Digital resources to strengthen the quality and quantity of geography education in classrooms the world over
Curated by Seth Dixon
Admittedly, I've got a thing for monuments in the cultural landscape. This is a very nice article for a historical geographer on how memory and heritage are enshrined in the landscape; this process politicizes history in ways that shape the national narrative, and that shapes how we think in past. Using historical geography to understand the debates in the news? No way!! Here James Loewen writes in the Washington Post on the topic for a general audience.
"Ever notice how the media treats black protesters & white rioters differently?"
The AME church in Charleston S.C. was targeted in a racist-motivated terrorist attack this week. Many racial issues have come to the fore in the wake of this attack. Two flags were lowered more than 100 miles away in Columbia, the state’s capital, the one's picture above flying on the dome of the state house. Whether South Carolina politicians want to or not, the issue of the Confederate Battle Flag has resurfaced because as a sanctioned part of the cultural landscape, it's symbolism is continually called into question.
"Everyone and their mom has an opinion about former NAACP chapter president Rachel Dolezal. We break down the arguments for you."
|Suggested by Thomas Schmeling|
"We have a myth today that the ghettos in metropolitan areas around the country are what the Supreme Court calls 'de-facto' — just the accident of the fact that people have not enough income to move into middle class neighborhoods or because real estate agents steered black and white families to different neighborhoods or because there was white flight. It was not the unintended effect of benign policies, it was an explicit, racially purposeful policy that was pursued at all levels of government, and that's the reason we have these ghettos today and we are reaping the fruits of those policies."
How vacant houses trace the boundaries of Baltimore's black neighborhoods.
The map on the left shows one very tiny dot for each person living in Baltimore. White people are blue dots, blacks are green, Asians are red and Hispanics yellow.The map on the right shows the locations of Baltimore City's 15,928 vacant buildings. Slide between the two maps and you'll immediately notice that the wedge of white Baltimore, jutting down from the Northwest to the city center, is largely free of vacant buildings. But in the black neighborhoods on either side, empty buildings are endemic.
"The way we mix languages and speech patterns is an apt metaphor for the way race, ethnicity and culture intersect in our lives."
Who we are, and how we behave is often dependent on the the circumstances and the cultural norms that govern those situations, places and relationships. All of us, including President Obama, fit into many distinct cultural environments and the picture above shows a quick moment, when he can slip in and out of cultural settings (this was spoofed by Key and Peele).
Questions to Ponder: When do you 'code switch' and how come? What does this mean for society at large and for the intersecting cultural groups with which we personally might identify? When is this being fake or culturally inauthentic?
Maria says she's black and Lucy says she's white. Together, they prove none of this makes sense.
These twins also have three siblings and they say "we are at opposite ends of the [skin color] spectrum and they are all somewhere in between." Their lives show that the differences underlying the cultural constructs of "white" and "black" as discrete categories isn't defensible, but it doesn't mean that it isn't culturally important. As stated in the article, "here's no question that the way people categorize Lucy and Maria, and the way they think of themselves, will affect their lives. That's because, even though race is highly subjective, racism and discrimination based on what people believe about race are very real."
Drexel University is taking a hands-on approach to redeveloping one of Philadelphia's poorest neighborhoods with a new center designed to serve not just students but mainly local residents.
This NPR podcast shows a good example of an urban revitalization project that is actively trying to avoid following the gentrification path. Growing colleges can unintentionally displace longtime residents, but this project is about preserving the cultural fabric of the neighborhood and building good will in the community.
"In the United States, there is a long tradition of trying to draw sharp lines between ethnic groups, but our ancestry is a fluid and complex matter. In recent years geneticists have been uncovering new evidence about our shared heritage, and last week a team of scientists published the biggest genetic profile of the United States to date, based on a study of 160,000 people."
Race is a cultural construct; even though it is incredibly problematic, it is a powerful way in which we think of who we are and how others think of who we are.
Questions to Ponder: What are some problems with putting too much stock in race? Why does the idea of race still matter so much in the United States?
Last year, Julie and I wrote this article for Maps 101 (which was also created into a podcast) about the historical and geographic significance of Dr. Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement. Martin Luther King fought racial segregation, which, if you think about it, is a geographic system of oppression that uses space and place to control populations. Derek Alderman and Jerry Mitchell, excellent educators and researchers, produced lesson plans to help students investigate the politics behind place naming, specifically using the case study of the many streets named after Martin Luther King.
Questions to Ponder: Why are streets named after Martin Luther King found in certain places and not in others? What forces and decisions likely drive these patterns? What is the historical legacy of Martin Luther King and how is it a part of certain cultural landscapes?
"Americans' understanding of who counts as 'white' has changed dramatically throughout the country's history and even over the last century alone. This map — which covers a decade of immigration to the US, from 1892 to 1903 — is a dramatic illustration of what it looked like when 'white' wasn't the same thing as European. Mouse over any part of the map to magnify it."
"Violence has a geography and for this reason, geography lies at the center of discussions of violence. Within the United States a myriad of taken for granted assumptions about identity, place, power, and memory undergird the nation’s psyche. These normative interpretations intersect with a particular kind of geographic formulation that places persons of color in general, but black men most specifically, at the center of the violent structures of the nation."
This isn't merely commentary about social upheaval or some musing about the social inequities (I think we've all read a ton of those articles). This is a geographic analysis that discusses the interactions, interconnections and implications of a social and spatial conflict between citizens and the institutions of the state. Ferguson, MO is undoubtedly a lightning rod today and some might prefer to avoid discussing it in a classroom setting; I find that as long as we put analysis before ideology, issues such as these show students the relevance and importance of geographic principles to their lives.
"Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once stated,"A man who won't die for something is not fit to live." Arrested over twenty times, stabbed in the chest, his house firebombed and, ultimately shot and killed, King embodied the idea that equality and the African American Civil Rights Movement were worth dying for.He was a husband and father to four children as persecution and death threats filled his days, yet his example was one of nonviolent, civil disobedience.Had he not been assassinated, King would have celebrated his 85th birthday on January 15th."
Dr. Martin Luther King fought racial segregation (which, if you think about it, is a geographic system of oppression that uses space and place to control populations). Dr. King has been described as a critical geographer for some of his insights. In 1967, MLK stated, "The expansion of suburbia and migration from the South has worsened big-city segregation. The suburbs are a white noose around the black necks of cities… suburbs expand with little regard for what happens to the rest of America.” If you are a Maps 101 subscriber, please read the rest of this article that I co-authored with Julie Dixon. You can also sign up for a free trial subscription or listen to the article as a free podcast on Stitcher Radio.
Where you live is important. It can dictate quality of schools and hospitals, as well as things like cancer rates, unemployment, or whether the city repairs roads in your neighborhood. On this week's show, stories about destiny by address.
This hour-long podcast addresses some has key issues in urban geography by exploring the history of redlining, the Fair Housing Act and other fair housing initiatives. The urban cultural mosaic of the United States and the neighborhoods of our cities have been greatly shaped by these issues. Currently gentrification is reshaping many U.S. cities and fits into the wider scope of the issues raised in the podcast.
"Portland is a city that some residents praise as a kind of eden: full of bike paths, independently-owned small businesses, great public transportation and abundant microbreweries and coffeeshops. And then there’s a whole other city. It’s the city where whole stretches of busy road are missing sidewalks, and you can see folks in wheelchairs rolling themselves down the street right next to traffic. It’s the city where some longtime African-American residents feel as if decades of institutional racism still have not been fully addressed."
Portland, Oregon is often discussed as a magnet for a young demographic that wants to be part of a sustainable city that supports local businesses and agriculture. This podcast looks behind that image (which has a measure of truth to it) to see another story. Relining, gentrification, poverty, governance and urban planning are all prominent topics in this 50 minute podcast that provides as fascinating glimpse into the poorer neighborhoods of this intriguing West Coast city. When in cities, we often use the term sustainability to refer to the urban ecology, but here we see a strong concern for the social sustainability of their historic neighborhoods as well.
"Drawing on data from the 2010 U.S. Census, the map shows one dot per person, color-coded by race. That's 308,745,538 dots in all."
This is an incredibly gorgeous interactive map of population density in the United States. It is very reminiscent of this North American Map with two major differences. On the down side, Mexican and Canadian data are not displayed but on the bright side, the added color component is used to show ethnic categories as defined by the 2010 U.S. census. Please explore this map at a variety of scales and in distinct locales.
Questions to Ponder: Is this a map of ethnic diversity patterns or is it a map of racial segregation? How come? Is there additional information that you would need to decide? This review of the map on Wired and Atlantic Cities described this map as a map depicting segregation: why would they say that?
"American tragedies occur where middle America frequents every day: airplanes, business offices, marathons. Where there persists a tangible fear that this could happen to any of us. And rightfully so. Deaths and mayhem anywhere are tragic. That should always be the case. The story here is where American tragedies don't occur. American tragedies don't occur on the southside of Chicago or the New Orleans 9th Ward."
This is a controversial Op-Ed article that discusses how place and the major axes of identity (race, class and gender) shape and intersect with the the national memory of violence and the media portrayal of violence. According the David Dennis, "The media seems to forget about New Orleans and any place that the middle class can't easily relate to."
"In April, the Associated Press decided the word 'illegal' should only be used to describe actions, not people. It's one of several major news outlets that have been reconsidering how to refer to people who are in this country illegally."
There is power in the words we choose, especially for those those that are in the media that influence the way we frame any topic. If a reporter in a news article, for example, were to describe a group as freedom fighters instead of insurgent rebels it impacts our perception of the news. See also this gallery of images on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Is there racism and discrimination in Japan? I was surprised to find out that almost all of my high school students (about 1000 students) were not aware of t...
This YouTube video has caused a tremendous amount of controversy in Japan, where most see discrimination as a problem in other societies. For some more context on the controversy, read this great Washington Post article on the subject.
I Have a Dream Speech Martin Luther King's Address at March on Washington August 28, 1963. Washington, D.C. When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring fro...
There is much to glean from Martin Luther King's famous I Have a Dream speech as a fantastic rhetorical device. This speech has a profound impact on the the psyche of the America culture and it has endured as a pivotal moment in history. As we celebrate his life and legacy this Monday, it is an appropriate time to contemplate that the ending of segregation (a spatial division of races) has reshaped the United States.
Many streets in the United States bear the name "Martin Luther King Jr." to memorialize both the man and the Civil Rights movement. This streets, as this YouTube video suggests, are often in poor, crime-ridden and violent neighborhoods. This video highlights the irony between the historical memory of Martin Luther King Jr. and places of memorialization that bear his name. This video echoes much of what the authors of the fantastic book "Civil Rights Memorials and the Geography of Memory" say (in fact one of the authors is shown in this video).
Questions to ponder: If Martin Luther King Jr. represents non-violence, then why are streets bearing his name often in 'violent' neighborhoods? Where should Martin Luther King be memorialized in the United States? Only in the South? Only in predominantly African-American communities? What does the geography of the spaces where he is memorialized say something about the United States?
Aboriginal leaders threaten to ban tourists from a top Australian landmark in protest at "racist" government policies.
This is an old article, but a fascinating topic that cuts across many geographic issues. Uluru, the landform that that European explorers named Ayers Rock, was the key place that is at the center of a struggle between indigenous people and the government. Many feel that the government's course of action in the mid 2000's was paternalistic and racist. They banned alcohol and pornography in over 70 indigenous communities in an attempt to lower the rates of child sex abuse. Sex Abuse is high (and often hidden) in aboriginal communities where a child is 7 times more likely to be abused than in the rest of the Australian population.
Questions to Ponder: Would the government impose such measures on other populations within Australia? When crimes have a racial component, does a government have the right to limit a particular groups' actions? Why or why not?