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December 3, 2008

White Privilege and White Guilt

Recently I was visiting Atlanta, and on the train to the airport at the end of my trip something happened that is not uncommon, yet caused quite the discussion between my partner and myself. A large 30-something African American man sat down across the aisle and asked us if we had a dollar to spare. We said no, and he continued to say that he didn't believe us because we were "gallivanting around the city", and he was glad we were leaving Atlanta. So after leaving MARTA our discussion beings... In reality of course I have a dollar. I feel that I earned my money and am only a student, so I can't afford to give money to everyone who asks me for it. But then reading The Color of Wealth and discussing white privilege in class I understand that my race is what has allowed me to be at the status I am. As many other people have mentioned this leads to guilt. Because of my white privilege do I really owe it to this man to give him one of my dollars? While waiting for my flight we discussed how often white privilege often turns into white guilt. Both of us were raised in white upper middle class lifestyles, and understand how lucky we are, but I also work in order to pay for my apartment, car insurance, food, and anything else I want. That dollar I give away is one I could possibly need very soon, but still know that I am probably better off than the man asking for it. In our discussion I tried to explain that because the government created our white privilege, it is not something that should cause guilt. If we still feel the guilty for something beyond our control, we should use that to cause change, and work for a better future. Should I have given that man a dollar? Maybe, but would it have been for the right reasons? (Although I am sure he doesn't care what the reason is.)

I am also relating this to what we talked about in class today. In our discussions of the budget, and who gets what, I thought of Robin Hood who stole from the rich to give to the poor. I told our group that this is what we need now in our government. So what about the working class? Should we take from them to give to the poor too? Or are they considered poor as well?

It is funny how learning one thing brings up fifty new questions.

December 4, 2008

Life and the Dumb (IMF)

Today in class we watch a documentary called Life and Debt. In the documentary it showed how Jamaica was a colonized country and then was affected by, what seemly would be a good thing at the time and in the end has created a country with no economic stability, independence. The country has no national food security because the people of power thought it would be a strong economic choice by having foreign country supple there food. By them doing this it has put local farmers out of business and has not allowed the country to self stabilize.
The documentary did a brilliant job and showing how a foreigner perceives Jamaica. I know I have always thought of Jamaica as a travel destination, some place fun and relaxing, and a place where I could sit at the beach and enjoy my pina colada, this is true to some extent. In the documentary it shows the other side to paradise, while one is drinking there alcoholic beverage, they’re are some things that are fundamentally wrong acquiring around them. This is a country that is struggling economically and the I.M.F will do nothing for them because they have no economic interest in them. The United States has all this power and money to support a war that doesn’t make sense, but they can’t help a country that promotes nothing but happiness and freedom? At least let them support themselves by being able to farm their own goods.

Life and Debt in Jamaica

In my mind Jamaica has been this idyllic paradise; a place of good food, great music, kind people and unbeatable scenery. I have had friends that have visited come back raving that Jamaica was heaven on earth. The photos have made me want to give up my life in the States and move there so that I can live in a bungalow near the beach and work surrounded my nature. This movie, in about two seconds, crushed all of these dreams and showed me that my desire was based on an idea constructed through movies, romanticizing of the music and the tales of tourists. The reality, the life that the natives face every day, is as ugly as the environment is beautiful. In the past four decades, no new hospitals have been built! The children are educated in buildings that are literally crumbling around them. The large farming industry is in peril, as their produce can only be sold in the UK and the locals are forced to buy foreign foods because they cannot afford the produce locally grown. Jamaica continues to collect debt. At the time the film was made they were 7 billion dollars in debt. The problem, however, is cyclical and cannot be easily fixed. Their debt increases with every year, leaving them without enough money to buy machines, build new hospitals, or provide a good education for its citizens that would offer the resources to successfully pull themselves out of the recession. An example of this is that farmers are still using machetes on their farms whereas most people in the rest of the world have upgraded to machines. It is impossible and unrealistic to assume that the two are compatible.
I am absolutely mystified that I could have had such a misconstrued perception of this place. I am also shocked at the trend I am noticing that many of the most visually stunning places in the world seem to have been possessed by the powerful Anglo-Saxon countries and when that country releases them to independence they are unable to begin with a concrete focus and the result leads to chaos. From an individual standpoint, I am not sure how one is suppose to help. Is it by education the public about the despair that the country is in? is it by buying food from Jamaica to support the farming industry when you can? Is it by boycotting Chiquita and Dole products that inhabit the majority of sales? It is very difficult to watch a video like this and not be faced with some sort of conclusion, some concrete way to personally address the issues you have seen in your own life. However, I imagine that this is just my own personal desire to have a clean, neatly wrapped solution so that I can sleep better at night and not feel so guilty. However, the hard truth is that there isn’t one.

December 5, 2008

Life and Debt Jamaica video

The video we watched yesterday in class was a huge eye opener in seeing what life is really like in Jamaica. At the beginning of the film the narrator said "You can imagine yourself under the sun laying in the beach" or something along those lines, and I was thinking "Yes, I can, that sounds fantastic." But shortly into the film we began to see how the Jamaican people live, and immediately we feel guilty for our pleasure vacations. It was crazy to see the contrast between the lifestyles of the Jamaican people and the tourists. First the film shows all of these chunky white people getting drunk and dancing around on the beach like idiots, then we see the Jamaican people and see how they are living. The narrator said how we as tourists would see the people and think "they are so laidback," but in reality they have no escape from their lifestyle and they envy us because we actually have the opportunity to be able to take a break from our routine life and go on vacations. This video discusses how U.S. policies have destroyed the economy of Jamaica and how they are so deeply in debt. Their financial crisis keeps getting worse and worse, and according to the film is due to the world bank policies. Unemployment is increasing in Jamaica because they cannot compete with the farming techniques of other countries. They can not afford to buy equipment, and must get the crops by hand. Goods are being sold at cheaper prices in the U.S., so the Jamaican people can't sell their goods because they won't get money for them. One farmer produced I think cherry tomatoes and the American client he was trying to sell them to said that they didn't meet specifications. Because of this he had to get rid of all of them. Another man was going to sell 5 days worth of milk, but the milk was needed because the U.S. had enough, so they had to dump all of that milk. After watching this video, I still think that tourism is okay because I think that it is providing quite a few jobs for some Jamaicans. But I think that we need to realize the issues that are going on in some of the poor countries we go to visit. I'm not quite sure what we as individuals can do about Jamaica's economy, but there are ways we can help out. I know that other countries that used to be colonies are now suffering economically as well. I went to the Philippines last year, not for vacation, but as a missions trip to help out some of the poorer people there by giving them food, and assisting in free medical clinics. The film also talked about how Jamaica barely has any hospitals. They don't have the security of knowing if they get hurt, there is a hospital or medical clinic near by to help them out. It is sometimes so easy to forget about some of the problems that are occuring outside of our own lives, and to think only about ourselves and how we live. But just imagine yourself being in the situation some of these people are in, they are struggling to survive, they don't have good health care, and their economy keeps going down and down.

December 6, 2008

Life and Debt

After watching the film Life and Debt, I was really disturbed with how the U.S. exploits Jamaica. This is a prime example of how rich countries (well we're not that rich anymore) go out and oppress poor countries whose populations are majority people of color. It shows how oppression and the intersection of class and race hurts people all over the world, not just in the U.S.

One thing that stayed with me after the film was how Jamaica's dairy industry was shut down because of the import of cheap powder milk from the U.S. Not only are people losing jobs because the industry was shut down, but locals of Jamaica are consuming milk that is not milk at all. It has no source of vitamins or anything to keep the body strong. So not only are these people left with no work, or means to health care or education, their source to healthy foods has been eliminated by policies that countries like the U.S. have pushed.

Having public policies that allow the oppression through exploitation shows the connection Jamaica has to African American slaves. A man from the movie noted that Jamaica is in millions of dollars in debt with the U.S. and have to do certain things, like give up certain rights, to help pay it off. This reminds me of the peonage or debt bondage system that white plantation owners bailed blacks out of jail (one example) only to have them work their debt off through free labor. What makes me even angrier is some believed that they were helping the blacks out of jail. But in reality they were back slaves. In the movie a white guy said that Jamaica could not function with its own agriculture and dairy markets, so the U.S is there to "help" them. All this is a modern way of keeping poor blacks from being self reliant and climbing the social ladder (oppression through race and class). Being forced in inhuman conditions with no source of benefits and very little pay, shows how the U.S takes advantage of people because they are a poor class and of an unprivileged race. It is easy for the U.S government to dip their nose in a second or third world country and use their people as slaves because they are of a different race and have no power because of their lack of wealth.

This film shows that the oppression faced by people of color, especially poor people of color happens everywhere. Its slavery with paper instead of the chains, and guess who’s the "master"?

Turning a [Black] Blind Eye on [Our] Red Problem!

"Because of our homosexuality the Black community casts us as outsiders. We are the poor relations, the proverbial black sheep, without a history, a literature, a religion, or a community" (Gender Talk, 174).
~Joseph Beam, gay activist writer

For my final paper, I will be writing on the contributions, to homophobia discourse, of Black Nationalism and the Black Church. I will show how these two communities expose the greater Black community to homophobia by comments. From rappers utterances of "faggot," to Fire and Brimstone Reverends judging deeming homosexuals to hell! Furthermore, I will demonstrate the blind-eye aspects of this wide-spread oppression; by these prominent figures within the Black community focusing on the dehumanization of a sector of its community, they are blinding most of its people from "actual problems."

For example: HIV/AIDS within the Black community. I watched a documentary on HIV/AIDS, namely A Closer Walk, and did some research. It stated following:

~AIDS is the leading killer of African Americans aged 25-49 years old.
~50% of all new AIDS cases are African Americans
~About 60% of all women infected with HIV/AIDS, are African American women.

Question: Is the hatred of a people-homosexuals- more important to US (Blacks and their allies) than given our people life, by acknowledging this nuisance called HIV/AIDS?

It hurts my heart to know my mother, 8 younger sisters, my cousins, Aunt, grandmother, great-grandmother, friends, great aunts, and the rest of my family, including myself, are all up against such a destroyer.

A great many people within the African American community chooses to write HIV/AIDS off as a "gay disease." If you look at the aforementioned statistics, you will read: "About 60% of all women infected with HIV/AIDS, are African American women." In no way am I glamorizing this fact, however we as a community needs to re-write our priorities.

This stigma is secretly destroying the Black community! Rev. Emmanuel Cleaver described one of his AIDS-ridden cousin's last moment on earth (A Closer Walk): "He was so ashamed to go to his own Church. He went to an abandoned apartment, and wrapped himself in a blanket to die." This man's was so afraid to seek help from his own church, because of the stigma within the Black Church, and the greater Black community.

It is about time we act! Not just act-we need to start talking! There's a man named Ron McMillian Kansas City. He and his associates talk tables to busy blocks, and hand out contraceptives, and other preventative/safer-sex related materials. He talked about how he did not judge people's actions. He referenced how he gave pimps condoms, despite his personal objections to their personal actions.

It is about time the Black community adopt Ron McMillian's ideology. This HIV/AIDS can be tamed; if and only if, out Black Nationalists and the Black Church cease to preach/promote Black homophobia, and move towards a unified movement against homophobia-as the late, Mrs. Coretta Scott King suggested. Furthermore, by unifying and not promoting this oppression of our own people, we will grow stronger in HIV/AIDS awareness, and a cure for AIDS!!!!!

Budget Making

Budgets are an important part of who we are, and an important tool in becoming what we want to be. While budgets and budget making are complex, everyone benefits from transparency. The class discussion of budget making in Minnesota was something that I never spent time to think about in the past. I guess I took public services such as healthcare, education and highway construction for granted. Minnesotans pay taxes to the government, so they can afford to provide these services. I found it challenging to decide what should or shouldn’t be included in the budget. This budget should includes expenditures for education, roads and bridges, technology, health care, public safety, housing, natural resources, agriculture, economic development, higher education, as well as dollars to state agencies, and local units of government.
I believe that most of the money should be invested in education and creation of jobs especially during these tough economic times where schools and jobs are shut down leaving Minnesotans jobless and without education. A budget that invests in job creation would at least create stability in our economy. If all of us lose our jobs at this time, then whose going to pay taxes that would be required in the next state budget? Investing in job creation program as well as education should be the first to be included in the budget.
With each passing month we hear more and more about the strain so many homeowners experience as a result of disastrous sub-prime lending. This budget should provide much-needed assistance to those who face losing their most important investment, a home. During the group discussion we all agreed that the best chance to save their house is with committed financial and legal help. With the help of dedicated professionals, it is our hope that we can help families keep their dreams of homeownership alive. By taking action to help hardworking residents keep their homes, Minnesota can lead the way in addressing what has become an economic nightmare.
The Clean Water Referendum on the ballot should also be included in the budget. I still don’t know why we had to vote for upgrade and repair of drinking water and wastewater treatment systems. This referendum helps better our environment as well as it was estimated that the funding would support 12,000 jobs.
I don’t think it’s appropriate to have our hard earned money used to build stadiums or recreational places such as parks. We are all going through a tough time and investing our money on non-basic needs would be a bad move.

Life and Debt

Since watching this documentary, I was not really aware of how the economic and social situation of Jamaica really is. The film does indeed make a valid point that the beauty of Jamaica with its luxurious resorts and its scenic beaches gives off the illusion of a country flourishing. But in all aspects Jamaica in present day is faced with economic challenges. For example, it was a shock for me to hear that most of the resort food that was provided for the vacationers—not grown in the Jamaica but shipped from Miami. "When you sit down to eat your delicious meal, it’s better that you don't know that most of what you are eating came off a ship from Miami? (Life and Deft). My instinctual response was, did they run out of resources that they couldn’t even grow their own food? Why isn’t anything being done? Only to realize that most of their agriculture are marketed up while the foreign market is sold at a lesser cost. For example, the imported goods such as bananas, carrots, etc. are sold at a lesser cost then their own crops. Therefore, it would be difficult for the locals to support their own agriculture when they aren’t even buying their own good.

In addressing the Free Trade Zone, it’s difficult for me to see the hard work these people do to find a job that pays at the bare legal minimum of $30 US dollars a week. Having factories like Free Trade Zone readily available for foreign garment companies at low rent is pretty depressing because it’s using other people for their own profitable gain. Not saying that all the blame is placed on foreign garment companies because factories such as Free Trade Zone gave them incentives to use them. “These factories are offered with the additional incentive of the foreign companies’ being allowed to bring in shiploads of material there tax-free, to have them sewn and assembled and then immediately transported out to foreign markets? (Life and Debt).

The turn of the century: Capitalism in a global context

The video Jamaica In Life and Debt eliciting troubling emotions about the ways in which capitalism can hurt the worlds economy on a global scale. One way of running an economy in certain countries certainly doesn't qualify as the right ways to run other countries especially when they are not all on the same levels. One of the most unsettling aspects of the ways in which the global economy is trying to work are the organizations that make these transactions possible. The IMF and WTO all participate by enacting policies that seem to further the economic gaps between developed and developing countries by benefiting those countries that are already in a powerful positions with little or no benefit to the developing countries that need to rebuild their crumbling economies. In Jamaica, as well as other developing countries, the need to produce goods that are going to be exported to bring funds to aid the country's economy is something that should be encouraged by these organizations; instead they find ways to tax the exports or add interest rates on the debt that the countries owe to the World Bank in order to continue to make profit from a method that is supposedly created to get the country's economy back on its feet! It is interesting how developing countries all over the world were countries that used to have many natural resources that aided the most powerful countries centuries ago to be as successful as they are today. Their land had been colonized, and used to the extent that almost damaged whatever natural sources they had to be able to produce as much as they used to. After their independence all funds were then cut off leaving them with damaged land and a debt that was justified by those in power. The ideology and social construction of race and class still remains because the most poorest countries in the world are mostly populated by people of all races except white. Although the labor of their ancestors and the natural resources in their land were the reason and root of all the prosperity and success gained by these powerful countries, centuries and generations later, the exploitation still goes on. When the term globalization is associated with an ideal and mentality that embraces the notion of capitalism, profit and greed that does not embody sovereignty and true just morals, there is going to be a failed attempt to give these developing countries a fair chance to be able to become prosperous and rich again!

Video: Life & Debt in Jamaica

Watching the video was somewhat of a culture shock. Seeing the side of Jamaica that isn’t normally revealed to the rest of the world was interesting. Jamaica is usually portrayed as a paradise, seeing the local people in their natural environment and seeing the real Jamaica that is not usually shown was an eye opener. The fact that their economy was destroyed by Globalization was rather ironic because globalization is usually meant to have a positive impact on the economy. Devaluating the Jamaican currency further increased the problem because it made it difficult for local people to advance to a higher social class and increased the national deficit as well. With the currency devaluation, the citizens of Jamaica were still subjected to very high taxes. Though taxes are meant to improve the living conditions of the people in a particular economy, the taxes paid by the locals only further increased their poverty level. The currency devaluation employees are paid minimum wage in Jamaican currency instead of US dollars, this makes it difficult for them to live and support their families on a daily basis.
Globalization negatively impacted the Jamaican economy because as a result of it, the country heavily relies on imported goods. Farmers rely on imported goods and tools for farming, making it more difficult and expensive for them to reproduce. By relying heavily on imported goods, the economy continues on a downward spiral of poverty. The negative state of the economy makes it difficult for future generations to escape poverty, thus creating a never-ending cycle of poverty.

Life and Debt

It was amazing to me to watch Life and Debt.... this was not the first time watching it for me. I actually have seen it now three times and each time I am left with a sense of injustice and sadness and anger. I realize each time as I watch the film how privileged I am as an american and how western countries are placing a new form of colonization onto global south countries. Tariffs, privatization, devaluing money and demand exports are all forms of regulation on the country that keep them in their place and hold keep them without power. The effects of structural adjustment programs are profound on a nation....it claims to help but in the end it just continues to run them in an unending circle.

The crazy part is that Jamaica is one of many countries where SAP are running wild. Where countries like ours are making profit on the exploitation of others. Yet, we idly stand by as great consumers of the United States.... buying anything and everything we can get our hands on-- bananas at anytime of the year, coffee from worlds away, clothes made in countries we can't even point out on a map--it is a commodity fetish as Marx would say. Products void of their history--not knowing where anything comes from, consuming without a ounce of thought. The big-bad-guys are to blame, that is for sure but as individuals we have to start stepping up and taking responsibility for our own actions and how we play into the very system we so easily try to oppose.

Poverty Now vs. 1950

Urban poverty has been a very, very eminent problem in the urban areas of the United States for a very long time. The poverty has not changed, it is the reason for the poverty. The reading from the Ore selection this week was very interesting. It discussed how the reason for poverty has made a shift to a far worse reason that is not so correctable. While poverty used to be caused by people not working or working for little wages, now it is caused not by invididual ‘joblessness’ but by city ‘joblessness’. In the 1950s there were many people in urban Chicago that lived in poverty, but most of them had jobs that just didn’t pay them very much. William Wilson, from the Ore collection, informs us that that has changed very much. “In 1990, for example, only one in three adults ages 16 and older held a job in the ghetto poverty areas of Chicago, representing roughly 425,000 men, women, and children.? (Ore 354)

There are many problems that come along with the fact that the city is now incapable of offering these people jobs. The major problem discussed by Wilson is crime. There is no doubt that the lack of jobs definitely has an effect on an increase in crime. Now these people, living in poverty, have no means of income, and a lot of time on their hands. The only way to stop this crime is to create jobs in the community because citywide ‘joblessness’ is a dangerous source of poverty.

“Many of today’s problems in the inner-city ghetto neighborhoods – crime, family dissolution, welfare, low levels of social organization, and so on – are fundamentally a consequence of the disappearance of work.? (Ore 355)

Globalization & Social Change Make Life A Debt in Jamaica

Watching Life & Debt in Jamaica brought out how a society can feel on globalization and social change. Those terms are detrimental to society today as we continue through the era of technology. One has to think, where are we going to go from here? How can you surpass a dependency on technology & in turn, will the use of electronics decrease? Will that decrease bring back the job opportunities that have been lost over the years because of the numerous systems that perpetuate inequalities? These questions need to be answered as they continue the cycle of how the world will progress.

The film projected how the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have such a lock & hold over different countries – focusing on Jamaica. The representative stated, “Jamaica was not a country that could survive on its own merit?. How can that be proven when sources like the World Bank & IMF are blocking the opportunity for them to build their own economy & support WITHIN their country? The numerous imported products being sold cheaper than those from Jamaica itself exploit their agriculture. The exploitation is visual & devastating. The food & labor that is being wasted can become produce that could possibly be transported to other countries to help ease their starvation rates & also bring in revenue for Jamaica to pay off its debt. The source that could bring about a solution may be taking the readings and information that we learn & pushing it forward & doing something to change what is around us. Everyone could help through community involvement & being in tuned with the political & economic standpoints of those in power. Capitalism is a means of overproduction & this has become an era where so much is being made that oil prices are dropping & there is enough food to feed everyone – nothing is being done about it because no one wants to pay for another’s ills (i.e. the issues with health care, welfare programs, unequal education opportunities).

These specific inequality-describing terminologies can also be found in the film When The Levees Broke. That film showed a disparity so deep & devastating, it was hard to not shed a tear. An image was sent via email to the class showing the different descriptions used to explain why individuals were wadding through the water with carts of food/survival needs. As mentioned earlier, systems are used to continuously perpetuate inequality & to send out the message that they (people in power, our ‘masters’, the elite, the upper class, etc) want to portray. It was over five days before the survivors of Hurricane Katrina received any word of help coming & the image only recorded the desperate & vulnerability that those citizens/individuals felt.

In conclusion, what is this world going to do next? Who will be the elite/upper class representatives to control the ‘others’ – will there still be a division of classes if capitalism ceases to exist? What are you going to contribute in order to change the inequalities of the world? Please comment below!

Life and Debt video

The video we watched was on the country of Jamaica and after watching this video I came away with different vision of the country. Before I just thought about Jamaica as a land with beautiful scenery, great music, Bob Marley, great food and culture, and understood why so many people want to visit this tropical paradise. But what I came away after watching this video was that Jamaica is just like any other tourist attraction that I have learned about. The video I thought it was interesting because it shows the tourist experience of the country and then it talks about the financial problems and struggles it has in the global market. The country basically fails to compete in the global market. Their food products are sold higher prices then the imports from foreign countries. They struggle to get funds for hospitals and schools. Western colonialism has deeply impacted the country and it has not been able to develop and compete in the failing global economy. What really disgusted me was seeing American corporations such as McDonald's and Taco Bell in the video, one reason is because I just think fast food is gross, but also American capitalism and its influence all over the world. If I were a native, I would not welcome tourists with open arms, I mean I would just be frustrated with people coming over and just being able to see one side and being oblivious to the reality of the situations for natives. The natives lack the technology and resources to compete which forces them to work harder and not benefit for their intense labor. To me Its just like entering a gun fight without a gun. The value of currency has also diminished, workers don't receive adequate wages, and they really cant do anything about it because there are no unions or protection from the government. I thought this video shines light into the dark areas that are unknown to many that just see the positive attributes of the country and ignores the problems the natives have to endure.

December 8, 2008

INEQUALITY KILLS!!! America is WEAK!!

"You won't see inequality on a medical chart or a coroner's report under 'cause of death.' You won't see it listed among the top killers in the United States each year. All too often, however, it is social inequality that lurks behind a more immediate cause of death, be it heart disease or diabetes, accidental injury or homicide. Few of the top causes of death are 'equal opportunity killers.' Instead, they tend to strike poor people more than rich people, the less educated more than highly educated, people lower on the occupational ladder more than those higher up, or people of color more than white people" (Ore 387).

This is a very powerful paragraph in the reading "Inequality Kills" in the Ore book. Sometimes it's so hard to put into words how much inequality truly effects the unprivileged, however this paragraph does a very well job of doing that. If you were to look up the statistics on how many people die from each race each year and the causes, I am sure that you would see African-Americans and other minorities with the highest mortality rates, and more causes of death that have to do with low wealth and or miseducation. It is unfortuanate that inequality has this much of an impact on our people, but yet still nothing is being done about it. It almost makes one feel as if death was part of the governments plan when they first set out to make policies only beneficial to whites. It's even more fustrating to hear almost everyday from privileged individuals that "minorities have so many problems because they are uneducated, not motivated, and don't work hard towards becoming a better people." Now everytime I hear people make these statements I know that they are uneducated themselves, because by one making this statement they are saying that they put minorities at fault for the troubles they face today, when in all actuality, most of these problems are far out of their control, and have been for many years now.

It's unfortunate that minorities are faced with so many problems and troubles that were never even initiated from their own actions and decisions. Inequality kills, and I'm sure many are starting to become aware of this or have already been aware of it for years now. America is supposed to be the land of [the] free, equality, and opportunities. But as far as I know we have NEVER lived up to that name or even earned that title. A country that allows inequality to kill as a result of discriminative behavior never deserves a title that stands for so much. America is WEAK, and will never turn out to be the country it claims to be.

Water as a human right!!!!

Globalization. As a Global Studies student the meaning of this word is a constant struggle. I have tried so desperately to clinch onto the idea that we are moving faster and faster closer to the close knit, fair trade, cultural exchanging, global community that might have a new future. However all I can see lately is this community that takes the voices from the few and implements laws that push the agenda of the few. It is not cultural exchange but rather cultural domination and hegemony. Fair trade is a myth that has to stay alive so that the weak don’t lose hope or worse rebel. The documentary that we watched this week “Life and Debt? has made me think about the countless human rights violations that are justified by Wallstreet and economist as market driven Economy. One of these violations I wanted to talk about in this blog is Water. I am sure you all heard about the leading concerns of the water industry. I mean we all know that we shouldn’t buy plastic bottles, or support bottle companies that kill of the sovereignty of weaker nations, however this issues goes so much deeper. Can you afford to live? This question seems absurd and unreasonable in our contemporary community. It is well established and affirmed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCR) that every human has a "right to life", this means that no human can be deprived of the elements that make life possible. What happens if the government or a corporation asks: "Can you afford to drink?" For 1.1 billion people in the world the answer to this question would be, "NO". The global society is constantly being challenged by war, diseases, and the collapse or instability of states. However in the 21st century, with the realization that water has become a finite resource, it is the lack of fresh water that concerns most nations. With the combination of pollution, population growth, and climate change the water cycle has been damaged and water scarcity has become an increasing threat to many nations. Water is essential to every aspect of human life; our health and welfare depend on it. What happens if it isn't made available to us. It is essential that water is seen as a human right rather than a commodity. With the help of privatization of water sources, water has changed from a human right into a human need. Thru the process of Globalization countries are made to believe that water is a good that is supposed to be provided by the most competitive company, rather than the local government.

The privatization of water, which allows companies such as Coca-Cola to extract large amounts of ground water for a minimal price, is leaving the Indian people without access to water. The communities surrounding the 52 Coca-Cola bottling plants are experiencing severe water shortages thought to be caused by the massive extraction of ground water by cola companies. The Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) of India has conducted studies that confirm a significant depletion of the water table in the areas surrounding the bottling plants. One example is Rajasthan, India, where the CGWB found water tables had dropped 10 meters within five years of Coca-Cola starting bottling operations in Kala Dera, Rajasthan (India Resource). In another study of water conditions in eight villages within a three kilometer radius of the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Mehdianj found the number of wells that had dried up increased seven-fold since Coca-Cola began operations in the area (India Resource). This severe depletion of the local ground water table is prompting further investigation into the overall environmental degradation of the area as a whole. Coca-Cola claims on their website that throughout all of their operations in India, stringent quality monitoring takes place covering both the source water they use as well as their finished product. All of the water used for beverage manufacturing conforms to drinking water standards, making it safe and ensuring that it meets the highest international standards, including BIS and EU standards for drinking water. They also test for traces of pesticide in groundwater to the level of parts per billion. This is equivalent to one drop in a billion drops. The water intensive production practices of Coca-Cola have raised concerns about the contamination of the remaining ground water and surrounding land. Coca-Cola discharges hazardous waste water into fields and rivers surrounding the bottling plants, resulting in ground water and soil pollution. In some areas of India, the water wells and pumps have been labeled with signs that state the water is unfit for human consumption. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) found excessive levels of lead and cadmium in all Coca-Cola waste and confirmed contamination of ground water and soil contamination in areas where this waste was disposed (India Resource). Prior to the CPCB study, this waste was distributed to Indian farmers as fertilizer for their crops (India Resource). As a result of the study, seven states in India have imposed partial bans on the sale of Coca- Cola products due to the high levels of pesticides in the waste products (India Resource). This
contamination of land and water supply coupled with a declining water table has caused severe interruption of agricultural practices in India, a country in which 70 percent of the population earns a living from agriculture and related practices, resulting in oppression of the people of India. In the face of the oppression resulting from water privatization, the Indian people are taking action in movements and protests that demand their basic needs to be considered before corporate profit. In this case the sovereignty of the local government has been pushed to their threshold by Coca Cola undermining the needs of the locals. One such movement in Kerala, India began with Indian women who were upset about having to travel greater distances because their wells were contaminated or dry from the activities of the bottling plant. While the IMF, WTO, and the World Bank define this as perfectly legal activity, Economist go as far as talking about creating a rich industry in developing countries through open market and free trade. After watching the “Live and Debt? movie Free trade has a new meaning to me. The rich and powerful a “FREE? to steal, exploit, and oppress the weak. Wait a sec that sounds like it happened before…yup Imperialism has a new name and face: Free Trade!

Water as a human right!!!!

Globalization. As a Global Studies student the meaning of this word is a constant struggle. I have tried so desperately to clinch onto the idea that we are moving faster and faster closer to the close knit, fair trade, cultural exchanging, global community that might have a new future. However all I can see lately is this community that takes the voices from the few and implements laws that push the agenda of the few. It is not cultural exchange but rather cultural domination and hegemony. Fair trade is a myth that has to stay alive so that the weak don’t lose hope or worse rebel. The documentary that we watched this week “Life and Debt? has made me think about the countless human rights violations that are justified by Wallstreet and economist as market driven Economy. One of these violations I wanted to talk about in this blog is Water. I am sure you all heard about the leading concerns of the water industry. I mean we all know that we shouldn’t buy plastic bottles, or support bottle companies that kill of the sovereignty of weaker nations, however this issues goes so much deeper. Can you afford to live? This question seems absurd and unreasonable in our contemporary community. It is well established and affirmed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCR) that every human has a "right to life", this means that no human can be deprived of the elements that make life possible. What happens if the government or a corporation asks: "Can you afford to drink?" For 1.1 billion people in the world the answer to this question would be, "NO". The global society is constantly being challenged by war, diseases, and the collapse or instability of states. However in the 21st century, with the realization that water has become a finite resource, it is the lack of fresh water that concerns most nations. With the combination of pollution, population growth, and climate change the water cycle has been damaged and water scarcity has become an increasing threat to many nations. Water is essential to every aspect of human life; our health and welfare depend on it. What happens if it isn't made available to us. It is essential that water is seen as a human right rather than a commodity. With the help of privatization of water sources, water has changed from a human right into a human need. Thru the process of Globalization countries are made to believe that water is a good that is supposed to be provided by the most competitive company, rather than the local government.

The privatization of water, which allows companies such as Coca-Cola to extract large amounts of ground water for a minimal price, is leaving the Indian people without access to water. The communities surrounding the 52 Coca-Cola bottling plants are experiencing severe water shortages thought to be caused by the massive extraction of ground water by cola companies. The Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) of India has conducted studies that confirm a significant depletion of the water table in the areas surrounding the bottling plants. One example is Rajasthan, India, where the CGWB found water tables had dropped 10 meters within five years of Coca-Cola starting bottling operations in Kala Dera, Rajasthan (India Resource). In another study of water conditions in eight villages within a three kilometer radius of the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Mehdianj found the number of wells that had dried up increased seven-fold since Coca-Cola began operations in the area (India Resource). This severe depletion of the local ground water table is prompting further investigation into the overall environmental degradation of the area as a whole. Coca-Cola claims on their website that throughout all of their operations in India, stringent quality monitoring takes place covering both the source water they use as well as their finished product. All of the water used for beverage manufacturing conforms to drinking water standards, making it safe and ensuring that it meets the highest international standards, including BIS and EU standards for drinking water. They also test for traces of pesticide in groundwater to the level of parts per billion. This is equivalent to one drop in a billion drops. The water intensive production practices of Coca-Cola have raised concerns about the contamination of the remaining ground water and surrounding land. Coca-Cola discharges hazardous waste water into fields and rivers surrounding the bottling plants, resulting in ground water and soil pollution. In some areas of India, the water wells and pumps have been labeled with signs that state the water is unfit for human consumption. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) found excessive levels of lead and cadmium in all Coca-Cola waste and confirmed contamination of ground water and soil contamination in areas where this waste was disposed (India Resource). Prior to the CPCB study, this waste was distributed to Indian farmers as fertilizer for their crops (India Resource). As a result of the study, seven states in India have imposed partial bans on the sale of Coca- Cola products due to the high levels of pesticides in the waste products (India Resource). This
contamination of land and water supply coupled with a declining water table has caused severe interruption of agricultural practices in India, a country in which 70 percent of the population earns a living from agriculture and related practices, resulting in oppression of the people of India. In the face of the oppression resulting from water privatization, the Indian people are taking action in movements and protests that demand their basic needs to be considered before corporate profit. In this case the sovereignty of the local government has been pushed to their threshold by Coca Cola undermining the needs of the locals. One such movement in Kerala, India began with Indian women who were upset about having to travel greater distances because their wells were contaminated or dry from the activities of the bottling plant. While the IMF, WTO, and the World Bank define this as perfectly legal activity, Economist go as far as talking about creating a rich industry in developing countries through open market and free trade. After watching the “Live and Debt? movie Free trade has a new meaning to me. The rich and powerful a “FREE? to steal, exploit, and oppress the weak. Wait a sec that sounds like it happened before…yup Imperialism has a new name and face: Free Trade!

Gender Talk and Proposition 8


While reading Chapter 6, “Black, Lesbian, and Gay: Speaking the Unspeakable? in Gender Talk, my mind immediately went to the recent passage of Proposition 8 in California. This chapter discussed the negative attitudes toward homosexuals that exists in the African-American community. The recent passage of Proposition 8 is proof of these negative attitudes still existing in 2008. According to exit polls, 70% of all African-Americans that voted in the decision voted in favor of the measure. In addition, no other minority supported the measure by more than 53%, which was the percentage of Latinos that backed the proposition. In Gender Talk, Cole and Guy-Sheftall give many reasons why this negative attitude toward homosexuals developed in African-American communities. One reason for the homophobia was the acceptance of traditional notions of masculinity and femininity and the embrace of Christian values (which included antihomosexual beliefs). The authors go on to discuss how Black Nationalism was a large influence on homophobia in the African-American community. According to the authors, a persistent theme in post 50's Black Nationalism was that males became homosexual as the result of adopting decadent white values. Clearly then, this practice would be looked upon as a sickness by the black community. Another reason the authors mention for homophobia in the black community is the large placement of value on a patriarchical society. It seems as though African-American communities place a lot of merit on having a male dominated society, and in this type of society it is not ideal to be gay because that is seen as taking away a man’s masculinity and power. These are just a few reasons highlighted in chapter six of Gender Talk, and it seems that more people need to be paying attention to the homophobia that exists in African-American communities so that a well-needed change happens.

Rachael Wendlandt

December 10, 2008

What Now?

Seeming how the semester is quickly coming to an end and how this is my last blog post, I thought I might attempt a post that others could comment on a lot if the need for more comments is there. What now? In the last semester we have seen many things, heard lots of opinions, and read through a lot of information. However, where do we go from here? We talked a little bit in regards to the Project South Globalization toolkit about what we need to do. In order to create social change and an opportunity for social change we must not just ‘sit back and watch’ as others attempt to make progress on their own, but instead we must help out. Unlike many sports and events, social change is not a ‘spectator sport’, and it definitely cannot be successful as such. We must take action, we must participate, continuing to learn and share our opinions everywhere we can. This class has really helped me to see that without ‘standing up’ and using your voice, you can never be heard even if you have the best idea or the right answer. It is very disheartening to imagine the number of people in the last couple centuries that have gone unnoticed, unheard, just because they haven’t actively voiced their opinion. Many great ideas could have prevented wars, discrimination, or lack of opportunity for certain groups. I hope that everyone looks to participate and voice their opinions in the future, and I am just curious on how some of you plan to do that. I myself am only a freshman here at the University of Minnesota and am not aware of a lot of the opportunities available to me.

Any comments will be greatly appreciated. I also would like to thank all of you for being wonderful classmates. Discussions got a little heated at times, but I really valued all of your opinions throughout the semester. Thanks and have a great winter break!!!

Life and Debt in Jamaica:


I don’t know about anyone else, but I felt horribly spoiled while watching this film. It is amazing how the selfish acts of the United States and other world powers due in order to make a profit off of developing countries like Jamaica. In our class up until now we generally were talking about national issues of Race, Class and Gender. We thought situations were bad in our country...they are, but are not even comparable to the oppression we and the rest of the world hold on the poor of developing countries. In a way it reminded me of slavery, legal slavery. We are able to outsource work to other countries in order to produce products for close to no cost. The people in our country need to be more educated about what are products are made of and how much profit a company is making off of each product. Much like neutrition labels on food, we should have more statistical data on our clothing and product tags. It would be interesting to see how much a company actually makes off of each product. The tags would only need three different numbers: The total cost to produce the product, The total cost of labor to make the product, and The price the company sold the product to the stores for. This way we can also see how much profit the stores are making on the products. By including this information, hopefully it would bring attention to the issue of unfair job markets outside of our country, and companies may be likely to pay employees more inorder to decrease the total profit number on the tag. Consumers would feel less ripped off if they saw the numbers were closer together. Maybe with this increase in pay, the companies would realize that they don’t have to take the jobs to other countries, and could pay the people in the United States the same wages (Assuming they would be at or above minimum wage). I know this may sound pretty radical, but that is exactly what we need to fix the problems with outsourcing and taking advantage of less fortunate countries.


Adam Ninnemann

This Course...

From taking this course, I have gained a lot of insight into how society was, and is, constructed. As I mentioned in one of my earlier blogs, before this class I had never considered race, class, and gender as anything other than "the ways things are." After having read all the materials and watching the in-class videos, I have a totally different perspective on things. I view others differently; I no longer describe people's race when am telling others about my experiences. I have also reconstructed my views on class, gender and sexuality.
Now, I do like nice things and want a lot out of life, but I don't correlate that with class anymore. Class is, for the most part, a figment of our imagination. I actually laugh at people who think their "high" class. As far as gender goes, I still enjoy being the women of the houes which includes cooking, cleaning and caring for my son, but I have a much better understanding of where "womens' roles" came from. Don't get me wrong, I don't feel these are ONLY my roles, my man does these things too, I just do them more frequently (and I probably enjoy doing them more too.)
Because of this class, I analyze many of the people, norms, and policies I come across just about everyday. I find myself telling others about these social constructions and how they have impacted my life as well. Even though I thought this course and the material could have been presented in a more intriguing manner, I am glad I took this course. My favorite part was watching the videos; they really helped to put things to to perspective for me. "Life and Debt in Jamaica" helped me to see how globalization, trade policies, and power all intersect and form greater disparities across the world. "Murder on a Sunday" and "When the Levies Broke" helped me to see the government's role in maintaining systems of inequality. Overall, I feel this course is one that students should be required to take; such a condition would help in our struggle for a fair and equal world.

December 11, 2008

Injustice? ok...what's next?

So I have read through some of the blogs especially the ones about Globalization and "life and Debt in Jamaica" and I thought I share some my Ideas about social change.

In order to push a positive and effective global movement for economic and social justice, certain steps must be taken, first, the journey starts from you. For example, as Jerome Scott quotes Che Guevara he says “we must idealize this love of the people, the most sacred cause and make it one and indivisible? (Project South 12). In my opinion, one of the most important characteristic one must possess in order to effectively fight injustice is empathy. Learning to put yourself in another’s person’s situation, learning that we are all oppressed and it’s not always about you alone. We must also take into account Jerome Scott and Walda Katz-Fishman’s three building blocks for economic and social justice movement.
According to them, these building blocks are: Critical consciousness, vision and strategy. These building blocks are very important because in order to push for change, we must first understand “how the world works, our place in it, including our sense of history? (project south 12). Just like the old saying goes “you have to know where you came from in order to know where we are going.? It is important we assess our world with our critical eye. Vision: this is our personal “dream? for our family, community, country and the world. Do you want peace in the world? Do you want more access to education in your community? Do you wish wealth could be evenly distributed among the whole nation? These are examples of visions one may have. Strategy is “the plan we collectively make to change the world in which we live into the world we envision? (Project South 12). Often times we complain about problems confronting the world we live in but only a few people actually do something about it. The word “collectively? means we can’t do all these things alone. We have to join forces to produce a more effective result.
Now that you have a vision, “we must focus on developing a bottom-up leadership that is broad and deep. It must include leaders from all sections of society but concentrate on those most adversely affected. This phase of leadership development requires a process of education, with popular education being an important tool to create a shared vision and winning strategy? (Project South 13). As we can see education is a deadly weapon to fight social struggles. The methods project south used to fight back the concept of globalization can be seen as a model that is successful to fight back social inequalities. The exercise had group members sharing their experience with globalization and how it impacted their life. As each group was able to relate to one another is able to see the direct effective of globalization. “History repeats itself? the power within understanding history is an effective of method. They were able to prove how globalization has been part of society for many years.
The first step is being able to educate everyone on the importance of social changes and the direct impact of social struggles for many different people. As well as making sure “people are aware of their options? as Ore suggests. (Ore 710) After your raise consciousness awareness; you are able to create a vision that has short-term and long term goal that has to involve everyone in the group. This would also give them “the power to act on their options? (Ore 710). This also creates motivation to collectively fight for one cause.

As we sink deeper in the ideologies of equal opportunity and institutionalized racism that is a part of mechanism for racism. The idea of questioning our society; to be able recognize concept like white privilege and impact of race that is the fundamental of this inequalities, is yet to be sufficient. This makes it hard to believe we can get our society to begin demands to change our social structures and question our social construction. This society is faced with a lot of social struggles that is the implication of the social construction that resulted in these inequalities. “Our culture suppresses conversation about class privilege as well as race and gender privileges? (Ore, 564). Until we can gain knowledge on to escape the illusion of the mislaid of social construction and address it as a social struggles.

We gain knowledge by applying the definitions of popular education by educating everyone on what’s going on around us and having an on-going conversation/dialogue with one another. Motivating one another to fight for a common cause and creating strategies to tackle this monster called “globalization?. We can’t do these alone, it requires a collective effort from everyone regardless of race, class, gender, age, sexuality; it requires effort and input from people from all walks of live. While it’s natural to want change, it is important we keep in mind that not all changes would occur immediately. Some are slow and gradual, some changes may not even occur during our lifetime, but the joy is, at least we started something. Let’s follow the wise words of Mahatma Gandhi, who once said “be the change you want to see in the world!?

Project toolkit: The tool for change!

I really liked the tool kit's attitude and approach to change. one of the
things that caught my eye was the article by Jerome Scott and Walda
Katz-Fishman. In one of the paragraph Jerome quotes Che Guevara: "we must
idealize this love of the people, the most sacred cause and make it one and
indivisible" (12). In my opinion, one of the most important personal
characteristic one must possess to effectively fight for injustice: is
empathy. learning to put yourself in another person's situation.
Scott and Fishman goes on to explain the three building blocks for
economic and social justice movement which according to them are: critical
consciousness, vision and strategy. This building blocks I thought were
very important because in order for us to effectively fight for change, we
must first understand "how the world works, our place in it, including our
sense of history." (12). just like the old saying goes "you have to know
where you came from in order to know where you are going." It is important
we assess our world with our critical eye. vision: this is the way we see
the our family, community, country and the world. Do you want peace in the
world? Do you want more access to education in your community?, Do you wish
wealth could be evenly distributed among the whole nation? these are
examples of visions one may have. Strategy "the plan we collectively make
to change the world in which we live into the world we envision" (12). Often
times we complain about problems confronting the world we live in but only
a few people do something about it. The word is "collectively", meaning we
can't do all these things alone. We have to join forces somehow to produce
a more effective result.


I was also intrigued by the ideas/ definitions for popular education. All
the definitions were interesting one of the few definitions that specially
caught my eye were: "Egalitarian", "inclusive", "education with an
attitude", "Accessible and relevant" and "interactive."

Egalitarian: this is the idea that we are all equal and we have knowledge
to share and teach. this is important concept because most of the time we
are caught in the dance of a teacher vs. student. We don't always identify
ourselves as equal but usually see an authoritative figure.

Inclusive: this might be the most difficult one as it is human nature to be
ethnocentric. it is natural for us to view our culture, values as the right
way. The definition of inclusive forces us to see our selves in relation to
all people, even those who possess a different view or approach to live.
notice it said "in relation" not superior or inferior.

Education with an attitude: this calls for the idea that we are not
neutral. we all have ideas some of which have been shaped by experiences,
upbringing, race, class, etc.

while this tool is so optimistic and interesting it is important that the
change might be sudden but rather gradual even sometimes slow.

December 13, 2008

Taking the Next Step

As this semester quickly draws to a close I have begun to reflect back on what I have learned and to think about where one goes from here. I look at this country very differently than I did three and a half months ago. I judge my image in the mirror differently. I have noticed the preconceptions I have and the prejudices that I have carried my whole life, often without any thought. I look at my mother and father and can see how their beliefs have shaped me and I can even look back at my Grandmother and see the legacy that she brought from Russia and all of the effects that has on my life every day. I am much more aware than I was months ago of the social construction of race, class, gender and sexuality. I am more knowledgeable about capitalism and corporate economy. I can even talk about how the media has fed my ideas and images for historical events and social concepts. But I find myself still wondering what can I do to change the world I live in?
Professor Brewer spoke the other day about joining a group, organization, cause that you believe in. that one must exercise their voice for something they are passionate about. Here I am; a capable, intelligent, socially conscious individual. I have no reason not to be involved. I need to move beyond just buying fair trade coffee and recycling and the occasional volunteering I do for benefits. I need to get involved with at least one of the many causes that I am interested in. it is not enough to just have my own beliefs and live my life according to them. Change will not occur until the movement because too big to try and continue holding underground. In one of the videos we watched this semester, someone said that it is imperative to look around at the environment you find yourself in and do something to make the situation a little more equitable. One of the ideas that I liked best in this class, is that everyone will be in a situation at some point in their lives in which they are the most powerful. I like thinking this way because it reminds me that not only does everyone have value (of course!) but that they also have the power to influence change. I strongly believe that this country has come a long way and that great things are possible. I am really excited to be a part of it.

December 15, 2008

Jamaican life and debt

It is mind boggling that many people think that America stands for good and it tries to spread democracy around the world. What many people fail to understand about this country is that its whole policy is centered around power and staying as the number one power in the world. We can find inciteful information concerning this issue by examining Jamaica which is a country trying to comeup from poverty and have better economic power.

Jamaica was dominated by the English and now it is liberated. Since their liberation Jamaicans have had economic problems which had led to health and education problems as well. Exports are low and imports are high, resulting in downfall in an economic standpoint. Foreign food has destroyed local businesses due to their low cost compared to local food. All these are not the fault of the Jamaican government but international community as well and American stands as the leader within this community. Regulations imposed on Jamaicans by IMF (International monitory Fund) is a way of keeping this country in poverty and therefore as a result keeping the first world countries in power.

All this comes as a surprise to many patriots out there but our international policies are designed to keep us in power and others in poverty. Jamaica is one example in which American and the international community try to achieve this goal.

December 16, 2008

Why don't you do something?

So why don’t you do something?
As Somali refugees, foreign, without a grasp of the language and economically challenged we were outsiders of the community and constantly exposed to systematic racial policies in all aspects of life in Germany. Due to the constant exposure of racially motivated crimes I became immune and almost numb to racism. While I struggled to find my own path in fighting the process of becoming the unwanted inferior black child in the perfectly homogenous catholic town, I began to see my Diaspora experience as singular and personal. In the small town Rheinbach (West Germany), I was seen first and foremost as the black girl, second as the Muslim girl, and then as the immigrant/refugee girl. With the multiple identities that were assigned to me by the dominant culture, Somali wasn’t one of them. I began to see myself as a representative of the black race, since all my flaws and imperfections when it came to schooling or etiquettes were assigned to my supposedly ‘inferior’ race. While I never lost my Somalian identity, it was my black identity that I felt I had to constantly protect from scrutiny and disgrace.
After my family and I moved to the U.S and decided to settle down in Minneapolis I found myself in a dual culture shock. Even though it was expected that I would find myself having to get used to the new cultural norms, habits, and values of the American life, it was the rich and large Somali community in Minneapolis that came to surprise me on multiple levels. I soon found myself to be identified as a Somali female rather than just simply black in the public world of school and outside activities. My Muslim identity was constantly questioned due to the fact that it was normalized that every Muslim girl decided to wear the hijab. My Somalian identity that used to be such a personal and private part of my life in Germany suddenly became the focus of my identity in many conversations.
Although I have been always an active member of the Somalian community due to family ties and the connection to Mosque and prayer times on Fridays, I have never seen myself as and activist for the bettering of my community. Maybe it is because I never wanted to limit myself and my responsibility to give back to society to one community. I don’t believe that as a Somalian I have a greater obligation to my own community than any other. However it is not until recently that I notice how discontent and truly frustrated I had been with my community.
The rise in gang violence, criminal activities, and school drop outs in the Somali youth culture have been alarming and frightening. The generation gap and cultural gap between many younger Somali immigrants has been frightening. The unwillingness to talk about the real issues at hand is an epidemic that seems to be ignored by everyone. Issues such as STD, teenage pregnancy, and sexual activities of any sort can’t be openly talked about since those have to remain a private matter that is closely connected to modesty. While nobody is willing to talk about HIV, the number of Somali men and women that contract and live with it is alarmingly high.
While I continuously talk about these issues, and try to get a sympathetic ear that is as concerned as I am, I remain to be unheard. For most of my life I decided that somebody else could deal with that problem because I was going to invest my time into something more productive. I have learned from this class how dangerous it can be to develop such a perspective.
The death of a close friend and family member has made me realize that the reason I was able to distance myself from the destructive nature of the Somali community was because I was never truly affected by the dysfunctional nature. After my friend was killed by Somali gang members that were trying to protect their space, I became even more reluctant to get involved in the community. My feelings of resentment disgust and anger prevented me from ever considering looking into the deeply rooted causes of the ongoing crime within the community. After I read the last chapter of Tracy Ores book that we were reading all semester, I became aware of how little I have been doing to prevent the problems of the Somali community to escalate. I have talked about it, laughed about it, cried abut it, and even criticized the people that tried to do something about it, but never have I personally done something to create change. Now that I have taken this class I have learned to complicate my own notions of what it means to be critical of your community. While I am still afraid to become involved, I feel more responsibility to become active than I have ever before.


December 18, 2008

Life and Debt in Jamaica

For me, the most shocking thing about this video were the working conditions of the Jamaicans. The video depictd many Jamaicans working in unsanitary environments, under extremely low wages, with no compensation for overtime, and enforcement of child labor. I believe the above conditions constitute an institution known as sweatshops. It's just not right for their to be conditions like this anywhere in the world, and we need to do something about it. The more I think about how we can get rid of these injustices, the more I think about polices of today's world, polices and orgainzations such as IMF, world bank, and neoliberalism. I believe these institutions and polices are the main reasons why these injustices exist today.

First of all, neoliberalism gives to much power to corporations by making them private institutions. By making things private, you have no oversight of the practices that are being conducted. Private corporations are allowed use whatever antics they want as long as they are generating a profit. In the case of Jamaica, corporate companies such as DOVe, are allowed to exploit Jamaican workers for there banana products. The Jamaicans are forced to comply because they are under binding contracts with organizations such as the IMF and the World Bank.

INstitutions such as IMF and the World Bank feed onto the ideas of neoliberalism. They force developing countries like Jamaica to follow these new policies of free-trade, deregulation, and privatization. Otherwise, if the countries don't comply to these rules, they don't receive the loans from IMF and the World Bank. Originally the IMF and the World Bank were set up as instititions that could help developing countries by providing loans that would help the developing countries generate economic growth. Now, they force these countries into a system where they become subordinate to private corporations such as DOve.

For these reasons workers have to endure horrible working conditons because they have no power over these private institiutions. Under the policies of the IMF and the World Bank, they need the foreign investment to generate growth in their country. Developing countries like Jamaica are forced to comply with the new polices of neoliberalism and lose their independence of their own products. To get rid of these injustices, we need to reform these organziations and move away from the polices of neoliberalism.

Life and Debt in Jamaica

For me, the most shocking thing about this video were the working conditions of the Jamaicans. The video depictd many Jamaicans working in unsanitary environments, under extremely low wages, with no compensation for overtime, and enforcement of child labor. I believe the above conditions constitute an institution known as sweatshops. It's just not right for their to be conditions like this anywhere in the world, and we need to do something about it. The more I think about how we can get rid of these injustices, the more I think about polices of today's world, polices and orgainzations such as IMF, world bank, and neoliberalism. I believe these institutions and polices are the main reasons why these injustices exist today.

First of all, neoliberalism gives to much power to corporations by making them private institutions. By making things private, you have no oversight of the practices that are being conducted. Private corporations are allowed use whatever antics they want as long as they are generating a profit. In the case of Jamaica, corporate companies such as DOVe, are allowed to exploit Jamaican workers for there banana products. The Jamaicans are forced to comply because they are under binding contracts with organizations such as the IMF and the World Bank.

INstitutions such as IMF and the World Bank feed onto the ideas of neoliberalism. They force developing countries like Jamaica to follow these new policies of free-trade, deregulation, and privatization. Otherwise, if the countries don't comply to these rules, they don't receive the loans from IMF and the World Bank. Originally the IMF and the World Bank were set up as instititions that could help developing countries by providing loans that would help the developing countries generate economic growth. Now, they force these countries into a system where they become subordinate to private corporations such as DOve.

For these reasons workers have to endure horrible working conditons because they have no power over these private institiutions. Under the policies of the IMF and the World Bank, they need the foreign investment to generate growth in their country. Developing countries like Jamaica are forced to comply with the new polices of neoliberalism and lose their independence of their own products. To get rid of these injustices, we need to reform these organziations and move away from the polices of neoliberalism.

Globalization and the Future United States

What will become of America once the implications of Globalization have reduced our freedom both domestically and abroad? Between our failing educational system, the outsourcing of millions of jobs from our domestic labor forces, the increase in competition in the coming decades in industries that are historically American from foreign competitors like Japan, Germany, China, and India, and the corporate tyranny that is paralyzing less developed labor-intensive economies, we are subject to be just another run of the mill country by the middle of the century. The American dream that we have been so proud of for over a century is evaporating, and we have no say in our own futures anymore. Don't you think it's troubling that India and China are producing three times as many engineers as we are in America? Why should any aspiring college student in America want to enter into the workforce as an Engineer or IT specialist when once they graduate they'll have to move to a foreign country just to work for an American Corporation? It really makes no sense.

While they are destroying our environment, injecting chemicals into the food that we eat, sterilizing and disinfecting us with soaps and vaccines, penetrating our minds through television telling us their falsely generated realities, clothing us with corporate name brand logos that were sewed under slavery-like work conditions for children who are making 3/10ths of 1% of what the product was sold for, drinking $4 Starbucks coffee everyday while 50% of the world lives on less than $2 a day, eating, sleeping, breathing, living in an illusion. I believe that we have gone mad. We are Zombies. You, me, your Parents, your Girlfriend. We shop the same, have fun the same, and essentially think the same. We have no agency because we accept everything as a natural fact and never question why things are the way they are.

Even though I despise the fact that my clothes were made by kids in a sweatshop who couldn't purchase the shirt I'm wearing with a year's salary, why do I still buy them? Better yet, where else can I shop for clothes? They're all corporate. Damn near every one of them. Wheres the choice? It's nowhere. Its not for you to make. Its for you to subscribe to willingly. Why? because that's all you know. It's all you've ever known. There's no way out. Unless you learn how to sew your own clothes. And you will most likely be ridiculed by your peers because you dress differently. There's no need to defy the powers now, because they own you. They even own the future of your children. It sounds pessimistic, but it's the reality we face. And It sucks.

December 20, 2008

Even Obama Cannot Please Everybody

The controversy over Obama's picking of Paster Rick Warren is very fascinating to me.As we all know President -Elect Obama has chosen Paster Warren to lead the Prayer service at the Inaguaration which is sceduled on December 20.Now, the gay and lesbian community is furious becaue they say that Paster Warren opposes same sex marriage.They also claim that he has contributed for the passing of the legislation that was passed in California banning same sex marricage.Many gay and lesbian activists are acurally threatening to vote against Obama/democrats in the next election.On the otherhand many from Warren's own church are angry because he decided to lead teh prayer at Obama's inaguration because,according to them,Obama supports abortion.
Political analysts claim that gay and lesbians should not be furious over this issue because Obama himself doesn't support sanme sex marriage.So,if they supportd Obama knowing that he opposes same sex marriage why pick a fight now over .They think that the inaguration day is historical for both Obama and the rest of the coungry.So,this controversy might undermine the big moment.
I just feel sorry for Obama because he cannot please everybody.No mattaer whom he chooses there is somebody who's going to be unhappy.In fact some African American argue he should have picked an African American paster.I'm sure if he chose an African American paster some whites would accuse him of being racist.But the decision President -Elect Obama has made is less likely to change .So,it looks like Paster Warren is going to lead the Prayer at the inaguration.
I just think that gays and lesbians should focus onwhat Obama is going to about the gay/lesbian issue after he takes office not on the day of inaguration.That is that the most important thing is how his presidency is going to affect therir rights,one way or another.Untill that i think they should appreciate and celebrate this historic day .

Even Obama Cannot Please Everybody

The controversy over Obama's picking of Paster Rick Warren is very fascinating to me.As we all know President -Elect Obama has chosen Paster Warren to lead the Prayer service at the Inaguaration which is sceduled on December 20.Now, the gay and lesbian community is furious becaue they say that Paster Warren opposes same sex marriage.They also claim that he has contributed for the passing of the legislation that was passed in California banning same sex marricage.Many gay and lesbian activists are acurally threatening to vote against Obama/democrats in the next election.On the otherhand many from Warren's own church are angry because he decided to lead teh prayer at Obama's inaguration because,according to them,Obama supports abortion.
Political analysts claim that gay and lesbians should not be furious over this issue because Obama himself doesn't support sanme sex marriage.So,if they supportd Obama knowing that he opposes same sex marriage why pick a fight now over .They think that the inaguration day is historical for both Obama and the rest of the coungry.So,this controversy might undermine the big moment.
I just feel sorry for Obama because he cannot please everybody.No mattaer whom he chooses there is somebody who's going to be unhappy.In fact some African American argue he should have picked an African American paster.I'm sure if he chose an African American paster some whites would accuse him of being racist.But the decision President -Elect Obama has made is less likely to change .So,it looks like Paster Warren is going to lead the Prayer at the inaguration.
I just think that gays and lesbians should focus onwhat Obama is going to about the gay/lesbian issue after he takes office not on the day of inaguration.That is that the most important thing is how his presidency is going to affect therir rights,one way or another.Untill that i think they should appreciate and celebrate this historic day .