Thursday, December 6, 2012

Post Read Week 14

The first reading, “Critical Resistance and INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence. Gender Violence and the Prison Industrial Complex” discusses the idea of the PIC movement needs to include more than just the role of prisoners, but also including the roles of people, genders, and sexuality. It addresses state violence towards societies and goes far enough to divide state violence into two categories: state and intrapersonal.

The second reading, “Abolitionist Alternatives,” discusses the idea of abolishing the PIC. It has a problem with the relationship shared between corporations, businesses, and other industries or sources of income tied to prisons. Davis feels that by eliminating these industries and corporations or the many issues like the war on drugs, criminalizing immigration, and the lack of support for youth, you can also eliminate that PIC. Davis would like to increase and improve the use of rehabs and schools as alternatives to prisons.

In the “Future for Hope: Mothers and Prisoners in the Post-Keynesian California Landscape,” Gilmore gives the history of the Mothers ROC and what they have been able to accomplish.  It emphasizes that they are a support group that provides legal advice, workshops, and friendship to those who know someone who has been arrested. Members of the ROC use publicity and observing court hearings as a way to bring awareness to the PIC and the people who enforce it.

The last reading, “Re-Think: Accountable Communities,” utilizes the idea that the community should take on responsibility to dealing with problems because they can’t trust the intentions or actions of the authority. Community members would hold others accountable for their actions when dealing with problematic situations.

The first reading deals a lot with the state in relation to different genders, sexualities, and classes. Where as the second one about abolishing the PIC deals more with state and the things, the war on drugs, education, mental health resources, immigration, and money, that lead up to someone ending up in prison. Mothers ROC addresses the issue of how people end up being arrested and the hidden agenda behind the arrests. They educate and advocate for prisoners and the families while also create awareness about the racial discrimination that occurs throughout the PIC. The last reading addresses issues that they have with local, state, and federal authority by keeping issues contained to their community. Their solutions deal directly with racial discrimination and their lack of faith in the corrupt authority.

The first thing and individual can do to challenge the PIC is being aware of what’s wrong with the prison systems and becoming familiar with the PIC. Just by being aware they’re helping. People could also pay more attention to the news and the crimes being committed, paying attention to the details of the case and how they may have been distorted or mishandled. People would also join organizations that fight, support, or advocate for prisoners. There are many things available for people to do but they have to want to make a difference.

This article relates to what we’re discussing about the PIC because ICE was mostly going after non-violent, minor offenders and arresting them, instead of the more violent criminals. Harris informed police departments that the detainments were not binding requests or orders and that they were had the option to release the people arrested. This deals with the race discrimination and criminalizing of immigrants, targeting them as people who should be imprisoned. I think that Harris did participate when she informed the police departments of their ability to release people they felt didn’t need to be detained any longer and to focus on criminals with violent criminal records. She may have decided not to participate any further after that, but she was the catalyst for creating awareness among officers; however it’s now left up to them to make smart decisions.

WC- 636

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Post Read Week 13

The Prison-Industrial Complex is a way to describe the rapid increase in inmates and the process of how it became so populated. People, particularly minorities are being imprisoned at increased rate and private prisons are profiting at the amount of inmates that they accumulate. They can pay them at ridiculously low rates and treat them with little respect.

If the motivation for incarcerating people isn’t to stop crime than other possible reasons for their incarceration might have to do with the prisons ability to profit for their incarceration rate or that people are being arrested at an increased rate because police are looking for crimes. This isn’t to say that police offers aren’t doing their jobs, but that maybe the areas that are having higher crime rates are the areas where cops look for crime. These areas happen to be the more poor areas, which are more likely to have suspicious activity because when your poor the things that you’ll do to survive or provide for you family, or the effects that the economy can have on you make you actions cross that legal line. It’s harder to prosecute people who have money and can afford better lawyers or provide bail money.

The incarceration system creates a “racial caste system” in ways like isolating certain areas of crime. Like I said before, the areas that police find them selves in is where they are going to find crime and if they are only in the poor neighborhoods where more minorities are likely to live, because of the way the economic or educational system has affected them, they are likely to find it. The wealthier neighborhoods are assumed to have less crime the police aren’t going to look for it in those neighborhoods. There’s also the fact that once a person is convicted or arrested for a crime that follows them and makes it difficult for them obtain a job, so they stay are stuck in this vicious cycle of being stuck in an environment where circumstances have left them fighting to survive and sometimes these fights get them in trouble.

The industrial part of PIC is the exchange and profit of money that prisons, particularly private prisons make off of the inmates. The prisoners are put to work where they are provided little compensation.

I think PIC is related to colorblind racism because of the fact that people are unaware of the patterns that surround the incarcerations. Even Michelle Alexander admits to not being aware of them for a while until it was brought to her attention. People can be naïve to their own prejudices until someone points them out or they are put into a situation where they have to face their prejudices.

Word Count 454 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Pre-Read Week 13

For me I see a connection between race in crime in terms of location. What I mean is that in low-income neighborhoods there is a higher rate in crime. The reasons for the higher rates of crime can be tied to delinquency, criminals, or it can be traced all the way back to history and oppressing certain races so much, that even when they are given certain rights they are still being restricted in ways.  For instance, there is a larger population of people of color in low-income compared to white people, which may be explained by their restricted ability to move out of these neighborhoods into better school districts or better job opportunities.

Prisons serve as an institution that hold criminals responsible for their crimes. They’re supposed to be “correctional facilities” where they “correct” the wrongs or the people that committed wrongs. They also isolate criminals into a given area away from innocent citizens. The problem is that some prisons fail to uphold standards.

The “industrial” part of the Prison Industrial Complex is that inmates/prisoners are put to work during their sentence. It reminds me of the Industrial Period where people were extensions of machines, they worked in industrial jobs that were bleak and demanding.

I think that crime is defined to impact people of color more in the way that there’s a larger portion of people of color that are criminals compared to whites. I also believe that because people of color are targeted as being criminals or living in a neighborhood with high rates of crime there is less focus on reasons behind their actions. More attention is spent on criminals that are people of color than there are on white criminals. People of color are considered to be more criminal.

I think that there are a few reasons why people of color are over-represented in prisons. One reason is because living in low-income neighborhoods, where crime rates are high cops catch more criminals. The system also works against them in the way they go after people of color more often than they do whites. It may also be because certain criminals have a more difficult time being rehabilitated. 

Prisons can be used as a form of social control because they segregate criminals from innocent citizens, but they fact is that more criminals being convicted are people of color; which may remind us c of racial segregation during and before the civil rights movement. Prisons remove the bad from the good, but the bad is starting to look more like a certain color.

I’m not clear on what ‘life being criminalized’ means. Maybe it means that life is criminalized when people are forced into committing crimes or feeling like some of their choices are either or.

Word count 459 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Post Reading Week 12

Lupe Fiasco’s “Bitch Bad” is an attempt to be more conscious, but it’s only a start and there are ways that it could have been better executed. He brings attention to the issues regarding women in hip-hop.

Rap’s Long History or ‘Conscious’ Condescension to Women was the article that I felt gave the most complete analysis of Lupe Fiasco’s song. The article brought attention to the lack of responsibility that men take in their part of the portrayal of women in hip-hop. Where it references other rappers is where it held the analysis; looking at male rappers attempts to be conscious fail because they rarely if ever hold males responsible for their contributions.

Jamila’s quote connects to the way Lupe Fiasco’s video in the way that women watching the videos are influenced by what they see and in the way that women are portrayed in the videos. Women watching the video don’t see the paid actress they only see the girl in the video being put into sexual images. Jamila would say that these women in the videos should understand the impact the have on viewers and to take some responsibility for that. She would also point out the fact that it’s not completely their responsibility because it’s the lyrics and stories in the songs that they are being paid to be a part of. Rappers and hip-hop artists need to take responsibility for the lyrics they are putting out in the world. I think Jamila would have a problem with the bitch/woman/lady hierarchy that Lupe presents in his song because it doesn’t account for all the things a female can be. It limits them to these three undefined terms that don’t have any basis of support.

I don’t know if I would say that hip-hop holds the most responsibility because I don’t know if world wide it’s the most popular out of all genres. In the case that it was the most listened to genre of music than yes, I would say it holds the responsibility o being socially responsible, but I do have to argue that people in society have to take on the responsibility of making morally conscious decisions. It can’t be put on the music industry to completely responsible for social constructs or what’s happening in society. That being said, all forms of media, music, television, radio, and movies all have to take part in being responsible for what is being put out into the world.

Youth believes that hip-hop is a tool; “besides employing hip-hop to organize others in their community, youth use hip-hop culture to sustain and motivate their own activism” (189). People feel comfortable with hip-hop, which most people can relate to hip-hop or some of the stories that they sing about.  When people feel a connection it’s easier for them to use it in their everyday or relate their own stories through hip-hop. I think that for my generation it’s a little different than it was five even ten years ago, but it’s slowly, very slowly, looping back around to being more conscious.

Word Count - 511 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Post Read Week 11

It was interesting to hear how aware the artists were of the control the industry has over their music. They release music that they know consumer will buy and are aware that they don’t have a lot of control over their creative rights once they sign with a major label.

I agree with argument one that the hyper-masculinity and violence present in hip-hop is part of the larger American culture that values and promotes violence. It’s not primarily caused by the American culture but it’s a huge contributing factor. American culture promotes the idea that men are supposed to be tough, stern, show little weakness or emotion, and that’s what these artists are trying to present in their music.

Argument two is also a good argument if you examine lyrical content and some of the ways they’re seen in videos and in pictures there’s definitely a presence of homoeroticism and homophobia. In their songs they boast about their bodies and how good they are, they make things very sexual and they are appealing to both sexes when they do this. Their lyrics also show homophobia when they either blatantly protest homosexuality or use feminine words to put down other rappers.

For the most part I agree with argument three, that the music corporations run by wealthy white men are responsible for the messages promoted in hip-hop, but I to have to say that I feel the artists that sign deal with major record companies have to take some responsibility. Now, given that these artists weren’t aware of the kind of deal the signed than it becomes hard for them to be held responsible. However, people are naïve. If people know they are only putting out music that will attract consumers not what they actually want than they should have to take some responsibility for promoting certain messages.

The genre of hip-hop is definitely denigrating to women, it puts them in hyper-sexualized positions and presents them as sexual objects.

I don’t know about argument five. It’s difficult for me to tell if stereotypes are used to sell records to primarily white audiences. I don’t know if they are selling to primarily white audiences or if that’s the type of music that they listen to. Maybe they are trying to sell to a variety of audiences.

When other artists call another artist a finmine word like bitch or when they use feminine words to describe a fellow artist they are perpetuating homoeroticism and homophobia. Whenever they boast about the amount of guns they have they’re promoting violence. You can see examples of domestic violence in Eminem’s song “Puke,” where he talks about his relationship with his on and off wife. David Banner’s song, “Play” is denigrating to women by talking sexualizing women.

When black men were represented during slavery and during Jim Crow white men controlled the images and ideas that were being presented, which is very similar to the control that is being held over artists by their labels. They don’t have much creative control.  The artists are only being represented in the way that the people in power feel is right and this is contributing to the worlds and consumers ideas of who these artists are.

Like I said when I agreed with one of the arguments earlier, hip-hop is homoerotic in that the lyrics and videos; it entices both sexes.

When major labels started to represent the hip-hop artists they changed the type of music that they wanted to be released. They wanted to sell music not make music and so they sold to the consumers. They made a product that they thought they could turn a profit on, which didn’t include music that talked about real issues.

Hip-hop can be problematic because it has such a large consumer population and these consumers listen to songs on repeat. When they hear certain lyrics and watch videos that portray certain stereotypes it becomes easier for them to see them as normal because they are everywhere. It also glamorizes certain lifestyles so people aren’t given a realistic idea of what life is like.

All music has a responsibility to be social responsibility because music has the largest consumer population that listen to it all the time. When this is the majority of information that they hear it’s the music industries responsibility to release at least some music that is socially conscious.

Word Count- 730 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Pre Read Week 11

Through the lyrics of song hip-hop translates what it can mean or feel like to be a certain race. Songs will talk about politics, life experiences, love, and other things, which all tie in to what their race, class, gender, and sexuality. This also works for when artists talk about social justice and how it affects them on the daily.

In the beginning of its genre hip-hop played an important role in telling stories of the artists past experiences, their lives, what they have had to go through to get to where they are now. I think a lot of people entered the hip-hop world to express what they were feeling, but now I think it’s different. I think a lot of people in the hip-hop industry now desire the fame and fortune that often comes hand in hand with being famous. Hip-hop has evolved to where a majority of it is I about sex and killing and a few here and there will be deep and talk about politics or how hard it was to make it in the industry and out of wherever they came from. I’m saying this as someone who doesn’t really listen to hip-hip and the only hip-hop I do hear are the songs that are put on the radio or MTV so there may in fact be a lit of good hip-hop out there that is more than just the superficial stuff put on the air.

Many of the rappers that are in the industry are African American or Latino. Most white rappers out there have a difficult time being accepted, with the exceptions of Eminem and I would even go as far to say Macklemore who is becoming more and more popular. As for the consumers of hip-hop, they range from every race and ethnicity; everyone can find some sort of connection to hip-hop and pretty much any genre of music.

Hip-hop can be problematic in the way it portrays certain lifestyles; it gives people false illusions of what it’s like to be rich. The way it portrays women can excuse in the sexist treatment of women and place them in the category of objects. This is done by male rappers with their lyrics and music video girls, and it’s also done be the female rappers in the industry.

I personally don’t know of one rapper that in one song or more hasn’t said something that demeans the opposite sex or boasts about doing drugs. However, there are several artists who have made songs that don’t employ the problematic aspects o hip-hop. For example “Wings” and “Same Love” and couple other songs from Macklemore are pretty deep. Tupac has a deep message in song with “changes” and “The Message,” by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five.  I think almost every rapper and sever hip-hop artists will have a really good song that connects deeply with what’s going on in the world and to the people.

Chris Rock says he can’t defend rap music anymore because he can’t “break it down intellectually,” the rap that’s available now just don’t have any meaning behind, they’re hyper sexualized and very explicit. The songs on the radio now are dirty and women will enjoy the songs that degrade them.

Hip-hop is great because it gives a voice to people who may not be heard in any other way. It also gives a new soundboard for people to hear certain ideas. When people hear their favorite artist say something profound about life, politics, or love they may be more likely to take a moment and consider what they’re saying. I mentioned before that some of the things that these songs or music videos portray could be problematic because people might take them to serious or they reinforce stereotypes.

When rap and hip-hop first started there were a lot more women in the game, and they were good too. Women like Da Brat, Eve, Roxanne Shante, Salt n’ Peppa, Queen Latifah, and Lauren Hill were very popular and many of them were respected in their music. Yes, some of their songs were hyper sexualized, but they were women in what was and still is considered mostly a man’s world. Hip-hop is definitely misogynistic, there are several songs that put women especially in positions where they are mistreated, abused, or equated to objects. It’s more common for women to be mistreated in music than men. Women more often than not play the role of a sex conquest instead of an equal, that’s pretty rare, and the women in hop-hop play into some of these stereotypes.

Women and race in hip-hop intersect in the way that it’s more women of color that have a role in hip-hop instead of white women, we rarely see white women in the music videos or making the songs. It’s also these same women of color that are often objectified within the music.

Jay Smooth states that we have to look at both sides of to understand the other. We have to look at personal responsibility and the larger picture for it to be healthy again. He mentions that we have to address the larger issues to get to all issues.

He finds flaws in both arguments in that they need to work together and we have to acknowledge both sides if we want progress in the hip-hop industry.

Word Count- 893 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Post Read Week 8

Students may be misdiagnosed with a learning disability because their teachers believe their behavior or academic success can only be explained by having a learning disability; behavior like not participating, disrupting the class by being loud or not being able to stay still.  Their academic success might be judged on whether how much homework they turn in, how much they participate, and how well they do on tests, but their lack of success might have deeper roots than just a learning disability. Their home environment might not allow the student the time or quietness they need to study. Their parents may not be around to help them with their homework or there might be a language barrier either between the student and teacher or the parent. All of these factors might add to the difficulty the student has in completing work, or the teacher is right and they have a learning disability, but their needs to be an extensive look into the other possibilities, instead of just jumping to conclusions.

People are always being compared to what is normal, whether its appearance, intelligence, or wealth, and on top of that we’re also told that we’re all unique in our own way. Well, what is it? It has to be one or the other. What is considered to be normal in terms of economic status and intelligence is that students will be middle class or higher and average or above average in academics. If students fail to meet these “normal” standards it’s assumed there is something wrong with them.

A student’s race might be influencing a teacher’s decision to place the student in special education because the teacher starts with a preconceived notion about a certain race. Like we talked about in class, a teacher who has an African American male student might be judge him to be loud, rude, illiterate, or even criminal-like. Students who are lower class may have a more difficult time completing their homework for reasons I listed in the first paragraph, which may make them appear to not be learning at the same level as other students. Just by general observation boys tend to be more on the rambunctious side, it’s more difficult for them to sit still, so when they exhibit these behaviors in class teachers can attribute of to them having a learning disability.

 Race as a social construct in relation to disability as a social construct share commonalties along the lines of them using what white men see as normal as the base line. If it’s not white or upper/middle class it’s abnormal. They differentiate in how they affect people. People are even more segregated for the population once they’re labeled with a disability.

If a disability is viewed as “in-child” it’s like saying that it’s a problem within the child that has not outside factors contributing to it. It’s a problem unique to this child that may or may not be “fixable”.  This kind of diagnosis hides that outside factors that might influence the behavior or success of the student.

The prime example of how all of these hierarchies of race, class, gender, and ability are upheld can be seen in the history of the disease HIV Aids. When the disease was first diagnosed as a “black” disease and then it was a “gay disease;” showing how race, gender, sexuality, and class intertwine. The doctors that were diagnosing it refused to look at the facts and data they we’re given because it would taint the stereotypes of the straight white community. Because the medical community has the power to understand medical terminology and medical issues it can manipulate it to favor certain people or outcomes, not to diminish all the great things that comes out of the medical community.

From the definition I used in my earlier blog post it defined learning disability as a person presenting systems of the imperfect ability to listen, speak, think, read, write, spell, or to do math calculations, all of which can be connected with a language barrier. Language barriers can directly correlate with economic status and race because lower economic status may be influenced by a person’s lack of ability to obtain a higher paying job. It’s really a cycle, if a parent doesn’t speak English well or isn’t well educated they rely on their children and then the pressure is on the child to succeed, but if they are diagnosed with a learning disability they are faced with something else holding them back from succeeding, when in fact they may just need extra attention or help with the language or understanding the material. People learn in different ways and some people just need more time.

Word Count- 781