Fourth quarter blog post

Here is my fourth quarter blog post

Monday, May 25, 2015

Racism and Downward Classism in the ACT and SAT

With the last SATs and ACTs of the year coming up, a lot of juniors have been thinking a lot about these tests and hoping to get the score they want so they will not have to continue taking them into senior year. The whole idea of a number being a huge factor in whether or not one gets into a certain college has always been puzzling to me. To me, the tests have always seemed to be unfair ways to judge someone's intelligence, but the extent of it is much greater than I had originally thought. Standardized tests favor certain races over others, certain classes over others, and because of this can and are used for the purposes of segregation in colleges.

Standardized tests favor white and Asian-American students over black and Latino students. According to Noliwe Rooks of Time Magazine, "black and Latino students in New York score below whites and Asians on standardized tests so consistently that although they are almost 70% of the overall student body, they are only 11% of students enrolled at elite public schools.". If the whole admissions process into "elite public schools", which heavily relies on standardized testing, was fair, there would be "almost 70%" of blacks and Latinos in elite public schools. The percentage of blacks and Latinos actually at these schools is significantly less than this, meaning that there is inequality in the admissions process, including the standardized tests. 

Not only do standardized tests have bias against blacks and Latinos, they also have a huge bias against lower class people, as we have discussed in class. For example, here are SAT scores in 2009 by family income:

This almost perfectly linear graph shows a clear relationship between class and test scores: the higher class you are, the higher test score you receive. As we have talked about in class, a possible reason for this is that higher class people can afford more resources, such as tutors, test preparation materials, and classes. I also believe this pattern could be caused by the fact that higher class people can afford to take the test more times, and that since there is more funding for schools in higher class areas, these schools better prepare their students for the ACT and SAT compared to lower class schools. Whatever the reason, standardized tests clearly favor higher class people, and therefore the reliance of colleges on test scores for admission creates inequality in the admission of lower class people versus higher class people to colleges. 

Because of the bias of the ACT and SAT tests that leads to inequality in college admissions, I believe that colleges should rely heavily on a more fair and equal measure of academic achievement, such as high school grades, and less on standardized tests in the admissions process. Unfortunately, the ACT and SAT are so huge a part of many colleges' admissions processes that I believe a change like this will not happen for a long time. The reason colleges are so reliant on test scores right now may be that racism and classism are very prevalent ideas in American society, and standardized tests act on these ideas by keeping people of racial minorities and lower classes away from higher education. Whatever the reason, colleges' reliance of ACT and SAT scores needs to end. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Driving While Black

A few days ago in class, we had a brief discussion on the behavior of traffic police. We specifically discussed what types of cars were more likely to be pulled over in the North Shore, and concluded that old, beaten up cars are more likely to be pulled over by the police because they look as if they belong to someone who is of lower class than the average person in the North Shore. This is a perfect example of downward classism; it seems that the police believe that since the driver could possibly not be of upper class like most in the North Shore, they must be committing some type of crime. Being a criminal is a common stereotype of lower classes. Unfortunately, not only are police classist, but they are racist as well.

We've all heard about the extreme cases of police racism on the news. Black people are getting murdered by police for no justifiable reason over and over again. What many may not know about is the racism that happens on a daily basis, in the context of minor traffic crimes. According to the Washington Post, black drivers are actually 31% more likely to be pulled over than white drivers for small traffic crimes. Obviously, police officers are consciously or subconsciously picking and choosing who they pull over based on race. If they were not, one race would not be more likely than another to be pulled over. 

Further inequality in stops for traffic crime can be seen in the fact that black drivers are more than twice as likely to be subject to a search than white drivers, and almost twice as likely to not be given any reason as to why they were pulled over. Both of these statistics show the breach of civil liberties from black drivers by police. It seems impossible that police have reasonable suspicion to search twice as many blacks than whites, meaning police do not have probable cause to search many of these people and therefore are stripping blacks of their right to privacy. Also, blacks are stripped of their right to haebeus corpus when they are not told why they were pulled over. Furthermore, it is likely that police refuse to tell so many blacks why they pulled them over because the only reason may have been that the driver was "driving while black", a phrase used to describe the "crime" of being black that seems to be the only reason many black drivers are pulled over.
This police officer seems to be measuring "how black" the driver in the car ahead is with a device that looks like it would normally measure speed, implying that being black is a crime just like speeding is. The cartoon is showing how the policeman has no true reason to be pulling this car over besides the fact that the driver is "driving while black".

It is clear that racism is an American trend. Perhaps one reason it remains so prevalent in our society is that people in power, specifically law-enforcement officers, in general are racist and act on it by discriminating and stripping blacks of their civil liberties. This breach of civil liberties makes blacks unequal to whites in America, which only continues to fuel racism in this country. I believe there needs to be stricter laws and regulations to prevent racial discrimination by the police. If police are monitored closely as well as the traffic stops and arrests they make, racist cops can be identified and either fired or ordered to change how they are doing things. This can lead to a decrease in both extreme and smaller cases of police racism and discrimination, and is greatly needed right now in America. 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Does Money Buy Happiness, Or The Opposite?

With the end of Junior Theme and the start of our unit on social class, I realized that social class is actually highly related to my general topic for Junior Theme: depression in young people. The more obvious connection of these two topics is that depression is more prevalent among the young people of the lower classes, and the reason that this seems so obvious to Americans like me is because of the American belief that money buys happiness. As has been mentioned before in class, depression being more common in lower classes is actually the exact opposite of the truth. Affluent teens, which are defined by the American Psychological Association as teens raised in suburban homes with their family income being $120,000 or higher, "report higher rates of depression, anxiety and substance abuse than any other socioeconomic group of young Americans today". So why, when it comes to teenagers of high classes, does money do the opposite of buy happiness?

One child psychologist by the name of Madeline Levine has written a whole book attempting to answer this question, called The Price of Privilege. In the book, Levine writes: "When [parents] coerce, intrude on or take over for [their] children unnecessarily [they] may be 'spoiling' them, but the far more significant consequence is that [they] are interfering with their [children's] ability to construct a sense of self". This "taking over" or "spoiling" of one's children seems to be a part of the culture of the higher classes. As we have discussed in class, low class parents tend to only be concerned that their children stay out of trouble, whereas high class parents want to shower their children with resources to help them succeed. And according to Levine, this "spoiling" by parents can lead to them flat-out "taking over" their children's lives, which inhibits children fro"m developing a "sense of self", causing emotional issues such as depression. 

This saddening trend of mental illness in adolescents of high class is proof that the cultures of the high and low classes in America are very different, particularly in how parents in these classes raise their children. I find it extremely upsetting that this aspect of the culture of the higher classes is actually causing children to develop illnesses like depression. Perhaps if more people researched this topic and published their findings like Levine did, this issue would be something that was almost common knowledge, and parents of high classes would know not to make the mistake of taking over their children's lives,. No matter how it is done, parents of higher classes need to be made aware that what they believe would help their children could possibly do the exact opposite.