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Dear Dr .Al,

When our class met with the mayor he talked about the
possibility of forming an academy for African Americans.  Do you think this would be advantageous for
the improvement of cultural learning, or do you think this could be detrimental
due to the segregation that would be created between Caucasian and African
American students?

Student.

 

Dear S,

What you’re asking here is about the relationship
between “cultural learning” and academic success…and by extension, if “cultural
learning“ is best delivered within the context of an Afro-centric environment –
within an Afro-centric curriculum. There is enough data to suggest that there
is tremendous social and academic benefit to holding a positive historical
cultural self identity (HiCSI), and home cultural self-identity (HoCSI).  HiCSI has to deal with learning one’s
history, foods, music, the story of one’s beginnings, language, traditions,
etc. and viewing it as a strength. This is what the Turtle school in Green Bay
is based on.  HiCSI deals with positive
strong messages delivered within the context of the home.  So in this case, your parents are delivering
the messages of who you are and how you represent yourself, your family, your
culture.  This is what many immigrants
do.  They teach their children what it means
to be African, Latino, Asian, etc.  The
children may not be taught the history, per say, but they are bathed in the
language, the music, the foods, clothing, etc.
This is central to a student’s success as it represents both the base or
launching-pad for ethnic minority students…as well as a place of strength and
safety (a home) to retreat to when emotionally challenged.  Now, let’s take this to your question.

If we accept that this “learning”  is integral to a student’s academic success,
and that this “learning” needs to be secured early during a child’s formative
years, (particularly since you have competing messages) then either the child
gets this in the home or in the school…or is defined and defines himself
through the messages in the environment.
If these “learnings” are not being delivered
adequately/appropriately/satisfactorily in the current school environment; and
if its not being delivered adequately/appropriately/satisfactorily in the
current home environment, and we acknowledge its importance to academic
success…then we simply find an environment that would do it.  This is the basis of the argument for many of
the charter schools.

Relative to the segregation part of your question “segregation that would be created between
Caucasian and African American students
,” (a) I do not see how different
that is than what we have today, and (b) maintaining a weakened posture has
done nothing to enhance or advance the process of integration.

 

Thank you for your question.

Dr. Al

 

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What our brain takes in is very much determined by our environment.  The smells that we find favorable and unfavorable are determined by our environment.  The foods we find acceptable and flavorful, unacceptable and gross are very much determined by our environment.  Friend, foe, safe, unsafe…are taught to each of us by our environment. The cerebellum, to the hippocampus, to the cingulated cortex.  It gets locked in.  

What people don’t acknowledge is that this is all of us.  These learnings affect all of us.  It’s just what’s put in front of our plates and how it’s introduced to each of us. 

An example:  I was brought in a cultural environment where dogs are for protection…not for petting, and certainly not to be in your house!  Family and friends who visit are quite put-off, initially, when they see a beagle greet them at the front door.  The discomfort, the fear, the anxiety are palpable.  By the end of their 2-week visit, they are petting my dog.  They understand that this beagle is part of my family structure.  Do not, for one moment, think that they are going back home with a newly discovered urge to see dogs differently!  They are not.  But they are more open to the concept of a different way to see dogs.  There are different realities – and more so, these different realities exist in certain environments.  What does that mean?  It means that if they come to America and visit your home, they will ask you if your dog is friendly.  If they never had the experience of difference, they will never know difference.

Now let’s go back to our discussion.     

So let’s see – – – What have we been collectively taught about this population that we call Blacks?  What are these popular images? Do remember that these are images that bathe all of us!!!  No one is immune.

  1. We have the Black athlete.
  2. We have the Black as comedic relief…the fool…the jester.
  3. We have the Black as the over-do…the one that helps us to amplify and laugh at his own.
  4. Black as the pimp…the overly sexual Black.  The well-hung.  
  5. The Black as the entertainer.
  6. Oh!  How can we forget the Black as the criminal.
  7. The Black as the slave. 
  8. The Black as the distressed, the poor, the destitute.
  9. The Black as the thug.
  10. The Black as the lazy, can’t read, doesn’t read.
  11. And finally, there is the Black as the buffoon…the Black that, because he needs to be friends with Whites to be accepted, will play the buffoon.
  12. One more ~ the Black as the Brown Egg! 

The intellectual, the academic, the scientist, the entrepreneur, the tender, the engaging, the CEO – are rarely seen. 

What’s sad is that, many times, these roles (1 – 11) become the roles of ascendancy. 

You want to get ahead in life?  Play this role. 

You want to get paid?  Play this role. 

You want to be part of my social group?  Play this role.

You want to feed your family or live in this fancy house?  Play this role. 

Discuss this blog in light of everything we’ve seen and experienced and interpreted in our limited lives to this point.  

Let’s have a wonderful discussion.

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This is not my blog.  I picked it up off Blogspot this morning.  It is a post by Dean Dad.  The entire blog is reposted here for your review.  The response (below) is mine. Enjoy!

Diversity Hiring

I’m on the horns of a dilemma here, and I’m hoping that crowdsourcing the problem might lead to a sustainable solution. Wise and worldly readers, I’m counting on you!

Like many colleges, my college’s faculty does not reflect the demographics of either its students or its community. Bluntly, it’s a lot whiter. The disparity is largest on the faculty side.

The Board of Trustees has made a public commitment to diversifying the college. However, opportunities for hiring are fewer and farther between now than they once were, with the recession-driven cuts in state aid. The pincer movement of ‘a drive to diversify’ and ‘a paucity of openings’ means that the college has to take a serious shot at candidates from underrepresented groups whenever it can. That’s proving harder than one might expect.

The teaching load here is typical for community colleges in this region, which is to say, it’s not for the faint of heart. And while the benefits are good, the starting salaries won’t blow the doors off.

Even in this economy, we’ve had trouble recruiting minority faculty. We’ve made offers, but we keep losing out to places with higher salaries or lower teaching loads. Minority candidates are in much higher demand than others, so even in this market, they can command offers far sweeter than what we can muster. And faculty salaries here are determined by a pretty mechanistic collective bargaining agreement.

We’ve exhausted the low-hanging fruit. We advertise in venues likelier to attract minority applicants. We have racially mixed search committees. We screen job posting language carefully to ensure that nothing in them creates unnecessary barriers. The low-cost, nonconflictual stuff is already done.

Which means, in practice, that the available options are few.

One is to simply make the salary offers the contract allows, and to hope for the best. When we get turned down, turn to whomever else is available. It’s legally clean, but in practice, it makes an already very white faculty that much whiter. It winds up placing a value of ‘zero’ on diversity, with predictable results.

Another would be to go above the grid and simply endure the grievances. If paying an extra, say, 5k will make the difference, and the Trustees have determined that the difference is worth making, then so be it. The advantage of this approach is that it stands a greater chance of actually recruiting people. The disadvantages, though, are several. For one, it virtually guarantees protracted legal battles with the union. For another, it stirs up resentments that tend to get ugly fast. And at a really basic level, it raises the question of just what, exactly, the candidate is being paid for.

The union, of course, would prefer that we simply raise the entire salary scale until the whole thing is high enough that we can recruit without premiums. But that’s a budget buster, and it would actually freeze the existing imbalances in place. It’s both unaffordable and unhelpful. It’s a nonstarter.

(And please, don’t start in with the usual “bloated administrative salaries” crap. We’ve already shed administrators, and I’m looking now at the fourth consecutive year at the same salary.)

Which means that the second option is rapidly becoming the preferred one. Without it, recent results have shown, the racial gaps will simply continue to grow.

But if we go with the second option, the question of magnitude becomes real. So, wise and worldly readers, is there a reasonably elegant and sustainable way to improve our minority hiring results within the confines of limited resources and a vigilant union? I’d honestly like to know.

 # posted by Dean Dad @ 2:18 AM

RESPONSE to Diversity Hiring: 

Okay ~ let me help you out here. 1.  I don’t know where, geographically, you are talking about. That makes a difference relative to your ability to attract ethnic minority candidates. (I am assuming that is your reference in using the term “diversity”). If you are in a culturally white area, there are only two reason I would come there. (a) Does the benefit of the 5k balance the social & emotional cost of uprooting myself and working in that environment?  (b) Would my experience in that environment translate into opportunities elsewhere – let’s say 3 years down the road.

If the answer to each is “no” or “not likely” then I am not coming. Makes sense?

So you are left with another option:  Search within an environment, similar to the one you’re in, where the population you are looking for (Blacks, Latinos) are already acculturated. They’ve grown-up in the environment.

3. You have differences (not the point of discussion here) between African Americans and Africans, or African Americans and Caribbeanos.  Africans and Caribbeanos are more readiliy acculturated or “acculturable” (See – I made up a word) than African Americans. Why is not our point of discourse here. You target that population.

Finally, it is according to what you want them to teach.  There are readied populations in certain areas…there are invisible populaltions in other areas of academia. There are certain areas of academic that we have not yet discovered, been advised of, engaged in…blah, blah, blah.

Good Luck.

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