I have probably disclosed in these blog posts at some time that I am a teacher at a local university. Nearing the end of my teaching career, it was inevitable that I would think back to some of my favorite and unique students. Sometimes they are the same person.
One of them was an African American male student from Arkansas who studied finance. I will call him Marcus. In some ways, Marcus was not an extraordinary student, except for several distinguishing characteristics
First, he wore a suit and tie to class. You must understand, few students did this at the time I taught Marcus, nor today. Secondly, he was from Arkansas and was attending a university in the Northeast. Few students with this background move so far to attend school, but the university draws students from all around the world and across the country. Just not many from Arkansas.
He was an active participant in the course. He did well. I got to know him. Here is his story.
Marcus told me that his brother was in the military while Marcus was still at home, not knowing what he might do in the future. He thought he was destined to remain in Arkansas. His brother came home on leave, looking sharp in his military uniform. Marcus admired him. He made a point to tell Marcus that there is “a whole other world out there” to which the older brother was exposed. For him, it was like seeing snow for the first time. He told Marcus about the new world he had come to know. Marcus took note.
What was Marcus’ brother saying to him? It was that his “new world” was not just different, it was at a different level of life than the one Marcus lived in. Marcus had always felt trapped. He was persuaded not to be imprisoned by his town and his state. Marcus’ brother was the catalyst that Marcus needed to make the change.
He decided to go to a university. The one where I met Marcus.
If you met Marcus you would know that he was motivated not just to earn a college degree, but to move to a higher level in life. He was about to change his social and economic class. He was proud. He wanted more.
Changing class in America is difficult. There are a few ways to do so that we will explore in future blogs. One of them is going to college.
In that year Marcus elevated himself. I am sure he is doing well. In another class of life. Well beyond the college course that we shared.
The lessons that he learned transcended the classroom.
Like the lesson that when we want something badly enough in America, so much is possible.
On the day when the world came to Arkansas for a young man named Marcus.
The Make Life Good Team
In the book the “Great Gatsby,” Jay Gatsby was enamored of and fascinated by the famous character “Miss Daisy.” He was relentless in his pursuit of her. There was only one major problem: Miss Daisy was from the upper class; Gatsby was from the lower class.
Gatsby had met Miss Daisy earlier in his life. He never forgot her. That’s an understatement. As men sometimes experience, he was laser-focused on charming and winning her.
So Gatsby decided to create a fictitious life for himself. He bought a mansion and the requisite clothes of the upper class to craft his outward appearance as a man of wealth and achievement.
However, the mystery that surrounded Gatsby was how he had achieved his wealth. There was something disconcerting about it to his newfound friends. It just didn’t fit together, that is, Gatsby the man and his outward appearance. (I’ll leave how he did it to our readers, so as to not divulge the ending to one of literature’s greatest mysteries.)
Gatsby knew that the only way to woo and win Miss Daisy was to paint himself as a member of the upper class. That’s what he did. He even tried to speak like a member of that class.
His friend and neighbor on his property, Tom, recognized that his infatuation was beyond normal. Tom advised Gatsby that he couldn’t “recreate the past.” To which, Gatsby famously replied “but of course you can ol’ boy!?” He was a man on a serious mission.
Gatsby tried to change classes by choosing one of the most ineffectual methods: pretending that he was someone he was not. Eventually this strategy runs thin, and then out.
In our last blog “When the World Came to Arkansas,” we identified another means of doing so: going to college. We described the story of “Marcus” who traveled to another world outside of Arkansas. There are many more methods. We will address them in future blogs.
A more radical approach to the prospect of changing class is held by the Reverend Farrakhan of Muslim Nation and other related, similarly entitled organizations. Rev. Farrakhan held controversial positions that would have difficulty surviving today, like the destruction of Israel. It is unknown whether he still holds them today.
However, he held one philosophy that could be embraced by people of many races and religious persuasions: a belief in creating a strong family structure. He believed that this would advance the prospects of Black American males.
One aspect of this strategy is the recommendation that Black males “take advantage of the White man’s world” to advance one’s prospects. Some examples would be to benefit by Affirmative Action to gain employment, use welfare programs, use society’s libraries, purchase food and clothing sold by retailers catering to the lower class, and similar ideas to gain personal benefit.
Changing classes isn’t easy. Ask Jay Gatsby (if we could). Ask African Americans. Ask women. Ask many other people. It seems that the barrier is high and few propel themselves over it.
But there are ways to change class. In this blog we’ve studied several ways to do it. In my next blog we will explore more ways for doing so. Some are challenging, some less so.
If you are inclined to try, get on your chosen path and stay on it until you’ve accomplished your goal.
It will be hard, but well worth it.
The Make Life Good Team
I like to stay current with ideas emerging as talking points in our country. After all, I’m a teacher. It’s good for me to do so.
One such talking point raising ire on both sides of this issue these days is “Critical Race Theory.” So I turned to my “go to” source of explanations: Wikipedia.
Let’s see what it says…
Critical race theory (CRT) is a framework of analysis and an academic movement of civil-rights scholars and activists who seek to examine the intersection of race and law in the United States and to challenge mainstream American liberal approaches to racial justice. CRT examines social, cultural, and legal issues primarily as they relate to race and racism in the U.S.. A tenet of CRT is that racism and disparate racial outcomes are the result of complex, changing, and often subtle social and institutional dynamics, rather than explicit and intentional prejudices of individuals.
Let’s go on…
CRT scholars view race and white supremacy as an intersectional social construct that advances the interests of white people at the expense of persons of other races. In the field of legal studies, CRT emphasizes that formally colorblind laws can still have racially discriminatory outcomes. A key CRT concept is intersectionality, which emphasizes that race can intersect with other identities (such as gender and class) to produce complex combinations of power and advantage.
Let’s strive for greater clarity…
Academic critics of CRT argue that it relies on social constructionism, elevates storytelling over evidence and reason, rejects the concepts of truth and merit, and opposes liberalism.
Since 2020, conservative U.S. lawmakers have sought to ban or restrict the instruction of critical race theory along with other antiracism education. These lawmakers have been accused of misrepresenting the tenets and importance of CRT, and that the goal of their restrictions is to broadly silence discussions of racism, equality, social justice, and the history of race.
So here’s my “take”…
Influenced by early attempts to frame the topic (e.g Frederick Douglass and others), CRT and its proponents take the position that discrimination is not simply interpersonal in nature, but results from the complex interaction of factors that produce discrimination, including ideas like white supremacy, power, social factors, institutional factors, and social class. Anti-CRT’ers want to limit the education and discussions about race in the classroom, including racism itself, social justice, equality, and the history of race.
Does anyone actually understand any of this?
Can you see it?
Two groups meet in a parking lot: the Pro-CRT’ers and the Anti-CRT’ers:
Someone yells “Frederick Douglass” and “W.E.B. DuBois” said that you Anti-CTR’ers discriminate because of the effect of your institutions on your attitudes toward people of color! What’s more, what we believe are the ideas rooted in the protests in the 1960’s and ‘70’s by Blacks, Chicanos and Radical Feminists.” So there!
Now THAT will persuade them!
Someone on the other side yells “Oh yeah? Who cares? Who are Frederick Douglass and that “Dubois” guy anyway? What do they have to do with TODAY?! And leave teachers alone! We will tell teachers what to teach for the benefit of our children! Teachers don’t have the time to cover the history of race. And don’t expect students to understand what the complex factors are that influence racial outcomes”! Even WE don’t understand it! So forget it!
That will solve it. I can see the sides coming together now.
I hope I’ve answered your question.
Now I have one question for all of you….
“Can’t we all just get along?”
The Make Life Good! Team
Here at the Make Life Good! Company, we aim to improve all of our relationships with people. We think it makes for a better world. Sometimes the images in the media that we experience suggest otherwise. Here’s another mis Advisor about improving the quality of our lives. You may have heard of him. . .
Unless you haven’t been around lately, you probably know about the Progressive Insurance Company’s character known as “Dr. Rick” who supposedly helps all of us avoid being like our parents. I must admit that I don’t always understand his advice. But I guess that’s the point. I must think like my parents. Doesn’t it make sense that I would? Is it really that bad to do so?
In any event, here is some of his sage advice:
- Don’t use paper tickets for air travel
- Don’t return other people’s carriages in supermarket parking lots
- Don’t complement the manager of the deli for the sharpness of the meat slicers
- Don’t strike up humorous conversations with people you don’t know
- Don’t take snacks with you on an airplane that you buy in a concourse before the trip
- Don’t buy signs about family, love or other sentimental ideas for display in your home
- Don’t mispronounce “Quinoa.”
- Don’t request discounts in department stores
- Don’t talk about when to leave a football game before the game has started
- Don’t check when your group letter will be called for boarding the plane.
I guess it’s just me, because I don’t see what is wrong with these ideas. Especially the ones that improve relations with other people.
I wonder what he would say about marriage? There are so many decisions to be made, some of which may reflect the recommendations of parents. Maybe it’s because parents have already experienced them. Shouldn’t parents know more?
What would Dr. Rick say about the honeymoon? You see, some couples spend a lot of money on a honeymoon that could probably be better spent on their future living expenses. That is what practical newlyweds would do. But being frugal may reflect their parents’ advice.
But this is life, a one-time deal for all of us. I say, “go for it.” Go to the Mediterranean. Drink wine and eat pizza. Have a Gyro. Meet people. Take boat rides. Enjoy the beautiful environment. See the vestiges of history. Be a minuscule part of the evolution of Earth and Mankind. It will fill you with life itself.
Yeah, I know. It’s expensive. REAL expensive. But here’s what I say. If it’s not traditional, then it must be what Dr. Rick would like.
Imagine that. . .did I just agree with Dr. Rick?!
In celebration of the future marriage of my son, Ian and his fiancée Morgan, in July 2022!
Send me a postcard from Greece. Better yet send me a text message with pictures.
I’m learning. . .
The Make Life Good! Team
History holds numerous examples of what are known as “serendipitous” discoveries that have changed the world. One of the more famous is about a resident doctor who noticed that his patients, who were thought to have inflamed ulcers caused by ingesting acidic food and drink, actually had ulcers that were caused by the presence of bacteria.
He broke what is known as the “paradigm” of thought about the origin of ulcers. Paradigm is a term that refers to the “conventional” wisdom. No one believed him at the time, but the medical records proved that the correlation between bacteria and ulcers could not be denied.
Sometimes the cause of modern illnesses is known to some medical practitioners, but their unconventional thinking doesn’t elevate to the level of mainstream thought. One such practitioner is Dr. Joel Wallach, 82, a biomedical research pioneer, who spent more than 40 years observing and researching the effects of individual nutrients on health. His innovative perspective is derived from his background in veterinary medicine. He claims to know why some people have fallen victim to the Covid 19 virus. It’s difficult to deny his scientifically-based connections between the virus and our dietary habits.
In one of his regular appearances on “Coast to Coast AM,” a late-night radio program broadcast nationally and internationally, known for its emphasis upon the paranormal, he made a strong linkage between diets that reduce the presence of receptors in the lungs. These receptors facilitate the ability of the Covid virus to attach itself to the lining of the lungs.
Dr. Wallach maintains that a dangerous diet that creates a pathway for the virus is a gluten-based diet. He cites international data showing that countries with culturally gluten free diets have much less evidence of Covid-related illnesses.
However, there are inconsistencies across continents. For example, India and Japan have lower gluten consumption, but they are amongst the countries with the highest Covid-related illnesses. Like many countries, their diets are mixed with both gluten and non-gluten elements.
Dr. Wallach also cites specific foods that he calls the “12 bad foods,” which are:
Wheat, barley, rye, oats, oil in a bottle, fried foods, red meat well done, meat with nitrates, and the skins of baked potatoes, yams or sweet potatoes, carbonated beverages with a meal
As a country that has had more than its share of recommended diets, feel free to add Dr. Wallach’s approach to the long list of our options in the U.S.
I have my own diet, but I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s called the “A” Diet. I only eat food that begins with “A.” Here are some examples :
- A pizza
- An ice cream cone
- A submarine sandwich
- A donut
You get the idea. But don’t do it. There must be something better.
I’ll keep looking. . .
The Make Life Good Team