This blog is the final posting that I will be doing in regards to my sociology class, in it I am going to be choosing one topic that I have found to be the most interesting through out the course and discuss it. The term that I chose to discuss a is sociological imagination. This term was coined by Charles Wright Mills, it basically means when the application of imaginative thought to the asking and answering of sociological questions. Someone using the sociological imagination “thinks himself away” from the familiar routines of daily life. This is a very important idea as it has a direct effect on the rest of the terms that we learned in our sociology course. It allows us to think about when and where something may be applicable in the real world, or what consequences something someone does may have the world over. The course itself tought me a lot about society, something that I had almost no prior knowledge about before taking the course, it showed me how what people do in their given society or culture not only effects them, but everyone in that society and perhaps the world over. In reality we are all connected through our different cultures, and believe it or not our own cultures share one common trait or another. I had a bunch of misconceptions when I came into the classroom for the first time I will not attempt to deny that, one term that I was particularly wrong about was race. Race is determined by whomever is in that race. Race is not so much about skin colour or behaviour, it’s more about how people act in a given society, without there being a bunch of different societies in the world there really wouldn’t be any need for race. It’s only because the world has developed the way it has that there are different races in the world, if countries had never been shaped the way they had, or people weren’t as closed as they are we would be looking at a very different world right now. Coming into the class my attitude towards Africa was basically that they needed to sort their own stuff out, all I ever heard about was one government being over thrown, or massacres here and there. The only reason that’s what I believed is because when you think about it, what do you only ever hear about Africa? Exactly that, nothing but the bad. News stories about all the good being done in Africa wouldn’t be very popular, all people in the West want to hear is good things about where they live, or bad things about everywhere else in order to make them feel good about themselves. This class has almost opened my eyes, so to speak, to all the issues that there are in the world in regards to social justice and how there are people in the world so wrong in their ideals. Which they then pass on to their children and it continues for generations, only getting worse with time. That is why we may never be able to stop racism for good, but this class is certainly a good start, thank you Dr. Charles Quiste-Adade for an excellent class.
March 28, 2012
The next video that we watched in my sociology class was one made by my professor, Dr. Charles Quist-Adade, and it is essentially telling the story of how a single cocoa bean can make the difference. In his life specifically a single cocoa bean was the gateway to greater things because in his home country of Ghana the main export is coca beans and as a child he was a cocoa farmer/harvester and as he was harvesting cocoa beans the company he worked for was building him an education fund. So when he was old enough he ended up going to a private school and eventually the University of Moscow in Russia, all because he worked hard and planted cocoa beans during his childhood, along with going to school. His story is actually quite inspiring because he came from, relatively small beginnings to having his doctorate and teaching at a university, doing all of the work himself and having to support himself along the way as well.
March 28, 2012
Another video that we watched in our class was a short video of two experiments that sociologists conducted to see how people would respond to different pressures. For the first experiment there were three children in a room, sitting at a table (two girls and one boy) and only the boy had an ice cream cone. The two girls were told that they would be given an ice cream cone each after the adult got back from the other room, which turned out to be a 10 minute long wait for them. In that 10 minute period they had to wait and watch the boy eat his ice cream cone, as it turns out they tried many different methods to get the boy to give up his ice cream cone, any thing from telling on him for not sharing to promising him that when they get their ice cream they will give him some of theirs. In the end they get about 3 quarters of the ice cream, and then when they get theirs they don’t give him any at all and laugh at him, it was really cute and funny to watch. I would almost say that it had more to do with psychology than sociology because it is playing into peer pressure and group mentality, I say group mentality because the two girls help each other get the boy’s ice cream so easily by both promising him things and saying that they will both tell on him, and that also plays into peer pressure as well. The second experiment was conducted in an elevator and all it basically consisted of was two or three experimenters riding the elevator as a random subject walked in and then the experimenters all turned around and faced the wrong direction and waited to see what the random person would do. Almost every single person did whatever the experimenters did, unless there was another random person in the elevator with them. Again this plays into the peer pressure aspect of social behaviour, if the majority of people are doing something then unless someone does what everyone else is, they are going to fell out of place, and no one wants to feel that way.
March 28, 2012
For the next three journal blogs I am supposed to write about at least three articles that I have been shown, or have viewed myself, that relate to the field of Sociology in some manor. The first one that I will be responding to it entitled, “The Dangers of a Single Story” it’s a sort of short speech given by an African woman called, Chimamanda Adichie. It was quite a powerful speech and if anyone has some free time on a rainy day I would suggest that you go and Google it, it basically is the woman describing her upbringing in Nigeria and when she came to America to go to University, the various racist experiences she had to go through. Some of which are actually quite humorous, not in the racism of them, but how she was able to respond to them so quickly and in perfect English. It was used to illustrate just how ignorant people in the US, and the rest of the world actually are in regards to people of African decent. When I use the word ignorance, I am not using it in the that most people think of when they think of ignorance, the true definition of ignorance is used to illustrate when people don’t understand something, or when they do, they ignore it. This really seemed to be the case for this woman as she was going through University. There was one really quite humerus experience she told us about when she first walked into her dorm room and the woman already in the room asked her if she was able to play the African drum (whatever that is) and she simply replied no. That just clearly illustrates how Americans and everyone has a stereotype of African people, when the continent itself is as large as North America and the people, just as diverse.
Blog on African Heritage/Black History Month Lecture at Kwantlen Poly-tech University on March 8th, 2012
March 10, 2012
Yesterday my Sociology 1100 professor organized a lecture at our university conference center and had a very well known African native talk to us about his work in bringing awareness to African problems and racism. He had one quote that I wrote down because it stood out to me, “If you want to know how heavy a bag of salt is, ask the one carrying it” which essentially translates to: Africans know what needs to be done in Africa, ask them and don’t just assume that you know what you’re doing is the right thing. The name of the speaker that I was able to hear was, George Dei; who is a professor at the University of Toronto. He raised multiple points that I found quite interesting, most of which were on the topic of how Africans and people of the world should go about changing it. He claims that there is a cultural crisis with black people because they acknowledge the fact that they are black, but that’s it, they don’t claim to be from Africa at some point. I don’t know if I completely agree with that idea but if it were the case it would certainly be a worrying point and something that needs to be fixed. He brought up the idea of gate-crashers and gate-keepers of knowledge, meaning that there are people in the world that don’t want the way the world thinks to change (gate-keepers) and the ones that try their hardest to make the world change the way that it thinks (gate-crashers). He then related this idea to his profession in Toronto and how the only thing that they teach in high schools there about Africa is slavery, they don’t teach any of the history while they talk about the history of other parts of the world in depth, which causes a lot of misunderstanding about Africa. He closed his discussion by saying that there were a few things that people could do to change their image of Africa: 1. people need to start reconceptualizing Africa. 2. start creating relevant knowledge towards the subject of Africa in school systems, 3. people need to start collaborating teaching, research and learning on the topic of Africa and racism, 4. instead of only teaching students about the bad things in Africa people should start teaching the success stories, 5. change the socio-political context of knowledge production (basically meaning that information is created to suit the political or social factors of the environment it is being made in). The lecture got a lot of claps and also a lot of questions at the end, one stood out to me because it was something that I was wanting to ask as well because professor Dei hadn’t talked about it at all. The question was along the lines of, “Africans can blame the Western colonial powers for eternity for enslaving them but it is essentially up to us to fix the problems in Africa.” I agree with this person completely, in terms of fixing Africa’s problems, not the way we look at Africa in the West. The professor agreed as well, not at first but after a little bit of discussion he came around and I thought it was just an interesting point to bring up.
March 8, 2012
The article titled, “Who Will Liberate Liberia?” by Charles Quist-Adade is basically trying to illustrate how the world, specifically the US spends it’s money in the most bizarre ways, when it could be spent in more productive manors. The example that this article uses in how the US is under the influence of president Bush and in his mindset it is okay to spend millions and millions of dollars to seek out and kill any terrorists but when there is an actual need for the money in the country of Liberia there isn’t any money to spare. This begs the question, why do American presidents always put war and killing before the needs of millions of innocent people dying due to starvation and hunger everyday. The reason for this is that Americans have always been blind followers of their “elected” officials and are usually very naive in the way that they vote, not knowing what the people they are electing actually stand for. The billions of dollars that the US spent under Bush to try and end global terrorism was not spent wisely, pure and simple. There were multiple things going on around the world that the money could have gone towards instead, the civil war in Liberia was a prime example, even more obvious was the fact that Liberia had always been an ally of the US; just look at Liberia’s flag. The article then goes on to attempt to explain why this is the case, and in Iraq specifically I completely agree with the author, it was 100% about the oil in the country. If there wasn’t any oil in Iraq or if Saddam Hussein was favorable towards US-Iraqi relations there really wouldn’t have been a problem. If anyone really looks at a lot of the wars in the 21st century a lot of the major ones have been either started by or finished by the US when they are in a country that is oil-rich.
March 8, 2012
The next article is entitled, “The Phantom of the Race: The Myth of Race and Reality of Racism” the author is Dr. Charles Quist-Adade the premise of this article is to illustrate that in terms of the scientific definition of race, they really isn’t any difference between humans, despite that, the problem of racism is real and ever prevalent in today’s society. The article then goes into talking how educators and instructors, especially those of young children, should go about trying to curb racism in society at that level. I didn’t actually agree with the position that this article took because I am not a fan of the humanistic view of society, I don’t think that people are naturally good at heart and because of that I don’t believe it’s possible to simply educate people in a certain way and that will be the end of racism in the world. I hope that the various methods illustrated in this article will be implemented however, and that they will erase the large pockets of racism. I do not, however, believe that racism in the world can ever truly be erased for good because humans as a species, not a “race,” are very unaccepting of others due to any differences, whether that is appearance or social. Humans are very simplistic creatures, we like the familiar and that can mean the same types of people as well, in this day and age one would certainly hope that people would be more unified than this, and maybe in the future they will be, but at this point in time we certainly aren’t.