Saturday, March 24, 2012

Assignment: Practicing Awareness of Micro Agressions

This week, we were asked to observe for micro aggressions. I did not see any this week, but remembered some from another time. My mom went out to dinner with some former friends of hers a couple years ago. They went to a Mexican restaurant and at the end of the dinner, my mom’s friend asked to speak to the manager who also happened to be the owner. Many of his employees appear to be his family members. Anyway, she informed him that he needed to find waiters who spoke English. I was not with them, but when my mom told me I was surprised that someone would be that rude. Especially since I’ve been there many times and all the servers spoke clear and understandable English. Another time, my boyfriend and I went to the store with my mom and this friend. Somehow, she ended up finding a guy from Mexico in the store, she told him that she wanted to introduce him to my boyfriend and brought him over. My boyfriend’s parents were originally from Mexico, but moved here many years ago so that’s where she made that connection. There was some small talk between my boyfriend and the guy, but it was very awkward. This was a middle aged man and my boyfriend was in his early twenty’s at the time. This friend of my mom’s falsely assumed that all Mexicans or people of Mexican descent are the same and would automatically want to meet others like them regardless of the circumstances. There was never any point in bringing this to her attention because she clearly thought she was doing a good thing.

Around the time that hurricane Katrina hit, this woman also had many negative comments about black people and how they are bringing the way they were being treated on themselves. I feel that this woman was very unhappy with herself and her own life so she had to put others down to feel happy. Even though most of my examples included this one woman, micro aggressions happen every day and to many individuals or groups of people. I have also been a target of micro aggressions. A few months ago at work, one of my coworkers said that it was good that I finally got a full-time job rather than sit home collecting disability. I told her that even with a disability; I never simply sat home collecting disability benefits. I’ve either had part-time jobs, was a volunteer or student and I had looked for full-time work since my graduation. She told me she knew a lot of people who like to just get what they can out of the system. While that may be true, she shouldn’t assume I was one of those people. It doesn’t make sense because if I were one of those people, I wouldn’t have started working there in the first place. It’s also proof that once people have a stereotype in their mind, they don’t know how to react when they see something that goes against it.

The assignments this week remind us to think before we speak which should be common sense. However, some people get too comfortable voicing their opinion even if it is full of bias messages. We especially need to think before we speak while talking to families we work with. You can’t build a positive relationship with them if there are micro aggressions getting in the way. It’s best to ask questions and not assume things based on stereotypes.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Assignment: Perspectives on Culture & Diversity

I asked a few people this week for their definitions of culture and diversity. Here are some of their responses.
Culture a set of values, beliefs and traditions shared by a group of people. It’s about who you associate with.
Diversity is differences between groups of people or items. It’s also in the ways we do things. She gave an example of the ways we dress or cook. Even if we are from the same culture, there are individual differences.

Culture is a group of people who share the same language and live in the same geographical area. Culture also involves things like religion, celebrations, food, clothing and music.
Diversity is differences. There is diversity in everything like people, plants and animals.

Culture is the environment you live in that affects you day to day. It gives you an identity and a sense of belonging. There are so many different cultures. This person also mentioned how younger and older people are from a different culture because they grew up in different time periods. Their values will be different because of the ways they were raised.
Diversity involves differences between people and tolerance of people who are unlike you. Aspects of diversity may be age, religion, class, sexual orientation or race. There is diversity everywhere.

The aspects of culture and diversity that were mentioned that have been discussed in this class are apart of the surface culture. This is mostly the celebrations, clothes, music etc. However, a couple people mentioned values and beliefs which are a big part of culture. Things people left out were parenting styles, ability levels, and family culture and gender differences. The people I asked had the understanding that diversity means differences between people and or items. One person mentioned the tolerance aspect and mentioned qualities like race, class etc. One person briefly talked about individual diversity. No one mentioned diversity between families or family members. The people I talked to seemed to have a basic understanding of culture and diversity, but these words and concepts should probably be used and or taught more often.

People’s definitions of culture and diversity are as varied as diversity itself. I agree that diversity is everywhere even if it isn’t obvious right away. This assignment also made me think of how diverse we are as individuals. It made me think of my family and the ways we are different. One example is that even though my brothers and I had a similar upbringing, there are differences in our values, beliefs, etc. Even people who seem alike in many ways may be very different. That’s why it’s important to avoid making assumptions.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Assignment: My Family Culture

If I had to evacuate and go to a foreign country, choosing only three items that represent my family culture would be difficult. First, I would bring my Ipod. I use my Ipod to communicate with family and friends, listen to music and many other things. My Ipod contains many important photos and audio recordings that I’ve made. I have photos of my pets, family and children that I’ve worked with. There are many memories on my Ipod. The other reason I would bring it is because it has many purposes. The second item I’d bring is a photo album that my mom started for me when I was a kid. It was a Christmas present one year and it contains old family photos, photos of childhood trips and I’ve added photos over the years. It represents my past and memories of family. The third item I’d bring is my favorite unicorn from my collection. I’ve been collecting unicorns since I was young and I would bring one that I’ve had for many years. It would be comforting to have something familiar in a strange place. It would be a reminder of my past. I think it’s important to keep something that I like with me so I don’t lose parts of my old identity. Even though the unicorn doesn’t represent my family culture, it’s important to keep something with you that represents you as an individual.

If I were asked to keep only one thing out of the three, I would probably choose the Ipod because it holds all the photos, music and recordings. Those are memories I would not want to lose. Honestly, I’m still not sure because it would be hard to part with the photo album and the unicorn.

Choosing three items was difficult. My first reaction was to bring our pets because I consider them family. We have two cats, a dog and two guinea pigs. It would be difficult to leave them behind. When I looked at the directions of the assignment, it said that you could only bring three small personal items. It would be a challenge to bring pets to another country though, but they depend on us for everything they need. I would not want to leave them, but I would have memories and photos of them that I could take. It wouldn’t be the same though as my pets are there unconditionally when everyone else is not. I definitely would not want to have to make these decisions.
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