Sunday, June 21, 2015

Finding the Logic of Racism

I'd like to think I am color-blind. There are probably a variety of reasons for this. I have a number of family members and friends who are mixed and in interracial relationships, and I've been taught to give everyone a chance to show who they really are as people. Bad first impressions and terrible assumptions stop any opportunity to truly get to know someone.

There's been a lot of talk about racism in America.  Many young black boys and black men are murdered while unarmed, their body said to be the weapon that caused their deaths. There's been a lot of outrage. A lot of protests. A lot of confusion around the heart of the real problem. But the heart of the problem occurred long ago and not so very long ago.

I'll explain that little conundrum, because I think understanding the problem will help us solve it and will open up friendlier discussion to solve it.

Racism Embedded in History
A wise person said that, 'if you don't know your history, you are doomed to repeat it.' I'd like to add something to this quote. If you don't know your history, you are doomed to never knowing how and why the world works the way it does. We have to remember that the events of the past shape the present and future. Many things culminate to get us to where we are now.

The reason America might have a race issue is because we refuse to acknowledge it anymore, or if it did, we say its too long ago to affect anything; we believe its buried in the past and doesn't need re-analyzing, which causes the problem to crop up since there hasn't been any proper closure for it.

Not only has there been racism towards African-Americans, but Irish, Italian, Native-Americans, and the list goes on, but right now I'd like to focus on African-Americans, as this is the topic that's been making more headlines and has been more enduring throughout the years.

I'm not saying that all Americans are racist or that a large percentage are. The fact of the matter is that I don't  know, but I do believe that our past can come back to haunt us if we don't critically analyze race relations in the past.

Past Suffering
Many people like to say that blacks need to move on from slavery times, that it happened so long ago that now it's just a way to blame whites for everything. We have to remember that what came after slavery was only a little bit better. You had Jim Crow Law, the Civil Rights movement in the mid to late 60s to put an end to segregation and institutionalized racism. And even towards the mid-70s, there were still areas implementing the much hated desegregation policies. I know a woman in her late 40s that still remembers the practice of bussing, where black kids were bussed to white schools and white kids were bussed to black schools in an effort to de-segregate the population. This is a very long history, even outside of slavery. There is no wonder there is not much generational wealth in the black community when there has been so little time to really achieve it.

Am I trying to make excuses? No, but I'm trying to understand the whole picture fully. And the factors that play into an overall negative view of blacks by the public. There are more factors that go into play besides accountability. We as a society need to see the implications of this. We also need to see the implications of the founding of this country, and how it was secured in order for us to be more sensitive to people of all races and gender.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

You're A Special Kind of Unicorn...

I recently watched Lorde do a song cover of 'Don't tell 'em' by Jeremiah. I don't remember how I stumbled onto the video, but that's Youtube for ya.
Anyway, someone in the comments section was defending her for her somewhat strange choice of song (being she's a singer and the song she was covering was a rap song) and her style of choice; a naval bearing, crop-top t-shirt. This person basically said that Lorde's different and people can't understand those who are slightly different from them and don't fit their definition of normal, because she wouldn't be getting so much hate in the comments section otherwise.

If I can clarify, Lorde is only a little bit different.

Enough where people are interested in her without feeling too threatened, in my opinion.
Though some still inevitably are threatened.

She came into the mainstream being anti-Hollywood and anti-conformist, but all in all, that's only slightly cutting against the grain.

Lifestyles determine your normalcy.

Her lifestyle is still something to be envied, and therefore has nothing to really worry about by way of criticism because people can just yell 'you haterz!'

I, on the other hand, I'm very different, and because of that, will have no one defending me once I admit what my lifestyle goals are and dreams. Not even one person. I'm more than anti-Hollywood and anti-conformist. I'm sure I take the dam cake.

I would rather live in an underground hobbit house, or a mini home; something unique and different and low-costing. I don't want to spend my life working for things I won't be able to fully or thoroughly enjoy. But that's too different. That's the difference that can't be supported or encouraged.

Friday, November 28, 2014

GMOs, Also Known as Frankenstein Foods: And Why They Own Us

Franken foods, bringing new life to something never tried before.

I think the benefits of GMOs are possible, but they're harped on too much. Too much for comfort, that is.

Yes, they can be something positive.

It's a new science that has some promise, but...

And there has to be a big BUT,

should we really be opening our arms to all our foods being genetically modified?

Not only does this reduce the diversity and variety of our food supply (which can be a bad thing if there's a new virus that wipes most of it out), but yes, it's a relatively new science that hasn't been adequately tested for the consequences, at least in my opinion.

It was just put plopped on the market. I mean, before this issue gained awareness, a lot of people I know hadn't even heard of genetically modified organisms in the food.

Anyway, another reason I'm against GMOs in their present form is because its not a very precise formula.

What I mean by this, is the process of creating genetically modified foods.

A technician will shoot a specific gene inside, let's say, corn, since corn is a popular GMO crop that's in most of our food.

Ok, so a technician will shoot a gene, as well as a virus in the corn to activate that gene...and therein lies the problem.

We still don't know enough about genes to truly know the consequences of this haphazard way of adding a foreign gene to new entities.

Once that foreign gene is in the vegetable, its gene sequence, the DNA, has completely changed. The information, or RNA, has manifested itself in a new way.

It is a new organism, which is why the Monsanto corporation has patented it. So, it has basically patented life.

Going back to the human body for some insight, if in the womb our body had produced another copy of a chromosome that it was not supposed to, we could have Down Syndrome right now, an incurable genetic disorder.

Any-who, one interesting thing to think of.

When GMO seeds/crops get contaminated with non-GMO seed/crops, it is still the property of Monsanto because the non-GMO seed now has the GMO strain.

Are we all owned by Monsanto because we have the GMO strain in us after consuming these GMO products that are 80-90 percent of the food supply?


Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Millenial Minimalist Lifestyle?

"Millennials have turned against both cars and houses in dramatic and historic fashion. Just as car sales have plummeted among their age cohort, the share of young people getting their first mortgage between 2009 and 2011 is half what it was just 10 years ago, according to a Federal Reserve study."

What the above is trying to say, translated by me in very plain English, you're being a bad citizen/consumer if you don't buy the big stuff. That's all you're really good for, since the economy is driven by money constantly circulating between hands, clean and dirty hands, whether its responsible spending or irresponsible (through debt).

I'll explain why being minimalist actually gives you some security, since its been drilled in our heads that more stuff equals more security.

First, Minimalism

Well, minimalism can be defined by less clutter, less stuff to occupy your time with and to work for. Really, less stuff to worry about. Sparseness and simplicity are other good synonyms for it too.
  • Basically, buying stuff you're going to use.
  • Not bitching about the stuff being too expensive and having to work extra hours of work for it. It's your money (and stuff) or your life, choose one.

It does have an economic aspect to it, but this is important to its success.

A factor that indicates a healthy economy is purchasing 'big-ticket' items, like cars and houses, because it leads to the purchase of other consumer goods and little consumer children in young and growing families.

Because there is still a lot of people struggling to buy those cars and houses, some have chosen to forgo these purchases for other alternatives that don't include running around constantly trying to catch up with all the debt you take on to eventually own the things you work for on a daily basis, sometimes without breaks. Having many things to pay for brings insecurity and worry in peoples' lives.

Technology has brought us so many alternative ways to live our lives, lives more fitting to our personalities.

Anyway, because there are a shortage of jobs that expediently  provide for the house and the car, people take out debt to purchase houses and cars and the other consumer goods that follow. Millennials are already in enough debt because of college, why would they tack on more?

Which leads to another question, why is our entire economy based on consumption? If you're trying to be responsible one day and not purchase anything, you've made your community businesses suffer, and the 'blame' is somehow on you.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Lonely American: The Way to Isolation

As I go to the store or a theme park or anywhere, we only talk to those we arrived with in a group.
Everyone's staring ahead.

Unconcerned by the many others surrounding them.

We have the closest replacement to any extension of new relationships; our electronics.

That keep us connected with the tenuous strings of wireless connection; effortless connection. Easy. Painless.
Too painless? Is this too careless? Or is communication to be muted and made harmless?

A fly away thing that doesn't require much substance, but a lot more of an instant gratification to interest our minds.

Let's throw weird stares at the strangers who try to talk to us, which is the only way to make it the norm.

Why the isolation of the rich array of human emotions? (e.g, teachers being afraid to hug their pupils, children not being able to do so in school either, etc.)

Has everyday convenience snuffed it out or made it awkward and insignificant, above the hurried tweets, instant messages, and self-explanatory icons?

It takes less effort to have only small doses of questionably meaningful discussion, so we can sacrifice everything to the behemoth that is modern-day living; the job and the shopping that the job's money entails, which the system wants us to do as much as we possibly can if not spend all our time on it, forgoing other meaningful pursuits and avenues of happiness. To finding balance.

But this is only what I observe: Am I wrong in my observations?

Like the picture above, are we glassed off to our fellow beings, afraid of being seen as weak and dependent enough to need steady and stable social interaction, an otherwise very normal thing.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Slut-Shaming Defined

Those of us who criticize and admonish the behaviors of pop singers get quickly labeled as slut-shamers or people who are living in the past. Supposedly, we are the anti-feminists.

But daily we are seeing our pop singers and entertainers in general engage in behavior that society as a whole deems wrong, morally and illegally.

Behaviors that many of us ordinary folk would get locked up for when trying to get away with it.

Miley Cyrus's admission to doing drugs in her gyrating 'We can't stop' video, a singer who has many young and impressionable fans, still gets heralded as a figure of female empowerment and we the stuck-up, slut-shamers who live in the past.

At least when it comes to certain dangerous drugs can we draw the line on how far this 'empowerment' should reach?

'She risks it all by revealing herself, emotionally...and sometimes physically,' is the praise for Miley, and many other pop singers or entertainers, the like of Rihanna, Niki Minaj, etc.

Is acting out 'shockingly' (let's face it, it's not as shocking anymore after many young stars mature and start participating in what I see as the same reckless behavior) and getting semi-nude or fully nude, female empowerment?
Do men take women more seriously for their public nudeness, and the perverts and predators looking for it?

Maybe the definition of empowerment will shed a much critical light, as well as some context.

The definition of empowerment is this, no more or less:
  • give authority to somebody: to give somebody power or authority
  • make more confident or assertive: to give somebody a greater sense of confidence or self-esteem.

  • Was Miley, or Rihanna, or even Britney acting in 'a greater sense of confidence or self-esteem' when they each came out with their sexually-charged images after their American Sweetheart act was over?

    Britney suffered some issues after everything was said and done. It could be argued that Rihanna also suffered some issues.

    Did Miley act in a confident or assertive way, or did she just follow the crowd?

    Could peer pressure have also played a role in Miley Cyrus's decision to do an array of drugs, as it has in many teens and young adults lives? Or was she just so empowered in who she was and as a female who can do anything a guy can do, that she had always wanted to do drugs and be the 'bad girl' and now she's of an age that she can fulfill that fantasy of drug use and bad girl awesomeness?

    I don't think giving in to peer pressure, whether it be by friends or industry colleagues, is being confident and assertive in oneself or identity.

    You could say the same thing for Rihanna. Was showcasing her sexuality her full decision or was it somewhat influenced by those at her record label because it would be more profitable to sell a hyper-sexualized version of femaleness?

    No woman looks like BeyoncĂ© or Rihanna; some men and women agree to this because they exude an out-of-this world sexiness and beauty, but there's a reason for it: do regular women wear the same make-up and clothes (and air-brushing) these stars do?

    All stars are doing is selling an image, which should be enough to look at their actions with skepticism, not insults towards people like me for engaging in 'slut-shaming' or living in the past.

    Is selling sexuality, and not even a good kind of sexuality, female empowerment?

    Or is female empowerment being able to do whatever the f*ck you want without being influenced into doing it and truly being who you are, something a lot of people are afraid to be?

    Was Miley afraid that her pop country act wouldn't sell, essentially being afraid that people wouldn't like her?

    Female empowerment has a myriad of meanings, but it shouldn't replace decency or be mistaken for men-bashing, especially the men who are sometimes behind constructing female images for the masses to ogle at.

    Female empowerment shouldn't be giving men the fantasy they've always wanted: A completely sexually freaky chick who doesn't seem to realize the meaning behind her own crazy antics.

    Is a woman her face and body only?

    Sunday, August 11, 2013

    Culture Can Be Bought and Most of the Time Is


    When you hear this word, you think of something sacred and unique to a specific people.

    Not so much.

    Like the title proclaims, culture is bought and in more ways than one.

    Nothing is sacred from a corporation trying to make a quick buck on it.

    Corporations have throughout history, with the help of advertisers or people willing to advocate their products and the ideals attached to them, changed culture to benefit themselves monetarily.

    The evidence is looking at the town you stay in; how many small town businesses are around you?

    Places that showcase some of the town's culture and history? They're sometimes referred to as the Mom and Pop stores and at times known for how well the owners know their customers, the town's history, and some keepsakes of the town it keeps in their stores.

    Does Multi-national McDonald's or Wal-mart share any of these traits?

    I mean, most, if not all, of Wal-Mart's products are produced in China, giving them a leg up on the thrift shop down the street that will eventually close in a few weeks.

    It's not just discount shopping, you can see it in how products influence people.

    In America, you are what you buy; it's as simple as that, and what you own gauges your importance on a scale.
    So, we can infer that there is a business of buying culture. You can't really buy a product and then suddenly be a cultured, well-respected individual, but in America, you get pretty close to it when you buy something.

    If I were to have a cheap phone that only called and texted right beside someone who had an android or windows phone that did a million or more things, they would feel superior to me in how they kept up with the latest things in our consumer culture and maybe how technological savvy they are compared to me although they might not know how to navigate the whole phone; others would feel like they were superior too (this is kind of an extreme example, but it fits a purpose).

    Instead of gauging how important or cultured, or smart someone is through what they buy, why not talk to them and judge from their words and how well they speak. After all, that is the best way.

    A product is really a hollow object, sometimes with no real value depending on how cheaply it was made.

    Even if it was a luxury good that rightfully cost a lot of money, like a sports car, is the person who owns the car really all that cool and suave? It could be an elderly guy behind the wheel who usually stays in his house other than those cool drives in the sports car. Is that cool and suave?

    Consumer culture subverts the true meaning of things. It's almost always an illusion.

    What is American Culture? It seems to steadily be morphing into consumer culture or pop culture, even though pop culture (knowledge of what is trending with our tastes in music and clothes) circles around consumer culture (think of how many celebrities promote products to their kid fans and kids buy them because it will make them as cool as Justin Bieber or someone). How do you feel about corporations defining what is to be appreciated in culture, like cool clothes, cool this and that, because only cool people are popular.

    I thought America was once a land about what you did for a living and how that profession helped people; now you simply get the job to buy the life-defining things.