129 posts categorized "Janis Prince Inniss"

February 08, 2021

Amanda Gorman’s Sociological Imagination

Janis prince innissBy Janis Prince Inniss

The breakout star of the Joe Biden/Kamala Harris inauguration was not Biden or Harris, or even Bernie Sanders! Amanda Gorman takes that title as evidenced by the media swirling around her, her new modeling gig, and the fact that her as yet unpublished books took the top two spots on Amazon’s bestseller list the following day.

At age 22, Gorman is the youngest poet to recite poetry at a United States inauguration and is the nation’s first National Youth Poet Laureate. In the poem she read at the inauguration, “The Hill We Climb,” I heard a sociological perspective. Therefore, I was not surprised when I learned that Gorman was a sociology major at Harvard who graduated cum laude and see how that may have shaped her poetry. My intention here is to highlight some of the sociological aspects of “The Hill We Climb.” Disclaimer: I am not an English literature professor; my intention is not to provide a definitive or literary analysis of the poem, but instead to highlight its sociological connections.

Continue reading "Amanda Gorman’s Sociological Imagination" »

November 09, 2020

Neighborhood Culture and Halloween in the COVID-19 Era

Jpi author photoBy Janis Prince Innis

Four teenage girls flew across the street, screaming! They leapt into the golf cart at the side of the road as one kept glancing over her shoulder and yelling, “Go! Go!”

I followed her gaze and saw an epically tall man come down the driveway, with an increasingly worried expression on his face. “Are you okay?” he asked. Somehow the girls were still parked in the golf cart and whipping their heads back and forth as if drawn to, yet afraid, of the figure. He apologized: “I’m sorry I scared you.” And with that, the girls hopped out of the cart, and ran back to the house, presumably to be further scared by the Halloween festivities! Halloween Picture1

Have you ever considered that neighborhoods have distinctive cultures? Even in the same city, neighborhoods can differ quite dramatically with regard to the norms, behaviors, and values—all characteristics of culture—that seem to dominate. Neighborhoods can have a shared identity or culture. Considering neighborhood norms—that is, those largely unspoken rules that tell us what is acceptable is one way to examine its culture. Norms, however, can be stifling, so as sociologists point out, societies take moral holidays or have moral holiday places as a respite that  gives people a chance to break norms.

Continue reading "Neighborhood Culture and Halloween in the COVID-19 Era" »

May 06, 2020

Race, Class, Work, and Health

Jpi author photoBy Janis Prince Inniss

Five young men and one woman who look like they’re in their mid-twenties clustered around blue plastic trays and carts. I’ve never seen that sort of cart before, but otherwise it looked like any other day outside of the Walmart I have been going to for the last 19 years. This was bizarre because we are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic!

I was blown away by how normal everything looked outside the store—but also horrified. None of the five store employees wore gloves or masks, and none was maintaining any physical distance from the other as they chatted. Personally concerning was when one of the young men approached my car—too close for my comfort—to confirm my name for the grocery pick-up order. What about the 6 feet rule we should maintain between ourselves and others, recommended by the CDC?

Continue reading "Race, Class, Work, and Health" »

April 08, 2020

Boy Rides Dog and Other Impacts of COVID-19

author photoBy Janis Prince Inniss

A boy of about seven years stood with one foot on each side of a little dog and slowly sat on him for about five seconds. The dog does not seem to have been injured from his stint as a pony, probably because the child is relatively light and because this pose was only held for a short time.

Stunning as this sight was, I guess such are the pastimes of bored children as week one of being at home came to an end. I saw this scene from what I refer to as my sociology window: It’s a window in the front of my home, facing the street—about 10 feet from the sidewalk—with nothing obstructing my view of all that occurs on either side on most of the block.

Continue reading "Boy Rides Dog and Other Impacts of COVID-19" »

July 30, 2012

Consuming Elite Athleticism

A woman smile at the cameraBy Janis Prince Inniss

The entrance to the Olympic trial fields.The story of how I, a self-respecting sociologist, came to be in receipt of four Nike shoes in the last two days is a long one. It started with a trip that my husband and I took to the track and field Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon.

Eugene is TrackTown, USA but also NikeTown! The relationship goes back to the history-making collaboration between legendary track and field coach Bill Bowerman and Nike chief executive officer (CEO) Phil Knight, as I described here in a previous post. The apparent impact of this auspicious coupling is that everyone in Eugene wears Nike sneakers. This is not literally true, but I have never seen as many people in Nikes as I did there!

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July 13, 2012

How Place Shapes our Shape

clip_image001By Janis Prince Inniss

As sociologists, I—and many of my colleagues—tend to focus on the impact of social location, studying the role of education, race, class, and gender and other such variables; I've written about many of these in this space. My recent trip to the west coast, however, has got me thinking about the centrality of location – literally, meaning place. I’ve been thinking about how where we live shapes many aspects of life—far more so than I usually acknowledge. Let me share some of observations from the trip to illustrate what I mean.

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June 22, 2012

Fashion and Race


By Janis Prince Inniss

I'm amused when I see Sherri Shepherd and Elisabeth Hasselbeck of "The View" strut out onto their set in their neutral shoes. Indeed, Hasselbeck's legs do look lengthened. Shepherd? She looks like she stepped in a big vat of Pepto-Bismal. We share the same fate...neutral in the context of the U.S. looks like neither of us.

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June 04, 2012

Hispanic is Not a Race

clip_image001By Janis Prince Inniss

Although race in the U.S. Census is based on self-identification, Hispanic is not among the official racial categories. Therefore, no matter how many people refer to the shooting of Trayvon Martin as one of an African American teenager by White or Hispanic George Zimmerman, they are still mixing-up apples and oranges. No matter how much speculation there is regarding Zimmerman’s race, one thing is sure: His race is not Hispanic.

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May 17, 2012

Sociology and Social Activism

clip_image001By Janis Prince Inniss

My undergraduate yearbook holds a treasured picture. It’s a picture of me and some friends standing on a shut-down Kissena Boulevard in front of Queens College, the City University of New York (CUNY). We were protesting a proposed hike in tuition that would have seen tuition increase from $1,250 a year. Initially, there was a proposal to raise tuition by $200 annually, but the Governor vetoed that proposal because of student marches and occupations of buildings. Here is a New York Times quote about the protest:

At Queens College in Flushing, students seized Jefferson Hall, which houses the offices of the bursar and the registrar, and blocked traffic at Cassena (sic) Boulevard and Horace Harding Boulevard, student leaders there said.

The pictures from my yearbook include one of students in front of Jefferson Hall; the student occupation of buildings went on for days at about two-thirds of the 21 CUNY campuses.

Continue reading "Sociology and Social Activism" »

May 07, 2012

Past Meets Present: Education, Housing, and Segregation

clip_image001By Janis Prince Inniss

Want to make some quick cash? $250 to be exact. Easy money. What would you do for that kind of money?

This proposition is completely legal. All you have to do is make one telephone call. (Operators are probably standing by!) In order to qualify, all you have to do is have the city and state, name of a school, name of a person, age or grade level of a child, a second address, know how long the person has lived there—and with whom. Add some information about how you know whether the person in question does not live in a particular home and $250 is yours.

Continue reading "Past Meets Present: Education, Housing, and Segregation" »

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