I recently became aware of the “All Lives Matter” posters/hash-tags/comments that have become a counter-campaign against “Black Lives Matter.” When I first saw posters of “All Lives Matter” I was confused as to what the message for this was. Were they trying to say ‘yeah Black people are getting killed but others as well’ or trying to take a colorblind approach and referring to Mike Brown’s and Eric Garner’s deaths as a ‘person’s death’ and not a ‘Black persons death’? Although, of course they were people, the importance of BLACK Lives Matter is to highlight how Black people, primarily young men, are systematically targeted, brutalized, and killed by the hands of police. Most of the people that have died from police causes have been Black men. ALL Lives Matter fails to recognize the importance of highlighting this as racial issue. Mike Brown, Eric Garner and the countless other Black men that were unjustly murdered were people. Yes I get that. Pointing out the obvious and building momentum of this only serves to dismiss how racial discrimination and brutalities exist in the U.S. Taking a colorblind approach only pardons and allows these things to happen without truly understanding what is really going on. I think that people’s urge to say that race no longer exists and is no longer a part of U.S. domestic relations and structures are short-sided. Even when people are in solidarity of the recent movements but say “All Lives Matter” it undermines the reasons of why so many people of color and allies are angry, mad, frustrated (insert all distressed and fed-up feelings) of the recent deaths. America own up to your history and present reality.
The nice part about being at Haverford is that I really feel empowered as a woman. Bryn Mawr’s right next door and there are many strong empowered smart women who serve as inspirations in the classroom and as staff members. While I wish there were more women of color to relate to and who might be better able to understand the different waters I have to navigate as a Latina, there are women in high powered positions so I feel capable of climbing up ladders and breaking glass ceilings.
For those who are not as fortunate to have great women to look up to, Mattel has created a Barbie to serve as an inspiration. This would be great if the book that accompanied it didn’t have some major flaws that actually make women look more like a joke in the STEM fields. The Daily Dot summarized it this way,
“The problematic part is that, as far as I can tell, the steps for becoming a computer engineer if you’re Barbie are:
- Design a videogame.
- Get a boy to code it for you.
- Accidentally infect your computer with a virus.
- Get a boy to fix it for you.
- Take all the credit for these things yourself.
In their efforts to encourage women Mattel really just furthered the stereotype of women just mooching off men in science. In the field of Computer Science as well as other STEMs there is a dearth of women in the field making it more difficult for women to get involved, let alone find a role model to encourage them and to get advice from. The number of women of color participating in STEM fields is even lower.
Luckily, some women decided to correct the mistake. Here are a few snippets from the remixed version.
My favorite was the little nudge to breaking the stereotype of the hyper-masculine black male. Sadly Mattel missed many opportunities to help feminism and to show what life as a woman in the sciences is really like. Mattel did issue an apology according to GeekWire but it wasn’t well received.
I invite you to look at the discussions and the points made. One friend, a female engennering masters student found the doll encouraging as she used it to help her recruit other women into the computer science field since they could not imagine themselves coding or building circuits. I personally felt that the book was done in poor taste and undermined the struggle women in the sciences face. Is something better than nothing as we try to encourage women to pursue STEM?
This semester through my work with the OMA I’ve been creating some faculty trainings on issues of race in the classroom. What I’ve mostly been focused on in making these trainings is defining the idea of the microaggression, explaining why they’re dangerous and harmful, and most importantly offering suggestions on how to move forward. This blog post will focus on the definition and I’ll elaborate on the others in future posts.
Microaggression (n): a verbal, behavioral, or textual act indicative of broader systematic assumptions whose subtext communicates a disrespectful, negative, or offensive message regardless of the intention of the actor.
This is a working definition I have come up with that I think holds a number of really important pieces. I think that if people know about microaggressions at all, they falsely assume that all microaggressions are verbal. How many images have you seen in college viewbooks that have in them a “token” person of color? I would argue that this is a microaggression, though it is nonverbal without a clear actor, because it contributes to the tokenization of people of color in higher education which is disrespectful because it does not acknowledging the wholeness of the individual in the photograph.
I think that another important part of the definition is the fact that the intention of the act doesn’t matter at all to how the microaggression is perceived. Microaggressions are bigger than the individual. They’re not isolated incidents, they’re a part of a system that does include individuals, but also includes histories, texts, systems of law or government etc. In this way, words and actions are given a power that any individual person would not wield without the network and memory behind the words.
It’s been a busy and generative semester (indeed, before the semester even began, we had an intensive week with 20 extraordinary members of the class of ’18 who took part in the Tri-Co Social Justice Institute with students from Bryn Mawr and Swarthmore – you can learn more about the program at www.haverford.edu/oma/tri-co/): September saw the visit of Lani Guinier to the Tri-Co community as part of the the Cooper Series marking the 60th anniversary of the Brown vs. Board of Education series, the week-long (Ir)Reverance symposium with artists, scholars, and activists in honor of the 50th anniversary of the publication of Chinua Achebe’s Arrow of God while October started off with a gathering of women of color alumnae, hosted by Haverford House fellow Marla Dominguez ’14 and closed with a community-wide conversation about the reverberations of the events in Ferguson organized by OMA intern Tobi Alliyu ’16 in collaboration with Walter Sullivan, the Director of the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life.
The issues that were articulated at the Ferguson conversation — most particularly, concerns around the ways in which men of color bear the brunt of particular social injustices, and the possibilities for changing the structures and dynamics that create these injustices — will be front and center in conversations and workshops that will be taking place at the Consortium for High Achievement and Success (CHAS) Black and Latino Males conference that Haverford will be hosting November 14-16.
The entire community is invited to the keynote talk that Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, nationally-renown President of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, whose work on access and opportunity in the STEM fields for students from underrepresented communities led to creation of the Meyerhoff Program that in turn became an inspiration for Haverford’s Chesick Scholars program.
Dr. Hrabowski will be introduced by President Dan Weiss at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, November 15 in Founders Great Hall. Check out Dr. Hrabowski’s TED talk on “The Four Pillars of College Success in the Sciences” : http://www.ted.com/talks/freeman_hrabowski_4_pillars_of_college_success_in_science
I’ve been spending a significant part of this summer in conversation with educators in places ranging from Watsonville, California to Livonia, Michigan to Belle Fourche, South Dakota to Springdale, Arkansas, courtesy of the Dakota Digital Writing Sandbox, what I’m thinking of as a Modest Open Online Community (in contradistinction to the much-ballyhooed Massive Open Online Courses) that is bringing together 67 teachers and tech specialists who are exploring the challenges and opportunities of working with new media forms and new technologies in classrooms.
The connective tissue of this community is the National Writing Project, and I found my point of entry into the Dakota Digital Writing Sandbox through an invitation circulated through the Bay Area Writing Project (BAWP), a community of teachers of writing in Northern California to whom I’m eternally indebted for being an extraordinary source of support and inspiration as I was building my practice as a teacher. The BAWP spirit and ethos can be found in the Bi-Co community in the Teaching and Learning Institute, about which you can learn more here: www.brynmawr.edu/tli/)
In the first two weeks of class, I’ve been learning about how teachers in under-resourced elementary students are working to ensure that their students can get the tech access that gives them the tools that can support their processes of inquiry; I’ve been privy to in-depth discussions about the utility and the drawbacks of different virtual platforms for course work that takes place outside of the classroom; I’ve benefited from hearing experienced educators speak frankly about the successes and failures they’ve experienced in their own practice when using new media forms — all of which is feeding into the work that I’m putting into the creation of the syllabus for the course that I’ll be teaching this fall in tandem with Ken Koltun-Fromm, a professor in the Religion department at Haverford in which we are thinking about how the generative tension between image and text that we find in graphic narratives can be explored and animated in new media forms.
As the title suggest, the Dakota Digital Writing Sandbox is affording participants the opportunity to try out new technological tools in a context that encourages experimentation and play, where you have folks around you offering suggestions, cheering you on, and helping you dust yourself off when you fall face first. Many of the people taking part in the course know one another from Dakota Writing Project workshops, or from other sites such as BAWP, so there is an already-constituted collegiality into which new folks are being invited, and the organizers have created a structure in which smaller groups of about a dozen convene in weekly on-line chats in which we are able to respond to one another’s ideas and questions in real time.
Thus while most of the educational press is focused on the future of Massive Open Online Courses, methinks that it would be well worth to shine some light on what I’m thinking of as Modest Open Online Communities which show the radical potential inherent in building an intellectual community focused on a circle of 60 or a dozen — reminded here of Margaret Mead’s quotation “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
The Norristown High Speed Line runs roughly parallel to the R5, the SEPTA regional rail route that gave rise to the area’s classification as “The Main Line.” As the story has been told to me, the High Speed Line was the primary carrier of the people from working class neighborhoods who would commute out to Haverford, Bryn Mawr, and Gladwyne to cook, clean, and chauffer for the denizens of the many Main Line mansions that dot the landscape, while
the masters of the house would take the Main Line into the Center City headquarters of the Pennsylvania Railroad or the Pennsylvania Savings Fund Society (fondly known as PSFS before being acquired by Mellon which then was bought by Citizens) . John Andries, the Head of Special Collections at Magill, recently curated an exhibit of documents from Haverford’s collection that illuminated the economic, political, and social histories that shaped the development of the region, as manifest in designs for transportation.
The image on the poster shows a now-vanished section of track on what is now known as Railroad Avenue: the Didot type, as well as the neatly demarcated lots remind me of the Sunday funnies pages from the turn of the last century, a formal framework that is on my mind as I’ve been working with Ken Koltun-Fromm, a professor in the Religion department, on plans for a fall writing seminar that will be focused on graphic narratives. On Monday, I hopped the High Speed Line at the Ardmore Junction (the trip costs roughly half of the R5 fare, and the demographic skews younger and browner than the R5 clientele) to connect to the Market/Frankford line to get to 30th Street Station, where I met Ken and Tom Bonner, the Coordinator for the Mellon Tri-College Creative Residencies, to take the Northeast Regional up to New York City to meet with Pato Hebert, who is teaching and making art at the Tisch School’s Program in Art and Public Policy at NYU.
I had the opportunity to collaborate with Pato on a course entitled “Arts of the Possible” thanks to the support of Haverford’s Tuttle Fund for the Visual Arts. In the course, we focused on the ways in which creative forms such as the spiritual, the elegy, and the documentary were recast and rearticulated in movements such as West Virginia miners’ strikes in the 1930s and the Freedom Rides of the 1960s. Over the course of the semester, Pato worked with students in their imagination and refining of their semester-long projects, which took the shape of podcasts documenting censorship in Malaysia and prison rights activists in West Chester, a photographic installation that illustrated students’ takes on the state of feminism, and, in one case, a ravaged box of chocolates that gave a statistical overview of the (mis)distribution of federal funds in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
At the time of that collaboration, Pato was overseeing educational initiatives at the AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA), where he was editing an extraordinary arts journal for APLA entitled Corpus — a context in which writers and artists explored the negotiation of risk through first-person accounts, critical essays, documentations of performance pieces, poetry, and, yes, comics.
One of the projects that Pato shepherded during his time at APLA, in collaboration with the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, was the publication of Jaime Cortez’ Sexile, a graphic narrative that conveys the voice, experiences, and general fabulousness of Adela Vasquez, a trans Cuban exile whose first years in the United States coincided with the onset of the AIDS crisis; more recently, he’s been exploring the generative tension between image and text in projects such as an ongoing collaboration with Plasencia Elementary School in Los Angeles that is sponsored by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) that recently generated pieces such as “A Passing Thought,” an installation in a stairwell in the school: the thought bubble, iconography familiar to anyone who knows the vernacular of comic strips forms, is cut from a dark blue vinyl sheet that is affixed to the windows; as one ascends or descends the stairs, the image framed by the thought bubble shifts.
In another Plasencia project, Pato created a process in which students responded to a writing prompt: of 1,000 responses, 400 were selected and printed on vinyl strips that were affixed to the fronts and backs of folding chairs used for assemblies, so that each time the chairs are unfolded and arranged, they create impromptu poems out of phrases such as “I need a favor” and “yesterday was one day ago” and even “I am confused by these questions.”
As Tom, Ken, Pato, I and I sat knee to knee in Pato’s office floating six floors above Broadway, we traded ideas about the ways in which our course’s focus on autobiography through the form of the graphic narrative could be a point of orientation and a point of departure for creative interventions on campus as well as for class assignments. Pato spoke about the ease with which students can learn the program Comic Life to create their own comics: wondering how this could be a medium in which students might frame their responses to the prompt “a moment at which my world turned upside down” or to reflect on a point at which their vision of the world shifted.
As we were thinking out loud about different ways in which students could think openly and actively about the ways in which the forms and frames of comics can be understood in relationship to architectural spaces — part of an ongoing conversation about the ways in which we articulate, animate, and document our lives and the life of a community – Ken noted that Ryan Gym is a space on campus that is a site of extraordinary possibility/ongoing consternation, depending on how one looks at it (see Robert Homan‘s take on Ryan Gym as “the last of our wild spaces” on campus: http://haverfordclerk.com/2012/04/where-the-wild-things-are/) which opened up a lively conversation about all the different ways in which that space could be animated.
I, for one, would love to see a project in which members of the campus community would be invited to do installations in the gym lockers in the crypts underneath Ryan Gym — thinking of the vernacular of middle school gym locker decoration, of Dia de los Muertos altars, and of shoe box dioramas as ways of marking memory and of mapping culture. To be continued…..
This morning I hopped on the 9:40 Blue Bus to make the trip over to Bryn Mawr; I had the unexpected pleasure of running into Conor Brennan-Burke ’16, one of the OMA student interns who was heading over to his economic development course, with his breakfast in hand (that is, in the cornstarch-based biodegradable take-out container)– a healthy combination of yogurt, honeydew melon, and seven pancakes. He asked me why I was on the bus; I explained that I was going to talk with a number of Bryn Mawr colleagues who were planning to teach a cluster of courses centered on the theme of “play in the city,” which led Conor and me into a conversation that touched upon the cities known for practitioners of parkour, the ingenuity of Philly skateboarders, and “build it yourself” playgrounds where kids can create their own structures from the materials on hand –thus reminding me of the most fabulous Adventure Playground in Berkeley.
When I made it to the breakfast room at Wyndham Alumni House, Cities professor Carola Hein introduced me to Hanley Bodek who has been teaching a course called “Entrepreneurial Inner City Housing Markets” at the University of Pennsylvania for 28 years. Students who take the course — ranging from future city planners to Wharton MBAs-to-be — are drawn by the opportunity to have a hands-on experience redeveloping an abandoned Philadelphia rowhouse in which learning opportunities range from figuring out how to secure a zoning permit in Philadelphia — surely the subject of a graduate level seminar in and of itself — to finding out what to do when you have followed your blueprint only to discover that you have left yourself about eight inches in which to build a closet.
In reflecting on his pedagogical practices, Hanley said that “what I became good at was watching students make mistakes and not getting upset.” As someone who is a bit of a control freak, this kind of wisdom is revelatory — the understanding that some of our most transformative moments are precisely those points at which things do not go according to plan. At those moments we have to rethink our assumptions, reconsider the information at hand, recalibrate our approaches, and reboot our imaginations…and sometimes we even have to ask for help, and thus can draw from someone else’s organizing intelligence and animating experience.
As a professor located in the Growth and Structures of Cities, Carola was spinning out ideas about the ways in which students could engage in projects that would have them working with three dimensional structures – maybe a garden, a treehouse, or a playground — that would have the potential to reconstruct the dynamics of the communities in which they would reside. Carola is working in collaboration with Jody Cohen from the Bi-College Education program and Darlyne Bailey, the Dean of the School of Social Work who is also the Special Assistant to the President for Community Partnerships, and the conversation around the table ranged from possibilites of college students partnering with a fourth grade classroom to design a playhouse to the creation of a “city house” that would extend the reach of the Bi-Co community into Philadelphia, that could be used for courses open to the community or as a home base for students spending extended time at an internship or visiting galleries.
We also talked a lot about what play makes possible – how just messing around can lead to new insights, unexpected discoveries, and radically different ways of moving through the world, all of which can help us get closer to our animating passions. As a group of Haverford students, faculty, and staff gather this weekend at Pendle Hill to share our understandings of and experiences with community engagement, thanks to a “Bringing Theory to Practice” grant from the American Association of Colleges and Universities’ I’m going to be thinking a lot about the place for play in all this.
…the Yale School of Public Health is looking for a Research Assistant to start April 1 - they’re particularly interested in recent grads with “experience working in a research setting or with issues of women’s health, HIV/AIDS, STDs, pregnancy or parenting, reproductive health, sex education, sex and gender issues, behavioral health interventions or mental health…. Preferred: Bachelor’s degree in Women/Gender Studies, African American or Ethnic Studies, Public Health, Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology, or a related field.”
Details below – spread the word!
Under the supervision of the Deputy Director, the Research Assistant will provide support for a research project that involves developing and testing a group model of prenatal care that addresses a wide range of health behaviors to diverse pregnant women in 3 communities in the US. The goal of this program is to help pregnant women and families reduce their risk for adverse maternal child health outcomes, including preterm birth, low birthweight, rapid repeat pregnancy, HIV/STDs, and diabetes.
Assistance with Research Related Tasks (50%):
• Assist in preparation of progress reports, newsletters, manuscripts for publication, and grant submissions (conduct review of library materials and synthesize for inclusion in sections of grant; obtain information from state agencies to reflect problem status; create graphs and charts to present findings; conduct simple data analyses to demonstrate preliminary findings)
• Human Investigations Committee protocol management (create HIC protocols, consent forms, medical release forms, amendments, renewals)
• Produce and contribute to PR materials (e.g., newsletters, website content)
• Coordinate meetings (e.g., meeting preparation, agendas, minutes)
• Attend regular research meetings
• Correspond with collaborators and colleagues
Data Entry, Coding, and Management (20%):
• Data cleaning; Quality control checks; Generating reports from data; Maintaining data files; Data entry into MS Access, Excel, and SPSS databases; Maintain Endnote databases for papers, grants; Maintain data dictionaries
Administrative Duties (20%):
• Order supplies, collaborate with vendors, complete administrative paperwork
• Process financial paperwork, budgeting assistance
• Miscellaneous administrative tasks, (i.e., Xeroxing, filing, faxing, mailing, courier)
Miscellaneous Duties (10%):
• Provide support with all other related duties
Required: Experience working in a research setting OR with issues of women’s health, HIV/AIDS, STDs, pregnancy or parenting, reproductive health, sex education, sex and gender issues, behavioral health interventions or mental health. Excellent with Windows-based word processing, internet, and various computer programs. Able to work independently, as a team member, and under direct supervision. Excellent organizational skills. Able to work with confidential materials. Good writing skills. Detail oriented. Willing to travel occasionally.
Preferred: Bachelor’s degree in Women/Gender Studies, African American or Ethnic Studies, Public Health, Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology, or a related field. Familiarity with Endnote, MS Access, MS Excel, or SPSS AND with Medline, PsycInfo, or PubMed. Experience with web design or graphic design. Ability to interact comfortably with research and clinical staff. Good verbal skills.
Availability: POSITION TO START FULL TIME NO LATER THAN APRIL 1, 2013.
To Apply: Send resume to Jessica Lewis at Jessica.Lewis@Yale.edu.
How do the material, cultural, intellectual, and social contributions of African Americans shape your day to day life?
This is a question that Zanya Harriott ’14 is asking members of the Haverford community to consider in her week-long project, “Uncommon Knowledge” in which students, faculty, and staff have been invited to make the attempt to live their day-to-day lives without crucial inventions by black people; you can follow the project by going to the OMA Facebook page, which you can get to from the button on www.haverford.edu/deans/oma
Zanya is offering nightly video updates on the challenges for the next day, along with histories of inventors such as Alice H. Parker, (whose patent # 1,325,905 is illustrated on the right) who in 1919 invented a heater with a mechanism that regulated the flow of heat to different rooms in a building (my household tried to do without this but when the interior hit 57 degrees, key constituencies staged a successful revolt).
For today, the theme is “The Daily Grind” — what are those common items that are ubiquitous and part of the fabric of our everyday lives?
I arrived in Pakistan about a week ago, but the stark realities of every day life here still leave me awe struck. I arrived last Saturday to find myself behind the Dutch field hockey team, all of us waiting for our foreign passports to get stamped for approval. While many others with a foreign passport were directed to a second line, for those not as privileged as a celebrity sports team, I used my American accent and the “I’m a US citizen” card to stick to the shorter, faster line. It’s unsettling to practice an authority that was won for you by others over years of political and economic success, providing you a power that you rarely use. But then again, I was on standing a line to get through customs, and maybe I’m overanalyzing theories on neo-imperialism.
The family that I stay with here is also very protective. They live in a well off neighborhood of Lahore, but still maintain a sense of fear and paranoia of Pakistan’s state of criminality. I’ve heard countless stories, sometimes as minor as maids stealing jewelry to worse, more deadly schemes staged by some house cooks. “Your uncle was at a wedding where the groom didn’t show up. He was kidnapped as he was walking out of the cake shop before his reception. God only knows how he managed to make it back from wherever he was left to die”, my Aunt told me. It’s good that I’m hearing these stories while I’m also reading The Black Swan, a book on human perception and probability. Essentially, what the book explains is that our sense of risk is distorted by sensationalism of “black swans”, events that we otherwise would never have expected but rationalize into our framework by ascribing illogical causes.
I think that sensationalism is an excellent way to describe Pakistani culture. With a developing media culture, Pakistanis are glued to their news channels to get the 24 hour coverage of bombs and guns, a new form of entertainment perpetuated by cohesion within social circles. What’s left are relationships that are developed through the entertainment of story telling, fear mongering, depression. Is it possible that the narratives spun through cohesion creates fixed roles for people to fill, some choosing to play the part of complacent bystanders, others that of the corrupt politician, and some the role of the criminal.
But this sad state of things is once again dependent on the structures that bind you. I’m here interning for an energy project finance law firm and a public policy research team. While in these environments, I’m free from the anxiety that’s ever present in my host family’s home. The people that I’m surrounded by at my internships seem much more relaxed and when conversations do dwell on Pakistan’s many crises, they leave a sense of rationalization, distance, and yet so much more depth.
I find the function of politically charged conversations interesting. I hold a strong belief in the impact that micro-politics have on social norms, all vague terms soon to be explained. I think that instead of finding ourselves frustrated with distant concepts like corruption and criminality, perhaps we should focus on the impact that the conversation has on our values. For example, a friend and I were having a conversation on Pakistan’s apparent corruption and I felt that my friend’s contextualization of the practice slightly legitimized it. I immediately felt obliged to voice my intolerance towards such “practicality”, demonstrating how such a personal conversation can turn into a vehicle for the development of social norms. Sometimes labeling our society into a government and the people makes us forget that we too are part of the public.