It’s difficult to come up with just one thing that I took out of the class as a lot of things really stood out to me and that I will take with me through my life. I would definitely say that this class is really like no other in the sense that much of the things that are talked about in this class are not talked about in any other class. Actually much of the things discussed in this class aren’t talked about anywhere, as a lot of things that were mentioned are usually considered inappropriate or private or just sort of hushed-up. However, that being said, all of the things that we talked about are subjects that I believe need to be discussed as they are problems in life that most people have encountered or endured. As I said, it’s tough to pick just one thing but something that I will definitely carry with me throughout my life is the whole “racial signifiers”. When we talking about the racial signifiers it really hit me that this is something that is definitely prejudiced and something that everyone can admit to hearing these signifiers. It wasn’t until after that class however that I noticed these signifiers being said so openly throughout the normal day. I remember back to right after this class was over and a few days after, all of the irrelevant signifiers being tagged to normal stories that I heard just walking around on campus. It got to a point in which I would say something every time I heard a signifier. I would call that person out and say something like, “hey, what was the need of adding the racial tag in that story, it did nothing to the point of the story but degrade that race, not to mention attribute that racial stereotype.” For most of the time that person would say sorry and feel guilty for what they had just said. In my group of friends, they I no longer hear even close to as many racial signifiers as I did before. I could understand that a few will slip out from time to time but for the most part I feel as though I have imparted a sense of racial sensitivity awareness to them, and that is why I feel as though this is the thing that I got the most of out class. I am able to spread my knowledge of the inappropriate use of racial signifiers to the people around me. I have found that sometimes people really do not understand the consequences of such a simple thing, and it feels good to be able to tell them that it has so much more of an impact than they think. There are many more things that I wish I could write about that I have taken from this class but I feel as though that I would end up writing a book about it. I would just like to end my last blog in saying that this was an amazing class, one in which I will never forget and one in which I will carry through the rest of my life.
I would like to answer this topic with a clear and concise explanation that it would not be an easy task to get me to kill another human being. I would have to say that the only situation in which I would be reduced down to killing somebody is if that person was just about to kill me and I could not avoid death by any other means than by killing them. When I say any other means, I am talking about being able to run away from them or talk them out of killing me. I feel so strong about me being able to kill some other human. I feel like many religious people would say the same thing as me. However, in my case I am not religious in the least bit and yet I feel as though I do not have the right to take another life. I feel like this is a psychological link between the ways that I value human life. If someone has a higher value on human life than someone else they would probably be less likely to kill another human being. I also feel a connection to the way I view the death penalty. I am could not be more against the death penalty. Again I just do not feel like anybody has the right to take another human life, no matter the circumstances. I feel that by going through with the death penalty we are stooping down to the level of the crimes committed by the perpetrators. This I feel is counter-productive to the advancement of the human civilization, because this is not a civilized act. People tend to wonder why I feel the way I do, but more importantly they ask me what the actions should be as those perpetrators are obviously a danger to society. My answer to this perplexing and not easy fix question is that we should adopt the systems that have the restorative justice system. I have learned that in some of these societies with the restorative justice system the perpetrators are rehabilitated and are helped to mentally get better if possible. I feel like this is the sort of thing that might work because throwing people in jail is not working and they are just ending back up in jail. On top of that I feel as though we as a society are making the whole prison system more of a business and local economy builder than an actual way of dealing with people that committed crimes. These may seem like extreme ideas that a lot of people may disagree with but I just do not like to think of the ways in which we as human beings are so self-destructive to each other.
At the beginning of Thursday’s lecture I was a bit confused about what exactly was going on and where this lecture was going to go. The title said something about the crusades for Christianity or something along those lines, and in the first half of the lecture Sam was talking about the way radical Islamist’s were making their presence known. A lot of the times which in fact they used terrorist methods of getting the point across that Islam is the religion of all religions and that everyone must believe in Allah. For the most part I realized that there are people out there that think like this but for the majority of the Islamic people their goal is not to kill non-believers. I can say that I know not all Muslims want to eliminate people who do not believe in Allah because, I am taking the Sociology 297C class in which we directly speak with Muslims in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. I also know that they care about our well being just as much as we care about their well being, especially in the current crisis conflict between those two places and Israel. Essentially what I am trying to say is that due to the experience that I have built up with people that practice the Islamic religion I took the video we watched with a grain of salt because it only represents a small portion of people. As the lecture got further along we started to see that when we were at war in Iraq, some missionaries were also there trying to convert people to the religion of Christianity. The idea of converting people to other religions is a common one that is practiced by many religions other that just Christianity and it is not a bad thing. However, the way in which it seemed like we were going about conveying their religion looked bad. In one case I remember this guy at a missionary was talking about this one person that may be killed in the process of converting people to Christianity. The guy talking about it went on to explain how being faithful to Jesus Christ was better than not spreading the knowledge of the religion and that “it was a pretty good deal”. Okay now as I might be bold to say this but it implied a lot of the same mentality as that of the Jihad video we watched at the beginning of class. So in a sense, now better understood, I guess I can level with the people that are taking sides against the United States involvement in Iraq. This not only has to do with the forcing upon of our representative religion of Christianity but also with the interest of oil in the area. A lot like how the Islamic religion is portrayed as people that are terrorizing the world, we as the United States seem like terrorists to the people of Iraq.
I think that there are many strong feelings about the sin of homosexuality. The reason why I feel as though there was much laughter about some of the other sins discussed in class is because it is something that a majority of us, being college students, have experienced. Some of these sins in class that were talked about were pre-marital sex and drinking. These are things that most people in the class have engaged in and so I feel as though it is laughable. I also think that for the most part these are sins that I feel like are almost forgiven so to say. Maybe to some people these sins are not forgiven but a lot of people at the least feel as though the sin of homosexuality is especially a bad sin. I am not sure to exactly why it is taken in a more serious sense compared to the other commonly committed sins. Maybe it has to do with the fact that the majority of people are not homosexual and therefore it channels this sin to level of misunderstand do to the lack of experience to this sin. I think that what I am trying to say is that people who have either experienced or encountered someone who is homosexual are more likely to be understanding of that sin homosexuality. In this situation those people have had a chance to get to know the person probably see that besides the fact that they are homosexual, they are mostly like everybody else. This goes back to my blog post from last week that explained my thoughts about the exposure to other races and cultures and peoples. I think these two ideas are the same in that, once you have come to be with and experience other people you are less likely to have the same prejudices towards them. So connecting this back to the idea of homosexuality I completely agree with Sam’s statement that in the future people are going to wonder why we ever were discriminating against homosexuals, just as we today wonder why people ever discriminated against black people during slavery. When our society becomes more and more accepting of the homosexual community, as it is destined to do, I think that the same laughable reaction towards the sin of homosexuality will occur. As Sam mentioned in class, just in the time that he has been asking the acceptability of homosexuals, the positive reaction percentages increase every year. So, with the current way that society portrays this sin of homosexuality I think it is not absurd at the reactions in class but an accurate portrayal of the ways in which people are influenced by the culture of the society they are in. And again I think that one day people will react the same way towards the drinking, pre-marital sex, and homosexuality sins that people will be judged upon.
I definitely agree with the idea that, contact with other groups can change your ideas about those other groups. I have a life example from back in middle school and into high school. When I was smaller I would naturally always hang out with white kids as they were the majority in my elementary school. I also think that it is because most of the people that I hung out with in those days were kids whose parents we friends with my parents and for the most part they were all white. When I got to middle school however there was still a lot of white kids but there was also a lot of black kids, which I was not accustomed to. Therefore I gravitated towards hanging out with white kids in the beginning of middle school. In about the 8th grade however I started hanging out with this black kid and we became really great friends. We would always hang out during and out of classes. Through him I also became friends with quite a few black kids. I started understanding certain slang terms which, lets be honest, middle schooled white kids just didn’t understand. In general I feel like I became more cultured during these years from middle school into high school due to the amount of interaction with these friends. This type of interaction I feel as though would be beneficial to my white friends. I think this because a lot of my white friends lack the interaction that I had when I was growing and they view black people differently than I do because of this. Not to say that some of my white friends are racist but they just lack the understanding behind some of the things that black people say or do. I think that this same idea of lack of interaction between different can explain a lot of the seemingly racist behaviors of people. So when black people do not interact with white people, I think the same outcome prevails. There is a lack of understanding of some of the actions, sayings, and general culture. This being said, I am in the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict Sociology 297C class and I am getting cultured into the people of Gaza and the people of Israel. I have never understood anything about the Middle-East conflicts and I have always just thought of the hardships as another problem and threat to the United States. This was such a shallow way of thinking and yet at the same time I was not educated or experienced with anything to do with the Middle-East, in particular the conflict between Gaza and Israel. Now that I have gotten a chance to talk with the people of this region and am on a personal level with them I can sympathize and understand some of the cultures and issues.
When Sam says that our belief system is not based off of factual information, I would completely agree. I have seen too many times occurrences where people start spewing out information in heated conversations off of maybe something they once heard or saw. Sometimes I feel that people in our society tend to commit acts of misinformation interpretation because they feel as though they need their input in a certain conversation heard. The ways in which most people in our society fulfill their input is through this filtered through information they have seen on the Internet or in the newspaper or TV. I also think that this has to do with the feeling of people wanting to sound more intelligent than they actually are especially on certain subjects. Instead of just sitting listening to the conversation they want to show that they have something to say about the matter at hand. This is when the most misinformation that people have is portrayed. Even when people in our society say that they have information to back up the things they are saying it is usually from a bad source. As much as I am aware of the bad sources of information I think that there is just so much more of this bad information than reliable sources that people are bombarded and don’t know how to tell the difference. A great example of a place where many people get “factual” information is Wikipedia. This is absolutely not a website to go to and get factual information. Much of the information is biased heavily and unreliable due to the accessibility to the general public to make changes and edit wiki-pages. People should start taking advantage of some of the reputable websites available that have a great deal of factual information for example search engine google scholars. Another huge platform in which people get misinformed from is the news stations on TV. I think that this is some of the most biased and bad way to get factual information. The media is formed around trying to get the most viewers and that is their main goal. They can filter the facts however they want and I think they have done a great job in forming ideas in people’s heads. This may sound like some sort of conspiracy theory or something but in general I think that watching the news is not an acceptable means of getting information. As a whole society goes the media and social networking and advertisements are all big contributors to the ideas we form in our heads. We are all so consumed in our many platforms of information we have available to us; and we as Americans, want our instant gratification so bad we jump to the quickest means of information without actually researching and spending time finding the facts ourselves.
The video that we watched, where the bike was being stolen, was interesting but at the same time not surprising. The white guy got glances and a few questions but for the most part was not harassed. On the other hand when the black kid was trying to steal the bike, he quickly gathered a large crowd and the police were called soon after. I think that the video shows that there is still a big discrimination factor in our society. This is not to say that it is just white people discriminating against black people. I think it can include any people discriminating against any other people. I liked that they included the woman in the same experiment. One of the observers actually went to the extent of asking if she needed help taking the bike. It showed that it does not have to do with just race; there are many factors that people take into account when they take action. The determinant factors of this discrimination that I saw in the video and that I have seen in my life is probably not only situational but can also have been caused by factors in peoples lives. I found it ironic in some sense that the people who obviously discriminating against the black kid were denying that it had anything to do with the color of his skin. That goes to show me they are trying to be politically correct in the sense of treating everyone the same way. This is just not the case however; I feel that most people are going to still have discrimination in the back of their heads. This is probably caused by a certain bias people have built up over the years through the experience in their lives. The elements in people’s lives that make a difference in the way they feel towards certain people are basically the stereotypes people build up. I feel as though stereotypes, bias, discrimination, and many other factors are what people acted upon when they decided to just walk by or do something about the bike being stolen. This being the way I feel towards the experiment I would not necessarily call those people racist. There are just too many things that I do not know about those people and therefore I think it would not be valid to call them racist; however saying that they discriminated in this situation is visible and therefore can be said about them. I think basically what I am trying to say is that as time has gone on, and as it continues to go on, the public and visible portrayal of discrimination is less prevalent but, people will still have that discrimination.
The video we watched with Tammy and her children was touching to me. Sam was saying in class that people tend to look up to the next social class to compare their lives. After seeing this video, I can understand exactly what Sam was talking about. I usually, as horrible as this sounds, never think about how fortunate I am. Thinking about more and more stuff that I want or think that I need is a prevalent occurrence running through my head. Not to say that I never respect what I have, it is just that this doesn’t happen upon me often. People need to think more about how fortunate they are and less about how much they are missing out on. If Tammy came to Sociology 119 and I was able to have a one-on-one conversation with her I would easily be able to say a few things about her and to maybe help her out. One of the first things I would talk about with her is the cards that have been dealt to her. She definitely has been given a hard background to start with. When I say this I am talking about the 19 or so brothers and sisters that she has. This was the biggest family size that I have ever heard of. Immediately after I heard the number of brothers and sisters that she has I started thinking about how they all must have lived. In the video she explained that her father was some sort of an engineer, as this may have paid well, I do not think that most jobs would be able to support such a large family. Tammy’s background in this respect is a dark one that shrouds any sort of normal childhood she would otherwise have had. The childhood she experience could have damaged her in many ways also other than just financially. The next thing I would talk to her about is the, I think, great work ethic that she has. For a person to walk ten miles a day just to clean bathrooms and tables, she must have one of the best work ethics I have ever seen. I give her props for putting up with that, as I do not know anybody who would do that. This can relate to the free will aspect in class we were talking about. She does not need to walk ten miles a day, she could gust sit at home and collect welfare, as many Americans do, but she decides not to. Working for the little bit of money that she makes helps her to feel as though she is accomplishing something. The last thing that I would talk to Tammy about is the position she is living in now and where they could be. From the video I did not pick up on much of a sense of self-pity but it is important to understand that she could be in a worse off position than that of which she is in now. As I did not pick up on that sense of self-pity, I did notice that she had a comment about one of her sons, in which she says he thinks he’s better than us. This type of comment coming from her shows exactly what I was talking about, not looking up and comparing but looking down, below where she is now and thinking how fortunate she is to at least have the things they have now.
I think that this is a very important topic to talk about. Many wealthy people can relate to not wanting to talk about their wealth because they do not want to feel as though they are being judged. I say this because there is a great example that we, as Americans, all have and that is, in one word, Hollywood. There are so many TV shows portraying the life of famous wealthy people. A lot of the time, I feel like these shows are not even that interesting, but people will continue to watch them as to look up to the people with money or something. However, we have seen many times before this glorification of the lives of wealthy people can be detrimental to those exact people. Constantly being pounded down with the paparazzi and getting your daily life examined is a cause for those people to be concerned about whatever they do. They feel like they are constantly being judged and talked about and categorized and this is not just limited to the famous Hollywood actors and actresses that we all know. These types of glorifications are made around most people of wealth. Personally I just think that this has to do with Americans obsession with wanting to have that kind of lifestyle. At the same time people fail to remember that they are people too and they have feelings and some of the same problems that the less fortunate people have. I think that having the status of being wealthy puts you up on this invisible pedestal in the eyes of most Americans. Therefore, people may act differently towards people with wealth. They tend to act more kind to them and may not say certain things that they would around people without a lot of money. Rich people’s so-called friend’s may in fact not be their friends and could just be out to have a better social class because they have rich friends now. Also they could be “friends” but then when the stock markets crash and the rich people lose their money, they also find those “friends” nowhere to be found. So, I feel that rich people tend not to want people to know that they are wealthy at least until they have had a chance to actually get to know them first. People with wealth in their family are just normal people and should not be any more or less than anyone else and I feel that more and more people on both sides are staring to realize this. That is why I think that when Sam asked are there really rich people in the class, nobody was raising their hands; they don’t want to be looked at or judged differently from anybody else.
I would just like to start off by saying that the class where Dr. Jones came and spoke was the best class so far. I felt like Dr. Jones is very enlightening person with a lot of great ideas that he got across during that class. I like how he got the class involved by doing the dollar bill activity, where people bid higher than a dollar on a dollar. To me, it was very interesting to see that activity, I thought it was absolutely hilarious that people would bid higher than one dollar, up to three, for only one. I feel like the idea that he was trying to get across during this activity was that people start adding information to conversations in which they have no idea what’s going on. I have seen situations like this many times and it never fails to amaze me. For example, people start getting pumped up and talking about something people feel that they need to add something to the conversation when they probably have nothing factual to add. The activity where he had somebody repeat a story and tell it to somebody else and then have them tell it to somebody else and so on, really portrayed the change that occurs when one story is passed on through many people. Actually in this case it didn’t take long at all for the story to change a great deal. This activity definitely goes to show that when you hear something from somebody else you should think about the actual validity of that statement. Dr. Jones’s comments on the activity where people retold the story were interesting, they showed me that there was more going on in the minds of the people retelling the story then was just on the surface. For example you would think that people are just forgetting some details of the story. However, what is actually going on is that people are substituting certain words for others because they feel that they shouldn’t be saying certain things. Just to show that this was actually happening, the first person to retell the story was a white kid, he failed to repeat the N-word. I guarantee you that he did not fail to remember that the N-word was a part of the story. But, he did fail to repeat it, which goes to show that Dr. Jones’s is right; the power of that one word is so strong that it changed the whole tone of the story when it was retold. In the commentary video Dr. Jones makes a strong connection between the power of that word and the use of that word in the racial occurrence that happened at West Halls. It amazes me to hear that such racist comments are still made today. It also goes to show that the ignorant people who use this word have no idea of the power that it has. I’m glad to hear that the victim of this incident reported it to someone, and I hope that they find this person so as to punish him for what he has mentally done to that girl. Maybe that person should be attending a class such as this to get educated on race relations.