Science Fiction Literature in the Secondary Classroom

Originally posted on CLA Portfolio:

This post discusses the qualities, impact, and importance of science fiction in the 21st century classroom. First, I provide four types of science fiction that can most easily adapt to lesson planning. Then, I give some background on science fiction in order to elucidate further what can be taught with these four types of science fiction. After that, I give qualities of each type of science fiction in order to teach and to have students analyze literature. And finally, I give some examples of employing technology integration that can easily extend learning for science fiction studies.

Discovering science fiction, types and qualities

Once written, a literary work becomes an artifact. Because the genre of science fiction has become popular and somewhat loosely defined in relatively recent times (as compared to epics, lyrical poetry, law, etc.), scholars are just now looking at science fiction works from the past with literary analysis…

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Describing the difference between white elitism and white privilege so that no one thinks I hate “white” people (reconstructing feminism)

Because of a lively discussion I had recently, I discovered that it is really important for me to describe the difference between my usages of “white elitism” and “white privilege” because, above all, I want to avoid misunderstanding and hate. As some of my regular readers already know, I am part Cherokee but am considered “white” by some census assessments.

Indeed, I have found the term “white” to be meaningless and useless, sometimes derogatory for most discussions on race, especially since I live in a country where most people have a considerable amount of mixed ancestry. The term “white” has also changed throughout American history; for instance, Hispanic peoples were at one time categorized under the term “white.” Why the change? I don’t know. Now the popular thing to do seems to be to put headings of non-Hispanic white (which includes people from the Middle East and North Africa) and non-Hispanic black on one table while Hispanic peoples are placed on a separate table. So, Americans are either Hispanic or not, basically, or something.

Whatever. Like I’ve said in previous posts, at a certain point, the terms of race in order to make an argument become too ambiguous, and often too heated, to get anything meaningful said or done.

That said, there is a very small group of white feminists who have created a theory called “white privilege,” which has created, in my mind, problems. There you have it. You already know what I think about the theory of “white privilege.” Will you stop reading, or will you find out why?

White privilege

White privilege is based on what people have, not on what they think, say, or do. Having ranges from “white” colored band-aid access to a house with neighbors you like. [I am just going off of what I have read from the original theorist].

The theory of white privilege set a standard for what people should have or what people have the right to have.

The standard was set by someone who may have suffered from “white elitism” based on her description of what white people have that others don’t, based on the fact that she was able to publish her article quite easily, and based on the university she attended.

The standard casts all “white” people in the shadow of suspicion, as people who are withholding something or secretly obtaining what they don’t want others to have; all white people, especially men, are unjust and act unjustly, according to the theory.

This is the same problem as suggesting that all “white” people in the US were slave-owners. No, they weren’t. Most “white” people in the US were not slave-holders. Most “white” people who came to the US were poor; they were looking for jobs, escaping religious persecution, or quite simply, looking for freedom. Large migrations of “white” people to the US occurred right before and after slavery was outlawed. In fact, I am going to suggest a new startling theory that if the extensive “white” migration that occurred in the mid-19th century and afterwards had not happened, the standard in the US South might still be that of slavery. My point, the majority of whites in the US were never involved in the slave business that existed in certain regions of the US.

On the flip side, the standard tells all non-“white” people what they must have in order to be accepted in the community that is majority “white.” Thus, in theory, all people who don’t have what “white privilege” says they should have lack something important. For example, if the “white” standard for the number of children to have is two, then all races must have only two children per household. If the “white” standard for recreation is baseball, then all races must meet the standard. All people must try to meet the standard, according to the proposed “white privilege” theory.

However, most “white” people do not even live up to the “white privilege” standard.

The “white privilege” standard was created by a very small group of “white” people who are highly “privileged,” so much so we might be able to say that they live in a bubble that brings them infrequently in contact with people who make less than the top 1%. Can we honestly say that they have an accurate picture of the general population? Might some of them suffer from post-slaveholder guilt because their families actually may have owned slaves? Might they be trying to project this guilt onto those who are not at fault?

All people will feel confined or oppressed by the standard proposed by “white privilege.” It has cast legalism, segregation, and limitations on race. This is why those who often consider themselves liberal are actually dogmatics and fundamentalists parading around as liberals; they actually seek conformity and assimilation, using the English language in order to manipulate and control people.

The effects of the white privilege standard

Either people will be running to the “white privilege” standard because they believe they lack something if they do not attain what “whites” are portrayed as having or people will be running away from or feeling guilt about the “white privilege” standard because they feel like they have a target on their head—they’ve been convicted without trial.

Thus, we have a rise in “white” suicide because those who consider themselves white feel guilty for being alive or have no purpose because their “whiteness” just causes trouble.

We have a declining “white” population because white people are afraid to procreate.

We have a loss of identity in the “white” population because “white privilege” has created a boring, sterile standard.

We have a rise in those who hate “whites” simply for being white. The “white privilege” standard has the potential to lead to genocide because it has aimed fault and hatred toward one race or color.

Some Latino (or Hispanic) feminists charge the “white” standard as being the problem in public education, for example. They see the anti-family attitude, materialism, the hyper-sexualization, and the sterilization of culture/religion as mainstream “white” culture, whereas many so-called whites see those problems of public education as really problematic, too.

In Catholic speak, some Hispanic feminists are actually making charges against the culture of death, which most “whites,” as far as I can tell, are not in favor of the culture of death either. But, the culture of death is being attributed to all “whites.” Some Hispanic writers fear the assimilation to this standard—the culture of death or “white privilege.” This is a source for misunderstanding because some political thinkers are afraid that some Hispanic immigrants don’t really want to be American–assimilation is being defined in different ways. One group sees it as people trying to push the culture of death; others see it as the path to embrace the culture of life. There is much confusion here because people are not clarifying how they are using terms.

One way to look at this is to see how the KKK has historically defined what it means to be an American—white, Protestant, male-dominated. Some white feminists have used that very standard to describe what being “white” means. They made the assumption and gross generalization that all “white” people in the US are male-domineering ,un-christian Protestants. People either react in revulsion to this “white” standard, rightly so, or try to get what they think the “whites” have so as not to be persecuted.

So then, we have those who are trying to blend into the “white privilege” standard because they think that discrimination towards their race will end if they become more “white” or hold the same standards as “whites” as proposed by the white privilege theory.

Finally, we have this problem of feminists who likely suffer from “white elitism” who created an American standard of “white privilege” in the US that avoids entirely the standard of freedom set by The Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution, which most Americans try to hold as the standard based on the knowledge they have of that ideal.

White elitism

White elitism is a mentality or attitude that employs and ends in oppressive actions. Rather than being based on what people have or don’t have, it is based on what people say and, more importantly, on what they do to others directly or indirectly.

A person from any race, culture, background, or religion can suffer from “white elitism”—it is a spiritual malady. A “white elitist” suffers in thinking like an elitist just as the people the “white elitist” chooses to harm, manipulate, or squelch will suffer.

Since this is a discussion within the US forum of ideas, we can trace the problem of “white elitism” as far back as 1366 (The Statutes of Kilkenny), then again to Oliver Cromwell (1649) and other Anglo-political rulers who wanted to “breed-out” the Irish from Ireland, to destroy Spain (in reputation and materially), and to suppress the Catholics in general (publishing houses, education, etc.). Incidentally, “white elitism” began to spread in the 19th century with the theories of Malthus, portions of Darwin, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, and eugenics promoters as the British Empire grew. Other examples of carrying white elitism to its extreme are Hitler and the Holocaust or Stalin and his purgings or Mao and his culture cleaning.

One of the first characteristics of “white elitism” is that it sees its own culture and thinking as superior to all others—people with this mentality feel more “privileged” than others—they think they have it all figured out and will tell others what to do and be and have in order to fit in.

This superiority complex leads to population control (eugenics), done through communication, property, the economy and politics (policy).

Since many Anglo writers suffered from “white elitism” because publishing houses and trade routes were dominated by Anglo politicians during the Industrial Revolution and after, many people took on or have reacted to the Anglo or “white elitism” worldview.

Please note: Other cultures have sought to dominate other peoples, starting as far back as the Ancient World, by having the same elitist mentality as conveyed by “white elitism.” So far, the discussion here has included Saxons, Russians, and Asians as well. In fact, the only place in the world that saw a sharp decline in elitism for a time was Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire, attributed to Christianity, until the Reformation. That is, “white elitism,” again, is not confined to “whites” or a problem attributed solely to “whites” historically. I only include the term “white” because “white privilege” theorists have set a standard of “whiteness,” a standard that requires deconstruction as well as bridging for communication, alleviation, and understanding.

Americans, in particular, might be susceptible to this “white elitist” mentality or the reaction to this mentality since American public education devoted several decades to an English-only education; the English-only education, since it did little to translate literature from other cultures, gave most Americans the Anglo worldview; the English-only education, also, subtracted the Christian portion of Anglo thinking since public education was supposed to remain secular; to that end, most human literature could no longer be discussed in American public schools because subtracting all other languages and Christian literature limits the options considerably. That said, I think only a small portion of Americans suffer from “white elitism.”

The mentalities and effects of white elitism

Dualism—elitists force themselves to make choices between two; they cannot marry the two, see a continuum when it exists, nor can they find a moderating position; it is either man or woman; man is all evil and woman is all good; black or white; Hispanic or not; labor or capital; body or spirit; government or religion; faith or science; emotion or science; puritanistic or promiscuous/perverted; now or the future; now or the past; city or country; community or individual; family or society; educated or not; all continuum or not; include or exclude; all is ambiguous or not; all is disorder or not; racist or not; for women or not; master or slave.

Tyranny—technocratic elitism is another way to see this; technocratic elitists often think that they have the solutions to each person’s problems; they are micro-managers; they often, coincidentally, make a lot of time for personal recreation and support, loving leisure and self-indulgence above all else; they experiment on societies often and are indifferent to the results since the results don’t affect them personally; they control communication venues (publishing houses, media companies, etc.) because they must constantly try to uphold their reputation in order to have influence in a democracy; they often equate number of years in school to level of education, in which case, they get as many years as they can; they usually feel that the “modern” man today automatically knows more than or is superior to every single person from the past—they are poor judges of historical context because they want to control the historical narrative; they don’t mind taking away someone else’s property; they protect themselves but don’t care if others can keep themselves protected; tyrants often base their principles on taste/style/trends; another word for tyranny is snobbery.

Legalism—white elitists try to make everything they believe a law that everyone must obey; because many of their ideas of “law” are relative to themselves (morally relative), we end up with pages and pages of law that often contradict each other; they complicate by creating strange standards that are created to serve themselves and their whims.

Sterility—because white elitism puts limitations on cultures both through the legal system and by creating false standards, cultures and peoples end up having a sterile mentality; they no longer want to procreate; they can no longer come up with creative ideas; they destroy, obscure, or hide talents; and, yes, “white elitism” is rooted in the culture of death, my Catholic friends. In this case, “white” comes to mean “sterile” or colorless or bleached or whatever helps the discussion.

Schooled in elitism—because some white elitists teach with a worldview of elitism, many students try to look at the world with an air of condescension towards certain groups of people; they might arrogate themselves above people from the past; they might arrogate themselves based on the number of certificates they hold; they might arrogate themselves based on the number of classes they have attended; they might arrogate themselves for belonging to the right political party; teachers who teach with the elitist worldview just put their students’ minds back in the dualistic mind-frame, perhaps from the other side, but dualistic it still is.

Why “white elitism” might be a better way to discuss our cultural problems:

1. It avoids judgmentalism: It does not condemn an entire race. You also cannot make assumptions about people based on external qualities and categories.

2. It avoids generalization: It keeps people talking about specific harmful or good actions and their possible causes rather than looking at an entire people as oppressive or oppressed.

3. It further clarifies the problem of dualism and divisiveness: Instead of resorting to either/or discussions that are invariably the result of “white privilege” discussions, the discussion can rise above this mentality to show the harm of dualism.

4. It asks people to keep the debate in the realm of ideas: It does not intend to stir the fires of anger that will lead to violence or hatred because it helps the discussion remain concerned with attitudes, facts, and actions, not making the assumption that people are white elitist or not. Evidence must be given to show that a person suffers from “white elitism.”

5. It allows people to be grateful for the actual, humane contributions of those who have been or are termed “white” as well as those who are not termed “white.” It also allows Americans, who often employ ideas from several cultures, to continue to enjoy the contributions from several cultures simultaneously if so desired.

6. People who suffer from white elitism are redeemable because mentalities and hearts can change whereas “white privilege” automatically condemns people based on their race without evidence or reason for condemnation.

7. You can hate the actions and argue with the ideas of those who suffer from “white elitism,” but you can still love the person. Remember, people with a “white elitist” mentality are not necessarily white.

8. White elitism is a spiritual malady, an illness—the cure is prayer, an invocation of the light of reason during discussion, patience, and continued love.

9. More properly understood, white elitism is elitism, which is rooted in pride, greed, and vanity; however, the terms of vice carry little weight in secular discussion, so the term “white elitism” might be able to create the much needed bridge for understanding. Just make sure to define the parameters.

10. Moving away from mentalities of “white elitism” will hopefully encourage human flourishing and creativity since it asks people to look at attitudes, facts, and actions with honesty and humility, being grateful for variety in cultures and for persons, allowing humanity to grow more humane.

If you believe that describing the terms in this way is a cause for further division rather than a source for helping communication in our culture, please let me know.

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Copyright 2014

Notes and References:

Armenio, PV (2005). The History of the Catholic Church: A Complete Course. James Socias, ed. Midwest Theological Forum: Woodridge, Illinois.

Mondale, S. and Patton, SB (2001). School: The story of American public education. Beacon Press: Boston.

Nieto, S (2010). The light in their eyes: Creating multicultural learning communities, 10th anniversary edition. Teachers College Press: New York.

Valdes, G (1996). Con Respeto: Bridging the Distances between Culturally Diverse Families and Schools, An Ethnographic Portrait. Teachers College Press: New York.

Approximate numbers (US Census):
1808—importation of slaves was made illegal, though some did not obey the law
1810–7.2 million total US population: 1.3 million African Americans; 75% of African Americans in Delaware were free
1850—23 million total US population: 3.6 million African Americans.
1860—31.4 million total US population: 4.4 million African Americans: 385,000 people owned slaves (What a small percentage of our historical population is this!)
1861-1865—640, 000 to 700, 000 people die during the Civil War; 110, 000 men die in combat, fighting on the side of the Union; 20,000 African Americans die, fighting for the Union; 95,000 men die in combat for the Confederate South
1862—Emancipation Proclamation
1865—13th Amendment ends slavery; KKK forms that same year
1869—15th Amendment, African American males obtain voting privileges; no woman can vote at this time
1870—39.8 million total US population: 4.8 million African Americans
1880—50.1 million total US population: 6.5 million African Americans
1890—62.9 million total US population: 7.4 million African American
1900—75.9 million total US population: 8.8 million African American; 30,000 Black American teachers have been trained, bringing the literacy rate up to half of the population by this time

http://www.blackpast.org/timelines/african-american-history-timeline-1800-1900

Number of slaveholders. http://civilwarcauses.org/stat.htm

http://www.historynet.com/civil-war-casualties

http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/immigration-statistics.htm

Immigration numbers (1850+). http://www.census.gov/population/www/documentation/twps0029/tab04.html

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love (poem)

my being,

moved

to experience

joy,

meets love, loving in return

——————–

Copyright 2014

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Anger at God, an illustration (short story)

Let’s say there are two boys sitting in a church. Brothers. One is ten-years-old; the other is eight. The oldest one, during the Mass, calls the younger one all sorts of names, whispering these false accusations into his ears. The younger son looks at his mother for intervention, but she doesn’t seem to notice. So, he asks (tells) his older brother to stop, then faces forward in an effort to pay attention. The older brother begins to pinch him. Mom still doesn’t notice. In fact, she gives the younger brother a warning look to stop wiggling or else.

After the Mass is over, the boys run towards the back door to play outside in the sun, competing to see who can get there first, but the priest stops the brothers and asks them if someone can put the Crucifix away. The older brother volunteers the younger brother then runs outside. The priest turns to an older woman who needs advice, leaving the duty to the young boy.

The boy carries the Crucifix toward the altar in the empty Sanctuary, thinking about all of the things that have already gone wrong that day. The insulting names and characterizations, the teasing, the pinching, the losing the sunshine and play, the injustice of it all.

“It’s not fair!” he yells as he begins to punch Jesus on the Crucifix.

He punches the Crucifix, knowing that if he were to punch his brother, his mom would get mad.

He punches the Crucifix, knowing that if he were to complain about his brother, his dad would tell him to figure it out.

He punches the Crucifix, knowing that if he were to punch his brother, his brother, stronger, smarter, and bigger, would punch him harder, better, and more in return.

The Crucifix just lays there and takes it—Jesus on the Cross, with His arms pinned open, His feet stuck to a dry tree, and His face forlorn, takes it.

God takes it.

The boy lifts up his hand to punch just one more time but suddenly bursts into tears.

He notices that Jesus’ right hand has pulled away from the Cross. The nail has fallen to the floor. The boy looks around to make sure no one has noticed.

He begs God to help him fix Jesus’ hand.

He gingerly pushes Jesus’ hand, feeling the need to give Jesus a hug, back into place. He picks up the nail and puts it through Jesus’ hand.

The nail does not go in smoothly.

He has to wiggle and turn it.

He has to push the nail in with all of his strength.

The harder he pushes, the more he wants to cry.

“Why God? Why?”

The nail finally slips in.

“I’m sorry, Jesus. I’m sorry.”

The priests comes in the Sanctuary, helps the boy to stand, thinking that the young man had tripped and fallen, blesses them both, and supports the boy as he puts the Crucifix in the stand.

The younger brother notices for the first time that Jesus seems to be looking directly at him—no condemnation in His gaze, sad but forgiving, never pinching, teasing, yelling, beating. Just accepting any awful thing the world will give Him but loving in return anyway.

The cords of God’s love draw on his heart and help him to love his brother again and again and again.

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Copyright 2014

Note: Please don’t punch a Crucifix. The boy in the story is only eight, which means we can assume he did not know any better.

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