Harvard students walk down Dot. Ave., interact with people in a different socioeconomic milleu

Via DotRat, who suggests the students were maybe overthinking the concept of Dot Ave.



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    This is one of those times when I feel really bad that everyone's youthful indiscretions are recorded and put online. Someday, hopefully, these folks will realize how embarrassing this is for them. Their ignorance of the various ways people live says more about Harvard than it does about Dot. Ave.

    I recall a friend who goes to

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    I recall a friend who goes to Old South church telling me about a similar thing where they go to different neighborhoods and reflect on the experience (though minus the video).

    Young, well-intentioned...

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    ...clueless and intolerable. Whatever. I have less of a problem with the people being interviewed in this (I mean, c'mon, they're really young and probably quite sheltered) but a lot more of an issue with whoever editedtheinterviewstoremovethespacesbetweentheirphrases.

    Along the same line (privilege and race navel gazing) here's an ok article from Jezebel.


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    I read that article this morning and found it so unbelievably annoying. I don't know the author, but damn--it just seems so smug to blame the ills of the world on "hipsters" and to claim that race issues aren't really "complicated" while throwing out notions that Zooey Deschanel is racist for saying "#thuglife" in a tweet. I mean sheesh--try to explain that to a Martian and then tell me again that race in America isn't "complicated."

    Crimson Magellans - Please gas yourself

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    What a group of scum sucking pussheads. These dopes are just as bad as the morons who are upset that a black guy scored to win against the Bruins last night. I was half expecting one of them to say I can't believe people along Dorchester Avenue inhale oxygen into their lungs and then exhale back into the atmosphere just like us.

    What did you expect, Marlo's playground setup from The Wire on every corner? As someone who grew up in Dot and knows a number of people who went to the Barnyard, there are idiots everywhere. Some of them just had better SAT scores.

    Dorchester is the multi-cultural place Cambridge aims to be but then gets distracted by Harvest, "Huron Village" and Upstairs on the Pudding.

    Shame on the people who set them up to do this and lobbed these questions at them as well. The video editor here should start licking third rails as soon as possible. It will make the world a better place.

    Heeey...lets go down and look

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    Heeey...lets go down and look at all the poor people....

    Like it's a f^*I&) trip to the zoo....

    Harvard - All the book smarts in the world with no common sense...

    WHERE are these people from???

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    Maybe I'm just getting old, or maybe it's because I went to a state school, but I SWEAR I had more sense than this when I was that age. Where on Earth did these people grow up to be so out of touch? An isolated part of the moon?

    All snark aside

    I'm wondering what the actual assignment was. There are no interviews with residents or store owners and very little indication the students talked to many people. There was obviously no research into Dorchester's past or present. So what, exactly, was the point?

    Although not a long stretch of road, there is a lot going on between Ashmont and Fields Corner. You can't learn a whole lot about such a diverse neighborhood in only 30 minutes.

    These are our future leaders

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    God help us, these fearless intellectuals prove that the mind is a terrible thing to waste. What is next on the agenda for our band of courageous scholars, a ride on the orange line, or a trip down maverick square. Are they doing a realty show from Harvard to H block?

    You think this is bad?

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    At least Harvard admits and fully funds talented kids with no class or income privileges.

    I'd like to see Yale or Brown or Dartmouth students even dare to think to walk outside their wealth bubbles.

    C'mom People. What is this-

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    C'mom People. What is this- some reverse snobbery? Anyone ever heard of "Good Will Hunting"? I am a life-long Bostonian- lived in Dorchester as a kid. Cut the students a little slack, why don't you? So they went on a little archaeological/sociological stroll and reported on it! So what? Maybe they actually learned something! Jeesh.

    I think the critics here....

    ... are doing more than a little "over-thinking" themselves.

    Looks like it was an English Dept. project -- judging from the end credits.

    When I went to Harvard (long long ago), I worked at a recreation center for pre-teens across the street from Roosevelt Towers in East Cambridge -- and went there all by myself. Never got to Dorchester, however.

    You Hear These Kind of Stories...

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    ...and it almost sounds as if they're doing Anthropology. Let's go mingle with the natives for the afternoon. Get some insight into what it's like to be "common."

    Class Privilege

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    I'd like to have them do a second assignment-- where the students go on just such a sociological walk through their own neighborhoods, and wear the same class privilege colored glasses to assess their home turf.

    When did she say that?

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    She was talking about the videos being Vietnamese, not American, meaning not of American movies or in English--she wasn't pulling a Dapper O'Neill.

    Sounds like an observant

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    Sounds like an observant bunch.

    It's a school project and they are students so all the haters just admit you wish you went to harvard (hell I do!) or hope your kids do anyway.

    I can see how Fields Corner

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    I can see how Fields Corner would appear different if not foreign to these kids. Unless they grew up in an area of where economics varied, living standards and regards for neighborhood conditions ranged between extremes and where cultural mixing followed the salad bowl instead of melting pot metaphor, Fields Corner must have appeared as pretty different to their eyes.

    Growing up in suburbs that predated the city's expansion and having no sense of city life, discovering the complexity, differences and the city's technicolor robe was a big eye opener to me.

    These kids deserve praise not condemnation. Looking down on the kids is demeaning to them and the writers. But then this is Boston where playing better than thou is a sport.

    But as kids you cant excuse

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    But as kids you cant excuse their ignorance...otherwise what are they learning?

    I think it's actually

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    I think it's actually impossible to tell what these peeps are saying due to the heavy editing. There are no sentences that are not cut in some way.

    Oh, cut them some slack.

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    The whole thing is kind of cringe-worthy but it's not exactly Biff and Muffy Go Slumming. I'm trying to figure out the point of the assignment--I'm guessing that it had to do with "concepts of otherness" or something along those lines, but I'm guessing that the point was to plunk them down in someplace that they didn't know and have them dope it out for themselves. For all the class warriors out there, remember that Harvard doles out more financial aid than any other school in the country--there are way, way more middle and low-income kids there than most people are aware of. None of these kids strike me as radiating 1% privilege. There are also kids from all over the country so it's not surprising that they might never have been in a Vietnamese video store before, etc. Yes, they sound young and slightly clueless at times, but they ARE young, and maybe a little clueless too, though wouldn't most of us sound pretty dorky in the same circs?

    Not feeling as generous as you

    I live in this neighborhood and raised a family here. I will cut the students slack as I believe they were given some direction before landing on these streets--but that is the problem. This professor and/or the various funding entities tagged at the end of the video provided some context to the participants regarding the community they were visiting. The message was clearly poor, urban and within "concepts of otherness" as you suggest.

    But that is not this neighborhood in a nutshell. In fact the blocks of Dorchester Avenue traversed and the neighborhoods directly from it are diverse, in many areas middle class (not to say entirely, but certainly not exclusively poor or disenfranchised) and not likely to be destinations where being a woman, or white, or educated, or from Harvard would make you stand out as necessarily "other". Indeed the video seemed to skip all the businesses within those blocks that represent successful, mainstream entities--in an effort to prove its point.

    Who told the one student that the "middle class" homes she saw were likely inhabited by by four, or six families? Is that a true statement--not universally, and hard to prove case by case. Many of those homes are single or two-family and used as such. And why were the students surprised to find, for instance, a store selling suits? People work and need clothing that is appropriate here just like any other neighborhood--but something was suggested to them in preparation for being here that indicated suits were not a priority for the residents.

    Also, it is interesting to think of the neighborhoods along and directly off the Avenue between Ashmont and Fields Corner where many Boston Latin Students (venerable feeder school for Harvard, nationally recognized) live, as well as countless grads of Ivy League schools, and other movers and shakers of the Boston/Cambridge economy who choose to call this part of Boston home. I did not get any sense that that truth resonated with these kids, because likely nobody suggested the possibility to them. In fact they were applying their lens to the "other" without conceiving of the idea that their peers might be eating at the restaurant, or shopping for clothes, or just living, within the bounds of their project. And that is what is wrong with this assignment.

    I agree

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    But again, I find more...I don't know...empathy here than you do, especially from the one girl who says at the start that this neighborhood was pretty familiar to her. The whole assignment seems weird to me, but I wonder whether they chose that stretch of Dorchester precisely because it is a very ethnically/economically diverse slice of Boston. I still wonder about the "six families" comment--don't remember ever hearing about Boston's famous six-deckers. Anyway, I blame the professor more than the kids,but I'm still not sure what the intent was here.

    Agreed -- the professor is to blame

    Some of what they had to say seemed almost as if it had been fed to them. As for the six families, I can only assume they saw some wide triple deckers, with side by side units on each floor. How would they even know, without counting mailboxes, how many families lived in a building? My guess is that they had simply never before seen multi-family housing units.


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    It could have been one of those "two-pack triple-deckers" she was referring to, or it could have been that she was told about immigrant families that pack into apartments in triple-deckers. Frequently you'll have one floor of a triple-decker with a family in one room (maybe a living room converted into a bed room) and other families in other rooms with all of them sharing the kitchen. That is not uncommon. Frequently happens with undocumented families and is against building codes, but it's the most economic option for many people. It happens a lot in Eastie and Allston-Brighton, and I would imagine Dorchester is no stranger to it.


    I don't remember at the moment if they are in this part of Dorchester, but I've seen them in other parts of metro Boston. Basically, two three-deckers attached to each other.

    What the course is about

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    English 90ea - Interracial Encounters in Contemporary Ethnic American Narratives: Seminar:

    This course examines representations of "interracial encounters" in contemporary U.S. American novels and plays. It explores how these works conceive, question, and reimagine the relationships not only between differently racialized groups, but also between race and nation, individual and community, and art and politics. Topics include competing narratives of indigeneity, migration, and contact; cultural imitations and appropriations; cross-racial performances; and interracial encounters in a transnational context.

    Too bad Elizabeth Warren missed this

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    Based on recent reports of Harvard reporting her as a minority hire due to her "Indian heritage" (feathers not dots) she could have lent a minority perspective to the whole thing. As seen through multi-million dollar investments, a high six-figure salary, and a palatial Cembridge estate, that is.

    She would have fit right into the gestalt of this video.