December 8, 2008


"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.

December 10, 2008

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

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!?

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 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.