Wednesday, December 10, 2014

2014: A Poem

Remember this summer when you were mad at me because I wouldn't take the ice bucket challenge?

I said "It doesn't look right or feel right to have ice dumped on my head when people are getting tear gassed in Ferguson" and you replied "Why won't you just support a cause?"

And now we're arguing about protests happening all over the place and you keep saying "Why are these people so mad?"

I have tried time and again to answer as best I can but you keep talking louder and louder.

You haven't listened to a word I've said.

My question for you is why won't you support a just cause and since you're doing all the talking maybe you can tell me what you mean by these people anyway?


Monday, December 8, 2014

To Be Continued

It's the last week of classes where I teach. Sweet. I've been tired.

Last night I fell asleep on the couch at 8:30. I slept until 5:00 this morning. I haven't slept that much in one night since 6th grade.*

*Maybe. Point is I'm not a great sleeper.

Driving to work this morning, I passed someone who was fixing her hair while she was driving. She had one hand on the steering wheel and at least one eye on her rear view mirror looking at her hair. Seeing her made me think of how I do stuff like that too during my morning commute (checking on my appearance to get ready for the day and whatnot). It's part of going into society. Then my mind wandered to how we all get ready for our day and how some of us send our children off to school to eventually become grownups in society. It's still weird to see my 7-year-old get on a bus. There goes a little person who used to be a baby who used to sleep on my shoulder.

So much ugliness in the world there are times I say to my wife "What were we thinking bringing kids into this sick world?" I've had that thought a lot in the last year.

To be continued...

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Readings about Michael Brown and Ferguson

These are some of the articles I've read about Michael Brown and Ferguson. I'm sure this list will grow. I'm collecting articles to use in my classes and to share as resources for teaching and learning.

Why We Still Have to Say #BlackLivesMatter - Jenifer Bratter

Ferguson Must Force Us to Face Anti-Blackness - Michael P. Jeffries

Telling My Son About Ferguson - Michelle Alexander

Mike Brown's Shooting and Jim Crow Lynchings Have Too Much in Common. It's Time For America to Own Up - Isabel Wilkerson

Ferguson: The Fire This Time - Bob Herbert

The Death of Michael Brown and the Search for Justice in Black America - Mychal Denzel Smith

Chronicle of a Riot Foretold - Jelani Cobb

The Anger in Ferguson - Jelani Cobb

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Dancing in September Struggling in December

Yesterday was the first day back in class after Thanksgiving Recess. We're at the point in the semester when energy levels are very low. It was pretty obvious in looking around the classroom that my students weren't energized yesterday. I asked a general "How are you" to my students and didn't get much of a reply. So the best follow-up I could manage was "It's December. What do you think about that?" A student said: "Checked out. I'm checked out." I always appreciate a honest reply. Her candid response captures how a lot of students and professors feel this time of year. In September people are smiling and ready to run through a wall to teach and learn (okay run through a wall is too much, point is we're really excited) but by December fatigue has set in and we're ready to wrap up the semester (and presents). We still have papers and final exams to deal with and that's not something that makes us happy. It's a struggle to close it all out. September is awesome. December is less than awesome. So there you have it. Dancing in September struggling in December. You may use that poetic phrase to sell t-shirts or coffee mugs if you like. I do hope you'll send me a portion of the proceeds.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Step Your Game Up, Santa

Hope my 7-year-old gets the photo copier he wants for Christmas. He writes comic books and wants to make copies. Santa and the reindeer will have to raise their game to make it happen. Good luck to the crew.




Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Labels, Stigma, Outsiders

I'm looking through my copy of Howard Becker's Outsiders as I prepare to teach an upcoming session in my Social Psychology course.

I'll share a few quotes from the book:

"The deviant is one to whom that label has successfully been applied; deviant behavior is behavior that people so label" (p. 9).

"Whether an act is deviant, then, depends on how other people react to it" (p. 11).

"Deviance is not a quality that lies in behavior itself, but in the interaction between the person who commits an act and those who respond to it" (p. 14).

"I have been using the term 'outsiders' to refer to those people who are judged by others to be deviant and thus to stand outside the circle of 'normal' members of the group" (p. 15).

"Differences in the ability to make rules and apply them to other people are essentially power differentials (either legal or extralegal)" (pp. 17-18). Click here for a longer quote about groups who have the power to label.


Click here to read an essay by Courtney Anders which speaks to the power of labels and the experience of being made an outsider. During class I'll discuss her essay after going through some of Becker's insights about the sociology of deviance.

I'm using this post to organize my thoughts for teaching. I conclude with a recommendation that Becker's Outsiders and Erving Goffman's Stigma be in your book collection.