Are Black Children Too Stupid to Learn? Part II: Black and Asian People

I really liked the following comment by bretagne, so I decided to make it a separate post. This was in response to, “Are Black Children Too Stupid To Learn?

So, let it rip bretagne:

We can never have these discussions without re-inscribing tropes about Asian achievement.

As someone who has been teaching in the Korean school system for the past two years, at best, I’m ambivalent about the way in which we valorize (inflate?) Asian academic prowess.

The fact that some Asian students perform well on math and science standardized tests is not insignificant and should not be dismissed. But really, it only tells a part of the story.

The Korean education system (I have the greatest familiarity with Korea) is, in large part,a vestige of the Japanese colonial presence in Korea. There is a a heavy (disproportionate, in my opinion) emphasis on testing, and student grades are based almost entirely on mid-term and final multiple choice exams. So naturally, the entire educational system–from the instructional style of teachers, to the lucrative Korean test-prep cottage industry–is designed around this testing apparatus.

In my opinion, this has made for a very rote, flat, one-dimensional, excruciatingly boring, needlessly joyless and harsh, authoritarian educational experience. And while I agree with the commenter who said that learning is often difficult and time consuming, this is an entirely different animal. I have Korean friends (friends who performed well in the system, did well in university, and are now professionals)who describe their primary educational experiences as TRAUMATIC.

Anyways, the kids here become very good at gaming tests. You would, as well, if you spent 8 hours a day at school studying, and then another 3 or 4 hours after school at the hagwon memorizing and cramming test material. So naturally, when test day rolls around, the kids are well-prepared to regurgitate with aplomb.

But I question how much learning is really taking place in all of this. When I give my high school students an assignment or task that requires them to deploy creativity or think an original thought, they are stumped, paralyzed even. They prefer work that is rote and adheres to a rigid right/wrong binary. And I question if this paradigm is what will best prepare children to innovate and provide leadership for the world of the future.

I’ve also taught in an alternative high school that serviced students who would be labeled “at-risk” stateside. Many of the students were poor, came from dysfunctional homes, and a sizable portion were contending with untreated emotional and learning disabilities. Let me tell you: some of those Korean students could give the students at any urban black high school a run for their money. For me, this simply underscored the fact that underachievement is not cultural or racial, but highly correlated with socioeconomic factors.

This has been a really long winded way of saying that while there’s certainly a crisis with regard to the academic achievement of a sizable demographic of black children, we need to be discerning in terms of what we deem as solutions. And I would proffer that the solution will probably not be found in a wholesale emulation of “Asian” education systems.

There are certainly useful takeaways–namely, the notion of practice and effort making perfect. Asian people (E.Asians–Koreans, Japanese, Chinese) aren’t as invested as we are in the notion that one is a “math person” or a “science person” or whatever. In other words, they do not believe in some sort of inherent ability or inclination towards one subject matter or another. They believe that skills are cultivated, incrementally, over time, with immense practice, and under diligent guidance. In contrast, when American students, even at the elementary level, appear to struggle with a math concept, parents often throw up their hands and say, “Oh, well. Johnny just isn’t a math person.” It has been my experience that E. Asians tend to think that this is ludicrous. You work at things, assiduously, until you improve. Of course you aren’t born a “math person”.

But on the other hand, the Korean system is flat, lacks a certain dynamism, demands absolute obsequiousness from students, and really doesn’t stimulate the majority of students to think in a way that is innovative, critical, risky, or creative. And did I mention that most students find it pretty joyless? I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Silicon Valley is located where it is. The hard science skills have to merge with a measure of creativity. This is what, I believe, should be the target for black children.

I will just say that if I were to raise children here in Korea, I would certainly not put them in the public system. More than likely, I’d enroll them in the nearest international school.

My response:

Tropes? Oh, okay.

Then, henceforth, let the exaggerations commence: Asian countries were at par, and sometimes even worse off, than African countries during the 1950s. (I know a good number did not receive independence until years later.) Look at most of ’em now. Except for perhaps a few, even the most die-hard Communistic and backward regimes, have realized that too much stealing from productive citizens, and keeping most ignorant, ends up starving the general population….

That progress didn’t happen overnight. Asian leaders thought about what works and put efforts into making it happen. And that took what, maybe a generation or two to get there? That is incredible. It cannot be discounted, dismissed or denied. Of course, it takes enormous energy (effort) to study, build, create and endure than to sit around and do nothing.

We are the ones that are forgetting what works: a rigorous and challenging education. And, of course, learning isn’t easy for everyone. Some people are traumatized leaving their homes, commuting, working, and just talking to other folks, but they have to do it anyway. Maybe some folks can go and live comfortably in their mother’s basement for the rest of their lives. Overall, life remains hard, brutal sometimes, and we’re all bound, at some time or the other, to even get our feelings hurt.

The Black Nation: Is This What Hell Looks Like?

However, let’s get real: If all of Black America were to leave, and form a separate nation, does anyone see it turning into a first world industrialized country? A second tier one? Maybe even third? What businesses could we turn to for jobs? Are there enough skilled people around who are self-sufficient? Who are entrepreneurial? Do we have enough: farmers, engineers, doctors, carpenters, or plumbers? Seriously, it’s not like we can live on barbers, hairstylists and fast food restaurants alone.

Don’t we take the nice and cozy stuff for granted – the infrastructure, electricity, education, police / fire / military protection (which is overwhelmingly provided by white men), in essence a stable society – because all the other groups are doing the work? ‘Cause all we seem to produce are people filling up jails, “entertaining” in the most demeaning ways, increasingly taking up social security disability payments – for “slow children” – along with a miniscule elite replete with great corporate and government perks. I suspect the country would be a basket case before even the week is out.

What Keeping It Real Really Looks Like

Asian empowerment, and I use that term deliberately, is real. And I don’t see a few laudatory comments as inflating their achievement(s). This is an extremely competitive world. A good number of Asians seem to understand the nature of this global “game.” Unfortunately, black people seem to function under the impression that we can infinitely live off of the goodwill of others forever – like well tolerated beggars and perennial wards. (And I ain’t talking about nothing new here, W. E. B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington dealt with this subject, black progression or regression, if you will, over 100 years ago.)

I don’t believe I’ve ever stated that Asians were perfect and invincible, but goodness, they rank at the top and we (black folks) rank at the bottom in American schools – and likely globally. So, who’s fooling who? And we import their woefully TRAUMATIZED brains to keep most of Silicon Valley, and various industries, afloat these days.

I would LOVE to see the Asian attitude towards education to be emulated and adopted by black people. However, the decision to make schooling more rigorous is up to the parents. And if they are content and satisfied with themselves, and their children, being seen by society (or the world for that matter) as “stupid” – so be it. Everyone else will gladly pass them by.

No One is Better Than Me

And before anyone gets me wrong: I don’t see any group as superior or inferior. I tend to look at things in terms of applied effort. I honestly feel a substantial portion of the population has given up (on life). It saddens me, and I sometimes lament the problem, but overall I don’t see how anyone can change a culture committed to a downward slide into …. what? I dunno.

We’ve had these conversations on these blog(s) before. Black people have a deep and enduring suicidal wish, like death-cult members, wanting too many sane folks to join them. This horror is masked by “black entertainment” mesmerizing people over trivial issues driven by low-rent morons and self-prostituting idiots; the notion of a utopian “black community” which can only exist on the back, sweat and tears of black women; or phrases like “that’s how we do” to make young women conform when she’s simply trying to define her own terms of freedom.

Don’t buy it. Stay alive and thrive.

Okay, I’m done. 😀

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The Jeremy Lin Show

NBA: Same Ol’ Same Ol’

It has been years since I’ve followed sports, basketball in particular. I watched the Knicks when Ewing played for them, that’s how long ago it’s been. And if you want to know how out of it I was, I’ve never watched Michael Jordan play. I’ve never tuned into his games. Yup, I was numero uno of the non-fan didn’t-give-a-rip coalition. Not a hater. Just distinterested. I just thought that Dr Jay never got his props as the better player, but he pre-dated Nike ads, so that’s how it goes.

I was into college basketball, the game was short, quick and the players were hungry. Something about the pros left me bored. I got the feeling that once they signed the multimillion dollar contracts, the hunger left them. They played soft. They played like satiated lions. Lazy and sleepy. Who wants to watch that?

Along with the stories of baby mamas, wife beatings, shoving a wife out the front door naked, sleeping with ugly white female reporters, gambling, bad attitudes, throwing people through plate glass windows, etc., etc. – I decided I wasn’t supporting those dysfunctional messes. Basketball and football held little appeal to me, especially with the recent spate of shoot-outs, fan beatings and gang symbols being displayed. Plus, I’m grossed out by all those ugly thugs covered head to toe in prison-style tattoos. I wasn’t interested in watching any major league basketball or football. Or any sport for that matter. Don’t get me started on those nasty spitting baseball players!

Change Comes LIN

So, here comes this young man who’s a bit different from the usual cynics in the basketball league. I’ve watched the YouTube clips of him playing. I understand why he suddenly has so many fans: he looks like he’s having fun. He plays with a passion for the game. It’s apparent that he loves to play basketball. He has no tattoos. I’m sure he’s not a saint, but I’m certain that people are tired of the bad boy, bad ass, tattooed big dummies. They are everywhere, in every entertainment field. And not only are they phony and talentless – they’re annoying. There’s nothing interesting in a rich angry irrational manchild.  You wish they would take up the offer from an older man to teach them a lesson in a wrestling ring. Oh, what a great treat that would be.

Making People Go LINsane

Now, I understand that the media overreaction to Jeremy Lin, JLin, a.k.a. “Linsanity” was 3/4ths about his “race”. I’m still shaking my head at the things that have been said over the last three weeks, which already seems like an eternity.

There have a been dozens of puns that include “Lin” in the word: Air Lin, Linsanity, Super Lintendo… you get the picture. It was cute. A couple of folks at ESPN jumped the shark, thus losing a job or two.

Then came the jealous folks. Floyd Mayweather Jr was mad at the attention JLin was receiving. He said (paraphrasing) that black men do the same thing everyday in the league, but no one is paying attention. Well, the problem  with that statement is that – if you don’t look like the average player in the league – people will notice. Sort of like when a heavyset white woman from the UK sings like a black woman blues singer. People notice those sorts of things. Hype may follow.

Jason “Witless” Whitlock (who has spewed racist / misogynist material about Serena Williams) decided to tweet something foul about JLin. But why did he focus on the sexuality of the young man? Why would an out-of-shape obese black man who is a sportswriter, not even a ballplayer, worry about the sex life of a young Asian man? Was he worried that an Asian male was encroaching on black male territory? Athleticism, masculinity, and sexual supremacy do go hand in hand. Did he picture a future where Asian men would be viewed as super-studs instead of black males?? Uh-oh.

Plus, “Witless” was so used to writing vulgar insults about black women, he didn’t realize other groups wouldn’t stand for the same behavior. He quickly apologized.

KilLINg Conventional Wisdom and Stereotypes

However, JLin did break all kinds of records with his initial “starter” games. He has played in the D Leagues, or maybe a few minutes in the NBA, but not as a starter. Once he was allowed, by the Knicks, to play point guard, he started knocking down some walls.

I’m surprised by the following, because I didn’t realize there were so many things achieved by Jeremy Lin. I always assumed they had already happened.

1) Harvard has sent very few (maybe a handful or half-dozen) players to the NBA. We’ve had more Presidents who went to Harvard.

2) He’s the first and only (so far) American, of Chinese / Taiwanese descent, to play in the NBA. Not the first Asian American, but the others were half-black or half-white, and the first was of Japanese descent before the various (American Basketball and National Basketball) leagues merged in 1976. He played for the Knicks too.

3) He was never drafted a.k.a. undrafted. No one held a lottery to pick him up in the league. He came in through the backdoor basically.

4) He’s managed to score 229 points in his first 7 starter games. Even for his first 4 at 109 points he’s exceeded everyone else since 1976.

Always Be Ready for Prime Time

Will he stay a superstar? Perhaps. I don’t have a magic 8 ball. And considering the short attention span of the public, who knows who they’ll love / hate in the next few weeks?

I do have some takeaways from the media-storm surrounding this young man:

  • He’s proven that good luck really is 90% preparation and fortuitous timing.
  • He worked on his weaknesses during the NBA lockout, doing everything he could to get into superb physical condition (6’3″ and 200lbs).
  • He’s played against the number one draft and showed he could excel.
  • When his chance finally arrived – he literally came off the bench as the last guy picked – he played his heart out to win.

He is responsible for helping the Knicks become a better team over the last 11 games. He helped them win 9 of them. Not bad for a rookie. Not bad for a guy who has faith in God, but also understood he had to do the work to get where he wanted. Just laying around and praying wasn’t going to cut it, he had to move, get it done and show with all his heart what he wanted.

He admits that the media attention is draining. Blake Griffin (big red slam dunk king and 6’9″ – dang) told him he has to learn to say, “No.”

Asian Persuasion

I’ve been reading the Asian (blog / twitter) reaction to JLin. I’m (again) surprised at the angst revealed by the men.  All I can say is, “Wow,” I had no idea. I’m not a guy, so my interpretation may be off, but I get the sense that JLin helps them achieve a sort of American masculine sexual ideal that’s been missing in the media or the general culture. They see white, black and Latinos in the superstar sexy beasts stratosphere, but they’ve never felt a part of that club. Interesting.

American culture is so anti-intellectual and dedicated to dysfunctional drugged up dumb-ass losers, that the highest income, best in academic achievement and most entrepreneurial men in this country feel emasculated and less than for being studious, responsible, dependable and stable. That’s the world we live in folks. Where up is down, right is wrong and the insane run the asylum.

I would hope that the lesson the other men (black, white and Latino) can learn from Jeremy Lin is to play earnestly, humbly, and make the game fun again. I’m sure most of them do, but it’d be nice if they were the norm again, and not considered the exception(s). The degenerates receive too much attention for their bad behavior and appear to be financially, socially and emotionally rewarded for it.

Last Lesson: Play The Game

As for the lament of the Asian American male, I’d say the reason why they are invisible is because, this may not sound nice, but it’s my perception: you gotta be in the game to win it. No one notices Asian men, because they behave in a leave-me-alone, don’t-notice-me, and I’m-not-gonna-make-eye-contact fashion. Black, white and Latino men are assertive. They will look people in the eye and say something. They will do their Alpha male thing.

So, if the Asian men want to be like the other guys in this society, they’re gonna have to take note of something else about JLin. He plays fearlessly. He may have learned at an early age not to isolate himself by just hanging out with his Asian buddies. When he speaks, he sounds like any other guy in the league (black, white or whatever).

I wish him well, and hope he continues to excel at playing the game.

Hey, you know, I’d say the Jeremy Lin Show has a lot of things we can all learn from. 🙂

** Update **

Oh, and watch him get down and boogie. JLin can dance.

** Update Update **

I’m obsessed!! They should call him Maestro instead! Steals the ball and tosses to Shumpert. Beautiful. 🙂

Isn’t he cute? Love those eyes, cheekbones and mouth. 😀

 

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Have a Happy Thanksgiving

Ladies (and gentlemen), enjoy your holiday.

Don’t eat too much! It’s hard getting the pounds off after the festivities are over.

Don’t forget to avoid the relative(s) that’s always spoiling for a fight. You know who I’m talking about. 😀

When you go shopping on Friday, watch out for the stampede. Don’t get killed for the latest gadget. Be safe!

If you’re flying anywhere, remember to put on pretty underwear – the TSA will be watching and checking you out. 😉

After three drinks, you’re not responsible for what you say.

Cheers.

Gobble gobble and all that good stuff. 😀

I was chased by an angry wild turkey once, these critters move fast.

Count your blessings, and stay blessed.

I copied the following links from Acts of Faith in Love & Life.

A nice link-a-thon:

I have a larger compendium on my BWE page… not all are related to BWE / BW / IR, but these are blogs from or about black women.

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Rant: To People Who Compare Every Politically Incorrect Expression or Treatment to "the Blacks"

Stop it right now.

Stop those trite, irritating, and annoying expressions of “Well, it is like doing X against the blacks,” or “Well, it is like using the N-word to describe group Y,” or the all time favorite, “Group Z going through this discrimination is like doing this to the blacks.”

For real though, those declarations do not make any sense at all. If the offense is that serious, then the blacks do not need to be dragged into the discussion.

The history of black people(s) in the diaspora is not short, simple, and it is not a convenient, slick, back of the envelope example of discrimination and suffering for other groups to use.

We are not a trick bag of goodies for others to use and (mis)appropriate when convenient.

Some folks may not mind, but I do. My suggestion: Use your own damn history. Compile and relate your own pertinent examples of discrimination, suffering, and intolerance. People will understand. People will respect you for it. People will be able to picture your complaints and take them seriously.

Right now, whenever I hear “the blacks“, whatever support I may have had for your position(s) gets negated to zip, zero, and zilch. It drops down into “I could not care less” category.

It Is Not Logical

Using “the blacks” to exemplify discrimination will not work, because it is not a correct logical construct to compare it to using the word “retarded”, being a woman, blind, deaf, dumb, alcoholic, mentally disabled, physically disabled, a drug addict, a fat ugly white woman, a senior citizen, a homosexual, lesbian, or whatever group feels they have a problem.

You know why the comparisons do not make any sense? Aside from the coalition of fat ugly white women, black people are also women, senior citizens, mentally disabled, blind, deaf dumb, etc.

Default Normalcy

Saying “the blacks” is deliberately erasing our complexity and humanity. When the slaves were emancipated, and freedmen got the vote, only black men could vote (in theory, since Jim Crow closed that door). Yet, all the time, I see idiots, especially in the media, saying “the blacks” got the vote when slavery ended. Black women could not vote until all women, excepting Native Americans at the time, were granted suffrage.

Some of you assume everyone’s default for man is a white man. Some of you assume everyone’s default for woman is a white woman. This thinking is about seeing whiteness as normal, and blackness as abnormal. It is so automatic, no one stops to think why they do it. It makes as much sense as this sentence: women and minorities. Translation: white women and others. Are minorities not women too?

That is why some of you folks love to associate every group that might be outcast, abnormal, dysfunctional, disrespected, or whatever as “the blacks.”

Get it clear, not all of us has a world view where we are a minority, secondary, subordinate, a permanent victim group, or inferior to anyone

So, shut up already.

Next time you find yourself in a search of a short hand narrative, leave “the blacks” out of it.

Put the trick bag of missappropriating black people’s culture, history, gender, and identity down. Go free ride on the back of some other group.

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On the Horizon: School and Travel Plans for the Fall

Recommended Reading: Goals, Planning, and Execution

I’ve finished one set of classes. This month I have to make some preparations. I’m great at planning; it’s the follow-through that’s harsh.

I’ve finally decided do some moderately serious non-fiction reading. I’ve acquired (via the library) a list of books to read by Barbara Sher. It was recommended by a classmate. Ms. Sher tells you how to follow through on your battle plan(s).

Books by Barbara Sher

I have another class coming up in August. Come September, I will take a break.

Travel Break

I am thinking (deeply, as usual) about visiting Europe in late September. I want to stay for a couple of weeks. I’d visit, but I’ve never stayed with family before. I might this time. Also, I think most of the tourists from the US are gone by then.

I’ve always visited Europe in the summer, which in retrospect is a big mistake. I am a laid back, easy going woman. I really am. I am extremely polite. However, the worst thing is to sit next to a very inquisitive middle-aged American white woman who seems confused as to how, and why, a person, namely me!, could be heading to, or touring, the same European country.

You’d think some of them would know better by now. Oh, well. Don’t get me wrong, they’re nice women. It’s just that I am not the kind of person who immediately spills her guts to a complete stranger.

It’s also interesting how white men know how to carry on a conversation without working your last nerve. Frankly, I’d rather sit next to them than anyone else when I travel. In future, and when I remember to, I will write why they are my preference.

I will make my plans, and aim to go when the tourist season starts to ebb, but before flu season starts. Is that even possible?

Travel Research

I never leave for any country without conducting research. My first stop is the CIA web site. I may look at the country via Google Earth. I try to check: crime rates, news of recent rioting, how the people feel about their government, weather, exchange rates, and if there is any kind of (widespread) backlash against African, Arab, and Latin American immigrants, etc.

Although when I was Spain, everyone knew right away I was American before I said a word. Not sure how they knew. I’m still scratching my head over that.

A Bit of Travel Prep

I’ve been walking up to 90 minutes per day, because traveling is exhausting. I will have to increase my weightlifting routine as well. I’m giving myself roughly 12 weeks to get into super-duper-shape; to get ready for the tourist-triathlon.

I still haven’t decided where I may go, so I’ll have to start with the where-to? list first.

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