Abstract: Music is more than just a progression of notes. It is a way of expression where the artists can tells the listener a story. The story can take many forms whether it is in the music itself, the lyrics, or the interpretation through dance to the music. Joe Budden is an artist who lays out his life experiences, both good and bad, in the lyrics to his songs. He delves into the intimate details of his life and the lives of those around him. He lays out his “relationships quarrels, demons, and drug addictions” as he says in his song “I Might Need More Than 16 Tho” and by exploring these subjects we can see his relationship with power. By looking at the lyrics from multiple songs off his EP “Some Love Lost,” Budden shows how his situation, growing up as an African American man, in a low income neighborhood has impacted his relationship with people and things associated with power. Power in his lyrics can take many different forms such as society, fame, money, and a very impactful piece where he talks to God.
Routine or non-routine collective action? Violence or non-violence?
According to a blog focusing of the “sociological world of collective action, routine collective action is defined as “usually involves nonviolent action which adheres to established patterns of behavior in bureaucratic social structures,” and non-routine collective actions as “often violent, short-lived, and causes a group’s extreme passion spread rapidly through a crowd like a wave or a contagious disease.” (Ebner). The connotation associated with one is much more positive than the other and two important distinctions made being violent or non-violent and adhering to norms or being emotional. These distinctions are not only seen in the media but also in the theories that surround these two ways of collective action.
There are two theories discussed that look at routine and non-routine collective action: breakdown theory and resource mobilization theory (Useem, 1998). Breakdown theory is said to occur when “mechanisms of social control lose their restraining power” (Useem, 1998). These types of events are associated with violence and emotions, usually suggesting that they do not have leadership, organization or well articulated goals. Research mobilization theory suggests that collective action does not flow from the breakdown of restraining powers but instead from groups of people “vying for political position and advantages.” (Useem, 1998). This is usually associated with events that have what breakdown theory events do not have such as leadership, organization, and goals. This creates distinctions between routine and non-routine collective action not only in terms of violence but also in terms of the reasoning behind the events taking place.
These distinctions in media and within the theories themselves take away from the experiences of these social movements. It makes a distinction between what are considered to be legitimate or violent movements from the basis of theory all the way to the basis of race in media portrayals. It creates a separation between white protestors and African American thugs, violent and non-violent, and obviously places one above the other. But what is the best way to go about addressing the problems that have people in the streets? As Resnikoff points out “History offers no definitive judgment on whether these acts of violence were productive.” (Resnikoff, 2014). Social movements arise to combat what the people think is an unfair use or separation of power and the reactions can be non-violent or violent depending on the response “to the grievances that brought the complainants out onto the streets in the first place.” (Resnikoff, 2014). This is a vital thing to remember because it is the problems that bring people to their feet on the street and until the problems are dealt with, it has the potential to escalate.
Is it really that plausible that people jump straight to violence when an event occurs and there is no reasoning behind it other than a rush of emotion? It is much more complex than this. If there is a violent outburst, it should not be difficult to map out the social and structural components that have been a part of building up the fire that turned violent. Race riots, for example, have underlying issues that have been building up for decades. The way African Americans or Indians or any minority have been treated and are still being treated has been built over time. The structural violence, the symbolic violence that impacts them in their everyday lives has been built up over time and has the potential to explode with one last push. “The straw that broke the camel’s back” so to speak. This is where these riots come from. It is an event that pushes them over the edge. They get to the point where they say that it is enough, they have had enough. Marusic shares a quote from a speech in 1968 by Martin Luther King Jr. “It is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard.” (Marusic, 2015).
There are differences in the social movements and the tactics they use to try and change what they believe to be the problem. That does not mean that one should be hailed and another condemned. The difference is in tactics and both have proven in the past to have worked. The response of the public is as a result of a buildup of that can cause an uproar in the face of an event but ultimately the route to violence is greatly shaped by the response of those in power.
Marusic, Kristina. “From Peaceful Protests To Violent Uprisings, Here’s What History Can Teach Us About The Baltimore Riots.” News. N.p., 28 Apr. 2015.
Resnikoff, Ned. “Think Riots Have Never Caused Change in America? Think Again.” Aljazeera America. N.p., 26 Nov. 2014.
Useem, Bert. “Breakdown Theories of Collective Action.” Annu. Rev. Sociol. Annual Review of Sociology 24.1 (1998): 215-38.
Ebner, Ryan. “COLLECTIVE ACTION.” : Routine vs Nonroutine Collective Action. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Nov. 2015.
Case Study: Vacant lots for the community? How about in L.A?
There are vacant lots all throughout cities, all over the country that just sit or have things dumped in them. Nothing is being done with them when there is so much potential. They can be owned by the city or be in private hands that are just waiting to sell them for the right price. The vacant lots make up a great deal of land and some think that this land should be put to use to improve things in the cities and neighborhoods where they are a very prominent. A prime example is Ron Finely. Finley was raised in South Central Los Angeles. He describes South Central as “home of the drive-thru and the drive-by” (Finely, 2013). South Central is full of “liquor stores, fast food, vacant lots” (Finely, 2013). South Central is not portrayed positively in the media. It is correlated to violence, gangs, drugs, etc. The city planners came together to change the way South Central was portrayed and their first step was changing the name to South Los Angeles in order to rebrand the area. As Finely points out, it is still the same “This is South Los Angeles. Liquor stores, fast food, vacant lots…Funny thing is, the drive-thrus are killing more people than the drive bys.” (Finely, 2013).
There is a food crisis in South Central; it is one of many food desserts. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a food dessert is defined as “urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food.” (USDA). Finely was tired of watching the obesity rates rise and kill people so he decided to plant food on the parkway that was 150 feet by 10 feet in front of his home. According to the city, this is a piece of land that the residents must maintain, so he and his group L.A. Green Grounds decided to plant what he refers to as a “food forest” (Finely, 2013). This was food that the community could take and use and the work was all done by volunteers.
Everything was going well until someone complained about the “food forest” and the city not only cited Finely but the citation was going to become a warrant. He got a citation for planting food on a strip of land that the city could care less about. The L.A. Times got a hold of what was going on, Steve Lopez did a story on it, and with a petition of 900 signatures on Change.org, the Green Grounds and Finely were a success. Their councilman called and told him he supported what he was doing. As they progressed, they went on to plant several gardens all over their neighborhood.
To Finely, these gardens were a tool he used to educate and transform his neighborhood. The city planners wanted to rebrand and transform the area but Finley states, “To change the community, you have to change the composition of the soil.” (Finley, 2013). Children who participated in the dig-ins as well as keeping the gardens going spent their time being productive and making something that showed real results instead of participating in other, more violent or illegal activities. If the children grow fruits and vegetables, they will eat those fruits and vegetables. He wants to show these children how to step up and be leaders in their community in a positive and productive way. This helps produce a sustainable life and access to healthy foods. Hr brought the community together. Some of their dig-ins had 50 people participate to create these gardens.
L.A. is the leader for amount of vacant lots owned by the city in the United States. “They [City of L.A.] own 26 square miles of vacant lots. That’s 20 Central Parks. That’s enough space to plant 725 million tomato plants.” (Finley, 2013). Imagine the possibilities, all that a community could grow and share if one plant produces thousands of seeds. Finely wants to plants blocks of gardens, he wants to put people to work making the produce, opening farmer’s markets, and helping the youth of the neighborhood as well as the adults off the streets and experiencing growing their own food. Being able to provide for themselves and their families in a healthy way, can bring stability to a home and a neighborhood.
Using the vacant lots scattered all over the city could not only impact the community positively in terms of availability of food, helping the youth, and overall health but could also impact the way South Central or South L.A. is perceived as a whole. Since that is something the city planners obviously want to impact. There is another name change in the works for South Central or South L.A. Maybe the city planners and others in power that are trying to rebrand and change their city will notice the impact these vacant lots could have on the community as a whole.
Inspired by: Holding Ground
Finely, R. (2013, February). Transcript of “A guerilla gardener in South Central LA” Retrieved October 16, 2015, from https://www.ted.com/talks/ron_finley_a_guerilla_gardener_in_south_central_la/transcript?language=en#t-271539
United States Department of Agriculture. (USDA). Agricultural Marketing Service – Creating Access to Healthy, Affordable Food. Retrieved October 16, 2015, from https://apps.ams.usda.gov/fooddeserts/fooddeserts.aspx
High school boundaries in Arlington, Virginia: is there a racial and class component to the way the school boundaries are chosen and adjusted? How can this separation be accomplished?
Abstract: In this paper, I looked at three public high schools in Arlington County, Virginia: Washington-Lee High School, Wakefield High School, and Yorktown High School. There is resident talk about how Arlington is divided into whites and minorities and how this is portrayed in the schools in the area. I argued that there is a racial basis as well as class basis for the way these schools are districted. In order to prove this, I looked at the racial makeup of each school as well as each zip code in Arlington, VA. Along with race I looked at the income of the zip codes and available affordable housing in the area. I compared the findings of each zip code with the school boundaries and found that there is a racial/class separation. I then looked at who exactly has the decision making power when it comes to changing the districts as well as community response. There have been several debates in the past when it came to re-districting the schools back in 2013 and they will begin again soon as the problems they have with overcrowding in the area continue to grow but the problem of racial disparities in schools is not something talked about as often.
Theories of Power: Does our education system employ the dimensions of power in order to reproduce inequalities of race and class?
John Gaventa’s theory of power examines how those in power “prevent groups from participating in the decision-making processes and also to obtain the passive agreement of these groups to this situation.” (Sadan, pg. 39, 1997). This can be accomplished through three different approaches to power: the one-dimensional approach, the two-dimensional approach and the three-dimensional approach. The first is also known as the “overt dimension of power” where the those in power can make those with less do something which they would have not done otherwise (Sadan, pg. 40, 1997). The second is also known as the “covert dimension” where those in power not only “triumph over the other participants in the decision-making process, but also prevent decision-making to exclude certain subjects…” (Sadan, pg. 40, 1997). The third is manipulation where the ones in power “influences determines and shapes” other’s will (Sadan, pg. 40, 1997).
How does this apply to our education system to perpetuate these power differentials? Our educations system is an extremely influential institution that we are exposed to from the time we are approximately five years old into adulthood. This institution is set up in a way so that it can sustain and at times increase the existing inequalities already present in our society. These differences are created by those in power to impact the youth. This is accomplished through the manipulation of geography, disproportionate availability of resources, and the hidden curriculum.
If districted in a certain way, schools can end up being mostly minority students or mostly white students because the neighborhoods are divided by economic status and race. The schools may have been ordered to integrate per the decision of Brown v. Board of Education, but geographically the neighborhoods are still very segregated today. This is clearly seen by the fact that 76% of Latin Americans attend schools where there are mostly minority students (Kahlenberg pg .291, 2005). Districting in this way leads to the poorer schools having bigger class sizes and less qualified teachers (Ore pg. 225, 2014). The wealthy can guarantee that their children go to schools were they will receive a good education by buying a home in a district with good public schools or send them to a private school (Kahlenberg pg .294, 2005). These geographical disparities can be imposed by those in power that choose how to district schools. In New York, for example,
“Section 2215 of the Education Law assigns the responsibility for boundary determination within his or her Supervisory District to the District Superintendent of Schools…The determination made is a matter of individual judgment, based upon the best information available at the time. The District Superintendent is not required to follow any prescribed procedure but may secure whatever information is felt to be applicable under the circumstances… Once it appears that all available information has been reviewed, a written determination is made by the District Superintendent(s) with copies to the Education Department, districts, proper town clerk, real property tax office and other interested parties.” (New York State Education Department)
This means that this one person has the power to make the decisions about school boundaries for their area. In this scenario, one person has the power to manipulate school boundaries and excludes others from having a say. This employs overt power, covert power and manipulation serving as an example of all three dimensions of power.
It is quite clear that there are school districts that have more resources than others. According to a report from The Center for American Progress , “Schools that enroll 90 percent or more non-white students spend $733 less per pupil per year than schools that enroll 90 percent or more white students.” (Kuczynski-Brown, 2012). The poorer schools have less economic resources meaning they have less supplies or lower quality supplies which can be linked to the fact that they get less funding, creating a class barrier between the individuals in different districts. This lack of funding, is done covertly through loopholes, but the results are overt. The lack of resources can then impact the students’ access to cultural capital. Cultural capital is defined as “social assets that include beliefs, values, attitudes and competencies in language and culture.” (Ore pg. 225, 2014). By keeping these students from acquiring the cultural capital that could help them be successful, those in power are keeping them in a lower class that is easier to manipulate.
In the institution of education in this country, the inequalities are also sustained by the hidden curriculum in schools. Hidden curriculum is defined as “the transmission of cultural values and attitudes, such as conformity and obedience to authority, through implied demands found in rules, routines, and regulations of schools.” (Ore pg. 225, 2014). Working-class students are taught things such as memorization without learning the process of how to get to an answer (Ore pg. 225, 2014).There is no decision making, no choices or explanation. This covertly takes away the power of the minority students so that when they are of age to participate, they feel they do not have the resources to impact the decision making process. Middle-class students are encouraged to understand how to get to an answer by understanding the decision making process (Ore pg. 225, 2014). The differences in the hidden curriculum result in some students getting a better education and therefore doing better on standardized tests. No Child Left Behind Act was created and schools needed to be up to standards with their success rate on standardized tests or there would be consequences that were meant to aid the students in getting a better education by replacing teachers, changing the curriculum, etc. (Kahlenberg pg .294, 2005). This law ended up turning into a law that increased segregation and inequalities because test scores for the schools were publicized, leaving schools and their students humiliated on a national scale (Kahlenberg pg .295, 2005).
Our education institution perpetuates inequalities based on race and class in many different ways. These inequalities are that much more detrimental to the children involved because of the fact that they are a part of this education institution at such a young age and for such a long period of time. It has a lasting influence on the lives of everyone who is a part of it. The first and second dimensions of power are employed immediately in many of the examples listed above but the third dimension of manipulations is something that although is a part of some of the examples, it is also something that is created and developed over the time the minority students spend in our education system. The inequalities in this society are ingrained and sustained because of this social institution and the effects are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to undo.
Kuczynski-Brown, Alex. 2012. “American Schools Spending Less On Minority Students
Through Federal Loophole: Report.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com.
Kahlenberg, Richard D. 2005. “The Return of ‘Separate But Equal’” in The Social Construction
of Difference and Inequality: Race, Class, Gender,and Sexuality.
New York State Education Department
Ore, Tracy. 2014. The Social Construction of Difference and Inequality: Race, Class, Gender,
and Sexuality. McGraw Hill Education.
Sadan, Elisheva. 1997. “Empowerment and Community Planning.”