At the beginning of the year our class was assigned to keep a semester long blog. At the end of the term we would each have to write an essay on one of the topics we had focused on. I remember first looking at the topics and having no idea at which one I would choose let alone how any of them applied to Sociology or what even a few of them meant. Now the end of the semester is here and I have finally chosen my topic with a full understanding and with a sense that I have come out of the class with a different outlook at life.
At the beginning of the semester when I looked down at the course outline and saw the word “Debunking”. I had no idea what an impact that word would have on my life. The definition of “Debunking” is defined in our workbook, “Social Structures and Process” as, “[looking] at the both the obvious and surface-level and the less obvious and deeper explanations for social behaviour”. In a simpler terms, “seeing the familiar in the unfamiliar and the unfamiliar in the familiar”. (10)
Debunking has played a major role in my learning and understanding of the concepts and issues we have covered in class. I first found debunking helpful when our class began to discuss “Ethnocentrism”.(13) By looking at ethnocentrism on a deeper level I realized that I had been ethnocentric. Though being proud of your country is not a bad thing, it is a bad thing to put other countries down in the mean time. All countries have something to be proud of, and all countries have their flaws. Debunking helped me realize that my own country has its own pros and cons. Along with learning about “Egocentrism” I used debunking. Many people in this world are egocentric including myself. Ever since we are little we have wanted everything to about us. The example that has stuck out in my mind has been when Dr. Quist-Adade said that babies don’t care if their mother is tired or not, they will cry until their needs are met. I found this example enlightening because normally I would never think of a baby as egocentric but it’s true. We learn from a young age that we can get away with having an egocentric attitude.
The next topic that I found debunking helped with was discussing racism. The topic of race and racism can a delicate topic for some, especially if the person has had a personal experience with racism. By debunking racist situations I have learned that people who discriminate are being ignorant. Every person is made up of the same body parts, everyone has the same insides. Just because of someone’s skin pigment, that should not indicate their social status.
Over the course of Sociology 1125, I have grown as a person. The greatest lesson I have taken away from this course is there is more than meets the eye to every situation. As a human being I am prone to being ignorant but now however, before making preconceived judgements I will debunk the situation to help me to analyse the facts and dig a little deeper before making my final conclusion. I am happy to say I have enjoyed the past four months in Sociology, I will be taking many life lessons and friendships away from the course.
This past Friday, December 2nd 2011 I attended the social justice event at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Surrey, BC. A select few of Dr. Quist- Adade’s Sociology 1125 students from the Langley Campus put on a great youth scholarship fundraising event. The proceeds went to help to raise money for scholarships for children and teenagers in Ghana. Aside from the great entertainment, food and winning a raffle prize, I learnt a lot and was inspired by the presentation put on by the generous Bonnie Sutherland.
Bonnie Sutherland is just one of the ten representatives of the AFRETECH Aid Society. Since 1992 AFRETECH has supplied textbooks, whole libraries, computers labs, and scholarships to those in the poorest rural African schools with a “we can do this” attitude. Not only does AFRETECH supply school related necessities but also they address health issues. AFRETECH supplies wells, water tanks and medical health supplies such as glasses. Bonnie Sutherland helps to make a difference in people’s lives by giving them basic supplies that we take for granted.For example Mrs. Sutherland and her team told a village that if they built a library, then they would will bring books and computers to fill it. So that wonderful vision came true! The village built a modest size building and as Sutherland’s team promise they filled the room with books and computers. Sutherland and her team taught the children how to use a computer, read and even how to hold a book and how to turn a page. The AFRETECH Aid Society, is a non-government funded, grassroots charity. A grassroot charity means that they works bottom up instead of top down. Being a grass-rooted organization is beneficial because this means that projects get under way faster.Sutherland and the rest of the AFRETECH team are determined to work on a more personal level with the villages that they work with. Instead of being “rich, North American’s” coming in and telling the village what they need to fix, AFRETECH listens to each individual village and focuses on their needs. AFRETECH focuses on giving the villages what they need to create better opportunities for the children, instead of giving them what we think they need.
I also learned about Dr. Quist- Adade’s fund for the children in Ghana called “It’s All About the Kids”. This fund provides opportunity for the children by giving them a proper education and proper health care. The title of his fund says it all. The children are our feature and we need to help encourage, nourish and protect the minds of those who are our feature. I learned so much at the event. The most important lesson I learned was that it is so easy to give back and help create a better life for people, especially for people my age. Teenagers all around the world are the same and I feel a great sense of togetherness knowing that I helped someone similar yet so different than myself.
Examples of segregation; Apartheid in South Africa, The Holocaust and Genocide in Rwanda
Discussing the difference or similarities between racism in Canada and America
-Closing boarders; Tim Wise said that people in America want to close the Mexico/USA boarder so that the people from Mexico cannot steal the American’s jobs. Similarly in Canada, people want to close off our boarders to immigrants from other countries ex- India for the same reason.
By Dr. Gwen Sharp & Dr. Lisa Wade
The main idea of the video are different symbols are how people correspond with them. We give meanings to certain objects around us, and everyone in society understands what the specific meaning is. The example given in the video was the American flag. It does not say America on it, or have a map of America on it but everyone around the world knows that, that is the symbol for America. People accept meanings and symbols given to certain objects.
The first thing that is brought up in the video is language. The English language is made up of different shapes that we associate with specific objects. The idea of language is to create an easy way of communicating with others but to also give a common understanding of a meaning.
Secondly the video talks about how colours and different food are related to social construction. Colours are often given a gender. For example blue for boys and pink for girls are stated in the video. Colours along with representing gender are also used to represent mood and emotions. If a person said “I’m feeling blue” it is widely understood that, that person is sad or upset. The video also discusses how food is associated with certain times of the day. And how in different parts of the world people will eat food that we don’t find “normal” to be eaten a certain time of day.
Thirdly the video includes gestures and symbols. Though people in the same society can normally agree on the meaning of a physical gesture somewhere else in the world it could mean something totally different or not mean anything at all. A gestures meaning doesn’t come out of no where, it takes time to develop a meaning that can be agreed upon and accepted.
Lastly, the video’s speakers say that people are sometimes categorized into groups. We create ideas about what those people, in those groups are like. When we do this we are stereotyping.
At the end of the video, the question is asked “Why do social constructions matter?” They matter because these social constructions unit people and give understanding to what symbols mean.
Gestures are actions that created by a group of people and they are given a meaning. Most people in a society can agree on what a gesture means. However in a different part of the world that particular gesture that is well known in one country for the example the thumbs up gesture may have a completely different meaning in another part of the world, or even no meaning whatsoever.
* I think this part of the video is important because people don’t really think about a gesture’s true meaning. A person just gives a gesture out of habit to take place of a word or to get a point across. Also people don’t give a lot of thought to gestures not being used all around the world. Most people would think that a thumbs up would mean “good job!” not “up yours!”. But it works in reverse too, if a person from Iraq came to Canada and saw a child give another child or parent the thumbs up gesture they would probably be very confused and ask questions.
The Dangers of a Single story video
By Chimanada Adichie
What is the video about?
The video focuses on the danger of a “single story”. A single story is being exposed to one point of view/perspective of an issue, group of people or a certain place. We make judgements about a certain issue, group or place without looking at all the sides to story or not knowing all of the truths. In the video Chimanada Adichie uses the example of Africa. Her room mate thought that she came from poverty and didn’t know what a stove was. However her room mate did not take the time to think that not all of Africa is poverty stricken as shown on the news. A “single story” is destructive because it creates stereotypes and false knowledge.
How do I feel about this video?
I feel this video has many positive aspects. The video opens eyes, and shows that a single story is easy to believe if one is not careful. I also feel that the video was a little bit harsh in all its truths. When Chimanada was a child she read books about “white” children and their way of life thinking that all “white” children played in the snow and ate apples. I feel that she was a victim to a single story herself. It is very important for all children to read about different children is various parts of the world so they can understand others ways of life and also relate to other children even if they are so far away.
What do I believe about this video?
I believe that this video is right. People all over the world are victims of a “single story”. We believe what we are told, what we read and what we view on television. However these facts that we are given may be right but details might left out. On the evening news or CNN for example clips of poverty stricken Africa are shown. If these are the only images show of Africa and we only hear of the bad things happening there, then we will think that it’s unfortunate to live there, when actually many parts of Africa are well off and incredibly beautiful.
What do I know about this video?
I know that after watching this video my ways of looking at certain issues have been changed. I also know that if more people watched this video or were aware of a “single story” than thousands of people would be less likely to stereotype and judge. People can be very ignorant when it comes to other countries, religions and different values of their own. But I know that if an ignorant person took the time to watch this video then they too would realize that the world offers more than just one side to every story.