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26 Apr 2012
50 Civilize Them with a Stick (Mary Crow Dog, Richard Erdoes)
Mary crow Dog and Richard Erdoes reveal how the institution of education can be an
agent of social control whose purpose is to assimilate racial-ethnic populations, such as
Native Americans, into the dominant culture; Crow Dog is a Native American activist
and Erdoes is the ghostwriter of her autobiography
Even now, when the typical Indian boarding school are much improved, the shock to the
child upon arrival is still tremendous
In the old days, nature was our people‟s only school and they needed no other; life in the
tipi circle was harmonious until the whiskey peddlers arrived with their wagons and
barrels of “Injun whiskey”
The schools were intended as an alternative to the outright extermination seriously
advocated by generals Sherman and Sheridan, as well as by most settlers and prospectors
overrunning our land; kids were taken away from their villages and pueblos, sometimes
for as long as ten years, and coming back, caricatures of white people; when they found
out that they were neither wanted by whites nor by Indians, they got good and drunk,
many of them staying drunk for the rest of their lives
The people who were stuck upon “solving the Indian Problem” by making us into whites
retreated from this position only step by step in the wake of Indian protests
The mission school at St. Francis was a curse for our family for generations; the school is
now run by the BIA the Bureau of Indian Affairs; all I got out of school was being
taught how to pray; I did not escape my share of the leather strap
A strange young white girl named Wise was from New York and was the first real hippie
or Yippie we had come across; she told us of people called the Black Panthers, Young
Lords, and Weathermen; she said, “Black people are getting it on. Indians are getting it
on in St. Paul and California...Why don‟t you put out an underground paper, mimeograph
it”; we put together a newspaper which we called the Red Panther
Girls who were near-white, who came from what the nuns called “nice families,” got
preferential treatment; the school therefore fostered fights and antagonism between
whites and breeds, and between breeds and skins
52 Bad Boys; Public Schools in the Making of Black Masculinity (Ann Arnett Ferguson)
Illustrates how schools socially produce and reproduce race and social class distinctions
in the U.S.; in so doing, schools are an important agent of social reproduction they
socially reproduce social inequalities that maintain social stratification; schools also
produce and reproduce gender distinctions found in society
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This selection examines the effects gender and racial stereotyping have on African
American school boys; Ferguson explores why African American boys are more labeled
as troublemakers than are other gender or racial-ethnic groups of children
What I observed at Rosa Parks during more than three years of fieldwork in the school,
heard from the boy Lamar himself, from his teachers, from his mother, made it clear that
just as children were tracked into futures as doctors, scientists, engineers, word
processors, and fast-food workers, there were also tracks for some children,
predominantly African American and male, that led to prison; this reading tells the story
of the making of these bad boys, not by members of the criminal justice system, on street
corners, or in shopping malls, or video arcades, but in and by school, through
punishment; it is an account of the power of institutions to create, shape, and regulate
social identities
In the course of my study it became clear that school labeling practices and the exercise
of rules operated as part of a hidden curriculum to marginalize and isolate black male
youth in disciplinary spaces and brand them as criminally inclined
This reading began with an anecdote about the school‟s vice principal identifying a small
boy as someone who had a jail-cell with his name on it; I started with this story to
illustrate how school personnel made predictive decisions about a child‟s future based on
a whole ensemble of negative assumptions about African American males and their life-
chances; however, the boys themselves had a decidedly optimistic view about their future
As I scanned the written accounts of students‟ dreams, I became conscious of a striking
pattern; the overwhelming majority of the boys aspired to be professional athletes when
they grew up; the reasons they gave for this choice were remarkably similar: the sport
was something they were good at; it was work they would enjoy doing; and they would
make a lot of money
A survey by Northeastern University‟s Center for the Study of Sport in Society found that
two-thirds of African American males between the ages of thirteen and eighteen believe
they can earn a living playing professional sports; nor is this national pattern for black
youth really surprising; for African American males, disengagement from the school‟s
agenda for approval and success is a psychic survival mechanism; so imagining a future
occupation for which schooling seems irrelevant is eminently rational; a career as a
professional athlete represents the possibility of attaining success in terms of the
dominant society via a path that makes schooling seem immaterial, while at the same
time affirming central aspects of identification
For these youth efforts to attain high-status occupations through academic channels are
just as likely to fail, given the conditions of their schooling and the unequal distribution
of resources across school systems
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School seems to feed into the prison system, but what exactly is the connection between
the two? There are serious, long-term effects of being labeled a Troublemaker that
substantially increase one‟s chances of ending up in jail
Time in the school dungeon means time lost from classroom learning; suspension, at
school or at home, has a direct and lasting negative effect on the continuing growth of a
There is a direct relationship between dropping out of school and doing time in jail: the
majority of black inmates in local, state, and federal penal systems are high school
dropouts; therefore, if we want to begin to break the ties between school and jail, we must
first create educational systems that foster kids‟ identification with school and encourage
them not to abandon it
One significant but relatively small step that could be taken to foster this attachment
would be to reduce the painful, inhospitable climate of school for African American
children through the validation and affirmation of Black English, the language form that
many of the children bring from home/neighbourhood; the legitimation of Black English
in the world of the school would not only enrich the curriculum but would undoubtedly
provide valuable lessons to all students about sociolinguistics and the contexts in which
standard and nonstandard forms are appropriate
There is also an immediate, ongoing connection between school and jail; schools mirror
and reinforce the practices and ideological systems of other institutions in the society; the
racial bias in the punishing systems of the school reflects the practices of the criminal
justice system
- A study done by Huizinga and Elliot demonstrates that the contrast in
incarceration statistics is the result of a different institutional response to the
race of the youth rather than the difference in actual behaviour; they compared
the delinquent acts individual youth admit to committing in annual self-report
interviews with actual police records of delinquency in the areas in which the
boys live; based on the self-reports, they conclude that there were few, if any,
differences in the number or type of delinquent acts perpetrated by the two
racial groups; what they did find, however, was that there was a substantially
and significantly higher risk that the minority youth would be apprehended and
charged for these acts by police than the whites who reported committing the
same kind of offenses
In both settings (the school and the prison), the images result in differential treatment
based on race; Jerome G. Miller, who has directed juvenile justice detention systems in
Massachusetts and Illinois, describes how this works:
- “For a white teenager to be labeled „dangerous,‟ he had to have done something
very serious indeed
Given the poisonous mix of stereotyping and profiling of black males, their chances of
ending up in the penal system as a juvenile is extremely high; the school experience of
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