Post 8

This past week we heard many awesome NPR talks as well as the discussion given by the LGBTQ Spectrum Group. It was interesting, and almost sad, to listen to the stories from the Spectrum students because of just how lost they felt at times living in society. When they felt like they were homophobic of themselves because they weren’t comfortable with who they were was probably the most heart breaking and really stood out to me as a problem that I can never relate to or thought about because I am someone that is part of the majority of society. 

I also talked with my grandparents about their relationship as an interracial couple. I could have asked my parents but seeing how I live with my grandparents I thought that would be easier. One of the challenges my grandfather (who is white) said was hard was to understand why my grandmother (who is Chinese) behaved and thought the way that she did. Luckily he speaks fluent chinese, but there have been times where the cultural backgrounds and different ideologies split them apart. They continue to have certain problems in their relationship because of the fact that they come from different backgrounds and cultures. 

This ties into the fact that my grandmother is not from an American background and therefore instead of fully assimilating into the culture, she decided to hold onto certain aspects and because of it she has “Othered’ herself her whole life. 

Post 7

Since talking about privilege these last couple of weeks and I have feel like I have learned a lot but also not a lot. Let me try and explain. What I’ve learned is that there are so many things that I take for granted, like being able to walk at night safely, and that’s considered privilege. So I understand that there are so many different kinds of ways one can have privilege and it’s important that we should be aware that others have different privileges and they vary. I understand that. That is what I learned over the last couple of weeks. The game that we did made me realize that I was more fortunate than others, but at the same time it didn’t take away my perspective on privilege. I understand that the system that we live in is sucky and that maybe it’ll take a few generations to get out of the bottom. But that’s the long game, and everyone should try and work hard to improve their life and give a life to their children that they didn’t have and keep doing it.  I think by stating that one has privilege totally removes the backstory or context on how one gained such privilege. It takes away all the years of hard work and the things that were done necessary to gain such privilege, and doesn’t explain why people have privilege. Here’s an example. Before my mission I didn’t really feel safe walking outside at night which is a privilege (one could say) that my friends had. I started learning how to fight, started going to the gym, and learn some self defense so that now I feel very comfortable outside, so now I have that privilege. But I shouldn’t be blamed or feel ashamed I have this privilege because I worked for that privilege. All in all, we all have different cards that we have been dealt with in this game called life, and it is up to us to decide how to play them. 

Post 6

This week we talked a lot about privilege and also the importance of not stereotyping. What really hit was the group that presented this week and showed the video of the korean lady getting talked to by the white man. What was interesting to me wasn’t the content on the video itself but the reactions of those in the classroom. For me I didn’t there was anything wrong with the video or what the man did in asking questions about her and assuming that she did Korean things because she was Korean. For others in the class it seemed like more of a big deal and that was a shocker to me because I saw nothing wrong with the interaction in the video besides the fact that it was over the top for entertainment purposes. 

I also had the opportunity to volunteer with Because He First Loved Us and helped the children there make frames where they would describe themselves positively in one word and then decorate it. It was a really fun experience and I hope to continue doing it. What I was really impressed with was the fact that the entire thing was made up of volunteers who constantly go out of their way every day to help these kids and their families. It was truly remarkable to be a part of it. I talked with the head of the organization and we set up a date where she could come onto my podcast and we would interview her and some of the children as well as play some games with them on the show, as well as promote their fundraising event. 

Post 5

Privilege is a very interesting topic for me because although I do believe that some people are given better circumstances in birth than others, ultimately it is up to the individual to decide what they will make of their life. For me, one could say that I have a lot of privilege, and I would say that I do. I don’t worry about my safety for the most part, I can apply to most jobs, I have a good education, and I have a good family that is intact that does well. With that being said however, saying that I have all of this privilege doesn’t discuss all of the things that led up to being able to do all of these things. 

The speaker was awesome and I really enjoyed the topic of South Africa because of the years that I spend living there. It is always interesting to learn from the many different multiple points of view on the historical events that happened in South Africa. That is a time where I would believe that aspects of “privilege” were there and everything about the apartheid in South Africa was wrong and awful. One thing however is to see what is happening in modern day South Africa and see really where the “privilege” lies and whether or not these discussions of “privilege” should still be discussed, or maybe a discussion in culture. 

Cultural Self Assessment

            My name is Tyler Carpenter and I am a Communications major at Utah Valley University studying journalism. I am from a mixed race family, my mother is Chinese born in China and my father is a white American. I have three younger brothers, one of them is at BYU and the other two are still at home. We’ve moved around a lot in my life. I was born in Utah, and then moved to Washington, Ireland, back to Washington, England, back to Washington, I moved to Idaho, and then I served my mission in South Africa, and now I currently live in Utah and my family lives in Dallas Texas. Throughout my life I’ve had the opportunity to visit around 30 or so countries and to experience many different cultures and lifestyles.

            Like I said before, I am from a mixed raced family, being half-white and half-Chinese. My gender is male, and although I don’t know specifically what my family’s socioeconomic class is, I know that my dad has a very good job that provides for my family and that we have never really had to worry about money ever. Moving around so much in my life, having a set identity has been hard to have and maintain. When I lived in Ireland, at such a young age I was just any other child at school except that my accent was different and that I wasn’t Catholic. While living in England during my junior and high school years, my identity was more solid as the American in the school who was a Mormon and didn’t drink, smoke, or party hard like everyone else did on the weekends. 

While living in England I came into contact with many people who were different than me. My best friends at my school for those three years were each different in terms of race and culture. My friend Ammar was Jordanian and a practicing Muslim to an extent. I learned that he didn’t eat pork, and that during Ramadan he couldn’t eat during the daylight hours. He didn’t very much like his religion but he practiced it because of his mother. My friend Adam was half-English and half-Greek. Whenever I went over to eat at his home we had some interesting Greek food that I came to enjoy. When I spent 2 weeks in Greece, eating the food wasn’t a challenge because I was so used to it at that point. My friend Jack was straight English and his family was everything there was about being English. We would eat the typical beans and toast meals as well as watch soccer (football) in the evenings.

Besides those three main friends I had in England, I also had many more who had different identities and backgrounds. My friend Connor was Irish and my first real exposure to homosexuals. I never really understood it, and at the time it was something that we would always just make fun of him for because that was the culture, but overall it was never anything that really bothered me. Misha was 100% Indian and did not embrace the culture of her family. Asfar and Kazeem were from Pakistan and really big into rap music and smoking. Toyo was from Zimbabwe but didn’t identify with that culture either and was pretty much a thug.

While living in South Africa I came into contact with many different cultures and races. The Afrikanas people, the whites of South Africa, were very domineering and physically built. They liked to drink, swear, and really be rowdy and stay within their own communities. The coloreds (mixed between whites and blacks) were the lower classes of society and created their own communities for the most part. Among the blacks in South Africa were many different cultures and languages including the Zulu, Xhosa, and Tswana. Also there were many immigrants from Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Madagascar, and more.

Because I am of a male born mixed race, I’d like to discuss maybe what it’s like being a woman who is African. Is an African woman more intelligent then me? That depends on what is the basis of intelligences. Is she more educated than me? That also depends on what the basis of educated means. Have I done more schooling than the average African woman, most likely. But is she better at cleaning, cooking, more culturally aware, and able to speak at least 2-3 different languages than me? Yes she can. So who is behind you who? Do we have similar values? Most likely. African woman have very strong beliefs in family and service and working very hard. The women are the backbone of the communities and are there to maintain the integrity of their homes and their children’s lives.

If I was to hear from my parents or someone saying, “everyone was equal” I would have to ask them what they mean by that. Equal in opportunity? Equal in circumstance? Equal in culture? Equal in representation? Depending on what equality we’re talking about, than it is important to note that in my opinion not everything should be equal. Should a culture that promotes female genital mutilation be considered equal to other cultural beliefs? No, I don’t think so. Should there be equal representation in all things? I don’t believe so, maybe equal consideration, but not equal representation. These are just some of the examples. Why do I believe these things? Because of my experience visiting so many different countries and coming into contact with so many people with such various perspectives and experiences. Ultimately what it really comes down to is not everything is equal or ever will be but that opportunities are there for us if we do our best.

 When thinking about different Culture Groups that are different from my own life being a half-White half-Chinese male with a pretty good socioeconomic background, it was very interesting living in a country such as South Africa where the majority of the population is black, and yet their socioeconomic backgrounds are very low and they face what feels at times much discrimination. The black women of in the cultures that are part of South Africa are truly the backbone of the community. Because of the culture, women are the ones who do a lot, if not all the work in the home. The women will somehow find time to have a full time job where they work all day, clean the entire home, and also cook for the family. The interesting thing is that no one really thinks that it is a problem. The men use the money that their wives earn to drink on the weekends, and do whatever. It was pretty cool to see a family where the man would take the western traditional role and work and support his family and be the “head of the household” rather than the woman, just because there wasn’t equal balance on “jobs in the house.”

Because of the discrimination and lack of opportunity that black people get in South Africa, I believed that this would make life hard for them and that the quality of life would effect them. The American media is constantly pushing race inequality in the country and how disadvantaged blacks in America are in comparison to whites. While in South Africa, this might have been an issue, but it wasn’t really discussed or talked about much. The blacks knew that there circumstances were harder than the whites, in most cases, and therefore had two choices: stick within the status quo and give up, or to show the system that they were better. For the most part from what I have seen, the second option was the one that was the chosen the most. Seeing this firsthand gives me the belief that it doesn’t matter what circumstances one is grown up in, because it is a gamble and not our choice, but what matter is how one perseveres through those circumstances.

Trevor Noah is one of the best examples of someone who had really bad circumstances and is now one of the biggest American entertainers currently because of the success he has as the host on the Daily Show. Trevor Noah is a colored, meaning that he is half-White and half-Black, and born in a time where he was considered a crime. Because coloreds are at the bottom of the “food-chain” in South Africa and during the time of the Apartheid, the cards were stacked very unfavorably for him. Because of his dedication and perseverance, he was able to become one of the best comedians in South Africa and Africa, and later take his skills to America. This wasn’t an overnight success. It took a lot of work to get to where he was. For some people, they may not need to wait as long and they may be given more opportunities than most, but that doesn’t mean that they will take them and do well. Like I said before, it’s not about the cards you’re dealt with, but how you play those cards.

When learning about culture, my teachers are really people that I meet and come in contact with. Listening to their stories, about their lives and struggles and also their backstories, it shows how good everyone is and it is all about making correct decisions rather than basing your whole life on your race or gender. I personally try to avoid what the media tells me about race and culture. I don’t believe any of it, and this isn’t some political decision, I just believe that the only real way to understand culture is too talk to the people in them. An example of this is the discussion of keeping Confederate statues in certain parts of the country. If you talked with level headed black people, like I did, they would say that although it was offensive if you really think about it, for the most part they never ever thought about it ever because there are more important things to worry about. The media however won’t tell this because it is there to fuel an unnecessary fire and rhetoric on race that isn’t there. I believe that real conversation from people that you do personally is the best way to really understand culture and people.

All in all, I know that my views on culture, race, and gender will be seen as controversial and that most people may not like them, but these are there because of my experiences I have obtained my whole life. I want to continue to learn more about perceptions of race and how people of certain races are raised and develop the cultures that they have. This is a big question that I have had for some time and hope that it is discussed in the future of this class. I also want to know how society decides what cultures are accepted and what aren’t and whether society believe that cultures should all be equal and if so why. 

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I understand that most will say that I am ignorant, and that others will say that it is because of the “privilege” that I have that I am able to have my perceptions and beliefs that I have. But understand this, my father was born in a lower class family where he was told from day one that he was going to work on a farm and that was it. Being the youngest that was his mindset growing up. But then he graduated high school, was the first person in his family to go to college and get a masters degree, and from then on has worked his butt off to get to where he is. It has nothing to do with privilege and everything to do with his work ethic. My mother entered the country in a single parent home and did not know English. Overtime she learned the language, got good grades, and her family was able to get out for the lower class by saving money and creating a successful business. Like I’ve said continually throughout this self assessment: it isn’t about the cards you are dealt with, but how you play them.

Post 4

I’ve learned a lot this semester in this class and whether I agree or disagree with the things that have been taught, ultimately what has been learned and taken in has been eye opening. I enjoyed the videos that we watched this last week especially the one about the “blue eyes and brown eyes” experiment. I also enjoyed hearing the story of Adonica Limon and hers struggles in life and how she overcame it. What I took from it is that everyone in life is given cards in life to deal with it and that it is up to us to either play those cards that we have or to fold them and give up. Adonica Limon is an example of someone who despite her circumstances persevered to ultimately do great things and be an example to others. I do try to apply the things that we learn in class, the ones that I agree with at least, because I try to stay as level headed as I possibly can. It’s easy to see things as biases, privilege, or something else, but ultimately what it comes down to is being a good human being. That’s what I take out of class every day. 

Something that really has such out to me though is maybe how important it is, or really how grateful I am, to have been able to travel so much and to immerse myself into so many different cultures and have the perspectives that I have of them. Being in a class like this there are times where I really see that I have been given so many great opportunities that others haven’t been able to and because of these opportunities my understanding of certain cultures and behaviors are a lot different than others. 

I’ve reached out to a couple of organizations including “Because He First Loved Us” to do activities or interviews with them, and hopefully will be very active in volunteering this month with those organizations. 

Post 3

What are your thoughts about making English only laws? Should we try to accommodate other languages? why or why not? Also write about your service learning so far – if you haven’t started what have you been thinking about and why? Tag your post to this site, copy the URL and submit it on canvas

 

This is something that I have thought about and talked about a lot with my friends. What if English was the only language? I have two experiences about this particular question that help me view my opinion. 

The first experience was when I was in Dallas Texas. I was in a mall shopping with my mom and at one point I went to  a different store then her and she said she would meet me at Macys. When it was time to meet up I had no idea where Macys was and so I proceeded to ask one of the janitor ladies where the store was located. She couldn’t answer my question. Why? Because she couldn’t understand english. I then went to another employee who worked in one of those middle booth stores and asked her the same question. She too didn’t understand English and the next middle booth employee didn’t know english either. I was so freaking angry over the experience and wanted everyone to speak english. 

Another experience I had was when I was in Italy talking with a girl named Roseanne who was explaining me the Italian language in comparison to the English language. Because of certain phrases and the ways that the Italian people say those words, certain phrases are given more meaning and emotion then if one were to say it in English. After that experience I had more of an appreciation for multiple languages because of how basic the english language was. 

So I guess what it comes down to is that it would be nice at times for english to be the main language sometimes so that it certain situations could be avoided, but at the same time other languages are beautiful and it’s good to appreciate all of them. 

As for the service learning, I haven’t done any yet. What  I intend to do this week is contact some of the refugee centers and try to set up a day where a friend and I can do an activity with the refugees and then spend some time and interview the leaders for our podcast that we do every week. 

Post 2

Chapters 3 and 4 continued the question of “what would it be like to be in a new country with no understanding of the culture or societal norms that are apparent in every day living.” With that being said, as I read through the book I couldn’t help but remember when I lived outside of the country and had to assimilate into a new culture. 

When I moved to England I had no idea that life would be so much different and the way to interact daily with individuals would be a lot different than how I would in America. This is where the “Developing Competence” slide in the chapter 3 lecture comes in. I remember first the “exposure” stage where I first had to just be submerged into the at school. I began to take hints and notice the behaviors and actions of people who would later become my friends. They were nice enough to give me “feedback” on what I should and shouldn’t do in certain situations. 

At the same time however I had my bias’s about the culture and felt sometimes that my way would be better. This sort of behavior was touched on in part in chapter 4. There were times I would try and do things the “American way” because I felt it would be better then the “English way.” It was a very arrogant thing to do and sometimes I paid the price for it. 

Ultimately what it comes down to and what both these chapters try to hash out is the fact that when learning about other cultures and also experiencing them, we must go in with an open mind rather than a closed on. Understand that we are guests and visitors and not “conquerors” there to teach them the “correct” way to live. Being mindful of other’s norms and values and attempting to show them is a lot more polite and respectful than trying to dominate and be better. 

 

Post 1

In chapters 1 and 2, common topics that were discussed were introductions to new cultures and understanding certain norms that are part of each culture. A big question that was explored in the chapters was “what would it be like to be thrown into an unknown culture and told to live in it.” I know that that question was actually stated but that’s what I was thinking of the entire time as I was reading. 

As someone who has been to almost over 30 countries, I’ve been thrown into many cultural situations where I had to make swift adjustments to either actions or behavior in order to keep the peace. One such cultural experience I had was when I was in South Africa having dinner with a family. The first thing that I did was drink all of my juice before eating my food and then proceeded to pour myself more juice. In their culture this was very rude because you aren’t suppose to drink until you have eaten, let alone refill your drink immediately. 

When I was in Egypt, I noticed a form of odd respect that was given towards me, but it felt like disrespect. When I asked Afsaar, my tour guide, why they were treating me this way, it was because normally when white people come into the town that I was in, the whites typically treated the natives with much disrespect. It turns out that this had been going on for a long time and therefore was rooted in their behavior and I had to adjust my behavior and the way that I acted. 

The big thing that can be taken from all of this is that it is important to see things from other perspectives besides our own. When in another country I never have tried to assert my own cultural norms on others because I know how disrespectful that is. 

This was basically the gist I got from the readings.