College Papers

Race Relations

Preface: This was written in 2015, and I notice I reference declines in ‘overt racism’ (taken from a 2011 article). I wonder if the author of the original article still feels that overt racism is on the decline?


A Summarization of:
Somewhere between Jim Crow & Post-Racialism: Reflections on the Racial Divide

In his article, Lawrence D. Bobo discusses race relations and racism between white and black Americans today in a context that explores both the history of race relations and current perspectives.

Bobo describes the changes made in 1965 and after as a result of the civil rights movement and the continuing decline of what he calls ‘Jim Crow racism’, or very overt racism that was a common feature of American culture for a good portion of the twentieth century such as discriminatory housing practices and segregation.

Bobo suggests that despite the policies put in place as a result of the Civil Rights movement to eliminate discrimination and inequality, it has not completely disappeared but rather taken on more subtle forms. Economic inequalities still exist to a large degree, negative perceptions of people based on skin color still exist, inferior access to education, and the criminal justice system is biased in such a way that we are seeing a disproportionate number of black people being incarcerated (Bobo, 2011).

On the positive side of things, though, there is a growing middle class among black Americans, a decrease in overt racism, and a growing number of black Americans who are filling a variety of important roles within our society (Bobo, 2011).

It is a relevant topic discussion to have now in particular due to the erupting tensions that have been occurring in response to racially motivated police brutality or in response to the murders in South Carolina. Right now, race relations are a hot-button issue as African-Americans and others attempt to draw attention to the inequalities that are still very present in our culture while others make attempts at denying the issue or insinuating that African-Americans are exaggerating. This is not a new attitude, as Bobo mentions it in his article describing it as a perspective that describes “black complaints and grievances…as well-worn tales…if not now pointedly false assessments” (Bobo, 2011).

Statistically speaking, the evidence tends to point towards the gaps between white and black Americans being very real, and, in some areas, they are widening. An article provided by The New York Times cites statistics pointing towards the gap in unemployment and in educational attainment between black and white Americans as one that has widened over the years (Irwin, 2014).

There are no quick fixes to the issue of racism in America, unfortunately. The biggest step citizens of this country could make at this point would be acknowledging that problem exists rather than dismissing claims of discrimination as false. The Harvard Implicit Association Test has shown that 70% of participants have a preference for white people over black (Tierney, 2008). Rather than calling African-Americans liars when they share their experience or trying to draw attention to white experiences, it might prove beneficial if people were willing to simply listen and accept what is being said. The biggest barrier we have to progress right now is denial, and until we can get over that hurdle we cannot hope to move past today’s issues with racism.

References:

Bobo, L. (2011). Somewhere between Jim Crow & Post-Racialism: Reflections on the Racial Divide in America Today. Daedalus, 140(2), 11-36.

Irwin, N., Miller, C., & Sanger-katz, M. (2014, August 19). America’s Racial Divide, Charted. Retrieved June 27, 2015, from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/20/upshot/americas-racial-divide-charted.html?_r=0&abt=0002&abg=1

Tierney, J. (2008, November 18). A Shocking Test of Bias. Retrieved June 27, 2015, from http://tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/18/a-shocking-test-of-bias/?_r=0

Take the race implicit association test here: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/user/agg/blindspot/indexrk.htm

College Papers

Cloning

Despite the occasional story about cloning in the news, people generally associate cloning with the world of science-fiction. Cloning is not some far-off possibility, however. Experiments involving and successful attempts at cloning are happening now in labs across the world. There are three types of cloning: DNA cloning, reproductive cloning, and therapeutic cloning.

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College Papers

Immigration

In the article, America’s Immigration Policy Fiasco: Learning from Past Mistakes, Dr. Douglas Massey provides an overview of the history of Latin-American immigration policy, particularly in regards to Mexico, over the last half-century beginning with policy changes in the sixties.

The policy changes were set into motion by the civil rights movement of the period which created a popular movement towards stamping out racism, particularly within government institutions.  While these changes were in many ways beneficial to Asians, Africans, and Eastern Europeans, they threw a monkey wrench into the migrational system between Mexico and the United States where many of the immigrants were temporary workers who would return to Mexico at the end of an agricultural season. The changes limited the number of legal visas that could be obtained, but it did not lessen the number of people to come over the border but rather simply served to change their status from legal to illegal.

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Being Professional

Progress

I’ve mentioned the research I’ve worked on for the last year and a half with my former advisor. Now it looks like we do have something concrete to show for it.

I wasn’t able to make it, but today my professor and our co-author presented a paper at the Alabama-Mississippi Sociological Association annual meeting. It’s my first post-graduation success.

In August I will be traveling to Philadelphia to present another paper we’ve co-written together at the annual meeting of the Society for Study of Social Problems. I will also be presiding over a session.

These feel like victories to me. It means I’m still moving forward after graduation. That the research I’ve been working on and assisting with has produced something. That even though I was a non-traditional student, I was still able to participate in opportunities similar to those that present themselves to more traditional students.

At this moment in time, I am happy with where I am. I am working in research like I had always hoped. I feel like I am making use of my education. I am still involved in the academic aspect of sociology, and working on writing and research even after graduation.

I hope things keep moving in a positive direction, that I am able to keep learning and growing as a researcher and sociologist.

College Papers

It feels like an unfinished thought

Gleitman, Gross, & Reisberg define natural selection as “the mechanism that drives biological evolution”. This mechanism is a process that takes place over generations, as organisms who were able to successfully reproduce pass on traits that helped them survive to that point. Structural traits are physical attributes like hair. One of the examples provided was in regards to sticklebacks of Lake Washington. As murky water that had provided them cover from predators began to clear, sticklebacks with heavier armor became more likely to survive predator attacks and were more likely to reproduce. After fifty years of parents passing this trait down to offspring, the more heavily armored fish became dominant in the lake. Behavioral traits are not physical but rather are things that are done by an organism like being protective of your young, such as certain species of bird in which a mother bird flies from the nest and feigns injury to draw a predator from her offspring. This is more than simply a single extremely maternal bird because the behavior is seen in many female birds across many species of bird.

Our biology plays an important role in our behavior because our hormones and nervous system play a significant role in how we react to stimulus, and damage to our brain or nervous system can have a drastic impact on our behavior. Someone with higher than normal levels of testosterone is likely to be more aggressive than other people, and therefore more prone to angry outbursts or violence. It’s important to understand how biology affects our behavior because it means we can research ways to treat behavioral abnormalities through biological means – such as attempting to raise or lower hormone levels or affect the actions of neurotransmitters to alter or control behavior.

Biology is not the end all in understanding behavior, though, as there are other aspects that can influence it such as experience and learning. When confronting a new situation someone will behave a certain way, and if they have a positive experience they are likely to behave that way again but if they have a negative experience then they may attempt a different approach if they confront a similar situation in the future. This is an area where the ability to be flexible can play an important role, because if you are unable or unwilling to alter your behavior in the face of negative results than you are unlikely to find success.

Gleitman, H., Gross, J., & Reisberg, D. (2011). Psychology. (8th ed.). New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

College Papers

Childhood Obesity

According to the documentary Tipping the Scales childhood obesity has become a major problem in the United States. In Arizona, the documentary states that 1 out of 4 kids is overweight. The CDC puts that number at 1 in 6 nationwide for both children and adolescents (CDC, 2015).

Personally, I do believe that parenting and parenting style are major factors in the issue of childhood obesity.

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College Papers

Early America: Beyond the Myth

Behold: A short essay for a historical geography course.

I took it because I needed a credit and most classes were filled – but I ended up loving it more than I expected. Learning about the impacts of people on the land around us over the centuries was fun – it added a depth to history I had never considered.

 


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College Papers

Rethinking Procrastination, Chu & Choi

Before today, the last time I opened this file was 2014 – so this is at least four years old. Unfortunately, I only listed my University on the title page and not the class so I have no idea what this was for. Such is life.

Some psychology class, I would guess.

Given my tendency to procrastinate, though, I’m willing to bet I chose the topic myself.

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College Papers

The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World

I was wrong last week – I found another essay from my early days of school. High School or my first semester of college. I am not sure. It’s an English essay based on a short story by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

It’s funny to read it now because it’s just such an essay. Do you know what I mean? It really just lays it all out in that first paragraph: I’m going to talk about this, this and this. Very typical and obvious thesis statement, you could use it in a middle school class as an example.

“Okay, class, read this introduction and highlight the thesis statement.”

And they’d all get an “A”.

Still, it makes me want to re-read “The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World”, so there’s that.

Continue reading “The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World”

College Papers

A Personal Tale

This will likely be the last paper I share from my first year of college…but then, who knows what I might dig up in the future.

The following is another speech that I wrote up for a public speaking course and is 100% personal in nature. The point of the exercise was to be vulnerable in public. In front of strangers. So we were tasked to share things we don’t typically share with others right off, as well as a lesson we had learned from it.

It was, not surprisingly, difficult. No one held back. That room, that day, was very raw. It was one of the most amazing experiences I ever had in a classroom in my life – a real reminder that you’re always sitting by a fellow human being that has been through something.

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