Coca-Cola Colonialism

I’m sure, by now, everyone is aware of the Coca-Cola “It’s Beautiful” Super Bowl ad and the batsh*t crazy, racist, xenophobic responses it has garnered. If you haven’t seen the commercial, here you go:

Being the kind of person I am with the friends I have, my Twitter and Facebook feeds have started to fill with the various news stories unmasking the hateful and vitriolic responses to the ad. And I’m glad people are doing that. We should be offended at people spouting hate on the internet and anywhere else. We should act on that feeling of offense and take stands against it in online … but also in our homes, classrooms, and other daily interactions.

From Vagabond Beaumont’s blog post “Occupying Wall Street 1492 – 2011.” Click image to be taken to the post.

But we should also be careful not to jump to Coca-Cola’s defense. Responding to racism, xenophobia, and other craziness is a good thing, but we should not respond in ways that force us into defending a massive corporation and it’s colonization and homogenization of “American” culture. I remain sickened by the the hateful rhetoric spewed by folks who think that “America” is/ought to be white, English-only, etc. … and I am also sickened by mythologizing of “America” and Americanity by corporations, and through media and US policy. I worry that a commercial like this, absent critical discourses questioning it, reinforces a problematic vision of inclusion that leaves untouched the modern/colonial assumptions upon which it is based.

Only by questioning and challenging those assumptions can we begin to eradicate those values, beliefs, epistemologies, and ontologies that authorize the racist vitriol in the first place.

Teaching With/From/Against Textbooks?

Sitting down to prep for my class tomorrow afternoon, I realized something that I found intriguing: It’s been a long time since I last taught out of a textbook. In fact, I think the last time I did so was as a grad student … and I can think of no instance when I actually chose to teach from a textbook in a undergraduate class (with the exception of an anthology). In general, I find textbooks to be more of a pain than they’re worth. They tend to be very expensive (though that’s not always the case) and I feel like they limit my options in more ways than I’m generally comfortable.

So why did I choose one this semester? Partly out of desperation. Partly out of the desire to simplify things on the tenure clock. And partly because I know that my options (which in the case of this social movements class meant turning primarily to journal articles) wouldn’t really be appropriate for my audience … especially in the introductory weeks. Whether that was the right choice on my part, however, is neither here nor there. The choice has been made, the semester has started, and now I’ve got to deal with it.

As someone used to teaching out of journal articles, though — someone used to unpacking the thick academic prose and distilling the material for the students — I’m at a bit of a loss. The textbook (in this case, Stewart, Smith, and Denton’s Persuasion and Social Movements) is … well … pretty straight forward and already distilled. Perhaps I’m overestimating my students’ retention and comprehension abilities, but it seems to me that if one reads the textbook in an active manner (i.e., underlining, making margin notes, maybe even taking some notes) there wouldn’t be much need for clarification in class. If that’s the case (and perhaps my assumption is fundamentally flawed in the first place), what is a professor to do?

So this professor has decided to do a little crowd-sourcing:

  • When teaching with the aid of a textbook, how much do you repeat what’s in the text already? Rather than repeating it yourself, do you walk the students through doing the work of reframing/recalling the textbook?
  • Do you spend a good deal of time problematizing the textbook?
  • Do you make a habit of bringing in other scholarly sources/idea to supplement what’s in the textbook?
  • Do you tend to do more application or use touchstones/examples to animate the concepts?
  • Is your answer “yes”? 🙂

I’ve got a lot of ideas on how I might proceed, but I thought some of my much smarter friends might be willing to join in the discussion to help me and help each other. So what say you, smart friends and possible strangers — got any great ideas you want to share?

Beginning the Semester Reminder: Backups

Well … I guess I took a summer hiatus. Didn’t really mean to; but everything got kind of blurry with the loss of my friend, Nacho, in July. It’s taken the semester’s start to give me a swift kick in the butt and start feeling like myself again. As such, I wanted to take advantage of the relatively calm Friday to get back into posting. This one (as the title indicates) is about backing up your stuff (which most of you do, I’m sure). More posts will be coming, however, as this is a big writing year for me as I try to finish off the book. So without further adieu, here are my thoughts on backing up your important crap.  Continue reading “Beginning the Semester Reminder: Backups”

iPad App Review: Notability

In the midst of my newfound love affair with my iPad, I’ve been doing the app shuffle. I have, of course, loaded it up with the apps essential to my research practices (Evernote, Sente, iAnnotate, Pages, etc.), appropriate music (songs from my iTunes and Pandora), travel apps (Tripit, American Airline’s app, etc.), and other travel entertainment apps (Netflix, some movies, and more). I’ve also loaded some other note taking and productivity apps to test out in the classroom and beyond. One gem that I had the pleasure of using throughout my grad class tonight was Notability.  Continue reading “iPad App Review: Notability”

iPad: Initial Thoughts

After a 2 month saga (during which it really looked like the darned thing wasn’t going to arrive in time for my research trip to NYC), I lucked out and managed to get an iPad locally. I’m deeply indebted to the nice people (especially David) at the Southlake, TX Apple Store for hooking me up with a white 64GB AT&T iPad 2 (not the black one I’d ordered from Apple Education, but I secretly wanted the white one anyway). Why was I so eager to get an iPad? To play Angry Birds or Doodle Jump? Nope … I’m “that guy” who actually wants the thing for work.  Continue reading “iPad: Initial Thoughts”

Grad Students: Tips on Writing

In a recent post, I mentioned speaking to my department’s graduate student organization, COGS (for which I am the advisor), about tips and tricks for having a productive summer. One of the topics they were particularly interested in is the writing process, which exceeds an exclusive focus on the summer. At the outset, everyone needs to understand that there is no magical formula for being a productive writer. I think the biggest things good writers have in common, however, are (a) that they have a game plan/methods that work for them and (b) that they view writing as a process rather than an event. With that in mind, here are some things that I find helpful in becoming a mildly productive writer (or, at least, pretending to be one). These notes were written for my UNT audience, so there are some specific references that won’t apply to others.  Continue reading “Grad Students: Tips on Writing”

Grad Students: Some Tips for Summer Productivity and Applying for Ph.D.’s

I was recently asked to speak to my department’s graduate student organization, COGS (for which I am the advisor), about thinking ahead to the summer. Basically, there were two main issues I was asked to address: thinking about Ph.D. programs (we’re a Masters-only program at UNT) and getting work (particularly writing) done over the summer. As a result, I came up with some general notes/ideas that I’d like to share with a wider audience. Some of these notes reference some UNT-specific things, but I think a lot of what I have to say is applicable to Masters students elsewhere. So here goes. Continue reading “Grad Students: Some Tips for Summer Productivity and Applying for Ph.D.’s”

Critical Ethnic Studies (Some Reflections for NCAers)

Yesterday was the first day of the Critical Ethnic Studies conference at UC-Riverside. Framed around the topic of “Settler Colonialism and the Future of Genocide,” this is a well attended, exciting, and rigorous conference that compels all in attendance to rethink not only systems of domination and power rooted in ethnoracial constructs, but also our own complicity in those systems. I’ll possibly have a couple of posts to make after it’s all over; but I wanted to post a point for reflection now, especially as so many people I know are finalizing their proposals for next year’s National Communication Association convention.  Continue reading “Critical Ethnic Studies (Some Reflections for NCAers)”

Teaching/Research Tools: Google Chrome and Reader

Those who know me know that I’m a bit of a techie and a bit more of an Apple evangelist. Part of being an Apple evangelist (or “fanboy,” in the kids’ vernacular) is using Apple software when it’s available. Sure, I’ve always used Word instead of Pages (Pages just isn’t “there” for me quite yet); but for just about everything else, I use the Apple option: Keynote instead of PowerPoint, Numbers instead of Excel (most of the time), and Safari instead of anything else. Well, I’ve seen the light.  Continue reading “Teaching/Research Tools: Google Chrome and Reader”