Final Project Post 4

While thinking about what I could do to make a difference, and looking at it through the idea of this class, I realized that by doing exactly what I’m doing, sharing my experiences through blog posts, I can make a difference.

By having conversations with future educators about the need for teaching tolerance and acceptance, I can make a difference. By speaking up when people are making “jokes” at the expense of others, I can make a difference. This semester, I have learned about the wide reach social media can have if it used effectively. What I am hoping to continue is using my media reach in order to promote tolerance, and I hope that my reach can impact people, even if it is only just one person who is able to reach just one more person, because that is how larger-scale change happens.

If everyone was to make small changes in order to promote acceptance, in the words of President John F. Kennedy, “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try”. We have seen the effects of people joining together to make change, this is how many of the social movements we have studied have begun, and it is up to the people our age to start these social movements and make the changes we want to happen.

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Final Project Post 3

Continuing on with my first two posts about teaching tolerance, I have been thinking about my time here at Kutztown, and even my experiences growing up. My family moved from a very diverse town to a town that had very little diversity along the Jersey Shore. You could essentially count on one hand, maybe two, the number of non-white students in my graduating class. We had 3 Asian students, 3 Black students, and a Pakistani girl, and that’s about all the diversity I can think of- and I was friends with all of them. Although there was very little diversity, there were never incidents of bullying or racism that occurred within my class during our high school experience.

Fast forward and now I’m in college in a very different area than I grew up in, I had never experienced the “rural life” and it was definitely culture shock when I first arrived. Horse and buggies aside, I quickly got used to having to drive a minimum of 20 minutes to reach anything, despite having grown up in an area where everything was within a 5 minute drive. I met a lot of people who were very similar to me, some people were also from Jersey, some were from the area but shared a lot of similar ideologies. I found the campus to be overall pretty liberal and accepting, but I believe that most colleges are.

The one thing I found very interesting about Kutztown University was overall acceptance of the LGBT community. I had made many friends who were either part of the LGBT community, or who were accepting of my being a part of the community at the very least. While the college students have are for the most part very accepting, I have found the people of the town of Kutztown as well as people from the surrounding area to be not so tolerant. When one of my friends asked if I would like to join her and her boyfriend (both from Berks County) to go to New York City for the day over winter break, I said, “Sure, Jenn (my girlfriend at the time) and I would love to” and my friend said back to me, “It would probably make my boyfriend uncomfortable if you were there as a couple” as if I was supposed to be okay with them being all over each other but not being allowed to spend my day with my own significant other to make sure he was comfortable.

I let the conversation go, I just said I would check my calendar and let them know, although I had already decided that I would not be able to make it. Aside from occasional stares and a few comments here and there, I did not have a lot of other negative experiences with the people of Kutztown or the students of the university.

Then disaster struck. Election 2016.

Tearing families and friendships apart. Half of the campus was mourning Bernie losing the democratic bid, a quarter was wearing “Make America Great Again” hats and screaming to “Impeach Hillary”, and the last quarter was sure that Hillary would win because there was no way Americans would actually be dumb enough to elect “The giant angry Cheeto” into office.

Following the results of the election, a series of White-nationalist posters were found on campus, and there has been a nation-wide resurgence of intolerance. What is this word coming to? How is it that there had been so much progress and suddenly people are openly hating one another?

 

Final Project Post 2

As I sat a enjoying lunch with my friends this afternoon, as we do every Tuesday, I overheard the conversation of the table next to us, and while I am not usually one to eavesdrop, as soon as I heard them it was very hard to avert my attention from the group. It started with a single joke- if that’s what you want to call it, “Hey, do you know why can’t Mexicans play UNO?……Because they always take the green cards” and this one joke escalated into a full-on racist conversation…or as this group saw it, “a bunch of jokes”.

One after another, the jokes kept going. Anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic, anti-Black, and making fun of those with mental and physical handicaps. The more they talked, the more uncomfortable my friends and I got, and the more we wanted to say something. Do something. Anything to stop them. To stop this group of white (mostly male) college kids who were cracking themselves up, at the expense of every minority group.

And what did I do after listening to all of this?

Nothing. I wish I would have, and maybe if it was any other day I would have, but something kept me from walking up to them. It was a sad acceptance, but I knew that me saying something would not have changed this one person’s extremely narrow view of the world. While everything in me said go up to that table and say, “Hey, have you heard the one about the Privileged White Male?” I knew that there was more of a chance at the group lashing out at me (openly gay, openly Jewish woman) than there was of them apologizing and suddenly not being racist anymore.

In that moment, instead of asking how I could change this group of people’s narrow view of the word, I asked how my friends and I could make a difference on a larger scale. The friends that I had been eating lunch with that afternoon are both education majors, and we discussed how to start at a younger age to eliminate hate. Schools have started to promote diversity and tolerance, but its very hard to ingrain tolerance into the minds of children whose parents have taught them the opposite. But if we don’t attempt to make a difference, then change will never be possible.

Obviously I know racism and discrimination exist in the world. I am not trying to deny the fact that there are horribly uninformed people who do not accept anyone who is unlike them, but I have not had a lot of experience with these people.

 

 

Final Project Post 1

Today, as I sat in my 9:30am class, it struck me how much of an impact ignorance can have on a person or a group of people. This post is not looking to say that any person’s opinion is wrong, but instead to look at the impact that being aware (or not aware) can have on a person or a group of people, and pattern of ignorance is one that will continue to have  a resonating effect on people until people are willing to learn.

The lecture this morning in Political Science 227, International Conflict and Security, had to do with individual liberty and perceptions of freedom around the globe. One of the global issues we discussed focused on the current Refugee Crisis. Currently, there are millions of humans- because often that we forget that these atrocities are actually happening to people- who have left their home countries to seek asylum from dangerous conditions. With literally no other option other than staying and facing death, these people migrate to other countries that have not planned on letting in these huge numbers of people.

As we opened the discussion up to the class, I was left in disbelief as I listened to my peers talk about the situation in complete disregard for the lives of the millions of people whose lives were at risk. One student said, “I honestly don’t care about the humanitarian issue here, I blame the European countries for letting those people into their countries in the first place” as if these refugees were somehow a lesser class of people because of this.

Letting the initial comment go, the class began to discuss different possible alternatives to letting refugees into Europe. Another classmate said, “If The United States is so much more tolerant of different cultures, why don’t some of the refugees come here?” This comment was met with some very obvious dislike. A third student replied, “If those people want to come here then they should learn English and adopt American culture”. As I sat there, sinking further and further down into my chair, I realized that there are so many people who feel this same way.

The question we should be asking is not “how can I change one person’s mind?” because that is not often an easy feat to accomplish. Instead, the question we should be asking is “what can I do to help others to change the world?”

By any Media Necessary Post 2

I find this book to be very interesting, as well as almost paradoxical in nature. The book looks to cover very mature content, yet does so in a very young way. The book contains a cartoon drawing on the cover, and talks a lot about pop culture influence, but also serves as an adult version of a lot of content that would go over kids’ heads. In the section being covered in this post, the book jumped from Kony2012 to talking about the Harry Potter Alliance (HPA) and the influence of fandoms and pop culture onkony_2012_by_lostturkey-d4s6aag society.

What Jenkins says about the influence of media is very interesting, as we saw with Kony2012, and the campaign to help Invisible Children, there were millions upon millions of people who had watched the video. 70 million people to be exact, and in just a half hour after watching the video, many people wanted to go out and make a change in society. The impact of Kony2012 reached far beyond people watching a video, people now knew of the social injustice that had occurred in Uganda. People were no longer ignorant of the many lives that were affected by using child soldiers, or the horrible conditions these children were forced to live under.

Without the use of media, there would not be such a rallying force to help make social change. By allowing individual’s interests to flourish in activist centered groups based off of popular culture and the fandoms people enjoy, it makes people want to be more involved. When interests and activism overlap, it promotes people to join together with people they share common interests with in order to make social change.

 

By any Media Necessary Post 1

One of the first concepts Jenkins covers in “By Any Media Necessary” is the impact of Political Science on media, and the effect this combination has on society. As a Political Science major, I often think about the different ways in which people are involved in society, as well as the impact that individuals have on society. Jenkins highlights the importance of social media in the first chapter, and discusses the widespread effect it can have on a population. He describes a group of senior women who were taking pictures with a group dressed as zombies that had joined the “Occupy Movement”. In what other time or place would that have made any sense at all? Yet today, there is such quick movement and effective mass communication that the idea is not at all far-fetched.

An issue that I have written about before in this blog is the importance of attracting the younger generations to vote and participate politically. While a lot of attention today is spent on bringing Generation “X” to the polls, there are entire populations of younger people being forgotten about. Instead of looking to maintain an older generation who already goes out to vote, larger proportions of social media and mass communications should be spent on attracting millennials and generation y, who do not have a large poll presence, but could make huge political sways if they were better represented in government. One of the biggest reoccurring topics that we have addressed throughout this semester has been how a movement can grow and become a huge nation-wide activist movement. This has been seen in the case of the “Occupy Movement” which has been felt at the national level, yet its also been seen on the local level when an individual talks about social injustice, and looks to see what they can do on a personal level to make a difference. If every person looked to make a small change in order to make a difference, the world would change a lot quicker than it has already.

Project 3: Media and Social Movements

The objective of this project is to utilize the same strategies as Media and Social Justice in order to promote awareness about a particular issue or political movement, and to engage with it just as the editors of the book did. The issue I have chosen to focus on regards LGBT rights in North Carolina, where there has been anti-LGBT legislation passed that has raised concern with many of the state’s LGBT residents and allies alike.

In the same way that Media and Social Justice looked at different social issues, I will look at LGBT rights through the four strategies that were used in the book: frameworks, collaborations, power struggles, and media justice. Each of these tools have been utilized to make a stand in order to reflect the general dislike of the bill, and without the use of media, the mass disapproval of this bill, and the waves it stirred nationally would not have been felt as widely.Unisex_pictogram

Frameworks: In March of 2016 a Bill was passed in the North Carolina Senate that was meant to promote personal privacy in the case of public restrooms. Thinkprogress.org discussed the bill when it was first written, “House Bill 2, passed into law in North Carolina on March 23, is colloquially known as the “bathroom law” and requires transgender people to use bathrooms that align with their sex marker at birth, not their gender identity. The bill — official title: Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act —”. This bill makes it so that transgender people are unable to use the bathrooms of the genders they identify with because it does not match the sex they were assigned at birth.

When an individual’s assigned gender does not match the gender they identify as, yet they cannot find acceptance as the gender they do identify as, they already feel enough feelings of disassociation with gender, by preventing them from going to the bathroom of the gender they identify as it only adds to this feeling of dissociation. There is often a fear of the other, and that is especially felt when it comes to transgender individuals. People do not always understand what it is like to not agree with the sex you were assigned, and because of that they are intimidated. Because of this fear, it has caused an entire law to be written and passed that discriminates against an entire group of people.

The legislation has caused a lot of backlash, and many people are unhappy that it was put in place to begin with. The bill has caused a lot of hate speech regarding LGBT individuals, which has caused a lot of reaction from those who are associated with the community in some way or another.

Collaborations: One of the first reactions to HB2 came in the form of celebrities and singers boycotting performances and appearances in North Carolina. Artists all over the country began to unite against the bill. If artists were not going to cancel their shows, they instead decided to donate the profits from their shows towards groups across the state the represented the LGBT community and its allies. Seeing these very powerful, very influential celebrities, many of which are not actually members of the LGBT community, just allies, is remarkable. It also helps to see the influence these people have. Instead of just watching everyday people stand up for their beliefs, we are seeing famous people who are often looked at as superior to the everyday person representing the same beliefs as an everyday person. Most recently, we have seen the NCAA, an extremely powerful and influential group protest hosting the NCAA March Madness Tournament in North Carolina because of HB2. By putting this type of pressure on the state at the risk of losing all the tourism associated with the event, it expresses the general dislike of the bill, and urges a change. No change means no game, and no game means a loss of potential profit coming into the state.

Power Struggles: This is more than just a struggle about being able to use public bathrooms. This is an attempt on a state to maintain discrimination based on sexual orientation, or gender identity, and by not fighting to correct this horrible injustice, it allows for other legislation to be passed that maintains prejudicial attitudes and sets back the progress made towards equality. There are many groups involved in the making of this decision. There are lawmakers, residents of North Carolina, and the members of businesses and companies located there. Each of these groups holds a heavy influence in the political sphere in North Carolina, and each group is struggling to hold power regarding the LGBT community and the rights it is allowed. When a large group of individuals share a belief that an issue is wrong, they can unite to cause change, as we have seen occurring in the case of North Carolina and the HB2 bill.

Media Justice: There is still significant coverage regarding HB2 in the news. The work of celebrities, lawmakers, and individuals has made it possible for changes to be made, as slow as it may seem they are happening. By putting it out there that people are unhappy with the decisions of lawmakers, and by having groups of people expressing this mass dislike, helps to make change possible. Just by getting the story of the bill online has made it possible for people to protest it.

This is such a personal topic, because as both a member of the LGBT community, and as the sister of an incoming college freshman who is going to UNC Greensboro, I have followed the progress of the changes being made to this bill. While there has been a significant amount of media backlash because of the bill, there is still a lot more work to be done before a significant change is made, but seeing effort from all across the country, particularly by young people who are unhappy, proves how capable each person is of making change happen.

The use of social media to make change is remarkable. A person is able to communicate a message or feeling across the country and to huge groups of people at a time. Instead of a single person having to express how they feel about a piece of anti-LGBT legislation, there is the opportunity for that person to express their feelings to a huge group of people simultaneously. And people with similar beliefs all across the country are uniting in order to make big social changes. In a changing world, there is no option to exclude others. We must fight to make sure every person is treated equally in the eyes of the law, regardless of sex, race, and sexual orientation- and the first step is to take actions to repeal HB2.