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Friday, July 10, 2015

Ignorance is Never Bliss

Professor Lamas sent out an email today informing us the schedule for today. Unfortunately for us, he sent it out very late at night but it's a good thing that I check my email in the morning. We were given two options for class today: Racism or Capitalism. I went with racism because I thought that it would be interesting to see how the teacher would talk about it. Economics doesn't really interest me and most of the time, I do not know the terms the Professors would use. The lecture I went to was called "RISE ABOVE THE NOISE: Dismantling Racism & Cultivating Intercultural Understanding" and was organized by one of the professors, Professor Michael Nairin, featuring Shani Bygard who teaches Message Media Education at UCLA. 

The idea of today's lecture was to get the students to think outside the box or outside of what the media is trying to tell us to think. She started by showing us a very provocative music video of Nicki Minaj's song "Only" featuring Lil' Wayne, Chris Brown, and Drake. In each row, people were given different jobs and in my row, we had to count how many times the artists said curse words. The music video seemed like it promoted sex, slavery, and gave the artists a bad image. Through out the five minute music video, I counted that there were 33 curse words but others counted about 40 to 48 curse words. I know that in the media industry, sex sells and sometimes it's what artists are know for. Dr. Bygard showed us the breakdown in the whole media industry since she has worked in it before. We learned that the parent company, who owns Universal Music Group and Young Money/Cash Money (Nicki Minaj's company), Vivendi, is worth $22 billion. But one of the points that Dr. Bygard makes is it takes a long time to make $22 billion dollars so she made the assumption that the family who owns the company must have been very wealthy to start with and it probably goes back to the time of slavery; or it can be said that this company is "old money". Dr. Bygard went on to talk about reverse racism (which she believes does not exist). Overall, the session was very interesting and I really liked it. 

Since today we had an outdoor activity, our lunch was cut short, from two hours to one hour. With the  others from the cohort, we decided to eat at the Houston Market. What I really like about this market is that there are a lot of choices for food. There's hamburgers, Japanese food, salad, Italian food, and much more. I chose to eat Chicken Teriyaki rice today and it was good although I wish that the chicken was a bit more tender. We decided to go back to our classroom building to eat lunch so that when it's time, we would no have to rush back. We saw Professor Lamas (the main Social Justice Academy professor) and Chiamaka asked the professor for clarification on how to pronounce his name. He sat down with us and discussed some deep topics like suicide. I really liked how Professor Lamas was willing to  take some time out of his lunch and try to get to know us. It's stressful to handle 76 students and getting to know each of them is hard so I appreciated what he was doing.

We went to South Philadelphia today to hear some students from an organization called Juntos speak. The organization is made up of undocumented immigrants and they seek to reform the laws and injustice they are face with. The first part of the building was an art gallery and featured a lot of art. Some of the art was amazingly good. The second part of the building was an old church with murals and some beautiful stain glass. In front of the room, there were three girls who looked like there were my age and were part of Juntos. It turns out that they themselves are undocumented immigrants and were here to inform us about the struggles the had to go through. I have never met someone who has been open to speak about their citizenship status. All three of them grew up without their parents in their household because their parents had to go find work in America so their grandparents raised them most of the time. All three of them also came to the U.S. when they were three to seven years old and came without knowing any English. They struggle as much as any other person in the U.S. and are trying to achieve the "American Dream". The difference between them and us is that they don't have the citizenship to achieve the "American Dream" and are limited to much less freedom than we are. I use to have negative thought about undocumented immigrants and listened to what the media would say but in reality, these people are just as down to Earth and honest as we are. It's just that they have a border separating them from us and are trying very hard to take down that border (not the physical one). They are always scared that they will get deported back to their homeland and if this happens, they may never see their families ever again. When I heard that, it just touched me and I admire them for making it that far. They have far more guts than I do. But because of the misconceptions that people have, they are always stereotyped in the job market or in society.
A peek of the art exhibit
Being just like the statue
I have learned a lot from this session and it was nice to hear someone talk who was around my age. I feel like I understood the speakers a lot better and could relate to them. We left the building and some people chose to take the subway back to campus while others, like me, took the bus back to campus. 

I looked forward to the evening because today was the day where I could relax and sleep late but also I was seeing The Minions tonight with my friends. I knew that this was a prequel to another movie and it was going to be very cute. The movie was great! It was age appropriate (PG) and I really admired how creative the creators were. Most of the time, the Minions spoke in babble and it was not understandable but their actions made the movie funny. 

Tomorrow we are going to New York! I am so excited and hopefully I can catch some sleep on the train there. Maybe we will even see Columbia's cohort but who knows. I am extremely excited to tour Columbia University and it is one of the colleges I want to apply to. 

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