Chimamanda Adichie grew up in Nigeria, but for the first impressionable years of her life she was heavily influenced by English literature. There was no real problem with this, except that it limited her own writing and imagination to stereotypically English stories. Probably because of this, Chimamanda began to notice other parts of her life where she or others only had limited exposure to ideas and it affected their own opinions or actions. When watching this video and hearing about the concept of a “single story”, my head just kept running over times in my life when I can see exactly what she means. One of her examples that really struck me was about her American roommate when she first came over from Nigeria for university. She didn’t even expect Adichie to be able to use a stove. How extreme can the effects of a single story be? Would I have been any different? I remember in high school we had a few students at our sister school in South Africa come for a few weeks. I too was surprised by the clothes that they wore and the music they knew. And it can be embarrassing to admit, but culturally that is the view we have of Africa. It became more obvious to me that I have to be super aware of my ideas, and make sure I am thinking critically and not allowing single stories to dictate my opinions. I also like how Adichie ended in saying that although a single story may be a true story, it flattens the whole experience. Single stories create stereotypes; not that they are untrue, but incomplete. Watching this video was very intriguing and eye opening, and helped me to put another perspective on issues in my life.
Genocide is defined by the United Nations (UN) as involving an intent to destroy – on whole or in part – a nation, ethnic, racial or religious group (United Nations 1948). The whole concept and idea of genocide is a violation of human rights and dignity. It is an act used to spread punish and spread fear, to gain control of peoples and then to exert that power and use it to target other victims. The chapter claims it as the vilest form of oppression against a targeted group (Quist-Adade p. 218). The chapter also identifies 4 factors that have allowed for the violation of human rights through genocide to continue. Two are closely linked, they are that aggressors do not fear retribution and punishment by state laws, and not only that, but retaliation by the international community is also unlikely. By weighing the pros and cons then, aggressors can wait for opportune times and commit genocide with little fear of punishment. The third point was that the fear of the aggressors can be both physical and economic, and therefore can dissuade people from standing up to them. Fourthly, the targets themselves often are less influential or powerful than the aggressors, and therefore unable to help their own situation. There are many many examples of human genocide, and unfortunately the death toll reached unthinkable numbers. Whether committed willingly or reluctantly, these crimes continue to be committed. And a huge part of the reason is the silence that is held. As with simple things like bullying, doing nothing is just as hurtful to the victim. You need to stand up to the problem to promote change – which is one of the reasons the UN was created in the first place.
5 sentence segment: The definition of genocide varies greatly from State criminal codes to human rights advocacy groups to international law. The United Nations defines it specifically and clearly, leaving little for interpretation. Indeed, many offenses by rogue regimes have met, and will meet the standards of that definition. It is important that the international world body retains its legitimacy and upholds the principles of what it was sought out to do, rather than engage in selective interpretations of international law. Its hesitation to uphold its mandate, its principles and hold war criminals accountable reinforces the pattern of cyclical violence and systematic terror in disenfranchising areas of the world. (Social Justice in Local and Global Contexts – P. 234)
The UN needs to step up and do what it has set out to do. As long as there is no action to seriously move towards extinguishing genocide from the world, it will continue as people we look up to as leaders stand by. If an association such as the United Nations cannot do that, there is no reason to trust it can do anything else it promises. The standards are clearly set out – now they just need to be enforced.
I chose this segment because I thought it clearly summed up the heart of the matter, and covered several of the chapters important points.
What question(s) did the text/chapter raise?
This chapter raised a few questions. At the beginning of the chapter it looks at the link between globalization and social justice, but then in the second half it moves into looking into how International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGO’s) affect countries like Africa by influencing them with more Western culture and values, and how that contributes to the crises that arise there.
How did the text answer this question?
The text went through several examples of how western ideals influence and affect non-western countries. It explained how INGO’s construct and enforce the idea of African dependance on other countries and the stereotype of inferiority to Western civilization. The text also provided the idea that an emphasis is placed on the need to aid countries like Africa in order to promote charity work. The goal being to bring a Western lifestyle to the “less fortunate” people in Africa.
How does the answer match your own ideas and experiences?
I have heard speculation about organizations like World Visions before, and how its all a money grab. I’ve heard people talk about how its not helping anyone to move our vicious money-driven culture over to place like Africa who are still relatively untouched by the pull of major corporations etc. But reading this was really interesting to add to the perspective and give specific reasons/examples. It’s eye opening to read about.
What question did the text/chapter raise?
This chapter asked questions about the definition and classification of hate crimes. It also explored the issues surrounding identification and punishment of hate crimes, and the complications that come from lack of consistency and enforcement.
How did the text answer this question?
The text suggested that in order to provide more accurate and consistent information despite the lack of consistent data, two things must be done. One, the limitations that come from having inconsistent data must be acknowledged. And secondly, theres must also be ways contrived that allow people to work around the limitations, and to understand better what hate crimes are, and just how seriously they affect people everyday.
How does the answer match your own ideas and experiences?
A lot of what the text went through made a lot of sense to me. I have often heard about hate crimes in a theoretical sense, but don’t often see anything on the news about them or hear of an actual hate crime being specifically committed. I think it is important that awareness is raised about the lack of consistency in legislating hate crimes because of the huge affect it has. For instance, when I first looked through the stats listed in the chapter, I too thought that it was only a very small percentage of hate crimes that affect the disabled. However reading through the material after that, I realized that hate crimes against disabled people aren’t even recognized in most states, and therefore the numbers seem low, because of unequal recognition and reporting. That just goes to show how easily we can be misled by lack of information or understanding. As with a lot of things, raising awareness seems to be a big key in sorting out the issue.
Ethnocentrism is defined as “The view of things in which one’s own group is the center of everything, and all others are scaled and rated with reference to it” (W. G. Summers). To me, ethnocentrism was a very interesting concept because it is something that we deal with in life every day, but don’t always recognize. Ethnocentrism has been really easy to see in the news lately, as the Superbowl has been really hyped up. Everyone had reasons for supporting a certain team; whether they grew up following them, or made carefully calculated predictions or were just bandwagoner’s. Either way, it was easy to see how ethnocentrism affects a wide range of people.
Terrorism is defined by 4 major processes: the need for violence, the motives the act is driven by (usually political), that it is committed against innocent people, and that its main aim is to bring about fear, which means acts of terrorism are usually committed with a large group of people around to witness them. There are many kinds of terrorism, but all include these processes. Acts of terrorism are usually committed out of hatred for someone or something, or to bring serious attention to the demands or needs of a certain group. Terrorists have been working against rulers all through history, but I would say that the most memorable example of an act of terrorism (especially in our generations) is 9/11.
I feel frustrated that even with technology and everything there is no way to keep everyone safe from terrorism. I feel sorry for the people who live within groups that commit acts of terrorism and think its right…and also those who maybe don’t want to be involved anymore but feel they have no choice.
I think terrorism is a gross use of the many blessings that we have. All around us are tools that can be used in so many ways, but these people choose to use airplanes to blow up buildings, or a public transit system for mass murder.
I believe that causing fear to gain power isn’t true power. In the technical sense, yes it is power. But being able to control a population or a situation, or decision making because people trust you and respect you is much more powerful. If your people respect and trust you, they will back you up, whereas if your people fear and hate you, they don’t want to help you if you need it and will also probably try to oppose or overthrow you.
I know that terrorism has affected many people, and that it is not something to brush off. Terrorism is a scary, real thing. And it has happened so close to home.
Human trafficking includes forced labour (industrial, mining, domestic, bonded, indentured), prostitution and sex slavery, and military bondage. It is a black market where human beings are bought and sold, and it thrives off a worldwide demand for cheap labour. The trade is based out of poverty stricken countries and areas where people are either desperate for food or money, or are unable to defend themselves. Human trafficking is obviously highly illegal, but factors like war or extreme poverty can lead to a desperation that causes people to sell even their own family members, and this is often overlooked by corrupted governments.
I feel nauseous thinking about not only the conditions a person would have to live in to sell their own child, but also the conditions and ordeals those sold into slavery have to live with.
I think that I was very lucky to grow up in a free country that doesn’t stand for slavery. We take a lot for grated in day to day life, and when I look at something like this, it puts into perspective the issues and problems that I think are overwhelming at life changing in my day to day life. Even though things are a big issue for me everyday, does not mean that my life is over. And that is something that is important to keep in perspective.
I believe that living as we do, it is impossible to completely comprehend the full impact this trade has on peoples lives. I believe that we could never fully imagine the situations these people have grown up in. Even though it is impossibly for us to place ourselves in these peoples shoes though, doesn’t mean that we should not try, or that we should ignore the problem as something we cannot help because we cannot understand. I believe that educating ourselves and being aware of things like human trafficking is the first step to being able to do something about it.
I know that human trafficking is wrong. It is a sick industry, and is something that no one should stand for. I know that no human should have this kind of power over another human – to sell them into slavery to work in awful conditions. Not only should no one ever have to experience and endure that, but it blows my mind that people would actually do that to another human being.