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A Twinge of Conscience "This I Believe” can often be a pulpit. Ustinov does not treat it as such. There is no proselytizing, no extolling, or drama; there is only a simple laundry list of his beliefs. Out of the secular comes spirituality, out of the irreverent comes faith. Some of the smartest people I know never went to college, and some of the most spiritual people I know haven’t set foot in a church in years. It is not our faith or intellect, however, that make us human, it is the willingness to accept the faith and intellect of others. – Dr. Donald Mabbott I must admit at once that I am one of those people who reach their conclusions about faith by a process of elimination rather than as a result of an opening of private heavens. I am aware that there are conventions which believe faith to be as blind and beautiful as love, and even if I cannot subscribe to this, I feel that people like myself, even if incapable of mystical frenzies, have the consolation of being far less dangerous to our fellow men. Organized religion as such depresses me, in that I can never accept the idea of the church as an agency of God, with different denominations as active in claiming the attention of the layman as are those corporations who jockey for position in the world of commerce. When this practice of agency reaches the pitch of deciding a child’s religion before it is born, I rebel, or rather, my conscience rebels. Parenthood is not a selfish investment. It is a happy accident by which human beings can perform the miracle of creating a character, a conscience, and a mind, the whole served up with identifiable features. I believe that the parents’ function is to allow the young mind full rein, so that it may grow up with the dignity of doubt rather than with the servility of imposed convictions. I resent attempts at conversion by any slave to a sense of mission, be he political or divine. I have nothing against the hermetic mind so long as it is not allied to a moralizing mouth. My grandfather, whom I never knew, was converted from Orthodoxy to Protestantism. I believe that had he not done so, I might easily have taken the same step, although, as I said, I find the habit of religion oppressive, and an easy way out of personal thought. It is, in any case, a temperamental difference in the believers which separates the churches, and not a religious difference. If I can’t put up with the interfering dogmas, I am prepared and proud to be called a Christian, because it is a convenient and beautiful adjective with which to label the grain of virtue latent in the human conscience. I believe in doubt and mistrust conviction; I believe in liberalism and detest oppression; I believe in the individual and deny the existence of the so-called masses; I believe in abstract love of country and deplore patriotism; I believe in moral courage and suspect physical courage for its own sake; I believe in the human conscience and deny the right of fanatics or of those with self-created halos to impinge on its necessary privacy. The mysticism of mortals is an attempt to colonize obscurity for the purpose of religious oppression, while a twinge of conscience is a glimpse of God. Writer, director, and actor Peter Ustinov had a career spanning 60 years on stage and screen. He won two Academy Awards for best supporting actor, as well as three Emmy Awards and a Grammy Award for best children’s recording. Ustinov also served as a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF for many years.
LIKERS: An Unsustainable Generation of Parapersonas Part 1 by Dr. Donald L. Mabbott My life experiences and those of my colleagues, friends and family in other industries, seem to suggest that the more closely one’s chosen vocation is examined, the more visible it’s flaws become. When I decided to extrapolate on my educational leadership dissertation, The Cathartic Writer’s Voice and Self-Efficacy: an Exploration, I mistakenly focused on what frustrated me most about our country’s educational system and little else. My first efforts proved too dour for publication and offered few solutions. Initially, I sought to understand how the founding fathers balanced things like war, criminal justice, and commerce with education, in relationship to how America prioritizes them in the 21st Century. In essence, how we got into this mess. Frankly, I had a difficult time finding hope—what I deem a high-priority leadership trait—and practical solutions—what I sense our agents of change in education truly need. As I did my research, I tried to avoid some of the sordid realities and generalities regarding the current condition of American education. In the end, however, it became impossible to avoid the truth. Inequitable federal budgets, antiquated policies, and gap-widening high-stakes testing are at the core of America’s educational effort, and has historically focused on creating three types of citizens: soldiers, criminals, and consumers. The majority of our younger citizens are still being conditioned to kill, buy, or commit crime, in a deliberate system bent solely on this purpose. Like the parents that show up to the soccer game but not the science fair, our new generation of “Likers” has not only learned what’s important to their folks, they have also learned what’s important to their country. Essentially, America wants only three things from them: …how much they are willing to kill — in our approach to imperialism; …how much they are willing to buy — in our neo-capitalist approach to democracy, and …how often they are willing to re-offend — in our 146 billion dollar prison industry. To distance themselves from this trifecta of oppression, a generation of Likers has been forced back into Plato’s Cave and made to embrace the fabricated shadows on the wall. To them, everything is just a copy, a substandard version, a mirror or faded image, a substitute, an apprentice to, or a facsimile of, something real. Literally, the next generation of Americans has been given no reason to seek a real identity. They may be part of the “Millenials” or “Generation Tech,” but as a whole, if born anytime after the Gen Xers, life is full of a growing intolerance for authenticity, and mired with a purposeful, systematic movement to make them accept a world of vapidity, tributes and second best. Moreover, they have learned to question the real, the original, and the best of almost everything. So, they preface or qualify practically everything with the word, like. From a 2010 dictionary: like1 (lik) adj 1 having almost or exactly the qualities, characteristics, etc. like1 (lik) –interj. [Informal] inserted into spoken sentences before or after a word, phrase, or clause, apparently without meaning or syntactic function, but possibly for emphasis [it’s, like, hot] –be like [Slang] to say think, or feel [so, I’m like, “We have to be there on time,” and he’s like, “Well, duh—so what else is new?” (Agnes 830-831). The spark for this exploration, however, did not originate because of the increased usage of “like” as an interjection by young people in the U.S. Instead, it came to me when I started to notice new cars with subordinate names. For example, while the sound of models like Aspire, Protégé, and Eclipse may evoke a positive consumer lifestyle image, they are, in fact, words that depict a subset or something that is inferior, or merely “like” something else. This realization drew me into a world of other qualifiers, hybrids, abstractions, and all things half-hearted, including products, people, language, professions, and attitudes. The danger in things that are simply “like” other things, designed and touted as the real deal, is compounded by the equally empty threats and promises from parents bent on overcompensating for missed “quality time” in lieu of actual parenting. This has systematically transformed Likers into a citizenry of the walking unfulfilled. Each is content with a parapersona, an unfinished identity bereft of original personality or sense of humanness. It is important to note here that this not a conscious choice, because a true persona was never an option. If post Gen Xers appear to be play the victim card occasionally —even if it’s for the wrong reason—it might be because at nearly every turn of their lives, they’ve been asked to accept a false reality. Most of the things they’ve been called upon to believe in, to stand behind and to support, are actually pale replacements of what previous generations enjoyed in their original, true from. “Likers:” An Unsustainable Generation of Parapersonas, is an attempt to pinpoint how traditional educational practices and applications have fostered the creation of this generation, and how we might systematically draw our youth back to the realm of the real, and to a new and uncompromising level of authenticity, identity and service. People Essentially, Likers need to go back to the cave: And now, I said, let me show in a figure how far our nature is enlightened or unenlightened: --Behold! human beings living in a underground cave, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the cave; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets (Jowett 253). Benjamin Jowett translation (Vintage, 1991), pp. 253-261 When Plato wrote this classic dialogue, it is remarkable to imagine that he would have fathomed its pertinence 2,500 years later. Moreover, that a civilization would have both the courage to escape the cave, only to intentionally escort a generation of its citizens back down to the chains, the fire, and the shadows. Although the implied metaphor may be directed at our approach to education in the U.S., some of the chains are very real for the Americans caught in the vicious undereducated crime-punishment-re-offend-punish-re-offend, circle. We will address the American prison industrial complex in greater detail a little later. If the concepts of liberty and free speech are at the heart of our cultural identity, then each voice, of every citizen, regardless of their individual identity, has the right, moreover, the duty to actively participate in the policies, procedures and governance of our society—and that includes our system of education. The beginning of a pluralistic (some may even say “radical”) educational movement must start below the “grassroots” as anything that threatens to replace other well-lobbied, profit-addicted, union-infused machines in corporate complex, must be ready to face a bank of lawyers and political opponents. To create a viable, more positive alternative to American educational homogeneity, reformers must be armed with pedagogies ripe with individual stories, social justice successes and pluralism. They (micro-level social justice projects) must be surfaced via radical and relentless pedagogies of resistance; they must be surfaced in the stories, the narratives, of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience; they must be surfaced through writing, and teaching of those whom Mumia Abu-Jamal called “radical intellectuals” and ultimately, through freedoms of coalitions between the two that bridge the lines of difference between freedom and incarceration, as well as those of class, race, and gender (Brewer and Heitzeg, 2005, p. 639). Perhaps, the lawmakers, landowners and citizens during abolition suffered the same “confusion” and “separation” when dealing with human beings of difference, and perhaps there were prisoners of conscience and radical intellectuals who tried to bridge these lines of difference. I imagine that their efforts would be met with, at best, disbelief and more likely, hostility and violence. The Likers must be exposed to a new set of stories, perhaps from those who, at one time or another, also felt like prisoners, of conscience or an unfair system. This is the only way these stories will appear authentic to Likers. As their education about education has increased, their level of trust, belief and support of the unhealthy existing system has proportionately decreased. Certainly, they have proven to be people who strive to bridge the lines between cultures and have a radical side to their intellectual curiosity and scholarship. They also have a unique desire to be a member of a community and collective vision greater than their own—greater than themselves. Most, (comparative people) when they were children, made an unconscious choice to pursue comparative advantage and admiration as the major ground of their identity. As they got older, it became an almost exclusive ground of identity. By the time they reached their early twenties, they found themselves quite adept at playing the comparison game, though the ramifications of it kept haunting them. Eventually, for lack of any other identity, they decided it was worth the pain to themselves, colleagues, family, friends, and culture to put on a good front and continue the game in “earnest” (Spitzer, 2005, pps. 76, 77). Likers’ homogenous parapersonas are forged by these “unconscious choices,” present in an upbringing and educational environment mired with constant comparisons, empty competitiveness, and an addiction to endless self-absorbed forms of entertainment. For Likers, the transformation from what Spitzer calls a comparative identity to a contributive identity must first include a willingness on the part of teachers, students and educational administrators to recognize the benefits of such a transformation—and to recognize that “the comparison game” is a game, and not real life. Likers have been conditioned to take the form of something less original than themselves; therefore, they need a clear path, guidance and motivation to make this transformation. The American “Home” The American home once held sacrosanct in our country has also become a commodity in the eyes of our Likers. Norman Rockwell’s vision of the familial nest has irreversibly transmogrified and earned a new name, the “flip.” This is a piece of property, in the right neighborhood, at the right time, which can be identified as a thing to be used to turn a quick dollar. This, in turn, has created a new breed of Americans. People who have no interest in owning a home other than how it can serve them in their vocation are a new demographic. Countless television and retail outlets are designed specifically to help “flippers” assess value, refurbish (as inexpensively as possible) and resell home and hearth for more than the cost and remodel combined. “Flippers” and their families sometimes move from property to property with one thing in mind, eventually selling it to the highest bidder. Cutting corners, amateurish “innovation,” and “shabby-chic,” lured more homebuyers, realtors, and lenders to the trough than at any other time in our history. Unfortunately, flippers had a system that fed into the hysteria in such a way that impacted the national economy. In order for flippers to maximize profit, they often demanded Option Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARM)s for their purchases, even if their income supported fixed mortgage options. This would minimize their payments for as long as it took appreciation to occur. At this point, many ARMs, however, were being sold to flippers and other families, without owner equity cushions, scrutiny of their debt-to-income ratios, or verification of their ability to pay the debt back. Additionally, families were willing to pay top dollar for homes, only because ARMs lowered their initial monthly payments and made it possible for them to purchase a home above their means. This, in turn, inflated home prices across the country, and created “The Bubble.” The thin skin of the housing bubble stretched and stretched until a giant needle in the form of sub-prime hedge funds, seller financed down-payment assistance programs, (DAP)s, and the sale and resale of these toxic debts pierced its circumference. POP! Almost three million foreclosures were initiated in 2009. Likers watched as their homes were foreclosed upon, and watched as other families in some of the “fastest-growing” American cities faced eviction. A recent CBS News reported that while parents might often shield their kids from financial trauma, “[W]hen things fall apart, like in a foreclosure, it comes as a shock.” Not just individual family foreclosures, but national financial downturns have affected the Likers as well. “Some psychologists worry that for teens, who are still developing their very identity, the financial and social strains of the recession could lead to a lifelong sense of insecurity.” According to the National Association of School Psychologists, fallout from these traumas can include but are not limited to, “sleeping and eating disturbances, agitation, increase in conflicts, physical complaints, delinquent behavior and poor concentration.” All too often, parents have used Likers as confidants for their own comfort and understanding, financial and otherwise. George Carlin once said that a “home” is an abstraction, a state of mind. He contended that “homeless” people were not in fact, homeless, but houseless. Many Likers have not been afforded the serene, domestic luxury of such a state of mind and burdened with constant media and adult exposition on how bad things are and who in the neighborhood maybe “losing their house.” To Likers, the more succinct, “house,” especially among shared-custody families has, irreversibly replaced the ethereal concept of “home.” Home became, “My dad’s house,” or “My mom’s house,” and confusion of their situation arose when they ran up against axioms and traditional sayings of other generations like, “There’s no place like home,” “Home for the holidays,” and “Home is where the heart is.” Denied Maslow’s first two needs, Basic Survival and Safety, is it any wonder that Likers have a difficult time reaching the top tier, Self Actualization? Transportation Teens of the 50s and 60s would have never imagined the meltdown of the Big Three that Likers have witnessed. Cars were made with steel, rubber, glass and American sweat back then. Imports were rare and usually German, British or Italian. When the first Honda showed up on American shores in the 70s, it was laughable. It looked like a wind up toy, the Japanese version of the Mini-Cooper. While Detroit was still making, bulky, gas-guzzling land yachts, Japanese automakers were building a slow and steady stream of small, well-built, fuel-efficient vehicles. It is an understatement to say that they had a completely different business model and espoused a different relationship between worker and product. Toyota even brought factories to the U.S. and made workers a successful part of their philosophy. American carmakers responded with two small cars, The Pinto, in 1970, and The Chevette, in ’75. The suffix “ette” is used to create a diminutive, female, or imitation of something real; in this case, a Chevrolet. A Pinto is a pony, a smaller, and weaker version of big, powerful horses like Ford Mustangs and Chargers. As reputation, quality, and overall efficiency of Japanese cars increased—as did their size—the Pinto was discovered to be a Molotov Cocktail on wheels, and The Chevette? Well, The Chevette was just ugly, unsafe, and trouble-ridden. This was the beginning of the end. Fast forward to 2008, when U.S. Autoworkers earned an average of $73 an hour, and many “laid off” workers were drawing 95 percent of their pay for extended periods. Toyota employees averaged almost half that. Other than their 2009 accelerator vs. floor mat, issue, Toyota, who also started with a small car, The Corona, has continued to make quality, affordable, and fuel-efficient cars. The U.S. bailout of the auto industry not only taught the Likers that American carmakers were, irresponsible and unorganized, but that the names of their products—their paravehicles—were a running commentary on the semi-real products and performance they could expect. For example, The Ford Aspire, wants to be something real but hasn’t quite got there yet; The Olds Bravada, is prideful but in reality, quite empty; The Plymouth Breeze, is not even a real wind—just something to rustle the leaves a little; The GMC Envoy, is something between two real things; The Olds Intrigue, is a little mystery behind something real; The Mercury Mystique, a vague sensation surrounding something real; The Mazda Oasis, is just a figment of one’s imagination; The Mercury Bobcat, is not nearly as ferocious as a real Cougar, The Mazda Protégé, is merely an understudy of something real; The Buick Rendezvous, is a meeting of two things real; The Dodge Shadow, is a dark silhouette of something real; The (Suzuki) Sidekick, is a semi-super hero whose role is to get in trouble so that he can be rescued by something real; The Dodge Spirit, is the enthusiasm about something real; and lastly, The Mazda Tribute, is merely an homage to something real. Americans love their cars, and have often prescribed to the notion, “You are what you drive.” After the 2010 bailout, the future of U.S. carmakers held as much promise as the resale value of a Yugo. The technology to make hybrid vehicles was available and ignored in America as our long-avoided environmental awareness kicked into high gear. The Honda Insight with its streamlined look and 60 MPG, was followed by the more stylish and thoughtfully-designed Toyota Prius. At the time of Chris Paine’s documentary, Who Killed the Electric Car, Roland Hwang, Vehicles Policy Director, from the Natural Resources Defense Council, said, “GM killed off its own electric car, but it can’t kill the huge demand for cleaner cars that don’t leave us dependent on Middle East oil. Unfortunately, it's GM workers who are now paying for management’s shortsightedness with their jobs” It is now the American taxpayers and their children paying for that shortsightedness. Heroes Most Likers are too young to remember O.J. Simpson, the trial, and the media blitz that surrounded it. They were also too young to experience the riots that happened after the Rodney King verdict. Boomers and Jonsers had The Kennedys, Martin Luther King, Viet Nam, The Cuban Missile Crisis, Watergate, and Natalie Wood, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Sharon Tate, and Charles Manson, Gary Gilmore and The Green River Killer. We lost faith in some of our heroes, or we lost them altogether through assassination and drug overdose, or their particular vocation lost them due to criminal activity. The people Likers look up to today, on the other hand, are assassins, criminals and drug users. From video game killers, to dead rappers, to billion-dollar athletes, Likers see greater celebrity power and more intrigue with those who behave outside of the law and outside the rules. Why? …because society puts its stamp of approval on it every day. Rock stars, Actors, Olympic athletes, Major League Football, Baseball and Basketball players, Cyclists and UFC fighters, intentionally fly outside the law in order to get fans, not to lose them. Likers have learned that even if their heroes have been banned by their respective organizations, they can still find endorsement money, appearance money, and yes, even continue to work in their field. Of the athletes on testcountry.org’s top-ten list of athletes busted for steroid use in 2009, only two earned a lifetime ban from their sport. Although it may be safe to say that most Boomers and Jonsers agreed with the late Bill Hicks on the subject of endorsements: You do a commercial, you're off the artistic roll call for ever, end of story. You're another corporate fucking shill, another whore at the capitalist gang-bang, if you do a commercial everything you say is suspect and every word that comes out of your mouth is now like a turd falling into my drink. Likers recognize and delight in this relationship as part of the package. They may even have friends or relatives that have endorsements due to an individual athletic or artistic prowess. Not only can Likers favorite artists and athletes have criminal records or be known drug users, they don’t even have to be particularly good at what they do. Nitro Circus, a television show that features extreme sports competitors, has countless endorsements despite the fact that many of the cast members no longer compete and that many of the stunts they attempt end up in injury. Bam Margera has not competed as a professional skateboarder for years, but he maintains several sponsorships due to a reality television show in which his parents are often the brunt of cruel and disrespectful pranks. American Idol losers such as Sanjaya Malakar and William Hung went on to get recording contracts, tours and shots on the late night television circuit. Sometimes it is difficult to assess just why some of Likers’ heroes are heroes at all. Perhaps, it is the inability of these celebrities to fit into any category—singer, dancer, actress, designer, artist—that’s what makes them appealing. This would also explain the appeal of Reality Shows that actually turn people into a singer, dancer, actress, designer, or artist. Is it any wonder, that the sports Likers have an earnest sense of fairness about them? Long to embrace futbol here in the states, soccer, as we call it, has surged in popularity since the Likers joined our ranks. It takes a severe degree of stamina, teamwork and communication to put that little ball into that big net. Unlike other popular professional sports here in the States, if a player fouls somebody, she either has to sit in the “sin bin” for ten minutes and/or is excluded from the next game of a tournament. If a player fouls somebody bad enough he is immediately ejected for the remainder of the current game. However, there is also a penalty for pretending to be hurt. “Diving” has become a sneaky tactical maneuver to try and get key players of the other team ejected or sidelined. The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), however was not having it, and instituted penalties for blatant attempts to feign injury, and called it “simulation.” This differs greatly from how our kids have been coached for years in basketball and in American Football. It isn’t whether you foul someone or commit a penalty in either sport; it’s whether the referee catches you committing such an offense. If a player doesn’t commit fouls in a game of basketball, it’s quite possible her coach will accuse her of not trying hard enough. If a lineman illegally holds an opponent and gets away with it, he has successfully guarded his quarterback from the defensive rush. In soccer, penalties happen away from the ball, too; in basketball and football infractions happening all over the court and gridiron, respectively. Likers, however, like to be called on their attempts to pull the wool over the eyes of those paying attention. They like to be identified, to be real in the eyes of authority figures, parents, coaches, and yes, in that of referees, umpires and judges. They seem to like it even more when they are empowered to call penalties on themselves. Enter Ultimate Frisbee, or just Ultimate. It is, …aptly named, combining the best in athleticism — the quick lateral movement and passing of basketball, the conditioning and field awareness of soccer, and the long bombs and great catching reminiscent of football — with a fundamental code of honor that puts good sportsmanship and community ahead of a win-at-all-costs mentality (Thompson, 2010). Because Ultimate is mostly a nonprofit sport, teams often fund themselves through annual dues to cover tournament fees and practice fields, and use fundraisers and clinics to pick up the balance. Sponsorships are almost unheard of, if at all. If lucky, teams might find enough to cover the cost of uniforms. [G]ood sportsmanship is an official tenet of ultimate. Unlike other competitive sports, ultimate does not use referees, relying instead on a sacred honor system called Spirit of the Game, which trusts each player to call her own fouls and mediate any conflicts on the field … pure joy of the game and mutual respect between players is valued above all else (Thompson, 2010). If Ultimate is the ultimate sport and its players are the ultimate in sportsmanship, then what does that make Roger Clemens, Marion Jones, Mike McGwire, Alex Rodriguez, Tyler Hamilton, and so on, and so on… Conversely, how does that explain the popularity of “ultimate” fighting? Television: The Lie of Reality TV, Institutional Emasculation, and Infomercials Although reality TV is not really new—Boomers and Jonesers enjoyed Art Linkletter’s Kids Say the Darndest Things, and Allen Funt’s Candid Camera in the 50s and late 60s, respectively—there was a definite shift during Likers’ prime viewing years, from programs of genuine spontaneity to those of staged reality. Neither of these great old shows would have ever even thought of showing, for example, men repeatedly being hit in the groin. Yet for 21 seasons, Likers watched America’s Funniest Home Videos (AFHV), whose bread and butter is repeated scenes of a man, young or old, being kicked, butted, bitten, kneed, struck, or pounded squarely between the legs. While slapstick has certainly been around for ages, Buster Keaton, The Marx Brothers, and The Three Stooges simply did not go there. AFHV was the introduction, at least for Likers, to the concept of “As long as it happens to someone else, it’s funny.” Many shows that followed elaborated further on this concept, and the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) began to allow more and more of this emasculating practice on network television. It also became a mainstay for laughs in most children’s films (including Disney’s), starting in the early 70s and continuing to this day. Additionally, Likers are the first generation to live entirely under the influence of Cable television, which enjoyed even less FCC control than the networks. Likers’ attitudes about gender identification, emasculation, and misogyny were formed, in part, by the ubiquitous presence of cable television’s approach to these dynamics, and by the prevalent attitudes in rap and hip-hop music. (Rap and hip-hop will be addressed in the Music section of this chapter.) Pain—emotional or physical—injury, sexuality, addiction and other psychological disorders, drunkenness, promiscuity and parental relationships of the rich, poor and everything in between were fodder for “Reality TV.” Boomers and Jonesers for the most part understood the psychology and dynamic differences between Robert Young on Father Knows Best and Blondie’s Dagwood Bumstead. Some of us took the time to read Robert Bly’s, Iron John: A Book About Men, and Susan Faludi’s, Stiffed, but those two books are not on most Likers’ reading lists. NEXT: Part 2
My Cathartic Writer’s Voice Development - From Lost, to Found As early as age ten, I developed a growing feeling that I did not belong anywhere. As a product of an abusive, highly dysfunctional family, I sought acceptance and a sense of confidence in my own writing and selected reading. This was not enough, however, to save me from the other trappings of being an unsupervised young adult. Children from homes in which emotional or physical abuse between adult partners, parental substance abuse, and/or child abuse or neglect exists, are disproportionately represented among runaway [homeless] youth (Washington Institute for Public Policy, 1997, p. 4). As a former homeless youth, I recognize that one of the commonalities among those of us growing up in the ’70s, regardless of background, was a constant struggle to define ourselves—or to resist defining ourselves. Like the youth of today, however, we always employed the language of others. Adolescents of the 1970s, have a unique view on individuality and their role in society. The ’70s, though often lampooned in modern media, was a very difficult time to be an adolescent. Not quite a baby boomer and not yet a member of Generation X, we were the forgotten children left over from ’60s idealism and headed toward the repressive ’80s. I grew up with promiscuity, drug use, and cynicism. Developing any skills that required the least amount of self-discipline, not to mention an identifying language, was difficult at best. “Americans reeling from defeat in Vietnam, Watergate and the Iran hostage crisis essentially lost their faith in the institutions of society, leading to the pervasive cynicism that endures today” (Brotman, 2000, p. 1). Pontell (2005) has dubbed children of the 70s “Generation Jones,” has authored a book on the subject, and maintains a website that explains the lingering repercussions of an era in which the number of women entering the workforce and marijuana use was at an all-time high. “Generation Jones started out optimistic only to see idealistic dreams smashed by the financial hardships of the ’70s. The character of the generation became a mixture of idealistic yearning and cynical alienation” (p. 1). This “pervasive cynicism” and “alienation” combined with the aforementioned psychosocial crisis, created a fertile environment for abuses, trauma and consequentially, a lack of voice, written or otherwise. I spent a few homeless days wandering the beaches of Southern California in the late ’70s, and spent a couple shaky moments in the back of police cruisers. I am fairly certain that there are elements of my misadventures that I have blocked out of my memory. Conversely, I have glamorized elements of this self-inflicted disaffection as a way of turning a horrifying experience into a great story. How was it that I was able to transform my lack of belonging—along with the other aforementioned traps of the marginalized, such as thievery, promiscuity, and drug and alcohol abuse—into voice development? My continued contention is that the modicum of encouragement directed at my writing, and the smallest notion that there was value in my experiences, told me that one day I would have a great need to process it all using my own particular voice. My early writing was songwriting. I often felt supported by my ability to put lyrics to melody and consequently by people who liked my songs. I was apparently processing some of my trauma on a level that I kept hidden away. One of my first songs, “Call On Me,” although somewhat pedestrian, represents a deep, perhaps subconscious feeling that I was still being controlled by the trauma of my past. It’s a song that reveals both the longing and the promise of a responsible, human connection. Early relationship, vocational and social decisions were often made based on this duality, the recognition that, though I was not whole, I held a deep need to take care of those who were also ill nurtured, to be there at a moment’s notice to care of them. To be relied upon meant reliance and reliance meant a stability that only existed in song. The first time I knew that my writing could sustain me through difficult times, was after the move from urban Seattle to agrarian Montana. Two English instructors at a miniscule high school of just 400 students had a significant impact on my voice development. I was fairly certain that Mr. Belder was the only person in the entire state of Montana that actually owned a men’s bicycle with a basket attached to the handlebars. On my first day at Powell County High in 1975, I was wearing a ring on every finger, AngelFlight bell-bottom slacks, polyester, wide-collar shirts, platform shoes, and sporting a David Bowie haircut. To say that I stuck out when I walked into classes full of bull-riders and farmers is an understatement. But Mr. Belder saw me among my peers as someone of great potential in need of a little confidence and encouragement. Within a few weeks of entering his class, I knew I had found someone special as well. One day, he played “Fixing a Hole” from The Beatles’ White Album and asked the class to do a freewrite on what we thought the authors of the lyrics were trying to say. I was in heaven and used this opportunity to let my voice shine a little bit. Mr. Belder eventually asked me to act as a teacher’s aid for his class and eventually allowed me to student-teach on a couple of occasions. This mild-mannered mentor asked for my opinion, valued my learned experiences and believed in my ability to communicate these experiences and abilities using my own language. It is quite miraculous that I was able to find not one, but two highly innovative instructors in a prison-town high school. Ms. Harris was Mr. Belder’s female equivalent, and in every way his opposite. She encouraged me to actively and unabashedly pour out my truest, deepest, darkest secrets and fears in my weekly journal assignments. I came to understand that she expected more from me and we learned that we had a great deal in common. She, too, was from a big city and felt out of place. She helped me create a sense of belonging and a sense of authority in my own words that I had not experienced in any environment—real or imagined. At age fourteen I wrote my first short story and depicted myself as a “sex-drugs and rock-n-roll” suburbanite trapped in a world of western wear and cow pies. Despite these racier illusions, the thing I remember most about the story is the image of “crunching” across a snowfield away from a secret rendezvous and toward town. I specifically recall describing the sound of my footsteps as crunching across the blank, canvas of snow—an action appropriate to my situation—I was breaking through the brittle shell of who I was toward an unexplored center, in an effort to find better footing. Looking back on it now, this first attempt sounded more like a love-sick confessional; but I have the distinct recollection of re-reading it, refining it and being quite proud upon its completion. Ms. Harris probably would have been mortified by the story, but the gift she gave me was far more than just a bit of license as a novice, lovesick writer. She gave me the ability to find value in my experience above the experience itself, and that beauty and understanding can be found writing about our defining life experiences. The literature I chose to read during my voice development prior to rejoining academia was eclectic, ranging from science fiction and horror to dramas and autobiographies. I imagined how cool it would be to pee on the floor in the middle of one of my parent’s cocktail parties or puke on a member of the clergy like Regan did in The Exorcist. The truth, however, was that at times I did feel possessed, and that my behavior was secretly controlled by someone or something else. I found it sad and simultaneously liberating to learn that Conrad needed shock therapy and extensive counseling to release the misplaced guilt of his brother’s death in Ordinary People. What would it take to release my guilt? I was Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land and believed that I had mysterious powers over earth people. I longed for the courage, discipline and direction depicted in Chuck Yeager’s autobiography, Yeager. All of these examples—as well as the feelings that accompanied them—affected who I am, my writer’s voice, and the subjects on which I chose to write. To summarize, my personal development and my cathartic written voice development are inextricably linked to the literature and the caretakers that encouraged my voice to develop. It literally took fourteen years for me to recognize my own authenticity, and grow to a level of self-efficacy that I carry with me today.
I AM NOT A COLOR CHAPTER 3 Full Disclosure... I Am Not a Color I am Caucasian, not white. White is a color; I am not a color. I am Welsh/Nowegian, not American. I was born on Ojibwe land off the great lake Michi Gami, not in Wisconsin. I have an organically grown penis and testicles, and identify myself as a cisgender human being, not male. The contemporary construct of what it means to be a white, hetero male from Wisconsin does not adequately represent the person typing these words. I am educated, I have enough money to get by, and I consider myself a spiritual person, but I am not elite, rich, or “chosen” to be or do anything more than serve my conscience and choose to use my means in the way of my choosing, just like anybody else. My conscience was developed during my formative years through a dizzying array of oral stories, literature, music, and art. This collection of propaganda habitually and intentionally lied to me. I was complicit in those lies, enthusiastically, for the first 33 years of my life. I still am to a certain extent—truth be told. Like everybody else, I sit idly by and watch videos on the Internet of people who have developed under a different collection of propaganda, while they hurt themselves, humiliate themselves, or do likewise to Others. After all, pain is funny, right? Reels and reels of my propaganda involve The Lone Ranger, The Three Stooges, and Warner Brothers Cartoons. Despite the fact that these were works of fiction, my mother and the scars on my scalp tell the story of a boy who thought he was immune to gravity. I learned through the sight of my own blood and countless trips to the emergency room that Mr. Disney, Larry, Moe, Curly, and even Daffy were, in fact, compulsive liars. Sure, I learned my colors in school like everybody else—a red apple, a blue ball, a yellow banana, and that “it’s good to touch the green-green grass of home.” It was from literature, music, and oral stories, however, that I learned an entirely different palette. For example, red was the color of several things. Native Americans were called “injuns,” Indians, and Redskins. Redskins were portrayed as drunkards, fools, and untrustworthy around Caucasian women, yet this is still the name of the NFL team from America’s capitol. Red was also the color of Communist Russia, the people of Russia were called “Reds,” and Communism—I was told—was pretty much synonymous with Socialism. “Better Dead Than Red,” and “The Red Menace” were familiar quips during my Vietnam upbringing. Now, I used red as an example, but red was not just a word or a color at a time when my exposure to the humanities had the potential to have its greatest impact. So, you see, red was different than white, and I was encouraged to compare, to belittle all things “red” in preference to white. I wasn’t old enough to verify what I was being told to be true. In fact, to recklessly question my place as a white boy from Wisconsin and the preference I was apparently born to have, was little less than treason. More so, it made me less of an American and less of a real man, and shame on me for not taking the side of my people. “I mean, what are ya, some kinda pinko?” Hell, Charlie Daniels told me this much when I was only nine years old. “Well he's a friend of them long haired, hippy-type, pinko fags! I betchya he’s even got a commie flag, Tacked up on the wall inside of his garage.” Ironically, just over ten years later, The Charlie Daniels band would release, Still in Saigon, a song about a Vietnam veteran who comes back from the war with “shell shock,” -as it was still called at the time. I would guess they did not see the irony as the lyrics still start out with the same mindless adherence to a misplaced loyalty to an arbitrary morality of power. “I could have gone to Canada or I could have stayed in school, but I was brought up differently— I couldn't break the rules.” I was a child; I needed someone to explain to me that difference was subjective, unilateral, and part of our power as human beings, not part of our weakness. To get a better idea of what I’m talking about, simply replace the word “Red,” with Black, White Yellow, Female, Male, Irish, Polish, Jewish, Mentally Challenged, Hillbilly, Mexican, Blonde, Poor, Rich, Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Transgender, or Queer. We even played a game called “Smear the Queer,” on the Ridgecrest Elementary playground. I, too, adhered to all the rules surrounding this random construct, and remained changeless for the better part of three decades. I’ve tried to convince my peers and my colleagues what a bully I was during those early years with little luck; let me assure you, I am Augustine, the heathen made saint, the frat boy who joins the peace corps, the pimp at Planned Parenthood, and if its still unclear… Little Boy Lost There was a kid at my school who simultaneously sucked his thumb and picked his nose every day during class all the way up through the fifth grade. There was a girl with braces and bottle-bottom glasses who lived up the street and had a funny last name. There was an entire family of Native American boys who lived next door, and their house always smelled of fried eggs. There was an African American boy a few blocks up whose mother bred and slaughtered chickens in their suburban backyard. There was also a little freckle-faced kid with red hair in the neighborhood who relentlessly teased the thumb sucker, threw broken glass and dog crap onto the doorstep of the girl up the street, laughed at the poverty of the boys next door, and secretly ridiculed the family a few blocks up for not buying a frozen bird from the grocery store like everybody else. Like everybody else; why couldn’t these people just be like everybody else? By the time I was a teenager, I figured out that people who chose to be different were setting themselves up for public scrutiny. I made it a point to be that public voice and to scrutinize at will. If my uncles—and even the movies—used words like faggot, whore, retard, spic, kike, and nigger, then why shouldn’t I? I grew up watching cowboys and Indians, the dark-skinned savages in Tarzan of the Apes, and the “oriental” houseboys on Mr. Magoo and Bonanza. If there was a different indoctrination to cultural awareness, it was not made available to me during my development. My father was against any bigoted language in the house; he wouldn’t even allow us to say, “cop.” It always had to be “police officer.” (Conversely, he would occasionally take us to “Sambo’s,” a restaurant on Highway 99 whose mascot was Little Black Sambo, a small, dark-skinned boy in a turban.) His influence, however, disappeared into a bottle before I reached the sixth grade. Unfortunately, my critiques were limited to Other or subaltern targets. Even though I was a victim of my own ignorance, the finger rarely, if ever, pointed back at its owner. I made no connection between my need to defame others and my own issues of self worth. I liken my disconnectedness and lack of cultural appropriateness and respect, not just to literature, music and oral stories of the time, but to the blind consumerism that was prevalent as well. I felt no need to reconcile, for example, the obvious relationship between The Archie’s playable 45-rpm single of “Sugar-Sugar” imbedded on the outside of the cereal box, and the unforgivable act of buying such a nutritionally empty product to start our day. I never questioned the fact that Super Sugar Crisp was “part of a balanced breakfast.” After all, it said so on TV and there was a picture on the box—albeit a very small picture—of a bowl of cereal accompanied by a glass of orange juice, toast, and fruit. No one explained to me that a bowl of dirt, with a glass of orange juice, toast, and fruit, could also be considered a “balanced breakfast.” As a result, I was unaware that there was anything wrong with my diet. There was never a need to question what I ws putting in my body or what I was putting in my head. During developmental years for both mind and body, I was coached little in the area of war and politics. These were things in which my father, grandfather and uncles participated, and not up for debate. I believed in killing Commies, Reds, Japs, Germans, Nazis and visitors from outer space, regardless of the fact that I couldn’t tell one from the other. This unfettered rampage protected our way of life in the U.S., and the American way was the right way. Quips like, “White makes right, and “That’s very white of you,” fell off my tongue as easy as “Indian giver,” and “Jewed me down.” I really didn’t understand the implications of the Kennedy and King assassinations, the Bay of Pigs or Viet Nam, because there was no priority placed on my individual awareness, let alone my cultural awareness. Again, I made no connection between these national catastrophes and my personal beliefs. I didn’t think there was anything the matter with America at all, in fact, until the Nixon administration. Again, I would have been considered a sideshow freak had I stood up and declared myself independent of the mores and lack of cultural compass in my environment. Perhaps, as Greene (1998) suggests, it is developmentally impossible to see multiculturalism as an inclusive phenomenon. [W]hen I talk about multiculturalism, I first talk about myself, and I imagine that it is not unlike that in many other cultures. In other words, when I was fourteen, I didn’t give a damn for my culture. I wanted to go out and be myself (Greene, p. 181). I did not invent my own malignant ideology, nor was I an anomaly created in a vacuum. Much of what I experienced was the dominant paradigm of race and xenophobia prevalent in America at the time. Omi and Winant (1994) addressed the origin of such ethnic divides in their book, Racial Formation in the United States. The dominant paradigm of race for the last half-century has been that of ethnicity. Ethnicity theory emerged in the 1920s as a challenge to then predominant biologistic and Social Darwinistic conceptions of race. Securing predominance by World War II, it shaped academic thinking about race, guided public policy issues, and influenced popular “racial ideology” well into the mid-1960s (p. 12). I knew all the popular jokes that directly or indirectly degraded people of different race, gender, or sexual orientation, and I would remain a racist to a greater or lesser degree for the remainder of my young adult life. I discussed the potential universality of this ideology among men and women of my age group in some of my earliest research. I discovered that one of the commonalities among teens growing up in the ’70s, regardless of background, was a constant struggle to define ourselves—or to resist defining ourselves. There was a pervasive cynicism and alienation, that, when combined with the psychosocial crisis of my parent’s divorce, created a fertile environment for abuses and trauma in my life. Consequentially, a lack of an authentic voice, coupled with a compulsion to demean the voice of marginalized groups, evolved. This practice was not limited to my family or my little patch of land just north of Seattle. Institutionalized rejection of difference is an absolute necessity in a profit economy, which needs outsiders as surplus people. As members of such an economy, we have all been programmed to respond to the human differences among us with fear and loathing and to handle that difference in one of three ways: ignore it, and if that’s not possible, copy it if we think it’s dominant, or destroy it if we think it’s subordinate. But we have no patterns for relating across our human differences as equals. As a result, those differences have been misnamed and misused in the service of separation and confusion (Lorde, 1984, p. 115). When I reflect on that little red-haired boy, I am ashamed. I now feel it was catastrophic for me to miss the earlier influence of all the human difference readily available in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, especially those of literature and stories which may have pointed me toward a more balanced, positive psychosocial development. I separated myself from people, ignored, misnamed, misused, and was ironically confused, then, by my inability to maintain meaningful relationships. Methodically, year after year, I would raise the periscope to see sinking ships on my horizon, only to look down and see my own hand, firing torpedo, after torpedo, after torpedo. Little Boy Found I was not compelled to examine the trajectory of such a loss, or make directed shifts in my thinking until I stepped onto a college campus. At the age of 33, I had an epiphany in which I realized the limitations of my intellectual agility; essentially, I woke up. Not unlike Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, the realization that no one would be dragging me out of the cave toward the light was only slightly less frightening than the thought that I was incapable of leading my own daughters toward the light. It became a waking nightmare, that I would inflict the same, comparative, destructive acceptance of this arbitrary morality on to them. Remember… As I got older, it became my exclusive identity. By the time I reached my early twenties, I found myself quite adept at playing the comparison game, though the ramifications of it kept haunting me. Eventually, for lack of any other identity, I decided it was worth the pain, even for colleagues, family, friends, and society to put on a good front and continue the game in “earnest” (Spitzer, 2005, pps. 76, 77). It is no mystery that these identities are choices, forged by examples and non-examples present in our upbringing, literature, and our informal educational environments. It took months of personal therapy, equal parts of soul searching and sacrifice, along with the understanding of things exactly like Plato’s Allegory Cave, for me to snap out of it. This was my true conversion. I was eating crow and the forbidden fruit right along with the blood and the body. In 1998, my self-serving, comparative identity began a slow but marked shift to a servant-leader, a contributive identity. Again, stories, literature, music, and art led the way. I rebooted my own development and degaussed the prerecorded voices that explained the world to me when no one else would. So, here, this time in the first person, is how one might describe a completed transformation: I listed the various contributions I could make to family, friends, work, or community, and make these the ends of my achievement, my competitiveness, my respectability, and the like. I began to notice my anxiety level dropped and my relationships improved. Above all, I will noticed a marked improvement in my capacity to achieve goals, for these goals were now viewed as opportunities instead of problems (Spitzer, p. 81) It has been very important to the future of my authenticity, for me to reflect on my past; I feel it has helped me to transform into a productive, contributive adult. Additionally, the gift of a Jesuit education allowed me to witness contributive service to something greater than myself. This reflection—if I am to remain true to this new, authentic self—must be paid forward, so that I may be a part of a movement that provides young readers with an opportunity to form a collection of stories and literature that celebrates difference, that shuns comparison, and forces—yes forces—them toward cultural fluency and contributive identities. Leaders Leave The new stories written and told by the Intracolony Learning Community will include, but will not be limited to, ancestry exploration and familial connection, or a lack thereof, to a marginalized group or people in history. For example, preference will be given to children’s and young adult literature that explores and exults the contributive identities of blended families as a natural occurrence, and not as the central theme of the story. Preference will be given to children’s and young adult literature that explores and exults the contributive identities of trans-gender characters as a natural occurrence, and not as the central theme of the story. Preference will be given to children’s and young adult literature that explores and exults the contributive identities of equity in the workplace as a natural occurrence, and not as the central theme of the story. Every story, in fact, that honors equity, pluralism, and the positive impact of contributive identities above comparative identities, will eventually unveil the cultures already present in the reader’s life. If the reader is enrolled in a traditional school, what is the historical and geographical evolution of the school’s site and surrounding area? Who were the indigenous people of that area, and what was the process for consequent claiming and acquisition of the land? Whose hands mixed the mortar, ran the plumbing, and installed the electrical system? They need to know who actually erected the structure to fully understand how their school came to be, to recognize from whom they acquired such privilege, and to properly give thanks. Imagine the difference in each individual contribution, empowered by a myriad of social, political or economical avenues, and what could be accomplished if different pathways and transformations were now given the green light. Giroux (1998) voiced a concern for young learners and how the intrinsic relationship between education and the success of our economic structure cannot be understated. We need more work on how these pedagogical machines are rewriting the texts of power and identity and how such texts resonate with a broader public discourses about race, gender, class and national identity. We need more work on the politics of democracy. The question of democracy strikes me as so central to what’s going on in this country and what’s going on globally. I also think the youth of this country are really under attack … Giving up on youth is tantamount to giving up on democracy (Giroux, p. 140). As a nation becoming more and more aware of how sandy a foundation can be when it’s built on “what the market can bear,” new voices of children and young adults must form a more measurable congruence between having a welcoming beacon of liberty in our harbor, and the equitable division of equity and respect between people of difference in our communities. Institutionally, we continue to marginalize, label, and assess students based on difference, a century-old trend that has been, and remains to be, in direct conflict with the better interest of our society, our schools, and our children. Peña (2005) suggests that rampant complicity in such “categorizing behavior is neither organic nor ecological. It does not herald the specific, mutual and holistic benefit of race, nor does it stress individuality, unity and the independence of society, social systems, spirituality and place.” and… This tendency to associate race with conforming and nonconforming behaviors, with normalcy and deviance, lays the basis for past, current and future studies of unanticipated and anticipated consequences, I believe, and for similar investigations of social and individual function and dysfunction. Narrowing the achievement gap as so many school districts are wont to do, for example, while appropriately drawing attention to the nature of testing, different test outcomes and possibly achievement and social in-equities, oftentimes is considered in just such a way as to be socially Darwinist (Peña, p. 21). Thus the regression is complete. What do we gain from creating an entire country of competitive children who remain ignorant of entire civilizations, ethnicities, creeds and orientations? We gain what every profit-driven society needs, an expendable and sustainable commodity. The youth of North America—largely due to the early exposure and continued subjection to stories of privilege vs. subaltern—they are conditioned to become one, or any combination of, three things: Consumers, pitted against one another in endless comparisons; Casualties, willing to die for those consumptive proclivities; and finally, Prisoners, hard at work in contemporary plantations—and just like the plantations of old, the modern, imbedded prison complex creates jobs. However comforting it might to place blame on something out of our control, we are complicit as our children are “dumbed down” by our current system; we watch and cheer them on as they mindlessly consume a variety of commodities until they quite literally become our commodities. They are our consumers, our riminals, and—with growing frequency—an integral part of our profit-driven military industrial complex. The importance of creating contributive citizens through compassionate approaches to children’s and young adult literature cannot be understated. While greater pluralism in literature and formal education is not a new or untested concept. Similar approaches have been successful by the European Council of International Schools (ECIS). St. Timothy’s, for example, is a working, thriving ECIS school in Stevenson, Maryland. The ECIS, has proven that cultural fluency and service is not the enemy of a free society. Liechty (2005) in The Ernest Becker Reader, discussed how Becker saw the perfect marriage of education and democracy as an ongoing discourse to maintain a natural evolution of ideas. Becker characterized the educational system in the ideal/real democracy as a Great Conversation carried on by a community of scientist-scholar-investigators. This was also his basic description of an ideal/real democratic state, in which the expansion of maximum individuality within maximum community would itself serve as the socio-cultural immortality project—the only kind of immortality project that by its nature will not displace the freedom with servitude in the process of achieving its actualization (Liechty, p. 21). Wow. Let that sink in... A great, immortal conversation, which expresses a maximizing, ever-expanding individuality within the community toward praxis, and/or the actualization of ideas manifested in that conversation. Reading children’s and adult literature that celebrates difference and the natural migration of this library into institutionalized racism would be a far greater gift to America’s next generation of learners than, say, No Child Left Behind (NCLB). As the only major educational policy reform since Head Start was initiated, thirty-seven years ago, NCLB was signed by President Bush in 2002. Moore (2005), in her essay Testing Whiteness: No Child or No School Left Behind, called this piece of legislation an act that “imbeds racial formation practices centered around whiteness into a national movement of standardized testing” (p. 174). Administratively, Moore cites English and Steffy to show how NCLB reduces the gathering steam of the multi-cultural education movement and critical classroom pedagogies. “[T]he latent effect of high-stakes testing is to ‘flatten the curriculum,’ reduce diversity, reward minimum performance with commendations, and reduce initiatives to engage in reform” (p. 180). To legislate “whiteness,” or any single dominant ideology for that matter into our educational system, is to act in direct conflict with our best scholastic, economic and cultural interests. The disproportionate amount of high-stakes tests in states with higher ranks of African American and Latino-American students has created skyrocketing dropout rates, and represents “…the manifest outcome of the process, rather than an unintended consequence” (p. 182). If we are, indeed, in a machine building competition, i.e., Giroux’s pedagogical machines vs. the self-perpetuating, profit-by-prisons machines unveiled by Brewer and Heitzeg, then there is no culture more qualified to create the winning design than America. Ours, however, will neither be de Tocqueville’s inhuman, steam-powered monstrosity of “POPS! WHIRS! and BANGS!,” raking haphazardly across a field of budding, disenfranchised youths and putting them behind bars, nor will it be satisfied with simply chugging along, rewriting texts, re-imaging heroes, and identities to create an army of self-involved, competitors. The better machine, an equally systematic, purposeful approach, filled with the literature and stories that expose empty comparisons for what they are, and insists that what they wear, eat, watch, or buy does not define them. Instead, this new machine will be an amorphous, evolving, entity, dedicated to readerships geared toward compassion and humble confidence, as to develop a clear understanding of how power and identity resonate within discourses about race, gender, class, and identity. The youth of North America will be fully prepared to aggressively dismantle every entrenched, exclusionary stereotype they face, regardless of its mode of delivery or intended audience. My Cathartic Writer’s Voice Development (CWVD) As early as age ten, I developed a growing feeling that I did not belong anywhere. As a product of an abusive, highly dysfunctional family, I sought acceptance and a sense of confidence in my own writing and selected reading. This was not enough, however, to save me from the other trappings of being an unsupervised young adult. Children from homes in which emotional or physical abuse between adult partners, parental substance abuse, and/or child abuse or neglect exists, are disproportionately represented among runaway [homeless] youth (Washington Institute for Public Policy, 1997, p. 4). As a former homeless youth, I recognize that one of the commonalities among those of us growing up in the ’70s, regardless of background, was a constant struggle to define ourselves—or to resist defining ourselves. Like the youth of today, however, we always employed the language of others. Adolescents of the 1970s, have a unique view on individuality and their role in society. The ’70s, though often lampooned in modern media, was a very difficult time to be an adolescent. Not quite a baby boomer and not yet a member of Generation X, we were the forgotten children left over from ’60s idealism and headed toward the repressive ’80s. I grew up with promiscuity, drug use, and cynicism. Developing any skills that required the least amount of self-discipline, not to mention an identifying language, was difficult at best. “Americans reeling from defeat in Vietnam, Watergate and the Iran hostage crisis essentially lost their faith in the institutions of society, leading to the pervasive cynicism that endures today” (Brotman, 2000, p. 1). Pontell (2005) has dubbed children of the 70s “Generation Jones,” has authored a book on the subject, and maintains a website that explains the lingering repercussions of an era in which the number of women entering the workforce and marijuana use was at an all-time high. “Generation Jones started out optimistic only to see idealistic dreams smashed by the financial hardships of the ’70s. The character of the generation became a mixture of idealistic yearning and cynical alienation” (p. 1). This “pervasive cynicism” and “alienation” combined with the aforementioned psychosocial crisis, created a fertile environment for abuses, trauma and consequentially, a lack of voice, written or otherwise. I spent a few homeless days wandering the beaches of Southern California in the late ’70s, and spent a couple shaky moments in the back of police cruisers. I am fairly certain that there are elements of my misadventures that I have blocked out of my memory. Conversely, I have glamorized elements of this self-inflicted disaffection as a way of turning a horrifying experience into a great story. How was it that I was able to transform my lack of belonging—along with the other aforementioned traps of the marginalized, such as thievery, promiscuity, and drug and alcohol abuse—into voice development? My continued contention is that the modicum of encouragement directed at my writing, and the smallest notion that there was value in my experiences, told me that one day I would have a great need to process it all using my own particular voice. My early writing was songwriting. I often felt supported by my ability to put lyrics to melody and consequently by people who liked my songs. I was apparently processing some of my trauma on a level that I kept hidden away. One of my first songs, “Call On Me,” although somewhat pedestrian, represents a deep, perhaps subconscious feeling that I was still being controlled by the trauma of my past. It’s a song that reveals both the longing and the promise of a responsible, human connection. Early relationship, vocational and social decisions were often made based on this duality, the recognition that, though I was not whole, I held a deep need to take care of those who were also ill nurtured, to be there at a moment’s notice to care of them. To be relied upon meant reliance and reliance meant a stability that only existed in song. The first time I knew that my writing could sustain me through difficult times, was after the move from urban Seattle to agrarian Montana. Two English instructors at a miniscule high school of just 400 students had a significant impact on my voice development. I was fairly certain that Mr. Belder was the only person in the entire state of Montana that actually owned a men’s bicycle with a basket attached to the handlebars. On my first day at Powell County High in 1975, I was wearing a ring on every finger, AngelFlight bell-bottom slacks, polyester, wide-collar shirts, platform shoes, and sporting a David Bowie haircut. To say that I stuck out when I walked into classes full of bull-riders and farmers is an understatement. But Mr. Belder saw me among my peers as someone of great potential in need of a little confidence and encouragement. Within a few weeks of entering his class, I knew I had found someone special as well. One day, he played “Fixing a Hole” from The Beatles’ White Album and asked the class to do a freewrite on what we thought the authors of the lyrics were trying to say. I was in heaven and used this opportunity to let my voice shine a little bit. Mr. Belder eventually asked me to act as a teacher’s aid for his class and eventually allowed me to student-teach on a couple of occasions. This mild-mannered mentor asked for my opinion, valued my learned experiences and believed in my ability to communicate these experiences and abilities using my own language. It is quite miraculous that I was able to find not one, but two highly innovative instructors in a prison-town high school. Ms. Harris was Mr. Belder’s female equivalent, and in every way his opposite. She encouraged me to actively and unabashedly pour out my truest, deepest, darkest secrets and fears in my weekly journal assignments. I came to understand that she expected more from me and we learned that we had a great deal in common. She, too, was from a big city and felt out of place. She helped me create a sense of belonging and a sense of authority in my own words that I had not experienced in any environment—real or imagined. At age fourteen I wrote my first short story and depicted myself as a “sex-drugs and rock-n-roll” suburbanite trapped in a world of western wear and cow pies. Despite these racier illusions, the thing I remember most about the story is the image of “crunching” across a snowfield away from a secret rendezvous and toward town. I specifically recall describing the sound of my footsteps as crunching across the blank, canvas of snow—an action appropriate to my situation—I was breaking through the brittle shell of who I was toward an unexplored center, in an effort to find better footing. Looking back on it now, this first attempt sounded more like a love-sick confessional; but I have the distinct recollection of re-reading it, refining it and being quite proud upon its completion. Ms. Harris probably would have been mortified by the story, but the gift she gave me was far more than just a bit of license as a novice, lovesick writer. She gave me the ability to find value in my experience above the experience itself, and that beauty and understanding can be found writing about our defining life experiences. The literature I chose to read during my voice development prior to rejoining academia was eclectic, ranging from science fiction and horror to dramas and autobiographies. I imagined how cool it would be to pee on the floor in the middle of one of my parent’s cocktail parties or puke on a member of the clergy like Regan did in The Exorcist. The truth, however, was that at times I did feel possessed, and that my behavior was secretly controlled by someone or something else. I found it sad and simultaneously liberating to learn that Conrad needed shock therapy and extensive counseling to release the misplaced guilt of his brother’s death in Ordinary People. What would it take to release my guilt? I was Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land and believed that I had mysterious powers over earth people. I longed for the courage, discipline and direction depicted in Chuck Yeager’s autobiography, Yeager. All of these examples—as well as the feelings that accompanied them—affected who I am, my writer’s voice, and the subjects on which I chose to write. To summarize, my personal development and my CWVDare inextricably linked to the literature and the caretakers that encouraged my voice to develop. If it can transform the person you read today, imagine what it can do for an entire school, school district, city, state, or country.
Don't take it from me... Before I bore you with my own story, I thought I'd let some veterans chime in on why disclosive writing should be a part of our the aforementioned education revolution, and why mentorship, compassion, and a sense of social justice is so important in students of all ages T. C. Boyle answered the question “Why I write?” (Goldberg et. al., 2006) by describing an adolescence with an uneducated father, little literary support at home, promiscuity, drug use and a love of music. He claims to have been generationally and socially in limbo “caught somewhere between the hoods and the honor students” (p. 1). Despite this environment he found someone who had similarly suffered and who believed in him as a writer. I found my first mentor there [at SUNY], in the history department—Dr. Vincent Knapp, who himself had made his way up, hand over hand, from the depths of the working class. He saw something in me—in my writing and intelligence—and he tried to promote and encourage it (p. 2). For Boyle, there were more instructors and mentors, like Kelsey B. Harder, Krishna Vaid, Vance Bourjaily and Frederick P.W. McDowell, who collectively extolled the lessons of hard work, self-disclosure and workshopping which, in turn, had a significant impact on his voice development. His transference from “punk” to author runs parallel to the evolution of his writing competence, and eventually into a greater sense of self-efficacy. During a particularly painful workshop session with his peers, he read an extended segment of one of his early plays. When I finished, flushed with the sort of exhilaration that only comes from driving the ball over the net and directly into your opponent’s face, Krishna began to applaud, and so too, though it killed them, did my fellow students. That was it. That was all it took. I was hooked (p. 3). And later in his development, Something had happened to me, something inexplicable even to this day: I felt a power in me. I don’t mean to get mystical here, because science has killed mysticism for me, to my everlasting regret, but suddenly, though I’d done nothing to earn it, I felt strong, superior, invincible (p. 3). How writers feel once their voice has developed—especially when it comes to the issue of finding a caretaker—often answers the question, “why I write;” and in Boyle’s case is undeniably linked to the “generation Jones” phenomenon described in the My Cathartic Writer’s Voice section of this chapter. First you have nothing, and then, astonishingly, after ripping out your brain and your heart and betraying your friends and ex-lovers and dreaming like a zombie over the page till you can’t see or hear or smell or taste, you have something. Something new. Something of value. Something to hold up and admire. And then? Well, you’ve got a jones, haven’t you? And you start all over again, with nothing (p. 6). From Richard Wright to Toni Morrison: Ethics in modern and postmodern American Narrative by Folks (2001), takes a critical look at ethics and self-disclosure in literature. Although ethics is the central thrust of the book, Folks does touch on the issue of environment—especially those of southern and African American writers—and the authenticity necessary to develop these colorful voices. t is only through what we, as particular human beings, have experienced and observed that we can comprehend the joys and hardships of others. Every impression that we gain from reading is understood as if it happened or could happen to us, in the course of our lives, or to particular human beings whom we know or can imagine as actually living in the way that we live (p. 6). This puts a great deal of the ownership—ethical ownership, in this case—on the writer. It is recognition, however, that there is something bigger than oneself and that there exists a responsibility bigger than just telling the world the story of one’s story to evoke sympathy or to purge oneself of demons. Regardless of the vehicle with which writers illustrate a social injustice, for example, readers will always be on the lookout for an authentic writer’s voice—a voice that can only be developed though life experiences. In their own ways, the Flannery O’Connor, William Styron, and Kaye Gibbons employed elements of Gothic romance to confront alienation and terror of human disability, racial strife, and class control, yet the “otherness” that these writers summon up and that American society has conventionally striven to repress extends well beyond differences of race, class, and disability. Equally important, these writers involve the reader in encounters with repressed elements in the reader’s own psyche: universal terrors of human isolation, dependence and death that are too easily displaced onto the fantasized landscape of social relationships (p. 15). Each of these writers took from their personal experience—failures and triumphs—and developed a writer’s voice that can be recognized across genres, characters and plots. The “otherness” suggested by Folks is universally known in literary critique and often linked to feminist theory and the repression of the subaltern or oriental (someone with a different orientation). The essence of developing the cathartic writer’s voice, then, is to determine what makes an individual different, outcast or unique, and to use it as a central touchstone—as it directly pertains to experience and education—and be diligently loyal to that experience and that learning environment. Perhaps, then, such public expression served as a beacon for “others” in similar situations, gave voice to the unspoken or unrequited actions, feelings and inspirations held back among those who read O’Connor regardless of their disability. This illustrates how the act of unpacking one’s voice development helps to demystify and inspire others to develop. Cultural, Philosophical and Educational Voices Cultural In, Hear My Voice: A multicultural anthology of literature from the United States, editor King (1994) anthologizes multicultural stories and then asks students reflective, open-ended questions about literary elements for which they must think critically. King claims that individual voices have been suppressed in the United States for generations. “Movies, mass media, and school texts have omitted or compressed beyond recognition the rich histories and contemporary cultures of Native Americans, African Americans, Asian American, many European Americans and Latinos” (xiv). The author reminds her readers that each individual has a story that may be older than even they themselves know. “Your own story is unique. It includes who you are and how you got to be the person you are. It tells about the people who raised you and influenced you. Your story begins before your birth; your family’s history is also a part of it” (pp. xiii, xiv). Hogan (2004) claims that voice development is part of our lives regardless of authorship or culture, and that we make meaning of our experiences through the use of literary schemas. Thus schemas, prototypes, and exempla guide our perception and our thought, bring parts of the world into structure and emphasis, discarding or downplaying others. They also guide our literary construction of sensation and of cognition. Of course, the ordinary structures and instances that gather our daily lives into coherence figures into literature. But perhaps more importantly, literary schemas provide broad principles for new literary compositions, and literary exempla guide the detailed choice of plot, character and diction in new works. Indeed, such literary elements pervade ordinary life as well—for we understand our friends and foes in part through literary characters, our experiences and aspirations in part through literary plots (32). And while “There are many canonical works which, though written by members of dominant groups, set out to portray the lives, feelings and society of ‘subalterns,’” it is in what Hogan calls “Writing Back” that the marginalized take back their Voice. He uses Kipling as an example, suggesting that Tagore was “writing back” when he wrote Gora and undermined the racism and contradicted the Indianness of the Irish sahib in Kim (33). Hogan, like Bakhtin and Lacan, makes the connection between formation of our internal lexicon, meaning making and the development of our writer’s voice. He contends that an “idiolectical” lexicon exists in every human mind, which stores “a mental structure of words, meanings, morphological forms and principles, ‘encyclopedia information,’ personal recollections, and so forth” (p. 35). It is when the marginalized endeavor to “Write Back,” against the established stories, words and principles that have oppressed them that they render the original voice moot. “[W]hat matters for a new author is not the precursor text per se—a notion that almost becomes meaningless in this context—but the new author’s lexical internalization of the new work” (p.35). Such writing back allows the marginalized to create their own voice—a new voice or tradition for themselves. “A literary tradition is what allows a writer to create a new literary utterance, and to do so in such a way that a readership will be able to understand and respond to it” (p. 199). Himes’ (1974) contribution to Kitzhaber and Malarkey is his essay, Dilemma of the Negro (sic) Novelist in the United States. In it, he discusses marginalized writers in relationship to their environment and to their audience. We have a greater motive, a nobler aim; we are impelled by a higher cause. We write not only to express our experiences, our intellectual processes, but to interpret the meaning contained in them. We search for the meaning of life in the realities of our experiences, in the realities of our dreams, our hopes, our memories (p. 31). Himes contends that when a writer’s experiences are so full of brutality, restriction and degradation, his soul is “pulverized.” However, the marginalized writer must find meaning regardless of such experiences. “Then begins his slow, tortured progress toward truth” (p. 32). In his essay, Discourse, Tradition, and Power in a Literary Transition, Asante-Darko (1998) explored the ideology, orality, and language choices responsible for Africa’s catharsis from a predominantly oral (pre-colonial) culture, to that of a written culture (postcolonial), offering possible inroads to the way African writers use their voice development to this day. It must be underlined that the writer's work of correcting and influencing the lives of individuals and the wider community through the use of literary aesthetics, could not be done ex-nihilo. It had to be derived from the interpretation of the collective experience. However, the representation and interpretation of the collective experience are influenced by the personal as well as communal perceptions within one and the same society. These factors were compounded by the different levels of ambition, courage, and capabilities to erode all possibilities of a uniform perception (among different writers) as regards matters of truth and their interpretation even within the hitherto enclosed belief systems of pre-colonial Africa (pp. 2, 3). So the power relationships began to be determined by those who—through self-appointed positions of expertise—interpreted art and current events, expressing their views as societal representatives on issues of theme, language, audience, ideology and style. These writers then began to own the discourse in African Theory and aesthetics. Asante-Darko exposes this as a direct link between power and literary discourse employing the work and words of Dathorne. …[T]ension between an ancient aristocracy and a new technocracy, between traditionalism and westernization, between the dignity of the old and the sprawling vulgarity of the new.’ The new writer was thus considered the opponent or usurper, rather than the complement of a traditional oral artist. In this context the prominence of the former was strengthened by the avowed and conspicuous adoption of decolonization as a metaphor for progress and evolution, both in literary terms and more generally at the level of societal models. This ability to juxtapose decolonization (here clearly linked to written literature) to an oral tradition which, in turn, could be seen only as a backward literary manifestation, raised the image of the new group of African writers/artists. It even elevated them to the status of combatants (p.3). For example, Aimé Césaire appointed himself both the voice, and the literary representative of the oppressed by claiming to be the “mouth” of those suffering through hardships and the “voice” of freedom “of those that collapse with the ups and downs of despair” (p. 3). Césaire saw colonialism as “racialised,” something in which millions of [black] men were skillfully taught things like fear, inferiority, trembling, kneeling, and how to act as servants [to white men] (p. 3). African literary theory as a critical theory was considered a tool in the anti-colonial struggle and writers participated in the “writing back” process, adapting the oral message to the written word in an effort to get it out to a bigger audience, regardless of low literacy rates. It is little wonder, then, that the African literary discourses differed between native writers “who presented pre-colonial Africa in idyllic terms of beauty, peace and progress… and their …Anglophone counter parts who seek to expose the full image of pre-colonial Africa with all its virtues and vices” (p. 5). Ironically, in the revival of African values and pride even the Negritude writers eventually had to appeal to, and target the colonialist audience, and therefore the language of the colonizer, rather than the colonized had to be used. In Asante-Darko’s conclusion, the author accepts the different interpretations as expressions, voices, of Africans, and believes that the audience or reader will identify with whatever they consider most relevant to their own reality. Philosophical In The Literary Voice of Pain and Suffering, Yi (2005) contends that literature, as a discipline, can help alleviate pain and suffering—especially in cases of depression—due to its connection and allegiance to both the written and spoken word. “The immediate ‘painkilling placebo effect’ of words and their healing powers… …forms a link to literature whereby the isolated nature of the pain and suffering… …is given voice and expression” (p.1) Yi goes on to say that the importance of this voice cannot be understated. It a source of empowerment, and provides a link to a wider community. It could be said that the powerless are also voiceless and that “Many who suffer silently and in confusion might be helped if we learned how to tap the resources of literature in restoring significance to an individual human voice” (p. 1). Power, in essence, then, is an arbitrary morality, created as a tool of control, whereas literature possesses the power to “reinvent suffering by extending and contracting” its borders, “orchestrating the language that validates and invalidates pain recognition of the individual voice and its agency is paramount to any reformulation of morality” (p. 2). Yi also likens Nietzsche’s paradigm of transfiguration “through sickness and creativity to literature’s role in the creation of a moral community of suffering,” in that, if “we are to be liberated,”… …“from the harmful and unjust effects of an arbitrary morality, literature’s construction of a discourse based on a ‘moral community’ of suffering takes on a profound aspect” (p. 10). By orchestrating language, especially language ripe with emotionally-charged words and experientially authentic imagery, the ingrained, traditional power structures that lead to exclusion and marginalization can be successfully challenged. The causal connections harbored in such traditions and memories lead to errors that culminate in this arbitrary morality, and literature—specifically personal and disclosive biographies—can systematically diffuse some of those assumptions. If literature’s task is to create a discourse capable of encompassing the many perspectives and expressions of pain as well as the varying discourses that engage in its definition and treatment, it may be contained in the form of pathography. A pathography is an intensely personal account of pain and suffering, serving as a testament to the overcoming of (the) silence … and …taking its cue from Nietzsche’s maxim of the eternal recurrence, strive to nullify the oppressiveness of ‘duration in vain,’ without end or aim, [which] is the most paralyzing idea (p. 3). The confused and powerless, who certainly experience the paralysis of “duration in vain without end or aim,” often suffer in a silent, wordless world without resources. Yi argues that by introducing personal accounts and literature into the lives of the oppressed, a transformation takes place in the regaining of their own voice. “Many who today suffer silently and in confusion might be helped if we learned to tap the resources of literature in restoring significance to an individual human voice” (p. 1). With significance there is power, where there are resources there is power, and where there is individual or community voice, there is power. Educational In Politics, Power and Personal Biography, Torres (1998) collected the voices of educational leaders like Gintis, Bowles, Apple, and Giroux, to explore the dynamics of voice, power and education. To conceptualize these relationships, Torres expands on Wartenberg’s argument. ‘Power manifests itself as a complex social presence that exists in an intricate network of overlapping and contradictory relations.’ To consider power relationally helps to identify different power resources, and likewise to identify the relationship between power and education. Education as an institution, and as a dimension of material and symbolic life, can also be seen relationally (7). If these relations are wrought with what Apple (1998) calls “selective traditions,” then they exist as a dangerous and dividing influence on equity, especially in education. Apple suggests that these inequities will never be addressed as long as our society—as a transformed democracy which lends priorities to systems that excel in consumptive practices rather than those that excel in inclusive, pluralistic practices—does not “take seriously the collective struggles of for transforming material conditions that create ways in which we are in identifiable groups: African Americans, poor people, Latinos and Latinas, etc.” Without transforming the material conditions of our marginalized groups, education will continue to be affected, because consumers will always have an opportunity try the new and improved school and can make mechanical judgments about what constitutes a “good” school and what constitutes a “bad” school. Apple contends that this will lead to a loose educational market and a greater number of apartheid schools, especially under a national curriculum and especially when it comes to testing. “Kids with the gift of cultural capital from their parents, from elite and middle-class groups will do well on it, as usual; but this will be covered by the rhetoric of choice, standards, and accountability” (p. 44). Reducing or eliminating the selective traditions, the contradictory relations, mechanical judgments, dividing influences, and the “educational market” will be the tool used to transform the material conditions of the marginalized. Bowles (1998) agrees that any educational reform is pointless without properly responding to the needs of our kids. f it does not address this problem of structurally-determined power and inequities of wealth in the economy” then such a reform will be limited in its impact. Carnoy (1998) takes the issue back to its roots. “[C]olonial schooling was organized to bring native peoples into a subordinate position” and was perpetuated in the United States to keep ‘“people in their place’ while legitimizing the notion of social mobility and [thereby] making it into a powerful mythology” (pp. 81, 82). Carnoy’s own frustration in getting educational assistance to the poorest countries like Mexico, Kenya, and Latin America are reflected in his cathartic dedication to the continued documentation of these struggles. “I am constantly made aware that I have a responsibility to the future, and what happens in education will have a major impact on that future. Can’t stop now” (p. 87). Freire’s catharsis and his sentiments echo that of Torres, Apple, Bowles and Carnoy, especially as it relates to how oppression and marginalization directly impact our learning environments. n teaching the necessary content of the field of biology, or history, or language, I debate, clarify and illuminate the class struggle in society. It is included in all the content, because I accept the school as part of that struggle. The school cannot be absent from the struggle (p. 99). For cathartic writing such as this to take place among educators and students alike, the hierarchy, and the arbitrary morality of power must give way to a more liberating education. Conclusion The relationships found in the traditions of cathartic writing, my Cathartic Writer’s Voice Development (CWVD), the cathartic voices of published authors, and other cultural, philosophical and educational voices, suggest not only that disclosing defining life experiences and writing for publication acts as a catharsis for writers who choose this developmental strategy, but that this strategy can have liberating, empowering implications for other voiceless, powerless people of difference. Additional literature suggests that this transformation can be expedited by an expectation of competency by, or in harmony with, the reoccurrences of stable, supportive caretakers. Writing strategists, teachers, education experts, and experienced fiction writers share a common view that the direction of their lives, the direction of their writing, and the accompanying sustainability, have unmistakable ties to transformational experiences both on the page and off.
CHAPTER 1 Fair warning. This is not a government saboteur’s handbook, an anti-American manifesto, or the lament of an aging playground target seeking to regain a lifetime of pilfered lunch money. This book is intended to offer some insight as to how we have ended up with the bullies we call leaders, why it is typically American to bully the (O)ther person—particularly a person of difference—and how our willingness to embrace the proposed “new model” contained herein, is literally a matter of life and death. Exaggeration? No. The Megan Meier Foundation, an online resource for “targets,” reports that suicides related to cyber-bullying has increased astronomically in the last few years. • Peer victimization in children and adolescents is associated with higher rates of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts (JAMA Pediatrics, 2014). • Cyberbullying was strongly related suicidal ideation in comparison with traditional bullying (JAMA Pediatrics, 2014). • 22% of frequent perpetrators only, 29% of frequent victims only, and 38% of frequent bully-victims reported suicidal thinking or a suicide attempt during the past year. Several environmental risk factors and risk behaviors were associated with suicidal thinking and behavior among youth involved in bullying (Borowsky, Taliaferro, & McMorris, 2013). • There is a strong association between bullying and suicide-related behaviors, but this relationship is often mediated by other factors, including depression and delinquency (Hertz, Donato, & Wright, 2013). • Youth victimized by their peers were 2.4 times more likely to report suicidal ideation and 3.3 times more likely to report a suicide attempt than youth who reported not being bullied (Espelage & Holt, 2013). • Students who are both bullied and engage in bullying behavior are the highest risk group for adverse outcomes (Espelage & Holt, 2013). Schoolyard and cyber-bullying are a microcosm of who we are as a society. Why should our children not step on the bodies of their weaker peers simply to acquire what they believe to be reserved for their particular exceptionalism, when America has been doing this for more than 200 years? Wasn’t the genocide of our native people here in North America—glibly referred to as “colonization”—nothing more than a series of intimidations, brutality, and murders—and usually in that order? Today, the enemy is clearer, closer, and more diabolic. Prior to the ill-celebrated, myth-ridden landing at Plymouth Rock, British colonists had already impacted a myriad of continents, peoples, and cultures. Colonialism, while not limited to the exploits of Great Britain, was the seed that germinated the toxic fruit, now fully ripe as today’s America’s innercolonization and oppression. An excellent example of continuing American innercolonization and oppression, could be illustrated with a look at the similarities between the tradition of fox hunting in early Great Britain, and, say, the National Football League (NFL) in the United States. Fox hunting required meat (feed for the dogs), grain (feed for the horses), leather, silver, brass, well-paid veterinarians, for healthy horses and dogs, and all the necessary staff to make expensive meals and clothing for the participants. This was a regular occurrence for the British elite while many of England’s poor starved on the farms, in the small hamlets, and on the streets of London. Is it not suspect that the cities that house the biggest teams in the NFL freely extol their exorbitant salaries, shrine-like stadiums, ridiculous ticket prices, bloated food service contracts, ubiquitous merchandising, and stupendous advertising dollars, fully ignore the growing poverty just outside their doors? Yes. Of course our children are indifferent to suffering and the plight of The Other. Year after year, there is yet another Indy 500, a Super Bowl, a World Series, March Madness, and an NBA Championship while 16 million children live in poverty. The dissolution of the peace movement and the lies of Viet Nam killed the concept of hope, social justice, and the American Dream for Baby Boomers. Veterans of two World Wars watched as nationalism, freedom, and the concept of democracy would be bastardized into capitalistic, conspicuous waste, a growing sense of entitlement, and rampant xenophobia. In one way or another, America’s continuing homage to our “forefathers” has been to colonize, pollute, and drain the resources of other societies who—up until recently—bought in to our mutating, unsustainable, amphetamine-induced form of capitalism. Now that the well is dry, and the “success,” and “achievement,” so admired by the world throughout the 1950s and‘60s, rings empty across the globe. So, like the last two rats in a barrel, we have turned inward and targeted our own children with the imperialist, arbitrary power to commodify and denigrate them as human beings. Rather than act as a beacon of a pluralist democracy, American leaders chose to double down on the very reasons we were cast out of England. We have always painted a biased version of “pilgrims seeking religious freedom” for early learners, and systematically led them to believe that imperialism was a crime other nations committed when America wasn’t looking. To this day, some states continue to rewrite textbooks with revisionist historical errors to perpetuate an indoctrination of lies in American Schools. Just a decade ago, for example, Margaret Spelling, director of education for the state of Texas, created the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS). When her governor, George W. Bush went to Washington D.C., she renamed this gap-widening piece of state legislation, “No Child Left Behind,” and sold it to a nation, mistakenly hungry for higher standardized test scores. The results were catastrophic with regard to remediation, drop out rates, and teen pregnancies. While this clearly violated the promise of a “free and quality” public American education, it served its purpose in creating a state full of privatized schools, and for-profit prisons full of prisoners. Other states lead the way, or are not far behind. How to Kill and American Bully then, is a guidebook or blueprint for school administrators, superintendents, and instructors who wish to reverse the ill affects caused by years of commodifying the children in American public and private schools. Any Pre-K-12 learning environment, in fact, can be an important part of reclaiming the lives of oppressed students across the country. Moreover, the parameters set fourth by the herein proposed, Intracolony Project—designed for colleges, universities, and community colleges—offers a roadmap to help establish an interdisciplinary baseline for new studies in Physiology, Psychology, Early Childhood Development, Education, Communications, Library and Information Studies, Dietary, Economy, History, Sociology, Law, and more, if applied with veracity. However, How to Kill and American Bully is not school “reform.” Reforms have failed again and again, historically due to a lack of incentives for administrators and teachers. No. This book is about the out-and-out deconstruction of our current, outmoded, “pay-to-play,” exclusionary system, which is intentionally commodifying and dividing our kids… …and the reconstruction of a logical, foresighted, sustainable, and reasoned alternative. How? Now more than ever, we have the potential to reverse, pluralize, and globalize the way American children view the concept of “difference,” not just between each other, but between centripetal ideologies of parenting, gender, socioeconomic status, health, nationalism, sexual orientation, race and ethnicity. This baseline, in essence, would strip them of any exposure to the competitive, judgmental, and comparative outlook that pits them against one another in and out of their school environments. The intent is to improve and sustain our true history and the American promise, against the age-old conflicts, reinterpretations, and contradictions, which have previously usurped such intent, or been conveniently labeled unpatriotic. Pluralistic educational administration in our primary and secondary schools, and at the college-level Intracolony Project, will build new, evolving, inclusive traditions through value pluralism, across disciplines, and across cultures. …and it starts with one school—even just one class—at a time. A new colony of American family schools—an intracolony—not secluded from, but judiciously immersed in all the positive aspects of American society, will use a pluralistic baseline, from which to address our country’s most troubling social ill—ignorance. Any classroom of children—supported by parents, instructors, peers, and caregivers—can be systematically exposed to all the various internal cultures and subcultures, languages and dialects celebrated in and out the U.S. All instruction and interactions will include accurate historical perspective, openness to new experiences, and acceptance and celebration of a broad range of human difference. The Intracolony Learning Community (ILC), will train, support, and revitalize teacher and administrative career paths and certification. Their focus will be one of abundance, not scarcity; of contributive identity building, not comparative identity building; of inclusive family imagery, not exclusive imagery; of hope, change, and promise, not of doubt, suspicion, and fear; its collective eye firmly set on a sustainable American future. The ILC will support any school or any class that intentionally includes students all ethnicity, mobility, mental capacity, gender affiliation, and religions, to be unequivocally united and placed on equal footing with regard to all spiritual, philosophic, linguistic, artistic, and socioeconomic opportunities, unhindered by “traditional” gender identification, sexual orientation, moral bias, and arbitrary power structures. The only aspect of American culture that the ILC children will be intentionally sheltered from, are the images and dialogues designed to create and satisfy the status quo of consumers, criminals, or war casualties. This will not just be conducted for the first school year of the program, but for the rest of their lives. To successfully bring about this transformation, all schools requesting federal funds of any kind must meet and uphold the following central conditions: 1. All Students Pre-K and up will reverse this oppression by retraining and testing over a mandatory furlough period consisting of one full school year and one summer (approx. 15 months) before enrolling in a reconstructed school. 2. All ILC students will resume the post-furlough school year based solely on their test results, and not on their previous grade level, age, or affiliation. 3. During the furlough, all contracted public school teachers will be paid their regular salaries to retrain as pluralistic educators, at their schools, at their regular school schedule and hours, at their anticipated pay increase. Once the post-furlough school year has started, teachers will be awarded new contracts with a ten percent annual increase—for starters—and an increase in paid maternity/paternity leave, and full benefits for themselves and their chosen domestic partner. 4. All administrators and staff personnel down to the janitors will attend similar training and earn their increased salary, without the teaching component. All certificated teachers out of work—or any teacher interested in working for an ILC school, will be encouraged to take identical pluralistic educator certification courses, and scholarships will be made available to those who qualify. 5. A pre-chosen, culturally fluent group will serve on a Pluralistic Decision-Making Committee (PDMC) vigilantly spot checking and monitoring progress while restructuring transformation occurs, keeping the best interests of students, staff, and faculty in mind. The requirements for each PDMC will be outlined in the packets for each school district. 6. All testing materials will be created by a central, federal PDMC made up of a similar, non-sectarian, culturally fluent panel of educational, developmental, and pedagogical leaders and experts. 7. Any and all test-help sites or materials must be cleared, certified, and licensed by the central PDMC. Any attempt to falsify, corrupt, imbue, or distort the test results of any student will result in random re-testing and potential fines. 8. Any school choosing not to deconstruct and reconstruct under the aforementioned conditions will be ineligible for any federal funding, tax exemptions, grants, or bond initiatives at the local or state level. The ILC program is specifically designed to disempower imbedded, negative, comparative identities, and replace them with positive contributive identities among all Pre-K-12 students in a myriad of learning environments. The short-term benefits include, but are not limited to a reduction in academic anxiety, a re-emphasis on collaboration, contributions, and academic success (as opposed to competition, insulation, and athletic successes). The potential long-term benefits include, but are not limited to the creation of a society of scholars, innovators, and philanthropists rather than a nation of blind consumers, career criminals, and xenophobes. The following Definition of Terms section defines the important terms that will be used throughout How to Kill an American Bully to assist in answering some difficult questions. Comparative Identity The comparative identity stems from the work of Fr. Robert Spitzer Sj, former president of Gonzaga University, and founder of the Magis Institute of Faith and Reason, in Irvine, California, and the Spitzer Center for Ethical Leadership in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It is the second level of identity (or the second of “four levels of happiness”) found in his book, The Five Pillars of Spiritual Life. They are: 1) external-material, 2) ego-comparative, 3) contributive, and 4) transcendent. Like the term “pluralism” this simple, noble premise has been adapted by business models, much like Covey’s “Seven Habits,” to boost profit in the private sector—and achievement (often measured with standardized testing) in private schools—but the original intent, to create identities on the basis of service to a common good, regardless of achievement or profit, is how it is defined for the purposes of How to Kill an American Bully. Most, (comparative people) when they were children, made an unconscious choice to pursue comparative advantage and admiration as the major ground of their identity. As they got older, it became an almost exclusive ground of identity. By the time they reached their early twenties, they found themselves quite adept at playing the comparison game, though the ramifications of it kept haunting them. Eventually, for lack of any other identity, they decided it was worth the pain to themselves, colleagues, family, friends, and culture to put on a good front and continue the game in “earnest” (Spitzer, 2005, pps. 76, 77). It is the contention of this book that the interruption of this “game” will reverse or eliminate altogether the “ego-comparative” identities prevalent in the students of our current public education system. Contributive Identity The contributive identity also stems from the work of Fr. Robert Spitzer Sj, and is the third level of identity (or the third of “four levels of happiness”). It is both the transition from comparative to contributive, and the unblemished creation of contributive identities that will be explored in this book. The benefits of a contributive identity go far beyond a “list,” but… If we can simply list the various contributions we can make to family, friends, work, or community, and make these the ends of our achievement, competitiveness, respectability, and the like, we will notice our anxiety level drop and our relationships improve. Above all, we will notice a marked improvement in our capacity to achieve goals, for these goals will now be viewed as opportunities instead of problems (Spitzer, p. 81) Chapter 2 A “list” of contributions and opportunities will be the first step in developing student identities predicated on an open-minded willingness to celebrate and revere “difference” something that students—intentionally, up to this point—have been conditioned to fear, conditioned to criticize, and conditioned to oppress. Pluralism My mentor, Dr. Roberto Peña, Professor of Educational Leadership at Seattle University, in his book Community and Difference: Teaching Pluralism and Social Justice, extols the virtues of true Pluralism. His mentor, Colleen Capper, is the author of Educational Administration in a Pluralistic Society. For the purpose of this book, however, the most clear-cut definition is from England (1992). Pluralism can be defined in a number of ways. The definition which seems most encompassing is the following: a society in which members of diverse ethnic, racial, religious and social groups maintain participation in and development of their traditions and special interests while cooperatively working toward the interdependence needed for a nation's unity (pg. 1). Freire’s work in Chile brought about a similar transformation. He contends that the theme of his seminal book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, originated from writings and ideas collected on little pieces of paper from a small notebook he carried around in a bag. That theme was born in me with the recollection of my own relation with the oppressed of Brazil and with the difference that I found in the cultural history of Chilean society. The more I became immersed in the world of the Chilean peasant, the more I listened to the peasants speak, the more the relation to the oppressor and oppressed, of oppressive consciousness and oppressed consciousness appeared before me…they constituted an object of curiosity for me. And there is this day that I came to believe that I had to write what came to me, even as an attempt to make a contribution to those who worked in this field (p. 90). Freire’s catharsis and his sentiments echo that of Torres, Apple, Bowles and Carnoy, especially as it relates to how oppression and marginalization directly impact our learning environments. Writing Back To best understand writing back, first, release All You Preconceived Notions About Power But in your perishing you will shine brightly, fired by the strength of the God who brought you to this land and for some special purpose gave you dominion over this land and over the red man. That destiny is a mystery to us, for we do not understand when the buffalo are slaughtered, the wild horses tamed, the secret corners of the forest heavy with scent of many men, and the view of the ripe hills blotted by talking wires. Where is the thicket? Gone. Where is the Eagle? Gone. The end of living and the beginning of survival... – Chief Sealth in his 1854 speech in Seattle, translated from Salish to English Such “writing back” against an oppressor, though often ignored, has also garnered artistic, political, and literary critique. It has instigated change, or at the very least, raised awareness for the promise of change. American children are the new oppressed, and the new American commodity. They are controlled, leveraged, bought and sold by diabolical corporate interests, unfounded notions of nationalism, and the imbedded, criminal-justice-for-profit system. From birth, offspring in the U.S. are constantly bombarded with purposeful images, dialogues, and mores designed to create and fill the status quo of consumers, criminals, and casualties necessary to maintain our inhuman and unsustainable trajectory. How to Kill an American Bully will unveil, name, and expose the United States’ deliberate creation of comparative, competitive identities—rather than contributive, compassionate identities—as the intentional oppression of our children it is, and offer an alternative, positive, and more pluralistic form of indoctrination. Admittedly, comparative identities have probably existed since ancient man’s first heated reaction to exclusion—he was the last asked to sit close to the fire, the one given offal rather than meat, or the one used as bait during the hunt. To harbor a comparative identity is to exercise power, an “arbitrary morality” of one’s own construction, which falsely prioritizes needs and desires. Therefore, the powerless must be instructed, encouraged, and challenged to summon resources that inspire, provoke, and instigate movement toward a balancing of those priorities. Unmasked for its façade of privilege, power fails, the comparisons are rendered moot, and all competition becomes meaningless. All writing students at the late-primary, middle, and high school levels will be tasked, encouraged, directed, and instructed on how to write back against their current oppression in ways that celebrate and contribute to the differences prevalent in the U.S. and globally. Instructors will unilaterally hold a zero tolerance policy with regard to attitudes, vocalizations, textbooks, literature, embedded mores, political positions, and instruction that welcomes even the slightest domestic or international stereotypes, or distortions of history. In the spirit of a true “pluralistic society” (Capper 1993) the development of positive, global, contributive identities, and active social justice, was constantly measured against the negative, imperialistic and xenophobic impacts of the established imperialist comparative identities. Stories, oral histories, and narratives—especially those that chronicle the struggles involving individuals or groups of difference—often act both as catharsis for the author and as an educational transformation for those seeking a pertinent, related experience from which they may be inspired toward their own catharsis. “…[D]ialogues that empower are engaging, imaginative, playful. Engaging dialogues allow oral stories to come alive, and they become a tool of enlightenment and empowerment” (Torres, 1998, p. 9). If power, in the form of oppression due to difference, can be unmasked as an arbitrary morality, then an important antidote to such morality would be the cathartic voices of writers and leaders who engage in disclosive, experiential stories and narratives. To explore the cathartic writer’s voice and its relationship to power, I first examined the literature review found in The Cathartic Writer’s Voice and Self-Efficacy: an Exploration. This study was originally presented at the 2006 Seattle University Educational Leadership conference: Weaving Leaders Together for a Just and Humane World, and was then published as my doctoral dissertation in the spring of 2007. The original review investigates the distinguishing characteristics of the cathartic writer’s voice, my own Cathartic Writer's Voice Development (CWVD), and the presence of the cathartic writer’s voice among diverse authors. Next, I edited and augmented this review to include elements of post-colonialism theory, African literary theory, Nietzsche’s paradigm of transfiguration, and more, suggesting a potential relationship between the cathartic writer’s voice and power. Implications arise in the area of pluralism and educational leadership, in that, the more cathartic writing empowers the powerless, the more difficult it is for traditional majorities to ignore injustices, and the more equitable and multimodal leadership and education becomes. In my original study, I acted as a researcher/participant, asking myself and four other participants long interview questions to illustrate how they felt before, during, and after they wrote about traumatic or defining life experiences. I analyzed documents in which the participants disclosed these personal events in detail, and also interviewed recommended participants who had first-hand knowledge of the participant’s transformation, in order to triangulate the data. The findings indicate that there exists a heretofore unreported phenomenon in which writing about traumatic or defining life experiences awakens a unique writer’s voice, a voice that may have been repressed, ignored or even abused into silence. All of the participants from this study responded positively to direct questions about this phenomenon and expressed feelings of liberation, control and healing during the act of writing, and after publication. The participants’ descriptions of their own CWVD suggests that writing and sharing their stories not only helped them to process these experiences, but directly contributed to a catharsis, greater writing competency and a need to champion other similarly repressed people. The majority, in fact, insisted that their transformation was sustained only by the continued writing about, and continued dedication to, transforming the life experiences and trauma of others. In other words, their catharsis was only sustainable as long as they could continue to educate or transfer power onto others, who—like them—were powerless over the trauma or experiences directing their lives. Sometimes the powerless regain, or begin to regain power when they are successful in “Writing Back” against their oppressors. Some are fortunate enough to find a caretaker or a teacher who will support self-disclosure in a safe environment and help them to complete the catharsis through publishing a competent piece of writing designed to enlighten a darkened corner of abuse or trauma. For others, the catharsis is a lifelong struggle littered with small wins in which the actual transformation hangs like a carrot just out of reach. Often, all these transformations are intertwined with cultural customs, years of marginalization and deep, racial, ethnic, and gender-specific controls. The Cathartic Writer’s Voice The goal of the original collection of literature was not designed to take on the age-old “content vs. form” debate. The debate between “voice” and “style,” is not new, either. According to Yagoda (2004), it began with the Greeks 2,500 years ago “between style as personal expression, and style as a vehicle for content and a moral litmus test,” and that the same argument “seems to flare up every hundred years or so” (p. xxviii). Cicero divided classical rhetoric into five faculties: invention, arrangement or structure, style, memory, and delivery. He then divided style into three subcategories: “high or vigorous (‘magnificent, opulent, stately, and ornate’), low or plain (informal diction, conversational), and middle or tempered (not surprisingly, a blend of the two)” (p. 6). Style was only one tool of the orator; ethos or moral character was also a big part of early expression. It is imperative that the difference between the cathartic writer’s voice—expression wrought from defining life experiences, nurtured under a caretaker, then published as a method of healing, and literary voice—an individual’s writing style made up of recognizable sentence structures, themes and idiosyncrasies, be established. This is not to claim that the two are not related. In fact, it is my contention that the former is inextricably linked to the latter. Although Yagoda admits voice is the most popular metaphor for writing style, he also claims it is not the best. He offers “presentation” or “delivery,” as equally suggestive of style. Yet the metaphor remains, and writers in both camps and neither seem to want to budge. If we are to accept, as Yagoda (2004) contends, that “style matters” and is made up of two corollaries, our “fingerprints” which have nothing to do with our selves, and our “handwriting,” which not only identifies us but “reveals our essence,” then we would also have to accept his notion that... Style in the deepest sense is not a set of techniques, devices and habits of expression that just happen to be associated with a particular person, but a presentation or representation of something essential about him or her—something that we, as readers, want to know from that writer that cannot be disguised, no matter how much the writer may try (p. xvii) Yagoda goes on to point out that there are contradictions to this effect even in The Elements of Style, by Strunk and White, which is both a classic—if not somewhat abused—reference book of “dos and don’ts” for writers. Voice, according to M. M. Bakhtin (1981), exists in every utterance of the individual based on the tension between the specific and general interpretations dictated by the social environment of the speaker. “Every concrete utterance of a speaking subject serves as a point where centrifugal as well as centripetal forces are brought to bear” … and … “answers the requirements of its own language as an individualized embodiment of a speech act” (p. 272). This is how writers, and human kind for that matter, make sense of our world, by bouncing words and symbols off of what we already recognize in our experience; from the general to the specific and back. Once described as “perhaps the greatest twentieth-century theorist of literature,” Bakhtin approached literary concepts in such a wide spectrum of theories that his work is not easily classified. His early depictions of voice development, however, bring clarity, possibly offering the best of both worlds, technical and spiritual. We are taking language not as a system of abstract grammatical categories, but rather language conceived as ideologically saturated, language as a world view, even as concrete opinion, insuring a maximum of mutual understanding in all spheres of ideological life. Thus a unitary language gives expression to forces working toward concrete verbal ideological unification and centralization, which develop in vital connection with the processes of sociopolitical and cultural centralization (Leitch, 2001, p. 1198). Bakhtin’s “forces” coincides with the agency present in the writer and is fittingly combined with “ideology,” both working toward the concrete. This may be another way of unifying cultural and social experiences expressed through the cathartic writer’s voice. Bakhtin addresses why it is individual values, beliefs and forms of expression that are so important in one’s unique voice in a world of voices. He also downplays the mechanical side of language, making it secondary to expressing one’s true voice. What is important to us here is the intentional dimensions, that is, the denotative and expressive dimension of the ‘shared’ language’s stratification. It is in fact not the neutral linguistic components of language being stratified and differentiated, but rather a situation in which the intentional possibilities of language are being expropriated: these possibilities are realized in specific directions, filled with specific content, they are made concrete, particular, and are permeated with concrete value judgments; they are knit together with specific objects and with the belief systems of certain genres of expression and points of view peculiar to particular professions (p. 1212). He emphasizes that language is not just a sequential series of words stratified to make meaning, but that the author “realizes” them and sends them in a purposeful direction guided by the individual, which—when “knit” together with expression and content—create voice. Having found this “shared language” among the findings in my original study, the implications suggest that CWVD could positively impact any oppressed population. It is within every author to reject the walls that inhibit the cathartic writer’s voice. The key is having the practical tools, freedom, encouragement, and support necessary to do so. Although the tools, freedom and encouragement might come from an external environment, in order to solidify voice with an authentic perspective, some of the transformation has to come from within. Communities, students, teachers and administrators must all have a willingness for healing to occur and to arrive at a cultural critical perspective. Key to developing writers is the capability for them to go beyond their history, experience, and prejudices and put up a certain amount of what Fenwick (2000) calls “resistance” to both the unfavorable elements of their environment and to some of their instincts. “Writers in critical cultural pedagogy claim that when these mechanisms of cultural power are named, ways and means to resist them appear” (pp. 256, 257). Critical cultural perspectives embrace many ideas outside the dominant culture such as, gender issues, ideology and discourse analysis, post colonialism and subaltern studies, queer theory, race and identity, and techno culture theory. Resisting established cultural mechanisms frees writers from imbedded associations to those mechanisms, thereby allowing their individual voices to dominate the discourse. Critical cultural perspectives suggest that learning in a particular cultural space is shaped by the discourses and their semiotics (signs, codes, and texts) that are most visible and accorded most authority by different groups. With resistance, people become open to unexpected, unimagined possibilities for work, life, and development (p. 257). To develop one’s cathartic writer’s voice, then, breaking down the established signs, codes and texts is only the beginning. In discussing the groundbreaking work of Lévi-Strauss, Derrida encourages the use of our languages and mythologies to break away from the mechanisms. “He [Lévi-Strauss] uses the word bricolage—roughly speaking, ‘the ad hoc assemblage of miscellaneous materials and signifying structures’—to describe how mythologies operate and make sense of the world in a way quite remote from our own, more logical and regimented habits of thought” (Norris, 1987, p. 134) Expanding on theories of Lacan and Lévi-Strauss, Derrida urged a reconstruction of our discourse by fully realizing our partial and mostly borrowed knowledge. By embracing our “mytho-poetic” level, we can create some fluidity to our gained experiences. As resistance to the Platonic interest in ideal essences this position echoes the kind of oralist epistemology …that might keep specific, local selves…such as local students burdened with traumatic memory flexible and thus available to the power of language to resist the totalizing nomoi, to promote change, and to bring about healing” (Johnson, 2000, p. 106). This dichotomy is the essence in unveiling one’s cathartic writer’s voice, and employing such an accomplishment to other aspects of one’s life. It is an epistemological “sorting” of good, renamable experiences and those that impugn and hinder. Lee (1994) suggests that a writer’s authentic “voice” is always recognizable because it carries a ring of truth (114). The “voice” of a writer often shows up in the writing as mirroring his or her speech patterns. But it’s more than that. It’s the mirror of who we are, all the inflections and articulations of our true nature (115). When we are “in voice” we speak plainly, from the heart (117). The same thing takes place in our writing. Often the true voice emerges only after a false voice has had a long say and is silenced by exhaustion. And our true voice can contain many voices. It is not restricted to the speech patterns of our particular personality, because the true voice is that of the inner self (117). The false voice, then, is often the voice used by the marginalized until their true voice can be heard. Gardner (1994) in On Writers and Writing talks of defining life experiences during written voice development as intuitions. “To put it another way, writers work out in words their intuitions—their private certainties—of how things are” (p. 14). Settings, description, character, dialogue, conflict, climax and denouement are inanimate and can not create themselves from words; there is always an author, a person and a history behind them. This, “place of creation” will be visited again in the multicultural section of this chapter. So, although emotions can be depicted and recreated through an author’s style, authentic expression comes from individual emotions forged in experience and crisis. Just because an author’s goal may be to escape personality, style or recognition, the content will most often relay these feelings anyway. “How you feel about yourself is probably the most important feeling you have. It colors all other feelings, and if you are a poet, it colors your writing. It may account for your writing” (Hugo, 1979, p. 67). When applied properly, developing a cathartic writer’s voice may have a relationship to increased self-efficacy and healing. To negate or ignore these feelings is to deny our own origins. Furthermore, even if our process is a mystery to us, it is better than denying that the process exists. Summary To summarize, the literature suggests the development of critical, unbiased, contributive identities in our elementary learning environments, and the free unencumbered encouragement of CWVD in middle and secondary schools can be a unified agency to re-asses early expression and celebration of difference, which, in turn, will empower people—not just students, staff, and faculty of difference in that community— to act as a tangible tool in in the success of a safe, empowering, revolutionary educational movement.
AMERICA LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT: A FAIRIE TALE, Vitriol by Dr. Donald L. Mabbott BY ADMIN, ON FEBRUARY 1ST, 2011 Once upon a time, there was an American president that ran on a platform of Transparency, Hope, and Change. His slogan was, “Yes We Can!” Well wouldn’t ya know it? He won. Like all presidents, he knew it would take a lot of back room deals, playing politics, and hard handshakes to make it to The Oval Office. He made some promises, made some allegiances, and made some enemies. What most of the folks who shook his hand, made a deal, and patted him on the back didn’t know, however, is that this president was a magic president. He had magical powers, a magical wife, and a deep, deep secret that he only shared with his closest friends and advisors. “I’ll give these people just two years to pull their collective head outta their shorts,” he said through a cloud of swirling magic smoke, “Then I’m goin’ in!” By the way, Nancy? Yeah, you might lose your job before that happens, sorry.” “That’s cool, boss. ‘Greater good’ and all that, but what exactly do you mean by “going in?” the former Speaker replied. At that, the president’s magical wife entered the room and her eyes seemed to spark the moment she laid her hand on her husband’s shoulder. He took another long pull off his Magic Marlboro Light, and blew a bluish cloud into the air around his wingback chair. From it, a marbled image of Plato appeared. “It is our job to lead, and we will lead them to the light,” he said calmly. He then outlined the most fantastical of plans. He said that it was now clear that he would be fought at every turn to bring transparency, change, and hope to the people of the land, and drastic measures would now ensue. “We will close the borders on land, sea and air,” he said. “All the factories that have closed down will be reopened to manufacture all the goods that we have been buying from other countries. All the farms forced out of business by the conglomerates will retool, replant and be charged with the task of growing any food that we have been importing. Oh yeah, all subsidies are hereby cancelled as well. All the ports, borders and shipping lanes will be guarded by the military to make sure this happens.” Biden and Pelosi looked on with wonder, but Obama anticipated their next question. “All soldiers stationed in other lands will be brought home to a hero’s welcome. We will immediately go to Defcon 4, rearm our nuclear weapons, and threaten to bomb the crap out of anybody that puts up a fuss.” A purring sound started to come from the back of the first lady’s throat, and Biden’s smile spread to inhuman proportions. “Next, we round up all the guns. We’ll offer every family a full ride scholarship to the college of their choice for all their children in exchange for all their weapons. The folks that give us the ol’ ‘from my cold, dead hand’ routine will be unceremoniously executed. We will wait for their bodies to cool so we can oblige their last wish, then we’ll offer the family our terms again.” As if she knew the answer already, Pelosi asked, “What about militias?” “Good question. I’m not big on militias. How 'bout it Joe?” “I say we smoke ‘em out and send ‘em to GitMo for reprogramming!” Biden said with a steely tone. “Good. Get ‘er done.” “Then what, chief?” “Then we go after the prisons. Fat cats have been getting rich on the backs of immigrants and people of color long enough.” “Amen,” Michelle cooed. “Tell ‘em what we’re gonna do mister secretary. Mysteriously, a man in a suit appeared at the president’s other shoulder. “Hello Arne,” Pelosi said. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan smiled like he had a secret, too. “Hello Nancy, Mr. President, Joe. Thank you Michelle. We’re going to shift all current prison labor to sectors in their particular region riddled with unemployment. The prisoners are going to earn their keep by building another structure near the prison site, a school. This school will be responsible for retraining prisoners to be active, positive, pluralistic citizens and give them a trade with which they can earn an honest living, perhaps in one of the factories you spoke of Mr. President.” “Call me Barack! Please!” the president said with equal parts humility and respect. “Go on.” “Each man or woman who completes the training, Barack, will be fully reinstated with citizen’s rights, and be eligible to vote and attain public service IF they need it.” “…and when the prisons are empty?” asked Pelosi. “We’ll convert ‘em all to more factories, schools, libraries, low income housing, tailored to fit whatever the area needs most.” “Hold on a second…” Biden interrupted, contemplatively. “What was that word you just said, Arne? Turning schools into, plura-something?” “Pluralistic? Yeah, The way we look at it, The US Department of Education has been at the bottom of the priority heap long enough! We’ve provided this country with a constant flow of soldiers, criminals, and consumers for the past 100 years and what did it get us? A generation of freakin’ zombies.” Duncan pulled a big graph outta nowhere with a jagged blue line starting at the top, heading down, and a red jagged line starting at the bottom, heading up. “Why do we have to be the country constantly pickin’ fights with the world and borrowin’ money from everybody on the block? Other countries are full of people willing to buy mass-produced goods. We figure it’ll take about 50 years to change us from a country of obese, hostile, dumb fucks back into the goddamned light of the free world we were meant to be!” “Okay, Arne," Biden interrupted. But I think I was lookin' for a breakdown of pluralism, buddy?” “Oh yeah, sorry. I get a little excited." Duncan cooled. "This is our only shot at this… ‘Ahem,’ Harvard has been playing with the idea of religious pluralism for years, and researcher Dr. Colleen Capper has authored a book on how to bring pluralism back to America’s schools.” “Back? Pelosi said. “How so?” “Well, ya know that big copper statue we got out in New York Harbor?” “Lady Liberty,” said another voice emerging from behind the president’s chair. “Hillary! Glad you could join us!” said the president without looking up. Mrs. Clinton grabbed both of Biden’s hands in hers and addressed the group. “We’ve done a disservice to her message far too long. If we’re gonna open our arms and offer the torch of freedom to the world, we need to stop commodifying human beings within our own borders and across the globe. The soldiers, criminals, and consumers Arne spoke of, are a direct product of the intentional, institutionalized, and system-wide dumbing-down our population has suffered since the turn of the century. Pluralism, simply put, would be a return to listening to every voice in every community, an embrace of—rather than the myth of—the melting pot, a determined effort to honor and celebrate every race, creed and culture that graces our shores.” “I couldn’t have said it better myself, Madame Secretary,” Duncan said. “What’s our first step?” Obama asked to no one in particular. He dusted out a smoke into the ashtray, stretched, and waited for a reply. “I say we start with parents,” Biden said. “Hmmm…Say more on that, Joe.” Obama said, rubbing the back of his own neck. “Well, we can’t adopt pluralism in our schools without total buy-in from parents.” “We can’t change learning without adapting the culture,” added Clinton. “What about a tax incentive across income brackets for new parents to attend, say, online courses in pluralism? Set a deadline, and give schools across the nation a chance to retool, train and reset learning expectations based on community input and cultural competency!?” Duncan chimed in. “Excellent!” The president stood, stretched, rubbed his eyes and started shaking hands all around. “Why don’t you folks debrief, take a week to come up with a game plan, and get back to me?” He threw his jacket over his shoulder; he and Michelle started toward the door arm-in-arm. They turned to face the group and said, “No more Mr. Nice Guy.” “Fuckin’-A Right!” Biden said. – Dr. Donald L. Mabbott
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