What have you learned this week that you didn’t know before? (Be sure to be specific and reflective in your answer. Remember, part of the purpose for these journals is for me to see how well you have understood the materials of the course.)
This had been one crazy week for me in general, but of all the things I did not expect to learn so much about racism and discrimination. It’s not so much that I learned that it exists, but more to the extent in which it has played a role in defining America, its people and the outside view of Americans. I knew that Martin Luther King Jr. wrote a speech entitled “I have a dream” what I did not know was the contents of the speech. Most people would say his dream was that whites and blacks can be and should be equals, however its more than that. King’s speech is comprised of many parts from the Declaration of Independence, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the United States Constitution. For me King was trying to open Americas eyes, to show us that we founded ourselves on being free and equal, and let that fall away from us.
This week I learned more than I expected on the discrimination of Muslims in the US after 9/11/01. The story of a little girl who was once accepted by her friends, was now an outcast, was very sad and I felt horrible for her. To me I am amazed that even this far into the American society, we hear about one bad apple and all of a sudden we begin to assume that every apple is rotten. Bringing this same case back to the Japanese being prosecuted and rounded up simply because they were Japanese. America turned on its self.
Most of all I learned this week is that America is not ready to give up its past of discrimination and racism, In fact America thrives on it. We have become so conditioned to conflict that I feel we have no real choice in the matter. Of course as individuals we can choose to be tolerant of race, religion, and ethnicity. As anyone can learn from a communications class groups are more likely to make irrational decisions, even if everyone in the group wouldn’t make the same choice on their own, such is the case with American society.
Instructor Response: Good observations, and thank you for providing good specific detail about what you learned.
This week you’ve seen how much your reaction to different races/ethnicities is conditioned in you by your society. That is, that racism is a “learned” condition. Given that knowledge, in what ways would you say you have been impacted by the things you’ve learned? What impacted you, and why?
Its true that we are all conditioned in one way or another about particular races, religions, and other social backgrounds. The impact on me was probably a little less than you would think, maybe that’s because I have become numb to racism. Maybe it is because every TV show, movie, song, artwork, joke, is in someway evoking a sense of race or religion. what did impact me most, was realizing the decisions our predecessors made for us bringing us to being blind to racism of today. Today people profit from racism; rap artists profusely using the word “nigga” to identify themselves, comedians telling jokes about their race to get a laugh.
History tells a story of America trying to get a grip on itself and put racism to death, put the differences of color aside and stand by one another offering assistance to anyone who needs it. Our actions and thoughts tell a different story, one where racism is underground, rarely discussed in public, and a basis for mental conflict. What impacts me, is the lack of impact.
Why do you think it is important to learn about the realities of racism and discrimination?
The realities of racism and discrimination are harsh, and difficult to look at. I would liken it to horrible school picture tucked away and forgotten about, its still there, just out of sight. I think it is very important for today’s society to step forward and accept the responsibility of the actions of our past and present, because we cannot move forward and progress if we cannot hold ourselves accountable to each other.
It is important for us to understand that we all need the support of each other to improve our America, to improve our economy, to reduce crime. Racism and discrimination is, in my mind, the base of our ability to succeed as a powerful country. By taking the steps to look past the differences we make so obvious now, we could have a better place for our children to grow up, not to be distracted by the trivial nonsense of racism, we could be the smartest people alive.
Instructor Response: Good insights. In my opinion, and speaking just from my personal experience, I have come to see the benefit gained from learning about things like racism. And that benefit is as simple as gaining a greater degree of compassion and empathy for other people, with lives and experiences very different from my own, who are also fellow human beings. I think some of the stories we read about are powerful and need to be shared to give others the potential to learn from and be impacted by their stories.
What impact did the assignment have on you or your understanding of the world? Did it challenge any of your assumptions?
This course is designed to open your eyes, they didn’t tell me just how wide. I had to go out an buy eye drops after this section of the course. I did know that racism was prevalent in today’s world but like most people I assumed it was more under control than in the past. but after this section I began to see racism daily, in everything. there wasn’t a TV show i could watch without a form of racism involved, even if only on a subtle level.
My assumptions were challenged in the sense that I didn’t see racism as well as I do now. I have had to think about the way I talk, body language, and how I present myself to avoid a potential racist conflict. I think the biggest thing that impacted me was how this course and my Human Relations course covered these topics at the same time making it the thing I was thinking about most for more than a week. I think simply learning about racism, and how it impacts everyone else is the key to solving the problem of race.
I recommend everyone take this course or a similar one that covers racism.