Wednesday, July 20, 2016
On MIT blog, black students complain about racism
The discussion below is very shallow. Nobody seems to ask WHY whites are wary about blacks. Perhaps the answer is too obvious: The high rate of criminality among blacks. On some estimates, one third of black males will have spent time in jail during their lives, and they are only the worst offenders. So whites have very good reasons to minimize their contact with blacks. And that is mainly what is complained about below: not persecution but social reserve. It was once much worse.
White society has made great efforts -- with affirmative action and otherwise -- to improve the lot of blacks but many blacks have not picked up the ball. And while blacks by their own behaviour alienate whites, there will be very little real acceptance of them. It is racism of a sort but it is racism born of realistic caution.
For decent blacks, the situation is of course galling but getting angry about it will achieve nothing at the best and will deepen racial division at the worst. The recent shootings of police show how disastrous black anger can be. If there is much more of police shootings, it is not hard to see that many police will refuse to go into black-majority areas -- thus leaving innocent blacks to the black thugs. Police refusing to go into black areas is relatively rare today but we may not be far off from it becoming an epidemic.
We all at times have to "swallow" slights and blacks need to swallow the fact that whites will always be wary of them. There is no other healthy way forward. Blacks have to accept the reality that their very faces are faces of fear
And police feel that too. When they pull up a black, they are on hair-trigger alert for black aggression towards them. And sometimes the trigger gets pulled on the basis of a mistake. An innocent action by a black can look like pulling a gun. And in that case an innocent man may die from a police bullet -- as a result of what it essentially a mistake or an accident. That is how Philando Castile died. If blacks became generally co-operative rather than hostile to police, far fewer would die of police bullets.
But who can see that happening? I can't. So the time when many black areas will become no-go areas for police cannot be far off. And the big losers from that will be blacks
Just before he took a dinner break at work earlier this month, MIT senior Vincent Anioke scanned the Web for news and stopped on the graphic video of the July 6 shooting of Philando Castile by a Minnesota police officer.
As he read comments below the video, Anioke grew angry. He forgot about his dinner. Instead, he sat at his desk at Google in Kendall Square and in 45 minutes, pounded out a strongly worded essay about his own struggle as a black man in the United States.
“There is no nuance, there is no complication,” he wrote. “There is no subtlety. There is a problem. We feel like dogs. We feel like we don’t matter.”
His words went viral, among the MIT community and beyond — part of an uncommonly open discussion being fostered at MIT about the racial tension gripping the country.
Anioke’s post — like others that poured out after the spate of violence — appears not on Facebook or Medium, but on MIT’s official admissions website, a resource for prospective students. His became the most viewed in the past six months.
“We want to let our students speak, because we know that’s the best way to tell the story about MIT,” said Kirk Kolenbrander, an MIT vice president. “There is no decision by the institution, by MIT, about what gets printed.”
In the wake of the shootings in Minnesota, Louisiana, and Texas, the university has also encouraged other types of discussion about racial tension.
MIT’s president, L. Rafael Reif, wrote a letter in the days after the shootings, urging people at MIT to talk with each other about the violence, and then use their smarts to “help right the ship of our society.”
MIT held a lunch at which more than 600 students, professors, staff, and alumni sat around tables, ate chicken sandwiches, and talked. They talked about feeling anxious, sad, helpless, angry, guilty, and frustrated that they can’t change systems that seem broken, said DiOnetta Jones Crayton, associate dean for undergraduate education and director of the MIT office of minority education, who spoke at the event.
And of course, being scientists, people talked about experiments, and hypotheses, and solutions Jones Crayton said. Could technology help end racism, they wondered?
“We have expertise that we can lend to this dialogue,” she said in a phone interview after the event. Another student blogger wrote about the lunch.
Many colleges have student bloggers, but those at MIT are unusually candid. The school encourages the bloggers it selects each year to write what they want, so among entries about cooking, dormitory drama, and math problems are posts about depression and suicide, about sexual assault, and recently, about racism.
When Anioke’s post went live July 8, he was nervous about the response. He had written about his struggle to find community at MIT because, as someone from Nigeria, he didn’t totally identify with African-American culture.
“Because we’re mostly black [in Nigeria,] ‘being black’ was never a term that was part of my daily vocabulary. You were tall or short or fat or skinny or intelligent or a complete and utter idiot, but you weren’t black. It was as weird as saying ‘you’re human.’ ”
Then one day, he wrote, he was walking home from the Central Square post office in Cambridge and a white man grabbed him, accused him of stealing someone’s wallet, and hurled a racial slur.
“I can’t hide under some fancy little idea that there’s a barrier between black and African, because what matters to these people — you know who these people are — is that they can take one look at the color of your skin, and populate their minds with the entire back story of you,” he wrote.
“They can take one look at you, and before they’re even looking away, they’ve put you — they’ve put us — in this mental catalogue.”
As his post went live, he watched as the social media tickers at the bottom of the page spun. Five thousand, then 10,000, then 26,000 likes, and 1,320 tweets. His post is the blog’s seventh-most-viewed in the past six years, MIT said.
Other posts also have students talking. Sophomore Ben Oberlton’s July 11 post, “Life of a Black Person,” generated lots of conversation. In January, in response to other race-related events on other campuses, rising junior Selam Jie Gano wrote about training the eye to see color, and training people to respect each other. She followed up last week with a post called “Alien in America.”
“The difference between seeing and not seeing incidents of discrimination that happen to others is also about practice,” wrote Jie Gano in the earlier post, which even generated a comment from Reif.
For Anioke, the best part of writing was reading the comments. Unlike the shallow reactions on Facebook that had prompted him to write — comments that implied Castile was somehow partly to blame for being shot — these were thoughtful, filled with people sharing personal stories and messages of understanding.
“I sort of just kept writing and writing until I was done writing,” Anioke said in a phone interview last week. “I felt like I had spoken honesty.”
“Sometimes I wonder, can things change? Can things ever change?” Anioke said. “I do think things can change, we just need enough people to come together.”
University Receives $3.3M For Fruit Promotion, Cooking Classes
An odd use for Higher education
The University of California San Diego School of Medicine Center for Community Health recently received a $3,384,909 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to increase affordable food access to participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
“Working in conjunction with Northgate González Market, the Center will develop a program to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables among SNAP participants by providing incentives at point-of-purchase at markets in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties,” The UC San Diego website says.
The website claims the effort “will include financial incentive rebates on fruit and vegetable purchases, special fruit and vegetable promotions and in-store cooking classes, store tours and education on food labeling. The program will also provide researchers with key data to better understand healthy purchasing behaviors.”
The multi-year large-scale project at UC San Diego is part of the $16.8 million in grants to help SNAP under the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) program announced in June.
“This funding will enable us to significantly increase the number of consumers participating in nutrition incentive programs and the amount of USDA dollars spent on healthy eating,” said Joe Prickitt, senior director of the Southern California Nutrition Incentive Program with UC San Diego School of Medicine Center for Community Health.
British schools are told to call transgender children 'zie' rather than 'he' or 'she' in case they cause offence
Teachers are being told to call transgender children 'zie' rather than 'he' or 'she' to avoid giving offence under new official guidelines.
The Boarding Schools Association has told teachers to learn a 'new language' as part of official guidance which is aimed at 'queering the education system'.
The advice aims to help teachers navigate the 'minefield' of gender identity and deal with children and young adults who do not want to be referred to by male or female pronouns.
As part of it teachers have been told to address children by their 'pronoun of choice', including they or 'zie'.
Alex Thompson, deputy chief executive of the Boarding Schools' Association, said the guidelines hope to help school staff who may be 'in the dark'.
He told The Telegraph: 'Teachers, heads and deputy heads were asking questions about these issues and they felt they were in the dark on what was politically correct and had fears of causing offence as young people largely between the ages of 13 and 18 were questioning their gender identity.
'There was a strong understanding when it more obvious and direct when someone came out as gay but not in the area where young people were asking 'who am I?' to a member of staff and these were questions they had not been asked before.
Mr Thompson added: 'It's amazing how complicated the whole thing is in a community where the norms are the ones we have accepted for years.
'It's tricky for individuals that are having difficulty accepting there is something beyond the binary system of gender we take for granted.'
Last month teachers at Britain's leading girls' schools were told to stop calling pupils 'girls' or 'young women' in case it offends those questioning their gender identity.
Head teachers belonging to the Girls' Schools Association were instructed to use gender-neutral words like 'pupils' or 'students' to avoid discrimination.
The advice also banned the phrase 'young ladies' and recommended the creation of unisex lavatories.
Caroline Jordan, President of the GSA and headmistress of £33,000-a-year Headington School in Oxfordshire, backed the advice saying it affects an increasing number of young people questioning their identity.
'In assemblies, instead of saying 'Girls, go to lessons,' staff should consider saying 'Pupils, go to lessons,' or 'Students, go to lessons,'' she told the Sunday Times.
'I do not want anyone to think that girls' or boys' schools are invested in one way of being a girl or one way of being a boy.
My view is that where you can use gender-neutral language about people that is a good thing,' she added.
The advice was given to the GSA by Gendered Intelligence whose chairman, Jay Stewart, branded the phrase 'young ladies' sexist and 'transphobic'.
He said about one per cent of the population were transgender and that the new guidance helps them to not feel like 'freaks.'
Some schools have already introduced gender-neutral uniforms, including Brighton College in the private sector and a further 80 state schools.
Brighton College said it scrapped its traditional uniform to accommodate 'gender dysphoric' pupils.
The college said it has axed the 170-year-old code to meet the needs of youngsters who see themselves as the opposite sex from their biological gender.
Instead, the school is introducing a 'trouser uniform' and a 'skirt uniform' for pupils up to age 16. Girls who have gender dysphoria will be able to wear a tweed blazer, tie and trousers, while dysphoric boys will be able to wear a skirt, bolero jacket and open-neck blouse.
At least one pupil has already taken up the option, Brighton College said, while a handful of other families have made inquiries on behalf of their own children.
Posted by jonjayray at 12:55 AM