Stephanie's blog

Let Freedom Ring

So, y’all know I love this book. And although I am not sure that Bell’s leaving Harvard in protest in 1992 helped to improve race relations at Harvard, I understand why he did it. My favorite quote from Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism and a bit of commentary:

On Road Trips, Race, and Retail

I have to admit that as much as I love the schizophrenic pace of Patricia Williams' The Alchemy of Race and Rights, I found myself needing to put the book down on more than one occasion. Anger is the main reason, followed closely by frustration and a sense of helplessness. You see, I’ve been “that woman” in a department store in the South where the cashier wouldn’t wait on me because I was Black. Regardless of the fact that I was ready to make the large purchase, a large leather tote by one of my favorite designers, and I guess she didn’t notice the fact that I already had one on my arm.

That's What I Said! Delpit and the Master's Tools

For most of this seminar we’ve engaged in discussions about education systems that do not seem to be serving the needs of minority or poor (oftentimes the two are one and the same) students. I’ve insisted from the beginning that we do these students a huge disservice by encouraging them to speak or write in their home language discourses, when the institutional structures/systems of power that exist in the United States do not value those discourses. So you all have to know how excited I was to read Delpit’s text. A few of my favorite quotes and a bit of commentary:

Telling Stories

What I like most about this text is what I’ve liked the most about some of the other texts we’ve read: Rose’s ability to weave the narrative of his own (and other’s) educational experiences with an analysis of the educational institutions, policies, and structures that precludes some our most vulnerable citizens from gaining said education.

Teaching to Transgress?

In bell hooks’ Teaching to Transgress, we first learn that hooks was bored and frustrated in her undergraduate and graduate classes, and thus as teacher is wholly invested in the notion of excitement in the classroom. For hooks, “to enter classroom settings…with the will to share the desire to encourage excitement, was to transgress” (7).

Smitherman is One Baaaad Mothaf-----, Hush Yo’ Mouf!

Believe it or not, (and I know that I’ve been a pretty harsh critic of Black English in our past discussions), I actually enjoyed Smitherman’s text. But probably not for the reasons you think. Yes, she did an excellent job of defining and describing Black English, and yes, I am convinced that it is actually a language that has more than a little merit in American culture. However, what struck me more than anything was how “dated” the text felt. No doubt Smitherman recognized the fluid and ever changing nature of language and says so more than once in her text.

On Silence and Learning

To be quite honest, I was a little worried when I started this text: I knew that Black English would play a large part, I knew I'd find out a bit more about Gilyard than I really wanted to know, and I'm not sure I'm buying the idea that there is such a thing a "Black Community" in which all Black folk learn to speak the same language, play the same games, and where the choices are always of the either or variety. Now that I've finished the text, I'm probably more dismayed than I was when I started. We can talk about this in class.

Not Black Enough, or the Pursuit of Racelessness

As someone who is reading Bootstraps for the first time, I was struck by the openness with which Villanueva related his life story: the struggle to find gainful employment, the stints on welfare, the desire to maintain his ethnicity, even as he became “raceless,” and his struggle against all odds (it seems) to earn the Ph.D. I read Cross-Talk in Comp Theory as a new master’s student and was blown away at all of the ways in which academics write about writing.

Confessions

I have to admit that I was a bit excited about reading this very personal story of Richard Rodriguez, that is, before I actually read the book. I was with him for a few pages, as I thought it might be a bit difficult for such a young child to make sense of his bilingualism, especially in light of his family's encouragement to speak English at home.

Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

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