Racism Discussion with Someone from my hometown

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Allison Bachner

I live in a small suburb around Boston, which has a population that consists mostly white residents. While I know that racism exist in our society inevitable, an experience over break with someone I new from home was quite a surprise when he started making some more blatant racial comments. This boy, from my hometown, is my age and is now attending school in a very different environment at West Virginia University. However, he started talking about black people and using the N-word  and speaking quite angrily. He said that black people at his school, out at night, would just go up to him and people he knows and start fights because they are white. So I suppose West Virginia, the atmosphere, and this new experience of violence toward him from black people had created this new hatred. I was really thrown aback and could not really believe, especially because I knew him personally before and because of what we have been learning in class. So I talked to get to the bottom of his anger. I tried to change his mind. While violence is never acceptable, I tried to tell him that we have never been the recipients of racism. We have always been the majority, in the US as a whole as white people and especially in our little suburb. Also, that growing up in West Virginia, let alone in the North, as an African American and exposed to discrimination and racism by white people, it is not surprising that they might have anger toward white people. That I can only imagine the racist views in West Virginia, seeing that the seemingly accepting, non-racist boy from my town could go to school there for 1 one and develop that same hatred. I also told him that if a white person came up to him and beat him up or picked a fight that he would never develop hatred for all white people. That his experience in West Virginia does not justify hatred toward black people and does not mean all black people are violent and hate white people. He told me I just don’t understand because I go to St. Lawrence and am unthreatened and not exposed to what he has seen.It was a really emotional discussion and I tried my hardest to change his mind/ his way of thinking. I am not sure how much I got through to him, but I really think that this coarse has given me the tools to defend racism and has open my eyes to the reality of different forms of discrimination based on ones race, sexuality, and identity.

“American Tongues”

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“American Tongues” shows how people with accents feel “inferior” or “stupid”. They feel as if there are consequences for not speaking in a certain dialect. There is a increase in the ability to stereotype people based on language and it is easy to find which dialects are desirable and which ones are not. When you are told there is something wrong with the way you talk, you start to believe it. A lot of people use the way that the speak or the language that they speak as a way to emphasize where they are from.

The idea that Standard English is associated with getting good jobs is known as a “false promise”. Language can bring us together and easily push us apart. We will have to realize that we will never all speak the same way. It is all fine as long as it does not prevent comprehension. The different dialects should not affect communication. We just all need to accept that people talk differently depending on where they came from and it should not matter. This goes along with “white supremacy” because if everyone wants to talk Standard English then it is just giving more power to whites.

-Murphy Farrell

 

“The Liberal Media”

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“The Liberal Media” was a video that we watched in class that was about the influence of power on the media. Wealthy businesses do most of the influencing on what is being put in the media for people to see. Unfortunately, the media is very biased and it has a liberal tilt. For these reasons, it is hard to tell for sure if the media is free to express different ideas. The corporations that influence the media are run by people that have opinions so, those are directly effected by. The power is determined by the owners not by the actual journalists.

It brings up the fact that opinions are supposed to be on the editorial page but, they are everywhere, just more subtle. Public opinion is more liberal and negative feedback from the government, corporations, and media monitoring groups put a lot of pressure on what actually makes it in the media coverages. Welfare recipients are most vulnerable to criticism and you hear from the wealthy about welfare and do not actually hear from the poor people.

This seems like a big problem because if the poor people do not actually get to have a say in anything that goes into the media then they are just going to be smashed. It should not be the case that the media is biased because this country is made up of so many different social classes. The media should appeal to everyone.

-Murphy Farrell

 

“Militainment”

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The video that we watched in class called “Militainment” was about how war is shown much differently on television. It talks about how people watch war on television as a form of entertainment and the news channels glamorize it in a way. They juice up the language with poetic cover up and address the audience members. Most of the time they make it seem like the audience is at a light show to keep us entertained and at the edge of our seats. It is called “shock and awe”.

It shows how a lot of country music videos are shot on military bases and it is instant history when someone makes a movie about an war based event. War has in a lot of ways been naturalized in our culture but, we only see the “clean war”. The television normally shows views from above which does not show the exact damage that is being done. Television channels also make the United States always look like the good guys, by saying that we are “cleaning up” other countries and “hunting down” enemies.

Unfortunately the images of innocent people suffering slip through and are not shown in all of these forms of entertainment. Weapons are normally portrayed as good things and we are accustomed to seeing through the machines of war. I feel as if our country glamorizes war too much and makes it seem too natural in our everyday lives. They do not always specify on why war is such a big problem and by making it not seem as bad as it actually is in the media makes it worse. In a way, the only way that most people learn or hear about war is through the news so, if they are not giving us the real effects that it is having we will be more likely to keep integrating it into our culture.

-Murphy Farrell

 

Self Ethnography Projects

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Over the past couple of classes we have been presenting and examining self-ethnographies. While we have had to research our own family history and have seen and asked questions about others’, we have also discovered a sense of identity as well. I have yet to present my project to the class, but from examining the others, I can see that each and every person in our class has a different family history and identity as well. Not only have I discovered theirs, but I have discovered mine.

I grew up in a family with a mother, a step father, and three younger half siblings. While he may only be a “step father,” my dad has always been known as my father to me. Growing up, I had no contact with my real father, and my step father was in my life before I was born. I have always considered him my biological father because he has raised me since day one. I never knew much about my real dad, but I never had contact with him either. I never really wanted it- although he lives in the same town as me and I pass him sometimes on the street. This is my father now and that is how it will always be.

It was hard to find out information about my father’s family because he is ignorant to their family history, and doesn’t really talk to his family retrieve some information. So I found what I could. My mother’s side of the family was rather easy to gain some information. I come from two totally different back rounds, and that’s what makes me. Most of the class comes from somewhat of the same back round- whether they are completely Irish or Canadian. I am made up of completely different racial groups, and I am proud of that difference!

It was cool to see the different traditions that many of the students’ families still practice that were in their family history. I grew up in a small town where pretty everyone is the same, we all celebrate most of the same traditions. So its nice to see different racial groups and traditions. I was not exposed to this in Whitehall, so I have really enjoyed the self ethnographies. I feel as though this was a great project for our class to engage in. We have been learning about the various aspects to identity this whole semester, and it was great to apply that knowledge to yourself. To find your identity is a great thing. You get to explore your family history and find out who you are on the inside and out. I have find myself with a whole new identity that I had never expected.

I really hope everyone likes my self ethnography because its who I am, and that is something I am proud of.

Aerial Ramey

Identity -Maria Hillenbrand

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I attended a presentation about how technology is sculpting our generations identity. It is a different twist from the class, but I feel it  relates. Identity is an interesting thing that is hard to describe. It is where you come from, but it is also much more. It is our experiences and what we do and who comes in and out of our lives. The women who was presenting was very knowledgable and had a different view of how, especially our generation, identities are sculpted. Everything we do has to do with technology for the most part. We are always at our phones, televisions and laptops. We are constantly being affected by what is happening and what we see on our screens. This reminds me of the unit we did on advertisement. Since the new generation is so emerged in technology we see a lot more advertisement then before. Therefore we are more susceptible to what the media wants us to think.I find it interesting that such small common things can completely change out identity.

— Maria Hillenbrand

The Holocaust

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We have been discussing a lot about the Jewish race and how they were effected by the actions of others and many events that occurred- such as the Holocaust and D-Day. In class we also watched a few videos about the Jews and how these events have shaped the decisions they were forced to make, and even the ones they did not have a choice in.

When the Nazi’s took over Germany, they restricted the Jews from many activities such as, jobs, citizenship, and even everyday life activities. The Nazi’s segregated the Jews from mainstream society in Germany. Many businesses boycotted and wouldn’t hire Jews; Jews were forced out of Germany, and those who didn’t or couldn’t leave were placed in prison camps. The Jews looked to America as safety, and hoped they would condemn the Nazi’s for their harmful, racist, actions in Germany. But, that did not happen exactly the way the Jews wanted.

When the Jews arrived to the United States, the Americans were understanding of the issues going on in Germany. At first, they were accepting of some of the Jewish race, but after a while they began restricting Jewish immigration. Many Americans felt their jobs would be taken over; also they feared they would be threatened with other racial domination. In return, Americans became antisemitic. They blamed the Jews for problems in American and restricted them from job and educational opportunities. The Jews had been receiving the same treatment in the United States as they were in Germany under the control of the Nazis.

In America, the Jews grew some hope when FDR’s New Deal was passed. This gave the Jews hope for equality and opportunities that they had been restricted from. But many still felt that the Jews were different, so they should be treated differently and restricted. Any hope that the Jews had had been shot down. Even any hope to escape the Nazi terror was out of the question for German Jews. Many of these German Jews began to travel to Cuba, Palestine, and London. But all refused to let them in and had restricted Jewish immigration. The Jews were not wanted anywhere.

As a result, many Jews were placed and put in detention camps. These concentration camps were the death beds of the Jewish race. They were provided with short supply of food, clothing, and shelter. Many Jews died because of these concentration camps- although a mass genocide of the Jewish race was the goal of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

In high school, we had a survivor of the Holocaust come in and give a presentation to our student body. This was a heartfelt presentation, and I cried often when I heard of the horrible things that the Jews had to go through. One could tell it was extremely difficult for this woman to speak about the Holocaust, as it had been the reason of the death of some of her loved ones. I honestly feel that Hitler’s reign should have never taken place, and I feel for those who’s loved ones suffered through it.

Aerial Ramey

Various Immigration to the United States

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For my research paper I am writing about Chinese Immigration to the United States in the 1800 and 1900’s. While this was not just a major migration from one group of people, this was an introduction to many racial groups migrating to the United States. The Chinese were just among the first to take that step.

At first it seemed that the Americans were welcoming of these Chinese Immigrants. Chinese families sent their kin over to America because America “prepared” many for great things. While this is true in many aspects, the Chinese did not expect for the Americans to grow immense amount of hatred towards them. In one of the articles I am using for my research paper, Han-sheng Lin states that “the Chinese were at first welcomed and then from the mid-1850s to 1902 they were scorned as the most unwanted immigrants.” Why is this so?

Many felt like that the Chinese were an economical threat- they were obtaining most of the labor force because they would work for lower wages- unlike the Americans. Many feared that the Chinese were taking over their jobs, and in America, that was unacceptable.Also, many Americans felt like the Chinese were a threat to American identity- in a way that Americans were losing their superiority. Some felt that America should only be for Americans, and grew racial hatred towards the Chinese. As a result of such racism and problems, many exclusion acts were created to restrict the Chinese from mainstream American life. This was detrimental to the Chinese, but they were forced to accept it. The Chinese were even banned from migrating to the United States.

In fact, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1182 was the first time the United States banned a race from migrating there. This was a major turning point in history because it showed that the Chinese wouldn’t be the only racial group to be banned from this “great” country. In the article I’m reading, it mentions how the Japanese, Mexicans, and even other Europeans, began migrating to the United States after the Chinese. Although the Japanese and Mexicans were not accepted, just like the Chinese had not been, the United States preferred to the migration of the Europeans. In my opinion, I feel as though it was because Europeans looked more “white” than the other races that had attempted to migrate here. In that time period, acting and looking White was key in mainstream society.

I feel as though I have learned a lot from our discussions in class, watching the movie in class, “Becoming American: Chinese Adventure,” and after reading all of my sources for my final research paper. I learned that the Chinese came to America to better their lives and to find success, whereas the ability and opportunities in China were very hard to obtain. It was just an insurmountable task because China did not have much to offer like the United States did. It was a land of opportunity to the Chinese, and the Americans excluded them from attaining their hopes and dreams.

Aerial Ramey

Immigration and the DREAM act

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I am doing my research paper on Immigration policies in the U.S. and have been examining various past and present policies and laws on the issue.  In October 1994, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) launched Operation Gatekeeper to crack down on people entering the country through California.  Militarizing the border with more border patrol agents and resources has forced immigrants to cross through the Imperial Desert or over the mountains.  Global Exchange states that the number of immigrate deaths has increased over 600 percent since 1994.  They frequently die from drowning, dehydration, hypothermia, and heat stress.  The U.S. federal government has been unsuccessful and states are taking the issue into their own hands.  The controversial Arizona and Alabama laws display how far states will go to prevent illegal immigrants.  A well proposed policy I have examined is the DREAM act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) is a fairly popular proposal to provide legal status to undocumented youth that entered the U.S. as children.  It has specific requirements, such as the youth must have graduated from U.S. high schools, and attend college or enter the military.  However, opponents claim it will take opportunities away from U.S. born youth.  Here is an interesting and informing article that provides myths and facts about the policy.

 

http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/just-facts/dispelling-dream-act-myths

 

-Julia Lynch

 

Self-Ethnography Presentations

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Over the past few class periods, we have had the opportunity to present our self-ethnography posters to our classmates. I think everyone has really enjoyed the experience and valued the time talking with others in order to learn about their background. Personally, I have found it very rewarding and eye-opening. Even at a school at St. Lawrence that is predominantly white, the level of diversity in our classroom is quite remarkable.

Not only do we come from different parts of the United States, but our parents, grandparents, or great grandparents immigrated to the United States from different parts of the world. We have diversity based on religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and national origin in just our classroom. It is extremely valuable to talk to people that are different than ourselves because to do so expands our horizons and deepens our understanding of the world.

Today, when we have political debates about diversity, immigration or other social policies, I think if we could somehow expand the dialogue in our classroom to the rest of the country, we could implement far more effective and smart solutions. If we all understood the history of each individual coming to America, their background, their reasons for coming, and their culture, I believe we could appreciate diversity more than we do currently.

On this same note, we have been discussing current immigration policies in another class and the new Alabama immigration law came up in the discussion. Here is the link….http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18563_162-57330809/consequences-of-alabama-immigration-law-set-in/… When making these decisions, I wish lawmakers would recognize family roots and history. If someone has been here for 15 years, works hard, and pays taxes, what good does it do anybody to deport them?

–John Hicks

 


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