Monday, December 18, 2017

Data from The Century Foundation

Founded as the Co-operative League in 1919 by the progressive business leader Edward Filene, and later renamed to the Twentieth Century Fund, TCF is one of the oldest public policy research institutes in the country. As we left behind the twentieth century, we entered into the early 2000s with the same mission but a new name: The Century Foundation.
Over our long history, we have been at the forefront of positive change in some of the most critical areas of domestic and foreign policy. Today, TCF continues this legacy by researching issues that range from pursuing fairness and opportunity in education; protecting workers and further strengthening the social safety net; encouraging democracy and ensuring personal rights in the tech age; and promoting stability and prosperity abroad.
Our experts come from academia, journalism, and public service—all with a shared commitment to advancing progressive ideas that benefit the public good. Through our evidence-based research and policy analysis, we seek to inform citizens, guide policymakers, and reshape what government does for the better.

Final Exam Day!

Stand clear of the pressure like Tribe Called Quest once said,

"We feelin' pressures in here 
You know we feelin' pressures
Feelin' pressures in here
You know we feelin' pressures
We gotta stand clear
Jus' gotta stand clear
Gotta gotta stand clear of the pressure
The what?"
Please put away all digital devices until everyone is finished with the test.

Please have textbooks out for collection or turn them into room 2434 ASAP.

When finished, I have a few things I'd like to do:

Discuss Guided Notes

Take class picture.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Review for Final

Here is a list of concepts to review.  Talk through them.  Explain them to someone.  Also, read through my explanation of the course narrative.  Hopefully that helps you put the concepts into perspective.

Terms for Review:

social construction of reality

sociological imagination

sociological Mindfulness




sociological research








nature and nurture

agents of socialization





social class



explicit bias

implicit bias

Course Narrative

Unit 1:  Introduction to the Sociological Perspective
            The sociological perspective is viewing individuals as members of different groups and recognizing how these groups shape individuals.  There are a number of theories that help establish this perspective.  Social construction of reality is the idea that society/people create how we feel about things and how we experience the world.  Sociological imagination is the connection between history and biography, or a person is who they are because of when and where they live.  Sociological Mindfulness is taking our knowledge of sociology and applying them to our own life; it is realizing that we are impacted by society and we also play a role in society.  Another way that sociologists understand how individuals are influenced is by looking at the groups that individual’s belong to.  Each group is an ingroup for the individual and it shapes them.  These groups are categories which we make generalizations about if we use scientific methods to study the group.  If the generalizations are not accurate or are applied too broadly, they may become stereotypes.

Unit 2:  Culture
            Culture is perhaps the most pervasive group membership that shapes individuals.  It is so omnipresent that it affects all groups the individual is part of.  Because of that, culture is important to understand and to take a step back from in order to see the whole picture.  Culture shapes everything about how individuals act and even think.  The second part of this unit focuses specifically on culture in the United States and how students have been shaped by the values of our culture.

Unit 3:  Socialization
            After learning the importance of understanding culture, socialization helps students understand how the process of being shaped takes place.  The process of socialization begins even before childbirth and continues throughout one’s life.  Many taken-for-granted aspects of being human are really learned from a young age.  This is true in how we learn about our gender as well.  Females and males learn to act differently and learn that there are different expectations for them from childhood.  We explore the negative impact that our constructions of masculinity and femininity have on young men and women.  Then we examine how to change individuals drastically once they are shaped by society – that change is resocialization. 

Unit 4: Deviance and Social Class
            This unit begins with an understanding of what deviance is; that is, when someone breaks the norms of society.  In other words, deviance is when individuals go against the socialization process.  Using William Chambliss’s study called The Saints and the Roughnecks, I connect deviance to social class and perception.  Using this connection, we explore how the prison system has exploded over the last 20 years especially with those from lower income social classes.  This leads into what creates social class and how individuals are affected by it, especially how the poor are affected by their poverty.

Unit 5:  Race
            Race is, like gender, a taken-for-granted social construction that people assume is natural or biological.  However, there is no scientific way to discretely categorize humans into distinct racial groups – not through DNA or any other traits.  Race is a social construction that changes depending on where or when you live.  However, even though race does not exist biologically, it does exist as a social construction which has enormous impacts on individuals.  The impacts can be in the form of prejudice or discrimination and explicit or implicit bias.  One type of implicit bias is through institutional racism.  This is also a form of white privilege.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Course Evaluation

Please click on the following link and complete the course evaluation (I will also embed the evaluation in the post below). 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.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Moving forward...

One of the main objectives of this class has been to give you some ideas for how to apply sociology to your own life. I hope that you will be influenced by our class and at times I hope you will return to this blog to look again at the ideas that we discussed in class. Just like the ringing of the bell, you are constantly changing, growing and developing. There will be times when you experience more development than others and there will be times of your life when you are more open to learning the lessons of our class.

Here is the Desiderata which is a great poem summarizing much of what we learned in class.

Here is the history of the Desiderata which explains the connection to Adlai Stevenson.

Here is the book This Book Is Not Required which we read from during our last lesson:

Finally, I hope that learning about the influence of society on the individual (sociological imagination) has helped you to see how you have been influenced by the world. And hopefully in seeing this, you can really understand who you are, love who you are and be forgiving of yourself. And then, you can begin to nurture the person you want to become and nurture loving relationships in your life. Here is a Ted Talk from Brene Brown that highlights the importance of letting ourselves be vulnerable and this vulnerability allows us to feel both love and pain. But in being open to these emotions, it allows love to grow in us if we have the mindset that we are worthy of love.

Monday, December 11, 2017

I Am

We are watching 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 & cultural values), 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)

Friday, December 8, 2017

More evidence that white privilege is measurable, from ProPublica

Nothing Protects Black Women From Dying in Pregnancy and Childbirth

Not education. Not income. Not even being an expert on racial disparities in health care. 

What’s more, even relatively well-off black women like Shalon Irving die or nearly die at higher rates than whites. Again, New York City offers a startling example: A 2016 analysis of five years of data found that black college-educated mothers who gave birth in local hospitals were more likely to suffer severe complications of pregnancy or childbirth than white women who never graduated from high school. The fact that someone with Shalon’s social and economic advantages is at higher risk highlights how profound the inequities really are, said Raegan McDonald-Mosley, the chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, who met her in graduate school at Johns Hopkins University and was one of her closest friends. “It tells you that you can’t educate your way out of this problem. You can’t health-care-access your way out of this problem. There’s something inherently wrong with the system that’s not valuing the lives of black women equally to white women.”

I wonder how much of a role epigenetics plays in this - which is even more of a case for white privilege.  Epigenetics is a complex area of study but to simplify, the stress that someone's grandparent experienced might affect their grandkids 40 or more years later!  

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Review for Race Test

Race Review
 ball metaphor and traits
 ball metaphor and social construction
 essentialist theory
 can a plane ride change your race?
social construction of reality
Evidence worldwide
Evidence in US
Omi and Winant Reading
1 drop and Hypodescent
Racial Formation
Explicit racism
Implicit racism
White privilege

Colorblind and Race Consciousness

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Measuring White Privilege

As you enter, please work on this independently.  Raise your hand if you have a question and I will come over to your personally. 

Defining Terms
First, let’s define terms.  Yesterday we talked about bias – both explicit and implicit.  Because this bias affects everyone – including people of color, it has effects on our society.  The long term effects are sometimes called white privilege (see page 222 of your textbook, Ferris and Stein, for more info).  White privilege is the idea that whites in our society have certain advantages that are not available to non-whites.  These advantages are usually not even noticed, similar to the implicit bias that we learned about yesterday.  Remember that racism puts people in the majority (in the U.S. it’s whites) in a position to use race to maintain their power in the country.  This does not mean that whites are supposed to feel guilty about this privilege.  They are not supposed to apologize for it.  This is a lesson that simply acknowledges that it exists.  Remember, sociology is about how individuals are shaped by their society and their social position in it.  Being a certain race shapes how society treats you – what advantages or disadvantages you have.

Question 1: What does “white privilege” mean? (Try to answer without re-reading) 

Question 2:  Are whites supposed to feel guilty about white privilege? 

Question 3: Are whites supposed to apologize about white privilege? 

How does white privilege show up?

Michael Harriot who has an MBA degree in international business from Auburn thinks that it is measurable.  Read the essay below by Harriot and answer the questions embedded within the reading (in italics).
Whenever anyone slips the words “white privilege” into a conversation, it immediately builds an impenetrable wall. For some white people, the words elicit an uneasy feeling because, for them, the term is accusatory without being specific. It is a nebulous concept that seemingly reduces the complex mishmash of history, racism and social phenomena to a nonspecific groupthink phrase.
Question 4:  Does talking about white privilege give you a defensive/uneasy reaction? Be honest about your feelings
But white privilege is real.
Instead of using it as a touchy-feely phrase that gives white people the heebie-jeebies because it conjures up images of Caucasians sitting on plantation porches drinking mint juleps while they watch the Negroes toil in the Southern sun, we should use it as a proper noun, with a clear definition. White privilege does not mean that any white person who achieved anything didn’t work hard for it. It is an irrefutable, concrete phenomenon that manifests itself in real, measurable values, and we should use it as such.
Question 5: Does white privilege mean that white people did not work for whatever they have achieved?
Imagine the entire history of the United States as a 500-year-old relay race, where whites began running as soon as the gun sounded, but blacks had to stay in the starting blocks until they were allowed to run. If the finish line is the same for everyone, then the time and distance advantage between the two runners is white privilege. Not only can we see it, but we can actually measure it. If we begin viewing it as an economic term—the same way we use “trickle-down economics”—then it might be debatable, but it becomes a real, definable thing that we can acknowledge, explain and work toward eliminating. Race might be a social construct, but white privilege is an economic theory that we should define as such:
White privilege: n. The quantitative advantage of whiteness
Here are four examples that explain white privilege in economic terms.


If education is the key to success, then there is no debate that whites have the advantage in America. In 2012, the U. S. Department of Education reported that about 33 percent of all white students attend a low-poverty school, while only 6 percent attend high-poverty schools. In comparison, only 10 percent of black students attend a low-poverty school, while more than 40 percent of black students attend high-poverty schools.
This means that black students are more than six times more likely than white students to attend a high-poverty school, while white students are more than three times more likely than black students to attend a low-poverty school.

Question 6: What percent of blacks and whites attend a high-poverty school?

Question 7: Did you personally choose to live in district 125? Did your parents ask you if you wanted to go to district 125 before they moved into district?

National Equality Atlas
The logical response to this is for whites to explain the disparity away with statistics of black unemployment and the minority wage gap, but that might not be true. In 2015, a research scientist named David Mosenkis examined 500 school districts in Pennsylvania and found that—regardless of the level of income—the more black students, the less money a school received. While this may not be true for every single school, people who study education funding say that they can predict a school’s level of funding by the percentage of minority students it has. Even though this is a complex issue that reveals how redlining and segregation decreased the property tax base in areas where blacks live—therefore decreasing funding—it underscores a simple fact:

White children get better educations, and that is a calculable advantage.


Even when black students manage to overcome the hurdles of unequal education, they still don’t get equal treatment when it comes to jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of Friday, April 7, the unemployment rate for African Americans was nearly double that of whites (8.1 percent for blacks, 4.3 percent for whites).
There are some who will say blacks should study harder, but this phenomenon can’t be explained by simple educational disparities. A 2015 study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research shows that whites with the exact same résumés as their black counterparts are hired at double the rate. In fact, a white man with a criminal history is more likely to be hired than an African American with no criminal past.
Question 8: Assuming that resumes are exactly the same, who is more likely to get hired, a white with a criminal history or an African American with no criminal history?

A similarly named, but different, organization—the Economic Policy Institute—examined 2015 data and discovered that at every level of education, whites were twice as likely to have jobs as blacks. (Economic Policy Institute)

If it is statistically easier for whites to get a better education, and better jobs, then being born white must be an advantage in and of itself.


But let’s say a black man somehow gets a great education and finds a job; surely that means the playing field is level, right?
Not so fast.
Pew Research/
Researchers at EPI found that black men with 11-20 years of work experience earned 23.5 percent less than their white counterparts, and black women with 11-20 years of experience were paid 12.6 percent less than white women with the same experience. This disparity is not getting smaller. The wage gap between black and white workers was 18.1 percent in 1979, and steadily increased to 26.7 percent in 2015. When Pew Research controlled for education and just looked at income data, white men still surpassed every other group.
These income inequalities persist to create the disparities in wealth between races, manifesting in generational disadvantages. A black person with the same education and experience as a similar Caucasian, over the span of their lives, will earn significantly less.
Question 9: Assuming the education and work experience is the same, who is likely to get paid more, a minority or a person in the majority? 


It is a little-known fact that the average black person pays more for almost every item he or she purchases. While there is no discount Groupon that comes with white skin, there might as well be.  A John Hopkins study (pdf) showed that supermarkets were less prevalent in poor black neighborhoods than in white neighborhoods with the same average income, leading to increased food costs. News organization ProPublica recently found that car-insurance companies charge people who live in black neighborhoods higher rates than people in predominantly white areas with the same risk.
When it comes to credit, it is even worse. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, The Atlantic reports, “even after controlling for general risk considerations, such as credit score, loan-to-value ratio, subordinate liens, and debt-to-income ratios, Hispanic Americans are 78 percent more likely to be given a high-cost mortgage, and black Americans are 105 percent more likely.” Even banks as large as Wells Fargo have lost cases for up-charging minorities.
According to the Wall Street Journal, large auto lenders have paid more than $200 million since 2013 to settle lawsuits for charging minorities higher rates, but in November, both Democrats and Republicans voted to reduce regulations on the financial institutions that offer auto loans. The National Consumer Law Center filed a 2007 lawsuit that exposed how “finance companies and banks put in place policies that allowed car dealers to mark up the interest rates on auto loans to minorities based on subjective criteria unrelated to their credit risk.”
Instead of hurling the term “white privilege” around as an imprecise catch-all to describe everything from police brutality to Pepsi commercials, perhaps its use as a definable phrase will make people less resistant. Maybe if they saw the numbers, they could acknowledge its existence. It is neither an insult nor an accusation; it is simply a measurable gap with real-world implications. It is the fiscal and economic disparity of black vs. white.
In America’s four-and-a-half-centuries-old relay race, the phrase “white privilege” does not mean that Caucasians can’t run fast; it is just a matter-of-fact acknowledgment that they got a head start.

Question 10: What are the three areas of white privilege that are measurable?

Question 11: If you choose to ignore or not acknowledge these statistics, are they still true?

Here is a study from ProPublica that provides an excellent and measurable example of institutional racism, implicit bias and white privilege.

Once you are finished, here is a study from economists that explains another way that privilege was measured.

After that, please read this article from the journal Sociology of Education.  It provides research on the implicit racism and how it affects kids in high school.

Question 12: What is the authors' claim?  What evidence do they provide?