I read an article today in the New York Times discussing the latest wave of math reforms to hit country as part of the Common Core curriculum and how similar attempts at reform in the past have failed us as a nation. I must admit the article brought tears to my eyes as I recalled my many years as a frustrated student in math class.
Time and time again I would sit in class knowing that I was a capable student and yet feeling stupid and helpless when it came to my inability to solve the simplest of problems. Like an attack dog I was trained to read problems for the keywords that would guide me to whatever pre-prescribed problem solving strategy had been taught in class that week. I was never taught to think for myself when it came to math, only to jump through the proverbial hoops of standardized test that the state demanded our teachers train us for. As I read this article it was refreshing to see that shortcuts that I developed on my own to understand and perform math tasks were not a reflection of my failure as a student but rather my brain working to learn something the curriculum failed to teach me.
This article also reminded me of the struggles that I faced as a student from a working class home, who didn’t have parents who were able to reinforce at home what school had attempted to teach me. Many of my middle class peers in the Pre-AP and AP courses that I took had already been exposed to higher levels of math and different manners of thinking from their affluent and business savvy parents, but I didn’t have that safety net. So I often worry about the generation of boys and girls in today’s K-12 public education system, because I want desperately for the school system not to fail them in the same ways it failed me. But I know how difficult it is and how long it takes for even the smallest of things to be reformed. And so my heart goes out to them, the far-too-many students that will slip through the cracks.
Robin Thicke has been in the music business for quite sometime, but it wasn’t until last year that he had his first big break with his hit single “Blurred Lines”. With its upbeat tempo, catchy lyrics and throwback sound the song was extremely popular with international audiences and even shattered the record for “highest radio audience ever”. However, the song and Robin Thicke’s now infamous performance of it at the 2013 Video Music Awards have seemingly garnered just as much negative attention as popularity. Social justice advocates all over the internet were inflamed with the misogynist lyrics of the song saying that the songs’ chants of “I know you want it” and “but you’re a good girl” promoted rape culture. And I don’t argue that point, the song is indeed misogynistic and calls to my mind the unwanted encounters I’ve had with young and old men alike while walking down the street. And given that, I can understand why the songs lyrics might upset some people. But what I don’t understand is how Robin Thicke has become the lackey for what is essentially cyberbullying from people purporting to be social justice advocates (SJAs).
In a recent Twitter Q&A Thicke–hosted in order to promote his new album entitled “Paula” dedicated to his wife Paula Patton from whom he recently split and is determined to get back, as Thicke states in the premier single from the album “Get Her Back”– was trolled by said SJAs and hailed as the “poster boy for misogyny and rape culture.” And yet neither T.I. or Pharell Williams, Thicke’s collaborators on the song, have received any of the negative backlash that Thicke has. If all of this relentless teasing is supposed to cause some kind of catharsis in Thicke’s mind and the mind of any other man that thinks like him shouldn’t the SJAs be attacking his collaborators in equal ferocity?
The funny thing about it is that Thicke’s song isn’t any more misogynistic than any other R&B song. Take a look at the R&B Top 10 charts and there are several songs that are equally sexist. For instance, there is Jason Derulo’s “Wiggle” a song about how women are just bodies for men to admire, Derulo was also the author of another hit “Talk Dirty To Me” which fetishizes women of other countries as being exotic beauties with whom there is no need to get better acquainted because they’re just subjects and Derulo doesn’t speak their language anyway. Or what about Tinashe and her song “2 On” which is an ode to getting so drunk and high that you no longer the capacity to make good judgements and end up having drunken sex with someone. Why aren’t the SJAs attacking these artist, hijacking their media events and attempts to promote works that contribute to misogyny and sexism? I think its because for many social justice has become a trend, a fad to partake in when one feels the need to assert their superiority over people they feel to be uncultured and ignorant. Do they really think that tweeting to someone to make fun of them is really going to spur the deep intellectual conversation that needs to take place in order for someone change? I don’t think so, I think these people are just hopping on the social justice bandwagon and that Thicke has decided to lay down and remain in its path.