaped by "race" is prejudice and discriminationPrejudice is having a predetermined attitude about a group of people usually based on a stereotype.  Discrimination is an action or behavior that results in unequal treatment of individuals because of his or her perceived "race." However, over the last few years, the  United States has elected its first black/ mixed-race President, there are more black actors and actresses on network television, and the cultural norm is that it’s wrong to be racist, SO is racism still relevant? Should we still be concerned about racism or have we moved past racism?




Checkout these recent events in our country:
Here is a post about racist tweets from the 2013 Miss America pageant. 

Here is a post  about a 2013 racist incident in an unlikely place.

The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education has an ongoing list of racist incidents.

A college student from Queens got more than he bargained for when he splurged on a $350 designer belt at Barneys — when a clerk had him cuffed apparently thinking the black teen couldn’t afford the pricey purchase, even though he had paid for it, a new lawsuit alleges.
“His only crime was being a young black man,” his attorney, Michael Palillo, told The Post.



During the Healthcare debate in 2009, Representative David Scott of Georgia had a 4foot swastika painted over his office sign.


The Southern Poverty Law Center identifies hate groups in America. This link will show you a map of all the hate groups in the United States.   Is this surprising?  Is this concerning?


This article from the Mail Online, A British online newspaper:
And with Mr Obama reportedly receiving more death threats than any other American president - 400 per cent more than those against his predecessor George Bush, according to a new book...A black U.S. Congressman had a swastika painted over his office sign after he yelled at allegedly racist protesters at a Southern town hall meeting, it emerged today.
In 2012, Joel Ward, a black NHL player scored the winning goal in the NHL playoffs and he became the target of racial slurs.

 Fraternities and sororities hold racial-themed parties that display very directly the racialized stereotypes that persist in the United States. Does this surprise you?  How would you feel/react to a party like this when you go to college?


 Jeremy Lin is an example of the racial stereotypes in sports and how stereotypes can be more or less permissible for different groups within a society. Here is a post explaining that dynamic from the society pages.  Here is a clip of the skit from the daily beast.  Have you seen or heard any explicit racism in your own life?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Social Construction of Race in the U.S.

Because race does not exist in any biological or scientific way that can be defined, each society is able to define it how they want.
Over the years, race has changed in America. The Irish were originally considered not white. Later, Italians, Greeks and other Southern Europeans faced discrimination because they were considered less desirable than Northern Europeans. In the 1920s, the Supreme Court Case Thind vs. U.S. determined that a man of Asian Indian descent was not white or caucasoid, even though he did not fit into the other categories of race at the time (Mongoloid/Asian, Negroid/Black). Instead the court ruled that because most people would say that he is not white, then he is not white. This was just one case of many that shaped race throughout U.S. history. For more on how race has changed and can change, see Nell Irvin Painter's book called, "The History of White People." Here is a review on Salon. All of these are examples of how race has changed over the years in America. It can change, because there is no way to define it. It doesn't exist in any biological or empirical sense, it only exists as a social construction.

Here is how the US census has changed in how it determines race over the years.

Click here to do an activity where you have to categorize people like a census taker would have.  After you do the sorting people activity above, click here to learn about traits.  Is this new information to you? Is it difficult to process? 

Watch this show making fun of how race is socially constructed.
video

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Race is a social construction

 The book by Omi and Winant called "Racial Formation" provides a detailed explanation of how race is formed through a social construction. Read an excerpt here.

If "race" is not biological then it is a social construction.  There is no way to biologically, physically or scientifically group humans into distinct racial groups.  If there was, then racial groups would be the same all over the world.  They would fit into the scientific classification system such as kingdom, order, phyllum etc...  But instead each culture has its own racial types.  For example, when I was in Japan, I asked some Japanese friends what races were in Japan and they said "nihon-jin and gai-jin," Which means "Japanese people and foreign people.  In other words, the Japanese think that there are Japanese people in the world and then there is everyone else.  And then I pressed him further and I said, " But aren't there different groups within Japanese culture?"
My friend finally said, " Ahh yes... there were ancient Japanese who settled the islands from the north and there were ancient Japanese who settled the islands from the south, and you know how to tell who came from where?  Earwax." That's right, earwax! He explained that some Japanese have dry flaky earwax and others have wet greasy earwax.  That determines where your ancestors came from and a different biological group that you are a part of- essentially a different race.  But that makes no sense to us because in the US we never think of earwax as part of race.


Here are the racial groups in Mexico:
  1. Mestizo: Spanish father and Indian mother
  2. Castizo: Spanish father and Mestizo mother
  3. Espomolo: Spanish mother and Castizo father
  4. Mulatto: Spanish and black African
  5. Moor: Spanish and Mulatto
  6. Albino: Spanish father and Moor mother
  7. Throwback: Spanish father and Albino mother
  8. Wolf: Throwback father and Indian mother
  9. Zambiago: Wolf father and Indian mother
  10. Cambujo: Zambiago father and Indian mother
  11. Alvarazado: Cambujo father and Mulatto mother
  12. Borquino: Alvarazado father and Mulatto mother
  13. Coyote: Borquino father and Mulatto mother
  14. Chamizo: Coyote father and Mulatto mother
  15. Coyote-Mestizo: Cahmizo father and Mestizo mother
  16. Ahi Tan Estas: Coyote-Mestizo father and Mulatto mother
 And in Brazil, In 1976, the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) conducted a study to ask people to identify their own skin color.  Here are the 134 terms, listed in alphabetical order:
Acastanhada (cashewlike tint; caramel colored)
Agalegada
Alva (pure white)
Alva-escura (dark or off-white)
Alverenta (or aliviero, "shadow in the water")
Alvarinta (tinted or bleached white)
Alva-rosada (or jamote, roseate, white with pink highlights)
Alvinha (bleached; white-washed)
Amarela (yellow)
Amarelada (yellowish)
Amarela-quemada (burnt yellow or ochre)
Amarelosa (yellowed)
Amorenada (tannish)
Avermelhada (reddish, with blood vessels showing through the skin)
Azul (bluish)
Azul-marinho (deep bluish)
Baiano (ebony)
Bem-branca (very white)
Bem-clara (translucent)
Bem-morena (very dusky)
Branca (white)
Branca-avermelhada (peach white)
Branca-melada (honey toned)
Branca-morena (darkish white)
Branca-p�lida (pallid)
Branca-queimada (sunburned white)
Branca-sardenta (white with brown spots)
Branca-suja (dirty white)
Branqui�a (a white variation)
Branquinha (whitish)
Bronze (bronze)
Bronzeada (bronzed tan)
Bugrezinha-escura (Indian characteristics)
Burro-quanto-foge ("burro running away," implying racial mixture of unknown origin)
Cabocla (mixture of white, Negro and Indian)
Cabo-Verde (black; Cape Verdean)
Caf� (coffee)
Caf�-com-leite (coffee with milk)
Canela (cinnamon)
Canelada (tawny)
Cast�o (thistle colored)
Castanha (cashew)
Castanha-clara (clear, cashewlike)
Castanha-escura (dark, cashewlike)
Chocolate (chocolate brown)
Clara (light)
Clarinha (very light)
Cobre (copper hued)
Corado (ruddy)
Cor-de-caf� (tint of coffee)
Cor-de-canela (tint of cinnamon)
Cor-de-cuia (tea colored)
Cor-de-leite (milky)
Cor-de-oro (golden)
Cor-de-rosa (pink)
Cor-firma ("no doubt about it")
Crioula (little servant or slave; African)
Encerada (waxy)
Enxofrada (pallid yellow; jaundiced)
Esbranquecimento (mostly white)
Escura (dark)
Escurinha (semidark)
Fogoio (florid; flushed)
Galega (see agalegada above)
Galegada (see agalegada above)
Jambo (like a fruit the deep-red color of a blood orange)
Laranja (orange)
Lil�s (lily)
Loira (blond hair and white skin)
Loira-clara (pale blond)
Loura (blond)
Lourinha (flaxen)
Malaia (from Malabar)
Marinheira (dark greyish)
Marrom (brown)
Meio-amerela (mid-yellow)
Meio-branca (mid-white)
Meio-morena (mid-tan)
Meio-preta (mid-Negro)
Melada (honey colored)
Mesti�a (mixture of white and Indian)
Miscigena��o (mixed --- literally "miscegenated")
Mista (mixed)
Morena (tan)
Morena-bem-chegada (very tan)
Morena-bronzeada (bronzed tan)
Morena-canelada (cinnamonlike brunette)
Morena-castanha (cashewlike tan)
Morena clara (light tan)
Morena-cor-de-canela (cinnamon-hued brunette)
Morena-jambo (dark red)
Morenada (mocha)
Morena-escura (dark tan)
Morena-fechada (very dark, almost mulatta)
Moren�o (very dusky tan)
Morena-parda (brown-hued tan)
Morena-roxa (purplish-tan)
Morena-ruiva (reddish-tan)
Morena-trigueira (wheat colored)
Moreninha (toffeelike)
Mulatta (mixture of white and Negro)
Mulatinha (lighter-skinned white-Negro)
Negra (negro)
Negrota (Negro with a corpulent vody)
P�lida (pale)
Para�ba (like the color of marupa wood)
Parda (dark brown)
Parda-clara (lighter-skinned person of mixed race)
Polaca (Polish features; prostitute)
Pouco-clara (not very clear)
Pouco-morena (dusky)
Preta (black)
Pretinha (black of a lighter hue)
Puxa-para-branca (more like a white than a mulatta)
Quase-negra (almost Negro)
Queimada (burnt)
Queimada-de-praia (suntanned)
Queimada-de-sol (sunburned)
Regular (regular; nondescript)
Retinta ("layered" dark skin)
Rosa (roseate)
Rosada (high pink)
Rosa-queimada (burnished rose)
Roxa (purplish)
Ruiva (strawberry blond)
Russo (Russian; see also polaca)
Sapecada (burnished red)
Sarar� (mulatta with reddish kinky hair, aquiline nose)
Sara�ba (or saraiva: like a white meringue)
Tostada (toasted)
Trigueira (wheat colored)
Turva (opaque)
Verde (greenish)
Vermelha (reddish)
It's crazy because we do not think of race in these ways, but it just makes the point that race is socially constructed by each different culture.  Because of that, if you flew on a plane to a different country your race would change.  That is because it is not scientific and biological, instead it is based on what country you are in and what their current construction of race is.

Here is a link to different censuses around the world.

Here is a link to a survey of who is white around the world.

 And here is a global dialogue about race.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Race and biology; the spectrum


I asked students to classify these balls into different categories. Two things happen:
1)Some students pick a trait such as size or color to classify the balls or, 2)Students classify the balls based on the sport of each such as basketball, soccer, etc...
This is a metaphor for race and how we classify people. 1)First, we choose to use traits such as skin color to classify them, but the divisions between these traits are arbitrary divisions. If you lined up all of the people (or balls) in the world according to a trait, the divisions would be less obvious. It would look more like a spectrum that changes gradually blending into one another.  Here is a post from soc images that displays the spectrum of human colors.



So why all the fuss about skin color? The article Skin Deep by Jablonski and Chaplin from Scientific American explains the science behind skin color and how around the world, skin color would look more like a spectrum than distinct groups. 2)Second, when we categorize the balls into sports or people into races we are constructing a social category that only exists because we say it should. Race, like sports, are social constructions.  Here is more about skin color.
What's the point? There is no way of biologically separating people into "races." Race doesn't exist in any scientific sense. This is a difficult concept because I think that race is a biological hegemony in America - that is, it is so accepted that we never question it. For more info you can checkout the April 22, 2005 episode of Odyssey, a radio program that used to air on Chicago Public Radio. This episode about the genetics of race and if you listen carefully to the caller segment, you can hear a very interesting high school sociology teacher commenting. [Listen the program here (the good part is after 35:26)]

Here is an explanation about how genetic diversity spread out over time and how that led to varying populations of diversity but not distinct groups.


Jefferson Fish also explains how race doesn't make sense in the article title Mixed Blood from Psychology Today, 1995.


What are some assumptions you have had about race? Have you learned erroneous information regarding race? Why is this not a part of curriculum in American schools especially in light of the profound impact the idea of race has had on this country?

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Service Step 2

For Step 2 of the Community Service Experience you should record on your blog what you experienced: Before, during and after you have a service experience, try to be mindful of these questions: Things to record: How did you feel about the service before going? What were your expectations? Were there aspects that you were apprehensive about? Where did you have to go for the service? Had you been there before? If not, what was it like going to this place? Who were the people you came into contact with? What were they like? What was the interaction like? What was the actual job you did? What was it like? Was there anything that surprised you? What were you thinking as you did it? How long did your tasks last? What did you think as you went home? Also you MUST include: Name of organization you volunteered? Where was your experience (address)? Date(s) and time(s) of experience? Supervisor or person in charge and phone/email address? And include a picture of you doing the service or you at the site.


After each service experience, you should write your observations down. These observations will be posted to your blog (in addition to your usual weekly posts). This should help you to remember the details about your experiences so that later in the semester you will be able to write a sociological reflection about your experiences. This also provides evidence of your participation in the service experience. Please fill out the information below or you may type and print it out, but be sure to include the information requested below. Please post about your experience within 1 WEEK after you do the service.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Poverty in the United States


Barbara Ehrenreich's book Nickel and Dimed is an experiment with what life is like for someone living at minimun wage (or at least low-wage). Here is an excerpt.

Morgan Spurlock's video 30 days at Minimum Wage is also an experiment at living at minimum wage.

The Line is a documentary about people living at the poverty line.  It highlights the difficulties of different people who share a common struggle: life in poverty.  Here is a link to The Line on Mediacast.  Here it is embeded:
What I want you to see are the effects of poverty on individuals:

Physical Health (Here is a comprehensive list of research on health effects of poverty):
- a lower class person has a higher chance of dying at any age than a wealthy person!  Some other health outcomes for those in poverty:

From the American Journal of Pediatrics; Poverty and lack of nurturing in early life may have a direct effect on a child’s brain development, according to a study that found smaller brain volumes in poor, neglected children.

 Impoverished black children, for example, are twice as likely as poor Hispanic or white children to have levels of lead in their blood that is at least 2.5 micrograms per deciliter. Some researchers have found that even that small amount of lead is enough to cause cognitive impairment in children — especially the kind that impacts their reading ability.

Environment: the poor are more likely to experience asthma and other health issues;
...poor black children are more likely than poor white or Hispanic children to be diagnosed with asthma — another ailment that plagues poor children in Jacksonville and one that is linked to living in older, more industrialized areas.Poor white children, though, are more likely to be exposed to secondhand smoke, or to be born to mothers who smoked during pregnancy than poor black or Hispanic children.And poor Hispanic children, it found, are twice as likely to have no place to go for health care, as compared to poor white or black children.
 hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and diabetes, heart disease, mental disorders, suicideunsafe sex. obesity, cancer, HIV

Lifestyle = less access to healthy food (i.e. fruits and vegetables); see this link for a TED talk about one man who is arrested for planting a vegetable garden in a poor neighborhood!, smoke, Drug use and abuse, exercise less,
One reason may be that violence tracks with poverty, thereby preventing people from being active out-of-doors. Similarly, parks and sports facilities are less available to people living in poor counties (5), and people who live in poverty-dense regions may be less able to afford gym membership, sports clothing, and/or exercise equipment. There are multiple individual and environmental reasons to explain why poverty-dense counties may be more sedentary and bear greater obesity burdens.
Medical Care = less access and poorer hospitals, lack of health insurance.
Mental Health = higher stress, children feel effects of stress for life.

Some people will argue that there is a culture of poverty among those in the lowest income levels. This culture of poverty represents individuals making choices that create or worsen the impoverished situation they are in. But, it is important to understand how these choices come about. A life of deprivation, punctuated by emergencies creates a lack of “deferred gratification." In other words, it is difficult for these people to invest in their own future; many of the poor see the future as more of the same or even worse; enjoy what you can, because tomorrow may be worse; poverty influences attitude & behavior which leads to poverty, etc…

And it is important to note that 20% of the children in the US are growing up in poverty! That's 1 out of every 5 kids in the United States is living at the poverty level! Yes you read that correctly - 1 out of every 5 children in the United States is living in poverty right now!  That's a higher rate than 34 out of 35 Western countries. This is another good reason why the cycle of poverty exists. These children grow up in these conditions and so it makes it easier to see how they become the adults who continue to be stuck in the cycle of poverty.

Growing up in poverty can have serious and long-lasting effects on children’s health, development, and overall well-being. The effects of poverty have a well-documented impact on young children’s developing brains. And children who grow up in poverty are more likely to experience harmful levels of stress, more likely to struggle in school, and more likely to have behavioral, social, and emotional problems than their peers.

Watch Poor Kids on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Monopobility

Today we played monopoly with rules that more closely affect the real rules of the US class system. Players started with different amounts of income and different amounts of property; the upper-upper class started with the most, and the working class the least. They rolled the dice to see what class they were. I told them them not worry about who "wins" the game, instead just try moving up to the next level of class. Playing monopoly according to the rules of the U.S.'s class structure should have some revealing insight about the state of mobility within the U.S.'s class structure.
From the Brookings Institute:

Recent studies suggest that there is less economic mobility in the United States than has long been presumed. The last thirty years has seen a considerable drop-off in median household income growth compared to earlier generations. And, by some measurements, we are actually a less mobile society than many other nations, including Canada, France, Germany and most Scandinavian countries. This challenges the notion of America as the land of opportunity.

Mobility in America tends to be within the middle classes (from working class to uppermiddle class). The wealthy class tends to stay wealthy and the impoverished class tends to stay in poverty, especially in comparison to other most developed nations. Another trend is for intergenerational mobility. Which means that it is more likely that the children of one group will move up than the parents themselves.

How has your family's mobility been? Are you growing up in the same social class as your parents? How about from your grandparents? Where do you see your future in terms of social class?

A second way that we can look at this simulation is in how players react.  Below is a TED talk about how people react to playing the game.  Think about how that reaction might show up in everyday life.