Sunday, September 29, 2019

Native Americans in the United States and African Americans Essay

Introduction Joel Spring’s Deculturalization and the Struggle for Equality examines the educational policies in the United States that have resulted in intentional patterns of oppression by Protestant, European Americans against racial and ethnic groups. The historical context of the European American oppressor is helpful in understanding how the dominant group has manipulated the minority groups. These minority groups include Americans who are Native, African, Latin/Hispanic, and Asian. Techniques for deculturalization were applied in attempts to erase the oppressed groups’ previous identities and to assimilate them into society at a level where they could be of use to the oppressors. Techniques include isolation from family, replacement of language, denial of education, inclusion of dominant group world view, and provision of inferior teachers and poor facilities. Relationships between educational policy and instances of racism and patterns of oppression are explored in the following. A section will also compare my prior education to the one presented in Spring’s book. Formatting Understanding how European Americans have been able to perceive themselves as superior in psychological, spiritual, racial, and cultural terms is integral to seeing how cultural genocide has occurred in the United States. The basic program is taken from the Roman Imperium which delegates the authority to civilize others by erasing their laws and culture and simultaneously or subsequently installing new laws and mores from the dominant group into the minority group. This plan has been applied by U. S. educators and politicians in an attempt to carry out a perceived upgrade from an inferior cultural program to the superior Anglo-Saxon mixed with Protestantism point of view. This civilized versus uncivilized and Christian versus Pagan viewpoints reveal themselves throughout the history of U. S. education. Native Americans In the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, Native Americans were granted citizenship by the descendants of European immigrants who invaded their territory over 400 years ago. In the years before and after 1924, Native Americans have experienced cultural genocide, deculturalization, and denial of education (Spring, 2010, pp. 8-9). For example, the Naturalization Act of 1790 excluded Native Americans from citizenship, thus preventing them from having a political voice in their rapidly changing world. In 1867, the Indian Peace Commission made 2 requirements for U. S. citizenship: 1) rejection of native religions and 2) acceptance of middle-class American Christianity. The bases of a philosophy that uses superiority and inferiority include racial, linguistic and cultural differences. For European American educators, the â€Å"civilizing† of Native Americans included the installing of a work ethic, the creation of desire to accumulate property; the repression of pleasure, particularly sexual pleasure; the establishment of a nuclear family structure with the father in control; the implementation of authoritarian child-rearing practices; and conversion to Christianity (p. 14). The U. S. government’s program of Native American deculturalization was developed in part because it was less costly than fighting and killing them. Thomas Jefferson’s civilization program called for government agents to establish schools to teach women to spin and sew and men farming and husbandry (p. 18). Educational policies such as this set the stage for purchasing land and avoiding costly wars. In 1830, the Indian Removal Act authorized the President to set aside lands west of the Mississippi for exchange of Indian Land east of the Mississippi (p. 28). Cultural-ecological theory puts Native Americans in the category of involuntary minorities. They were conquered and forced into European American customs and beliefs. Replacing the use of native languages with English, destroying Indian customs and teaching allegiance to the U. S. government became major educational policies of the U. S. government toward Indians in the latter part of the 19th century. An important part of these educational policies was the boarding school designed to remove children from their families at an early age and thereby isolate them from the language and customs of their parents and tribes (p. 32). The Carlisle Indian School in Carlisle, PA became the first boarding school for Native American children in 1879. Here deculturalization methods were employed. From this methodology and perspective, the patronizing term cultural deprivation has come to imply that a group is without culture altogether (Nieto and Bode, 2008, p. 176). One of the perceived deficiencies of Native Americans was their propensity to share which caused the European Americans to label them as socialists which was anathema to the dominant group’s philosophy. Richard Pratt, the founder of the Carlisle School, sought to instill individualism and self responsibility in order to break Indians from a socialist style of sharing. All boarding and reservation schools taught in English with exceptions including some Choctaw and Cherokee schools that utilized bilingual education. In 1928, the Meriam Report reversed the philosophy that isolation of children was required. The new view was that education should occur in one’s family and community. Several decades later, from 1968 to 1990, a number of legislative acts addressed the mistakes of deculturalization. It was not until 1974 that Indian students were granted freedom of religion and culture by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Later, in 1978, Congress granted all Native Americans religious freedom. The Native American Languages Act of 1990 commits the U. S. government to reverse its historic position which was to erase and replace Native American culture. However, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 reverses attempts to preserve usage of minority languages (Spring, 2010, p. 135). The destruction of cultural self determination for Native American Indians is saddening. By breaking their connection to their native culture through reeducation camps, European Americans justified a world view that saw color of skin and dogma as beacons of superiority. African Americans. Historically, Africans have been involuntary immigrants who were brought to the U. S. to be slaves. They have faced numerous forms of educational oppression based upon perceived racial differences. For example, from 1800 to 1835, education of enslaved Africans was banned. Spring notes that plantation owners were in constant fear of slave revolts and consequently denied their workers any form of education (p. 43). Furthermore, because of the need for children as farm laborers, planters resisted most attempts to expand educational opportunities for black children (p. 57). Schools for African Americans were underfunded after the Civil War (Nieto and Bode, 2008, p. 44). Segregation of blacks and whites was the order of the day for most of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This resulted in a racial divide, unequal school funding, and inferior facilities. An exception to segregated schooling occurred in 1855 in Massachusetts when it became a requirement to integrate schools. In 1868, the Fourteenth Amendment included a clause that appeared to disallow segregation. However this clause has been used to implement segregation in schools also. African Americans from northern states helped those in the transition from slavery to freedom. However there was a division between the philosophies of Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois. Washington negotiated for segregated schools while Du Bois, in 1909, formed the National Association of Colored People (NAACP) which worked for desegregation (Spring, 2010, p. 52). Washington established the Tuskegee Institute in 1881 after attending the Hampton Institute which was founded by General Samuel Armstrong. The Hampton Institute was an educational model designed to keep blacks subordinate. The primary purpose of the Tuskegee Institute was to prepare freed slaves to be teachers who could instill work values in other freed slaves (p. 33). The Tuskegee Institute received support from Industrialist Andrew Carnegie who saw the apartheid model in South Africa as a format for educating black southerners. Conversely, Du Bois and the NAACP fought against the status quo of a permanent African American underclass in education and the economy (p. 62). It was not until 1954 that the Supreme Court ruled that segregated schools were unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education. The court ruled that separate but equal has no place in education. The separate but equal legislation was from the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. Title 6 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, established the precedent for using disbursement of government money as a means of controlling educational policies (p. 117). Additionally, much credit is given to Martin Luther King Jr. for helping move forward civil rights legislation of 1964. The Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act, in the 1950s and 1960s respectively, gave African Americans political equality as well as the right to vote. African Americans have made significant gains in the past 100 years; however, the pace of change has been painfully slow. The election of a part African American President is a strong indication that we as a country have come a long way. Hispanic/Latino Americans After the conquest of Mexican and Puerto Rican lands, the U. S. government instituted deculturalization programs to ensure that these new populations would not rise up against their new government (p. 84). As with other groups, the Naturalization Act of 1790 blocked them from attaining citizenship because they were not white. Despite the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo 1948, Mexican Americans were not given actual citizenship. Citizenship rights were abridged throughout the Southwest through limitations placed on voting rights and segregation in public accommodations and schooling (p. 89). Moreover, in many instances, U. S. farmers did not want the children of Mexicans to go to school, because they wanted them to work longer hours. Mexican students were forced to speak English in schools. In the last half of the nineteenth century, Mexican Americans tried to escape the anti-Mexican attitudes by attending Catholic schools. Here linguistic diversity was respected. Puerto Rico became a colony of the United States in 1898. Again, as with Native American Indians, government policy concluded that it was less costly to instill and replace culture in Puerto Rican schools than it was to employ force with the military. Teachers who only spoke English came from the U. S. to teach students who mainly spoke Spanish. U. S. educational policy in Puerto Rico attempted to replace Spanish with English as the majority language and to introduce children to the dominant U. S. culture (p. 100). Examples of deculturalization methods included U. S. flag ceremonies and studies focusing on the traditions of the dominant white culture of the United States. In 1912, the Puerto Rican Teachers Association resisted the educational policies of the U. S. and defended the use of Spanish in school. One’s native language is the foundation for future learning (Nieto and Bode, 2008, p. 235). In 1951, after 50 years of struggle, Puerto Rico became a commonwealth. Subsequently, Spanish was once again used in the schools without the dogma of English only laws. Additionally, in 1968, the Bilingual Education Act was passed. It was not until 1974 that the Equal Educational Opportunities Act gave protection to the language rights of students for whom English is not their native language (p. 243). Presently, there are many voluntary immigrants from Latin America. These students are often faced with an assimilation policy which is aimed at Americanizing them. Frequently hybridity is the order of the day for these students. Only blind arrogance could make a dominant group believe that they could go to an island of Spanish-speaking people and teach them a new culture in a new language. As with other groups, the denial of schooling or segregation was maintained in order to continue subordinating the minority. Asian Americans Asian Americans, many of whom were voluntary immigrants, include persons from China, Philippines, Japan, Korea, India, Viet Nam, Laos, Thailand and other counties. The combination of racism and economic exploitation resulted in educational policies designed to deny Asians schooling or to provide segregated schools (Spring, 2010, p. 68). In 1872 the California school code provided no public education for Asian Americans while in 1906, the San Francisco School Board created segregated schools for Chinese, Japanese, and Korean students. Finally, in 1974, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Chinese American parents in Lau v. Nichols. The decision required public schools to provide special assistance to non-English-speaking students to learn English so that they could equally participate in the educational process (p. 124). Each group of minority Americans has pushed for improvements in the educational system. By persevering, they have been able to move toward a more equitable educational system. However, there is still the dominant European American paradigm in place. As the percentage of minority Americans rises in the coming decades, I believe we will see a movement toward a more multicultural paradigm. Personal Comparisons My early education took place in an environment of white teachers and students. The furthest my exposure to different cultures went was going to school and growing up with my Catholic and Jewish neighbors. My elementary school and middle school were 100% white and my high school had 2 Hispanic students. For me, this was normal; I knew little of other cultures. When I reflect on my American History and Social Studies classes, I recall a sanitized story presented with many stories about honorable white men. Although I finished my high school education in 1977, I do not believe that Martin Luther King Jr. or Civil Rights was mentioned once. Moreover, a great deal of social upheaval obviously was occurring; however, the only topic related to the turmoil of the era that made it to my awareness was the war in Viet Nam. After high school, I attended a small private college in Pennsylvania where approximately 30 African Americans and 10 Hispanic students attended. I was acquainted with one of the Hispanic students who had a poster of Che Guevara in his room. All of my professors were apparently European Americans and I continued to study mostly dominant culture stories. Recognizing my own lack of personal direction, I dropped out of school and entered into my own version of home schooling. I purchased a bus ticket for Tucson, Arizona; however, I first stopped in Washington D. C. to visit my Aunt. She took me to a book store where I bought some philosophy books. I explored different philosophies and literature. I travelled, worked, read and explored my values and beliefs. I returned to my home town, Lancaster, PA, and decided to return to formal University life at Millersville State University. From 1984-1987, I again had European American professors. In 1991, I reentered Millersville University to take some graduate courses. I looked into getting a graduate assistantship and found an opening in a program called Upward Bound. I interviewed with the director, whom I knew from earlier years, and with a Filipino and African American student. I got the position and subsequently was working in a multicultural enterprise. I prepared lessons for high school children from multiple ethnic groups. The reason Spring’s history of minority Americans was not part of my education was because I was raised in a racially homogenous region. I think that I could have driven east 20 miles, south 15 miles or north 5 miles and everybody would have been white. Going west 2 miles would take me into the middle of Lancaster city where many African Americans and Puerto Rican Americans live. However, I lived a provincial life and did not interact much with people from other cultures in my youth. Furthermore, it was standard policy at that time to teach from a Eurocentric point of views. The effect on White Americans of an Anglocentric and Eurocentric perspective, which does not include minority Americans, is an incomplete and inaccurate understanding of self and world. The effects on minority Americans also leads to an incomplete and inaccurate understanding of self and world include, as well as increased dropout rates and resistance to education. Additionally, cultural discontinuities may contribute to negative academic outcomes (Nieto and Bode, 2008, pp 181-182). Another effect on minority Americans is clearly a net feeling of not being included in the past and possibly being excluded from present and future events. Exclusion’s result is well described in Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. In this book, the narrator is unable to be seen or recognized because he is black. From Spring’s book I learned about the many minority groups that were mistreated and intentionally harmed at personal and cultural levels. Furthermore, I was ignorant about the attempts at deculturalization of Puerto Ricans. Additionally, I knew little about the detailed history of denying education to Asian and Mexican Americans. While I knew about reeducation and denial of education of Native and African Americans, I did not know the extent to which political, economic, and social forces combined to prevent these groups from experiencing their historical culture or from participating in the dominant, European American culture. Conclusion European Americans have quashed cultures in the United States through education. Native American, African, Hispanic, and Asian minorities have witnessed a persistent attack on their beliefs, values, and languages by those who either 1) thought that they were better or 2) wanted to deprive others of their pursuit of happiness in order to support economic and political position. Consistent deculturalization efforts were made toward Native Americans by government agents establishing schools for Native Americans and by boarding schools. By controlling the content and context in which education took place, U. S. educators suffocated Native American Culture and resuscitated it with the European mores. The multiple cultures of Americans from African descent were hollowed through denial of education, physical intimidation, segregation, and inferior facilities. Persistent attempts to correct the status quo by the NAACP, Martin Luther King Jr. , and several other organizations and individuals have moved the U. S. government to redress some inequities in the educational system. Mexican Americans were also placed in English-only schools or no school at all. During the twentieth century, Puerto Rican students faced the same threats of deculturalization as did Asian Americans in nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Legislation in the latter part of the twentieth century has also redressed some inequities in educational opportunities for these groups while, the No Child Left Behind Act has reduced some of the multicultural gains in education which disappoints many in the teaching profession. References Nieto, Sonia and Bode, Patty (2008). Affirming diversity: The sociopolitical context of multicultural education. Boston. Pearson Education Inc. Spring, Joel (2010). Deculturalization and the struggle for equality. New York. McGraw-Hill.

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