Friday, June 19, 2015

The Dark BACKground of the FRONTier

This week long lesson was about the darker side of American history. The westward expansion and gold rush drove the native american people further out and resulted in the death of a longstanding, unique culture. The persecution of natives and discrimination against the black americans were carried out by the government. Our essential question focused on the motive behind these acts. “Were federal policies towards Native Americans and buffalo soldiers intentionally discriminatory or well intentioned?”

The buffalo soldiers were a group of black soldiers named after the strength of the bountiful buffalo of the western plains. After the civil war many black men did not really have anywhere to go and could not find jobs. However, since men of color were now allowed to join the military they joined up in the western expansion. Many people did not want to be told what to do by african americans and the soldiers were bonded through the discrimination they were all subjected to.

    The Buffalo Soldiers were used in the Indian war and for removing the rebellious natives off their land. They used total war to decimate the communities and were often brutal in battle. The natives had already been forced to move West but with the gold rush, white people moving across the country encountered the tribes and trespassed on their land, creating hostility between the two cultures. To solve this the American government sent soldiers to force the natives off their land, breaking up the longstanding communities and taking everything away from them. Obviously, they resisted the removal. They were promised new land to live on and schools were made for the children to be educated.

The schools were made to "civilize" the natives. Above the door there was a sign that said "Kill the Indian. Save the Man." They believed they were helping a savage people when in reality they only succeeded in wiping out a culture that was different from their own.

Survival of the Richest

This week begins the last month of our sophomore year of school. Once it hits June everything starts winding down, teachers are only briefly touching on the last few units to cram them in and the students are mentally preparing for summer. It's a weird time that has a strange balance between busy and laid-back. Our history class has just entered the final sluggish rush of education in true last month of school fashion. For our next few units we, the students, are sort of instructing our own lessons, a new focus each week. This first one, Carnegie and Rockefeller. We had a weekly plan to follow as we went, starting day one with going through the information and taking notes in a class google doc. Each group was given a focus Key People, Main Ideas, Important Events, and Essential Terms to take notes on as we watched videos and read documents as a class.

With this information we met the next day to create our very own Essential Question. After circling up and brainstorming together, with some suggested edits, we came up with the question "Essential Question: How did the actions of monopolistic leaders, such as Rockefeller and Carnegie, affect the common worker?" Monopolistic referred to the leaders of large economic monopolies, single corporations which completely dominated their industrial fields. We used the information from Rockefeller and Carnegie's biographies to understand who they were and what actions they had taken. The Homestead Strike video gave more information on the common workers and how they were impacted.

Rockefeller was widely disliked by the media, they believed he was motivated by greed and had power over a huge number of other companies, and in politics. He would lower and raise prices to buy out competitors to create his enormous monopoly and become one of the richest men in America. As the head of the corporation, Rockefeller was in charge of the treatment and pay of all his workers.
Carnegie was another powerful leader of a monopoly. However, he was not born with money he worked his way up through excelling at different jobs to get to where he got. He also messed with prices to buy out competitors.

Workers were often unhappy with pay or treatment and would organize strikes to protest their companies. Frequently the workers were replaced with "strike breakers" who were hired to make the strike ineffective. Or the company would just shut down until they agreed to work again. As Carnegie was not born rich and had to work like his own employees it was strange for him to mistreat workers when he used to be them. His own biggest strike, the Homestead Strike happened when he left someone else in charge and the police were needed to quell the violence. Both Carnegie and Rockefeller were known philanthropists, they donated large sums of money to build libraries and support the public.

Self-made success now she rose with Rockafellas

Friday, May 8, 2015

Mommy, Where Do Social Changes Come From?

In our study of the Civil War, the last lesson was about examining where freedom for the slaves came from. The essential questions were " Who 'gave' freedom to enslaved Americans? Did freedom come from above or below? To what extent were Abraham Lincoln's actions influenced by the actions of enslaved Americans?" First our class discussed the difference between freedom from above vs freedom from below using these two pictures. 

This first one shows an all-powerful Abraham Lincoln bestowing liberation upon the eternally grateful slave. It represents freedom from above since the man at the top of the social power pyramid, the president, grants the bottom of the totem pole slaves, freedom. It suggests that the slaves were helplessly awaiting rescue from the kind and powerful leaders, that the slaves did not have any hand in their emancipation but rather were saved by the nation's ruler.
We, as a class, felt that this was not an accurate depiction of how both parties felt/acted at the time.

The second image symbolizes the idea of freedom from below. In it the slave stands tall and triumphant, as if reaching the metaphorical summit of his climb up the social pyramid. He has worked for his liberation himself and is proud of what he achieved. This work implies that it was the slaves themselves who earned their freedom, that their actions eventually granted them the emancipation they worked so hard for.

Our job now was to analyze evidence of Lincoln's opinions and goals over time to determine where freedom for the slaves came from.

In 1862, Lincoln stated in a letter to Horace Greeley, " What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union…I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men everywhere could be free." He says his goal of the war is to save the Union and it's not about slavery, if freeing slaves helps with that goal he'd do it, and same with maintaining slavery, either way his goal is the union and any abolition or lack thereof depends on its aid to the union. The next document was the Emancipation Proclamation of January, 1863, in which Lincoln proclaims the freedom of all slaves, in rebelling states.
"all persons held as slaves within any state or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free"
This seems like some pretty straightforward freedom from above, except that the slave states that are part of the Union are still allowed to own slaves. At least the huge slave population down South is liberated? Not quite. Since Lincoln abolished slavery in only rebelling states, aka the states who refuse to listen to Lincoln, none of the slave owners actually released their slaves. In fact, the very fact that he had the audacity to try to take away their property, while he knows they don't submit to his authority, only served to anger the Confederate states further.

During the time of Lincoln's statements, the slaves were working to focus the war back on their situation. A letter from a general in 1862 tells how the runaway slaves would gather where the union troops were and force the government to pay attention to them. In videos we watched the slaves knew that by putting down their work and following the Union troops the commanding officers would write back to their superiors asking what to do.
"I hope to report to you a definite policy in reference to this matter, and in the mean time shall be glad to receive any instructions upon the subject which you may be disposed to give—" 
They didn't have enough food to feed them or room to house both them and the soldiers but they wouldn't leave so what should they do?

 In this engraving, hordes of slaves show up at a Union camp, leaving the base soldiers very confused.

Slavery was officially abolished 8 months after the war as a part of the 13th amendment.
"Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction." I believe that the freedom was granted from above, as the government legally abolished it without the slaves physically forcing their hand, but they had a strong influence in that decision and therefore deserve the credit for their actions.

We can use the paths leading to change in history as we continue to fix our country even now. In today's society two issues are becoming more prominent in their need to be addressed. Police brutality, especially dealing with race is a big one, and gender identity is finally becoming more public. In the case of police brutality, recent news and videos of cops beating, and sadly more often killing, unharmed or non dangerous individuals, have been stirring up emotions around the nation.

Ferguson Protests

Since the shooting of Michael Brown in August of 2014, the focus on police shootings has sharpened exponentially. The peaceful protests of Ferguson, MI, that ended in tear gas and rubber bullets originally brought huge amounts of attention to the frequency of these events and sparked protests across the country.  These incidents have only continued since, and if I had actually done this post on time I wouldn't have included this man, shot and killed only yesterday by the LAPD.

Baltimore Protests

Ferguson and Baltimore being the biggest, both peaceful and non peaceful protests have begun to call for investigation from civil rights and humane organizations into the actions of the police departments in many cities. The citizens of problematic cities and supporters have drawn the attention of President Obama and the rest of the united states government. Hopefully the brutality and discrimination will end through the combined efforts of the people and government. But so far there has been mainly efforts for change from below as passionate Americans have been spreading the word and protesting the issue. As things have become more violent and not calmed down I think change from above is also needed here to deal with the legal and political aspects that civilians cannot easily challenge.

Black Lives Matter

With gender identity, I believe the most change will come from below. The main issue is that people do not know and don't understand non binary and queer genders. The lack of information causes alienation and hate to spread. The statistics for suicide in trans* teens especially is sickening.

Until recently non cisgendered people have really not been talked about. People are so used to the binary social conventions of gender that they reject genderqueer expression quickly and don't try to understand. Thanks to social media and global communication, those who do not feel they fit into what they've been taught as boy vs girl, are more able to find others who feel the same way and soon will be able to show the rest of society and teach from personal experience.

Gender Is Poster

As with police brutality, increasing attention has been called to the deaths of these minority people through media and the internet. Transgender teen suicides have been too frequent and the only way to lower the statistics is through creating a less ignorant and more accepting society. Yet again if this was posted on time this link would not be here but sadly just this week another trans teen committed from bullying and unacceptance.

Leelah Alcorn's Suicide Post That Drew Attention To The Large Amount Of Trans* Deaths

Very recently celebrity Bruce Jenner has come out as a transgender woman, he says he prefers male pronouns though so I will continue to use he/him unless he later says otherwise. The publicity of his gender struggle is a huge step for trans* people everywhere as there is little to no representation in the media for them. Bruce Jenner is now one of two celebrity trans women, along with Orange Is The New Black star, Laverne Cox.  Informing about and representing queer people through all kinds of media and personal discussions is the only way to fix transphobic hate. Those from below need to inform and those above in positions of power need to represent.

Interview With Laverne Cox
Any additional information about anything this is one of my favorite websites ever

Here's the guy behind my fav website giving a TEDxTalk about gender 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Scavengers Assemble!

Now in our unit on the Civil War we are learning about the actual battles that took place. We had two essential questions for this lesson, "Who was the ultimate victor in each of the theaters of war: East, West, Naval?" and "What are some commonalities you can identify in the reasons for the results of the battles?" To figure this out we had a scavenger hunt around the school. First, we each got one of the twenty battles to gather information on. The name, location, date, victor, and theater were to be written in a google doc with two bullets explaining the reason for the result and a picture. This is mine. That night we had to make a sign with the number of our battle, a QR code, and a so the rest of the class could quickly access the doc. When we came in the next day we talked to whoever had the battle after ours. We needed to add the whereabouts of the next QR code to our doc. The location was supposed to be simple and exact so no one got lost or spent the whole time trying to figure out some cryptic clues; it was a scavenger hunt, not a treasure hunt.
After our few days of running around the school and copying information into our notes we then got together to answer the essential questions. Using a website called Padlet and the battle information we each added two posts to the site. We picked either the East, West or Naval and stated which side dominated that theater, using specific battles as evidence. The Confederacy succeeded in the Eastern Theater while the Union prevailed in the Western and Naval Theaters. In the battle of Bull Run, in the East, the Union's plan failed and they were defeated by Confederate troops. While in the battle of Chancellorsville once again the Union made a bad call allowing the Confederates to gather forces and trump the Northern army. In the Western Naval Theater, the battles of Henry Fort and Fort Donelson were won by the Union. Henry Fort belonged to the Confederates and was stocked with outdated guns, the Union general Andrew Foote overtook it with several weaponized vessels. In Fort Donelson, the Confederate camp was surrounded by Union forces, they had many casualties before surrendering. With about twenty people all posting in two theaters, trends in the battles were easy to identify. The Union's leadership was not where it needed to be in the beginning, they lost in the Eastern Theater mainly due to poor strategic planning. Yet Union forces excelled on the water where the strong naval power they had previous to the start of the war was unmatched by the South, the Confederacy was behind from the start in Navy power and could not catch up to the level of the Union.

Created with Padlet

The Padlet was cool because since everyone was posting, the trends were clear to see. The scavenger hunt part was really fun. I liked going all over the school instead of sitting in a classroom. The excessive exercise was more enjoyable to me than it was exhausting but it was really annoying when some people had their codes on the 4th floor and some put them in the cafeteria, on ground level. It would've worked a lot better if the school Wi-Fi wanted to function properly. Or if the person who had battle #15 didn't hide it in a place so difficult that whoever did manage to find it tore it off in anger. Without the location of the next one, my partner and I ended up sort of just wandering around scanning whatever we found along the way. We would've just followed the directions of the first random code we found and continued along the circuit from a new starting point but some of the codes were left up from other classes. If we followed the instructions from one of those we would've ended up on a wild goose chase. Which I guess we were kind of already on but it wasn't a risk we were willing to take. All these issues worked out in the end though because the disastrous first day of the hunt was a shortened period, the next day we had the full time and everything (except the Wi-Fi) was fixed.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Connections Between the Election and Objections to Slavery

The next lesson in our class was on the election of 1860. Our essential question was, "How were the results of the election of 1860 representative of the deep divisions over slavery?" To start we watched a crash course video which showed how slavery divided the country in the events of Bleeding Kansas Dred Scott v. Sanford, John Brown, and more. 

We then looked at the results of the election and the feelings towards slavery in each region and candidate. Then, we made videos using the Civil War In Art website. The videos show events around the election and through the succession. This is my group's educreation video.

Title screen of our video

Regional Reasoning

To begin looking at the Civil War our class made infographics on the statistics of the North and South. We used the information to understand why each side chose the strategy they did in the war and what resources they had to help them. Our graphs would be made using Canva, Infogram, or Piktochart, and would contain the statistics we felt best answered the essential question, "How did the differences between the North  and South affect each region's strategy and  success in the Civil War?" I chose population, railroads, and types of work. The types of work was important in the South because their whole plan was based around the importance of cotton exports. The population showed how much more manpower the North had and the railroads were essential in the movement of supplies and information during the battles. The activity helped me understand the reasoning behind each side and how they used what they had to their advantage.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Gender Isn't Even Real It's A Social Construct

The roles women of the 19th century had to fulfill revolved around the needs and wants of men in their society. They worked hard and were given no credit nor paid for their effort. Their main job was to marry and take care of the family. The world of a woman then was pictured as this:

“The Sphere of Woman”  illustration from Godey's  Lady's Book, March  1850
Found at: http:// whw/workshop/ untitled1.html
It shows her household duties; taking care of the children, teaching them their schoolwork, repairing their toys, keeping everything clean, making family's clothing, and keeping up their appearances. The home is high class, with fancy curtains to keep the feminine efforts hidden from the world. The picture is clearly unrealistic, no siblings get along that well, no mother who did that much work would look that calm, and kids are never that peaceful. These jobs weren't only an aim for women to strive to achieve but expected and enforced by the legal and social laws of the time.

The movement for female equality was started by abolitionists who realized in fighting for the rights of colored men they were fighting for rights that they themselves and other women didn't even have. In an attempt to oppose the ridiculous laws and rules oppressing half the nation's population, the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments was created. It was written to mimic the Declaration of Independance, the familiar wording meant to show the oppression of women and how it stood in contrast to the American ideals of freedom. The lists of grievances and resolutions directly addressed the laws and standards women were held to. It was signed by 68 women and 32 men from the Seneca Falls Convention for women's rights. This push for equality was met with many reactions and opinions from the media. 

Some reacted positively, encouraging female rights, while some mocked the movement, laughing at the idea of women doing things. The reporters for both had no qualms about sharing their opinions, both sides expecting to be correct. One of the most positive responses came from the National Reformer of September 14th, 1848. It points out the unfairness of expecting women to follow laws that they weren't even allowed to vote on. The National Reformer has many articles on the rights of women, all strongly in support of the movement. But as all human rights issues, there were many strongly opposed to the idea of ending oppression. The Oneida Whig had serious issues with females spending all their time voting and getting paid, they begged for an answer to the question, "If our ladies will insist on voting and legislating, where, gentlemen, will be our dinners and our elbows?" They were deeply confused and concerned as to how on Earth they would be fed if women dared to participate in the democracy of America.

Recently there has been much debate on how equal men and women are and whether women are treated differently from men. Many men and women look back on the past and go, "look how terribly females were treated we are 100% equal now!" and really we have come very far since the days of not allowing women to vote or own property. But does society react differently to men than they do to women? The answer is yes. Has there ever been a female president of the United States? No, and while it's easy to blame that on chance and the lack of a good candidate if you look at the reasoning behind not voting for a woman, there is a lot of pure sexism. This real news report was actually 100% serious in reasoning against women being leaders.

"There has got to be some downside to having a woman president, right?"

I mean really this alone could show the way people still believe women aren't as good as men but we'll look at this more thoroughly. In the video Bill O'Reilly states, "There haven't been that many strong women leaders." and this is a true statement, in national parliaments, and other leadership positions women are vastly outnumbered. America is ranked 83rd by equality in government in the UN's Women in Politics statistic map with 18.3% women in the lower/single house and 20% in the upper house/senate. Americans can say what they want about equality but Afghanistan is #41, with an avg of 27.6% women in their government, they are ranked twice as high as America.

What is the problem with having less women in politics? Well we already saw how in the 19th century people were mad because they didn't get to vote for leaders who then made laws they had to follow. The number of people in leadership positions is the amount of representation the group gets when laws that affect them are made. Recently the controversy about abortion has been brought up and leaves mostly men in charge of deciding the legality in a woman's decision about her body.

While women do now get to vote for leaders it's hard to pick female leaders when there are so few to choose from. Women are discouraged from going after leadership roles from the beginning and it just gets harder as they grow up. Female candidates are always attacked in media for the tiniest things and made to look incompetent through every minute detail of their lives.

Popular TV show "Parks and Recreation" (famous for its feminist protagonist Leslie Knope played by real life feminist and comedian Amy Poehler) shows how women are treated during elections and speaks against the discrimination. [Full episode]

The reason women are so harshly criticized? The majority of journalists are men. And most female journalists report on stereotypically "feminine" topics, like health and beauty, while the males report on the big issues.

In fact if you read the full report of The Status of Women in the U. S. Media 2014, pretty much all areas of media are male dominated. Newspapers, magazines, radio, sports journalism, gaming, social media, digital news, and worst of all, television and films.

The lack of female perspective in society makes it easy to avoid women's issues and set standards for women to meet. The amount of females population wise is equal to that of men, yet the power of women is still much lower. Media is how people get their information on everything. Media tells us how to live in the ideal way, it influences a person's opinion on how people should do their hair, wear their clothes, feel about topics, what car to drive, and what is right or wrong. Media is run by white old men and holds complete power over society, what is seen on TV or listed on a top 10 list on a blog is the standard.

The portrayal of women in media is not great. Models are tall, toned, and flawless complete with digital editing to give them that perfect physically-impossible-to-achieve look. Most movie protagonists are boys, who always end up getting the hot girl in the end. The plotline for a female character usually revolves around some boy.

Girls are taught to center their lives around a guy and that the most important thing is to be attractive. 'Do this so guys will like you' 'Don't do that, no one will date you.' Not only are they taught their worth is about their sexuality but it's enforced anyways. Heidi Klum once saved someone from drowning in the ocean and all the headlines focused on was that her bikini top slipped during it. Girls are blamed for tempting men in cases of rape and sexual harassment while the boys in these situations are treated as the victims, the death of a football career and scholarship while the real victim deals with trauma and worse.

The music industry has been called out on its misogynistic themes in rap especially. But its not the only one. There is an extreme lack of any female musicians in rock bands. The top 40s charts are filled with songs about the importance of sex and no one blinks an eye when 8 year olds sing along. The rap scene is famous for it's glorification of violence and sex. In media the ideal man has money, muscles, and multiple girls at his beck and call, they are usually nameless and pretty obviously only there for sex. A guy is more powerful if he's tougher than another guy.

Society has been taught to value men for their 'masculinity'. If a guy is respectful or emotional in any way that seems 'feminine' he's instantly labeled gay and then made fun of. This 1) is really homophobic and heteronormative and 2) builds a negative view on females.

The way men then come to defend their masculinity is through violence and abuse of women, men are supposed to be dominant and so the opposite must be true as well, women must be submissive. In every movie, book, and TV show the hero gets the super attractive girl in the end. Boys are taught that girls are prizes to be won. They are there to award sex for whatever masculine thing a guy does.

Somewhere In America

Girls take in the same media with another message. The ultimate goal is to get the boy and other girls are competition. Girl hate is the result of internalized misogyny. It is the root of phrases like "she's a slut" and the idea of being "not like the other girls". While men are praised for their sexuality women are shamed for it, weird isn't it. The "other girls" are slutty, prudish, petty, stupid, weak, etc. in the eyes of society. The idea of not being like the other girls is stupid and only encourages the harsh critiquing. The movie about high school where the nerd is the heroine because all the other girls are stuck up preps who only care about their hair, yeah that's where this comes from. "She wears short skirts, I wear tee-shirts, she's cheer captain and I'm on the bleachers." Okay? You're better than her why? (Taylor Swift has realized she was problematic and apologized don't be mean to her) Girls praise guys and think pictures of them shirtless are hot and once a girl does it she's a slut. Girls destroy each other for being whores, prudes, idiots, nerds, suck ups, fake, etc. when they should be encouraging each other and not valuing a person for how attractive they are to other people.

The girl hate cycle reinforces the problematic ideas that being a stereotypical girl is insulting. Guys don't want to be feminine and now girls don't want to be feminine. Why? Because femininity is seen as a bad thing. The more pink a girl wears in a show, the stupider and more hated a girl is in a show. Femininity is used to show the characters who are mean, stupid, shallow, and afraid of everything. The colors pink and blue are used to symbolize the two genders and usually in media, express the role of the person wearing them.

Why is a guy wearing pink so strange? He's being feminine and that's not right. Boys have their things and girls have to be the opposite. But gender is not an opposing set of characteristics. If a boy is strong it doesn't mean girls are weak, yet that's how it is viewed. If men are supposed to be dominant, women are meant to be submissive. Girls who do traditionally 'masculine' things are told they're faking it for male attention or are gay. The amount of girls who are verbally harassed in video games is sad. And guys are allowed to wear their "nice story babe, go make me a sandwich" and "get back in the kitchen" t shirts with no consequences because it's 'funny'.

Women don't hold many leadership positions in society. It's hard to when everyone tries to hold you back. Men find it insulting to work under a woman and often undermine her achievements to feel dominant again. Girls are told they're bossy when they try to take charge and eventually girls stop trying to, to avoid the judgment they face in those roles. They put in less effort to get a position of power and are then given less positions of power, only further creating inequality in power.

Also, people who say the wage gap isn't real? What is that about? There is literally statistical proof and if it still seems fake here's some guides.

And of course then we're at the hatred of feminism. If a girl dares to call herself a feminist and desires less violence and equal pay she's met with a variety of responses. There's the classic "feminazi" label, because the end of sexism is the same as religious genocide. Theres the rape jokes and threats because if someone is against objectification all they really need is forced sex. The violence threats like "if women want to be equal can I hit a girl?" Which is a serious problem because if your first reaction to equality is that you can be violent towards them that doesn't really make sense; Also, that's kind of one of the issues. Domestic abuse is an extremely widespread problem and part of this equity thing is the END of hitting girls.

The most common response lately is "Men are oppressed too." The problem here is that this minimizes the issues women face and feminism works to fix the problems men have.  "Men get raped too." Is another part of this. The problem there is that you're using that to erase women's abuse. And it's not girls who tell guys "It's not rape because he should enjoy it" It's other guys. Men get raped is a full sentence, once you add "too" you're using it to shut up other victims.

Once a guy was trying to tell me that rape wasn't a problem because it doesn't kill so feminists all just cry over nothing and when I tried to explain to him what male - privilege - is . he told me, that female privilege is being able to pull down your shirt and get out of a parking ticket for being female. Because that solves the problem of objectification....

Fox News recently said Frozen was a bad influence to boys and that there is too much representation of women in Hollywood

Women who speak up against the lack of power they have in society are attacked for being man hating, oppressive, ugly, and usually queer. Because obviously if a girl doesn't like men being in charge she is just too ugly to attract men and instead became a lesbian. This leads to girls defending themselves by saying they are straight and pretty and ends up excluding any girls who are queer or don't fit the standards of beauty.

Beyonce knows a girl can express her sexuality and it says nothing about not respecting herself

Society is not there yet. For more information click on the links throughout the post and read this book on gender and stuff. You can pay with a tweet  for free and get a digital copy it's really cool.
This post didn't even talk about gender queer individuals but sexism is even worse towards them.