Black men really seem to have a tough time in America. They are they followed around why they shop, viewed as dangerous by people they do not know, assumed to have certain interests, and viewed as trouble makers with low moral fiber. Being black in America would be a chore to say the least. In my other sociology class we watched a video a few weeks backs that tracked the lived of these two men. Both men were from middle class families, belonged to the same fraternity in college, were eingeneering majors, and attended the same Big ten school. It is important to consider the time period in which the video was recorded (eighties). I know things have gotten better since then but it appears some of these same problems still go on today. They followed the two men store to store to see how owners and workers interacted with them. The white man was not followed around while he shopped, Was allowed to fill out an application for all jobs he asked to, and was never denied the opportunity to apply for housing. The opposite was true for the black men. He was told by almost all the same employers on the same day that they were not hiring, apartments told him they had no units available at this time. and store clerks asked him to leave if he was not going to purchase anything. Living life like this must have been totally miserable. The two friends consulted later on in the video to discuss their experiences with each other. The black men was heart broken when he realized the very same people who treated him so poorly, were so kind and welcoming to his friend. I can’t imagine the kind of toll this kind of abuse and neglect would take on a person self esteem. This article does a good job explaining the reality of day to day interactions of black men.
How many time has the average American male heard this in his life! I know I have probably heard it several thousand times. This phrase seems to impact almost every decision I make. This way of thinking has less of a hold on me than it used to. In high school all my decisions were based upon whether something looked gay or not. I still think this way to a certain degree and I am in my twenties now. I know many young people seem to think this is a generational trend. It is not. My father and his generation seems to be affected by similar ideology as well. It’s almost like men are expected to sensor there feelings and thoughts so they fit this perfect mold. I know almost all men have liked something that would have been considered gay at one point. My brother has a pink polo shirt he likes to wear and his friends used to call him gay every time he wore it. People used to question my sexuality in middle school because I was in the school play one year. I actually really enjoyed acting at that age. I probably would have stuck with it had people not been spreading nasty rumors about me. At that age protecting my masculine image was rather important because it was going to follow me all threw high school. I remember telling my dad I had auditioned for the play. Instead of being proud of his son for participating in something constructive, he was immediately concerned. I am not making it up when I say that he told me “you don’t want people to think you’re a fag, do you?”. I had that idea planted firmly in my head by just about every “masculine” male I talked to, so I quickly lost interest in honing my acting skills. Here is a good article the effect these kinds of attitudes have on people.
It seems the definition of what is truly “masculine” is rapidly evolving and always has been. In my Dad’s day and age, it seemed men were supposed to be tough, show no emotion, have a beard and hairy chest, and fight at the drop of a hat. Nowadays, you see commercials like the Old Spice commercial from class and see celebrities smelling pretty and showing men how to have swag. It’s shows men wearing designer close, their bodies completely waxed, and a very physical physique. It seems the only thing that men can still claim they cling to as a standard of masculinity is big muscles. These commercial showcase very well men with large muscular physiques. Other than that, it seems my fathers generation of what is “masculine” is truly starting to dissapear. On could even argue that big muscles aren’t even a requirement for good male status. Take Justin Bieber for example. Not only are androgynous looking males now accepted, they are considered hot by many females. I think my Grandfather would turn over in his grave if he knew how some males looked now days. Despite all these changes, violence still remains at the forefront of masculinity. Of all things that could have been done away with, violence should be at the top of the list. Men still think the need to prove their “alpha” male stays by fighting one another. I can honestly say I am at an age now were my peers are finally starting to outgrow that. It is so immature to go around hurting each other to try and prove your worth as a man. I would much rather all men look Justin Bieber (women) then bunch of jerks who go around beating the shit of each other. You would think men would want to have the stereotypical macho image to go along with their violent ways. You would be wrong. They want to look like girls and fight like MEN!! Here is a new Old Spice commercial. Not sure how I feel about that one.
How do race,class, and gender impact our experiences? What a broad question! My first thought is how could someone even answer that! Listening to the girls speak in class this past week was awesome. I’m still having the hardest time believing those four are high schoolers. It was interesting to see the girls all reveal a piece about their social status. It seemed no matter where they stood that all had experienced some type of difficulty do their race,class, or gender. The Chinese girl had a grandfather who did’nt know how to read or write and a Grandmother who was taught to stay and help around the house (only). She said her father grew up in a small village in China and higher testing allowed him to escape his circumstances. He attained two Ph.D’s (one in China, one in US) and was very invested in his daughter getting a good education. The girl stated that her fathers up bring and her Chinese heritage are both huge factors as to why education is a huge focus for her. Another one of the girls was white, and from a middle class family. She wanted to go into musical theatre but felt limited in that pursuit due to the way she looked. She stated “being a white,tall brunette is a large category which makes it difficult”.The third girl was also from China and had very similar experience to girl number one. She also stated that being Chinese was huge reason their was such a focus on education in her life. A fourth girl (white) stated race had not impacted her life much. A fifth girl whose parents were from Bangladesh also put a huge emphasis on their children’s education. This one girl stated that she used to clash with her parents over their obsession with school. She later stated that she now thanks them for caring about her future. It’s easy to see that all these girls (with the exception of one) felt held back by either their race or gender at some point. I liked how even the white girl showed how her skin color had her at a disadvantage in her pursuits. It’s seems we all have setbacks due to factors we cannot control at some point in our lives. Here is a good read on intersectionality.
Peer clique structure is an interesting topic to think about. When looking at my own high school it is painfully obvious that it was plagued by peer clique structure. It seems everyone In my high school came from middle-upper class families and all were spoiled kids who were allowed to go around spending their parents money. The median income in my home town was $130,000 a year, so that should give pretty good idea of what kind of place it is. The town has all the amenities a person could ask for including ,but not limited to a shopping mall, great school system, low crime rate, beautiful gated communities, and a bunch of snobby kids. It seems the whole town was white (over 99%) so if you weren’t it made it really nearly impossible to fit in. I can count the number of black kids on one hand I knew in high school. It’s sad to admit but I was not friends with a single one of them. It seems none of my close friends were friends with them either. This was not a conscious decision on our parts but more just a matter of unspoken circumstance. It seems the jocks ruled the high school and If you wanted to be “cool” you had to be good at a sport (if you were a guy). If you were a girl you had to be “hot” and be on the cheerleading squad to be considered “cool”. Girls were given a little more leeway as long as they were hot. Guys however stood no chance unless they were white athletes where I come from. It’s pathetic that the teachers and faculty actually help foster this kind of environment. It is the most unequal experience I have ever seen in my entire life. Thank God for college! Here is an interesting article on advising people on how to handle these situations.
It is interesting to reflect upon on the different groups we have discussed this semester. We have covered white men, black men, feminism (women), homosexuals, religious groups, teens and adolescents, and even very young children. It was until It was brought up in class that black women and white women tend to be clumped together in describing a singular feminist movement. On the surface this would appear to make sociological sense. All women are in fact women regardless of the color of their skin. If there is anything we learned in this course is that the color of your skin does not change the way a person feels inside (biologically speaking). So why not propogate a single feminist movement? One group of women that encompasses all women. This sounds like a sociologists dream! Not so Fast! Patricia Collins argues that black women’s feminist experience is a very particular set of experiences! That live with a certain set of sterotypes surrounding them that white women due not. This is where things get tricky. You begin to realize that feminism has several deep layers to it and is not as simple as you once may have thought. A beautiful example of this that was used in class was the Welfare queen. It is a very dominant image that has shaped the way all people (including black women) have come to view black women on some sort of level (Conscious or unconscious). These ideas include single mothers raising multiple children from different fathers, Collecting welfare checks, being very liberal and big government supporting, and often tied to drug use (particularly crack cocaine). To even pretend like these stereotypes remotely affect white women is an insult to feminists everywhere. Feminists must band together and better recognize the difficulties of feminists in minority racial groups. Feminism cannot survive unless these differences are clearly outlined and verbalized. This is an interesting article on black feminism.
It’s seems people stay “kids” nowadays (or observe child like behavior) longer than they ever have in the past. Grown men still play video games, people marry much later than they used to, and it is not uncommon to see a thirty year old living in Mom and Dad’s basement. This generational shift is fascinating when comparing it to the expectations that were put on my parents by my grandparents. When my parents describe their college experiences, they differ from mine and my peers in many ways. Both my parents were on their own financially (completely) they day they turned eighteen. My father was very dedicated to football because he knew if he trained hard enough he could get his education paid for via scholarship. He did just that. My mother went to school on an academic scholarship at eighteen. She understood the importance of keeping her grades up because she knew her family could not afford to pay for her education. These are all signs of two very mature young adults. Know a days young adults seem very free floating and experimental. They depend on their parents much later in life and continue to try and “find themselves” much more then our parents did. It seems young people are caught in a never ending cycle of becoming adults instead of just doing it. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, it’s just interesting to see how much things have changed from when my parents were kids. This seems to be an idea that is trending up, not down, so I will be curious to see what things are like in this regard when I have children of my own. The NY times has done a nice article on this very issue.
Nancy Lesko’s work Act Your Age is speaking to me on so many different levels. So many of the ideas presented in this book proved true for me as a teenager. Looking back on my teen years I was very troubled. I smoked pot and drank,did not care about school, and was constantly depressed. It was hard enough for me thinking what I would be do 24 hours from now, much less 4 years. My teachers and parents constantly harassed me and told me I wasn’t going anywhere in life if I didn’t get my grades up. As a youth though all I really cared about was youth things. I wanted to be well liked, in shape, and have fun. I liked talking to girls and wanted more than anything to date one of the “hot” cheerleaders in my high school. Back then, I never could really put into words what was wrong. I can now that I have begun to read Nancy Lesko’s book. It seemed no matter where I was in my youth all adults wanted to talk about was my future! What about now!? What about what I am going through right now! Does anybody care!? Forgive me for not having my sights completely fixated on law or med school at age 13! Whenever I went looking for help I would always get the same answer from my parents. They would I always tell me “I know your worried about these things now but don’t worry they won’t matter in a few years. In a few years? A few years is like a lifetime to a teenager. As a teenager, I cared about teenager things. I am not saying in any way that parents should not push their kids to be fixated on their education. I’m just saying that after watching this weeks video in class and having read some of this book, teenagers need a lot more compassion and understanding. The way we are treating kids at the high school age is totally wrong and something must be done about it. If ever I have read a book that all parents and teachers alike should be forced to read, this would be it. Having been manically depressed as teen, I’m not sure if any of my teachers were perceptive enough (or cared enough) to even come ask me what was wrong. I feel our school systems need to adapt much more to teenagers so they can foster an environment that is not only educational but also emotionally satisfying to teenagers. I hope one day people can learn for people like Nancy Lesko on how to handle the complexities of youth. I am positive that our society would be much stronger for it. This article speaks volumes as to why I struggled in high school.
When you ponder the idea of why it means to be American, I’m sure a great many things come to your mind. Religious Freedom, Small Government, and a cultural melting pot are just a few things that come to my mind. I asked my Mother this question last night and she simply stated that it is “freedom” that differentiates us from the rest of the world. I believe it is the ability to be whoever you want and live in peace. These are all wonderful ideas and values most American citizens seem to hold (or believe to hold) but unfortunately they are just not true. The more we learn in class and the more we read we learn that is freedom is just a fallacy or lie we have all agreed to tell each other. Unequal education, gender discrimination in the workplace, homophobia, and a system built to serve only the wealthy. Education is not the same for many students across the country. Education is by and large viewed as the number on way to get ahead in life. Women are clearly payed less men in the workplace (for the same job). Homophobia runs rampant and gay men and women can still be fired in some states because of their orientation. The Rich seemed to get richer and the poor seem to get poorer. So what is it about our current system that people view as equal? I used to not think about this much but the more I learn, it makes me wonder if we have ever really been “free” at all. People in this country have come a long way in regard to the reality of others since my childhood. I believe things are headed in the right direction. We have become smarter on many issues since my childhood but still have a lot of work to do. I hope one day our great nation will truly be a place all people have a fair shake in establishing themselves equally.
I think it is safe to say that all of us at some point in our lives have taken some things (or many things) for granted. Some of these things include parents with high paying jobs, safe neighborhoods, good school systems, and a roof over our heads. There read I chose to list these things is because I took all these things for granted in my childhood. I know I am not alone in this because (in my judgement) all my friends did as well. It’s a shame kids are not educated more on the reality of the conditions of poor children in their own country. Far to often nowadays people put great emphasis on the harsh conditions of the third world. I’m not calling that in error in judgement, I’m just saying far to little emphasis is put on the harsh conditions of children in our own country. I remember back to my junior year of high school when a kid name Prince transferred into my high school. He was an inner city black kid now going to a predominately white high school. Our school district was one of the best in the state of Illinois, so I believe it’s safe to say most of the kids in the school were generally well prepared for college. I remember talking to Prince in gym class my junior year. He was extremely friendly and very artistic. His drawings really were pretty amazing and would have rivaled even the best artists in the school. Unfortunately, Prince had no shot at getting into college due to his elementary school reading level. I remember he once told me he didn’t even know how to use a computer! Keep in mind this is a kid who is months away from taking ACT’s and SAT’s. How on earth do we ever expect some people in this country to get ahead with such poor formal education. I never would have attended Mizzou had I not had the instruction I had growing up. Something must be done about our horribly unequal education system. I feel ashamed I took these things for granted, especially after meeting someone like Prince. I once asked him if he enjoyed school and was interested in developing his skills further. He told me he had never really given in much thought because his school on the South side of Chicago was so dangerous that he felt safer just staying at home. I am so grateful I never lived in these conditions and had a REAL opportunity to get ahead in my childhood. Our country promotes ideas like “no child left behind” but this could not be further from the truth. We must all work together as people in order to give every single child the opportunity to make a decent life themselves. This video illustrates a myriad of issues affecting Impoverished American schools.