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[Xmca-l] Re: All Stars and Beyond

and Eric Reid?

-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of David Kellogg
Sent: Wednesday, September 27, 2017 8:41 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: All Stars and Beyond

As we speak, there is a specific public performance with a highly concrete meaning spreading across the USA. It originated with a single black man, who refused to stand during the national anthem as long as the country singing it refused to enforce the laws against murder against white policemen who take black lives with impunity. That man, Colin Kaepernick, later adapted the public performance himself, softening and blunting it.
Partly his adaptation was an attempt to make it more active and less passive, but it was also in response to the criticism that he was dishonoring the military by refusing to stand.

Refusal to stand is now "taking a knee", which is how solidiers sometimes commemorate the dead. But now the semantic content of the act has changed:
from outright refusal to a sign of respect for American imperial ambition and its miserable cannon fodder. Mind you, this adaptation didn't save Kaepernick from being fired, but it did mean that "taking a knee" could spread. As it spreads, it is cheered, applauded, validated and encouraged, and it becomes powerful enough to challenge the most powerful man in the present American onagrocracy. He calls for firing all persons who take a knee, and the gesture is transformed again: it now becomes an anti-presidential gesture.

Some people have complained that the original meaning of the performance has become hopelessly diluted, and of course they are completely right. We can see this from the social consequences: Kaepernick lost his job, but those who followed him (which now include the NFL bosses Trump called upon to do the firing) simply became part of a meme. On the one hand, I can see that applauding, validating and encouraging a meaning potential changes that meaning potential and that change can serve to make it less potent as well as more. On the other, I can also see that it is only by changing that meaning potential can it potentially become socially powerful enough to get Kaepernick's job back. Once that happens, though, we still need a semantic code which will get some white cop to think twice before he pulls the trigger.

David Kellogg

On Thu, Sep 28, 2017 at 5:28 AM, Alfredo Jornet Gil <a.j.gil@iped.uio.no>

> Hi all,
> I am forwarding Carrie's message, as she's been having problems with 
> getting it through. Bruce is soon taking care of that, but meanwhile I 
> copy her to this message and anyone wanting to address her can answer to "all"
> when responding to this.
> Hello XMCAers,
> First of all, let me say thank you to Alfredo and Mike for asking to 
> include my article in the XMCA discussion stream. Its much 
> appreciated. I am excited to jump into this conversation and respond 
> to what has already been said. I was originally thinking I would pose 
> some questions I am interested in exploring, but some of them are 
> already coming up. That said, I am also eager to talk about the young 
> people's responses to the program that appear near the end of the 
> article and their sense of themselves as performers.
> I was struck by Mike's use of the word optimism in his post and I have 
> to say while it spoke to me, it also got me thinking. I first became 
> aware of the All Stars back in the early 1990's, about a decade after its founding.
> It was still a relatively small organization. It served about a 
> thousand young people a year, only in NYC. The organization raised 
> less than
> $100,000 a year and had just hired its first employee. As I have 
> learned of the history of the All Stars founding I would not say it 
> was founded off of a sense of optimism--although what has been built 
> generates optimism in the people who visit it and hear about it.
> The founders of the All Stars, led by Dr. Fred Newman and Dr. Lenora 
> Fulani, set out to create something that was a response to the 
> devastation of generational poverty on the Black community in NYC. The 
> All Stars Talent Show Network, the first program of the ASP, was 
> founded by community organizers who had been working with adults in 
> the community to create a union of welfare recipients and were looking 
> for something for their young people to do. It was founded in order to 
> create something positive, prosocial, and creative that the young 
> people could own. Fred Newman used to say that it had all the 
> characteristics of a gang, but without the negativity. The All Stars 
> was and is independent of the politically controlled social welfare 
> agencies that existed across the city. As its grown its retained those 
> characteristics. So while I think it has produced optimism, 
> politically it was not created out of a sense of optimism. I think it 
> was a more actively political choice to build something that was not a 
> protest move, but a creative one--relating to the people in the 
> community, and later the business people, as builders and creators of 
> activities that were not controlled or dominated by the existing institutions and their assumptions about who people are.
> I also wanted to say something about code-switching. Perhaps 
> code-switching is the word academics use for the amazing human ability 
> to move around and about newness. If that is the case then I think the 
> All Stars is not so much teaching code-switching, as tapping into that 
> human ability to do that and creates environments where that is 
> cheered, supported, and validated. While I actually do value the 
> particular "languages" the youth and business people learn, what I 
> think is more critical is that they learn that they can learn them.
> Carrie
> Carrie Lobman, Ed.D.
> Chair, Department of Learning and Teaching Graduate School of 
> Education Rutgers University www.gse.rutgers.edu 
> www.eastsideinstitute.org www.performingtheworld.org 
> ________________________________________
> From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu 
> <xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu> on behalf of David Kellogg 
> <dkellogg60@gmail.com>
> Sent: 26 September 2017 23:05
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: All Stars and Beyond
> "Code" is precisely the right word, although I am not sure about the 
> the word "switch". Here's the problem the way Gramsci sees it (and I 
> think almost everybody will immediately see the links with the 
> criticisms made of Luria after the Uzbekistan expeditions).
> “(59) If it is true that any language contains the elements of a 
> conception of the world and of a culture, it will also be true that 
> the greater or lesser complexity of a person’s (60) conception of the 
> world can be judged from his language. A person who only speaks a 
> dialect or who understands the national language in varying degrees 
> necessarily enjoys a more or less restricted and provincial, 
> fossilized and anachronistic perception of the world in comparison 
> with the great currents of thought which dominate world history. His 
> interests will be restricted, more or less corporative and economic, 
> and not universal. If it is not always possible to learn foreign 
> languages so as to put oneself in touch with different cultures, one 
> must at least learn the national tongue. One great culture can be 
> translated into the language of another great culture that is, one 
> great national language which is historically rich and complex can 
> translate any other great culture, i.e. can be a world expression. But a dialect cannot do the same thing.”
> Gramsci, A. (1957). The Modern Prince and Other Writings. New York:
> International. pp. 59-60
> Ironically, Gramsci is really talking about his own native tongue, 
> Sardu, which isn't a dialect of Italian at all but rather (a bit like 
> Cantonese in relation to the Chinese of the Tang Dynasty) an earlier 
> and purer offshoot of a more ancient language, namely Latin. In 
> contrast, black English really is a dialect, and what Gramsci is 
> saying here simply isn't true, either of black English or dialects generally.
> A dialect is a variety of language defined by the user. It's not 
> defined by the region as we usually think: that's why black people 
> speak (more or
> less) the same dialect in Compton and in Queens, and why white English 
> in America is not confined to any particular region. But dialects tend 
> to mutual intelligibility, particularly in big cities. So contrary to 
> what Gramsci says, even after the national homogenizations of the 
> eighteenth century there was absolutely no reason why any dialect of 
> any language could not express everything that the language (the 
> dialect-complex) had to express. In fact, that's how speakers of 
> minority dialects, including black people, became bidialectal, and it 
> is also why the distinctions of dialect tend to be phonological rather than lexicogrammatical or semantic.
> There are ALSO systematic differences in language which are defined by 
> the USE. These are also not peculiar to any particular region: 
> Academese is not restricted to Ivy Leagues, and air controller English 
> is spoken in every cockpit on earth. These varieties are called 
> registers (if you are a
> Hallidayan) and because they do involve variation in the lexicogrammar 
> (the morphology, vocabulary, and syntax, viewed as a cline from open 
> class to closed class words) what Gramsci says and what Luria believed 
> about their variation is probably true: they can only translate 
> certain meanings and not others.
> Bernstein has ANOTHER term for the systematic varieties of meanings 
> that are the result of this variation in lexicogrammar: code. I don't 
> think black English is a register or that it gives rise to a special code.
> Black mathematicians working for NASA are perfectly able to do their 
> work in their own dialect, and Neil deGrasse Tyson will understand 
> everything they do. I have certainly heard Chinese linguists do 
> linguistics in a wide variety of dialects. I have never heard Andy 
> speak any dialect but Australian, and I have heard him on a wide 
> variety of topics, from household matters to Heglian ones.
> We may be monodialectical but we are all multi-registerial, because 
> child development (and even national development) invariably involves 
> learning new registers and codes. So I think the real problem that has 
> to be tackled in Carrie's article is the development (not switching) 
> of the semantic code. The problem, for me, is that I think black kids 
> need the semantic code of bankers about as much as bankers need the 
> code of black kids:  like a fish needs a bicycle. Maybe some registers 
> and their codes just need to be abolished.
> David Kellogg
> On Wed, Sep 27, 2017 at 3:16 AM, mike cole <mcole@ucsd.edu> wrote:
> > I am not certain when the conversation of Carrie's description of 
> > the All Starts program is to begin.
> > But David noted the article coming up in a recent message, so maybe 
> > we could start?
> >
> > I guess my first impression is that the scope of the effort is
> staggering.
> > Apropos of the discussion of social movements in relation to the 
> > sorts of activities that dominate xmca empirical work, and Yrjo's 
> > ISCAR address, what is being described here is an institution that 
> > raised 10 million dollars in 2015 and involves a lot of 
> > teenagers/young adults.
> >
> > The "teaching kids to code switch" from black<-->white as a framing
> seemed
> > like a way to address Delpit-style
> > critiques of the schooling of kids of color. Linking this to an 
> > imagined future of fluid identities seems like an optimistic way to 
> > think about
> the
> > processes set in motion. Linking it to Vygotsky's point about the 
> > need to think about how newness comes into the world.
> >
> > I wonder how the strategies used in this work do/do not line up with 
> > the cases that Yrjo talked about.
> >
> > mike
> >