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"What does citizenship mean?"

qjules's picture

In Levinson's "No Citizen Left Behind"  as the students converse about Bush's intentions, Levinson had superior doubt before realizing her students were partially correct about 9/11. Reading their sentiments did not surprise me at all, for the fact that 1. I share a neighborhood and city with the students in this piece and I did not know the New York Bourroughs or the Pentagon and as a child, and 2. I shared what seemed to be common knowledge in our community: That Bush was not fond of us. Our parents said it, Kanye said it, voting said it, Hurricane Katrina said it; so to me the students did not sound ridiculous, they sounded quite aware. Today it seems the message blacks recieved from their president in 2004 is the same message they are getting from their legal system in 2014.

As someone who will soon be preparing to be a Boston Public School teacher I have done my research on many schools in the system. What I have found is that many of the schools have the same mission, just stated in many different ways. Many BPS schools such as the McCormack wish to support their student's abilities to become active/engaged citizens/community members/ members of society. According to Levinson, good citizenship is defined in two ways, the first is measured by a students grasp of American history, community issues, and critical thinking and dialogue, and the second is through contribution to community organizations. When I read this it like the makings of a successful college application to a liberal arts college. This makes me think there is some structural lag between the ideal behavior of Americans across race, and the treatment of non-white American citizens.

I feel the United States asks alot of its students of color without much guaranteed social payback. I supose my question is when and where does 'good' citizenship matter? I cannot help but write this response without imagining the many students of color who's lives have been lost in the past two years and feel some kind of pessism. You cant see good citizenship the way you can see color. What happens when your color is an inconvience? The question Levinson asks "is never being a burden on others enough to make one a good citizen?" is clearly a question the 21st century person is concerned with as we have seen many young people die this year from minding their business. I dont mean all of this to say that there is no point to being a good citizen by Levinson's standards, I just wonder to myself "if you are a good citizen what is the reward?" since from some it seems there are more consequences for their citizenship, than rewards.