Saturday, 24 June 2017

Racism needs your help to survive

Taika Waititi, Hollywood director and New Zealander of the year, fronts the campaign that was launched to crack down the rising level of racism in New Zealand. According to reports, a third of all human rights complaints concern discrimination based on ethnicity (via).



“How we treat other people will define what kind of country we become and what kind of person a New Zealander is."
Susan Devoy, Race Relations Commissioner

“Today some iconic Kiwis are standing shoulder to shoulder with the Human Rights Commission and asking us all to give nothing to racism, to give it no tolerance, to give it no acceptance and to give it no welcome. They make me incredibly proud to be a New Zealander.”
Susan Devoy

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Belfast (1977)

Got to have a believin'
Got to have a believin'
Got to have a believin'
All the people
'Cause the people are leavin'
When the people believin'
When the people believin'
When the people believin'
All the children cause the children
Are leavin'



Belfast
Belfast
When the country rings the leaving bell you're lost
Belfast
Belfast

When the hate you have
For one another's past
You can try (You can try)
You can try (You can try)
You can try
To tell the world the reason why
Belfast
Belfast
Belfast
It's the country that's changin'
Oh, it's the country that's changin'
It's the country that's changin'
All the people
'Cause the people are leavin'
It's the world that's deceivin'
It's the world that's deceivin'
It's the world that's deceivin'
All the people
'Cause the people believin' (...)



More Boney M:

::: Gotta go home: WATCH/LISTEN
::: Ma Baker: WATCH/LISTEN
::: Rasputin: WATCH/LISTEN
::: Sunny: WATCH/LISTEN
::: Daddy Cool: WATCH/LISTEN

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- Photograph via
- lyrics via

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

World Refugee Day: Ahmed and Harry

"Every minute 20 people leave everything behind to escape war, persecution or terror."
United Nations



"I’ve met so many who have lost so much. But they never lose their dreams for their children or their desire to better our world. They ask for little in return – only our support in their time of greatest need"
António Guterres, UN Secretary-General

Monday, 19 June 2017

The Aggressive Driver Syndrome, Age, Gender and Type of Car

Aggressive driving (tailgating, rude gestures, passing on the shoulder, pulling into a parking space someone else was waiting for, etc.) is a cultural norm, a socially acquired practice with age and gender differences.
The results of a telephone survey of 1.000 adult drivers conducted in 2000 show that young drivers are more aggressive than older drivers, that men are more aggressive than women when they drive sports cars and light trucks, and women are more aggressive than men when they drive SUVs and luxury cars. The author, in fact, distinguishes between "tough driving cars" (sports, light trucks, SUVs), "soft driving cars" (economy, family), and "special driving cars" (vans, luxury) stating that each of these "psychological categories" has its own aggressive driving syndrome. These are correlations, no causality is discussed.



The author also conducted an online survey in which 72% of female van drivers confessed to swearing and cussing on a regular basis vs. 46% of male drivers of economy cars.
Generally, men described themselves higher on aggressiveness than women (either because they really are or because it is culturally more accepted, or a mix of these reasons). The difference was significant, little in numbers (6 vs. 5.5), and high in effect. When considering the lifetime of one generation of drivers, the author comes to the conclusion that women's lesser aggressiveness would theoretically lead to 120.000 lives saved and 500.000 injuries less. The type of aggressiveness is also related to age and gender. Women, for instance, swear more than men do. So do young drivers compared to older ones. Men, in contrast, speed more than women (so do younger drivers compared to older ones).
"One of the discoveries I made by studying drivers for many years is that they like to underestimate their errors and overestimate their skills. In this sample, people rated themselves as a driver on a 10-point scale, from (1) poor to (10) excellent. Men rate themselves close to 8 while women rate themselves close to 7. This is is significant and substantial, but the interpretation is not entirely clear. It's possible that men are better drivers than women, but not necessarily. It could be that men underestimate their errors, while women are more realistic or honest. What's interesting when you look at the graph, is that this gender difference is replicated across the 10 states for which I had enough respondents to attain reliability."
Interestingly, those who consider themselves near perfect also confess to significantly more aggressiveness.

Although the sample is not representative and one has to be careful when analysing self-assessment, this study has some interesting findings.

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- James, L. (2000). Aggressive Driving Analyzed: National Web Based Survey of 1.200 Drivers. The Effect of Age, Gender, and Type of Car Driven Across the States, online
- Photograph via

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Quoting Betty White

"I may be a senior, but so what? I'm still hot."
Betty White



"I think older women still have a full life."
Betty White

"Retirement is not in my vocabulary. They aren't going to get rid of me that way."
Betty White

"I don't care who anybody sleeps with. If a couple has been together all that time - and there are gay relationships that are more solid than some heterosexual ones - I think it's fine if they want to get married. I don't know how people can get so anti-something."
Betty White



"Don't try to be young. Just open your mind. Stay interested in stuff. There are so many things I won't live long enough to find out about, but I'm still curious about them. You know people who are already saying, 'I'm going to be 30 - oh, what am I going to do?' Well, use that decade! Use them all!"
Betty White

"I think it's your mental attitude. So many of us start dreading age in high school and that's a waste of a lovely life. 'Oh... I'm 30, oh, I'm 40, oh, 50.' Make the most of it."
Betty White

"My mom said to never lie about your age because you'll forget what you told one person and get mixed up. My age has been published over the years, so I could no more say I'm younger than 92 than fly to the moon. But it's amazing—past a certain age, you can get away with murder. You can do anything and people will say, 'Well, the poor old soul, she's … you know …'"
Betty White

"Why retire from something if you're loving it so much and enjoying it so much, and you're blessed with another group of people to work with like the gang on 'Hot in Cleveland?' Why would I think of retiring? What would I do with myself?"
Betty White

"I was one of the first women producers in Hollywood."
Betty White

"I'm the luckiest broad on two feet, I'll tell you that. They say once a woman passes 40 she doesn't get any good parts, so I'm blessed."
Betty White

“I’ve always liked older men. They’re just more attractive to me. Of course, at my age there aren’t that many left!”
Betty White

"Gravity has taken over. So there’s not much I can do about it … My problem with [plastic surgery] is you’ll go to a women’s press conference or something like that, and old friends will come up and I kind of don’t recognize them. I recognize the voice, but I don’t—all of a sudden, there’s this whole new face that I don’t know who that is."
Betty White

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photographs via and via

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Applying for a job at Disney in the Golden Age of Animation

"He [Walt Disney] didn't trust women or cats."
Ward Kimball

In 1938, Walt Disney Productions wrote a letter to a female applicant and turned down her request to enroll in the training programme because she was a woman. This letter received some attention in the past years. Meryl Streep, for instance, held a "nine-minute tour-de-force" speech at the National Board of Review dinner in 2014. In her speech, she read the letter and called Disney a "gender bigot" (via and via).



The same year, The Walt Disney Family Museum reacted by putting the letter into historical context and stating that the limited role of women in the workplace in the 1930s was culturally accepted, i.e. "normal".
"At that time, most companies in America were mostly male-dominated with women providing smaller support roles. There were several prominent women within Walt Disney Productions, well before WWII made women the backbone of the American workforce. In speeches made to his employees on February 10 and 11, 1941, Walt observed that women artists could fully equal their male counterparts, and were being included in his studio animation training program. (...) Hazel Sewell served as an art director on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which was released in 1937—a year before the letter mentioned above was dated." (The Walt Disney Family Museum)
In the 1930s and 1940s, "men and women were relegated to very specific roles in the animated film process". Creative men worked in the Animation Department while creative women worked in the Ink and Paint Department. About 100 women mostly under the age of 25 worked in this department, the inkers were called the "queens" of the department (via).



"The extent of Walt’s narrow casting—and prejudices—from political beliefs to religion to gender has been the subject of much conjecture. Rae, an outstanding high-school artist, like many of the girls, heard that “each time they were beginning to get good they’ve quit to get married or something. So now he’s thumbs down on girl animators.” “The consensus was that a man has a better feel for action, personality and caricature,” said a later story about Disney female employees in a Hollywood newspaper. But Ruthie knew better. “It was a man’s world all over the place,” she said with typically wry candor. “The stars were the beauties who sang and wiggled their fannies around—that’s all girls were useful for.”"
Patricia Zohn, Vanity Fair



June 7, 1938

Miss Mary V. Ford
Searcy,
Arkansas

Dear Miss Ford:

Your letter of recent date has been received in the Inking and Painting Department for reply.

Women do not do any of the creative work in connection with preparing the cartoons for the screen, as that work is performed entirely by young men. For this reason girls are not considered for the training school.

The only work open to women consists of tracing the characters on clear celluloid sheets with India ink and filling in the tracings on the reverse side with paint according to directions.

In order to apply for a position as "Inker" or "Painter" it is necessary that one appear at the Studio, bringing samples of pen and ink and water color work. It would not be advisable to come to Hollywood with the above specifically in view, as there are really very few openings in comparison with the number of girls who apply.

Yours very truly,
Walt Disney Productions, Ltd.
Mary Cleave

Here is another rejection letter from 1939: LINK



“If a woman can do the work as well, she is worth as much as a man. The girl artists have the right to expect the same chances for advancement as men, and I honestly believe they may eventually contribute something to this business that men never would or could.”
Walt Disney
Today, the Walt Disney Company is one of DiversityInc Top 50 companies for diversity (via). The company has launched a great many diversity and inclusion initiatives (e.g. the annual Women's Leadership Conference), has 32 Diversity & Inclusion full time staff members (via) and earned 100% on the Diversity Index a few years ago (via).

:: Related posting: Mickey Mouse & Jim Crow

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images via and via and via and via

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen, by Olympe de Gouges (1791)

Olympe de Gouges (1748-1793) was a French political activist, feminst and playwright. In "Les Droits de la Femme" she stated that the "Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen" was not applied to women. Her devotion to the cause of women's rights, the vote for women and women's education led to her being charged with treason. Olympe de Gouges was arrested, tried and executed by guillotine (via).



The Rights of Woman

Man, are you capable of being just? It is a woman who poses the question; you will not deprive her of that right at least. Tell me, what gives you sovereign empire to opress my sex? Your strength? Your talents? Observe the Creator in his wisdom; survey in all her grandeur that nature with whom you seem to want to be in harmony, and give me, if you dare, an exampl of this tyrannical empire. Go back to animals, consult the elements, study plants, finally glance at all the modifications of organic matter, and surrender to the evidence when I offer you the menas; search, probe, and distinguish, if you can, the sexes in the administration of nature. Everywhere you will find them mingled; everywhere they cooperate in harmonious tpgetherness in this immortal masterpiece.
Man alone has raised his exceptional circumstances to a principle. Bizarre, blind, bloated with science and degenerated--in a century of enlightenment and wisdom--into the crassest ignorance, he wants to command as a despot a sex which is in full possession of its intellectual faculties; he pretends to enjoy the Revolution and to claim his rights to equality in order to say nothing more about it.

Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen

Preamble

Mothers, daughters, sisters [and] representatives of the nation demand to be constituted into a national assembly. Believing that ignorance, omission, or scorn for the rights of woman are the only causes of public misfortunes and of the corruption of governments, [the women] have resolved to set forth a solemn declaration the natural, inalienable, and sacred rights of woman in order that this declaration, constantly exposed before all members of the society, will ceaselessly remind them of their rights and duties; in order that the authoritative acts f women and teh athoritative acts of men may be at any moment compared with and respectful of the purpose of all political institutions; and in order that citizens' demands, henceforth based on simple and incontestable principles, will always support the constitution, good morals, and the happiness of all.
Consequently, the sex that is as superior in beauty as it is in courage during the sufferings of maternity recognizes and declares in the presence and under the auspices of the Supreme Being, the following Rights of Woman and of Female Citizens.

Article I
Woman is born free and lives equal to man in her rights. Social distinctions can be based only on the common utility.

Article II
The purpose of any political association is the conservation of the natural and impresciptible rights of woman and man; these rights are liberty property, security, and especially resistance to oppression.

Article III
The principle of all sovereignty rests essentially with the nation, which is nothing but the union of woman and man; no body and no individual can exercise any authority which does not come expressly from it (the nation).

Article IV
Liberty and justice consist of restoring all that belongs to others; thus, the only limits on the exercise of the natural rights of woman are perpetual male tyranny; these limits are to be reformed by the laws of nature and reason.

Article V
Laws of nature and reason proscibe all acts harmful to society; everything which is not prohibited by these wise and divine laws cannot be prevented, and no one can be constrained to do what they do not command.

Article VI
The law must be the expression of the general will; all female and male citizens must contribute either personally or through their representatives to its formation; it must be the same for all: male and female citizens, being equal in the eyes of the law, must be equally admitted to all honors, positions, and public employment according to their capacity and without other distinctions besides those of their virtues and talents. Article VII No woman is an exception; she is accused, arrested, and detained in cases determined by law. Women, like men, obey this rigorous law.

Article VIII
The law must establish only those penalties that are strictly and obviously necessary...

Article IX
Once any woman is declared guilty, complete rigor is exercised by law.

Article X
No one is to be disquieted for his very basic opinions; woman has the right to mount the scaffold; she must equally have the right to mount the rostrum, provided that her demonstrations do not disturb the legally established public order.

Article XI
The free communication of thoughts and opinions is one of the most precious rights of woman, since that liberty assures recognition of children by their fathers. Any female citizen thus may say freely, I am the mother of a child which belongs to you, without being forced by a barbarous prejudice to hide the truth; (an exception may be made) to respond to the abuse of this liberty in cases determined by law.

Article XII
The gaurantee of the rights of woman and the female citizen implies a major benefit; this guarantee must be instituted for the advantage of all, and not for the particular benefit of those to whom it is entrusted.

Article XIII
For the support of the public force and the expenses of administration, the contributions of woman and man are equal; she shares all the duties and all the painful tasks; therefore, whe must have the same share in the distribution of positions, employment, offices, honors, and jobs.

Article XIV
Female and male citizens have the right to verify, either by themselves of through their representatives, the necessity of the public contribution. This can only apply to women if they are granted an equal share, not only of wealth, but also of public administration, and in the determination of the proportion, the base, the collection, and the duration of the tax.

Article XV
The collectivity of women, joined for tax purposes to the aggregate of men, has the right to demand an accounting of his administration from any public agent.

Article XVI
No society has a constitution without the guarantee of rights and the separation of powers; the constitution is null if the majority of individuals comprising the nation have not cooperated in drafting it.

Article XVII
Property belongs to both sexes whether united or separate; for each it is an inviolable and sacred right' no one can be deprived of it, since it is the true patrimony of natire, unless the legally determined public need obviously dictates it, and then only with a just and prior indemnity.

Postscript

Woman, wake up; the tocsin of reason is being heard throughout the whole universe; discover your rights. The powerful empire of nature is no longer surrounded by prejudice, fanaticism, superstition, and lies. The flame of truth has dispersed all the clouds of folly and usurpation. Enslaved man has multiplied his strength and needs recourse to yours to break his chains. Having become free, he has become unjust to his companion. Oh, women, women! When will you cease to be blind? What advantage have you received from the Revolution? A more pronounced scorn, a more marked disdain. In the centuries of corruption you ruled only over the weakness of men. The reclamation of your patrimony, based on the wise decrees of nature-what have you to dread from such a fine undertaking? The bon mot of the legislator of the marriage of Cana? Do you fear that our French legislators, correctors of that morality, long ensnared by political practices now out of date, will only say again to you: women, what is there in common between you and us? Everything, you will have to answer. If they persist in their weakness in putting this non sequitur in contradiction to their principles, courageously oppose the force of reason to the empty pretentions of superiority; unite yourselves beneath the standards of philosophy; deploy all the energy of your character, and you will soon see these haughty men, not groveling at your feet as servile adorers, but proud to share with you the treasures of the Supreme Being. Regardless of what barriers confront you, it is in your power to free yourselves; you have only to want to....
Marriage is the tomb of trust and love. The married woman can with impunity give bastards to her husband, and also give them the wealth which does not belong to them. The woman who is unmarried has only one feeble right; ancient and inhuman laws refuse to her for her children the right to the name and the wealth of their father; no new laws have been made in this matter. If it is considered a paradox and an impossibility on my part to try to give my sex an honorable and just consistency, I leave it to men to attain glory for dealing with this matter; but while we wait, the way can be prepared through national education, the restoration of morals, and conjugal conventions.

Form for a Social Contract Between Man and Woman

We, _____ and ______, moved by our own will, unite ourselves for the duration of our lives, and for the duration of our mutual inclinations, under the following conditions: We intend and wish to make our wealth communal, meanwhile reserving to ourselves the right to divide it in favor of our children and of those toward whom we might have a particular inclination, mutually recognizing that our property belongs directly to our children, from whatever bed they come, and that all of them without distinction have the right to bear the name of the fathers and mothers who have acknowledged them, and we are charged to subscribe to the law which punishes the renunciation of one's own blood. We likewise obligate ourselves, in case of separation, to divide our wealth and to set aside in advance the portion the law indicates for our children, and in the event of a perfect union, the one who dies will divest himself of half his property in his children's favor, and if one dies childless, the survivor will inherit by right, unless the dying person has disposed of half the common property in favor of one whom he judged deserving.

That is approximately the formula for the marriage act I propose for execution. Upon reading this strange document, I see rising up against me the hypocrites, the prudes, the clergy, and the whole infernal sequence. But how it [my proposal] offers to the wise the moral means of achieving the perfection of a happy government! . . .
Moreover, I would like a law which would assist widows and young girls deceived by the false promises of a man to whom they were attached; I would like, I say, this law to force an inconstant man to hold to his obligations or at least [to pay] an indemnity equal to his wealth. Again, I would like this law to be rigorous against women, at least those who have the effrontery to have reCourse to a law which they themselves had violated by their misconduct, if proof of that were given. At the same time, as I showed in Le Bonheur primitit de l'homme, in 1788, that prostitutes should be placed in designated quarters. It is not prostitutes who contribute the most to the depravity of morals, it is the women of' society. In regenerating the latter, the former are changed. This link of fraternal union will first bring disorder, but in consequence it will produce at the end a perfect harmony.
I offer a foolproof way to elevate the soul of women; it is to join them to all the activities of man; if man persists in finding this way impractical, let him share his fortune with woman, not at his caprice, but by the wisdom of laws. Prejudice falls, morals are purified, and nature regains all her rights. Add to this the marriage of priests and the strengthening of the king on his throne, and the French government cannot fail.

(via)

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photograph via
Description: "On Aug. 26, 1971, thousands of women demonstrated and leafleted in various places in Manhattan, including Wall Street and St. Patrick's Cathedral. The Women's Rights Day activities culminated in a parade of nearly 6,000 people, including this woman, down Fifth Avenue in support of equal rights (Credit: Newsday / Jim Peppler)"

Monday, 12 June 2017

Born this day ... Clyde Kennard

Clyde Kennard was born on 12 June 1927 in Mississippi. He was a Korean War veteran and Civil Rights activist. In 1956, 1957 and 1959 (after the United States Supreme Court had ruled that segregation of public schools was unconstitutional in 1954), he attempted to enroll at the all-white Mississippi Southern College to complete his undergraduate degree. Each time he was rejected because he was black.


"Zack Van Landingham of the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission, which ostensibly encouraged the state's public image but worked to suppress activists for civil rights, urged J. H. White, the African-American president of Mississippi Vocational College, to persuade Kennard to end his quest at Mississippi Southern College. When Kennard could not be dissuaded, Van Landingham and Dudley Connor, a Hattiesburg lawyer collaborated to suppress his activism. Files from the Sovereignty Commission, which the state opened for public review in 1998, showed that its officials went to the extreme of considering forcing Kennard into an accident or bombing his car to stop his quest. Instead, they framed him for a criminal offense." (via)
In 1959, Kennard was arrested, convicted and fined $600 for reckless driving and for illegal possession of alcohol, i.e. whiskey and other liquor that were planted under the seat of his car, as records show. His credit was cut off.
In 1960, he was arrested again. This time for the theft of $25 worth of chicken feed from a warhouse (a so-called accomplice testified against him who years later said that Kennard was innocent; despite efforts there was no pardon). Clyde Kennard was prosecuted and found guilty by an all-white jury that needed ten minutes to deliberate. He was sentenced to seven years in prison to be served in a high-security facility which made sure that he never again applied to any of Mississippi's all-white colleges.
In 1961, Kennard was diagnosed with cancer. Civil rights leaders fought for this release and Kennard could leave prison in 1963. Six months later he died (via and via).
Today, the Clyde Kennard Memorial Scholarship is named after him,

“What happened to me isn’t as bad as what happened to the guard [that abused him], because this system has turned him into a beast, and it will turn his children into beasts.”
Clyde Kennard in his last days in a Chicago hospital

"(...) Clyde died trying to improve Mississippi and America."
Larry Still (Jet, 25 July 1963)



Route 1, Box 70
Hattiesburg, Mississippi
September 25, 1959

THE RACE QUESTION

Editor,

The charge that any person who believes in any form of integration of the races is a Communist or an out-side agitator has been made so constantly and with such force that it would not surprise me if there are some people who are innocent enough to believe, if not all, at least some portion of that charge. It is for the benefit of these unfortunate people that I review, briefly, the fundamental principle upon which the conviction of the integrationists is based.

Most basic to our beliefs about the race question in America today is that there can be no racial segregation without some racial discrimination, and that there cannot be a complete racial equalization without some racial integration.

Now this principle is an easy one for us to follow, for it holds as true in human history, especially American History, as it does in logic. Reason tells us that two things, different in location, different in constitution, different in origin, and different in purpose cannot possibly be equal. History has verified this conclusion. For nearly a century now the State of Mississippi has been under a supposedly separate but equal system. Let us ask ourselves, does the history of the system support the theory of the segregationists or the theory of the integrationists? What segregationist in his right mind would honestly claim that the facilities for the two races are equal? Still segregationists say, give us a little more time, we are really making progress. Perhaps they are making progress of some kind, but human life is not long enough to extend their time. They have had nearly a hundred years to prove their theory, and so far they are no closer to proof than when they began.

The differences which we now have over this matter of segregation versus integration have, unfortunately, been characterized by some as a mortal contest between out-side agitators and-or Communists, and peaceful, law-abiding citizens. This is furthest from the truth. The question is whether or not citizens of the same country, the same state, the same city, shall have equal opportunities to earn their living, to select the people who shall govern them, and raise and educate their children in a free democratic manner: or whether or not because of the accident of color, one half of the citizens shall be excluded from society as though they had leprosy?

If there is one quality of Americans which would set them apart from almost any other peoples, it is the history of their struggle for liberty and justice under the law. Lincoln has rightly said that this nation was conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Truly, the history of America is inseparable from the ideals of John Locke, John Stuart Mill and Jean Rousseau. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, says our Declaration of Independence, that all men are created equal.” How different that statement is in spirit from the one which says: Before I see my child go to school with a Negro, I will destroy the whole school system. How different in virtue is the statement of Patrick Henry which says, “I know not what course others may take, but as for me give me liberty or give me death,” and the one which says, before I see a Negro with liberty I had rather see him dead.

I find it indeed interesting that the people who come closest to the thinking of Fascists and Communists in their activities should accuse the integrationists of that very thing. Is it the segregationists or the integrationists who are employing secret investigators to search the records and to apply pressure on any one suspected of opposing the present dictatorship of the minority by the majority? Is it the segregationists or the integrationists who are preaching the doctrine of the superiority of one race over another? Is it the segregationists or the integrationists who are dogmatically suppressing the aspirations of nearly half the people of this great state for their inalienable right to participate in their government?

The segregationists give as their reason for not allowing Negroes to participate more fully in the general community activities that ninety-five percent of the Negroes are not interested, which would leave only five percent of the Negroes are interested. Now, assuming that their statement is correct, and knowing that no person nor group of people in the United States has the right to forbid even one single person his constitutional rights, what accounts for their actions? Some declare that the northern states can permit integration because they have only a few Negroes, but the South can’t do that because the South has so many Negroes. Well, according to their own estimates, only five percent of the Negroes in the South are interested in the general community activities, and five percent of the Negroes in any community would certainly not weigh very heavily in any critical issue even if we were to assume that they would all vote the same way. On the other hand, if a majority of the Negro people in this State desires to participate to the fullest extent in the general community activities and are being forbidden to do so either through fear or ignorance, then the segregationists of this State are guilty of one of the strangest and probably the most tragic dictatorships yet recorded by history.

It is an easy matter, I suppose, for White people to misunderstand the aspirations of Negroes; this is understandable. But we have no desire for revenge in our hearts. What we want is to be respected as men and women, given an opportunity to compete with you in the great and interesting race of life. We want your friends to be our friends; we want your enemies to be our enemies; we want your hopes and ambitions to be our hopes and ambitions, and your joys and sorrows to be our joys and sorrows.

The big question seems to be, can we achieve this togetherness in our time? If the segregationists have their way we shall not. For instead of preaching brotherly love and cooperation they are declaring the superiority of one race and the inferiority of the other. Instead of trying to show people how much they are alike, they are busy showing them how much they differ. Instead of appointing a commission to study the problem to determine whether integration or segregation is the best policy for Mississippi at this time, they appointed a commission to try to maintain segregation at all cost whether it is the best policy or not the best policy.

In this matter I like to quote from the great Indian leader, Mahatma Gandhi, in his discourse on the existence of God. He says: “In the midst of death, life persists; in the midst of untruth, truth persists; in the midst of darkness light persists.”

So, let it be, in our case.

Respectfully submitted,

Clyde Kennard

via

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images via and via

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Positive vs. Negative Freedom of Religion

The positive (active) freedom of religion is the right to actively express one's religious beliefs - i.e.: the right to religion.
The negative (passive) freedom of religion refers to right not to have to communicate one's religious stance (a question that is often asked at school, in hospital, or in offices that hand out official documents), not to have to take part in religious education at school, to be "spared" from the teachers' and classmates' expression and practice of religion - i.e.: the freedom from religion.



Negative freedom of religion benefits people of different faiths and non-believers (Hector, n.d.). Atheists, in fact, can protect themselves by demanding their negative freedom of religion (Schröder, 2005). However, it does not mean that due to one's negative freedom of religion one may keep others from exercising their positive freedom of religion (Heckel, 2004). It is, therefore, rather limited in everyday life as one cannot refer to negative freedom of religion when asking for a "religious free environment" without churches ringing their bells or muezzins calling to prayer (Starck, n.d.).



Positive and negative freedom of religion cannot be separated from each other (Fuchs, 1999). Promoting one's positive freedom may mean reducing somebody else's negative freedom - as, for instance, the never ending discussion about the crucifix in the classroom shows. This discussion, however, can be led in a more balanced way when considering whose positive and negative freedoms are considered and whose are not.
Some scholars do not consider positive and negative freedom of religion as thesis and antithesis but as a synthesis that protects both the right to do something and the right not to do something (Siering, 2011). Focusing on positive freedom of religion and neglecting the negative aspect of freedom distorts freedom and changes it into something only religiously committed people are entitled to. There can only be freedom of religion if both complementary aspects are taken into account (Bielefeldt, 2012).



- Bielefeldt, H. (2012). Streit um die Religionsfreiheit. Aktuelle Facetten der internationalen Debatte, online
- Fuchs, C. (1999). Das Staatskirchenrecht der neuen Bundesländer. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck
- Heckel, M. (2004). Gesammelte Schriften. Staat, Kirche, Recht, Geschichte. Band V. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck
- Hector, P. (n.d.) Zur Religionsfreiheit in der Rechtssprechung des Europäischen Gerichtshofs für Menschenrechte, online
- Schröder, T. (2005). Religionsfreiheit im abendländischen Kontext, online
- Siering, L. M. (2011). Die negative Religionsfreiheit und ihre Bedeutung bei aufenthaltsbeendenden Maßnahmen. Berlin: LIT
- Stark, C. (n.d.). Religionsfreiheit in Deutschland als positive und negative Freiheit, online
- images via and via and via

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Inclusive Pedagogy & Bell Curve Thinking

Inclusive pedagogy is a contentious concept as there is no agreement that all children can be educated together and where there is agreement there is still a discussion on how this can be done (Florian, 2015). As countries and cultures have different concepts, there is some confusion about the use and meaning of inclusion in educational settings. Different definitions have resulted in different practices (Makoelle, 2014). There is the widespread perception (or rather fear) that the inclusion of pupils with difficulties in learning will hold back the progress of pupils without difficulties in learning. Inclusive education, however, results in benefits for all learners (Spratt & Florian, 2013).



Inclusive pedagogy rejects so-called ability labelling, it does not limit the expectations of teachers and pupils and by focusing on the perceived "potential" reproduce social inequalities.
Labelling children as those having "special needs" means that teachers differentiate work based on their perception of ability which again places "a ceiling on the learning opportunities of those thought to be less able". Disrupting these practices and replacing them with participatory approaches to both teaching and learning is what educational (and social) inclusion is about.
Inclusion is not passive, it is not "being do to" certain groups but a dynamic process that involves all children (Spratt & Florian, 2013).
"The notion of inclusive pedagogy is not a call for a return to a model of whole class teaching where equality is notionally addressed by providing identical experiences for all. Instead it advocates an approach whereby the teacher provides a range of options which are available to everybody. Human diversity is seen within the model of inclusive pedagogy as a strength, rather than a problem, as children work together, sharing ideas and learning from their interactions with each other. The inclusive pedagogical approach fosters an open-ended view of each child’s potential to learn."
Spratt & Florian (2013)


Bell curve thinking means that positions at the centre of a normal distribution are seen as ideal while those outside are regarded as marginalised learners who require something additional, different or "special".
"Because schools are organised by grouping pupils according to commonly agreed categories, and the utilitarian principle of the greatest good for the greatest number, what is ordinarily provided will meet the needs of most learners, while some may require something ‘additional’ to or ‘different’ from that which is ordinarily available. A bell curve model of distribution, which assumes ‘that most phenomena occur around a middle point while a few occur at either high or low extreme ends’ (Fendler and Muzaffar, 2008, p 63) underpins many educational practices and is widely used as an organisational principle. Sorting students by ability is one example of how this model operates; the use of norm-referenced tests is another. Both of these practices are part of the pathway by which judgements about students’ learning capacity are determined and by which some students become eligible for additional support. As a structural feature of the school system, these sorting practices often set the points at which individual students’ educational needs are defined as ‘additional’ or ‘special’. Consequently the idea that some students will need something ‘different from’ or ‘additional to’ that which is generally available to others of similar age is taken for granted. In other words it has become normalised in educational thinking and is accepted without question. Indeed it guides the definition of additional support in many countries."
(Florian, 2015)


Having additional or special needs is being assigned membership to a group and starting to believe that one has the attributes of the group. Often, it also implies that teachers lower their expectations about what the student can achieve (Florian, 2015).



Once a child is labelled, the label is likely to stay throughout the school years. Having special needs means being different, can create stigma and low self-esteem (via). Inclusive pedagogy does not provide something different or additional but "seeks to extend what is ordinarily available to everybody" (via).



- Florian, L. (2015). Inclusive Pedagogy: A transformative approach to individual differences but can it help reduce educational inequalities? Scottish Educational Review, 47(1), 5-14
- Makoelle, T. M. (2014). Pedagogy of Inclusion: A Quest for Inclusive Teaching and Learning. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, 5(20), 1259-1267.
- Spratt, J. & Florian, L. (2013). Applying the principles of inclusive pedagogy in initial teacher education: from university based course to classroom action. Revista de Investigación en Education, 11(3), 133-140.
- images via and via and via and via and via