Archive of ‘Reading Analysis’ category

Dare to be different? I wouldn’t.

In his chapter “Toward a New Sociospatial Dialectic”, Fleming begins by rehashing his past scenes from earlier in the text. He discusses how his generation has, in a sense, “failed” in teaching the young people how to appreciate and deal with living together with people who are not like themselves. However, the only way to build a self-governing community focus on acceptance and equality is for our society to be built up of individuals with similar backgrounds and goals. Essentially it is impossible to live in complete harmony and equality.

Applying Flemings theories to college life, one can only concur with his findings. Everyone says there is no judgment in college, everyone is free to be themselves. However, there is an unbelievable amount of tension between individuals with vastly different points of view that differ from the mainstream. The community of American University consists of main liberals, making this the mainstream perspective. When a conservative individual is put into the community they are immediately attacked, hated, isolated for deviating from the norm. It becomes a topic of gossip. Intentional or not, this creates a mental barrier and a tainted view of the individual. Similarly, lower-income communities are isolated and seen as “different” from the mainstream.

Below is an article about American University. Hundred of students gather to voice their opinions. Of course, there is nothing from with exercising the First Amendment right of free speech. However, being there in person I was able to get a first-hand experience. Not only were they protesting, but also yelling and verbally attacking any conservative student. In addition, those who are conservative are very well known. For example, when students see republican individuals they point them out and say, “They voted for Trump. Can you believe that?”. Marking them as different than the rest of the students.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/nov/10/donald-trump-protesters-with-black-lives-matter-bu/

It’s a Gender Revolution

In her article “His and Hers? Designing for a Post-Gender Society,” Suzanne Tick argues that the once concrete definitions of male and female are transforming into a gender revolution which allows all individuals an opportunity to express themselves. However, problems arise when we attempt to approach gender issues with regulations and complacence. It is necessary to begin creating safe places for everyone. Big corporations, like Google, are adopting gender-neural and unisex bathrooms, as well as male and female ones (Tick). The proactive nature of the big companies hopefully will set an example for all companies across the states. Ensuring employees feel welcomed will allow them to work to their highest potential, thus, producing optimal quality work.

Unfortunately, creating an inclusive environment everywhere is easier said than done.  In June of 2015, the White House shined rainbow colors in support of the same-sex marriage ruling.

tp://www.cnn.com/2015/06/26/politics/white-house-rainbow-marriage/

It would seem as though everyone would accept the thought of gay marriage. Of course, that would be to good to be true. Recently, the republican state lawmakers in North Carolina proposed a bill that would ban gay marriage in the entire state.

http://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/328378-north-carolina-bill-looks-to-ban-gay-marriage

However, the whole issue with change is no one ever agrees. However, the more companies that create inclusive legislation and resources the more likely it is that people will follow. Similar to how the more people who make their voice heard, the more likely change will happen as they get more people on board.

Coffee Drinking is a Culture

Background:

Schneider, Robert. “Coffee Culture”: Hot Coffee + Cool Spaces. The Images Publishing, 2016.

In his book, “Coffee Culture: Hot Coffee + Cool Spaces” by Robert Schneider, he describes thirty-three different interesting coffee shops located all around the United States. Each shop has a unique setting and location including historical buildings, art useless, arcades, and even an old cargo ship. Schneider discusses how “interweaving coffee with art, architecture, and historic preservation” adds a special yet diverse characteristic. The author continues to inform the reader about the evolution of coffee in “three waves”. First, coffee was used as a “fast, cheap, drink of caffeine” to help people get through the day. Second, coffee started being distributed through corporate chains with different syrups and toppings. Finally, drinking coffee became similar to drinking wine. A social interaction used to build relationships.

Fig. 1. Coffee Culture book cover; using aesthetically pleasing placement, good lighting, and coffee (all important characteristics of a good coffee shop in his book)

Coffee Culture provides background and comparison to other coffee shops and how coffee drinking has developed throughout the years as well as analyzes and interprets each coffee shop. Not only can I use this source to compare other successful coffee shops with Compass Coffee but also see the timeline of where Starbucks fits in. In addition, the book does a great job of capture the reader’s attention with interesting pictures and graphics.

 

Argument:

Tucker, Catherine M. “Coffee Culture”: Local Experiences, Global Connections. Routledge, 2017.

In “Coffee Culture: Local Experiences, Global Connections” by Catherine M. Tucker, discusses how drinking coffee is the last and “final step” in connecting us to the farmers in nations around the world who produce it. Even in her title she suggests how our “local experiences” with coffee creates “global connections”. She further describes how coffee ties together the global economic system that is till evolving. Indeed, coffee is produced by some of the world’s poorest countries but these countries also happen to be the most biodiverse and endangered habitats in the world. For a while, coffee production has coexisted with forest but because the market favors “sun-grown coffee”, the forests have to be cleared and farmers need to use toxic agrochemicals. According to Tucker, coffee production is becoming one of the world’s most barring problems. She even compares them with social inequality along with environmental degradation.

Fig. 2. Coffee Culture book cover; the hands with the beans and green cover – represents the cohesive relationship the author ideally wants us to have with the environment

Tucker’s research offers a background on coffee production that most people would never have considered. The rest of my articles talk about the “up and coming” coffee industry and methods of marketing new products to customers. However, I never thought, to think of what potential negative effect this could have on our environment. This article provides a counter argument to coffee production and offers a more environmentally conscious way to produce coffee.

 

“Ideally” it makes sense…

In his “Part Two: Suburbia”, Fleming begins to touch on more of the ethical issue found with the housing authorities. Initially, he states, “We can solve a housing problem, or we can try to solve a racial problem. But we cannot combine the two” (91). Here, Fleming offers the audience a beginning strategy to solving this larger issue. However, a group of public housing residents combined the two and sued the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for violating their constitutional right of equal protection clause  (91). The claim was, “that the few projects located in white neighborhoods were 100 percent white” (Rubinowitz and Rosenbaum 23). Due to the fact the projects are funded by the government, this was, by proxy, the government supporting concentrating and segregation of blacks. After losing the case, HUD was now required to have residential racial integration and add houses to the white neighborhoods.

This new and forward thinking is very interesting, especially in relation to his past chapter on social isolation (rhetorical analysis found below).

Governmental Institutionalization of the Ghetto

Housing voucher programs ideally is a perfect fix. The resident finds their own housing unit and comes to an agreement with the landlord. They sign the lease and pays 30 percent of their family’s monthly income directly to the owner and federal funds pay the difference between that and the standard payment for rent (94). This allows individuals to get assistance from the government but not take advantage of the system. They are able to get houses in different locations allowing these lower-class families to mix with middle and upper-class families and help integrate them into the mainstream population. Rather than be surrounded by other struggling families in an isolated community they are able to be fully immersed in the mainstream society which should minimize the gap. Ideally, it works. However, the program was extremely underfunded and ended up only increasing the supply of lower cost housing in the country, making those cheaper houses affordable.

In Raleigh, North Carolina, the legislators tried to fix this problem. They created districts for public schools that mixed kids of all classes. Integrating different individuals in schools can help diminish the gap between lower-income families and mainstream. Using school districting works without having to worry about moving housing around.

 Fleming, “David. City of Rhetoric.” Part Two. Suburbia, SUNY Press, 2008.

Governmental Institutionalization of the Ghetto

In his “Part Two. Designing the Twenty-first Century Public Sphere”, Fleming describes how the blacks developed their own sense of community separate from the white communities. However, the isolation from white communities soon turned into ghettos lacking space, facilities, heating, and gas. The government developed the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) to temporary provide housing for working people. Although the CHA normally would honor the cities racial geography, the negro population was so large and dense the began giving houses in the “white projects” to black veterans (76). This, of course, infuriated the whites, as they broke out in race riots every time the CHA moved a black family into the “white projects”. Interestingly, not many people heard of the riots because, “the police were notoriously inactive, inefficient, and biased during these riots” (76). In addition, the media also remained silent. Using Hirsch’s words here, the violence of these years were “hidden” (76).

In efforts to decrease the violence, a government-funded team of whites formulated plans to deal with the black ghettos. To start, they would build “white” institutions to draw back middle and upper-class whites, such as Michael Reese Hospital, Illinois Institute of Technology, among many other establishments (77). However, these institutions all were built on land on the South Side and in black ghettos. Following the creation of institutions, the professionals created the Blighted Areas Redevelopment and Relocation Act, “which provided authority and funds to clear Chicago’s slums and relax the poor (Hirsch, 107). After relocating the blacks, they would sell the land to private corporations who would build middle to high-end enclaves, to draw in upper-class citizens. Having to house for upper class citizens on the skirts of the black ghetto was supposed to act as a buffer between blacks and whites, along with the “white” institutions. However, all it did was shift the problems of social disorganization and crime deeper inside the ghettos. It only seemed to benefit the private developers, the new middle and upper-class residents, and the newly built “white” institutions. Obviously, this started leading to more tension between blacks, whites, and the government.

After the urban renewal, more than 1.4 million people were displaced.  The CHA built low-rise projects, maintained them well, and selected appropriate tenants (79). Unfortunately, along with many other policies, this seems good in theory. However, in practice, it only furthered segregation, containment, and social isolation of blacks from the rest of society. In addition, with the legislation set up in Chicago, the white neighborhoods could veto the CHA’s decisions. Originally trying to help, the CHA’s policies resulted in, “governmental institutionalization of the ghetto” (80). The segregation Chicago was seeing at the time was no accident.  It was the product of neighborhoods, whites, and the government.

Fig. 1. Image of “race riots” in minority communities; caused by unfair racial, economic, and political forces

On a larger scale, the issue of socially disorganized, inner-city ghettos is a big problem. Starting from racism, confining and concentrating blacks into ghettos and being followed with, economic change, welfare, and unemployment, lower-class communities are becoming more and more unstable. The middle-class families fled from areas surrounding the ghetto, breaking down the social buffer they originally were indented to provide. Any ghetto is a horrible place to raise children. They lack resources needed to engage efficiently and effectively in society. Due to their social isolation from mainstream society, they develop their own norms. There is a risk from walking on the street here. There is a mistrust in their government so people won’t call the police as a fear of being called a snitch. In 1986, police assured that anyone called would remain anonymous and only got 21 calls the entire year (89). The lack of cooperation stems from a distrust of government, only making them further and further from the mainstream population. Having different norms and lacking the social buffers continues to widen the gap between whites and blacks.

 Fleming, “David. City of Rhetoric.” Part Two. Designing the Twenty-first Century Public Sphere, SUNY Press, 2008.

It’s more than “just a park bench”

In his “Architectural Exclusion article, Schindler discusses how architectural decisions actually excludes individuals. For instance, a park bench with armrests seems aesthetically pleasing. However, the arm rests also keep homeless people from being able to sleep on the bench. Similarly, gated neighborhoods are exclusive and noninclusive to those who do not reside within.

Taking Schindler’s points about architectural exclusion into consideration, the effects of architecture in D.C. on lower-income communities seems much more prevalent. A common example could be the distance bus stops are from the ghetto and lower-income communities. Walking over a mile to a bus stop does not seem bad if you are an average healthy person. However, for those who are sick or disabled, it can be extremely challenging – especially in non-optimal weather. The location of the stops can negatively affect a person’s attendance at work, which could affect stable employment. Unemployment will only further separate them from mainstream society.

 

Fig.1. Park bench with railings. Impossible to sleep on.

Furthermore, Schindler also discusses how people in lower income communities ward off unwanted visitors with violence. She states,  “Social norms encouraged some to threaten undesirable persons with violence if they were to enter or remain in certain spaces” (9). However, the separation from mainstream society is a large factor in how they deal with conflict. Being socially isolated by architecture and relocation from most of society, they have developed their own norms that are vastly different from the mainstream. Violence is just a means of dealing with conflict for them.

Thus, something as simple as a far bus stop or benches with railings, go right above the mainstream person. We don’t realize the larger impact such small decisions have. Everything is done with a reason and more often than not, a reason may be good for one group and detrimental to another.

Schindler, Sarah. “Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Design of the Built Environment.” The Yale Law Journal, vol. 124, no. 6, April 2015

The Truth Behind Being “Color Blind”

In his City of Rhetoric, David Fleming avidly discusses how individuals should be proud of their differences and the past struggles for equality should only make them more special. However, many are not taught to view themselves this way. According the National Standards for Civics and Government, a document outlining the basic knowledge of politics and political institutions American students should have, “ [The] identity of an American citizen is defined by shared political values and principles rather than by ethnicity, race, religion, class, language, gender, or national origin.” However, Fleming responds in almost an upset manner. He describes how negating to acknowledge individual differences is essentially stripping individuals of important historical and personal characteristics that make up their personality. It almost discredits their past struggles. In addition, when people use the phrase “color blind” to describe their views of different nationalities it desensitizes important past struggles and identity. Ideally, society should be able to acknowledge individual’s past but not allow it to effect the present or future decisions. 

Furthermore, in efforts to make equity have meaning, there must be a present risk of inequality. Since we are the founders, influencers, and leaders of our own state, we can control societies approach on society. To start, individuals need to be conscious of approaching equality in an appropriate way. In a way to not discredit nor discriminate. Embracing our own differences is essential, rather than ignoring differences like the National Standards for Civic and Government suggested. In order to change the whole nation, change has to start in small groups. Since we are the state, we have the control, and the power to make society change to the better.

 Fleming, David. City of Rhetoric. SUNY Press, 2008.

Below is a very interesting TED talk by Mellody Hobson on “Color Blindness”: