(gentle music) – I’m so glad to be here. And I’m going to talk today about language, that’s
because I was trained initially as a linguist. But in. In the process I’ll be
talking how ideology. In fact and affects and impacts language in every day living and we often betray, we are often betrayed by that language. But I wanted to start
my talk, which I titled, “Killing Ideology Ideolically” with a quote from Paulo Freire which goes like this. I quote, The more I might
let myself be seduced by the acceptance of the depth of history the more I would admit
that the impossibility of the different tomorrow implies an eternity of the
neoliberal today we see now and the permanence of today kills within me the possibility
of dreaming, unqoute. Paulo Freire. Then I want to share, as
I was preparing my talk, Maya Angelou’s, that along the same lines shares in her poem saying, I quote, History, despite
its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived and
the face with courage need not be lived again. Lift up your eyes upon
the day breaking for you. Give birth again to the dream. Women, children, men take into the palm of your hands. Mold it into shape of
your most private needs. Culp it into the image
of your most public self. Lift up your hearts. Each new hour holds new
chances for new beginnings. Do not be wet forever
to fear your eternally to brutishness, unquote. Maya Angelou. I thought that these two incredible authors and poets, and Paulo Freire, in a
sense speaks very loudly against this fascilistic
notion of the end of history, and the end of ideology of this fatalism that we have now facing in this dark ages. You know, not only in the United States, but all over the world. But before I submerge
myself into the brutishness of our contemporary world, I want to take this
opportunity to thank both Henry Giroux and Susan Giroux, for their kind invitation
for me to be here today to share with you some of my ideas but also some of my ideals. Ideals which shape our political project which has its main aim that a better tomorrow, as Paulo
would say, is possible. Thus, we should commit
ourselves to carve a wool that is less morally
offensive and more just. Less dehumanized and more humane. I also want to thank, for
you, for your presence today particularly the students. Because I believe that
you represent the tomorrow that will lift us out of
our current world darkness where carnage is being normalized. Human disposibility is naturalized. And fear becomes our (foreign language). While the future generation
faces the wait of darkness of our current history, and has been saddled, as
many of you are well know with unconscious due to a mortgage that you have to pay for many many years if not 30 years, a dark age where humanity
is now determined strictly by market forces. Your presence here today confirms for me that there are many of us who dare to say no to the
fatalistic view of the world and why yearning for alternative ways of being in the world and with the world. A world where people dare to proclaim that human misery is not a destiny, but a social construction. Hence, your presence here
today, quoting again, Maya Angelou is, I quote, The image of your most public self. Lift up your hearts, unquote. Let me also take a minute to say that I’m here today
merely as an accident of history. For many reasons. My guidance counselor didn’t
want me to go to college because I didn’t speak English. And when I met Henry,
as you soon will know, I was a psycho linguist teaching language at Boston University. And that psycho linguist
preparation did not prepare me to be, it did prepare me
to be a very good technician into the cracking of more themes but it robbed me simultaneously
of the critical ability to make meaning out of
the cracked more themes so as to make language with the world that generates shapes and
reshapes meaning making. That is, I could crack more themes, I could conjugate verbs, I could understand tenses, but in most cases, or
at least in many cases, I couldn’t make the accurate
meaning in the accurate and appropriate context. And so as to understand both my location in the world, and the
location of others, as well. While teaching language
at Boston University I met Henry Giroux. With whom I connected instantaneously due to our shared working class values and our distaste, for what
I think is a suffocating and at times, nauseating
liberal middle class academics whose political commitment to show to justice, always
is guided and shaped by an ideological weather vane that shifted that shifts without notice depending on the ideological
wind current of the moment. Henry’s father was also a mechanic and so was I. That’s how I put myself through school. I, and then because of that fact I immediately became Henry’s personal personal mechanic,
(laughing) making frequent house calls. (laughs) Near Commonwealth Avenue where he lived in an apartment that belonged to BU, with my toolbox. While in a very middle working class way, not middle class, in a
very working class way we began to exchange labor instead of paying for it. Since I’m miserly, you know,
salary from Boston University could not afford this very much I pay to go to the garage to have his Ford Triumph fixed which would break down
almost every other week right? (laughs) So I remember once while
taking apart the brakes in his Triumph, Henry was leaning over me talking non-stop
trying to refigure his arguments against
school of positivism, theory and culture of resistance, culture production and reproduction themes that preoccupied him at that time. I remember vividly how
much I wanted my hands not to be full of grease
so I could take notes. (laughing) Luckily I had a very good memory and I would go home, take a shower and begin to write down Henry’s ideas, books that he would
suggest that I would read, and ponder over many of his
theoretical formulations. Needless to say, my coincidental
encounter with Henry transformed my life. It is through him that I met Paulo Freire with whom I had an uninterrupted
15 year relationship and collaboration translating his books and also co-authoring
several books and articles. Henry published my first major
article in critical literacy which was only the beginning
of multiple publications that would see the light
through his encouragement, mentorship, and friendship. A friendship that has
last more than 37 years. 37 years, without ever
having a falling out. Which is not really that common in the academy, as you know. They hate you sometimes
for even writing a book or giving a good lecture,
or getting an award. Much less maintaining a
long-term relationship as we have. Ken Saltman, a mutual
friend often many times has asked me, “How come you and Henry “never had a fight in 37 years?” You know, my answers
always the same to him. It happened two, three weeks ago, again. “Neither one of us are careerists “whose political project
is career advancement “couch in a counterfeit critical
and progressive discourse.” And we are surround by many of those. Both Henry and I understand the meaning of friendship that goes
beyond a quid pro quo. Neither Henry nor I were ever seduced by the pretentiousness of the academy and we both understood very well that there is no such thing
as a working class academic. That is, not to fully be accepted into the academy one needs
to be willing to give up ones working class ways of being in
the world and with the world. And be willing to be
whitewash into a similatory middle class academic life. Finally, Henry and I
understood the value of loyalty and friendship, with
friendship always trumped career move, a career move, a book published, or not, who’s going to the the first
or second noted author. By rejecting the seduction of the academy I became a proud godfather
of Henry’s son Brady. The best man in his marriage with Susan. And I became an adopted brother to Henry whose generosity is boundless by mentoring hundreds of young
authors, including myself. I was young at one point.
(laughing) Particularly a minority in women who always have had a hard time scoring an academic touchdown in the field where the goal post is always moveable to protect traditions, to exclude minorities and women, to reinforce academic rituals and institutional power. In a nutshell, I am who I am today because of the transformation
that I underwent under Henry’s tutelage,
mentorship, and friendship. And for that, thank you Henry. Against the glimpse into my personal history in an era when historical
amnesia is encouraged, if not, demanded, both on the
personal and societal level, I want to use the time that I have left to problematize the
neolberal trap of proclaiming the end of social and human problems when the facts on the grants
point to the contrary. It is an extremely difficult
to end, what is in essence, an endable, or at least
not easily endable. For example, in the
past few decades or so, the public discourse has been infested by the empty cliches such as the end of a plethora of books have been published proclaiming the end of racism, Danish the Susan, for example, the end of history, the end of ideology, among other ends. Hence, with the fall of the Berlin wall author pseudo intellectuals
and political pundants will blindly embrace the
virtues of liberal democracy, rush to jump on the proper bandwagon declaring, for instance,
the end of ideology. What these thinkers fail to realize is that ideology can only
be killed ideologically. That is, once ideology
is only ever displaced by any favor of another,
acknowledged, or not. These pseudo thinkers turn commissars, supporting the neoliberal world order attempt to disingeniously
promote a fatalistic discourse designed to immobilize history so that we can accommodate the status quo. A status quo so aggressively promoted by a neoliberalism that largely supports an obscene greed whereby the ruling class minority accumulates a vast tour of wealth while the majority of
the world dispossessed landless and exploited a thinly relegated to sub-human condition and status. Thus the gulf between the
haves and the have nots in the world is
exemplified by the decadent reality in which 63, six three, 63 individuals in the world control more wealth than three billion, 3.5 billion people in the lower rung of the world. People who live with less
than one dollar per day. And Henry this morning correct me that, told me, that out
of the 63 individuals 43 of them live in the United States. Imagine that, 43
individuals have more wealth than approximately over
three billion people in the lower rung of the world wealth. If this is not decadent, name me another form of decadence. And the fact that we don’t connect with that reality, that we
don’t problematize reality, that we don’t critique loudly, we don’t really denounce in
order to announce a world that’s less discriminatory and more humane gives me chills when I think about it. Particularly coming from Africa where poverty is all around you. It’s all around you. When you see children dying of hunger because they couldn’t have breakfast, they couldn’t have proper medication, they could not have proper vaccination, so on and so forth. So I’ve seen it, I’ve lived it, and thus I am very passionate when I talk about the issues, and I feel
these issues in my heart. So in order to guarantee its survival acceptance and reproduction,
the neo-liberal ideology needs to astutely hide its
capitalistic evil nature while masking the concentration of wealth of the ruling class minority
and normalize massive poverty and human misery for the vast majority of the people of the world. Particularly in the third-world which they cynically
label as such third-world. And I say cynically because we all know that in fact, in the
first-world US society we do have third-worlds,
like east St. Louis, Detroit, south Chicago, east L.A., and so on and so forth. Ghettos where human misery, hopelessness, alienation is a daily factor of life. Does the term third-world, which refers to underdeveloped, I would say developing, always the underdeveloped diminish and demonize these nations. It’s misleading to the extent that we know that these third-world
realities also occur in our present, in our
first-world context. We’re, for example, oligocs, like the 63 or 43 people who live
here, are often in prison in skyscrapers penthouse
with helicopter pads because they are too afraid to freely walk the very streets they have populated with homelessness people,
with homeless people, alienation, and human misery. That is the case, for example, in Brazil, many Latin American
countries where the rich live in these type of penthouses,
that they don’t really move around by cars and have a walk and they basically go from place to place via helicopters. Brazil is the second country in the world in terms of private ownership of planes. And I was told by Anita
Freiri not too long ago that there is a little
city constructed in Brazil where there are no roads. Zero roads. You cannot even buy cars. Their people can live in
safety that, in other words, the very people that have been oppressed that are now feeling alienation and then we call involving crime because of the alienation,
cannot get there. So they travel back and forth from at least the fathers and the mothers who are professionals,
then travel back and forth to (foreign language) which basically is this economic center of
the entire South America and Latin America via helicopters. Isn’t that incredible? In other words, the more you accumulate, the more millions you have,
the more imprisoned you are in your very wealth. So this is basically we are not seeing it, but coming from the third-world I know it exists, I have seen it, and I am seeing now the beginnings of it in many contexts in the US. And I think if things
do not change radically, certainly if Donald Trump wins, you know, that reality would be
expanded for sure, you know. Just for me the insidiousness
of the neoliberal discourse resides in this attempt
to dehistorisize reality while passing itself as natural coercing those who are
not reaping benefits from the social order to accommodate to it on the grants that they occur accommodation
or such an accommodation is for their own good. It’s important that the
oppressed remain domesticated by ensuring that they embrace blind faith and retain only a naive view of reality which is in line with
the doctrinal system. That is to say, a reality
that cannot be changed. A reality that’s a priority predetermined. This fatalistic and
deterministic view of the world immobilize people so as to prevent them from seeing that human misery as I said earlier, is
a product of history. Not a destiny. If it is a product of history it is a social construction. If human misery is socially constructed we can intervene in a significant manner to deconstruct the human misery and begin to think of alternatives where social injustice in a more just society can be constructed. The degree to which the
neoliberal discourse has succeed in preventing
a clear understanding of reality is not rest
only on the force of ideological manipulation. Its current triumph is directly linked with its policy design
to shrink public spaces where debate can occur
and oppositional voices can be heard. The strategy to dissolve public spaces heavily direct toward
privatization of everything public including public schools,
the media which right now is totally concentrated in the hand of few corporate giants in the
United States, for examples. The attack on the public has successfully target schools and universities causing the atrophy of public spaces for debate that could animate
the substance of democracy in critical citizenship. For example, public universities in the US are now public in name only since the state only minimally funds them. Take the case of our university the University of Massachusetts in Boston. When I started teaching at U Mass Boston the state funded the university by 70%. Right now it only barely funds 23%. That is, U Mass Boston is mainly funded by student tuition. Whereas across the river, MIT, you all have heard about MIT. You know, an elite institution university in the area, is funded over 80% by federal and state grants and contracts. Which means that MIT, in reality, is more public than U Mass
Boston, where I teach. But is private to the
extent that it remain exclusionary and excludes the very public that funds it. This is really incredible. It’s not only incredible how
the language that is used used as a private, nobody ever questions is a private school then
they can set their own rules then they can have an elite portion, then they can have high high expectations in terms of requirements for you to get in in terms of SAT scores and so on and so forth. Now whereas the poor people,
not any longer because of gentrification, but
the poor Portuguese folks they live around MIT and surround MIT Portuguese immigrants by and large and Latino immigrants that
will contribute to funding it in some real direct respect could not have access to it because
they would never really have gone to good schools, schools that will prepare
them to basically perform and achieve the type of
standards required by MIT. Now this is another way that in fact ideology works to mediate and then also to get us to
accommodate to a reality that’s discriminatory, but
the language makes us feel that it’s not even in our
realm to think of going to MIT since it’s a private institution. And whereas, we the state
answer to the federal government pays so much more that what they pay to sustain U Mass Boston, where I teach. So to me then, this form of
critique is often muffled by the tactic brilliantly
used by the neoconservative and the neoliberals which is
to position both the media and high education as (mumbling). In other words, if I make this
critique I’m a (mumbling). If I make this critique I’m anti-liberal. If I make this critique I’m out of order, and so on and so forth which is critique really
deserves to be made. MIT and Harvard elite institution need to be democratized. So long they want to continue to really be supported by state and federal funds in some direct, or indirect way. So in some times in talks like this then not only do they try to muffle me but they think that I’m anti-American in trying to make the critiques. Whereas my critiques and my view is basically to make
America more democratic and basically adhere
its ideal of inclusion in all our society. Thus for example once one is incalculated with the belief that Hillary
Clinton, for example, John Kerry, remember him? And Dan Rather, who are all (mumbling) supporters of the illegal war on Iraq are considered and labeled liberals, liberals, or a liberal politicians who are working against
the interests of Americans and there remains little
public space for more progressive left voice to be part of the mainstream discourse. In fact, with respect to high education, professors like Don Chansky, Howard Zynn, Stanley Arranwick, Henry Giroux, Bell Hooks, Angela Davis, among others, are portrayed as danger
enemies of the United States who indoctrinate rather than educate. In other words, engage in
critical analysis of reality is called indoctrination. While banking approach, a
banking model of teaching of selective fact consumptions is viewed as natural,
neutral, and scientific. So a non-critical course
that does not really raise issues that does not engage
students and critique, that does not create the space for debate is normal, natural, and scientific. And if you engage in the type of critique that I’m engaging in right now I would be consider ideological, I’m teaching the seminar
on social linguistics right now in the major
textbook that I’m using the author even cautions, even cautions readers to avoid critical linguists because of their ideology they paint the objectivity of the
methodology they use to collect data and analyze
data, and so on and so forth. So what this author does not realize Page 15, I never forget, this author does not realize
the very claim that I am, for example, ideological,
constitute already an ideological act. And this is a book that presents itself a textbook that presents itself as a progressive textbook that tries to validize language difference in language variety, such as Black English, for example. Thus for me, the nomenclature public attach to both radio and television is at best a quaint relic
and at worst, a misnomer. Center to the neoliberal
ideological control is the manipulation and
the erasure of language. For example, when Hillary
Clinton, John Kerry, and the reporter Dan
Rather, are designated as liberals, by the
dominant ideology apparatus, it is unviable to have a
significant left presence in the mainstream. By mainstream I mean this term that’s used unreflectively as a
yardstick to weed out people, ideas, and ideals that not conform to the white middle class
ways of being in the world. I ask my students often
what is the meaning. These are linguists,
they’re gonna get a masters in applied linguists. I ask them, What is the
meaning of mainstream? They often ponder and
have difficulty answering. And when they struggle to
try to answer that question they keep pointing more, they
keep inching more and more and more toward white middle class values. So they does not really a definition. So if you think of mainstream there are millions and
millions of Americans that don’t belong, that
don’t fit into that category. IE: the immigrant, for example. And we’re not part of the mainstream. But if you think you have a job, you have certain security, you’re not engaged in
any type of radicalism you may think of yourself a mainstream whereas you know that you’re not because if you try to rent an apartment in the wrong neighborhood, you would be told immediately that this is not the mainstream that
we have in mind for you. So then for me then the label the media labels Hillary
Clinton as a liberal, for example, the expectation
is that at point of reference is the left, so Hillary
Clinton becomes deep left. So you can’t possibly imagine anybody to the left of her. Now by coincidence we have Bernie Sanders and in order to escape
that labeling liberal he calls himself a socialist democrat. And he does that purposely
because he is to the left. But we don’t have labels
in the United States for example, as we do in Europe in Africa, and Latin America, that we try to locate the
positions of politicians. So we have, for example, the republicans all of them, from Cruz to Rubio, to Trump they are what? Conservatives. You see? But we never refer to Donald Trump the far right candidate. Now neither do we refer, for example we don’t have any. A far left, or a hard left candidate in the United States. But that doesn’t mean that reporters in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The L.A. Times, so on and so forth, don’t know the difference if when they are talking about
candidates, for example, in countries like Chile, in countries like Argentina, in countries like France, in countries like Brazil, they use the term that they don’t use with the US politician. For example, the associated press reported I quote, (mumbling) had 62% of the votes to 38% for the center right (mumbling) who conceded defeat in the
Presidential election in Chile. So in the same article it
was reported that (mumbling) I quote, Has a new center left coalition and promise to finance
education with higher corporate taxes and reduce
the wealth gap, unquote. Sounds like Bernie, you know. But do we have say that Bernie Sanders is center left? Or Bernie Sanders is going to try to develop a coalition with
another center left organization to promote policies that would basically narrow the gap, the wealth gap, between the have and the have not. No, you never find that,
at least I haven’t. So to me then, to me then, left candidate, to the
left of Bernie Sanders who would be characterized as hard left, in Europe, or in Latin America, or in Africa, where I’m from, would be unthinkable. Does a language to mock
the ideological boundaries is unnecessary. So if you, in other
words, if you cannot have if you cannot think of the
political differentiations in terms of the candidates you don’t need a language to name it. So then there’s a relationship
between the concept and then the language. Then the erasion of language is an in essence the erasion of thinking about possibility of the existence of hard left in the United States or hard left in the United States. And this became very clear
as I was doing the research to put this together, on the republican side. The coverage for their
functions in the same manner. Reporters may elude to the existence of the right, as The Boston
Globe reporter Scott Lihigh who considers himself a
liberal and progressive. In essence he is a center right reporter. And wrote an article titled, I quote, The GOP versus the Right. So one cannot claim that we never see the right or the left being
written in a newspaper, although minimally. However, the entire
article ends up lumping the right ideological boundaries into one monolithic term, conservative. This Mark Rubio, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, and Donald Trump are mostly referred to in the mainstream media as
conservative republicans. As Lehigh himself summarized, I quote, This is as open fish among conservatives as what we have seen in the Tea Party times, unquote. IE: when we have a far right candidate or far right coalition,
we don’t name it as such far right coalition. What we do, we come up with the euphemism Tea Party. But most people don’t know
what Tea Party stands for. They they adhere to a single issue
raised by the Tea Party. For example, against abortion. But not against, for example, the economic proposal
that the party’s making. So to use a Tea Party is
not innocent, in my view. Or the lack of referring to the Tea Party as hard right, or far right, sends a message that in
fact in the United States we don’t have basically
these type of differences. All we need to do is
to vote for candidates that in fact are gonna
benefit as individually not really as a collective. Then a process, this process of selecting, of selectively selecting
further denies the public with the appropriate
vocabulary to name reality. References are made to the
support of Ted Cruz receives from the Tea Party, for
example, all the time. But you will never find
in New York Times articles to refer to Ted Cruz as a
hard right or of a far right republican presidential candidate. The erasure then of
language to deny the public with the necessary tools to
carry out critical analysis of political proposal is mostly obvious in the case of Donald Trump. While he embrace a far right ideology based on racism,
anti-immigrants, xenophobia, Trump is never referred in
the media as a far right republican presidential candidate who is gaining millions of votes through his racist anti-immigrant
xenophobic political path. It is naive to think, for instance, that reporters in The New York Times do not have far right,
center right, moderate right, in their vocabulary toolbox. Of course they do. They do in fact have these terms in their vocabulary but choose not to use them when referring only to US politicians. However, they have no problem whatsoever marshalling these terms when writing about ideological difference,
let’s say, in France. Hence, one would find
infinite references in The New York Times
accurately using far right, when writing about Jean-Marie Le Pen. For example, Maggie Haberman, from The New York Times,
writing about Donald Trump made the following observation. I quote, The biggest surprise of the day may have been Mr. Trump receiving a supportive
nod from Jean-Marie Le Pen the far right founder of
The National Front in France and who was tossed from the party over racial rederick, unquote. While Jean-Marie Le Pen is characterized with the qualifier far right Trump is presented as Mr. Trump. So he doesn’t have a position right or left, he is Mr. Trump. So Mrs. Haberman’s decision not to use the far right qualifier is not innocent, in my view. It is ideologically motivated to serve the purpose to de-skill further the voters in their
analysis of each candidate they support or not support. Whereas all the left
politicians all over the world are characterized as such by the US media outlets right wing politicians
who share a center right and far right ideology
are usually referred to as president so and so. Like, for example, you would never found during around 1973, when
we blindly supported Chile, we supported
Pinochet, you’d never find, at least I look, I never
found any reference to Pinochet, the president of Chile that did a (foreign language) against
a elected socialist government supported by DUS. You never find a
reference of Mr. Pinochet, the hard right president. How is he referred often? He was referred Mr. Pinochet the steel president, Mr. Pinochet the hard strong president strong man. Not really attaching hard
right or far right to Pinochet. On the other hand, if you talk about if you do a Google on Lula the socialist president in Brazil, he is always referred to the leftist president Lula, da da da da. If you do the same thing for
Senator Chavez in Venezuela he’s always accompanied by
the qualifier the leftist Senator Chavez, and so on and so forth. So what I’m trying to argue with you although we take it for granted, we don’t even think about it, we don’t even really critique, we don’t even discuss, we don’t even debate about these issues the erasure of language in this context in fact send a political
and ideological message and have basically in the end the effect of manipulating
the way we think into believing that the world
is not what we think it is by not basically providing
us with the critical tools to understand the difference between Donald Trump and Jeb Bush. There’s a substance of
difference between the two, even though both of them are conservative. And then the nomenclature that is used in other political context in society that you have multiple parties including the communist parties and socialist parties,
competing for power, it is necessary because the very existence of these parties is demanded. And two, also people in their engagement, with the political process, need points of reference to understand whether they are voting
for a far right candidate or if they’re voting
for a far left candidate or the center. What we try to do often
is to create this illusion that it’s all about the center. The more near the center you are the safer you are, the better
off society is going to be. Not necessarily so, in my view. Thus I would say that the
right, it is the right it is this right to a language
that names reality that your press need to reclaim in
order to speak their words. The right to be, I quote,
The right to be themselves to assume direction of
their destiny, unquote. It is this right that
forces to go to great length to suffocate seeking
to sequester the words of the oppressed. Words that unveil the
mechanism of oppression and are distorted or repressed,
as Henry Giroux suggested in I quote, A society that
revels in bouts of historical and social amnesia in
which it is much easier for a language of politics and community to be stoling and deployed like a weapon so as to empty words such
as democracy, freedom, justice, and social state of
any viable meaning, unquote. To me, the sequestration
of language by dominate forces of oppression, and
even liberal educators who practilize about
empowerment minorities, even they represent, even when
they represent the majority in given the minority voices,
and giving them voices, when voice, we all know,
should not be viewed as a gift but voice is a democratic
right and my view is also a human right. Voice is not something
to be received as a gift, voice is something to be struggled for. So in a sense, if I
struggle to have a voice I understand the
processes of the struggle. If you give it to me as a gift and if you also if you have
the power to give me voice as gift, you also retain
the power to take it away in any moment that I say something that basically you find offensive or you find obnoxious you find that you disagree with. Ultimately then neoliberalism is then a reactionary discourse that leads human beings
to fall into cynicism when confronted with the
inescapable injustice, exploitation, and cruelty. And now unleash under the
banner of a new world order guide by new neoliberal policies an ironclad globalization. A globalization that, for
example, guarantee early on that Enron, a failed multinational company highly corrupt, would achieve, I quote, Profits that amount to
60% of India’s entire rural development budget. A single American company was guaranteed profit equivalent to
funds for infrastructure development for about 500
million people, unquote. You know, quoted by Roy. It is fatalist, it is
a fatalistic discourse that cynically asks people of the world to tolerate the fact
that the US government, according to Roy again, and rich, The 25,000 rich American farmers who country divvy up four billion dollars in government handouts every years, while 10 million poor cotton farmers in south Saharan Africa,
where I come from, the world’s poorest region, succumb to the imposition
of so-called free trade which is, in reality, a nightmare-ish joke given the total lack of freedom embedded in the asymmetry of economic
and power relationship among these nations. So then, if you think of
when we hear terms like free trade as we were
discussing earlier on today with Henry and some other friends, it’s nothing free because Mexico, Mexicans do not have
any freedom in determine that they have to close their farmers and the farmers have to
try to cross the border illegally and then look
for survival to live in the United States
because of the free trade the NAFTA agreement. In fact, corn can be sold,
American corn can be sold for less than would cost a family farmer to plant and sell that corn. So there are issues
that need to be debated issues to be unveiled and debunked and untact and what we seemingly think
is a naive or innocent term such as free trade,
freedom of speech, so on and so forth. I want to end, before I end I want to say that the analysis that
I did with the far right, center right, and so on,
in terms erasure language, we have it for example, now this hour la la land myth that we
live in a classless society in the United States. For that we never, we
deny academics continue to deny. All you have to do, Google sociology you see how many sociologists,
with rare exception you find sociologists that
engage in class analysis. Very few. They all into quantification,
they all dependent on positiveness models of
analysis, by and large. So, and if you insist on doing a class analysis
you’re immediately classified or labeled a max left, not malcontent, and so on and so forth. So then we have, while saying that we don’t have a class, we
live in a classless society, in their 60s, 70s, even early 80s politicians used to talk,
that they were running their platform running for office is to really protect and
help the working class. After the working class
is becoming more and more and more powerless, in
the last two elections beginning I think with Clinton, or after Clinton, the discourse, the political discourse that
we need to run for office, I’m running for office to
protect the middle class because the middle class
is losing its position, it’s losing its economic footing. In fact, middle class, kids
cannot live in a neighborhood they were born and were raised often. I remember teaching and
talking about this issue in class, this woman who
had raised five children lived in Brookline, a
very affluent neighborhood in near Boston, and never said anything, but her body language, her body language showed that she was uncomfortable. So one day she told me,
“I need to talk to you.” I said, “Oh, fine after class.” Then we go into the hallway. She said, “No no no no no. “I need to talk to you,
can we go to your office?” I said, Oh gosh, I don’t
know what she’s gonna do. She’s gonna say, she wants to send me back to Cape Verde, as I have
been told many times if I don’t like it here,
why don’t I go back where I come from. That happened in May. Then we went up and then she
started talking, she says, “For the first three or
four weeks I was resisting “your discourse, I was
resisting your class. “I was resisting you pushing us. “But you said something last class “that got me to think.” I said, “What is it?” She says, “My husband
who is a medical doctor “retired medical doctor
then, we moved to Brookline “from Jamaica Plain,
precisely to guarantee “that our kids would
get the best education.” Brookline is well-known
for its quality education, its schools. And I realized I have five children and they all married, so
I have many grandchildren and it saddens me, it saddens me, it bothers me, the fact
that my grandchildren none of them can go to
schools in Brookline. Because now the children
who raised in Brookline schools, the affluent neighborhood, don’t have the jobs that
enable, will enable them to live in Brookline. So where do they live? They live in Dorchester and Jamaica Plain where the family had
moved before to escape poor schooling, do you
see what I’m saying? So in other words, she for
the first time realized that her class position was being effected and now she’s bothered by it but she never had the language to discuss because we don’t have
class in the United States. So from that day on then the class I thought she was concerned became much more engaging in that she understood that we
do have class difference. So if progressive educators
that insist that we don’t have even when they insist that
we do have class differences, they continue to use euphemism. For example, we talk about working class, we talk about middle class, but we never, and if you find it, for
example, maybe in Canada, but if you find it, for example, in, see you later my dear. (laughs) If you find it, for example,
in The New York Times this label, I’ll take you
out to dinner and I’ll pay, you know. Because you’re not gonna find. We never refer to the ruling class, we never refer to the upper class. But we insist that we live
in the classless society while using the middle class and the working class. Then the cycle, the circle is not really completed because
we have working class, we have middle class, but what’s missing? We have the ruling class. What is the ruling, what do we substitute the ruling class? What terms do we use to
refer to the ruling class? Or to the upper class? The rich. The affluent. The well-to-do. So on and so forth. The argument that I’m making the very fact that we
go through great length, even those in the academy that sociologists, for example,
or educators that do research and ignore the existence
of the ruling class and prefer to move and to find euphemisms so as not to use the ruling class shows that in fact, language matters. And that the absent of a particular vocabulary
in certain political and ideological context
is a process through which we are manipulatesd
through language to think what we should, to think otherwise rather than thinking what
we should be thinking. So the argument that I wanted to end with is that we have to pay
attention to language and if we are going to be critical, if we are going to be progressive, if we are going to present a
plan toward social justice, a plan where, for example, there’s less injustice and more democracy, we have to begin to name
that reality, or at least create spaces through
language where the people with whom we are in
coalition to form a movement they have the necessary linguistic tools to name their reality via their words speaking their word rather than borrowing the euphemisms given by the academic class that’s
already, in my view, sold out to the extent they’ve refused to. Even, for example, during the 208 debacle, financial debacle, with all the discussion
would have been the fantastic opportunity
to discuss class issues of the United States. We failed, even many of us progressive, because we bought into another euphemism. You see? Rather than talking about the ruling class that in fact created the economic meltdown the bankers of Wall Street,
now they were the ruling class. What do we do? We talk about the one percent. By embracing the one percent uncritically what we did we basically lumped the 99% as living in a symmetrical economic world which is not the case. Between within the 99% you have millions and millions of people
that were lower class, working class. Those that are not even counting the what can be call disposable people, then you have middle class, well-to-do making in the hundreds,
in the six figures a year, that you cannot compare
the six figure a year with somebody making 17,000 cleaning our house and our toilets. To end, let me just say that. To end that we cannot continue to deny that class exists. We cannot adhere or
embrace a false discourse based on euphemism used by academics that reinforce the false myth of a classless society, such as
affluent, the rich, well-to-do. And while avoiding the ruling
class and the upper class. Where, for example, while
the ruling class in New York may be the 43 individuals
that control so much wealth more than three billion
people in the world, spend millions of dollars
every year to send their pets for pedicures in Paris and their plants to winter
in Florida, you know. While millions and millions of children dying of hunger, almost every day, and have lack of access
to adequate health care in a to what world. While the ruling class
is more interested in exploiting an unfair tax
cut enacted by the far right policies cut that enlarge and already obscene gap of wealth. Over 12 million children
in the United States go to bed hungry every single night. While the ruling class is
buying a New York (mumbling) a chocolate dessert for $27,000. The very restaurant that
sells the chocolate dessert for $27,000 probably pays the dishwasher a Latina, or some immigrant less than $20,000 which means she
can’t even afford to pay rent to live in Manhattan
which means she’s either homeless or she lives in shelters. So this is the type of
contradiction that I think language contributes to to it’s hiding that I
think need to be unpacked, unveiled, denounced, so we can announce a society that’s more hopeful, a society that’s less discriminatory, a society that’s more
humane and more humanized. The best course of action is to move away from the empty slogan,
for example, of hope and embrace Giroux’s
notion of an educated hope which invariably implies a
process of consciontization where as citizens we acquire the necessary critical thinking tools so
that instead of internalizing oppression, we understand
how institution of power work to deny most people
equality of treatment, access, and equity. Giroux’s notion of
educated hope invariably requires that we understand
that we are agents who make history, as
we are also made by it. On that note, let me end by sharing the last verses of Maya Angelou’s poem that captures the essence
of meaning of history as hope, and then that
basically clearly states and denies the impossibility of ending history as it has been suggested by many academics, political pundants, and people on the right, and
sometimes even some liberals. And with that I will quote her, The horizon leads forward. Offering you space to
place new steps of change. Here on the path of this fine day you may have the courage
to look up upon me to rock the river the tree, your country. You may have the grace to look up and out into your sisters eyes into your brothers face your country and say simply, very simply with hope good mind. And that’s making history. Thank you, (foreign language). (applause)