Monday, March 19, 2018

The Problem with Charlie

Ever read the book?   The synopsis is as follows:
Elle finds the body of her soon-to-be-ex husband, Charlie, on her sofa, stabbed to death with her kitchen knife. Elle’s close friends stand by her through the difficult funeral, but Elle alone must face the loss of the man she had loved. Except that the loss is not total — Charlie is still around. Elle feels his presence, smells his aftershave, hears him accuse her of killing him. And even though she doesn’t believe in ghosts, she argues with him, asserting her innocence. Oddly, Elle has a gap in her memory; she can’t account for her activity during the time of his murder. As she tries to clear herself by finding out how Charlie died, she discovers that she had plenty of reasons to kill him. Charlie had secrets. Infidelity. Unsavory business associates. Involvement with an international organization of sex abusers. The more she learns, the more danger she faces. As unscrupulous people begin to fear she will expose them, Elle races against time to avoid arrest, fight off attackers, solve the murder, and make peace with Charlie’s spirit

I have spent the morning trying to reconcile my feelings about living and working in Nashville while struggling with my health, dealing with the sense of isolation and frustration and in turn seeing out of the shadows the light as the saying goes: Everything happens for a reason.

One thing I became cognitively aware of was the issue of race in a way that I had never had before for it is dominant if not overwhelming shadow that hangs over the region in an omnipresent way Charlie's does over Elle.   You can't recall acting upon your anger and doing harm but yet there you are with a dead body and a bloody knife in your hand.

Today the New York Times had two very essential reads about the issues surrounding race.  The first was on how regardless of wealth and family status, Black men do not do well overall economically in the United States.  The premise was a study that found that most white boys raised in wealthy families will stay rich or upper middle class as adults, but black boys raised in similarly rich households will not.   The endemic of racism seems to single out males and for reasons that the study fails to answer is why?  I see way more black men in my social strata, on my TV, in my movies and on my radio and on my sports fields anywhere else, they are not invisible.  They are however not visible in anything but Government jobs and those too are few and far between.  We have a Superintendent of our schools who is Black and I know of many other but again those are Municipal jobs that are protected by Affirmative Action and is the one field that seems to prefer anyone but white males unless they are again in the corner suite.

When one thinks of a successful black man one immediately goes to former President Obama.  He was polished, dignified and highly educated.  He came from a very interesting background with a complex family background that on paper would enable anyone to believe that failure could be possible and in turn Michelle's own brother too could easily fit into that category.  Funny when I think of relatives of Presidents few success stories come to mind but there are no skeletons in that family in the least  despite the best efforts to find them.  And I look to many other men whom I know of in varying industries, such as the CEO of Merck as an example of men of color who have been successful in life and business.  And then I had to Google and found this article in the Atlantic which may actually validate the point of the survey.

After finishing that article I went on to the story about Minneapolis schools struggling to figure out the ways restorative justice is working or failing in their public schools when it comes to discipline.  The sad fact that the Parkland shooter had been disciplined, removed from school and was white.   He was flagged numerous times and it shows that poverty and class matter when it comes to mental health and safety.  Again guns are the major issue as while he had problems getting mental health counseling he had none getting a gun. 

Then I read another article was about "code switching" and no this is not about the "code talkers" of WWII but those children of color enrolled in our modern day schools.  I had not heard the term until I listened to the author of the book THUG - The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas, speak about her attending a white suburban school and needing to change music upon arrival and changing how she spoke and carried herself during the school day.  I was appalled that a child felt the need to change her personality and preferences to suit the situation and while I get it in adult life I don't think a child should have to in order to feel accepted or understood.   But I do see that this can have lasting affects as testing has bias and standard notions of how we all read and speak and in turn connect to information that has led Teachers to teach materials that are test related and taken any individuality out of the classroom.

I think the most interesting read would be the book on Black English by John McWhorter who sees this a dialect in the same way many regions of the country possess as a linguistic tool and not a language in and of itself.  But yes how we speak can have much larger connotations when you are of color.

Then we have Black church goers leaving White Churches.  Pray together stay together or not.   Divided we fall and we have fallen and can't get up.

And the last was about Testilying, a nice phrase to add to your lexicon, like Puppycide.  This is what Police do when providing testimony where video and photos show the opposite then well its WHOOPS!   I mean who do you believe me or your lying eyes!

I read an op ed piece yesterday about not denying privilege.  Well that one is hard to do when those facts thing come into place.  But hey you got me.. with the bloody knife and the dead body of my ex husband on the couch.  WHOOPS! Who do you believe me or that liar Charlie?

Stop Apologizing for Being Elite

MARCH 16, 2018

A framed eighth-grade diploma, dated June 19, 1913, hangs on the wall opposite my computer. It belonged to my grandmother, Minnie Rothenhoefer, one of eight children in a German immigrant family, who was forced to quit school at age 14 after her alcoholic father abandoned his family. Her first job was picking onions and her greatest regret — she lived to age 99 — was that she never attended high school. “But there’s no excuse for ignorance when you can go right down to the public library,” she often said.

Gran has been in my thoughts even more than usual this year, because I know that she would have scoffed at one of the unanticipated consequences of the Trump presidency. I am referring to the endless self-flagellation among well-educated liberals — “the elites,” in pejorative parlance — about their failure to “get” the concerns of white working-class voters. Gran never expected anyone to “get” her. She was determined to educate herself for what she considered the privilege of citizenship.

Our current political discourse is corrupted by two equally flawed narratives about the relationship between social class and politics. The first is a fable accepted by many intellectuals, who have found themselves guilty because just enough white working-class voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin handed Mr. Trump his Electoral College win in 2016. Many fear that this year’s midterm elections will once again result in a rejection of “elitism” by the same voters.

In a second, equally flawed narrative — adopted by a segment of both blue-collar workers and intellectuals — the American working class is so victimized that almost none of its members are capable of accepting the responsibility of civic self-education.

These narratives sometimes collide within families. On a trip to Detroit last spring, I met a professor of political science who seemed to believe that “elitist” obtuseness had lost Michigan for the Democrats. He told me that he felt responsible because his aunt and uncle — postal workers in suburban Macomb County — had voted Republican for the first time in their lives, mainly because they believed Mr. Trump’s false campaign assertion about New Jersey Muslims cheering the Sept. 11 attacks. He had been unable to convince them otherwise.

I have frequently heard the phrase about not speaking “their” language from academics, journalists and political strategists. Here is a fact, not an alternative fact: Blue-collar workers speak English.

Too many intellectuals have internalized a stereotype, emanating from both the far left and the far right, of fuzzy-headed elitism — as if willed ignorance and intellectual laziness did not cut across social classes. And some in the working class are just as animated by a stereotype of “elites” as people who look down on everyone without a doctorate. Self-denigration among the best educated is particularly harmful because it reinforces this belief.

The day after the 2016 election, Joan C. Williams, a professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law, wrote in Harvard Business Review that one of many things the “elites” don’t understand about the working class is that the latter “resents professionals but admires the rich.”

The author meant to criticize “elitists,” but her generalization presents a distorted view of the working class. Some working-class Americans resent some professionals — say, lawyers for slumlords or doctors who won’t treat Medicaid and Medicare patients. But there are surely just as many with an outsize respect for professionals — especially if the professional happens to be their own doctor or their child’s favorite teacher.

The energy expended by many “elitists” on constructing tortuous apologies for their advantages would be better invested in sharing the fruits of those advantages.

While some studies have indicated that people cling even more strongly to their deepest beliefs when challenged by contradictory evidence, it is also true that human beings frequently do change their minds — about everything from sexual behavior to marijuana to gun laws — if they are treated respectfully by those presenting the evidence.

One of the greatest compliments I have ever received came from a Latino student at Youngstown State University, in an Ohio city often cited as an example of Rust Belt decay. This American-born son of immigrants was working three jobs to pay his tuition. He said that he had taken my remarks about the importance of liberal arts seriously, even though he had previously considered such knowledge irrelevant to his goal of becoming a math teacher.

When I asked why my comments had persuaded him to reconsider, he replied that he was pleased when I began my talk with the words “ladies and gentlemen.” He added, “When I’m teaching, I’m going to open all of my classes with ‘ladies and gentlemen.’ It’ll tell the kids what’s expected of them.”

There is an aspirational hunger in many young people that highly educated Americans can help satisfy — but only by being themselves instead of pretending to be “ordinary folks.”

The American dream has never been about denigrating education but about seeing that the next generation has greater access to learning. Who is in a better position to help Americans who want that chance than those who already benefited from the generous side of the dream? The “elites” should take practical steps to persuade others not by hectoring them but by working to better the quality of life for all.

First, intellectuals must speak up, not down, to everyone. Americans remember public addresses like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech precisely because he spoke in elevated English. You won’t find him referring to “folks” anywhere in that speech.

Second, educators must help turn students into educated voters. Too many schools fail to provide students with tools of logic that would enable them to assess the quality of information they absorb from every screen. All schools, for example, should have a curriculum that teaches children how to evaluate online information. Most recently, we have seen the results of this type of education in the forceful, logical responses of student survivors of the school shooting in Parkland, Fla.

Finally, those who have profited from the best schooling our society has to offer must fight to make college more affordable for others. The working-class students I have met — unlike Republicans in a much-cited 2017 Pew poll — know that college has a positive, not a negative, effect on their future. They base their actions on reality rather than ideology, and the reality is that the pay gap between the college-educated and all other Americans is at a historic high.

As I write, I am looking at my grandmother’s diploma. She left it to me in her will as evidence of a life in which I never saw her alone without a book or newspaper in hand. That is positive elitism — embodying the pursuit of excellence rather than money or credentials — for which no one need apologize and to which anyone can aspire.

No comments:

Post a Comment