Analytical Post Week 5

My high school, (Carman Ainsworth in Flint, Michigan), was more similar to Clavey than Valley Groves. The racial difference was about 49% White and 46% African-American, with the remainder being made up mostly of those of Middle Eastern or Hispanic descent.

As I understand it, Perry attempts in this article to examine how white youths constructed and reflected on white racial identities. She uses two separate high schools, one culturally diverse and urban (Clavey), and one predominantly white and suburban (Valley Groves). In layman’s terms, Perry is asking if demographics have an effect on the way white children and teens see and create white identity.

Perry discusses two different ways in which whiteness is reproduced as a social norm. One way is through naturalization, and the other through rationalization. Naturalization works by ingraining historic cultural practices in the minds of the youth as the norm. This is the process observed by Perry at Valley Groves High School. In this instance, the social norm is not challenged, and thus becomes something the students take for granted. The students never had been challenged to look at their race or culture in contrast to anything, giving the concept of whiteness the concept of normalcy, or the idea that this structure is the natural order of the world. Rationalization, on the other hand, is achieved through the forced consideration of racial differences. As seen by Perry in Clavey High School, the juxtaposition of cultures in Clavey forced students to rationalize their differences and order themselves as such. This rationalization forced the school into the concept of culturalization, which pushes Western epistemic ideals, (That whiteness is synonymous with normal), and marginalize all things seen as cultural.

At CAHS, I believe that we were able to see both processes in action. I think first rationalization occurred, forcing the students to order themselves based on cultural differences, and their perceived level of whiteness. At this point I believe the idea branches off and becomes naturalization. Those students who found themselves in white ‘culture’ (the students being predominantly white themselves) went through the process of naturalization. The boundaries were already set up and obvious, and because of this they were not forced to challenge their concept of normalcy. “That’s just how it is,” is the phrase that comes to mind here. While there was a great deal of interracial mingling, African-Americans and Caucasians fell into the Western epistemic ideals that caused them to segregate themselves. I would be interested to hear what Perry would have to say about my high school.

12 thoughts on “Analytical Post Week 5

  1. My high school which was in Detroit, Mi was made up of mostly black kids with very few white children. After reading your post, I would say my high school followed the process of naturalization. However I do not think it was an issue. Since my school was filled with black children for the most part there was no segregation that took place. Many children had a norm of being around other black children because that is all they saw throughout the day at school. However, when compared to the few white children that attended my high school, it seem as though they did mingle together because it was so few of them. If I had to imagine I would think that this made them feel a little more comfortable and relaxed at school because they had friends that looked like and could relate to them. I guess I also would be curious on how Perry’s study would go if she was using my school instead.

  2. I can definitely relate to your post because this actually sounds a lot like my high school. There were definitely more white students in my high school than there were black students, but it seemed that “whiteness” was the norm. Don’t get me wrong, the white students and black students were friendly with each other and hung out but there was always a sense of segregation. I never really looked into why it felt that way because I saw it as normal, but now looking back on it I think it had to do with the “that’s how it is” idea that you bring up. I never questioned it because that is just what I was used to! But now when I look back on it i am curious to see how the black kids felt, and if they felt uncomfortable or if they thought that “white” was the norm. Even though segregation in schools is long gone, I still feel that there is a sense of segregation in school that takes place naturally due to whiteness being seen as “the norm.”

  3. Your high school appears to be pretty much the opposite of my high school. My school was in a small, rural area and was predominately made up of white students. Because of this, in my first couple years of high school, I do not think that many, if any, of the students had to “order themselves based on cultural differences” as you put it because there were not any cultural differences really present. However, once my school implemented an open school of choice policy, the demographic in my school did begin to change. Students from different ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds began to attend my high school, and I think that this caused a shift from the naturalization process to the rationalization process because now there were in fact cultural differences present in our school that used to be more homogenous, in reference to cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. I, like you, would be interested to see what Perry would have to say about how cultural identities were created in my school and how the inflow of new students affected it.

  4. I would have to say that my high school experience was the opposite of what you experienced. I went to a school where to majority were white upper-class students. I was one of three Hispanics that went there. I never actually felt tat anyone treat me differently but I did feel different. No one really could relate to the experiences I had when it came to parents from a different country. Fortunately, I was never really discriminated against, unless you count being mistaken as a Mexican when I am Peruvian, than yes I have. If I were to examine which of the two processes Perry explained would best describe my high school I would say naturalization although, rationalization did exist. It was obvious, I wasn’t what they considered the norm and because I distinctively looked different, I was also culturally different. This of course, isn’t always the case. Just because you look different doesn’t necessarily mean you have a different culture.

  5. My high school was located in Downtown Detroit. I went to a charter school. I t was small, but it was also predominantly black. We had a few white students, but for the most part our entire school was filled with black students. Students hung around other black students because that’s all they knew, that’s all that was in the community. This was the norm. Even though there were few whites, they mixed with everyone else, socially. But I can say that we did have teachers who taught us more than they had to about culture. Some teachers told us that the world is not based on people who come from where you come from look and act like you. So they cared to teach us about different cultures and to step outside of our comfort zone.I, personally, listened to these teachers because I knew it was different in society.

  6. While reading your post, it led me back to how important it was to ‘behave like your race’ in high school. To behave in a way we associated with another race, say, a white student adapting mannerisms and styles of the black community was frowned upon if not dismissed. This person was a fraud and couldn’t authentically be presenting themselves of that ‘other’ culture. I find it interesting how important it was that a person behaves in a way that agreed with the assigned race-behavior. So even if a teenager were to suggest that white people don’t have culture, the assigning of appropriate behaviors suggests that there are white cultural markers. I think it also reflects (my HS all-white, rural) assumption that white people don’t live with black people and so it would be ridiculous that a white person might simply be adapting their community’s culture. So there is that dominant unmarked norm issue that Perry brings up as well.

  7. When developing a perception of what whiteness is or how it applies to yourself as a nonwhite, one must construct a viewpoint on what is specific to his or her culture. Whiteness thrives from naturalization because they have the privilege of being the majority in the United States. My time spent in predominantly white schools strengthened my awareness of what whiteness is, because it can become very easy to try to rationalize why whiteness should be a social norm when it is the only thing you see and white people are the majority of your environment. One thing that I had to do was to continuously remind myself to stay “conscious” of the development of my views of my own identity and to only change that upon the strengths of my own will. Giving way to the rationalization of whiteness can be a hindrance in the development of one’s own individual growth that would separate the uniqueness that comes with each other culture.

  8. I am the same way as you. The high school I went to was more like Clavey high school. My high school was highly diverse and there was a large population of whites, African Americans, Arabs, and Hispanics. Since this was the lay out of our school it made many of the students very aware of other cultures. The whiteness that was produced at my school was “naturalization” and this is can be attributed to the high diversity. Students experienced all different walks of life and the ways of others and their ideas and customs allowed everyone to rationalize that “whiteness” was normal and that everyone’s race is normal. I think after learning about Perry’s ideas they make a ton of sense. Although I think the “naturalization” way is wrong and it is unfortunate some people think white is normal, it is hard when you are surrounded by only white people to think outside of that box. To me that goes the same for anyone surrounded in a dominated subgroup. At the same time “rationalization” makes sense to me, but unless you get to experience it and are open to excepting everyone’s race as normal it is not achievable.

  9. I went to a high school in downtown detroit as well. It was predominantly black school and we really didn’t have any white students. We had maybe five or six since the school has been open. I think the biggest issue with that was we did not receive any variety in ethnicities. So i think it molded the students mind in my school to always tend towards that one group of people when ever they go out into the world. That messes up there way of seeing life and experiencing new cultures. Where as you had a lot more variety in your high school and i think that is a great thing. i feel like if i did not not grow up in different experiences out side of my school then i would be the same way.

  10. I find your post very interesting because your school sounds like it is the exact opposite of my school. My school is predominantly white with very little diversity, so I enjoyed your post because it was so different from mine. I really enjoy reading about other people’s lives. Personally, I did not experience very much diversity before I started to attend school here at Michigan State University, but it sounds like you experienced a lot of diversity through school as you grew up. I think it is very important to get out and meet different people from a young age to prepare you for the real world, as you get older. It is nice to see that you truly got to experience different kinds of people through your school. I wish I could have had that experience when I was in school. I hope I can allow my children to experience different people in the future as you did.

  11. I came from a very different high school than you. My high school was really unlike either high school. If I had to compare it to one of them, I would have to compare it to Valley Groves. I liked hearing your perspective on this article because it was coming from a different point of view than my own. I was interested in how the two forms (naturalization and rationalization) were integrated into these two high schools. I have read a few other discussion posts about this and it seems as though even if someone’s school leaned towards one way, they did it differently. Like I said, my school was more like Valley Groves so our social norm was never really challenged. However, our school did a great job of integrating us with students from other schools with a variety of different backgrounds and ethnicities. I never saw the effects of rationalization at my high school.

  12. Your high school sounds very different from mine white and suburban, but that just made me appreciate your post and the different view I was able to see. My school was mainly what the readings would call cultureless, Or rather, it was the culture of white suburbanites that the minority students seemingly bought into. I really didn’t see muh diversity or different cultures until I went to college and lived in the dorms, and specifically, an international dorm.

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