I See You Now
 Changes in the Landscape of
Truth-Telling as a Result of the
            Obama Presidency
Three events in 2009


Dr. Henry Louis Gates

“Sherri”

“Precious”


April 28, 2010   Jo Foy, AAACS Conference, Denver ...
http://us.cnn.com/video/?/video/living/2009/07/23/bia.henry.gates.cnn

April 28, 2010                   Jo Foy, AAACS Conf...
http://www.mylifetime.com/shows/sherri/video
April 28, 2010               Jo Foy, AAACS Conference, Denver   4
“Precious,” the movie




                 http://www.weareallprecious.com/
April 28, 2010            Jo Foy, AAACS Confer...
Questions to consider:


Would any of these examples have stood
 out in 2007?

Would these stories have been presented
 ...
What changed?




April 28, 2010   Jo Foy, AAACS Conference, Denver   7
President Obama can help us out




                 http://www.whitehouse.gov/video/EVR012909?category=9

April 28, 2010 ...
Observations

Expectations
        Among male and female African American
         children to attain the Presidency


...
Michel Foucault (1926-1984)
 “Each society has its regime of truth, its „general
  policies‟ of truth: that is, the types...
Observations


Speaking out
        Telling the “truth”
        Dangerous truths
        Racist remarks




April 28, ...
Landscapes to consider


Social or cultural
        Shifts as a result of the Obama presidency


Educational
        W...
3%                               33-73%
                                   Asian/Pacific                                  ...
Michel Foucault (1926-1984)


Knowledge


Power

Self


April 28, 2010   Jo Foy, AAACS Conference, Denver   14
Michel Foucault


Knowledge (truth)
        Involves discourse
                 Practices, techniques or rules that con...
Michel Foucault



Truth becomes not only about knowledge
 (discourse or discursive formations) but
 also about the indiv...
Michel Foucault


Subjectivity

        A person is made into a subject through
         affiliation (or disaffiliation)...
Michel Foucault


Liberation

        “the individual is not something that needs to be
         liberated rather the in...
Michel Foucault


Power

        “Power is everywhere; not because it embraces
         everything, but because it comes...
“Precious,” the movie

Taken from Push, by Sapphire (1997)

Claireece Precious Jones
        Obese
        16 years ol...
“Precious,” the movie

Precious is at the effect of
        Her mother
        The school principal
        The sexual...
“Precious,” the movie

Claireece tells the truth about her family
 situation to the social worker

Not a truth we necess...
“Precious,” the movie

The mother also tells the truth to the social
 worker … and frees Claireece

Not a truth we want ...
“Precious,” the movie


When Mo‟Nique was interviewed on the
 red carpet of the Academy Awards, she
 said, “This is a uni...
“Precious,” the movie


Who made the difference for Precious?
        Miss Rain (Paula Patton)
        Cornrows (Sherri...
Emergent Properties

In ecology we talk about driving variables
        Climate (rain and temperature)
        Organism...
What emerged within Claireece?


Reading at a 8th grade level
Journaling (creative inspiration)
Motherhood (both childr...
The Landscapes

Social/Cultural
        Truth-telling as exemplified by Dr. Gates and
         Sherri Shepherd
        ...
References

Bigelow, R., Arthur, A., Hughes, J., & Patterson, M. (2008). The politics of race and gender:
    Children’s p...
National Education Association. (2003). Status of the American Public School Teacher, 2000-
    01.

O’Farrell, C. (2009, ...
Thank you!


If you wish to study these materials in
  more depth go to:

                 www.slideshare.net/jofoy or
   ...
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AAACS Conference Denver April 2010

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This is the final version of the presentation on April 28, 2010 at the AAACS conference a preconference to AERA. The demographics movie referred to in the presentation can be viewed at www.vimeo.com/jokfoy

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  • My name is Jo Foy and I am a graduate student in Curriculum & instruction at Kansas State University. My title today is “I See You Now: Changes in the Landscape of Truth-Telling as a Result of the Obama Presidency.”
  • Three events occurred in 2009 that caught my eye: (1) the incident with Dr. Henry Louis Gates in Cambridge, Massachusetts; (2) the premier of the sitcom “Sherri” on Lifetime TV with Sherri Shepherd of “The View” as the producer and star; and (3) the limited distribution of the award-winning independent film, “Precious”, through a collaboration between Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey. I claim that each of these events builds upon the theme of Hope from the Obama campaign. During Soledad O’Brien’s interview with Dr. Gates for a segment of Black in America 2, Dr. Gates explained about the police officer in Cambridge. Gates said that the Sergeant asked him for his identification at the door, but when Dr. Gates reached his kitchen where his wallet was on the counter, the officer had followed him into his home. This was a clear violation of his privacy.
  • When Gates returned to the front porch, “it looked like a police convention out there,” said Dr. Gates. When he stepped over the threshold of his front door, he was arrested. Dr. Gates gave details of what happened inside his home that were left out of the official police report. In addition, Dr. Gates apologized on national television to the Sergeant for getting so upset, but to date, the Sergeant has not apologized to Gates (as far as we know). Dr. Gates details a truth about being mistaken for an intruder in his own home. He explains guarding his civil rights to privacy, and how they were violated anyway. I don’t recall such a telling before. If it has happened before, I missed it. Therefore, I am seeing and hearing this kind of truth-telling for the first time. President Obama intervened on Skip Gates behalf and invited both Gates and the Sergeant to what became known as “The Beer Summit”. President Obama initiated a different way to negotiate problems; by talking them through. It is a gentler way than the pushy, male law enforcement approach used on Dr. Gates. This unique approach is also in keeping with Obama’s campaign theme of Hope. “The Beer Summit” gives us Hope that gentler ways of negotiation might work within other conflictual situations.
  • Sherri Shepard’s sitcom distributed by Lifetime is somewhat autobiographical. She did work as a legal secretary while she was also building her comedy career at night. In this episode she and her coworkers planned to play tennis, but Sherri’s estranged husband’s mistress (a White woman named Paula) goes into labor on Sherri’s new area rug! Jane Curtin plays Paula’s bigoted, racist mother who threatens Sherri’s husband, played by Malcolm-Jamal Warner, to take care of her daughter. By the end of this episode a new family has formed. Sherri bonds with the new baby, with Paula, even with Paula’s mother and makes this extended family her own. Again, this sitcom, in my opinion, portrays a Hopeful image of African-American women as caretakers and family-makers. “Sherri” exemplifies the changing human landscape since Obama’s election.
  • This is the most popular trailer for the film, “Precious.” However, I’m going to show a different version later in the presentation.
  • I believe the signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the first bill President Obama signed into law, gives us a hint toward what *may* have shifted in the social landscape. In the clip he says, “So in signing this bill today, I intend to send a clear message: That making our economy work means making sure it works for everyone. That there are no second class citizens in our workplaces, and that it’s not just unfair and illegal – but bad for business – to pay someone less because of their gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion or disability. And that justice isn’t about some abstract legal theory, or footnote in a casebook – it’s about how our laws affect the daily realities of people’s lives: their ability to make a living and care for their families and achieve their goals.” In this statement, President Obama clearly envisions a multi-racial, multicultural society. Because of the election of Barack Obama, the expectations of African American boys and girls have changed. Morehouse College is one of the oldest historically, Black colleges and universities in the country. A young African-American man who graduates from Morehouse is a Renaissance Man prepared for global citizenry.
  • Dr. Robert Franklin, President of Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia shares comments from an open meeting at Morehouse the day after the election. “ Oh, I’ll tell you, it was an amazing theme that began to emerge that can be summarized in two words: no excuses. I mean, one after the other they got up and said, ‘You know, after this election it means there’re no excuses for our academic underperformance, for our irresponsible behavior—no excuses.” (Educational Broadcasting Corporation, 2009) In a study conducted before and during the campaign, Bigler and colleagues reported, “Interestingly, girls, African-American, and Latina participants were quite optimistic about their prospects of actually becoming president. When asked whether they really could be president, approximately 75% of each group responded affirmatively” (p 108). As a White female, I would have thought that having a man of color holding the highest political office in the land would send a message of empowerment like no other. However, when I discussed this idea with one of my African-American colleagues, I found that the phenomena I am observing is much more complicated.
  • In this presentation I will use Foucault, a French philosopher and historian, to help interpret or explain what I’m seeing as a result of the Obama Presidency. Foucault says, “[read quote above]”
  • Even though I, as an older White female, have noticed these events and believe that I am hearing a new kind of “truth” for the first time, what my African-American colleague proposed is that African-American voices are coming out into the open. What I perceive as an “opening up” of communication is what my African-American colleague describes as “bringing into the light” (B. Stoney, personal communication, February 3, 2010). What we learn from Claireece Precious Jones and her mother, Mary Johnston, in the movie about intergenerational poverty and incest are dangerous truths: a dangerous truth being one which does not conform to the dominant ideology. In addition, my African-American colleague and I both have noticed that racist remarks are on the rise. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, hate crimes particularly in the Southern states, increased significantly right after the election (Strange, 2008). Perhaps White racists feel like they can say out loud what was once said in private.
  • In this presentation I will use Foucault to make meaning of intersecting landscapes: the social or cultural one I have just described as a result of the election of President Obama, and the educational one which “Precious” the movie forces us to define more carefully. Let’s consider a graphical representation of the current landscape of U.S. education. I’ve created a movie of charts and graphs from statistical data. It will move somewhat quickly, but if you are interested in looking at this data more carefully, online links are provided on your handout. Go to the movie now.
  • The landscape of U.S. Education today is that approximately 5 out of ten students in classrooms look like (and *may* have similar home lives) to their middle class White female teachers. Another 2 students out of ten are either Black or American Indian and living in poverty. A small percentage are Asian, Hawaiian Native or Pacific Islander. And the remaining students, approximately 3 out of ten students are Hispanic (which is a very large umbrella term) and living in poverty. If my math is correct, somewhere between 3 and 7 out of ten students are living in poverty and are non-White with a middle class teacher who is a White female. This disparity is important because non-White students may be English language learners, they may have different learning styles from White students, and they may come to school with the knowledge that generations of their own family members have been failed by the public school systems in the United States. In “Precious”, the first White person we meet is the math teacher. He pays little attention to the back of the room where Precious hides. The second White person we meet in the movie is the principal who expels 16-year-old Claireece from middle school for being pregnant the second time by her father. The movie provides us with a clearly visible disconnect between the White world and Claireece Precious Jones.
  • Foucault’s ideas and points of view are used in education research because educational institutions (schools, colleges, and universities) are similar to prisons and mental institutions in the constant surveillance upon both students and teachers by administrators; and the oversight by superintendents and governmental agencies upon public systems of schooling. Education is a knowledge enterprise steeped in power relations and for students who are not the White majority, classrooms are significant loci of resistance. Knowledge, power and self were Foucault’s primary interests. He claimed that knowledge and power are intertwined. Since power is everywhere, knowledge resides in a particular place and a particular time. Later in his life he reviewed the Greek philosophers and came to believe that an ethic of “care for self” was essential to the maintenance of a free subjectivity.
  • Claireece finally knows that she is not the cause of the abuse. She is a free subject. Claireece leaves the social worker’s office refusing the welfare check and taking full custody in that moment of her two children. In that moment she changes the ecology and living environment of her life. Yet this truth is not a truth that African-Americans want to hear either. With the election of President Obama, however, African-American society endures this truth. It isn’t the truth of the Cosby Show, but it is a truth within American society.
  • In ecology we talk about driving variables and emergent properties. “The Whole is Greater than the Sum of its Parts.” What emerged within Claireece?
  • At the end of this movie Claireece has more than just a “fat, black, welfare, pregnant-teen subjectivity” (J. M. Ray, February 6, 2010). If we look at some of Foucault’s later writings, he suggests that care of self actually produces the subject, and “Precious”, the movie exemplifies this idea.
  • To summarize, I see a social and cultural landscape shifting where racial issues are being brought into the Light. I also see the educational landscape in crisis for White female teachers. “Precious” the movie offers a counter-example that might be used in classrooms, along with the book, “Push” to examine dominant beliefs about African-American girls and women. The counter message is that Claireece Precious Jones has Hope. Like the students at Morehouse, there are no excuses. She is choosing to forsake the Welfare system, to take full responsibility for her children, to complete high school and go onto college. Now, let’s watch the trailer and see what others have to say.
  • Claireece Precious Jones is the stereotypical Black girl being left behind by the U.S. educational system. If you cannot read, you cannot even take a standardized reading test. Precious was being passed from each school grade with high marks. She was not learning.
  • The Hope and the Joy of this movie comes from the possibility, as Oprah suggests, that even one Precious Black girl sees herself in Claireece Precious Jones. Thank you.
  • AAACS Conference Denver April 2010

    1. 1. I See You Now Changes in the Landscape of Truth-Telling as a Result of the Obama Presidency
    2. 2. Three events in 2009 Dr. Henry Louis Gates “Sherri” “Precious” April 28, 2010 Jo Foy, AAACS Conference, Denver 2
    3. 3. http://us.cnn.com/video/?/video/living/2009/07/23/bia.henry.gates.cnn April 28, 2010 Jo Foy, AAACS Conference, Denver 3
    4. 4. http://www.mylifetime.com/shows/sherri/video April 28, 2010 Jo Foy, AAACS Conference, Denver 4
    5. 5. “Precious,” the movie http://www.weareallprecious.com/ April 28, 2010 Jo Foy, AAACS Conference, Denver 5
    6. 6. Questions to consider: Would any of these examples have stood out in 2007? Would these stories have been presented differently in 2007? April 28, 2010 Jo Foy, AAACS Conference, Denver 6
    7. 7. What changed? April 28, 2010 Jo Foy, AAACS Conference, Denver 7
    8. 8. President Obama can help us out http://www.whitehouse.gov/video/EVR012909?category=9 April 28, 2010 Jo Foy, AAACS Conference, Denver 8
    9. 9. Observations Expectations Among male and female African American children to attain the Presidency Dr. Robert Franklin, Morehouse College “Oh, I‟ll tell you, it was an amazing theme that began to emerge that can be summarized in two words: no excuses.” (Educational Broadcasting Company, 2009) April 28, 2010 Jo Foy, AAACS Conference, Denver 9
    10. 10. Michel Foucault (1926-1984)  “Each society has its regime of truth, its „general policies‟ of truth: that is, the types of discourse which it accepts and makes function as true; the mechanisms and instances which enable one to distinguish true and false statements, the means by which each is sanctioned; the techniques and procedures accorded value in the acquisition of truth; the status of those who are charged with saying what counts as true” (1980, p. 131) April 28, 2010 Jo Foy, AAACS Conference, Denver 10
    11. 11. Observations Speaking out Telling the “truth” Dangerous truths Racist remarks April 28, 2010 Jo Foy, AAACS Conference, Denver 11
    12. 12. Landscapes to consider Social or cultural Shifts as a result of the Obama presidency Educational What does education look like today? April 28, 2010 Jo Foy, AAACS Conference, Denver 12
    13. 13. 3% 33-73% Asian/Pacific 0.4-2% Today’s Islander White American students Indian/Alaskan (shrinking) Native (25% in (9% in poverty) poverty) 83.5% White female teachers 10-16% ($53,000/yr) Black students (25% in 13-47% poverty) Hispanic students (expanding) (15% in poverty) Landscape of U.S. Education April 28, 2010 Jo Foy, AAACS Conference, Denver 13
    14. 14. Michel Foucault (1926-1984) Knowledge Power Self April 28, 2010 Jo Foy, AAACS Conference, Denver 14
    15. 15. Michel Foucault Knowledge (truth) Involves discourse Practices, techniques or rules that concern the speaking subject, power relations and the words themselves (Simola et al., 1998) April 28, 2010 Jo Foy, AAACS Conference, Denver 15
    16. 16. Michel Foucault Truth becomes not only about knowledge (discourse or discursive formations) but also about the individual (the subject) April 28, 2010 Jo Foy, AAACS Conference, Denver 16
    17. 17. Michel Foucault Subjectivity A person is made into a subject through affiliation (or disaffiliation) as in “the mad and the sane, the sick and the healthy, the criminals and the „good boys‟” (2003, p. 126) April 28, 2010 Jo Foy, AAACS Conference, Denver 17
    18. 18. Michel Foucault Liberation “the individual is not something that needs to be liberated rather the individual is the closely monitored product of relations between power and knowledge” (O‟Farrell, 2009) April 28, 2010 Jo Foy, AAACS Conference, Denver 18
    19. 19. Michel Foucault Power “Power is everywhere; not because it embraces everything, but because it comes from everywhere” (1990, p. 93) April 28, 2010 Jo Foy, AAACS Conference, Denver 19
    20. 20. “Precious,” the movie Taken from Push, by Sapphire (1997) Claireece Precious Jones Obese 16 years old Gets good grades Reads & writes at a 3rd grade level Pregnant by her father for the 2nd time April 28, 2010 Jo Foy, AAACS Conference, Denver 20
    21. 21. “Precious,” the movie Precious is at the effect of Her mother The school principal The sexual and physical abuse Yet, she persists Learns to read and write Becomes independent of her mother April 28, 2010 Jo Foy, AAACS Conference, Denver 21
    22. 22. “Precious,” the movie Claireece tells the truth about her family situation to the social worker Not a truth we necessarily want to hear; it does not conform to dominant beliefs Keep quiet Deny April 28, 2010 Jo Foy, AAACS Conference, Denver 22
    23. 23. “Precious,” the movie The mother also tells the truth to the social worker … and frees Claireece Not a truth we want to hear in the dominant White culture Silence Never admit culpability Good girls April 28, 2010 Jo Foy, AAACS Conference, Denver 23
    24. 24. “Precious,” the movie When Mo‟Nique was interviewed on the red carpet of the Academy Awards, she said, “This is a universal story.” White Mary Johnstons exist White Carl Joneses exist April 28, 2010 Jo Foy, AAACS Conference, Denver 24
    25. 25. “Precious,” the movie Who made the difference for Precious? Miss Rain (Paula Patton) Cornrows (Sherri Shepherd) Her classmates the social worker (Mariah Carey) the male nurse (Lenny Kravitz) April 28, 2010 Jo Foy, AAACS Conference, Denver 25
    26. 26. Emergent Properties In ecology we talk about driving variables Climate (rain and temperature) Organisms (potential biota) Elevation (topography) Parent material (bedrock) Time (geologic? human lifetime?) What emerged within Claireece? April 28, 2010 Jo Foy, AAACS Conference, Denver 26
    27. 27. What emerged within Claireece? Reading at a 8th grade level Journaling (creative inspiration) Motherhood (both children with her now) Independence (living away from home) Motivation (to finish high school) April 28, 2010 Jo Foy, AAACS Conference, Denver 27
    28. 28. The Landscapes Social/Cultural Truth-telling as exemplified by Dr. Gates and Sherri Shepherd Bringing into the Light or opening up of racial issues Educational Increasing percentage of students of color “Precious” counter-example to dominant hegemony April 28, 2010 Jo Foy, AAACS Conference, Denver 28
    29. 29. References Bigelow, R., Arthur, A., Hughes, J., & Patterson, M. (2008). The politics of race and gender: Children’s perceptions of discrimination and the U.S. presidency. Analyses of Social and Issues & Public Policy, 8(1). doi: 10.1111/j.1530-2415.2008.00161.x Bishaw, A. & Semega, J. (2008). U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey Reports, ACS-09. Income, earnings, and poverty data from the 2007 American Community Survey. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Educational Broadcasting Corporation. (January 16, 2009). Spiritual voices on Obama administration: Part 1. Religion & Ethics Newsweekly. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/episodes/january-16-2009/spiritual-voices-on- obama-administration/1991/ Foucault, M. (1980). Power/knowledge: Selected interviews & other writings 1972-1977. New York: Pantheon Books. Foucault, M. (1990). The history of sexuality: An introduction. Volume 1. New York: Vintage Books. Foucault, M. (1997). Discipline & punish: The birth of the prison. New York: Vintage Books/Random House. Foucault, M. (2003). The subject and power. In P. Rabinow & N. S. Rose (Eds.), The essential Foucault: Selections from the essential works of Foucault, 1954-1984 (pp. 126-144). New York, NY: New Press. April 28, 2010 Jo Foy, AAACS Conference, Denver 29
    30. 30. National Education Association. (2003). Status of the American Public School Teacher, 2000- 01. O’Farrell, C. (2009, October 30). Key concepts. In michel-foucault.com. Retrieved from http://www.michel-foucault.com/concepts/index.html Sapphire. (1997). Push. New York: Random House. Simola, H., Heikkinen, S., & Silvonen, J. (1998). A catalog of possibilities: Foucaultian history of truth and education research. In T. S. Popkewitz & M. Brennan (Eds.), Foucault’s challenge: Discourse, knowledge, and power in education (pp. 64-90). New York, NY: Teachers College Press. Strange, H. (November 17, 2008). Obama win prompts wave of hate crimes. Times Online, Retrieved from http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/us_elections/article5172285. ece U.S. Department of Commerce. (2009). Current Population Survey (CPS), October 1967 through October 2008. Census Bureau. Washington, DC. U.S. Department of Education. (2009). “Public Teacher Questionnaire,” 2007-08. National Center for Education Statistics, Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS). Washington, DC. April 28, 2010 Jo Foy, AAACS Conference, Denver 30
    31. 31. Thank you! If you wish to study these materials in more depth go to: www.slideshare.net/jofoy or www.scribd.com/jokfoy or www.vimeo.com/jofoy April 28, 2010 Jo Foy, AAACS Conference, Denver 31

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