I found the talk by Adonica to be highly inspirational. I felt myself getting a little choked up at parts of her story. After such a disadvantaged upbringing, being a person of color with a mentally ill mother, and growing up in the foster system, then experiencing an abusive relationship, she was still able to make so much of herself. After all that, she became a highly successful woman, holding two bachelor and two masters degrees.
What struck me the most about this was that she is the exception to the rule. She fought her way out of the cycle of poverty and has become so successful. However, despite being the exception to the rule, she doesn’t brag and tell others that they shouldn’t complain because they can do the same. Instead, she advocates for disadvantaged people. She spreads education and helps people fill in the gaps where they have no help. She knows what it’s like to be there, and she is taking initiative to make it easier for others to do the same, instead of expecting them to fight as hard as she did.
My partner is a POC who grew up in the projects with parents who didn’t speak English. Now, he is a successful scientist who is able to support me and his mother. However, he doesn’t tell other people of color that they should get off their lazy ass and do the same. He advocates for young people of color to have access to better programs to help them do well at school and find careers that they will enjoy. Being the exception to the rule puts you in a position to help others, not tell them that they aren’t trying hard enough.
This has been on the forefront of my mind lately. I tutor in the speech lab, and today a student came in with a speech about how the Michael Brown case shouldn’t have been about race, that all people should be treated the same, and that he doesn’t see color. I couldn’t even focus on the structure of his speech because everything he was saying was so insensitive and ignorant. I had to take him to social justice preschool to explain why his rhetoric was harmful and does not advocate for a better, more equal future for all. In a nutshell, I told him that he should take more time to listen to the stories of people of color, and always remember that was white privileged Americans, we do not know what it is like to be them. If we listen to people like Adonica, we can get a better sense of what we can do to further the effort to make a nurturing and supportive society for all.
A great neuroscientist once told me, “If you can learn one language, you can learn any language.” To me, this applies to everyone. I do think it’s great when immigrants who come to the US try hard to learn English, but many of them are older and have a much harder time adjusting. They’re so used to their native language and mostly came here to help their children have a better life. Specifically, many Spanish speakers have this experience.
In my opinion, it would be beneficial to everyone if we required American students to take Spanish. After all, don’t we require some foreign language credits in high school? Why not do the same in Elementary and junior high? Younger children have an easier time learning languages, and this would prepare them to be able to communicate with an even wider population. Furthermore, Spanish and English are related, making it easier for English speakers to learn. Many countries require English learning, such as Japan, Korea, and Scandinavian countries. Why couldn’t we do the same?
English only laws are discriminatory. Also, even if someone comes to this country not speaking much English, it doesn’t mean they won’t be able to learn. Allowing non-English speakers the same rights would create more jobs and a more community oriented society.
So far, I have collected a lot of Halloween costumes for Because He First Loved Us. The thing that has struck me the most is the questions people ask when I collect the costumes. They want to know about the refugees, what country they’re from, how many kids there are. Some of them express sympathy. Those poor people, they must have it rough. But it struck me, I don’t know that much about them yet, as I haven’t been up to the center yet. Furthermore, I don’t know if they “have it rough”. Maybe they are really happy and enjoying their lives. It reminded me of the “Danger of a Single Story” that we listened to in class. We hear about refugees having such a terrible time, we don’t consider that some of them might be thriving now. In any case, I’m looking forward to meeting them and finding out what their stories are.
There’s a lot I’ve thought about over these chapters, and I’m not sure how to organize my thoughts. Firstly, I want to mention the concept of competence. This idea was first introduced to me when I called an intercultural consultant in the area to ask him if I could do an internship with him. He was unable to undertake me, but he did give me some advice. He told me if I want to work as an intercultural consultant, I need to get to the level of unconscious competence with Japanese culture. In some ways, I’m already there. I bow, I sense the atmosphere, I know how to eat. But in some ways, I’m so far off. Mostly, I’m not there with the language. If it’s an easy conversation, I can speak without thinking. But if it’s new vocabulary or something complicated, I stumble. I need more practice.
In regards to Babakiueria, I feel that this film was brilliant in many ways. The satire was used perfectly to explore what it would be like to reverse the roles of racism. Of course, I had thought about this before. What if I, a white privileged American, was in the position of a minority? How would I feel? But watching it be played out in the film was eye-opening indeed. We had to laugh, but it was also disturbing to know that the Aboriginal genocide, the stolen generation, and other atrocities really happened not that long ago. This notion of colonialism and white man’s burden has always disturbed me. Why is our culture imposed upon theirs? What would the world be like if we had not destroyed so many ancient and beautiful cultures? One can only imagine, but sadly it is too late. I simply hope that we can try from here on to be more sensitive, engaging, and encouraging members of society rather than insisting that our way is the best.
My name is Sarah. I’m a senior studying Speech Communication. Part of what drew me to this major is the fact that language is an immensely complicated system that we are able to use without deliberation. We draw on millions of interactions and associations to form sentences in the blink of an eye. Through all this, we find many pitfalls of miscommunication. I want to learn how to avoid those, make better communication strategies, and especially study my second language, Japanese.
Taking this class as part of my major is very important to me. I have made a conscious effort in my adult life to be a multicultural person, and to be sensitive and aware of cultural issues and topics. As stated in the book, “a culture is any group of people that share a way of life” (3). This determines that groups norms, values, beliefs and customs. The fact that these can vary from group to group is an eye opening notion. It can make one question whether or not there is any one right way of doing things. Despite that, people cling to their beliefs and the power that is inferred by their privilege.
For this post, I have thought particularly about privilege. I’m very aware of my white privilege, and I do my best to be an ally and to admit to my shortcomings. This is very hard for most people to admit, but I think it’s the first step to changing our society: admitting that we, as white Americans, are privileged, and we are conditioned to have certain stereotypes and perceptions. Even if I fight it with all my might, I have been conditioned from a young age to think that people of African descent are dangerous, that Asians are overachievers, that Latinos are lazy and promiscuous, and so on.
This doesn’t mean that I actually hold those beliefs to be true. It just means that through social programming, I’ve been taught to have these as a gut reaction. When I see a black person walking toward me in the dark, I’m more likely to think they are a gang member than if they were white. If a Latino guy flirts with me, I’m more likely to think that he’s promiscuous and flirts with every girl than if he were another race. This is a battle we have to keep fighting. When those thoughts crop up, I am quick to dismiss them, and I wonder if I will ever be able to completely abandon them. I can only hope that one day we will live in a world that doesn’t program these stereotypes into children, and that we can live in a more free and just society.