This is a platform in which higher level thought can be expressed for the purpose of an educated dialogue. Meaningful conversations are necessary in today’s society as most have steered clear of the path of substantial debates. Now more than ever is the call for a greater level of speech that appeals to both the prince and the pauper of our global society. Education, culture and diplomacy is an issue in various places around the world and we plan on being an intricate part of the influence which enhances such for the better. The blog is not a forum in which one attacks an individual yet one may attack the idea that an individual supports. This was the beauty of the first diplomatic society in Ancient Greece and will be the arrangement of order on our blog site.
"It is the responsibility of advantaged people to assist and advocate on the behalf of the disadvantaged,"
- David Manning
Advantaged people are persons who can think and control their bodily functions independently juxtapose to disadvantaged people whom cannot. Most literature in self-help, religious text, motivational books and some in psychology support the notion that all one must do is...x...and their world will be changed for the better, For instance, The Code of the Extraordinary Mind advises people to challenge Brules as one will ultimately be able to "bend reality". Rhonda Byrne's Best-Seller The Secret suggests that a person be gracious, believe in positivity and positive things will manifests. However, these views only aid the advantaged. For the disadvantaged that have neurological differences which distorts their thinking or have experienced insurmountable trauma, what are they to do to improve their lives? Are we to believe that an able-body, fully conscious being has an equal opportunity to improve his circumstance as another suffering from dissociative identity disorder (DID), formerly known as multiple personality disorder? If so, then yes it is every man for himself but if we believe that some persons both nature and by nurture are disadvantaged, we then must conclude that on their behalf some form of intervention or compliment is necessary.
I am not concluding that I "alone" have the solution but I would like to frame the question for which an answer is past due. "Do advantaged have a responsibility to those of a disadvantaged?"
Is a male inherently a man or is a man something more than his genetic make-up?
Society has done a great injustice to the general public and young boys in particular. There is no rights of passage for boys--leaving boyhood and entering manhood. This leads to there being a lack of conversation and agreement on "what constitutes a man". Young boys by default learn how to be a man "in passing". Meaning as they engage with various groups of men through direct contact, secondary sources, media and other means, they begin to develop a definition of what "defines" a man. This is not the same as identifying a definition consciously; this is an unconscious process in which most males are not aware even takes place. However, when you ask a man to define what constitutes a man in his own words, he's liable to stutter first. He has never contemplated what it takes to be who he believes he is.
Man refers to gender--meaning the societal and personal expectations of said gender. These expectations have changed over time--evolving with the needs of a man's time.
So what is a man today? A man is an idea--enlightened thinker. A man is an individual--leader by trade. A man is a process--journey not a destination.
"Absolute power corrupts absolutely." -Unknown
Checks and balances are a necessary component of a fair system of bureaucracy and government. Without it, any government institution can carry out the agenda of a single man or the group/corporation that supports or funds its "single man".
Bigger Question: What organization makes sure the public education system is not only effective but purposeful and remaining consistent with its purposeful agenda? If absolute power corrupts absolutely, who has power over educational public school curriculum and what group "checks and balances" this organization's agenda and tracks its efficiency? The privatization of schools has gotten the American public's attention off of this topic as "choice of schools" has been presented as a worthy solution. However, "choice of school" does not address national curriculum and therefore leaves schools, mostly in poor neighborhoods, as deprived and ineffective as ever. The emergence of charter and private schools adjusted curriculum for a hand full of kids but the majority of kids in America go to public schools which still have standards that are vague and substandard at best.
If there is not one size fits all approach to education, what is the function of a leading researcher in education? Shouldn't their tasks be to collaborate with teachers and principals to find the best solutions for a school instead of consulting from a standpoint of "ultimate keeper of school reform knowledge"? No one knows education like the teachers who are on the front line of this "fight". They should be respected in that degree as they have reasonable and practical suggestions that may only be suitable for their students (though they know their students best). This is best practice. One may not disclose a model that can be mass-produced and coined by a company however, this tedious yet necessary approach to student learning will give appreciation to the regional, socioeconomic, cultural and varying academic levels of their students. Though time consuming and tedious, this process is a form of action research and seeks to understand and solve the problem from a hands on approach and within the "event" or action and not above it or other forms of "Top-Down-non collaborative applications.
Context matters if we wish to evaluate superiority between different people. If I compare a sprinter to an accountant, I would find the sprinter superior on the track and the accountant superior at tax time. But when whites established themselves as superior to blacks, or males to females, or heterosexuals to homosexuals, they didn’t go quality by quality making evaluations and find the dominant group better in each. They did it wholesale. Herein lies another fallacy of superiority. We can establish difference by simple observation and the gathering of data. But from individual to individual, there are such huge amounts of qualitative differences and comparative advantages that to try to establish a global (ie not contextual like the sprinter and accountant example was) superiority is absolutely meaningless. Trying to do so using context on a group-to-group scale is beyond meaningless—it’s absolutely absurd. There are far too many variables with which to contend.
But supremacists don’t worry much about making sense. The criteria supremacists use to assign superiority among disparate peoples are tied more to biases than to contextual considerations. Sloppy Logic is engaged along with his first cousin Circular Reasoning. Dominant groups decide they are superior because they are dominant. (They also justify their dominance by reference to their superiority, another set of relations that is actually unrelated, but I will return to this idea later.) They also reason from their values not taking into consideration whether those values are shared by those being evaluated. They say, “Those people do x when doing y is clearly superior.” But “those people” haven’t accepted that y is better. Given their context, x is superior. And this isn’t some foolish misunderstanding—in many cases, quality x has worked to a group’s advantage for generations, centuries, perhaps eons. So x clearly works for them or it could have never become widespread to begin with. The dominant group applies their own specific standard (y) to the subordinate group as though it were universal and not specific to their context. (And they usually malign practice “x” in the process.) But that doesn’t work because people are different. And, far from implying supremacy, difference complicates it—makes it more difficult to assign. Because if a quality you value is not valued in my world—if the quality that works in your world hasn’t been shown to work in mine— how can you use my lack of that quality to condemn me? So, it’s clear that difference doesn’t require superiority. It almost prohibits it. Like the long used phrase “comparing apples and oranges,” assigning superiority to things that are at root dissimilar seems at best misguided and at worst futile and perhaps even dishonest. We tie those together, usually for very poor reasons. We are all guilty of this kind of bad reasoning, but when people in a dominant cultural group do it, it has some pretty bad results for the people in the minority.
We incur collateral damage when we ignore difference, damage that the promoters of sameness-in-diversity did not anticipate. When we fail to make the connection that diversity is indicative of some pretty profound differences, we fail to take steps to make sure that those differences can be addressed such that we can all have access to the fruits of our society. When we fail to recognize that there are issues that are important to women, for instance, simply by virtue of their womanhood, in that womanhood is different fundamentally than manhood, we end up being one of the only first-world countries that fails to give its women paid maternity leave. That’s because we’ve been trained in the counterproductive belief that we’re all the same. A corollary to that misconception is that we all have the same needs. So our politicians apply an abstract liberalism and flawed conceptions of fairness that applies a standard to women that’s actually specific to men as though it were universal. But fairness isn’t about giving everyone the same thing. Fairness is about giving each person what is appropriate to them to achieve given ends and meet given needs. It’s not fair to tell a woman to take a financial hit because she has to recover from giving birth and a man doesn’t. Within areas where women and men differ, we should be asking of women not the exact same thing we ask from men but what makes sense for their context. When we ignore the difference, we lose the context. And women are hurt. I have yet to meet a working woman who can absorb an unpaid maternity leave. How is that expectation a fair one?
Take race as another example of where ignoring difference has real drawbacks. Of course race is partially a social construct; if you don’t believe that, look at how the racial designation “white” has changed in the last century. But it also carries with it some very meaningful and hard-hitting differences, not least of which in the arena of health. First off, in contrast to social-construct absolutism, the biological differences become stark when you’re looking at health statistics. Whites have a higher occurrence of skin cancer (but, contrary to popular belief, black people can develop skin cancer too so PLEASE use sun-block, black folks) due to the fact that they evolved lighter skin from living in regions that got less direct sunlight. That’s not a social construct; that’s a difference. Blacks have a higher occurrence of sickle-cell anemia (but, contrary to popular belief, white people inherit this genetic trait as well, especially those with roots around the Mediterranean Sea). This too is thought to have given those who passed it on a competitive advantage in their environment. Geneticists believe that the S hemoglobin type, the recessive gene that causes Sickle-Cell, evolved in people living in regions prone to Malaria as a defense against that disease. Again, this is not a social construct; this is a difference.
Now in ignoring these differences and focusing on admittedly diverse peoples as though they are the same, we incur costs. These costs aren’t absorbed by the dominant group because the system is designed for them. We get plenty of good information about what strength of sun-block to use. But this is based on a white person. The messaging doesn’t cut both ways. I have no idea if I, as a black man, need to use the strength suggested. My suspicion is that I don’t need something that strong by virtue of the melanin in my skin. But I know I need some and no one is telling me how much. Because to tell me how much less sun-block I need than my white compatriot would be a nod to my difference; in some interpretations, that would be racist. To give me a different SBF number is to treat race as something other than a social construct—as a real, biologically meaningful difference.
However indicative of our fear of difference, wearing a slightly-too-strong sunscreen probably won’t have a huge effect on anyone’s life chances. Sickle-Cell is a far more dire example. We know it affects blacks disproportionately to the tune of 1 in 13 blacks in America being carriers. If you’re a carrier and you conceive with someone else who is a carrier, there’s a 1 in 2 chance that your child will also be a carrier and a 1 in 4 chance that your child will have Sickle-Cell. But, if only one partner is a carrier, even though there’s still a 1 in 2 chance that the offspring will be a carrier, there is no chance that the child will have Sickle-Cell. This knowledge is pretty important. So are you a carrier? Is your partner? You may not know. And you should because this allows you to make choices and engage in family planning. It’s not unprecedented. I have a friend who is Jewish and she’s engaged to a Jewish man. Not long ago, she mentioned some genetic testing that she and her fiancée would undergo to see if they are carriers for a genetic disease that disproportionately affects people of Jewish decent. This is a community imperative in the Jewish community. Black people could do the same thing with Sickle-cell, but to make that shift from the silence we experience now around the subject takes some guidance. It’s up to doctors to give us that council. But doctors are afraid to talk to us as though we’re different from white people. And as a result, we are failing to beat this very beatable condition in our community.
Take another scourge of the black community; diabetes. America has a plan to deal with diabetes, but that undoubtedly means dealing with it from a majority, ie white, perspective. But that might be like sun-block; it may differ according to population. We have no idea what plays a bigger role in diabetes, life-style choices or genetics. We do know that BOTH factors differ between white and black populations in the US. So what works for whites in fighting diabetes may well not work, or at least have a distorted effect in blacks. A more effective way to combat diabetes might be to see if there’s a real difference in how the disease affects people of different racial backgrounds and then to determine what the implications are for treatment in those different populations. Until we do that, until we apply difference to the process, we’ll find that our outcomes are never quite as equitable as we claim we would like.
We’re confused about diversity. As a nation, in our academic, professional and political settings, we give lip service to diversity. We talk about diversity initiatives and we make it a core value. But in truth, we ignore it. We fail to recognize it’s significance and we gloss over its most basic meaning. Because, diversity means difference. And difference makes us uncomfortable. So, we as a society take the paradoxical stance of accepting diversity while rejecting difference.
Don’t believe it? Look deeper. We’re inundated with messages about our sameness by the same circles that promote diversity. The sociologist tells you that race is a social construct. We’re really no different. The feminist tells you that gender is a matter of nurture and not nature. Again, we’re really no different. The politics of disenfranchised minorities try to go above and beyond to demonstrate how the people whose cause is being championed are at root no different than the majority or dominant group.
This muddying of difference comes from a well-intentioned place. Our history in this country, not that we’re alone in this regard, is one of racism (ie white-supremacy), sexism (ie male-supremacy), and a grab-bag of other –isms with accompanying supremacies. And supremacy, which is a doctrine of superiority, cannot exist without difference. In other words, superiority requires difference.
So, what feminists, civil rights activists, sociologists and progressive politicians did throughout the 20th century is to promote the SAMENESS of disparate groups. They did this for noble reasons. As we said above, superiority requires difference. It cannot stand as a logical tenet that one group is superior to another if we establish that both groups are the same. In order for one to be better, they MUST differ. So, if I can poke enough holes in “difference” to cause it to collapse as a concept, then “superiority”, and its flip-side “inferiority”, can’t be long in following. And that is exactly what we went about doing and thus difference as a meaningful concept was gutted. We were left with the husk—diversity.
This plan of attack was misguided. When we should have been dismantling supremacy and leaving difference alone, we attacked the wrong target. Because, while superiority has a logical need for difference, the same is not true in reverse. Difference doesn’t require superiority; it doesn’t even imply superiority. This seems counterintuitive because we’re so used to immediately establishing which of two things is better once we’ve established that the two things are different. If they differ in quality, it’s easy to establish a preference. If they differ in quantity, it’s even easier; 2 is better than 1. But that evaluation is separate from simply noticing that two things are different, whether the difference is qualitative or quantitative. When we register a difference, we make an objective observation. This thing is rough; this one is smooth. There are two of these and only one of this. However, when we sort things into better and worse, we make a subjective evaluation, one based on context and/or our own biases. The superiority of rough or smooth depends on your context. Need to even out a surface? Choose rough sand paper. Need to write something down? A smooth piece of copy paper is more appropriate. Quantities seem more straightforward, but context still matters. More may not be better. For instance, a large number of things IS NOT superior to a small number if the value I establish is the ability to take up as little space as possible.
The incident in McKinney, Texas where the officers responded to a call and ended up getting suspended for the actions that ensued. Does this video warrant more officer training in crowd control or problem resolution? Is there a perspective in which the officer’s actions are justified?