History Archives - Point Made Learning

Since when is a human being “illegal”?

Like so many of you (I presume!), I’ve been heartbroken and outraged while reading and listening to news reports all week about the Trump administration’s new “zero tolerance” immigration policy that calls for separating incoming migrant children from their parents. There was the glimpse inside the Casa Padre facility that’s been housing detained children inside a former Walmart. Then the announcement that the administration will erect tent cities to house more migrant children. And then there was Jeff Sessions’ use of a Bible verse to try and justify these actions.

If you’ve been trying to figure out what you can do about all of this, here are some suggestions for specific actions you can take.

The Racist History of Illegal Immigration

Today, the president is speaking at a roundtable discussion on immigration, where his signature overt racism will surely be on full display. That racism isn't just a Trump thing—it's been part of the discussion on "illegal immigration" for decades.

Posted by Racist History on Wednesday, May 23, 2018

When did we start calling people “illegal” Anyway?

Aside from the fact that this policy of separating children and parents is so completely unconscionable, I have also been cringing every time I hear an administration official or spokesperson use the term “illegal immigrants.” Which is why I was really grateful to see this video from Racist History on my Facebook timeline looking back to when we first started using the term “illegal” to describe human beings immigrating to the U.S. It’s only 3 minutes long and worth watching to better understand where we’ve gone wrong with immigration.

Are you following us on social media? If not, please join us. We share resources everyday!

Point Made Learning on Facebook

Point Made Learning on Instagram

Point Made Learning on TwitterPoint Made Learning on LinkedIn

 

 

 

And subscribe to our newsletter to get our favorite resources delivered to your inbox each month.

Understanding Orientalism and More We Learned

Black Students Marched Against Gun Violence in Florida, But You Likely Didn’t Hear About It

Think critically about the ways we look at protest; why #NeverAgain and not #BlackLivesMatter? Why are the organizers of the former lauded as the leaders of a generation while the latter are deemed terrorists? Gun reform must be intersectional. The conversation must include a discussion about race and how gun violence disproportionately affects people of color. And why concern for that violence is only heard in an echo chamber of the folks who regularly experience that violence.

‘Like Stoneman Douglas, if they can … let their voices be heard, why can’t we do the same and let our voices be heard?.. Why can’t we do the same thing? It’s because we’re black? It’s because we’re in the ghetto … because we’re poor … and they’re richer? I don’t understand.’

We scorned addicts when they were black. It is different now that they are white.

The American Opioid Crisis has energized legislators and leaders in medicine to detach archaic opinions of morality from the conversation of drug addiction. Instead, they are focused on addiction as a medical condition and have made strides in providing appropriate care for drug dependent individuals, particularly for opioid dependent people. This changing tide in opinion about addiction differs greatly from that of the 1980s and 1990s during the height of America’s crack-cocaine crisis. That crisis primarily affected black people and the response to treating those addictions was to incarcerate and demonize an entire generation of people.

Though the difference in response to each crisis may not surprise some, this article digs into the qualities that make one crisis an issue of health and the other an issue of criminality.

Orientalism Is Alive and Well In American Cinema

Asian and Asian-American representation has only scratched the surface of American media. As characters begin to permeate film and television, we must continue to criticize the way Asian characters are portrayed. Orientalism refers to a colonial or otherwise Western representation of Asian cultures, particularly East Asian and Middle Eastern cultures. Snake charmers, for example, are classic caricatures in the Western

"The Snake Charmer", Jean -Leon Gerome, 1879
“The Snake Charmer”, Jean -Leon Gerome, 1879

Orientalist lexicon. Suffice it to say, representation begins with authenticity and truth. And in that vein, the author argues that Asian artists should have the agency to tell their own stories without the voices and perspectives of oppressive powers. 

[tweetshareinline tweet=”Orientalism surfaces in the New Age commodification of Eastern spirituality, in the predilection to glom separate cultures into a blurry whole…” username=”PM_Learn”]

What can ‘The Simpsons’ do About Apu? A lot, actually.

Similarly, comedian Hari Kondabolu challenges representations of South Asian men, through the lens of The Simpsons character, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. His documentary, “The Problem With Apu”, unpacks the power of seeing a South Asian character represented for the first time on national television and the subsequent manipulation of that power to further marginalize the community Apu reflects.

“…the creators and writers of “The Simpsons,” like the rest of us, have a responsibility to upgrade and evolve their characters to align with cultural norms of the day. Tokenized stereotypes won’t cut it for an emerging generation that is demanding full and equal representation.”

STEM, Autonomy, and Social Responsibility in Black Panther

Following the massive success of Black Panther, Disney Studios plans to donate $1 million to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs at the Boys & Girls’ Club of America as a nod to the film’s emphasis of access to technology. Grossing over $400 million in box-office revenue worldwide, Black Panther has solidified its place in the Marvel Comic Universe not only as an iconic film but also as the most culturally impactful movie of its kind.

Black people across the world attended screenings for the “Black Panther Experience”, many dressing in dashikis, painting tribal art on their bodies, and hosting pre-movie events that included concessions, performance and networking opportunities. Influencers and celebrities around the country purchased entire theaters’ worth of movie tickets to supplement payment for underprivileged children. Black Panther proved to be far more than an experience — it was a testament to the power of representation.

In fact, Black Panther championed representation across multiple demographics, including women as innovators in technology. Shuri, the title character’s younger sister, is the brains behind the Black Panther operation. She designs his suit, his vehicles, his weapons, and she even performs life-threatening surgeries with the help of the technology she has mastered. Black Panther imagines a world of possibility for brown girls as leaders on the battlefield, in politics, and in the laboratory. And though this world is fictional, some of its elements have the potential to exist in reality, including a fully realized Africa with autonomy and access to wealth along with a world of women leading advancements in technology.

[tweetshare tweet=”Black Panther imagines a world of possibility for brown girls as leaders…” username=”PM_Learn”]

In that vein, Disney decided to donate $1 million of the film’s earnings to the Boys & Girls’ Club of America to provide resources in STEM programs for underserved communities. It reflects the commitment declared by King T’Challa who, after battling his vengeful cousin, donated a community center emphasizing STEM research and programs in Oakland’s inner city.

Black Panther deserves a dissertation as proven by the hundreds of think pieces and reviews published in the wake of its premiere. One of the film’s primary themes is of social responsibility: who is responsible for the security of diasporic black people? On one hand, T’Challa believes that insolation is the best form of security. Wakanda, the fictional country where the story takes place, is untainted by colonial influence, having thwarted slave traders and completely isolating itself from the outside world as a means of self-preservation. Sharing resources means that Wakanda’s doors must open, leaving the country and its people vulnerable. Killmonger, T’Challa’s vengeful cousin (and potential heir to the Wakandan throne), takes a more radical approach through which he will grant black people access to advanced Wakandan weapons to reclaim their power and hold white colonialists accountable for the marginalization of black folks around the world.

Ryan Coogler, the film’s director, asks the audience what is more important: autonomy or security? And who is responsible for allowing black people access to either of those things? T’Challa realizes that both have profound benefits, and charges the political world with  repairing the damage of slavery and colonization by providing resources that will both free and secure marginalized populations.

This fictional example of reparations is perhaps not so far-fetched. Disney’s STEM program with the Boys & Girls’ Club paves the way for the development of tools that ultimately allow marginalized communities to access the autonomy and security Black Panther asks its viewers to consider.

Photo of Andre Lee and Barb Lee having a discussion.
Point Made Learning team members showing how you do productive dialogue!

Come holiday season, we often brace ourselves as we prepare to step outside of our bubbles and break bread with friends and relatives whose beliefs we find… problematic. This year, we’re seeing this as an opportunity to engage in and model productive dialogue.

Doing this with loved ones can be even harder than doing it with the rest of the world. So, we can think of it as training. [tweetshareinline tweet=”We’re not going to bite our tongues just for the sake of keeping things even-Steven at the dinner table.” username=”PM_Learn”]

If you want to give this a try, we’ve got a few tactics we rely on when we facilitate our workshops. These Guiding Principles help in everyday conversations, too.

And we’re not the only ones who have this on our minds this week. So we’re also providing you with a few resources we’ve come across from some of the writers and organizations we continue to learn from.

We hope this helps and feel free to leave a comment if you think we’ve left anything out!

OUR GUIDING PRINCIPLES

Try to avoid the term “racist.”

Or “sexist,” “homophobe,” etc. This is a hard one because one of these might be the exact term to describe whatever comments you’re hearing from your aunt’s new boyfriend (We even have a film with “Racist” in the title!). And these may be so offensive that the only thing you can do is declare, “That’s racist!” And then walk away. BUT… If you’re hoping to make some headway with a family member you really care about, that’s going to stop the conversation. You may feel some temporary self-satisfaction at calling that person out, but it’s not very effective. Instead, try this…

Ask Questions

[tweetshareinline tweet=”Put the responsibility on the other person to explain or justify what they’ve said.” username=”PM_Learn”] This works especially well when someone makes generalizations or stereotypes. These will usually fall apart with just a few critical questions like:

“What makes you say that?”

“When you say, ‘they all…’, who is ‘they’?”

“What in your experience has given you that opinion?”

“Can you tell me a little more about why you said that?”

And if you can muster all your energy to ask these questions with a tone of curiosity, instead of judgment or disgust, they will work that much better. Look, we didn’t say this would be easy!

Don’t try to win an argument.

If, at Thanksgiving dinner, your Uncle Bob has just declared that all men are under attack in the workplace in the midst of all these sexual harassment and assault allegations in the news, you’re probably not going to convince him otherwise that particular evening. Nor will you be able to teach him about the history and continued prevalence of sexism, misogyny, and toxic masculinity. So, again, if your intention is to be effective, then start out slowly. Meet him where he is. And ask questions.

When I hear comments like that, I usually try something like, “Interesting (it works to say something validating first!). I’ve heard that perspective, but I don’t quite understand why men would feel that way. Can you help me understand your point?”

Then, “Ok, thanks for that. I have a different take on it. Are you open to hearing an alternative perspective?”

If he says, “Sure,” then you get a turn!

If he says, “No.” Well, then, don’t waste your breath and go pour yourself another glass of wine or have a second helping of pie. You’ll have earned it – you didn’t let the offensive comments go unchecked and you maintained your sanity.

Here’s one other thing I make sure to do in these instances: If my kids have had to hear anything ignorant or offensive, I take some time to have a longer conversation with them.

Repeat the other person’s point.

If you do find yourself engaged in a heated discussion or full-blown argument, you’ll probably feel like the other person isn’t really hearing you (they’ll feel the same way about you, by the way). As a last-ditch effort, try stating the other person’s point in your own words: “Ok, I want to make sure I understand your point. I think what you’re saying is…” Give them time to clarify. Then ask them if they can do the same for you. You will likely both still disagree with one another in that moment, but there’s always a chance that later, when they are on their own and not trying to double down or save face in front of other people (in other words, protecting their ego), you may have planted a seed in their minds.

OK, that’s it – these are the four principles we try to rely on when trying to have productive conversations. Now here are some other resources we’ve found to be really helpful…

Should You Even Speak Up At All?

Can You Stay Civil By Keeping Quiet? – NPR

“When a tough topic comes up around a table of friends and family, it’s all too easy to take a deep breath and hold it in. Instead of staring down a contentious cousin, it might feel safer to stare at your phone, just to avoid that political debate you’re dreading. But civility and conversation can lead to better relationships, greater creativity and boost the economy.”

Justice Lens

Racial Justice Guide to Thanksgiving – Border Crossers

Our friends at Border Crossers put together this list of books, lessons, videos, and more. Incredible resource for educators and parents who are ready to rear children through a justice lens.

Know Your History

Most Everything You Learned About Thanksgiving Is Wrong – NY Times

This came our way from our friend – author-speaker-activist Dr. Eddie Moore, Jr. From the piece:

“Not to rain on our Thanksgiving Day parade, but the story of the first Thanksgiving, as most Americans have been taught it, is not exactly accurate.”

This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a good meal, practice gratitude, and spend time with loved ones. But don’t you want to know the real history?

Zen Zone

How to Talk with Your Relatives Over the Holidays – On Being

This article from columnist Sharon Salzberg, an author and meditation teacher, will help you find some calm and grounding as you engage in discussions.

A Little Humor Helps

Nation’s Uncles Enter Last Stage of Prep for Thursday’s Thanksgiving Debates – The Onion

Because we have to have a laugh sometimes.