Monday, January 21, 2008

It was the best of times...

I was directed to see this clip of The View today. I can't stand the View; chatty women talking over each other gives me a painful headache. But sometimes I am directed to see relevant brief snippets of the show online.
This clip is thoroughly irritating to me. On MLK Jr. Day the women are discussing whether we are, as a country, more racist or more sexist, the question being pertinent to whether we'd be more likely to elect a female or a black president. Elizabeth says that black men could vote before any woman could, Whoopi urgently corrects her to the contrary. The person who put the link up makes fun of Elizabeth for "putting her foot in her mouth." Turns out she was right. Google "womens' suffrage" and "black vote" as I did to nail down the exact dates.
I hate being wrong. I try extremely hard to always be right, and I like to think I usually am. This preference is likely in large part due to being the oldest child in a family, since what the oldest says usually goes; and they are also usually the first to learn how to verbally defend anything they say to their advantage. I have to think having an older sibling would be maddening at times. Right, Ian and Calista? ;)
As I've become an adult, I've gained a healthy obsession for being able to back up what I say. Sometimes I might be too slow to speak on an issue or defend an idea because I don't have all the info. I really dislike when people speak too quickly and incorrectly on something they are not at least partially educated on. And if they do it with even a hint of condescension, they'll have work to do to gain my respect again. Exhibit A, Whoopi Goldberg. It is the slightly malicious part of me that wants to see her reaction when she finds out that she incorrectly corrected someone on national television on such a major part of history. I generally like Whoopi, but shame on her for not knowing, and you know what, a little shame on Elizabeth for not defending the accuracy of her comment. I probably would have done the same thing, I can't imagine trying to keep everything I say straight on national television. But I will use this as an example for myself to continue to seek knowledge and accuracy in everything I say, and have the confidence in my words enough to defend them.
I will never forget the concept of the acronym "WUKFA" as long as I live. Of the many invaluable things Spencer taught our rhetoric class that year, this is on my top three.
There are basically five levels of knowledge in regards to everything we encounter in our lives, be it a person, history of a country, piece of literature, political policy, how to use a mac, nutrition, etc.

The first is Awareness. A vague idea that something is there and has a shred of significance. I am aware that there is a great novel out there called A Tale of Two Cities. I could not tell you more about it than that I know it exists and is well-respected and that the title of my post comes from it.
The second level is Familiarity. I am familiar with many people; the ones I see on State St. or friends' parties and say hi to but not converse with. I might know they went to my college and are from Washington and have heard who they are dating, but that's about it.
The third is Knowledge. I have knowledge of Santa Monica, having been visiting Zac there for nine months now. I know how to get around pretty well, and have a couple favorite restaurants and shops, but I have to ask someone else for a good place to have a glass of wine in the evening, how to get to the 10, and I still discover something new every time I go for a run there.
The fourth level is Understanding. I understand Spanish. I can speak it and write it and read it somewhat proficiently. Since I haven't used it much over the past year, it's quite rusty but I've translated for missions teams and had friendships spoken only in Spanish before.
The fifth level is Wisdom. I am wise in very few things. My best example is maybe myself. I know myself very well; my strengths and weaknesses, I can intuit how I will feel about something or someone quickly, how certain exercise will affect my body, and I know how to make decisions for myself that I will be happy with tomorrow, in 6 months, or in two years.

Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge, Familiarity, Awareness. Spencer taught us to strive towards knowledge and understanding in things that we intend to speak to others about, and to strive for higher levels if we are hoping to actually teach or debate with others about something. He gave us a quote about how many men speak on things they are only familiar about, and only few share abuot that to which they are wise. We were urged to seek wisdom on the things most crucial to our lives... our spouses, our children, the line of work we pursue, the things we vote on. We were challenged to have the evidence to back ourselves up when confronted, to have the wisdom to be able to love deeply.
The journey to reach this point obviously takes work, but I believe that it is our duty to embark upon it whether you are sharing your views on tv or just trying to be a good friend, employee, or citizen.


emilykatz said...

thank you for reminding me of WUKFA. how quickly i forget spencer's teachings..

Anna Jordan said...

I CANNOT believe out of all those intelligent women that NOT ONE of them knew to correct Whoopi! I hope they correct themselves tomorrow.
Women didn't get the vote until 19th amendment in 1920! Black men got to vote in the 15th amendments! I recognize that remembering the amendments is difficult but Barbara Walters ought to know better, at least!

Thanks for sharing :)

Jonathan Miller said...

Corrine great blog but I actually have to disagree with your comments about suffrage. African American men achieved suffrage with the adoption of the Fifteenth Amendment, but in fact some states threw up barriers to black voting that persisted into the 1960s. American women did not win their struggle for suffrage until ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, but unlike African Americans, they did not then have to continue the fight against state attempts to circumvent the law.

Studying Constitutional Law African Americans dealt with consistant problems until the 1960's. Everything from poll taxes, literacy tests, grandfather clauses, and re-districting to nullify their vote. They technically had a vote but not in reality.

Chasen and Lisa said...

I liked this post a lot Corinne. Would you say that you not wanting to say something about a subject you don't know a lot about is connected to the internal processing that an "I" does? You taught me about that. I am the same way as you. I have to share this weekend with the rest of the staff for 10 minutes about my INTP. yikes, I wish I could consult with you first.

*corinne said...

Thanks for commenting, Jonathan...that's what I like to see, some critical thinking!

Maybe this will be an "agree to disagree" situation but here is my response:

I wrote that "Elizabeth says that black men could vote before any woman could, Whoopi urgently corrects her to the contrary."
I claimed that Whoopi was wrong and Elizabeth was right. I would still very much agree with that.

A black man could vote before women could. There were many black votes that were cast and counted before 1920. If I was teaching history, when I covered these issues I would absolutely detail as well the many difficulties blacks faced in acting on the 15th Amendment. I did read about these before I made my post. I wouldn't blame someone for choosing to define the timeline of voting rights according to when any and all barriers for blacks in those resistant states were erased.
And I understand that often, history is subjective.

But considering the following... that in 1867 the Fourteenth Amendment passed Congress and defined citizens as "male;"...
and in 1868 the Fifteenth Amendment passed Congress, giving the vote to black men... Women petitioned to be included but were turned down. In New Jersey, 172 women attempted to vote; but their ballots were ignored...

I stand by my assertion that a black man could technically and in reality vote before a woman.

*corinne said...

Just sent you an email, Lisa, that hopefully you'll get a chance to see before Saturday! Can't resist letter discussions. And yes, being an I(ntrovert) lends itself to wanting to fully process what one sees, hears, and thinks well before one speaks. Also, the P preference that you and I share makes us more prone to postponing decisions and judgments on an issue until either a)we gather as much info as possible or b)are forced to make a choice.

Lesley Miller said...

Jonathan told me he disagreed with you on your blog and we got in a big debate about blog etiquette because I said it wasn't nice to have his first comment be one that's disagreeing with you. Anyway, just thought you'd want to know that this post gave us some lively conversation over dinner. :)