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Dreams from My Father - Preface, Intro & Ch. 1, 2, 3 &am

#62: Feb. - Mar. 2009 (Non-Fiction)
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bohemian_girl
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I have head critics refer to Obama as not being a 'true' African American because he did not descend from slavery. That irritated me. Yes, his ancestors were not brought in chains to the US and kept as slaves, but it seems that all Africans, and thus African Americans, have been affected by European Colonialism in some way. I don't feel that his father being from Kenya, and Obama not being a direct decendant from slavery, makes him any less of an American, or an African American. And I don't think it makes him any less qualified to identify with the African American people. He lived and worked amongst these communities for much of his life. He has experienced people's prejudices first hand.

I got the impression that his father was one of the luckier Africans. He showed an extroadinary intellect and ended up studying in Hawaii (where he fathered Barack) and then at Harvard. He did face some struggles with Kenyan government departments later on in his life though. The most racism that he would have encountered, I thought, would have come from his time in the US. It seemed like the same prejudices that many parents had towards their daughters dating African Americans, extended to him. But despite that he seemed to have prospered during his time in the US.
I don't think that he did the right thing by his kids a lot of the time, but that's not a race issue.
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jan
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funny story everyone can relate to

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I cracked up in Chaper 3 when his father is going to speak to his class and Barak is mortified about his past "embellishment" about his fathers life.

What kid hasn't done this? Especially a kid that is trying hard to fit in. It is nice that he didn't get outed and indeed was elevated in popularity due to his father's visit. Nonetheless, I think he learned a lesson.
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Brotherska
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Hi Everyone:

Well, it seems that I have come in quite late. I just started the book. I was actually awaiting Bad Money, but it has not arrived as yet.

I have just finished reading the preface. It is well written; however, I did feel some discomfort as he disclosed some negative attributes about his grandfather, specifically, about his assumed motives.

I was taught to honour my parents, and that may the source of my discomfort. Perhaps Obama’s grandparent had a similar tradition, which could explain why they chose not to speak ill of Obama Sr (at least in the preface).

I look forward to reading Chapter 1.
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There was an interesting chapter from one of Jared Diamond's books, I can't remember which, that mentioned black people have a different mental capacity than Europeans. A greater capacity for survival, and whatever constitutes that, such as finding your way home without a map, running long distances, intelligence(yep). This is due to the selective requirements of their environment, where they had to rely much more on their survival skills.

Europeans, on the other hand, have been selected for resistance to disease. It's an interesting take, but I think it fails to consider the vast stretch of human history where Europeans weren't crammed together and susceptible to plagues. But then, I guess just a couple of plagues is enough for evolution to rear its head.
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Hi Interbane:

I believe the following based on my experience. Perhaps you can identify the areas where we disagree.

1. Every human has the same mental capacity; including the pygmy whom anthropologists claim is the most primitive of human beings, perhaps belonging to an earlier evolutionary age.

2. Every human being will score poorly if tested on a subject with which they are not familiar.

3. Every human being who is distracted by fears for their safety and hunger will find it very difficult to concentrate on learning new information.

4. The visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning styles can be found among all races of humans in similar ratios.

Therefore, why do the statistics show that Black’s appear to score lower in the US? Can it be that US students in areas with Black majorities must contend with more distractions resulting from poverty and crime? Can it also be that the schools lack the resources to cater to all of the learning styles? These are valid concerns, however, they pale in comparison to the greatest problem.

The greatest problem Black youth face worldwide, is their attraction to the well marketed Rap Culture with its glorification of violence, drugs, and promiscuity, that has effectively corrupted a generation of Black youth.

So, in my opinion, it has nothing to do with mental capacity, but everything to do with environment.
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Bska: "I believe the following based on my experience. Perhaps you can identify the areas where we disagree."

You want me to look through the items you posted and see if I can find anything I disagree with? :hmm: Okay, but I wasn’t trying to make a point with my last post.

1. Every human has the same mental capacity; including the pygmy whom anthropologists claim is the most primitive of human beings, perhaps belonging to an earlier evolutionary age.

Your assessment of the mental capacity of the pygmy is not based on your experience, it is subject to scientific studies and conjecture. Also, not every human has the same mental capacity. There are some humans born with mental retardation.

2. Every human being will score poorly if tested on a subject with which they are not familiar.

I disagree here. There may be subjects which some people need not be familiar with in order to test well.

3. Every human being who is distracted by fears for their safety and hunger will find it very difficult to concentrate on learning new information.

I’m not sure that ‘every’ human will be prone to this fear paralysis. Perhaps most people, and even then there are some that would only find it merely difficult, not very difficult, to learn new information.

4. The visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning styles can be found among all races of humans in similar ratios.

Are such styles able to be accurately tested without any of the problems that plague IQ testing? If so, show me the test results and I’ll agree with you.

Bska: "The greatest problem Black youth face worldwide, is their attraction to the well marketed Rap Culture with its glorification of violence, drugs, and promiscuity, that has effectively corrupted a generation of Black youth."

I won’t disagree here, it sounds reasonable. Although I’m wondering why you’re asking if I disagree with any of your above statements. I’m happy to look them over for the fun of it, but my previous post about skin color correlating to intelligence would offer nothing but the barest of relations to any of the problems we see today. It would simply be a matter of intellectual interest.

Bska: "So, in my opinion, it has nothing to do with mental capacity, but everything to do with environment."

What is this “it” you speak of? Are we debating something? On a side note, to say it has ‘nothing’ to do with mental capacity is to discount a person’s mental capacity completely. It may not be the largest factor toward “IT”, but is a factor.
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Hi Interbane:

You started your post by appearing to agree with Jared’s assertion that the observed differences in achievement in various cultures can be explained principally by environmental factors. However, you then ended by referencing evolution, perhaps as a factor in explaining the observed evidence. I do not think evolution is a factor. Therefore, I was attempting to identify the point at which we were diverging, so that we could discuss the matter. However, since you were not “trying to make a point” in your initial post on this subject, perhaps you could expand on the evolutionary comment.

For completeness, let me comment on your last post.

1. Let us simply agree to disagree, since I believe that even those diagnosed with “mental retardation” have the same mental capacity as anyone else; they are just able to express it differently. Their decisions to choose to forgive, love, and help others are rarely if ever considered in comparative assessments.

2. I do not understand your logic here. If a person is unfamiliar with a subject, and scores well when tested, then either they have guessed at the answers, or they were familiar with the subject. What other option(s) is (are) there?

3. Let us simply agree to disagree, since it can be argued that those who are able to learn under stress do not actually fear for their safety.

4. The teaching to accommodate other learning styles has been in the formal school system for over a decade with verifiable results. Google ‘learning styles tests’ for further information.

Regards.
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Bska: "You started your post by appearing to agree with Jared’s assertion that the observed differences in achievement in various cultures can be explained principally by environmental factors."

Actually, both mine and Jared's assertions as I understand them are evolutionary. My reference to the environment was that the environment has characteristics which determine natural selection. The environment that lead to evolution of resistance to disease for Europeans, for instance, was that of a crowded society.

Bska: "1. Let us simply agree to disagree, since I believe that even those diagnosed with “mental retardation” have the same mental capacity as anyone else; they are just able to express it differently. Their decisions to choose to forgive, love, and help others are rarely if ever considered in comparative assessments."

What I meant by mental retardation is actual damage to a large portion of the brain. A person with a very large percentage more brain has more capacity. There may be the rare exception where mental capacity isn't directly proportional to brain size, but I challenge you to find that exception.

For the rest of your points, the way you worded your claim was that every single human being on Earth fit into your proscribed parameters. I was simply making the point that it's almost an impossible claim to support, since if even one person falls outside those parameters, your claims fall through. For example, if the subject for your second claim is philosophy or math, there may be people who are inclined toward that subject without having as much education on it. Again, I'm speaking merely of those who would fall outside your parameters.
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my take on the book

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sorry i haven't been more active in this one. I've been crushed at work, but to quote a former president "the long national nightmare is over"!

I'm loving this book. I can't believe he actually wrote it, in this day of ghostwriters. I guess part of it is because of who he was at the time. A guy who had graduated Harvard Law. Why does he need a ghostwriter?

I shouldn't be so surprised that an attorney is so articulate, but I agree with the other comments that I was expecting this to be more political. I'm glad it's not. It's giving me perspective on being black in America that I didn't glean from 'Letter from a Birmingham Jail' or other civil rights period works.
just thinking (I hope)
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Re: Dreams from My Father - Preface, Intro & Ch. 1, 2, 3 &am

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I've found that the revelation that Bill Ayers wrote the book, instead of Barack Obama, makes me feel like the whole book is merely an "invention"--a re-interpretation of history, notes, and memories, from a non-participant. Not worth more comment.
Jamie from Georgia
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