When Race Becomes Real. Bernestine Singley, ed.
Education in a Globalized World: The Connectivity of Economic Power, Technology, and Knowledge. Nelly P. Stromquist.
TRANSFORMING AFRICAN AND AFRICAN AMERICAN SOCIOPOLITICAL AND EDUCATIONAL REALITIES: POSSIBILITIES OR PIPE DREAMS?
During recent periods the African continent has been visible on the American radar screen via the media presentations of President George W. Bush’s trip to the continent, the allocation of $15 billion for the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the alleged and later proven false reports of Iraq’s plans to purchase uranium from Niger, and unfortunately, the bloody civil conflicts in Congo, Liberia, Burundi, and Rwanda. Simultaneously, in the United States African immigrants and African-Americans are debating means to influence American corporate and foreign policy toward
In the three volumes by Mabokela and King, Singley, and Stromquist, we can comprehend the interconnectivity among individual, institutional, and global challenges as altered and/or new factors manifest themselves in contemporary milieus. The volumes provide foundations for exploring poignant questions: Although universities in the new
Too often there is a tendency among sophisticated lay audiences to view education as merely teacher education and pedagogy. Mabokela’s and King’s volume, Apartheid No More, quickly moves beyond that perspective and instead attempts to portray the nexus between the elimination of political apartheid in
The authors examine the necessity for and means of structural and policy transformation by discussing the historically marginalized positions of black universities which was comparable to the peripheral positions of other societal institutions such as hospitals, social welfare agencies, and labor organizations. Although whites comprised well under 30% of the population, ten historically white universities were created between 1829 and the 1960s compared to only five for black, colored, and Indian students.
Sociocultural and linguistic features were visible in six of the Afrikaans-language universities and four of the English-medium sites. Similar divisions existed for Indians (University of Durban, Westville), University of Western Cape (for Colored students), University of North (for Sotho-Venda-Tsongan-speaking individuals), the University of Zululand (for Zulu-speakers), and the University of Fort Hare (the oldest Black university designed for Xhosa-speaking Africans). Historical sociolinguistic divisions or cleavages were used to separate groups which lessened the possibilities for creating inter-group solidarity. The languages of instruction, the social studies curriculum, and the composition of the faculty also limited cross-cultural interactions. The Extension of University Act (1959), in some regards, had a similar effect at the university level as the Bantu Education Act had had for primary and secondary education. Both established and/or further solidified postsecondary education along ethnic lines. The nexus between sociopolitical and public educational policies, thus again, becomes evident. Due to politically-charged enactments by the South African Parliament, the segregated universities provided only substandard instruction.
Prior to the 1990s, the national government established and then justified differential university funding formulas based upon the number of student matriculants, the percentage of students who were successful in their academic studies (certainly influenced by their level of preparation in segregated secondary institutions), enrollments in scientific fields in contrast to the humanities, and graduate student enrollment. Hence, as Mabokela and King portray, the
The case studies in Apartheid No More also discuss contemporary issues that have emerged since the early 1990s with the advent of democratic government. Anne Austin, for example, in her chapter “Transformation through Negotiation,” discusses the University of Port Elizabeth Strategic Master Plan, which stated that “negotiated transformation is a process in which the systemic features of the institutions are modified...which include structural, cultural, and interactional dimensions,” (pp. 5-7). Equally important for universities are the cultural transformations, which refer to the ideals, ideologies, knowledge, and values for the university and their transmission to graduates who, in turn, can effect transformations in their careers and in provincial and national policymaking.
Doria Daniel’s chapter, “Crossing the Divide: Black Academics at the Rand Afrikaans University” discusses transformation in terms of reorientation of individuals and groups. Rodney K. Hopson’s chapter, “Higher Education Transformation in Namibia” offers insight on the impediments to transforming the nature of higher education due to the lingering roles of “of cultural hegemony [as] the process where ruling classes are able to exert general predominance over subordinate classes,” (pp. 124-125). Collectively, the constructs offered by
Mabokela’s chapter, “Selective Inclusion” portrays how faculty at the
Professionals and faculty at the postsecondary level are aware of government and university plans to initiate affirmative action so that more blacks and women will be represented in the faculty and professional ranks. Identifying promising undergraduate and graduate students and young faculty is one method of “growing one’s own” to join the professional ranks. However, Daniels points out that when such promising blacks or women join the professional cadre, many report that white faculty still believe they were appointed simply because of affirmative action and not because of their academic qualifications and experiences. Several chapters conclude that limited progress is being made in the transformation process due to such individual attitudes. However, there is irony at play because many historically white institutions now have a majority black student body which itself is a major indicator of positive social and educational transformation.
While Mabokela’s and King’s volume contained a few chapters concentrating on individual experiences with and perceptions of racism, Bernestine Singley has assembled an impressive array of scholars and professionals ranging from a twelve-year old to an eighty-year old former executive editor of the USA Today newspaper. The twenty plus essays is comparable to reading a biography or novel. When Race Becomes Real articulates the many manifestations of racism in the
Within the Genesis section, world-renowned journalists, Leonard Pitts, Jr., John Seigenthaler, Sr., and Jim Schutze write from their personal and professional perspectives. In an appropriately titled essay, Pitts argues that it is the constant forms of racism that makes blacks and other American minorities “Crazy Sometimes.” Jim Schutze explains how, as a European-American six-year old, he burglarized the church collection boxes along with African-American first-graders. His misadventures, however, were viewed vastly different from his African-American peers who were sanctioned. John Seigenthaler, Sr. recounts his early life in the American south during the first third of the 20th century. He recalls how laws, customs, and white preference meant that his hometown was racially partitioned just like
Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient and child psychiatrist, Robert Coles, recalls his first conscious remembrances of racism as a six-year old in the
In the Fear and Longing section, some of the essays are written by academicians and scholars who encounter racism within the halls of Ivy League institutions, on the lecture circuit, and within various social institutions. For example, in “To Make Them Stand in Fear,” historian David Bradley examines lynchings in the 1800s and first half of the 1900s and raises the penetrating question of whether lynchings still occur today. A lynching, according to Bradley, is a murder committed by a conspiracy of private citizens, with malice and expectations of impunity. Bradley maintains that lynching is a form of terrorism to instill fear and intimidation in blacks so they would not compete with European Americans in economic, social, or political spheres. Notably, he asserts that while the violent lynchings of a century ago are not often observable (a notable exception was the brutal vehicular dragging and dismemberment of an African American man in Jasper,
In Singley’s final section titled Exodus, essays by Beverly Daniel Tatum, Noel Ignatiev, and Michael Patrick MacDonald warrant attention as they address “white privilege” and civil rights in
In an intriguing essay, “All Souls: Civil Rights from Southie to Soweto and Back,” MacDonald discusses his impoverished white background in South Boston where 85% of the residents were welfare recipients and 73% were headed by single women. Despite their disadvantaged backgrounds, these residents were the most resistant to school integration via busing in the 1970s and 1980s. As an adult, MacDonald traveled to
The final book in this review, Nelly P. Stromquist’s volume, Education in a Globalized World: The Connectivity of Economic Power, Technology, and Knowledge, delineates revised sociopolitical and economic paradigms for comprehending global phenomena especially as they affect minorities in the
To elaborate on the effects of globalization, Stromquist cites economic statistics from the
Globalization is a multidimensional and multilevel phenomenon initiated by industrialized countries and pursued via formal and informal structures. Stromquist further posits that the G-8 countries have set in motion and sustain economic conditions (including international trade, labor, and intellectual property rights) that affect all sectors of individual societies and international relations. Furthermore, the influences or roles of transnational corporations (TNCs) and the media are critical to the process. The media, according to Stromquist, convey messages and symbols about business products and commodities that promote economic exchanges. She explains how the interactive effect of TNCs and the media are perpetuating “new knowledge” which is created by collaborations between TNCs and universities. The new knowledge is usually not developed in emerging nations of
Herein lies the crux of Stromquist’s arguments regarding globalization: there is a convergence, rather than a divergence, of economic, sociocultural, political, and educational accruals to northern nations. Even when there are some benefits for developing nations, it is usually to select societal sectors and in most cases, globalization has deleterious effects on minorities including African-Americans. For example, when technological positions are transferred overseas –-instead of preparing black and Hispanic Americans for such positions-–they are often transferred to select Asian nations and are acquired by individuals who have spent time or undertaken training in western nations (Auchard, 2003).
Identifying the means to transform these structural economic and sociocultural conditions within developed nations so that globalization reaps benefits for all, especially in African and developing nations is a daunting endeavor. For Stromquist, non-government organizations (NGOs) can lead the resistance to the status quo. Although they vary in their altruistic goals, Stromquist maintains that the majority of NGOs pursue the public’s good by seeking the social inclusion of marginalized people and drawing attention to harmful market patterns and government structural policies which are not beneficial. In her final analysis, she suggests that resistance to adverse effects of globalization (such as labor displacement, low salaries, mean work conditions, and environmental degradation) must take into account the interconnected components of economic power, technology, and new knowledge. In addition, individuals, labor unions, women’s organizations, university students and faculty, and the United Nations should buttress resistance.
Together, the three volumes provide a comprehensive framework for reshaping the future. The three books advocate the alteration or creation of intellectual and disciplinary paradigms that can help professionals in the social sciences, humanities, technology, and sciences address pressing global and domestic issues, so that alternative sociopolitical, cultural and educational policies are posited and implemented. As this successfully occurs, various public educational and social entities will benefit.
In conclusion, we should note the salient piece by the late Nobel Laureate Dr. Ralph J. Bunche, who, over 60 sixty years ago, maintained that universities are part of the public good and must prepare students and faculty to address concrete problems and pose solutions. In conjunction with other active groups and organizations, universities can create multidisciplinary intellectual knowledge that can assist in promoting positive sociopolitical and cultural transformation.
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 Notable among such laws are the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act (1949); the Population Registration Act (1950) requiring a pass which limited physical mobility; the Reservation of Separate Amenities Act (1950) obligating specific residential locales for the races; and the Bantu Education Act (1953) which restricted the types and levels of educational access and attainment. Hence the rights of Black and Colored people were severely curtailed by solidifying public and educational policies of apartheid throughout South Africa and the former South West Africa, now Namibia.
 Bunche, 1940.