Culture and race have been intertwined through out Sociology 1125 in a way that has helped me to become a more well-rounded citizen, and has also widened my views on people. This course has touched on many different theories and mentioned a few significant people who have studied the structure of society, people, and ethnic diversity in order to understand where we came from and how much we are alike. Humans were once viewed according to how we are different, but what Sociology has taught me is to look at the similarities between those who we share the world with.
Culture is defined as, ” a complex collection of values, beliefs, behaviours, and material objects shared by a group passed on from one generation to the next”. Culture is inherited, we as humans adapt to our surroundings in which we are taught to reject anything that poses a threat by being “different” from one culture to the next. This is why there are many countercultures that have evolved and separated from the dominant culture in certain areas who’s cultures are not considered to be the ”norm”. Culture is what we identify ourselves by such as, by the way we act, dress, and what we belive in. Race and prejudice are the products of our ignorant world.
“Race is a social construct”, it is not biological or natural, it is created by the people around us. This quote has been brought up numerous times during the course. It is the basis of humanity and how we view, categorize, and label each other in a “manageable” way. Race, has always been a defining factor for people and will continue to run parallel with humanity. Prejudice has a different meaning than race does, it is the attitude or actions exerted against a certain race/ races that targets individuals. One can choose to be “color bind”, but in reality one will always see and judge another by the color of their skin, even if we try to hide it.
“We are all mongrels”, was an important quote stated in the film, ” Race: The Power Of An Illusion: The Differences Between Us”. To me, this was the most prominent film shown in Sociology 1125, for the reason that it defined humanity, showing how we see each other collectively and had brought to my attention things that I had not originally been aware of. This quote was said by a young man who had never thought he was as close “genetically” as he really was to his ”African” ancestors. Seeing the attitudes of the students in this film change drastically according to their findings was extremely interesting in which I was made to be more aware of how genetically similar we all are. The main reason I had reacted this way to the film was because society has made it so that we are conditioned to our external similarities and do not tend to see beyond our own “group” of color. This film displayed the truthful reality as to how we all are humans no matter what we look like, or what our culture is. That is how culture and race have been connected through out this entire course as to how we have pre-determined ideas and judgments about others becuase of their appearance. This is how race was born and why prejudice follows. ”Race” is all around us, it is the lazy man’s way of sorting through humanity in order to make “himself” the most powerful.
Africa has been associated with many stereotypes aimed at its people and geography. This explains why so many invididuals have and still do believe that it is one country. Many parts of the world assume that Africa is a place filled with unique animals and safaris centered in the sweltering heat, also to be riddled with poverty. Specifically focusing on the country of Ghana, it was the first African “country” to gain independence, also said to be filled with welcoming and kind people, much different from the western society in which the students who had visited this country realized instantly. what I have learned from the stories shared by the Kwantlen students who had visited Ghana was that, who are we to say that the American society is better due to our advance in technology. All technology and money has done in my view is create a breed of emotionless robots who show no individuality which has initiated the erosion of our culture.
The difference between Ghanaian time and North American time is what sets us apart in terms of morals and society. This was a huge topic brought up during the presentations by students who had visited Ghana, according to the perception of time and how it means something different to each person around the globe. The differences relating to time in Ghana and in North American society is that the people of Ghana would take extra “time” out of their daily life to greet another person no matter if they were a stranger or knew them. This showed that to a Ghanaian, it is more important to prove that you care instead of being “on time”. Whereas in western society, we are so focused on not being “late” that we forget to be polite, never to spend an extra minute to show others that we are there for them. Canadian life is rushed and completely focused on timing and what has been planned to happen each day we live. The average person from Ghana is said to live their day as it evolves, not to live by the clock.
The education system was another significant category mentioned which can be compared to Canadian/ North American schools. The education system in Ghana was spoken about by Kwantlen students as having uneducated teachers who were not paid a regular salary to teach their students. This ”lack” of structure would never be approved here in Canada. I found this to be great as to the fact that everyone in Ghana pitches in without colored paper as an incentive.
I was introduced to a new perspective by the students from Kwantlen who had shared their experiences from their trip to Ghana. I have realized from this social justice event that just because I come from a ”secure” money driven country, we are not any better off because we revolve around money, technology, and time. Over “time”, our culture continues to fade away in which we become the synthetic beings of society and the slaves to our own inventions. This results in us being trained to act and even “feel” a certain way. For example, when the students arrived at their hostels in Ghana, they immediately noticed the things that were missing, not to have noticed one thing that they had been provided with. In Canadian culture, we have been conditioned around material items. My point is that, if there was ever to be a natural or economic disaster we would all perish. I found that the idea of time is one of the most significant creations in this world. People will do anything to get somewhere faster if it means being inconsiderate or hurting themselves in a car accident in order to get to an “important” destination. Another highlight was how the people of Ghana are said to be so united. This relates to their school systems, and how teachers will continue to teach even without knowing when the next time they will be paid. Students in North American may have more productive and structured schools, but these young people are lacking the mannerisms that the people from Ghana have. I believe that the people from Ghana have stayed true to their people and culture, not becoming a life long customer of manufactured goods.
No country other than Canada, “would make citizenship so available to anyone”. This is the defining aspect of what it is to be a Canadian. Canadians take pride in their land, sharing it with every “race”. This is the meaning that I gained from this film, as to how original and welcoming us Canadians are. We are united as a country in which race is “reunited” as one group of people living within the same boarders.
The US has been “known” to have had a great impact on what is known to be Canadian culture. I find Canadian culture to be completely independent from American culture, for the fact that we have evolved into what we are today by the individuals who make up Canada. We are not defined by what the US has ”allowed” us to become.
Canada has allowed my family and I to become what we are today. My grandma was originally from Greece where she grew up on a goat farm. When she had turned fifteen, she decided to move to Canada to start a new life. The only thing her parents owned was their farm, she was also denied an education. As a result, she was able to establish her future by becoming a Canada citizen. I was also one of the products of my grandma’s immigration in which I have been provided with the opportunity to make a better life for myself.
Canada does not openly discriminate, nor does it participate in the rejection against ethnicity, rather, it promotes all races coming together as one. Canada is unique according to the aspect that no other country is so lenient and accepting towards humans who are not of the ”pure race”. We are instead, timid bigots. The only difference is that Canadians are better at hiding prejudice, not usually acting out their views as intensely as others may do so. If more countries were like Canada, ”race” would be a less dominant concern on the surface.
“The negro athlete is closer to their primate relatives” (Jessie Owens). The “race” that an individual is identified by does not determine one’s athletic, artistic, or intellectual abilities. Race is a social construct, it is how we differentiate between different groups of people. instead, the idea of race has evolved into racist and narrow-minded view points according to a person’s physical characteristics.
I support the analogy that this film used when race was said to be “similar to understanding that the world is not just flat”. People once thought that the world was flat, but were proven wrong believing something other than it had originally ”appeared” to be. Whereas today, humans are still convinced that all ethnicities are so genetically diverse from the next just by the way it “appears” to be. Why can’t it be as simple to convince humanity that we are all similar, just like it was so simple to break the news to people that the Earth was never flat. In reality, we all originated from Africa, the only difference is that we have shifted to other climates. A person’s skin tone does not predict how well they will be at sports, the only thing it can tell is how they will be perceived by others around the world.
“Every single one of us is a mongrel”, stated by a young man in this film who believed that humanity is all interbred and mixed with other ethnicities. It is rare to find one pure “race” according to his findings. A study in this film had been done in a lab with students, this young man being one of them found out that he was more genetically similar to a person from Africa rather than someone from his own Polish heritage. This experiment helped to make it even more clear that race has nothing to do with one’s mental or physical abilities. We are all one race struggling to claim the little as the superior category of our shared ”race”.
“The ideology of white supremacy itself stemmed from Social Darwinism, a racist, sexist, and classist theory based on the premise of ‘survival of the fittest’ “(Quist-Adade). It has forever been a power struggle between humans. Race is not biological, it is a social construct, a man-made invention. The concept of “race” has been used to categorize and label one group of people with certain visible characterises as being ”superior” compared to others who do not have those traits. Humans have used every method possible to try to label the ”white race” as being independent from the “colored” races, but have failed miserably.
To call someone “black” or “white” means something different to everyone around the world. In western society, if a person was to have “one drop” of black blood in them they are referred to as ”black”. That person could be “white” as well, but since they appear to share similar characterises with their African ancestors they are considered only as the dominant ethnicity. Where as in Ghana, a person who appears to be “black” in Canada may be considered “white” because they look even lighter than the darkest and share American traits. “The Ibo man did not call himself “black” until somebody defined him so” (Quist-Adade). Race is man-made, we are all placed into our levels of the most superior of humanity, to the least. We are all born racists, slaughtering anyone who stands in the way of power and superiority.
“The children learn too quickly the danger involved in playing and interacting with children beyond their racial pale. All too soon, the children’s innate freedom is constricted with ‘chains’ everywhere” (Quist-Adade). Racism is a learned phenomenon that is passed down from generation to generation in order to keep the highest rank on the ”humanity chart”. One deed of equality has the potential of directing all of the ”races” into become one single ”race”. “Whites” in particular would lean in the opposite direction from equality for the fact that they already feel as though have one up on the rest of the world. Why would any “race” want to demote themselves or even obtain an equal position with other individuals? We all revolve around “white” culture, that is why Jesus is known to have “white” features. “If horses could draw and you ask them to draw their god, that god would look like a horse” (Quist-Adade). Humanity is obsessed with familiarity. When a person is born outside the box of familiarity, such as ”races” that do not fit into the “white” category, their place in society will already been predetermined before they are even born.
“The cost of the war is being recouped as corporate America loots the spoils of war. Christian morality and compassion can wait” (Quist-Adade). This statement collectively states that The US “benefits” more from war that what war’s original objective had been to begin with. One’s suffering and poverty could be easily ended by the money that George Bush had once so arrogantly flashed around in such great sums, which was used to pay for war, rather than to create peace.
War is extremely “valuable” according to the fact that money can be made as a result, especially from the oil in Iraq. The country of Iraq equals great profit in the eyes of the American citizens. “It makes perfect sense to spend $200 billion on one man and one natural resource - Saddam Hussein and Iraqi oil” (Quist-Adade). Greed seeks out what is profitable, not what the world needs, which are the necessities of the people who represent us and our well-being as a whole.
Is it ”worth” anything to invest money on the nourishment for starving people, or is it “worth” something to invest in war to allow the American economy flourish? This is the only vision that Bush was ever able to see, which is the sad reality in which human life comes second to money. ”It makes perfect sense for billions of dollars to be thrown at the “axis of evil” while millions of children perish everyday around the world for lack of food and medicine” (Quist-Adade). Who is this “money” actually benefitting when it is used to evoke the bad side of humanity? It causes suffering and devastation as well as the loss of many individuals, young and old. Money is an object that can be lost or gained, it is also a constant struggle that will last as long as humanity “depends” on it.
“From his words and deeds, few believe that it is justice he seeks. The radical truth is, it is revenge he craves” (Quist-Adade). This statement displays all of what Bush has ”represented” himself as. At the same time, he has created a theme in which individuals are made to feel as though it is necessary to prove a point for one’s country rather than to make peace with one’s enemies. One deed of retaliation will lead to another until it becomes our collective identity in which it has already become.
The constant war-monger persona in which people have been ”taught” to portray since September 11 and before has been brought on by the inability to forgive. ”Both politicians and the media appealed to the worst human instincts- nationalistic hatred and lust for retaliation” (Quist-Adade). To reciprocate a cruel deed may appear on the surface to be fair, but in reality, it is not going to make things any better by doing the exactly the same thing as the one who originally initiated the act.
“You’re no better than the terrorists”( Quist- Adade). To inflict pain on the innocent in retaliation to “make a point”, does not make you a hero. How can one say that they have served any justice when they too have caused pain in the lives of others in regards to an insignificant man-made idea which is hatred. My definition of hatred is that, it is a temporary idea in which one person always has the opportunity to move past and resolve former issues. One should never hold onto grudges or act negatively according to a situation that can be easily mended. Bush, In my view, when in power, was a man looking for conflict in order to obtain a state of power for the US. Power is what humanity strives for, but, it is revenge that is the tool used to claim it.