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For those who are newer visitors to Probstinista.com, you may not know the story behind the name. I created this blog when I was 13. At the time, I wanted to be a fashion blogger—which largely stemmed from my interest in drawing clothing designs. Never in my grandest dreams would I have guessed that I’d grow up to occupy the most eclectic fashion taste out of anyone I know, or that people would gasp in exasperation on the rare occasions that I would have a full face of makeup (ah yes, the inimitable, natural progression of a teenager such as myself). At this point, you may have guessed that I combined the words “fashionista” and my last name, Probst, to create a vaguely clever blog name that was relevant to my theme (e.g fashion). At this time, the domain name I have now no longer makes sense given the content I create, and I am excited to announce that I will be switching over to another site with a new domain name!
The site I am switching over to will still have a portfolio complete with my art, photography, and writing, as well as all future blog posts. To see future book hauls, frequent political musings, information about my upcoming online art shop, and other nerd manifestations, please visit kyahprobst.com, and take advantage of the free e-mail subscription option!
This month for brief political musings, I am going to talk about something that I think is vital for Americans to understand when discussing things such as race—especially the perceived sucesses of racial minorities. In order for me to do that, I have to make an analogy between concepts I have read about in books this summer and American society.
I am currently halfway through a book entitled The Poverty and Education Reader, edited by Gorksi & Landsman. This book is an anthology of writings by educators and students who have grown up in poverty—and who have seen the kinds of astronomically poor education kids in poverty-stricken communities receive, as well as how that unequal distribution of opportunities keeps so many people stuck in the cycle of poverty. One of the widely discussed concepts in this book is called, “the hidden curriculum” of public education, and part of this hidden curriculum includes the expectation that in order to build “cultural and social capital” in school, or basically, in order for minority children to become successful, those kids need to adopt middle-class, white values and deny their own diverse culture. In one of the stories, a now-adult talks about growing up as a poor, Appalachian child in school. She said, “They thought the best thing they could possibly do for me was to teach me to be like them—or as one teacher actually suggested in her kindest teacher voice, I needed to ‘learn to act White.’ I knew what that meant. If I wanted success, I’d have to adopt their language and culture and deny my own. I did what they asked; I learned to pass. Passing is a treacherous road to travel.”
An analogy can be made between the hidden curriculum in schools, and the “hidden curriculum” in American society. A comparison I hear quite often in political discourse, is between the perceived success of Asian Americans in society and the perceived success of African Americans in society—both of which have been oppressed throughout history (oppression in this case being specifically Asian internment camps and the enslavement in black people). The thing that people who make this comparison fail to note is the fact that post-internment camps, Asian Americans slowly began to adopt the “white, middle-class culture.” This means that Asian Americans currently adopt the fashion, language, music tastes, traditions, and even things as seemingly trivial as baby names and slang of white Americans (ex: My new neighbors are Asian American—their son’s name is Kevin). This idea can be adopted to articulate that even descendants of those with white skin who have historically been oppressed in various ways, such as Irish indentured servants in the 17th & 18th centuries, have 100% assimilated into the dominant culture of America as well, which means that not only are there no marked differences between white people of Irish descendants and white people descended from other cultures, but also that we don’t perceive them to be less successful, professional, or intelligent because of the culture they retain—which is an idea that is certainly not applicable to African Americans and the Hispanic population of America.
You see, African Americans and the Hispanic populations in our country do retain many of their own mannerisms, languages, fashion, art, music, food, names, traditions etc. etc. that are completely separate from something that you would see where I live—predominately white suburbs, which, especially adopt the “dominant culture” in America. I think what is important to gather here, is that African Americans are not only perceived to be so much less successful than Asian Americans, but that the dominant culture in America has taken certain measures to make it much harder for black people to do things like get a job, assuming they have not gone considerable lengths to “act white.” The fact is, if a black person has a name that “sounds black,” then they are less likely to get called in for a job interview than someone whose name sounds white, and if a black person is called into an interview, they are also less likely to get the job if they don’t speak “like a white person” or if they wear their hair naturally.
This, and the fact education in poverty stricken schools is disgustingly unequal from the schools you might find in a middle-class area (to the point where teachers don’t show up for school, substitutes are scarce, textbooks are from decades ago, there’s little to no technology, science & sports equipment, or art supplies, and the building may be in disrepair—0r other horribly desolate circumstances), make the idea that everyone in this country can achieve what they want simply by working hard a shoddy one at best, and an illogical one objectively. This unequal education not only has devastating effects on children’s ability to go into higher education (a feat that has been proven to require preparation starting in the middle schools years—preparation that is scarcely provided in low-income communities), but also hinders these children’s ability to do well in other opportunities that they receive in life, depending on what those opportunities may be or if they present themselves.
Quality of education and economic class are closely related—so is, however, the “hidden curriculum” that our schools have adopted, and the “hidden curriculum” that our society has adopted. Understanding the nature of socioeconomic class (especially ones other than your own), is the first step in being able to accurately vote on things such as economic and social legislation, and I implore anyone who reads this to do their best to do so.
This past week, my parents returned from their trip to Europe. Yes, they emerged from their two-week adventure with smiles and sore feet after having visited Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, and London. If the word “London” catches your attention, you have probably been paying attention to the news, and you know that London has fallen victim to a series of attacks. The day after my parents came home, they sat on the couch and gushed about their trip—from the ubiquitous, urine-smell emitted by the city of Paris, to musicians on street corners, food, art, and yes, the attack on the London Bridge during their visit. They explained the logistics of the attack, involving trucks and knives, but also, more importantly, noted the drastic difference between the news coverage of the incident during their time in Europe and that of which they saw streaming from America. My mother, a fellow politics junkie and media literacy extraordinaire, said that Britain did not mention names, politics, religion, or any specifics associated to the attack—in others words, there was absolutely no speculation in the news coverage for days, until those specifics were known. I watched on my twitter feed as people like J.K Rowling retweeted posts that said: “Tweets I’m seeing from the UK 0n terror attacks much less panicked/political than from US.”
The reason I bring this up is not to speak ill of America’s news industry. Well, actually, wait, yes it is. But I’m not going to complain about the industry and not address the issue that seem to be at the heart of many of America’s most pressing issues—the issue here being simply ‘corporate bias’ in the media, but more specifically, the fact that America’s top for-profit industries include higher education, healthcare, and the news. I’d like to break down some key basics to these industries, and also tie them into how they’re affecting a large portion of the population in America.
In previous paragraphs, I mentioned something called “corporate bias” – which is basically a phrase people use when they’re trying to say that news companies, especially those involving politics and current events, cover incidents and provide political analysis over things that will benefit the corporation. Basically, things that will please their bosses, acquire higher ratings, and accumulate large amounts of wealth. This causes news channels to cover the same shocking event for weeks, even after it’s relevance has up and disappeared, as well as things such as murders and accidents that are of no use to the American people—and that’s not even the half of it. I don’t need to bring in statistics or anecdotal evidence to convince someone that this is a pressing issue with our news, but I may never be able to convince some people that privatizing the news is something that, in my opinion, we should never have let become as omni-present as it is—that is, to the point where tuning into privatized, for-profit news coverage is exclusively how many Americans get their news. At this point, someone could say that Americans have plenty of options in which to get their news, but in fact, the opposite is true. In America, 5 media conglomerates control 90% of the media we view, which was outlined in my political science class, and in this PBS article:
“The trend of media conglomeration has been steady. In 1983, 50 corporations controlled most of the American media, including magazines, books, music, news feeds, newspapers, movies, radio and television. By 1992 that number had dropped by half. By 2000, six corporations had ownership of most media, and today five dominate the industry: Time Warner, Disney, Murdoch’s News Corporation, Bertelsmann of Germany and Viacom. With markets branching rapidly into international territories, these few companies are increasingly responsible for deciding what information is shared around the world.”
What happens to these media corporations, is that they buy each other out—they suck each other up like a Pacman game. Largely, this is due to deregulation of governmental barriers that protect the American people from “commercial exploitation of the media.” Either way, the for-profit nature of American news coverage and the lack of options to access various news sources is one of the facets that’s creating Americans who are not completely ignorant, but who are ignorant about the wrong things.
Awhile ago, a friend of mine and I were having a discussion about college while out with some friends. I said something along the lines of, “a lot of stupid people graduate college every year.” Immediately, a person sitting next to me who is not my friend, but a friend of the people I was with, said, and I quote, “That’s interesting, coming from you, a liberal.” (disclaimer: I am trying my best to make political ideology completely unrelated to the way in which I write and analyze.) I was immediately confused about the logic of this person, but more so, I now want to use this as an opportunity to explain my own logic for such a statement.
A few decades ago, a bunch of educators and scientists, or people who should have known better, if you will, looked at the correlation between high self-esteem and good grades and said, “That’s great! Now we just have to raise their self-esteem so that their grades will also rise!” These people, of course, did not take into account the fact that correlation does not, in any way, imply causation. What they failed to realize is that maybe, perhaps, it’s the other way around, and good grades beget high self-esteem—which is something I can certainly vouch for. What happened next, well, it was the pits. Educators looked at this correlation and began to tell students that they’re doing great, and they’re learning the material so well—even if they weren’t. Come president Bush, you have school funding riding heavily on how well students do on standardized achievement tests—the same students who think they’re doing really great (or, if you will, achieving), but aren’t, and have no idea! Not only did this create an even more unequal distribution of educational opportunities in poverty-stricken communities (book recommendation: “Savage Inequalities” by Jonathon Kozol, explains this phenomenon very well), but it also churned out a bunch of students who may have gotten good grades, but had never learned the things they were supposed to. If you take this into account, as well as the fact that our education system values discipline rather than intelligence, college is relatively easy to get into assuming you can pay for it, and also the fact that college leaves the average person with 37,172 dollars in student debt, then viola! You have only the percentage of the population that can afford to either pay tens of thousands of dollars or live the rest of their life with overwhelming amounts of debt attending colleges meant to educate, broaden horizons, and strengthen critical thinking skills. Of this percentage, many of the people attending college are a disproportionate representation of intelligence, skills, and interests in America—with many of the top colleges admitting only above average intelligence and wealth, and many of the other colleges admitting average intelligence, skill, and interests en masse into their environment (average being the supposed, middle-class “default” in American society). I’m not saying this is objective, or that there aren’t hundreds of anomalies, but I am saying that, along with the media, these two extreme for-profit industries are leaving many Americans ignorant about the wrong things, stuck in the cycle of poverty, and more broadly, largely uneducated past compulsory learning, which nobody likes as much anyway.
Okay, now we can get into the pinnacle—the pièce de résistance—of for-profit industries in America: healthcare. For me to explain how this is affecting the American people, I have to explain the difference between the “risk pool” and the notorious ‘high-risk pool’. The most basic explanation of how healthcare works goes something like this: everyone pays a lot of money every month, and this money goes into a ‘risk pool’. Eventually, when someone gets sick, money gets taken out of this giant pool of cash, and goes towards doctors appointments, medications, treatments etc. etc. per request of the sick customer. Before the ACA, there were two ‘risk pools’—a risk pool for people who were generally healthy, and a ‘high-risk’ pool for people who have things like cancer, disabilities, mental illnesses, and the list goes on, and includes much more trivial things like c-sections. That, however, is not the only difference between these groups. The high-risk folks have historically been charged at rates tenfold of those who were healthy, that way, the insurance companies can accumulate large amounts of wealth right out of the pockets of sick people. Think about it. In this way, Americans who are already sick, or who recently became sick, were sometimes either kept that way for a very long time, forced to face a premature death, or reduced to making extreme financial sacrifices in order avoid doing the latter. With the ACA, high risk pools were eliminated and individual mandates were put in place to keep costs down as much as possible, and to make sure sick people could avoid financial disasters—among other things. However, many people are now angry because their insurance costs have risen, which is not because of some imaginary law that requires the costs of insurance to rise, but because they are no longer enjoying the facade that includes relatively cheap insurance. And also, because everything health or doctor-related in the United States costs a whopping, crap-ton more than any other country in existence. Well, and also, healthcare is a for-profit industry.
I cannot pretend to understand how anyone could possibly question why the American political system, as well as the constituents residing underneath it, are in such distress and dysfunction, if the top for-profit industries in the U.S include higher education, healthcare, and the news. By this analysis, I hope people find more sense in understanding corporate bias, media conglomerations, the relationship between achievement tests in American schools, decisions of educators in the U.S decades ago, and how it pertains to higher education as a for-profit industry, as well as the basic functions of healthcare and it’s possible effects on Americans across the country.
Now, a few days ago I promoted this blog post through Instagram, and I know the general consensus among humans is that they aren’t ever as interested in politics as they are pictures of the sky, of cute animals, and oddly enough, pictures of physically attractive humans? So, without further adieu, here are your promised pictures:
Pictures of the sky:
Pictures of cute animals:
Oh, what? You thought that all politicians were old white guys with receding hairlines? What’s that? You also thought that I wouldn’t sneak politics into this somehow? You make me laugh!
Starting this summer, I’d like to add two new segments of blog posts. The first, called ‘brief political musings’, will include a string of writings in which I provide commentary on certain aspects of U.S politics that range from unbearable to, well, unbearable. I will post a simple paragraph or two that draws attention to things all over the political spectrum—once a month.
The second branch, called “Book hauls” are very similar to clothing hauls—hauls that all the cool people do—where they buy a bunch of stuff from a particular clothing brand, try them on, and create a video or blog post about how much they love their new outfits. But, naturally, I’m far too nerd-like and definitely not fashionable enough to make one of those (note: currently wearing ten dollar, basic blue jeans from Old Navy and a “Venturing” t-shirt. I’m so nerd-like that I’m a girl and I’m in an organization directly affiliated with Boy Scouts. You may also imagine my very notable bi-weekly boy scouts uniform that I get to wear. Can you see it? Absolutely glamorous). These posts will be similar, but instead I will talk about the books I’ve read, and I will talk about how much I absolutely love, love, love them. I will, of course, provide loose analyses and reviews of each one as well. These will be seasonal, that is, per semester, when I read lots of books.
I know that the title of this site is Kyah Probst: Multi-disciplinary Artist, so I’m prepared to pepper in some new work, or, if you want me to be more detailed, sporadically add large blocks of artistic content and other creative junk because I’ve neglected to consistently create things. (Ah, yes, the action that defines my worth. Or doesn’t, if you’ll wait for my next book haul.)
If you’re new to this site, feel free to look around and visit some art, photography, and my latest series of essays involving interviews with local home-schoolers across St. Louis (See: A Homeschool Exploration). If you’re feeling truly interested, you can subscribe to this blog, and stay tuned, in order to be the first to view and purchase products with my art on it in the very near future (there may even be special discounts involved!)
If you’re reading this, you’ve probably received a ‘Call to Action’ following my presentation in Keith Oliver’s Oral Communication class at Meramec from 12:00-12:50, M W F.
If you click on this link, it will lead you to an illustration about ‘high-functioning’ autism, in the form of Archie—a child cartoon character who will teach you about Autism Spectrum disorder in far more depth than I am able to. It’s a cute illustration, and I hope you enjoy it.
Once you finish, feel free to look around this site. I am doing an honors project for this class involving interviews from local homeschoolers—many of which dual-enroll at Meramec.
Kyah Probst, 17, is a multi-disciplinary artist from St. Louis, Missouri. Kyah’s primary mediums are ink, watercolor, and acrylic—however, many of her pictures have been altered digitally in order to achieve a fresh perspective on the more classical mediums. For the past three years, she has been home schooled, and, although she is merely junior-aged, she in enrolled at St. Louis Community College where she hopes to acquire an Associate’s in Teaching by the end of 2018. In addition to studio art, Kyah is also proficient in DSLR photography, voice, writing, and is currently learning instruments such as guitar, ukulele, and piano. Here, you can find information on all of her creative endeavors, as well as portfolios for her visual art. Coming in September of 2017, Kyah will be launching her business in which she will use Probstinista.com, Bucketfeet.com, and Redbubble as her platforms of choice.